How curtains can change the look of your home?

The roles of curtains have changed. At one time they were used to retain heat, block cold air, control sunlight and provide privacy. They still perform these roles, but with the many advancements in window glass and window design technology, they are often much more decorative than functional. Decorators can be much more creative in their window treatments with this shift to the decorative usage.

For many people, there is a distinction between the terms curtains and drapes. Drapes are usually floor length, lined and suspended from a traverse rod with hooks that will allow them to be opened and closed by pulling a cord. Draperies are usually very formal looking. Curtains are less formal. They are usually those fabric window treatments that are suspended by hooks or rings from a rod and opened and closed by grasping the edge and pulling the fabric panel into position. Often they are tied back to the window casing and are not opened or closed at all. In these situations, they are frequently used in conjunction with shades, or blinds which can be closed to block sunlight or provide privacy.

Types of curtains

There are three basic types of curtains. These are the panel, the cafe and tiered. Panel are simply plain panels of fabric that are hemmed at the top and at the bottom. They are suspended from the top of the window by rings or hooks and hang in natural folds, giving the window a less formal appearance. These are often used in bedrooms and dining rooms and maybe used in combination with shades, blinds or sheers. Cafe curtains are generally hung from the center of the window, leaving the upper part of the window bare or exposed. Sometimes the cafe styles will be hung one fourth or one third of the way down from the top of the window, giving the window a much different look. Either way, they are tied back. Cafe curtains are often used in kitchens and in informal dining areas. The third kind is the tiered. These are multiple panels with one or two panels hanging over the top of the two base panels. The base panels usually cover the bottom half of the window and the outer panels cover the top half of the window and hang down to overlap the base panels.

There are three basic lengths as well. The sill length is either suspended from either the halfway point or the top of the window. The bottom hem is not quite touching the windowsill. The below the sill style is cut so the bottom hem hangs just below the apron or trim board running across the bottom of the window. The floor length style is cut so the bottom hem is just above the floor.

There are also be lined or unlined styles, depending upon the amount of natural light that is to be admitted to the room. Similarly, there are interlined styles, with a third layer sandwiched between the panel and the lining. They are designed to provide protection from cold air that is conducted from the outside to the inside through the glass, or air seeping through cracks in the windowsill or between the sash and the window frame.

Tie back styles

The appearance of a window can be dramatically altered by the colour and fabric used. It can also be altered in the manner the curtains are hung. One popular and attractive arrangement is the tie back. Tie back options offer decorators tremendous choices in creating unique and very attractive windows.

The most popular tie back positions are the high tie, the middle tie, the low tie, the centre tie, the crisscrossed tie and the angled double tie.

1. The high tie is when one or two panels are hung in the window. The tie pulls the panel back above the centreline of the window.

2. The middle tie pulls the panel back at a point near the middle of the curtain. It looks best if it is not done at the exact centre, but either slightly above or slightly below the centre.

3. The low tie pulls the curtain back about three-fourths of the distance from the top to the floor.

4. The centre tie gathers one or two curtains and pulls them together in the vertical centre of the window, about two thirds or three fourths of the distance from the top to the bottom.

5. The crisscrossed tie starts with two overlapping panels hanging the full width of the window. The outer panel is pulled back to one side and the inner curtain is pulled back to the opposite side.

6. The angled tie uses either one or two curtains. The panel is pulled partially back in the high tie position and pulled back more closely to the window casing in the bottom tie position. The panel is tied back twice in such a way that it is hung in a pleasing, billowing angle from one top corner of the window to a point below the opposite side of the window.

Formal and informal styles

Curtains can be as varied as the individuals in whose homes they hang. Even with all of the variety in fabrics, colours, lengths and methods of hanging, all curtain styles can be classified as either formal or informal.

Formal window treatments are usually called draperies and hang in layers. They are most often found in formal parlors or sitting rooms, living rooms and formal dining rooms. The window treatment is usually done in two or three layers. The first layer is the sheer, which is often a single panel of sheer linen or lace that admits diffused light into the room. Sheers also tend to obscure visibility from the outside, especially if the lighting in the room is subdued. The second layer is usually the pleated floor length drapes. The drapes are suspended from traverse curtain rods if they are intended to be opened and closed. Drapes are hung from above the window and cover the side casing and trim of the window as they fall toward the floor. The third layer is the curtain running across the window top and covers the top of the window casing, trim and the heading of the draperies. Draperies and valances are often lined. Draperies may be below sill length although they are often floor length.

Everything else is informal curtains, usually hung in one or two layers. They are seldom lined, and are used to diffuse light, not to block it out.

Curtains are decorative, but have other uses as well, aside from providing privacy. They are useful in room darkening to protect room contents from the adverse effects of the sun UV rays. Sunlight can fade the colors in furniture and carpet fabrics. Lined curtains are especially good for protecting furniture and carpeting near windows facing either to the south or to the west.

There are many window covering options to the home decorator. The variety of styles, colours and fabrics give homeowners greater versatility in decorating than ever before.

3 Facts About curtains cleaning

Taking a close look at the equipment you own for keeping your curtains clean can help you determine the best way to proceed. An old, weak vacuum cleaner won’t do you much good, so our recommendation is to search for a new, more powerful model. There are vacuum cleaners on the market – such as the Kirby line – for which you can pay over $1,000 and up.

However, this is way too expensive for a lot of folks. Never fear, there are many very efficient machines at more reasonable prices.

The very first habit you need to develop is to vacuum your curtains every week. However, that’s the very minimum requirement. Other procedures will depend on your particular circumstances. By having a good schedule for vacuuming, you will effectively be removing the dirt and dust particles that are not yet apparent but are, nonetheless, there. The more time you delay between the times you vacuum, the more chance there is for dirt to be ground into the fibers of your curtains. Prevent this from happening by vacuuming frequently because, the more dirt in your curtain’s fibers, the more problem you will have getting it out. If you have high traffic areas, then you could even vacuum that once per day, but that is just spot vacuuming and will help. 

There are many methods you can use to clean your curtaining. The results you get will vary between the methods. One curtain cleaning method, called steam cleaning, is easy to do.

Many people choose this alternative method because they don’t want to use chemical cleaners. The important factor is to make sure the process is done correctly. One very important step is making sure that all the moisture is removed from the curtaining when you are finished cleaning. As you are no doubt aware, the steam – as it cools – condenses into water that settles into the pile of your curtain. When you finish cleaning, therefore, you have to make sure this water is removed from your curtain. Mold can grow in your curtain if all of the water isn’t removed. This is bad and will not only cause health problems, but your curtain will probably have to be replaced.

How to determine the frequency of rug shampooing and floor maintenance will be based upon your home and its contents, as well as your lifestyle. You will have a bigger cleaning job, and will have to clean more often, if your household includes pets such as birds, dogs, or cats. The big problem with pets such as these is that they spread dander all over your home. There are a lot of people who are allergic to the dust-like dander that is a natural component of the coats and feathers of these types of pets. Your routine for cleaning your curtains will be a little more frequent if you have pets. In order to keep the level of dander down in your home, you will most likely need to thoroughly vacuum more often. Don’t be surprised if it takes two vacuumings every week to protect your home from excessive dander. 

As you can see, you need to consider the color of your curtain, as well as other factors, when you are in the market for a new curtaining. Think seriously about what you’ll have to do to keep it clean. The homes that we’ve been in that have cream or white curtains are very beautiful and elegant. The people whose homes we visited with this color of curtains seemed to be nervous that one of their guests would walk on their pristine curtaining and leave tracks. In our opinion, that’s sad. Nevertheless, it’s their choice to have that color of curtaining.

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How to learn the language of the mind

NLP and Spirituality are not normally associated in most people’s minds.

For most people NLP is all about the Mind and NLP Practitioner too often thought of as being stuck in the mind.

While this is often true, the same is true for the majority of people. The reality is that most people are the slaves of their mind.

Spirituality is about understanding our true state of being as spiritual beings having a human experience. To reach this understanding we must transcend the mind. We must go beyond the illusions created by the mind and reunite with our spiritual essence.

This spiritual reconnection is the goal of all true spiritual paths.

Too often, however, the means to achieving the outcome has become an end in itself.

While this is true for NLP, and some may argue it was never designed for spiritual purposes, it is just as true for many meditators, yoga practitioners, energy healers and church goers.

Too often we get caught up in the journey. We get side tracked by the attractions along the way and we forget the purpose of our journey.

NLP trainers training is about learning the language of the Mind. While this is extremely useful and is able to transform every area of your life, it should not be the final goal.

Understanding and leveraging your mind, especially the vast resources of your unconscious mind is absolutely life changing. No doubt about it.

When we align our unconscious mind with our conscious desires our journey accelerates at an unbelievable pace.

This is the Law of Attraction in action. Vibrational alignment is the key and without aligning the vast beliefs, thoughts and vibrations at the unconscious (invisible) level, our journey is doomed from the start.

The temptation and the pitfall is that we fall in love with our new powers and get further enslaved by our mind.

This happens to many practitioners of all disciplines. Meditation becomes an end in itself, yoga becomes an end in itself, we fall in love with our ability to transform energy and the list goes on.

If we are lucky we will avoid being ensnared by our mind and will reconnect at a much deeper level with our spiritual essence.

It is when this happens that we can truly enjoy all of the benefits of NLP (or meditation, or yoga, or energy healing) knowing our actions are guided not by our mind but by our Spirit.

NLP is not normally associated with spirituality yet if properly utilized it is and amazingly powerful tool to accelerate our spiritual journey. Understanding the language of your mind will benefit you no matter what your chosen path may be.

Too many people ignore their mind and live under the illusion that they have conquered their mind. They think they are guided by their heart but in reality they are just as enslaved by their mind as the vast majority of people.

Your life is a mirror. It reflects your vibratory state. Not just the small portion that you are conscious off but the entirety of your being.

If your life is not the way you want it to be, don’t blame the mirror but use the mirror to help you see what you have not been aware of about yourself.

Blessings on your spiritual journey.

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Performance Improvement – integrating task and people

The subject of organisational change is one that has been debated constantly throughout the last century or so in the academic management literature and in companies worldwide.  Indeed it has spawned what can be called the ‘management industry’, consisting of Management Consultants, Business Schools, IT solutions vendors and many other businesses that depend for their livelihood on the tasks of business management.  The need for differentiation between these vendors, has led to management becoming an over-complex subject.  Indeed, if one looks at the themes covered, they tend to recur every few years, often augmented by recent changes in technology. 

Simplifying management thinking on performance improvement and organisational change, most things fit into one of two camps – the task-oriented school which uses a model that the business is like a machine, and the behavioural school which has a model of a business as a group of people working together.  The task-oriented school includes such well-known topics as Six Sigma, Process Re-engineering, Lean Thinking and Scientific Management.  The behavioural school includes things like personal development, culture change, training and Organisational Development (OD).  Smart managers realise that these two are both necessary for business success, yet the reality is that most change management programmes tend to be very biased towards one side or the other, almost always resulting in limited success.  Indeed the need for the balance between task and behavioural orientation is supported by many academic studies.  For example, Maira (1994) concluded, “We found that the most significant variable that determined the overall performance of each plant was balanced emphasis on people, processes and technology.”  In his landmark studies on ICI, Pettigrew(1985) concluded that OD (Organisational Development – a behavioural intervention) only worked effectively as an intervention in response to a task oriented need perceived by the owners of a business area.

You might be asking yourself how, in practice, you can integrate these aspects of change.  The task oriented approach tends to be perpetuated by a group of people in organisations who either have a tendency to be autocratic, and therefore believe that the organisation will respond to their wishes, or who have strong logical thinking skills and weak soft skills like the ability to communicate sensitively.  The behavioural approach tends to be perpetuated by people with good communication skills, yet often without strong logical skills.  This is compounded by mental models stemming from the functional training many people receive.  The most obvious example of this is big company accountants, a large proportion of whom are trained by one of the big four accounting firms.  In my experience of working with them, their functional model of the world is consistent and not explained in any accounting textbook.   

The trick to success is to have people gain an increasing understanding of each other’s mental models, what they deem to be important in change, and why that is the case.  One of the best tools for increasing this type of sensitivity is NLP.  The NLP model includes questioning and listening tools that, when taught to managers, can significantly improve their ability to understand where their colleagues are coming from, establish what is really important to them, and then make sure it is incorporated into the design of any performance improvement related changes.  Using the NLP model also begins to allow managers to question the underlying assumptions of a particular approach to change.  They can look at its assumptions about what is already in place, about the capability of the workforce and the organisational culture, and about the underlying external environment.  After all, what works in a crisis is often different from what works in a successful company that is beginning to get complacent. 

Pulling together the task and behavioural strands of a performance improvement change through NLP assisted communication is perhaps one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to improve both the success and speed of your performance improvement initiative.  Since all changes flow from an idea into a reality, the sooner you start to get your team communicating, the sooner your idea will become widely and consistently acted upon.

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Overcome your own hidden barriers to success

Do you find it more difficult than most to reach important decisions? When faced with a problem, are you able to stay reasonably objective or do you internalize the situation? Every individual perceives crises situations differently and thus, handles them differently. People with high self-esteem generally feel confident when faced with unexpected life challenges, while those with lower self-esteem constantly question their ability to cope with them. The good news is that through self-awareness you can work on “the weaker parts” of yourself and unleash your individual talents and uniqueness in all arenas of your life.  

Becoming more self-aware is not always easy or fun, however. Individuals must be completely honest with themselves, and this requires patience and perseverance. Low self-esteem may stem from the following: (1) negative childhood experiences, (2) repeating negative patterns in adulthood and (3) feelings of failure. 

Do newborn babies come into the world worried and distressed or do they come into the world clean and ready to explore? Unfortunately, as children we are unable to choose our environment or upbringing. All we have to go on is what our parents and schoolteachers tell us. Some parents praise their children by saying things like, “I’m proud of you” or “You did a great job.” Others criticize their children by saying things like, “You’re so stupid” or “You should know better than that.” Did you know that children actually pick up their own parents’ fears subconsciously and are victims of their parents’ projections? 

Now picture a child who was raised in a toxic environment for a moment. In this context, “toxic” means verbally and/or physically abusive surroundings. How does he or she learn to cope? This child has three choices: (1) He or she can follow their parents who lead them like “sheep”, (2) He or she can rebel against their parents or (3) He or she can go back and forth between the two behaviors. The point: when children grow into adolescence, they must find a “balance” between listening to their parents and making their own independent decisions. Toxic parents need to heal themselves so they don’t further contaminate their child’s mind.  

Low self-esteem may also stem from negative patterns continued through to adulthood.  Perhaps what you learned as a child is showing up in your own marriage and/or other relationships. Abusive relationships of any kind are “familiar” territory, and this “familiarity” is what perpetuates negative behavioral patterns to begin with. If “daddy” had a bad temper and hit his daughter, for example, that child (who is now an adult) might go out and marry a man just like him, if she fails to break the pattern through self-awareness work.  

Poor self-esteem may also arise from “feeling like a failure”. Individuals may perceive a life change or life challenge negatively or incorrectly. For instance, losing a job, doing poorly on an exam, or getting a divorce may feel like “the end of the world” to one person and a “temporary downfall” to the next. Individuals with low self-esteem internalize failure and always look for others to boost them because their environment doesn’t. Good psychotherapy can help. Speaking to a trustworthy expert helps repair a shattered self-image.  

Three tips on how you can boost your self-esteem are worth mentioning here: (1) Recognize your uniqueness, (2) Understand whom the problem belongs to and (3) Open up to someone trustworthy to guide you through the process. 

In order to recognize your uniqueness, ask yourself the following question and write down your answers: “What am I good / great at?”  If it’s music, writing, swimming or all of these things, right them down. By making a list for yourself, you will soon tap into your true self. The next step is to go out and do those things you love and further develop your skills.  

Next: understand that deep-rooted negative feelings come from being around toxic people for too long. Remember that critics really criticize what they don’t like about themselves. This is known as the “mirror effect.” Critics are subconsciously saying, “I see in you what I dislike in me.” By understanding that their views belong to them and not to you, your self-esteem is more likely to stay when negative words are said.  

A final tip to boost your self-esteem is to speak to a trusted friend or therapist. By opening up to a good listener who cares about you, you will begin to let go of negative feelings and toxins in the body and feel restored.  

Furthermore, until you deal with your self-esteem issues, business success cannot be fully achieved or enjoyed. By working on your self, success must follow. Ignoring your problems and repeating the same patterns is an unhealthy road to nowhere.  Poor self-esteem will linger in all of your business dealings. If you were obliged to behave like a “sheep” following your parents’ demands as a child, you might do the same thing in the workplace and get eaten alive “by wolves”. Take the first step and be honest with yourself about where you are in your life, and especially where you hope to see yourself in the future. 

Now picture this scenario: You see yourself as a child, struggling in a difficult or unhappy environment. You suddenly experience negative emotions you’ve kept bottled up for years. You discuss your feelings with a close friend or therapist. You find yourself letting go of everything you’ve kept so close to your heart due to feelings of shame. You suddenly feel light, like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You see how you’ve held yourself back from all the wonderful things you have yet to experience in life.

We are all beautiful human beings and we each have the right to be who we are. Unfortunately our environment may shape some of us to believe otherwise. The good news: healing comes from within and can be spread once we all recognize that everyone in this world is equal, and should be treated as such. 

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Reflections on NLP

There are at least three interesting things about learning communication skills. Firstly however good or bad we may think we are we can always improve. Secondly improving our skills is very much under our own control and thirdly the gap between talking about improving our skills and actually doing it can be surprisingly large!

People often ask me how long it takes to become good at NLP, I normally mischievously reply anything between eight days and two life times. The reality is when anyone becomes good at NLP it ceases to be NLP, it’s just a part of how we are. Like the scaffolding on a building has an important part to play in construction of the building – but it is not the building. It’s always worth improving our skills because we will always come across new situations and new people and how we communicate plays a major part in helping us achieve what we want. – or us helping others achieve what they want.

So how can we improve our skills? Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the co-founders of NLP identified that the best communicators had three sets of capabilities. They know what they want, they have lots of behavioral flexibility and they notice the results they get. They can then change what they do until they get the results they want. 

So next time you have a meeting or interaction decide what you want to achieve beforehand, plan what you’re going to do get it and notice the results you get. If you get what you want or it’s moving in the right direction fine, if not do something else. 

In fact before any meeting its worth considering:

  • Your state – what’s the best emotional and physical state to be in?
  • Your outcome – what do you want to achieve?
  • Rapport – how can you get into (or sometimes break) rapport with your colleagues?
  • Questions – what would be the most useful questions to ask?

NLP will improve your capability in each of these areas and give you lots of choices of how to behave in any situation. You can choose to use them or not, but having the choice itself can be enough to help you get what you want more easily.  

Talking and reading about communication skills can be very different from putting them into practice – just like reading a book about an activity can be different to doing it. Doing involves a small risk in return for a potentially large reward, just like you can pull a muscle in the process of getting fit. However the end result usually well justifies the effort. 

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NLP for distance learners

As a student of Saybrook University – a distance learning school – I am confronted with the issues everyday myself  

–   how to stay motivated and on track, when there is no class room community helping you stay focused

–   how to deal with writer’s block, when there is no one to personally bounce ideas off of

–   how to stick with those self made deadlines, when it is really all up to you and instant gratification all around you suddenly raises its seductive flags

–   how to keep the belief in you and the dream alive all the while family, job and the everyday demand their attention, too

–   how to deal with the guilt of allowing yourself to take so much time for yourself

–    how to keep anxiety in check when those clocks are ticking away (they DO tick louder when you have student loans going…)

–   how to keep those voices in check that tell us that our third grade teacher was right all along and that we are indeed lazy, unreliable and incapable after all 

On November 15th I hosted a regional (East San Francisco Bay) student meeting aiming at looking at the above and other points with the eyes of an NLP trainer.

First of all it was wonderful to sit together and talk openly about our issues and discover that we were definitely not alone with them! Grief, frozenness, disconnectedness, shame, and fear can sit deeply underneath of what makes us procrastinate, or create chaos, or what makes us lose and forget things. That sudden urge to watch Judge Judy, do the dishes or bring that thing you never wear to the dry cleaner’s (this CAN’T wait, you have to admit that!), that sudden urge is trying to “help” us avoid some very real and deep pain. The source of this pain lies in our upbringing, our culture, our personal stories and some of it truly in the fact of being alive, of being a complex human being with three different brains (reptile, limbic and neocortical) that we would probably engineer differently if we’d have had a choice. How can we hang in there and how can NLP help?

And also learning itself – since I have studied extensively with Stephen Gilligan I have become more and more intrigued by the role bodily awareness plays in learning, How to get the material into the muscle, how to use our creativity, intuition and ability to connect to the field to aid in writing those papers and dissertations.  

Since NLP offers a myriad of tools to help with states, to aid in finding and living our mission, to turn negative self talk into powerful mantras, to organize our perception of time in a more useful way and so much more, I had a lot to choose from. I have also experienced, that, even though mind techniques can be intriguing and powerful, they need to work “through the body” in order to have more than a temporary effect. And as master Hypnotherapist Stephen Gilligan puts it: There are times in which to not trust your conscious mind. Einstein says you can’t solve a problem with the same mindset as with which it was created. All that said, let’s employ the conscious mind a bit to get support and have all the horses pull the wagon in the direction we want to go in, let’s use the wisdom of the body and let’s dive down into the depths of the unconscious!  

My agenda for my presentation were two items:

1 – Well formed Goals and Outcomes

2 – The SCORE Model (Robert Dilts, Judith DeLozier)  

Well Formed Goals and Outcomes:

As for the L (as in linguistic) in NLP – NLP is very useful and precise in using language in a way that can aide in getting us the outcomes we want. Through asking questions in the NLP way we can get our neurology set off in a certain direction. Because certain things have to be true to understand a particular question, we subconsciously say “yes” to these “presuppositions”!  

We went through a series of questions eliciting the present state (such as, what specifically is the problem? How do you know that it is a problem? How do you know how to have it? And more) and then eliciting the desired state (for example, What specifically do you want? What resources do you have to accomplish this? How will you know when you have it?)  

Going back to what I said about presuppositions earlier, just observe, for instance what happens in your neurology as you ask the question “What resources do you have to accomplish this?” In order to understand this question it has to be true that:

• there are many resources

• you have many resources

• you can accomplish this

• there is something you want to accomplish 

It was great to do this exercise in the group, going from eliciting the present state to eliciting the desired state. The energy in the group lifted remarkably and it was inspiring to hear about other folks’ resources. 

The SCORE model

Without going into too much detail how the score model works, here is briefly what this is about: The neurology has many ways of manifesting information in the mind-body. By taking on a body pasture of a certain belief, thought or behavioral pattern we bypass the critical mind. Most likely the conscious mind will have opinions about or resistance against this procedure, which is fine, as long as we keep going! And it gets easier with just doing it! Where we feel resistance and work through it with the body, the mind will follow as well! Now we access the issue through the body’s wisdom, letting the body’s intelligence find its own solution.   

Through

1 – utilizing the stored information of body pastures that are linked to a Symptom (I am frozen in front of my computer!),

2 – going into the body information that is stored in the body when thinking about a possible Cause (I am terrified to be rejected!)

3 – finding a bodily manifestation for a Resource (I am a creative artist!)

4 – going into the desired Outcome (I am happy with my achievement!)

5 – and finally, stepping into the body pasture of the long term Effect (I have the ability to achieve my goals!) 

Through “stepping” into these different body positions on imaginary placements in time and space in a certain sequence (it is not linear 1 through 5, rather 1-2-1-3-4-5) we get new neurological patterns into our muscles. Through repeating these dance steps faster and faster the neurology will usually respond to an immediate pull toward the solution pastures. We can feel a lot less stuck in a few easy steps! 

Hypnosis and NLP offer a whole palette of further tools and techniques to help us with our daily student routines and more. For information on NLP consultations, seminars or any of the above, you may contact Dr Heidi at https://nlpworldwide.com

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Protecting your investment in people with NLP training

I often hear companies say “people are our greatest asset”. What I think they really mean to say is “knowledge is our greatest asset” but they believe knowledge to be irretrievably locked within the heads of people. 

Over the years, many methods have been developed to transfer this knowledge. When we can see what people do to perform a simple task, we replicate the task and make people practice it. This is called training. Sometimes, the knowledge is less physical. We communicate the theory using a variety of symbols and metaphors and call it teaching. Sometimes, we let inexperienced people stand next to experienced people for a long time and hope that something valuable rubs off. We call this mentoring. 

None of these methods has, in the past, been perfect. One of the key reasons for this which is only just finding its way into the learning industry is that people learn in much more individual and unique ways than has ever been realised before. Of course, throughout history, the best teachers have known this intuitively and have exploited it. One great way to leverage the individuality of learners is through stories, as stories tie into those unique mental processes and generate a powerful and individual learning experience for each listener. The best teachers have always been good storytellers, but unfortunately the training boom of the 1970s and 1980s suppressed and trivialised the power of stories, because we couldn’t see how they worked and they didn’t seem to be appropriate in a business context. 

Thankfully, things have moved on considerably. The business environment is not what it was 20 years ago. The time has come for a learning revolution. We, as individuals, can demand more and expect more. We have tasted the power of knowledge. 

Companies cannot exist without knowledge. The people in positions of real power in organisations are not always the managers but are often the good networkers – the communication hubs. People who know where to get things, how to get things done, who to go to for what you need. You have probably experienced this yourself – someone who doesn’t have a terribly important job title but who seems to know everything about the workings of the organisation. 

This learning revolution is bringing with it an increasing demand for training in the basic human skills – communication, personal management, influence, creating change, flexibility, resourcefulness, empathy and so on. Where do you get training in these disciplines? Traditionally, before corporate training came along, you would go and find masters who were outstanding in these fields of human ability and learn from them.  

The good news is that there’s a short cut. A group of people have already distilled and refined the knowledge that makes up personal mastery. They called it Neuro Linguistic Programming, which shows that you can’t get everything right. Perhaps in the future they’ll also distil the knowledge of people who are good with brand names. 

NLP training provides an excellent foundation for improving the effectiveness of everyone in your organisation. NLP training taps into the uniqueness of each learner and enables them to create their own powerful tools for selling, presenting, negotiating, managing, changing, leading and learning – in fact, all of the skills that underpin the success of your organisation. 

NLP is the operating system that your people build their own applications upon. In my experience, everyone who attends a NLP course takes away something unique and powerful – the ability to adapt what they have learned to their own skills, needs and responsibilities. 

The question is, how do you continue to develop this? How do you protect this investment in learning, people and knowledge? 

Why are cars with main dealer service histories worth more? Why do companies buy maintenance services? Why do world class sports players still practice every week? The answer is that regular maintenance protects the original investment. 

Are you running the latest operating system on your PC? Does your company upgrade it regularly? Why would your company spend money on operating software? It doesn’t do anything! Whether you use Windows or MacOS or any other operating system, it doesn’t actually do anything useful for you, the user. The operating system lets you run other applications – software that allows you to write letters, draw pictures and add up numbers. These are useful tasks because they extend your capability as a human being.

 Consider this. A PC cannot do anything that you cannot already do. You can write, you can draw and you can add up. A PC can often do it faster and more consistently, but it cannot do anything that you can’t do. Based on this thinking, it’s a wonder that anyone buys PCs at all, yet they do. Can you imagine life without a PC? Can you imagine life without telephones or cars? These technologies are all enablers. They extend your capabilities. NLP is an enabling technology – it enables you to extract the maximum performance from yourself. 

Protecting your investment in knowledge is easy, once you realise that practising the basics is the way to achieve high performance. 

When you run a NLP training program in your organisation, you must accept that the days spent in the classroom are the start of the process. NLP is about life, about people. Every moment of every day is an opportunity for people to develop their skills. Give people specific opportunities to get together and celebrate their learning. Provide learning support groups and practice groups at lunchtimes and evenings to help people develop their skills more and more. Lifelong learning isn’t about going on lots of training courses, it’s about providing opportunities for people to satisfy their hunger for knowledge. 

A learning organisation isn’t a place where focus groups meet to discuss feedback forms. It isn’t a place where there are suggestion boxes in the tea rooms. It isn’t a place where people are afraid to ask customers “why did you buy from us?” in case they change their minds. Many organisations want to investigate what went wrong, but few ever ask what goes right. You might even think some organisations are afraid of knowledge. 

If knowledge is power then people are batteries. NLP turns them into power stations.

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How to create custom wordpress menu

WordPress had been using the conceptual term ‘menu’ as a mysterious feature until version 3.0. Presenting the new customization admin options back then revealed a whole new world for developers and users to tune up their themes and easily modify the standard navigation – horizontal or vertical components. If you want to squeeze the juice out of your menus, check out that Ultimate Guide to WordPress Menus!

What makes WordPress 3.0 menus so fancy?
Since version 3.0, WordPress supports custom menu alterations. When you login to your admin panel and reach the Dashboard, navigate to the Appearance tab and there you will find the Menus section.

I do have menus with my standard install as well, don’t I?
Most themes (including the default WordPress 3.0 Twenty Ten theme and the Twenty Eleven theme to be released in WordPress 3.2) support navigation menus. The standard configuration includes all of the pages created via the admin panel in the navigation menus. This is often unnecessary and leads to discomfort. We are naturally unable to control the number or the type of elements to add in the standard menu. That’s why further configuration is required to improve the quality of the theme itself by giving a real usability to the navigation.

How to enable custom menus in my theme?
The standard post-install WordPress themes are preconfigured for you and include that customization functionality. However, if you want to design your own theme and run a custom menu, you will need to add support for it in the functions.php file.

if ( function_exists('register_nav_menu')) {
register_nav_menu(
array(
'top-menu' =>__('brand new menu'), ) );
}

This would bond your theme to the core functionality for custom menus. Registering the ‘top-menu’ area will help you to later connect this placeholder to a menu of your choice in the admin panel.

How to call an existing menu in my theme?
By calling the wp_nav_menu function and using the theme alias:

wp_nav_menu(array('theme_location' => 'top-menu'));

This piece of code could be added anywhere in your theme templates. This is normally the header.php file to be included everywhere in your theme or in a specific file such as single.php or category.php if you want it to be visible only in a single post view or on category listing. It’s up to you where would be the appropriate position for your menu!

The code snippet inserts the menu with the standard options that you could alter on demand. Here it is the complete function call with the default parameters:

wp_nav_menu(array(
'theme_location' => 'top-menu',
'menu' =>,
'container' => 'div',
'container_class' => 'menu-{menu slug}-container',
'container_id' =>,
'menu-class' => 'menu',
'menu_id' =>,
'echo' => true,
'fallback_cb' => 'wp_page_menu',
'before' =>,
'after' =>,
'link_before' =>,
'link_after' =>,
'items_wrap' =>, 
‘depth’ => 0, ‘walker’ => ) );

Here is a reference guide for the available parameters:

Theme_location The theme location (menu area) defined in the register_nav_menu()function
Menu Menu locator – looking in menu list by id, slug or name (in that order)
Container Preferred wrapper for the

    tag – could be ‘div’, ‘nav’ or none (denoted by false).
Container_class, Container ID CSS class or id to be applied to the container (if any)
Menu_class, Menu_d Same for the menu element
Echo Print the evaluated menu or return it as a variable (‘0’ for return)
Fallback_cb A function to be executed if the menu does not exist
Before, After Text to be applied before or after the anchor link tag
Link_before, Link_after Text inserted between the link text in the anchor
Items_wrap Formatting string for the items list. By default using

    which is actually optional.
Depth Sets the maximum depth of the hierarchy (useful to reduce visibility problems with dropdown menus)
Walker Normally won’t be changed, defaults to Walker_Nav_Menu iterator

If your slicer has provided you with a standard HTML template or you want to integrate one as a WordPress theme, you won’t need to modify the slice –you can control the output of the menu function by the platform instead!

What could I do with my menus?
The menu manager is pretty powerful. First of all, you need to create your first menu. In the “Menus” section, enter the name of your new menu and click the “Create Menu” button.

By default all brand news are empty. You could check the “Automatically add new top-level pages” checkbox if you want to simulate the default functionality that includes all of the pages (from the Pages admin list) to your menu. In addition to that now you could filter the items by explicitly point all of the items for your menu.

You could chose only specific pages from the panel on the left to your menu. They could be ordered as you prefer and even be nested which would result in a dropdown menu (if your theme supports one)

Ordering is drag&drop based so you don’t need to cope with indices anymore – rearrangement is done via dragging an item and positioning it as a root element for the menu or a child element to an existing item. Dropdowns could be few levels deep if you need more complex hierarchy. You could also attach links or categories to the menu – in case you need to link an internal page or external website – it is now doable within the admin panel. No more code changes required.

Note: Changes to the menu should be saved explicitly!

Am I able to add more than 1 menu to the theme?

Sure, why not? You could recall any menu by its name anywhere in your theme. For instance, you could define one horizontal menu below the header and a vertical one with other items in the footer. Also the “Menus” section counts the number of menus supported by your theme and you can switch menu configurations “on the fly”.

You could define different areas in your WordPress theme where each area operates with a different menu. Register a new navigation menu and attach it to your theme. Modifying the standard Twenty Fifteen theme we will add the Additional menu to the Primary one in the functions.php file:

register_nav_menus( array(
'primary' => __('Primary Navigation', 'twentyten'),
'additional' => __('Additional Navigation', 'twentyten'),
) );

We are using the register_nav_menus here to perform similar actions with many objects. Updating these rows in the functions.php file results to 2 dropdowns for you to select menus in your WordPress Menus section. Let’s create one more menu and name it second menu. Now we have 2 tabs with both menus in the right column.

We could fill the second menu with data. Let’s start with that scenario of nested pages, links and categories and model it as a menu:

  • Page [Level 1]
    • SubPage [Level 2]
      • Deeper SubPage [Level 3]
  • Custom Top Link [Level 1]
  • Top Category [Level 1]

Add one WordPress page as the first element. The next page will be a subpage of the first one (it could be a child page, but it could also be any single page from your database). We could even add a third page to be a third-level element in your dropdown hierarchy so that the third page is under the second which is visible after hovering on the first one.

In addition to that hierarchy we could add an external link to an example website and a category item as well. Note that we have changed the menu titles of the pages regardless the fact that they exist with different titles in the Pages section.

Can I link to a custom post type as well?

A custom post type item could be added to a menu in the “Menus” section if its visibility is activated in your theme. This could be done by adding the following parameter to theregister_post_type function in functions.php or other file where your custom type has been defined:

'show_in_nav_menus' => true

The post type would then be linkable.

Summary

We end this tutorial empowered with the knowledge of adding custom menus to our existing WordPress theme in an elegant and clean way. We have learned the following concepts:

  • Adding a Custom Menu support to the theme
  • Applying a Custom Menu in different areas in the frontend (the placeholders in the visual template)
  • Filling menus with pages, categories, custom URLs
  • Creating several menus and managing them
  • Using the “Custom Menu” widget
  • Adapting custom types to be visible in the Menus section

Already excited? Run your favorite text editor and tune up your WordPress theme right away!

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How to develop a wordpress plugin

When you begin building a WordPress plugin, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind: the functionality of the plugin, the target audience, how it is going to be distributed, how you are going to provide support for it, etc. There is another aspect of the development process that is often overlooked or pushed to the sidelines, and that is the set of general strategies you are going to use during your development.

When I say “general strategies”, I’m referring the things like the basic file / folder organization, the naming scheme for your files, the organization of functions within files, and the way that resources are loaded. It is best if you make an effort to keep these aspects constant throughout your development. When you use the same basic strategies for each of your projects, and throughout each individual project, you will find that it dramatically improves your workflow and the overall quality of your work.

Imagine you are writing a plugin that has upwards of 10,000 lines of code; which do you think is easier to enhance and debug, a plugin that has the 10,000 lines separated into meaningfully named files and folders, or a plugin that has all 10,000 lines in a single file? If you have answered with a single file, then I’d highly advise you to think about it a little longer, or challenge yourself to go write a very large plugin, and do it all in one file. You will quickly find that it’s highly disadvantageous.

I would like to discuss and share several aspects of my personal development strategy. Some of these are simply things that should be done because WordPress Coding Standards dictates that we should (with good reason), and some of them are strategies that I have simply found to be extremely helpful in development.

Use a Unique Prefix for Everything

This is one of the first rules of development, and it should never, ever be broken. When you write your plugin, everything absolutely must receive a unique prefix specific to your plugin. This includes function names, class names, global variables, option names, database tables and more.

The primary reason for always, without exception, using prefixes is that it prevents conflicts. If two plugins (or themes) use the same name for a function, and both are active at the same time, they will cause a fatal error, since all function names must be unique.

For example, you might have a function in your plugin like this:

load_plugin_scripts() {
    // script loading happens here
}

But this is a terrible name, because if any theme or other plugins also has a function named load_plugin_scripts, a fatal error will be thrown. Let’s imagine for a moment that your plugin is named “Load Posts with Ajax”. I usually create my prefixes by taking the first letter of each word in the plugin’s title, so our prefix will be “lpa_”, or “lpwa_”, which means our function should be this instead:

// plugin folder path
// plugin folder url
if(!defined('LPA_PLUGIN_URL')) {
	define('LPA_PLUGIN_URL', plugin_dir_url( __FILE__ ));
}

Define Constants for File Paths and URLs

This mostly applies to large plugins, but can be useful with smaller ones as well. The absolute path to your plugin’s folder can be used for including extra plugin files, loading templates, and a few other things. I usually define a constant with the path to the plugin’s directory like this:

// plugin folder path
// plugin folder url
if(!defined('LPA_PLUGIN_URL')) {
	define('LPA_PLUGIN_URL', plugin_dir_url( __FILE__ ));
}

Remember that “LPA_” is the prefix we created for our plugin above.

It is also a good idea to define a constant for the plugin directory’s URL. This will be used for loading assets, like images, CSS files and Javascript files.

// plugin folder path
// plugin folder url
if(!defined('LPA_PLUGIN_URL')) {
	define('LPA_PLUGIN_URL', plugin_dir_url( __FILE__ ));
}

While these constants are not entirely necessary, they do make things easier in the long run. Instead of figuring out the file path or URL every time you need it, you simply call the constant. In large plugins this can save a lot of time.

Organize Your Plugin Into Multiple Files

When you are working with a plugin that has a large amount of code, then separating it into multiple files is one of the best things you can do. You should separate your code into “blocks” that are organized based on what they do. For example, all of your short code definitions should go into a file called “shortcodes.php” (or similar). All of your code that relates to loading CSS or jQuery should go into a file named perhaps “scripts.php”.

By separating your code into “blocks” that are each placed into meaningfully named files, you make your job as the developer much easier on yourself. It is suddenly dramatically easier to locate the code you’re looking for, especially when debugging errors. When you want to enhance the functionality of your plugin, perhaps by adding another short code, you immediately know where the new code should go: shortcodes.php.

With smaller plugins, this is not always the case, however. A small plugin with just 100 lines of code could easily be all placed into a single file and still be very manageable, but even in this case, I would still advise you to separate it into multiple files. The main reason for doing this is that it opens the door to further development and expansion. It is a lot easier to organize your plugin early on when there is only a small amount of code than it is to reorganize later once you have thousands of lines.

Once your plugin is separated into multiple files, you will pull the files into the main plugin file like this:

include_once( LPA_PLUGIN_DIR . 'includes/shortcodes.php' );

Note that I advise you place all of your extra files into sub directories as well. I usually place my files into a folder called “includes” (because these are included into the main file), and this directory will often have sub directories within it as well.

My plugin folder structure usually looks something like this:

  • my_plugin_folder_name
    • includes
      • admin-pages
      • templates
    • js
    • css
    • images

Format Your Code

There is very little more frustrating to a developer than opening some one else’s code and finding that it is a formatting nightmare. Messy code is usually bad code. A very simple way that you can dramatically help yourself in your development, and help anyone that works with your code, is by taking the time to format your code nicely and consistently.

Code should have even indention (I prefer tabs, not spaces) and consistent line breaks. When a chunk of code is nested inside of conditional or switch (or other) statements, it should be indented. Take this bad code for example:

if( $conditional ) {
do_action('some_action_here');
execute_some_function();
}

While there are only two lines inside of the conditional, this is still much harder to read and follow than a block that is properly indented:

if( $conditional ) {
	do_action('some_action_here');
	execute_some_function();
}

Just imagine how hard it is to read a plugin that has 100s or 1000s of lines of code that isn’t properly indented. It becomes a debugging nightmare.

Do yourself and everyone else a favor: indent and format.

Do Not Reinvent the Wheel

There are a lot of APIs and methods built into WordPress that are designed to make your job as a developer easier, so utilize them and save yourself the trouble of building your own solution.

For plugin options, use the Settings API. This API can be a bit confusing to work with at first, but once you figure it out, it is really quite simple, and extremely powerful. Tom McFarlin wrote a phenomenal tutorial series on using the Settings API, if you are unsure about it then definitely check his series out.

For showing data in your plugin in a table format (like Posts and Pages), there is a class called WP_List_Table. This class will do all of the heavy lifting for you, including pagination, filtering, bulk actions, etc, all you have to (to start at least) is provide an array of data to populate the table with.

When creating custom admin screens, make sure of core WordPress CSS. There is absolutely no reason to write dozens (or hundreds) of lines of CSS to style your custom admin pages when, instead, you could use the core styles included with WordPress. There is a pretty decent guide to admin styles at One Extra Pixel.

There are many other general strategies that you can use during development, but these alone will help you tremendously if you choose to follow them.

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