Tag Archives: Announcement

Validation (Part 2)

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In the first part of this article we discussed my parents visit, and how great it felt to get some recognition and approval on my life from my family. Watching my folks and uncle enjoy and comment on the wonderful meal that I had worked hard to prepare for them gave me a wonderful sense of validation that had an enormous impact on me. Even though I already knew that my parents were proud of me and was not looking for their praise, this powerful feeling of accomplishment was a pleasant surprise that nearly overwhelmed me with its warm, comforting glow of euphoria. I would have been more than happy if that was the end of this energizing, emotional experience, but life was being very generous to me, and it turns out that my feelings of bliss were only beginning to fill my life with happiness. Because while my parent’s visiting gave me validation in my personal life, after they left and I got back to work, I was given another great sense of achievement in my professional life.

Scott Drotar Business Logo
We all want to feel like we made good career choices and are good at what we do.

I am fortunate enough to have the greatest job in the world and get to pay my bills doing something that I love, but up until about a year ago, I had spent my entire, adult life learning to be a statistical analyst. Even though I would never stop speaking through Roll Models and have found my calling in life, I do sometimes feel like I am wasting my knowledge and experience with statistics by not putting my numerical skills to use somehow (especially when those student loan bills come in). This is why I still do a minimal amount of advertising myself as a freelance statistical consultant to try to share my array of mathematical knowledge with the world. With the economy being the way it is though, there are not a lot of companies out there looking to spend money on statistical consulting, so I have not gotten many opportunities to use my skills. At least until recently that is, as last week I received inquiries about statistical help from two different organizations. Even though neither of these requests resulted in a consulting contract, by meeting with these companies to discuss their projects I received something much more valuable than any partnership would have paid me.

As I was reading about these companies’ projects, going over their data, and speaking with them about their statistical needs, I felt a great sense of accomplishment wash over me. Even though I had not done hardly any statistical work in over a year, it felt really good knowing that I could still easily and effectively understand their questions and knew how to respond to them. It was so reassuring to know that all of the time and energy I had put into my eight years of college education was not a complete waste, and that I still had at least most of the knowledge that I had worked so hard to attain. Having these initial meetings with both of these companies gave me a sense of validation about my career choices, as I was able to utilize my academic training while still developing Roll Models and pursuing my mission to help others with my story. This gave me a feeling of validation that has given me a renewed sense of drive and focus in my work. One of those feelings that makes you feel confident and knowledgeable and gives you this intensity towards your work, while at the same time relaxing you, slowing your thought process, and helping you concentrate on the most minute details. You are in “the zone,” or a flow state, and this makes you both more efficient and productive, as well as filling you with a wonderful, “on top of the world” feeling.

In addition to getting this sense of approval with respect to my career choices, I got yet another powerful dose of validation in my professional life through Roll Models. Last week, I received an email about a possible speaking engagement from the National Parkinson Foundation. They are working with the Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute and Johnson County Community College to hold a symposium called “Caring for the Long-Term Caregiver” on April 25th. Someone on the board of directors for their organization had heard me speak last Spring, thought that I would be a good fit as a speaker for their event, and gave them my contact information. After exchanging a few emails and speaking with them about the symposium and Roll Models, I am happy to announce that we were able to work everything out, and I will be the closing speaker for their event. This will be a great opportunity for me to help others, a terrific chance for me to network and market Roll Models, and a huge honor to wrap up their symposium that I am really excited to experience. On top of all of these benefits to my career though, getting this speaking engagement also gave me another valuable gift that has improved my life.

Scott Drotar National Parkinson Foundation
I am going to be the closing speaker for a symposium sponsored by the National Parkinson Foundation.

Having no prior experience as a professional speaker or writer until I started Roll Models, I have a difficult time feeling confident about my articles and talks that I write. I went to school for mathematics and statistics, and throughout my eight year academic career I did my best to avoid any classes that involved a lot of writing, so I have not had any official training to prepare me for this line of work. Now, I have worked extremely hard, read dozens of books on writing and speaking, and spent countless hours studying many great speakers on my own to develop my craft, but while I have definitely come a long way, I still do not feel comfortable calling myself a writer or professional speaker. I sometimes feel like I am just fooling people into thinking I am this gifted writer, and it is only a matter of time until everyone realizes that my talks are boring and my posts are terrible. That is why getting this request to speak for the symposium was so special to me. Knowing that I had made a big enough impression on someone with my words that they still remembered me over a year later gave me a sense of reassurance about my abilities as a storyteller. And not only had they remembered me, but they also thought highly enough of my message and performance that they recommended my services to someone else. This incredible honor has helped me to realize that I do know what I am doing and have at least a moderate amount of skill as a writer, which has filled me with a sense of validation, a renewed confidence about my craft, and a lot of happiness.

Getting the opportunity to put my statistical knowledge to good use and being bestowed the honor of being the final speaker for the symposium, each gave me an immense feeling of validation about my professional life. These separate, unexpected events all improved my life by providing me with reassurance that my career choices were good ones, and that I belong in this field. No matter how long or how well you do something, you always want to feel like others think that you are good at what you do. We all want to get the sense that our clients and others in our field are impressed by our work, to reassure us that we were wise in choosing the career we have. While this does not in any way change your abilities or skill in your work objectively, it does improve your confidence, which in turn positively impacts your job, as well as your life in general. It is important to be open to and aware of these moments of validation that emerge out of the blue every now and then, in order to take advantage of their power. Be open to compliments and graciously receive them, no matter where they come from or what form they are in. The enormous amount of confidence and reassurance that they will bring you will penetrate and improve nearly every part of your world. With your renewed sense of validation and accomplishment, you will not only feel better about your life choices and do better work, but you will also experience a new level of happiness that will greatly improve your life.

Did this article leave you wondering something? Are you curious about a certain aspect of my life? Do you want to know my favorite color? Submit your question to “Roll Models Mail Call,” and I will do my best to answer it in a post.

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Validation (Part 1)

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It feels like forever since my last blog post, and I am really excited to be getting back to my normal routine and sharing my thoughts and experiences with you. I have had a fun-filled few days, and a lot has been going on in my life. The same can be said for Roll Models and www.scottdrotar.com, as there has been quite a bit of action on that front as well. With so much happening during my little hiatus from blogging, I thought that I would use the next couple of posts to fill you in on what has transpired since my last article. You need to get up to speed on my parents’ visit, seeing my uncle, and my exciting Roll Models news, so that you can continue to accompany me on my journey through life. I hope that you will enjoy reading about my recent adventures as much as I enjoyed having them, although I am not sure that is possible. At the very least you will be entertained by my most recent escapades, and you may even get some life lessons along the way.

Scott Drotar Validation
I had a great time visiting with my parents last week.

The main reason I took so much time off was so that I could enjoy my time with my parents, who came to visit me last week. Since it was my dad’s Spring Break, they were able to spend more time catching up with me and not have to hurry back so he could get to work, which helped create a more relaxed atmosphere the entire time they were here. This made for a great visit, and we had a wonderful time discussing everything going on in each other’s lives. Making this time even more momentous was the fact that my uncle, who happened to be in town on business, was also able to come spend time with us. Since I had not seen him in over four years, it was really fulfilling to get to show him the successful, happy life that I have created out here on my own. Living over 500 miles from any of my relatives, I typically only get to share my world with them through pictures and emails, so it is quite special for me when I get to show them my success first hand. In addition to sharing my world with him, I also got to hear about how he has been doing, his work, and my cousins. The four of us had a terrific time talking about our lives, and I am so happy we were able to all be here together.

Scott Drotar Uncle Fred
It was really special to get to visit with my uncle after not seeing him for so long.

The climax of our visit was, hands down, the multiple course meal that I prepared for them. As you are well aware, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen now, and I frequently chronicle my culinary adventures on Facebook. My mom, who has been reading about all of my delicious dishes and seeing pictures of my mouthwatering creations since Christmas, told me that I had better prepare a feast for them when they visit, now that I am such a good cook. Since I am a dutiful son that would never disobey my dear mother (even I could not help but laugh at that one), I did as I was told and planned a three course, gourmet meal. Anyone who has ever thrown a dinner party knows that planning a three course meal is much more difficult than merely preparing an appetizer, entree, and dessert. You have to come up with three dishes that are not only flavorful and delicious on their own, but also work well as a group. For example, you would never serve a hearty, spicy Indian chutney with big flavors as an appetizer for baked white fish in a light white wine sauce, because your palette would not be able to enjoy the subtle, complex flavors of the fish after such a bold start. You want your courses to work together to tell a story to create a more enjoyable dining experience. While I did not fully understand how difficult this can be until recently, I now have a whole new appreciation for people who prepare entire menus for people on a weekly basis.

Despite my inexperience and lack of appreciation for how hard it would be, I did manage to put together a delicious, three course meal for my family. It took me several weeks of strategizing and preparation, but eventually I was able to find three complimentary dishes that I thought my parents and uncle would like. After browsing through hundreds of recipes, testing dozens of different of flavor combinations, and changing my mind constantly about what would be best, this is the menu I settled on. We began our gastronomic journey with an appetizer of seared sausage medallions topped with a Venezuelan salsa criolla over a bed of rice. For the entree, I served a pear and goat cheese stuffed pork tenderloin with a soy-citrus marinade and a side of garlic-lemon new potatoes. This delightful dining experience ended with spiced wine poached pears topped with caramel sauce for dessert. Everything turned out better than I had hoped, and it must have been good because it was nearly all gone by the time the meal was over. It felt really good watching them enjoy the meal I had worked so hard to create, and I am so happy that I was able to share my new passion for cooking with the people I care about most.

Scott Drotar Pork Tenderloin
My entree of pear and goat cheese stuffed pork tenderloin with a homemade marinade.

Both getting the opportunity to share my independent, successful life with my uncle and watching my family get so much enjoyment from the meal I prepared gave me a feeling of validation. Even though I know my family and relatives are extremely proud of me, it still feels good to get to show them first-hand everything I have been able to accomplish. Although your own happiness is all that truly matters, it still feels good when you can show your loved ones all of your success. Getting some positive feedback and appreciation of your achievements in life reminds you of why you put in so much time and energy to build the world around you, and it is part of what drives you to continue to work hard to reach your goals. Knowing that your family and friends recognize how much effort you put in to achieve everything in your life, and hearing that they are proud of you, can be an extremely powerful feeling that will fuel you on your journey for future success. This is exactly the feeling I got during this visit, and I am definitely fully recharged and ready to get back to work enjoying my happy, fun-filled life and giving my all chasing my dreams.

This feeling of validation was not something I was looking for, or even thought I needed, but that did not in any way reduce how much of an impact it had on me. Visiting with my uncle and watching my folks slowly savor each bite of the meal I prepared filled me with a feeling of accomplishment that has given me a renewed focus and drive to achieve my goals. I never would have guessed that their approval and appreciation of my efforts would have such a great influence on me, but you do not always know what you need in life. No matter how much success you have or what you accomplish, we all want to feel like our loved ones are proud of us. By sharing your achievements and passion for things with your family and friends, you will often get to enjoy this feeling of validation, whether you are looking for it or not. Take the time to share your life with those who are most important to you, and help them experience some of the things you are passionate about. This will fuel you as you continue to work to accomplish your goals, and it will also help you forge even stronger relationships with your loved ones.

My feelings of validation were just starting to build after these two events though, as after my family returned home I got another dose of this powerful sensation. This second round of recognition and approval came not from my personal life, but from my professional world. Thanks to some unexpected consulting requests and Roll Models, my feelings of validation were able to grow even further. You will get to hear all about these events and how they effected me in the next part of this article.

Did this article leave you wondering something? Are you curious about a certain aspect of my life? Do you want to know my favorite color? Submit your question to “Roll Models Mail Call,” and I will do my best to answer it in a post.

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A Message From Your Medicine Cabinet (Part 2)

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The American Recall Center, in celebration of “Patient Safety Awareness Week,” is holding a “Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Challenge.” For this event, they have asked a few “influential bloggers” (their words, not mine) to write an article about responsibly using your medications and sharing some personal experiences. They asked yours truly to participate, and I was more than happy to oblige. I know it is coming a couple days late, but today’s article is the piece I wrote for their “challenge.” I hope you enjoy it, and that it makes you think about your own pharmaceutical use. 

In the first part of this article, you started learning about how important it is to be a responsible consumer when it comes to pharmaceuticals. We are quite fortunate to have so many incredible drugs right at our fingertips, but these life-improving medications can quickly become dangerous, life-threatening poisons if not used in the proper way. When we left off, we had covered the first aspect of being a responsible consumer by discussing how to properly store your medications. You also began reading about the second component of proper drug use, taking your medicines correctly. Due to the powerful, and potentially dangerous, effects that your meds can have on you, it is vital that you take all of your medications properly, because mistakes can be extremely harmful, and sometimes, fatal. This is something that I had to experience firsthand several years ago, and in an effort to drive this point home, I am going to share my story with you today. I will then move on to the final aspect of responsible pharmaceutical use, properly disposing of your medications.

Scott Drotar Patient Safety Awareness Week
The National Patient Safety Foundation celebrates “Patient Safety Awareness Week” every year by trying to educate people on the safe use of medications.

My second experience with taking my medications incorrectly was a much more serious situation than my first, which you read about in part one, and it is the main reason I am so careful with my meds today. About four years ago, my chronic pain got much worse, and I began working with my doctor to try to find a combination of painkillers that would better control my discomfort. Over several weeks and after trying multiple “cocktails” of pain meds, we eventually found a three drug combination that worked well. After a couple weeks of being on this mixture of painkillers, my pain was under control, but some strange things started happening to me. I first started seeing and hearing things that were not there. Initially, it was barely noticeable, but over time these imaginary sights and sounds turned into full fledged hallucinations. Over time it got so bad that I could not always tell what was real and what was not, and I thought I was going crazy. I was obviously terrified by this, and after speaking with my doctor, I thankfully found out that I was not losing my mind, but I was damaging it. It turns out that two of the painkillers he had put me on could have dangerous interactions that cause seizures in certain parts of the brain. In some cases, these seizures can cause audiovisual hallucinations. While I feel fortunate that no permanent damage was done and everything went back to normal after I stopped taking one of the drugs, this was a very dangerous drug interaction that could have had much more dire consequences. Even though my doctor and my pharmacist should have caught this potentially life threatening drug interaction before it ever happened, in the end it is my life and well-being that is at risk, so I am responsible for being knowledgeable about the medications I am taking. And once again, if I had merely taken a few minutes to read about my medications before taking them, I could have avoided this entire situation. I hope this story helps you understand how important it is to be a knowledgeable consumer when it comes to taking your medications, and that it is your responsibility to make sure that you are taking your drugs in a proper and safe manner.

Disposing of Your Medications

In addition to containing the instructions for safe and proper use of your medications, the paperwork that accompanies every medicine you obtain also has pertinent information about how to dispose of your drugs correctly, which is the third aspect of being a responsible pharmaceutical consumer. While we do not often consider how we should dispose of our unused meds as an important part of using our medications, this is a critical aspect of responsible drug use. One of the main reasons we do not think about the process is that you usually take the entire container before drugs expire. Every now and then however, you will find that a drug you rarely take has reached its expiration date, or you will try a prescription medicine that does not work and switch to a different drug before finishing the first, and in these types of situations it is important to make sure that you discard these expired and unneeded medicines in the proper way. Depending on the type of medication being discarded and where you live, the guidelines for how to best dispose of various drugs can differ, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific process in your area. While the rules do differ by region to some extent though, there are some general steps that you can follow to get rid of your unneeded drugs in a responsible and safe way.

Scott Drotar Medication Disposal
Proper medication disposal is an often overlooked aspect of responsible drug use, but it is a critical part of using your medications correctly.

The first step to proper drug disposal is to be aware of your medications’ expiration dates, which can be found on the container’s label and the accompanying paperwork with the drug. Just like food, medicine does go bad after a certain length of time. The shelf life is different for every drug, but most meds that are taken orally and are not refrigerated last at least six months, if not longer. As I said before, since most meds have such a long lifespan, you will usually finish the entire bottle before they go bad, but occasionally you will have drugs that last beyond their expiration date. Once again, just like food that has reached its “use by” date, if a medicine has expired, it should always be discarded. You should never take expired medications, as they often have lost their effectiveness and could be dangerous for consumption. It is always best to properly dispose of the expired drug and get a new, fresh supply. This will not only ensure that you do not take a potentially harmful expired medication, but it will also guarantee that the drugs you take will have the potency and effect that you expect.

Once you have identified that one of your drugs has expired or should otherwise be discarded, the next step is to properly dispose of the medicine. Since depending on where you live the guidelines can differ, before you discard any meds the first thing you should do is talk to your pharmacist or contact your city’s trash service office to learn about any local guidelines for proper drug disposal. For example, I used to live in a city that had a “drug take-back program” that would allow you to bring in any unwanted medication to a certain, pre-designated location, and they would take the drugs and properly dispose of them for you, no questions asked. Once you are aware of any local regulations, the next step is to consult the paperwork that is with the medicine. If there are any specific instructions for discarding the drug, like flushing it down the toilet (never do this unless specifically stated), it will be clearly identified and explained in this documentation. If there are no specific instructions listed, you can safely throw away the unneeded meds in the following manner. Remove the medications from their original containers and put them in a resealable plastic bag. Next, add a large amount of any unappealing, inedible substance (dish soap, kitty litter, coffee grounds, etc.) to the bag and mix it with the unwanted medications. This will make your discarded drugs undesirable to animals and unusable to people who may be dumpster diving. You can then dispose of this sealed bag in any trash can. Following these general rules will ensure that you are doing your part to properly dispose of your unwanted medications, and it will complete the process of being a responsible pharmaceutical consumer.

Scott Drotar Expired Medications
Medicine, just like food, has a shelf life, and it is important to properly dispose of your expired medications.

I will admit, for me personally, this is the part of being a responsible medication consumer that I struggle with most. I do not like wasting anything, whether it be time, food, or medicine. On top of that, I am a bit of a pack rat, and I can always come up with some outlandish, hypothetical reason to hang on to something. These personality traits often make it difficult for me to get myself to throw away unused prescription drugs that I stop taking before I finish them. I always think to myself, “What if I end up trying this medication again in a few months at a higher dose? Why waste such expensive medicine?” Even though I know I should discard the old meds, these thoughts have caused me on occasion to save my unneeded prescription drugs long after I stopped taking them. The funny thing is that I have never had a situation arise where I actually wound up using any medications I have saved “just in case,” and I always end up throwing these drugs away a year later anyway, when they finally expire. While this may not be the best way to go about things, I do always follow the proper guidelines for disposing of my meds, even if I do it a year late. I am a work in progress, I guess.

Final Thoughts

You are now fully equipped to become a responsible pharmaceutical user. You have learned how to correctly store your medications, and you are more aware of the dangers associated with taking your medicines in an improper way. You also now know how to dispose of your expired and unneeded drugs in a safe and responsible manner. Following the information contained within these three aspects of responsible medication use will allow you to take advantage of the huge health benefits that modern pharmaceuticals can provide, while also ensuring that you are doing so in a safe way. Remember that it is up to you, as the person using these medications, to be knowledgeable about your meds and how to properly use them. Take the time to read the documentation that accompanies every drug you buy, because spending a few minutes reading these pamphlets could be the difference between life and death. My final piece of advice is to use common sense and trust your instincts. If you ever get even a tiny feeling that you may be using a medicine improperly, do not take it and consult your pharmacist or physician. If you do that, and do your best to follow the guidelines described above, you will not only be a responsible consumer of pharmaceuticals, but you will also have a much happier, healthier life.

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A Message From Your Medicine Cabinet (Part 1)

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The American Recall Center, in celebration of “Patient Safety Awareness Week,” is holding a “Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Challenge.” For this event, they have asked a few “influential bloggers” (their words, not mine) to write an article about responsibly using your medications and sharing some personal experiences. They asked yours truly to participate, and I was more than happy to oblige. I know it is coming a couple days late, but today’s article is the piece I wrote for their “challenge.” I hope you enjoy it, and that it makes you think about your own pharmaceutical use. 

Few areas of research have made as much progress or shown more growth in recent history than the field of medicine. Just in my brief lifetime there have been numerous, major medical advancements that have resulted in longer lifespans, as well as a better quality of life, for people with all sorts of diseases and disorders. One of the areas of medicine that has developed and changed the most over this time is the pharmaceutical industry. We now have instant, unlimited access to hundreds of over the counter medications, and there are thousands more available by prescription, that would have been considered witchcraft just a decade ago. While these powerful drugs now at our disposal can be extremely helpful and alleviate a lot of pain and suffering, they can also be quite dangerous. If not used correctly, these capsules and tablets can quickly go from life saving medications to life threatening poisons. It is now our responsibility, as individuals with infinite access to these drugs, to make sure that we are taking the proper care when dealing with pharmaceuticals. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Great power involves great responsibility.” In celebration of “Patient Safety Awareness Week,” I am going to share with you my own methods for making sure I am a responsible consumer in regards to my medications.

Scott Drotar American Recall Center
The American Recall Center is celebrating “Patient Safety Awareness Week” by holding a “Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Challenge.”

Since I was born with the genetic, neuromuscular disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), I have been in and out of hospitals, seen more doctors, and dealt with the medical field more, than most people twice my age. I have never walked, require nursing care 24 hours a day, and have the lung volume of a toddler. Although there is no cure or treatment for SMA, there are lots of drugs that can treat the symptoms that my disability causes and improve my life dramatically. Thanks to modern pharmaceuticals, I am able to open up my bronchial tubes when my breathing gets weak and manage pain that on a good day is almost bearable. There is not a doubt in my mind that without the various drugs I take on a daily basis, I would not be able to lead the happy, fulfilling life that I do. Part of using these medications to better my life though, is making sure that I am handling them in the proper way, both to ensure my safety and the safety of others. Even though I have a team of nurses who oversee my medical care, which includes my medications, I still believe it is my responsibility to make sure I am using my meds correctly. When I think about how I go about this process of being a responsible medication consumer, three things come to mind. These three areas that come up are storing my drugs properly, taking them correctly, and disposing of them in a safe way.

Storing Your Medications

The first step to proper pharmaceutical consumption is making sure you are storing your medicine in the proper manner. For most drugs in most homes, this means putting them in your “medicine cabinet,” which should be a cool, dark place out of the reach of children. While this is fine for the vast majority of over the counter medications, and even most prescription drugs, there are plenty of situations where there is a lot more to it. In my case for example, I have to store my assortment of medications in three separate areas, based on their type and strength. First, I have my typical “medicine cabinet” that houses my over the counter medications, breathing treatments, and other drugs that are not narcotics or controlled substances. Second, I have some meds that have to be refrigerated, so obviously these go in my fridge. In order to keep them safely separate from food, I put them behind the butter tray in the door of my refrigerator. Third, I have a combination safe hidden in my home that holds the majority of my narcotics and other controlled substances, and I only take out enough of each medication for a few days. The few pills I take out are kept out where I can see them in clearly marked bottles. I keep a watchful eye on this at all times, and only my nursing staff and I know the combination to my safe. With my narcotics, I also keep a running count of any drugs I take or get from the pharmacy, so that I can always go count my meds in the event that I thought some were missing.

Scott Drotar Medicine Cabinet
Properly storing your medications is the first step to being a responsible pharmaceutical consumer.

In addition to selecting the best location for housing your medications, experience has taught me a couple of other best practices for storing your meds. One is to always, and I mean always, store your drugs in the container they come in. Whether they are over the counter or prescription, all medicine should be stored in the labeled container you got it in. I know it may be convenient to put a bunch of different meds you commonly take in an unmarked bottle (Altoids tin, old contacts case, empty lip balm container,…) and throw it in your purse or backpack, but it can also be quite dangerous. What if you mix up the diphenhydramine and the ibuprofen, take a couple of sleeping pills instead of some painkillers, and get behind the wheel of your car? At best it is dangerous and a potential DUI, and at worst it is a potentially fatal mistake. Additionally, carrying certain prescription drugs, like narcotics and other drugs used recreationally, in any container other than the bottle you got from the pharmacy is illegal in most states. By simply keeping your drugs in the correct, labeled bottle, you can eliminate issues like this from ever happening.

Another important aspect of proper medication storage that can eliminate life-threatening errors, involves not the drugs themselves, but the paperwork that comes with them. Every time you get a prescription, you get the medication your doctor ordered and a small amount of paperwork. These pamphlets that most people quickly discard without even a glance, can contain vital information for the proper handling of the medication. Information like what foods limit the drug’s effectiveness and what other medications can have dangerous interactions with it, may be fresh in your mind today, but three months from now it will not be. Without the accompanying paperwork, you will have no way of knowing all of this important information, which could result in dire consequences. For this reason, it is always a good idea to keep the paperwork that comes with your medications in the same place as the drugs themselves, or at the very least in a single, well-designated place, so that you will always have easy access to it when necessary.

Taking Your Medications

Having access to the documentation that comes with every medicine you pick up is a critical part of safely and effectively taking your meds, which is the second important aspect of being a responsible pharmaceutical consumer. Due to the powerful effects that medications can have on your body, it is vital that you are taking your drugs as they were designed. Even everyday substances, like Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can do major physical harm if taken incorrectly, which is why properly taking your drugs is so critical. While safe drug use may start with your prescribing physician and the pharmacist, they are just the first line of defense. The person most responsible for ensuring that you take your medicines correctly is you. Since it is your life and well-being that is on the line, it is up to you to be a smart consumer when it comes to your medications. I go through a three step process to educate myself and make certain that I am taking my drugs in the right way, and if you follow this method you will know that you are safely taking your medications. First, have your doctors explain the drugs they prescribe to you and how you should take them. Do not be afraid to ask questions either, because that is the reason they are there. Next, ask your pharmacist about any pertinent information or dangers associated with your medications. Last, read the literature that comes with any new drugs you begin taking. If you do all three of these steps, and they all give you the same information, you will know you are doing things correctly. More importantly, if they do not agree, you will know that something is off, and you will be able to take action to avoid any possible problems.

Scott Drotar Medication Labels
Taking the time to read medication labels and the paperwork that comes with your drugs is the best way to become knowledgeable about your medications.

While I now know to double and triple check the information on my prescriptions before taking them, I did not come by this knowledge by chance. I had to experience the negative, and potentially life-threatening, effects of improperly taking your medications before obtaining this insight. My first experience with improper drug use occurred when I was in graduate school. I had just been prescribed a very potent painkiller by my doctor, and this drug was taken by placing an adhesive patch on your skin (like a nicotine patch). Both my doctor and pharmacist said to simply place a patch on my abdomen, make sure it was securely adhered to my skin, and replace it every two days, and I followed these instructions to the letter. I knew it would take a while for this drug to build up in my system, but with how strong this medication was, I should have felt at least some relief from my chronic pain within a day or two. Even after a week of using it however, I was still in just as much discomfort as I was without the patch. My physician upped my dosage, but still, I felt no relief. As I was tired of being in constant agony from feeling no effect from this potent drug, I decided to do some research on this medication. After doing some Google searches and reading about this drug and how it works, I was able to figure out why this medicine was having no impact on my pain. This particular patch gets into your bloodstream by being absorbed by fats under your skin. I only weigh 60 pounds, and pretty much all of that weight is organs, bones, and skin. Since I did not have enough fat, I could not absorb the drug, and that is why it was so ineffective in controlling my pain. As soon as I talked to my doctor and switched to an oral version of this medication, I finally got the relief I was hoping for from the beginning. It turns out, that if I had just opened up the literature that came with every box of patches and read it, I would have known this information from the start and avoided weeks of suffering.

This story illustrates the importance of being well-informed about your medications. While doctors and pharmacists are extremely knowledgeable and helpful in giving you information about your drugs, they are human, and they do make mistakes. Even though my story may have had a happy ending, this med error could have just as easily done major, and possibly life-threatening, harm to my body. This life and death nature of using medications properly is something that I have experienced first hand. I will share this story with you, and hopefully show you how critical correctly taking your medications can be, in the second part of this article.

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A Life Of Service

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Late last Thursday night, the Notre Dame community, and honestly the world as a whole, had to say goodbye to a very special and influential man, Father Theodore Hesburgh. Before I delve into who this man was and discuss what he accomplished throughout his amazing life, I want to share with you my initial, emotional reaction at hearing about his passing. While some of you may have already read it, here is the Facebook post I wrote immediately after I learned of his death, as I was trying to cope with this unexpected and depressing news.

“Today we mourn the loss of a great man and patriarch of the entire Notre Dame family. He served for 35 years as the university’s president, but his impact on the Irish community goes far beyond his time in office. From his work on civil rights that earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 to running with the Olympic torch that now resides in his private office atop the library named in his honor, “Father Ted” was always working to make “our lady’s university” a better place for its students. His work and dedication has played such a large part in the lives of every graduate of the university, that his impact can be felt in all of the good that Notre Dame alumni have done throughout the world. Whether you were lucky enough to actually meet him or merely talked of him in rumors about how to sneak into his “penthouse” via his secret elevator, every student who was lucky enough to study under the Golden Dome had an enormous amount of respect for this man and his service. He will be missed by all of ND Nation, but he will never be forgotten, as his works and wisdom will forever be reminders of what it means to lead a fulfilling life in service of others. As we mourn this great loss and celebrate his incredible life, it is important to remember that we, the University of Notre Dame graduates that he dedicated his lifetime to serving, are his legacy. It is now our privilege as brothers and sisters of the Notre Dame community to live our lives the way he taught us, with overflowing kindness, unending compassion, and an insatiable curiosity.”

As you can tell from my words, even though I never got the privilege of meeting him personally, Father Hesburgh had an enormous impact on me. In recognition of this amazing man, I would like to share with you a bit about who he was, and more importantly, how he was able to make such a large influence on the lives of others.

Scott Drotar Father Hesburgh
Father Hesburgh served his country by working on appointments for six different presidential administrations.

Theodore Martin Hesburgh was born in 1917 as one of five children, and in his 97 years he achieved some truly astonishing things. He took his vows and was ordained as a priest with the Holy Cross Congregation in 1943, served as the president of the University of Notre Dame for 35 years from 1952 to 1987, and made a major impact on numerous political and theological issues for over 50 years. He had a Guinness world record of over 150 honorary degrees, was appointed to over a dozen White House positions under six different presidents, and even unofficially broke the speed record of 2,193 miles per hour at the age of 62. He held many high ranking positions and was awarded countless, prestigious awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and serving as the chairman of the board for the Rockefeller Foundation. Even with everything that he accomplished throughout his life and all of the accolades he was given though, those of us who are lucky enough to call ourselves sons and daughters of our lady’s university will remember him for a much different reason. We will remember this incredible individual, not for what he achieved throughout his life, but for the way he achieved it.

Father Hesburgh lived his entire life in the service of others. Whether it was serving his students on campus, serving his country by working with the president on civil rights issues, or serving the worldwide, Catholic community by bringing more progressive thinking to the Church, he was always trying to make the world a better place for everyone else. What is even more impressive though, is that he did all of these amazing things, not because he wanted prestige, fame, or money, but because it was the right thing to do. Even when he knew his decisions or actions would not be in agreement with major political or religious groups, like his disagreement with President Nixon over the use of federal troops to limit campus anti-war protests or when he went against the Catholic Church by endorsing the search for truth over religious indoctrination in 1967, he would still do what he believed was best for others. He made such a huge impact on the world simply by living his life with a generous, kind heart, a ravenously curious mind, and the unquestioning belief in doing what was right. This is the most important gift he gave those of us who were fortunate enough to be touched by his work. He modeled how to lead a fulfilling, successful, and meaningful life for thousands of Notre Dame graduates, and by showing us how to live in service to the world, he gave us the ability to change it. It is these teachings, and the work done by Notre Dame alumni because of them, that will be his lasting legacy.

Scott Drotar Father Ted
“Father Ted,” as Notre Dame students call him, served as the university’s longest tenured president for 35 years.

“Father Ted” probably had a greater impact on my life than any other person that I have never met in person. His never-ending devotion to living life the right way and in the service of others is in large part the example I try to follow as I pursue my mission of helping people lead happier lives. In addition, his lifelong pursuit of truth and passion for learning was a major influence in my own insatiable thirst for knowledge. The most important lesson I took from Father Hesburgh however, was how crucial it is to have the courage to do what you know is right, even when you know that the people around you will disagree with your choice. You have to have the strength and conviction to stand up for what you believe in, in order to make a difference in the world and improve the lives of others. This is something that he modeled with perfection for half a century, and it is the standard I am trying to live up to in my own journey. I, like so many other loyal sons and daughters of Notre Dame, will always remember Father Hesburgh, and he will forever be an influential part of our lives. We now have the privilege of continuing his work by making our own mark on the world using the lessons he taught us, and in doing so ensuring that his legacy and impact on the world will never be forgotten.

Scott Drotar A Life Of Service
Father Hesburgh lived his entire life in the service of others, which is something we should all strive to achieve.

“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.”
–Theodore Hesburgh

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Her Many Hats

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Scott Drotar Mom's Birthday
It is a big day for Roll Models, because it is the day that one of the most influential people in my life was born. Today is my mom’s birthday.

Today is a very special day both for me and for Roll Models. Today is the day that one of the most important and influential people in my life was brought into the world (many, many years ago). Today is my mom’s birthday. I was having trouble trying to decide what to write about this amazing lady, who will always be the number one woman in my life, and I thought that my writer’s block was because I had already written so many articles about my magnificent mom. I have shared with you the sacrifices she has made for me, how she is always ready at the drop of a hat to travel the 600 miles to come take care of me, and the courage she has shown in letting me live my own, independent life. I actually thought that maybe I had run the well dry on this topic and would need to come up with some other way to celebrate her birthday. After I thought about my creative constipation for a while and why I could not think of a suitable way to honor my mother on her special day though, I realized that my mental block was not because I had too little to write about, but because I have too much. There are so many incredible things I could share with you about this wonderful woman that it is hard to pick out just one. It would be like picking the best Beatles song or your favorite Robert Frost poem. You cannot pick just one since they are all great and meaningful in their own way. To solve this little quandary, I decided to not pick just one thing to write about, and instead tell you about several of the countless ways that she has made my life so successful and fulfilling.

My mother went to Ball State University and graduated with a degree in both instrumental and choral music education. While this is her only official academic training, like all mothers out there, she also has a thorough understanding of all of the various techniques necessary for raising happy, healthy, well-behaved children. Things like being nurturing and soothing when her children are upset, being the warden when they misbehave, and all of the other skills that moms seem to possess almost like magic. However, unlike most other mothers, whose role as caregiver and such decreases over time as their kids grow into teenagers, due to my disability my mom had to continue her caregiver role until I graduated and moved off to college. Not only did she have to continue to take care of me for 18 years, she also had to learn a myriad of other skills in order to keep me safe and make my life as “normal” as possible. When I think about all of the different things she had to learn to do over the years, often with no prior training or notice, I often think of her as wearing many different hats, each of which represents another part she had to play in the story of my life. Most of these roles were not things she had ever wanted to be or had much knowledge of, but if there was a hat she needed to wear to make my life work, she put it on without saying a word. To celebrate her birthday, I have decided to share with you a few of the many hats in my mom’s closet.

Scott Drotar Nurses Hat
While she received no formal training, my mom learned the skills she needed and put on her nurse’s hat to keep me safe and healthy.

One of the hats she wore the most, in fact she probably wore out a few, was her nurse’s cap. My mom has absolutely no medical training, nor did she ever plan on getting any, but as soon as I was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy she put this hat right on. My mom knows more about the respiratory system, physical therapy, and pain management than a lot of second year med students, and she learned it all on the fly, without any training, and without a safety net. Despite all of this, she absorbed it all and kept me safe and healthy my entire life. Another piece of headgear that she never would have dreamed of wearing is the trucker style hat of the wheelchair technician. My mother will be the first to admit that she is not mechanically inclined, and she has no interest in tools, axles, or motors. Even though she had little natural ability or previous interest though, as soon as my wheelchair broke down for the first time, she was happy to

Scott Drotar Chef's Hat
It is a-me, a-chef a-mommy.

put on that foam-billed cap and get her hands dirty. She is even more skilled than many actual wheelchair techs, because she often had to work with next to no tools (it never failed that my wheelchair would break down away from home), and instead just try to “MacGyver” a quick fix. One of the more fun hats she had in her arsenal is her nutritionist/dietitian/chef’s hat. When you have a physical disability that keeps you immobile and in a wheelchair, it is often very difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Most people who use power wheelchairs are either much too heavy or, as in my case, much too thin (this is a generalization not a rule). Throughout my life my mom has been painstakingly cooking anything and everything she can to try to entice me to eat more and fatten me up. Whether it was driving 30 minutes to get some fast food because that is what sounded good to me or spending hours in the kitchen after working all day to make my favorite meals, she was always quick to dress up like Chef Boyardee and put some pounds on me.

These are just a handful of the hundreds of different hats that my mom has worn over the years to make my life better. While I have taken over most of these jobs and wear these hats myself now that I am grown and living on my own, there is one role that I hope she never gives up. As great as she was as a nurse and as cool as she looked in her chef’s hat, it is the role she plays when she takes off all the headgear that is the most important to me. She is at her best when she is not wearing any hat, when she is being my mom. When she is being the person I want by my bed when I am sick and the person that texts me any day I do not post an article on my blog. When she is willing to, in an instant, learn any new skill or trade and wear any hat, if it means that my life will be better or easier, even if it is something she has no interest in. When she is being the woman who will always love me more than anyone else. That is when she is in her natural role, being my mother.

As I go about my life out here on my own, wearing many of the hats that my mom had to wear for so many years, I am so thankful for having the amazing mom that I do. I now know how hard it is sometimes to have to fulfill a role that you have no training in or desire

Scott Drotar Her Many Hats
I may be the one wearing her many hats now, but my mother will always play her most important role in my life, being my mom.

to learn at a moment’s notice, and I am thankful that my mother carried that burden for so long. I am also thankful that she not only wore all of these hats, but also taught me how to wear them as well, to prepare me for a life on my own. I am most thankful though that she will always be there playing her most important role, and one that I could never take over, of being my mom. I know that no matter how far away I move or how independent I become, that she will always be there for me, ready to do anything I need her to. She will always love me more than anyone else, and more than I could probably even fathom, and that is by far the most important part she plays in my life. To my mom, Happy ##th Birthday (I will not put the number for all to see). I hope you have an amazing, perfect day, and that dad is taking you someplace nice for dinner. Most of all, know that I love you. Even if I do not say it often, it is always true. You are, and always will be, the number one woman in my life, even if you do not get to wear any more terrific hats.

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His Greatest Achievement

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Scott Drotar Lifetime Achievement Award
My father was given a lifetime achievement award for his more than two decades of service to the students of John Glenn High School.

This year the school district where my father works awarded my very deserving dad with a lifetime achievement award for his nearly 25 years of service as a teacher and coach to the students of John Glenn High School (JGHS). In bestowing this prestigious honor upon him, I am sure that they will bring up the numerous teams he has coached, the dozens of different classes he has agreed to teach over the years, and his work to improve the school’s AP program for college bound seniors. While all of these accomplishments are worthy of praise and recognition, these types of things are by no means his greatest achievements as an educator. His most important accomplishments as a guide for his students did not occur in the classroom, on the football field, or softball diamond, and the impact that he has made is far more valuable than any tackling technique or test score. His greatest feats as a teacher are things that his students will remember and carry with them for the rest of their lives, as they mature into successful, happy adults.

One Summer several years ago, I had gone out with my father to run some errands around town, and he needed to stop by the high school to grab something out of his classroom. As he ran down to his room to grab whatever he wanted to pick up, I decided to stop in the school’s main office to say “hello” to my old guidance counselor. While I was in the office talking about my time at Notre Dame and such, the newly hired assistant principal of the school walked in. After introducing ourselves, I came to find out that even though he was now going to be my dad’s superior, he had actually been a student of my father’s years before at another high school. This was strange enough to hear, but as I was waiting on my dad to return, this young administrator told me a story about my father that I will always remember. Not only will this story forever remind me of how amazing and wise my father is, but it is a great example of the way he has made a lifelong difference in the lives of so many of his students.

Scott Drotar Young Teacher
Even as a young teacher and coach, my father was extremely devoted to making an impact on the lives of his students.

When my father was just starting his career as a high school teacher, he worked at a school in a rural, farming community in Northern Indiana as the government teacher and football coach. During this time, the new assistant principal of JGHS was a senior and both a student of my father’s as well as a player on his varsity football team. He was a popular guy and a leader on the team with a bright future ahead of him, but as so often happens with hormone crazed teens however, life happened, and he and his girlfriend got pregnant. An unplanned pregnancy is something that fully grown, mature couples can barely deal with, and for a couple of high school kids, who cannot even buy a lottery ticket, this type of situation is even more impossible to manage. A few days after learning this life altering news, this young father-to-be went to speak to my dad after school one day to discuss how it may affect his ability to remain on the football team. It was this conversation with my father that this young man credits with having the greatest impact on him during this trying time in his life. He even believes that without my dad’s guidance that he would not have been able to overcome this adverse set of circumstances and create a successful life.

After hearing about his life changing situation, my father had this troubled teen take a seat in one of the student desks in his classroom, and my dad sat down in a desk right across from him. Out of everyone this adolescent had spoken to about the pregnancy, this 18 year old was being talked to and treated like a man for the first time, because that is what he had to be now that he was having a baby. My father did not talk down to him as an adult to a child, but instead like a man, an equal, advising another man. My dad basically said that the most important thing was to do right by this child, and that he would have to sacrifice some things in order to make this kid his number one priority. My wise father did not pretend to have all the answers or know what to do, but by helping this young man gain some perspective and re-prioritize his life, he got him on the right track to overcoming this difficult situation. While he did not receive any specific advice on how to move forward, the scared, 18 year old kid that entered my father’s classroom that day left that room a much more confident, mature young man, thanks to the wisdom and guidance of my incredible dad.

This emotional, inspirational story about how my father helped this distraught teenager keep his life on track was moving enough on its own, but the look on the face of the now assistant principal made it even more powerful to hear. As I listened to him recount this tale from his past, I could see the tears welling up in his eyes as he remembered how my father had made him feel that day many years ago. The look on his face and the inflection in his voice made it obvious how much that conversation meant to him, and the immense amount of gratitude and respect he had for my dad because of it. You could tell that this young administrator truly believed that if not for the guidance of my father, he would not have been able to keep his life in order, graduate from high school, raise a family with his high school sweetheart, and become a high school principal. And while you would think that this sort of life altering event would be a one time occurrence for the careers of most teachers, and for lesser men than my father that would probably be true, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for Mr. Drotar. I cannot begin to tell you the number of former students and players we have bumped into over the years who have that same look on their face when they come up and shake my dad’s hand. Even though most of these thankful individuals did not have anything as life changing as a teen pregnancy to deal with, they all had the same feelings of respect and admiration for my father and the way he treated them as adolescents. They are all grateful for the way he treated them as young, emerging adults and the life lessons and wisdom he was always willing to share.

Scott Drotar His Greatest Achievement
My father has accomplished many things during his career, but his greatest achievement are the successful individuals out in the world whose lives he has touched.

Anyone who has worked with my father for any length of time would definitely agree that this recognition of his years of dedication and service to the students of JGHS is much deserved and long overdue. While this award may focus on his students test scores and the number of winning teams he has put on the field during his career, the people who really matter, the thousands of young men and women who have sat in his classroom, know that his greatest professional achievements have little to do with academics or athletics. His greatest accomplishments as a teacher are the happy, successful individuals that were able to grow into functioning members of society thanks to the wisdom my father passed on to them. These life lessons and guidance will never show up on any spreadsheet of test scores or in a box score of a high school football game, but that does not mean that they are not important. If anything, the fact that these words of wisdom he has shared with so many young minds were done without any recognition or acclaim makes his sage-like guidance that much more incredible. I want to say congratulations to my incredible father for this much deserved award for his life of dedication to his students. I am so extremely proud that I get to introduce you as my father, and I hope that the wisdom you have imparted on me has helped me to grow into a man that you are proud to call your son. You are a terrific teacher, an amazing coach, and most of all a phenomenal father. I love you and hope that you enjoy your time in the spotlight (although I know you will want to return to your spot behind the scenes as quickly as possible).

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A New Roll Models Service

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While this is not exactly a new post, I do have an exciting announcement to make about a new service I am offering through Roll Models.

Scott Drotar KU PPT Club
The students in the University of Kansas Pre-Physical Therapy Club were a great audience, and I thoroughly enjoyed speaking for them.

Whether it is a toast at a wedding, a presentation to your superiors at work, or giving a speech for a volunteer group to raise funds, we all have to speak in front of people at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is one of the most common fears people have, with nearly 75% of people reporting having some anxiety/nervousness before taking the microphone. Surveys even show that the majority of people fear speaking in public more than death! It does not have to be this way however, since studies have also consistently shown that receiving some training or advice on how to deliver a great speech can drastically reduce your anxiety.

After reading this information and letting it percolate for a few days, I saw both an opportunity to help others and create a new service I could offer through Roll Models. Over the last year, between reading every book on speaking I could find, watching countless hours of great speeches online, and of course delivering numerous Roll Models talks of my own, I have accumulated an enormous amount of knowledge about how to give a great speech and feel comfortable while doing it. Everything from where to stand, what to wear, how to position your hands, and a thousand other things need to be addressed before getting on stage in order to speak effectively. By sharing my knowledge of public speaking with others, I can help them to overcome their pre-talk nerves and give a speech they can be proud of.

Thanks to some fantastic advice from my brother, I also had access to an efficient, yet effective, tool to offer this service quite quickly. This amazing tool is the website, www.fiverr.com. This website is an online marketplace with a twist, you have to offer your service for $5. You are free to offer pretty much any service you like, just as long as you charge a “fiverr.” I highly recommend that you check it out, and while you are there, stop by my profile at www.fiverr.com/sdrotar. I currently only offer two services, statistical analysis help and speech preparation advice, but I have many more coming soon.

I hope you will check it out and consider my services for your own public speaking anxiety issues should they arise. Also, if you know of anyone with an upcoming toast, speech, or presentation coming up, please let them know about my new service.

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A Recipe for Success: Spice Things Up

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Over the last few years, I have discovered that I really like cooking. It is a lot of fun to get in the kitchen and create something new and delicious for people to enjoy. As I have been learning my way around the kitchen and developing my culinary skills beyond merely boiling an egg, I have realized that cooking is a great analogy for life. Many of the things I have had to learn to become a better cook are some of the same lessons that you must learn in order to lead a happy, successful life. In an effort to share some of these life lessons from the kitchen with you, I am going to be running a new Roll Models series called “A Recipe for Success.” Today’s post, “Spice Things Up,” is the first entry in this group, and I will continue to publish articles from this series periodically. All of the recipes I reference in these posts will be available on my Pinterest cooking board with my comments, so that you can try them if you want. More importantly than passing on my culinary advice however, I also hope to pass on some of the valuable insights you can gain about life as you journey into the world of cooking. And if I happen to create a new chef or two along the way that is just gravy.

Scott Drotar Boiled Egg
Up until a few years ago, this was about the extent of my culinary knowledge.

When I first started getting into cooking before I could barely even tell a sauce pan from a colander, I thought that cooking was merely looking up a recipe and following the instructions. I could not have been more wrong. While selecting good recipes and being able to follow them are a small part of being a good cook, this is something that anyone who can read could do, but you all know that not everyone can cook. In order to actually cook, you have to be able to go a step beyond what is written on the recipe card and be able to modify and alter the directions to improve the dish and make it your own. This is what separates working in the kitchen and cooking, and while this may seem like a very trivial distinction, I assure you it is not. There are lots of things you must learn in order to move over from using the stove to cooking, but the first and most important, lesson is to adopt the right culinary mindset. You have to have the confidence and curiosity to experiment with new foods and techniques, so that you are willing to go beyond the recipe and create something new. As crucial as this fearless, inquisitive mentality is to becoming a good cook though, it is an even more important part of living a happy and fulfilling life.

A perfect example of how important this curious and courageous nature is in the kitchen occurred just the other day as I was breaking in my new Dutch oven by trying a new recipe. The dish I was making was a chili mac and cheese that had rave reviews on Pinterest, so I thought I would give it a try. After I read through the list of ingredients and the cooking instructions, I realized though that if I made the dish as it was written, I definitely would not like it. I will not go into the specific details here (they are on my Pinterest board), but there were ingredients included in the recipe that I do not particularly like. Thanks to my cook’s mindset however, I was more than willing to make some changes and try to modify it to fit my tastes. I did not know how it would turn out or if it would even be edible after my alterations, but with the right perspective, you realize that the experimentation is part of the fun. I started spicing things up (I love spicy food), taking things out, and even adjusting the cooking temperature as I thought best. My curiosity and confidence to make these changes paid off too, as this culinary masterpiece had plenty of kick and turned out even better than I could have hoped. I never would have been able to make these improvements however, if I had not first developed the adventurous mentality to try something new.

Scott Drotar Spice Things Up
Having the confidence to spice things up not only helped me create a great new dish, but also get the most out of life.

Just as by adopting the right mindset is critical to being able to enjoy cooking and getting better at creating new foods, it is also a crucial part of living a full, happy life. If you go through life only doing exactly what everyone else has done and playing it safe all the time, sure you may not ever make any huge mistakes, but you will also never experience some of the new and exciting things that the world has to offer. You have to have the courage and questioning nature that pushes you to try something different, even if you do not know how it will turn out all the time, in order to get the most out of life. You cannot be afraid to spice things up because it may be too hot to handle, if you want to create the fulfilling, successful life you deserve. Trying new experiences, learning from your mistakes, and taking pride in your successes is all a part of achieving great things and living a full life, and this all starts with overcoming the fear to step out of your comfort zone and spice things up.

My recent culinary adventure with the now new and improved spicy chili mac and cheese is just one example of how you have to have a certain confidence in order to be a good cook. This delicious journey through my kitchen is a great illustration of how this mindset is equally important to your life in general though. By adopting this courageous outlook you may not always know how things will turn out, and you will probably ruin a few dishes along the way, but you will also get to experience and achieve some truly amazing things. Don’t limit yourself by being afraid to spice things up and try a new idea. You will be astonished at how much more you can get out of life, and your kitchen, by adopting this curious, confident mindset. You will not only fill your belly with some great food, but y will also fill your life with some incredible experiences and your heart with happiness.

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Roll Models By The Numbers 2014

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Scott Drotar Roll Models By The Numbers
With Christmas now behind us and the new year underway, it is an appropriate time to look back on everything that happened this year.

Christmas has come and gone, and the new year has begun. Along with empty promises to ourselves to lose weight, spend more time with our family, and finally meet that special someone, the new year brings with it an extremely important day, the birthday of Roll Models and www.scottdrotar.com. Although my first official post was not until January 13th, 2014, I started building the website and writing blog articles on the first of the year. When I realized the other day that it had been an entire year in my “new life” already, I was a little shocked. It seems like just last month that I was designing the Roll Models logo, writing my first Roll Models talk, and feeling happy if even 10 people viewed my website a day. To think about how far www.scottdrotar.com, Roll Models, and I have come over the last 12 months is pretty mind blowing. While going from trained statistical consultant to professional speaker and writer with absolutely no training is not something that I ever thought I would do, it has been one of the most enriching, fulfilling, and rewarding periods of my life. To celebrate Roll Models reaching a year old, the success of www.scottdrotar.com, and everything we have learned from each other over the last year, I have come up with a fitting way to look back and see both where we started, how far we have come, and how much further we can go in year two.

As I have discussed in earlier posts, I have always had a love and appreciation for mathematics. The way the numbers and variables fit together and the quest for that one right answer have always fascinated me. It is this passion for numbers that caused me to first pursue my bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame, and then go spend another four years getting my master’s degree in quantitative psychology from the University of Kansas. Even though I am not currently using my knowledge of math and statistics to pay the bills, my wealth of numerical knowledge has been helpful in developing Roll Models and www.scottdrotar.com into the successes they are today. Thanks to the internet, and also Google for championing data generation and sharing, it is now quite easy (and affordable) to gather data on your website about who is using it. By combining the tools for gathering data courtesy of Google with my extensive statistical know-how and experience, I have been able to analyze what types of people are viewing www.scottdrotar.com, what types of articles are more popular, and a thousand other things that allow me to improve the website for you. In addition, it has also allowed me to easily look at how the site has been doing through its first year. I am not going to bore you with all of the gory details and calculations, but I will share some of the results from my analysis, as some were a bit surprising.

All statistical data are current as of 12/28/2014.

Let’s first look at the bread and butter of Roll Models, my talks. Over the last year I have written six different Roll Models talks. At roughly 60 minutes a piece, since I have delivered eight talks this amounts to spending 480 minutes on stage. While that is fairly unexciting at best, what is slightly more impressive is the number of hours I have spent preparing and writing my talks. On average, a professional speaker spends at least one hour preparing for every minute they are on stage. This means that I have devoted a minimum of 480 hours, or 20 days working around the clock, or 60 8-hour work days (roughly three months) working on my speaking engagements. I have delivered my message to a diverse range of audiences, having spoken to anyone from grade school children to college students to a conference room of businesspeople. Thanks to the encouragement and support of every one of these audiences, Roll Models was able to gain momentum quickly, and this success on stage spilled over to www.scottdrotar.com, which is the next topic for discussion.

The website has been up and running for 338 days with the first blog post being published a few days later on January 13th, 2014. In that time, www.scottdrotar.com has only crashed four times (and I have spent 20 hours speaking with customer service getting it fixed), which is not too bad considering that it is the first website I have ever built from scratch. I have posted 211 articles, uploaded more than 500 photos, and received over 177,779 comments (roughly 140,000 of these were spam). The website has been visited by approximately 11,291 different people over the year, and these individuals found their way to www.scottdrotar.com in a variety of ways. 3,913 (34.7%) visitors came through links on social media sites (with Facebook accounting for over 85% of these people), and 4,133 (36.5%) found their way through a search engine like Google. 2,666 (23.6%) viewers came to www.scottdrotar.com by typing it directly into their web browser, and the remaining 605 visitors (5.4%) were referred by other websites. Even though the www.scottdrotar.com homepage has the most views of any page on the website, the most popular set of pages were the Roll Models blog posts, accounting for almost 75% of the total web traffic on the site.

Scott Drotar New Year 2015
It is now time to gather up everything we have learned during the last 12 months and use this knowledge to help Roll Models continue its success in the new year.

While the homepage may have the most views (which makes sense being the “entrance” to www.scottdrotar.com), the most popular blog article was without a doubt “I Can’t,” being seen over 1,835 times since being published. The 211 posts average roughly 1,300 words a piece, which conservatively brings the total number of words I have blogged this year to approximately 274,300. This is over 20,000 more than the number of words found in any of the Harry Potter series books, each of which took more than twice as long to write. On average, each article I write takes about six hours. This involves everything from coming up with the idea and title, writing the content, revising and editing it, finding pictures, and posting it on www.scottdrotar.com. This amounts to 1,266 hours, or nearly 53 days working 24 hours a day, or 158 8-hour work days (over 22 weeks or nearly 8 months) that I have spent this year working on the blog alone. While this is a huge amount of time to devote to one task, I am delighted to say that it never felt like I was working too much or getting burned out. I have you to thank for this, because it is your support and encouragement that fueled my dedication to Roll Models.

Since you are largely responsible for my success this year, I thought I would end today’s post by sharing with you what my data says about the people who visit my website. While more than two-thirds of my visitors are located in the United States (with my home state of Indiana having the most of any state), the second most views came from India, which was a bit surprising. About half of the people who visit www.scottdrotar.com use a desktop computer, a third use mobile phones, and the remaining 10% or so use tablets. People view two pages per visit on average, and they spend about two minutes on each page. What I am most proud of though, is that nearly 40% of the people who visit my website come back at a later date. This means that my words are impacting people’s lives deeply enough that they remember my message, which is exactly what I am trying to do. I hope that this trend will continue, and that you will join me in 2015 as I see what exciting adventures year number two holds.

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