Don’t Close the Door on Idiosyncrasies

What is the weirdest thing that bothers you?

What idiosyncrasy do you hold near and dear to your heart?

My friend Brian has a passion for keeping the door to his office closed when it is not in use. The door’s closure allows him focus and to maintain the energy he needs to be most effective at his job. Brian will post on Facebook hilarious rants about the need for that door to be closed. His posts make me laugh, but also remind me that the idiosyncrasies that set us apart are also what make us all human.

Open Door Idyosyncrasy

Continue reading “Don’t Close the Door on Idiosyncrasies”

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Don't believe everything you think

Peter Pan is a story about never growing up and believing in the unbelievable. When I was a kid, my younger sisters had a VHS of Peter Pan starring Sandy Duncan. They loved that movie. We watched it A LOT, but the scene that sticks out most in my mind is the one where Tinkerbell’s light is going out and Peter Pan begs the audience to clap and cheer so that Tinkerbell would know they believed in her. Eventually, Tinkerbell’s light grew brighter; the music swelled and Peter Pan’s enthusiasm grew, knowing that darn good and well the kids at home JUST HAD to be clapping and cheering their little hearts out to bring Tink back.

Well, here’s the thing. Not everyone was cheering. (In my house we were not all cheering because we had seen the film 12,867 times.) Most were not cheering because they knew that Tinkerbell was just a light on the television screen and no amount of in-home enthusiasm was going to change that bulb’s brightness. The unbelievers chose not to support the idea that there was a fairy dying from unbelief of children.

Okay?!? Right now you are thinking, where is the positivity here? Why are you killing off Tinkerbell? Continue reading “May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think”

That’s My Spot: Fighting for Your Peace

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I don’t know about your kids, but mine fight over EVERYTHING! I mean everything. From who blinks faster, to who breathes louder, to who says the word “funny” the funniest, they fight over everything.

Last month the teachers from our school did a drive-by parade to show students that the distance caused by the COVID19 quarantine had not lessened their resolve to be in the lives of the kids. It was a powerful thing to see the teachers, their signs, and the obvious joy that the brief encounter brought.

As my children had been tethered to our house for essentially a week and a half, I thought the little minions would be excited for a chance to get closer to the world outside and wave at their beloved teachers.

Well, they were not excited.

img_1158They did not want to go outside, and once we made it to the end of the driveway, they fought. They fought over the cowboy hat that my 7-year-old brought along so his teacher would see him. They fought over who could yell the loudest. They fought over who could find a 4-leaf clover. They fought over who could stand on a small pile of spilled gravel in the grass. They fought.

As the first teacher’s car appeared around the bend, something crazy happened.

My children suddenly became glued to my side, their mouths did not make sound, even their hands seemed tied down, and they stopped fighting.

The sight of their teachers, the signs, and honking cars brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. I could not stop waving, shouting, and encouraging my children to do the same, but it was as if the minions forgot their evil cause. They lost their vigor for knocking each other down and the need to be noticed. They stopped fighting for their place on the gravel spill and assumed a position of awe and uncertainty. Continue reading “That’s My Spot: Fighting for Your Peace”

History in Childhood

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The timeline of my 1st grader’s life according to him.

In a recent Social Studies lesson, my son was learning about timelines. The last activity on the page was to make a timeline of events in his life. Of course we began with when he was born. The only other events he chose to include were getting our dog and starting school. When the time came to add 2020, I asked what he wanted to record for current events.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Anthony is stuck at home.”

Those five words spoke volumes. They reflected how our current situation has defined this period in our lives. Stuck.

This assignment reminded me of a homework activity my daughter had last fall. She was to interview family members and ask what event they believed defined their generation. Both hubby and I believed that 9/11 was the defining experience for those of our age. My mother-in-law and father-in-law said Vietnam or Korean Wars. Greg’s grandmother said World War II and a tornado that had hit their hometown. It was funny to me how tragedies seemed to determine our identities. Why is it that we don’t typically use the advent of a new invention or success as the center to what we see in ourselves?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

Success is beautiful and uplifting, but tragedy builds character and resilience. Continue reading “History in Childhood”

Self-Care is More Than Bubble Baths and Water Bottles

6 best doctor

I started writing this post prior to the COVID 19 crisis, but thought now was as good a time as any to share some ideas for self-care. I am probably not the poster child for making time for myself a priority, but it is something I am determined to move up on my list. A lot of us believe self-care consists only of bubble baths and keeping our water bottles with us at all times. These do help, but any doctor can tell you the 6 best prescriptions for procuring a positive outlook and sustained self-care are sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise, and diet.

 
Brighten Your Day!

If you can find just a few minutes of outdoor exposure, even on the cloudiest of days, you will still benefit from vitamin D. Sitting by the office window, isn’t the same, as most modern glass is designed to block UV rays. As we approach May, hopefully there will be brighter skies and ample opportunity to get outdoors. Allowing some solar powered stress relief will also motive your mojo to getting moving and amp up your ability to wind down at bedtime. (Don’t forget the sunscreen though. Sun burns definitely don’t decrease stress levels.)

woman in gray tank top lying on bed

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Rest Up!

Ah, rest, the most elusive of healers. Getting good zzzz’s is tough because our brains are over-stimulated from work, worry, and too much time staring at electronic devices. Setting a schedule is one of the best ways to ensure that sleep is secured. Even thought our schedules are out of their normal whack, it’s still a good idea to stick to your regular bed time. Regulating a routine for bed time is also great for getting your brain to shift to a lower gear. Taking time to get sun and exercise each day will also motivate your mind to mellow out and cutting off the caffeine before evening is always a calming choice.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Air is one option that actually isn’t too tough to take advantage of. A few focused breaths of breathing in the calm and letting out the crazy forces you to fixate on what you can and need to do and send the other stuff sailing with your exhalations. Daily meditation or mindfulness practices are super stress reducers. Simply setting your feet flat on the ground, placing your palms on your lap, closing your eyes, and slowly breathing in and out reduces your heart rate and allows your mind to mollify.

Let’s Get Physical Continue reading “Self-Care is More Than Bubble Baths and Water Bottles”

Weighted Blanket Benefits – Lifting the Weight of Stress and Exhaustion

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For four years my son did not sleep through the night. Four years! We tried everything. Establishing routine, vitamins with melatonin, changing bed position, night lights, no night lights, humidifiers, white noise, no noise, essential oils, everything. To add to the non-sleeping cycle, our younger son quit sleeping when we moved into our new home. His non-sleeping added to the exhausting fun for 18 months until my friend Michelle told me about how using a weighted blanket had helped her son to sleep through the night and calmed him when he was in high stress situations.

I thought, “What the heck. I’m gonna give it a try.” I called my seamstress mom and asked her to look into making weighted blankets for my boys.

As a special education aide, my mom had actually already looked into making these magic blankets because she believed they would help some of her students and was eager to create some to witness their effectiveness. We weighed my boys to determine each blanket’s weight. The weight of the blanket should be 10% of the owner’s body weight. To create the comforting but cozy blankets we had to choose a cool but study fabric and ordered the polypropylene pellets.

The boys loved their blankets from the moment they held them. While the sleeping did not improve immediately, once we got the boys used to the routine of being tucked in and reassuring them that their “magic” blankets would keep them safe, sleeping improved. I have to say we sleep almost five nights a week without interruption now. We have had the blankets for a  few years now and still use them almost daily. (They aren’t always needed to sooth now, but they are always comforting.)

The blankets have also helped when my son was experiencing some severe anxiety. Starting school was really tough on my boy and each day we had melt downs. To sooth him I often wrapped the blanket around him and just let him feel loved and safe. The weight clearly eased his tension quicker than my hugging arms could alone.

Weighted Blanket 2The weighted blanket for my younger son has been a blessing when he really needs a nap. He will stop fighting us and rest much faster when the blanket it laid across him. There is something about its weight that eases him to a restful state with less frustration.

The science behind the blankets evolved from Keith Zivalich’s Beanie Baby inspired blanket in the 1990’s. Zivalich’s idea came from the comfort provided by his child’s Beanie Baby lizard. After a name dispute with Ty Corporation, The Original Beanie Baby Blanket became The Magic Blanket in 1998 and the benefits for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Process Disorder (SPD) were quickly discovered.

The comfort provided by these blankets is referred to as Deep Touch Therapy. The weight of the blanket applies pressure to points in the body causing the brain to release the calming chemical serotonin. When released serotonin calms the nervous system and digestive system and starts the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin tells the body when to sleep leading to a more restful state. Similar practices have been used for centuries by indigenous tribes (including Native Americans) and hospitals through the methods of swaddling fussy infants.

The benefits of weighted blankets include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Help in controlling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Reduced sensory overload for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Process Disorder (SPD)
  • Lessen insomnia
  • Calms Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Calms children during meltdowns
  • Makes stressful transitions less traumatic
  • Assists in classroom focus for children with autism and improves fine motor skills in classrooms that utilized blankets for student with ASD and SPD
  • There are no side effects from chemicals or drugs
  • Acts as a hug or a massage

The blankets have made a positive impact in our home and many other homes that I know. If you are considering a weighted blanket for your child or self, check with your doctor first. There are a few individuals with cardiopulmonary conditions for which the blankets are not ideal. If you are looking for a way to reduce anxiety and assist in sleeping, a weighted blanket may be what you need to lift the burdens of stress and exhaustion in your life.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Nightly, I enjoy the way my weighted blanket lifts my daily aches and worries.

Where 2 or 3 are Gathered … The New Meaning

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Today I served as lector for the Palm Sunday mass at our church. This wasn’t unusual, as I have been the lector for this particular mass many times in the past. The unusual part came as I was reading to an almost completely empty church. (Only Father T., another lector, and four members in the choir loft were there with me.)

While this was unusual as masses go, it is the new “normal” for those seeking to take part in celebrations of faith as we seek to stay afloat in the Coronavirus pandemic.

The news of our church broadcasting via Facebook Live may not be headline news, but I believe the impacts of social media-shared services across the globe provides a groundbreaking new definition for “Where 2 or 3 are gathered…”

Matthew 18:20 New International Version (NIV)

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

I know there have been times when church attendance was low and often there are only a handful of parishioners at any one service. The unique element of the social media-shared services is that the two or three in church are joined in spirit and faith by hundreds, maybe thousands, in their homes. The words, actions, prayers, and petitions are all being shared simultaneously via the world wide web. Continue reading “Where 2 or 3 are Gathered … The New Meaning”

Getting Carded

Getting carded at a store, gas station, bank, or restaurant can be embarrassing or uplifting, depending on your age and situation. Now I know of one carding situation that is a positive any time it happens. These magical moments occur when the mailbox door is opened and a card is inside waiting just for you.

For years I have been a card stamper. I LOVE designing, making, and sending cards to people. For about the last 4 years, I have made it a habit to give or send at least one card a week. The last three or four months I’ve been slacking though.

With the COVID 19 quarantine upon us, I took to my crafting table and whipped up a bunch of new cards. Maybe it was anxiety or fear, maybe it was a need to hide from my cooped up family, maybe it was a desire to get some creative juices flowing before the grumpiness of being stationary set in, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I made almost 20 cards in less than an hour and a list of who I wanted to receive them.

In my creative excitement, I sent pics of my progress to my #1 Stampin’ Up sister Rebecca. (She led our stamping club for the last 10+ years.) I was so proud to share my creations with her and my rekindled flame for bringing joy through cards.

As always, Rebecca was super supportive and followed up with her own flurry of card making. Continue reading “Getting Carded”

March Positivity Challenge – Make Your Mess Less

White Puffy Clouds

We all know life is messy. Many of us feel like there is just too much going on in our lives. Our mole hills really are mountains and a simpler existence would make getting through the day so much easier.

This month let’s make our mess less.

Each day in March, I encourage you to toss out, donate, or give away at least one thing that you no longer use or that just takes up too much space in your place. Once you start the process of picking out the excess, you will find the act of eliminating the unnecessary empowering.

Don’t know where to start?

Consider your closet or dresser. Anything you didn’t wear in the last year is perfect for purging.

Give the kitchen cabinets a sweep. Gadgets, pans, or expired products provide instant pitches or pass alongs.

What about your catch-all drawer? I am certain there are some Box-tops to go to education, coupons that no longer count, or just some stuff that would benefit from being organized.

A large part of March makes up the Lenten season and I always use this season as a chance to challenge myself to get rid of the excess in my home. Continue reading “March Positivity Challenge – Make Your Mess Less”

A Hellava Start – Wise Words Wednesday

Hellava start

“It’s a hellava start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” – Lucille Ball

Most of the time it’s easy to find things that bother or irritate us. Often it’s just as easy to find things that we want or wish for, but it’s a whole other challenge to find what makes us happy.

When I was 22, I ended my relationship with a longtime boyfriend. In fact, we were engaged, but it just wasn’t a situation that I felt could work. I wasn’t happy.

After ending a relationship that I had believed I wanted since the 4th grade, I was really lost. I mean, there was not a map, compass, GPS, or Uber who could have gotten me where I needed to be.

I went on a few first/last dates. There was one nice guy who I ran off with a massive meltdown after a way too late night at karaoke.

It took a blind date, two follow up dates, and meeting his Grandpa Joe and Grandma Dorothy before I began to believe happiness could be found with the man who is now my hubby.

Love is one arena that seems to give happiness a run for its money, but once we give love a chance, we’ve got a hellava lot better chance at finding happiness. Continue reading “A Hellava Start – Wise Words Wednesday”