The Smell of Possibility

The sound of the alarm clock is not the most pleasing to my ear. The cool air hitting my skin when I finally do roll out from under my quilts is less than reassuring. The fussing of my tired children as I attempt to rouse them less than inspiring, but the possibility of a new day is a smell that I can’t resist.

Today I would like to give you a sensory challenge. Consider the sights, tastes, touches, sounds, and, YES, smells that this day has to offer. Find ways to appreciate all you can physically experience. The joy you find may come in the softness of your socks, the smell of a shop as you enter, the calming noises of nature as you walk to your car or the hard rock blaring from you car speakers, the sight of someone’s smile, or the taste of your favorite snack. It is in the words, bites, hugs, high fives, fresh brewed coffee, and morning breezes that we know we are alive and that the day offers us possibility. And there is nothing I love more than the smell of possibility in the morning.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. If you’ve lost your sense of smell, you know what a gift it is.

Security in Nature: As Guided by a 9 Year Old

I will be the first to admit that I often give the excuse that I am too busy to do what my kids want, especially when it involves going into the woods to see a “secret” fort, deer stand, or “special” rock. Not because I don’t like my children or am anti-nature, but I don’t always find joy in the trees or rocks that my darlings do and the matters in the house seem much more pressing. (The stick-tights and cockleburs are also on my list of unhappy things, and they are bad right now.)

This past weekend was no exception. I was not particularly excited about following my son down his “secret” path to see his “deer hunting” tree or his “special” hidden fort. Something told me that it meant more to him to share than it did for me to fold the laundry or finish the dishes. As he lead me into the woods, my 9-year-old chattered like a squirrel in a tree about the way he and his friends had discovered this place and how cool it was. His happy chatter was welcomed, as he has been in a bit of a funk lately unable to find kind words or pleasant things to say to his siblings or I.

When we arrived at the “deer hunting” tree, I saw a dead, dried up evergreen. What my son saw was an opportunity to sit up high, watching wildlife, with ample branches to share the spot with his friends as they “hunted” deer. I asked if the branches felt like they were going to break and he said, “No. They’re good. I know which ones I can stand and sit on.”

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll fall?” I asked.

“Nope. I’ll just catch another branch if I start to go down. There’s plenty in this tree.”

He was so secure in his answer I had to smile. As nimbly as a squirrel, my boy scampered down and said, “Come this way. Over here is my secret fort.”

Continue reading “Security in Nature: As Guided by a 9 Year Old”

Harvesting Beliefs About Daylight Savings and Farmers: Cultivating Truths

Tonight, before going to bed, millions of Americans will turn their clocks back one hour to fall back from Daylight Saving Time (DST) to Standard Time.

Until recently, I believed Daylight Saving Time was created to benefit farmers. I also believed that DST began in October. I was wrong. It turns out I am not alone in my misconceptions.

I attempted an informal survey of local farmers and friends via text, Facebook, and Twitter. The survey included one question: “Yes or No – Do you believe daylight savings time is beneficial to farmers?”

In place of simple “Yes” or “No,” I received a myriad of responses about the value of farmers and the long hours they put in, commentary on challenges of farming while also working other jobs, and personal stories about impacts the time change made on farming experiences. (I was so very grateful for everyone’s responses but felt like I lit a fire in folks. That was not my intent. I just wanted to know how many believed the same thing I did.)

Most believe that Daylight Saving Time is intended to help farmers because they are the ones up before the sun and often working long into the night baling hay, caring for animals, and harvesting crops. My entire life I believed that I did not like Daylight Saving Time. The truth is that I do not like Standard Time and the practice of changing time.

The results of my informal (and completely non-political) survey reflected that most believed and felt the same.

Continue reading “Harvesting Beliefs About Daylight Savings and Farmers: Cultivating Truths”

Step Up Your Jump

Jumping into a pile of leaves is a time-honored autumn tradition. This past weekend, my children attempted to step up their leaf-jumping game. They devised the brilliant idea to collect wagonloads of fallen leaves and pile them onto the trampoline. (In my previous post, I said I admire resourcefulness, but this particularly ambitious attempt had me a little nervous.)

For me, the beauty of their plan was not in the adventure and adrenaline it would guarantee but in the teamwork it spawned. Watching the three of them scamper to gather as many leaves as they could and load the wagon as speedily as possible was a thing of glory. They wanted to jump into extreme fall fun and they were doing it without sibling rivalry or fussing. They were working together. (Insert tear drop of joy here.)

Continue reading “Step Up Your Jump”

Wild Flower Moments

After two months of staying home, the kids and I snuck away to my aunt and uncle‘s lake house. We had two days to take in some fresh scenery and do a whole lot of fishing. Between casting lines, reading books, baking cookies, and watching the boats on the lake, I made sure to take a few hikes and nature breaks.

I’m always amazed at how the simplest elements make themselves powerfully noticeable when I allow myself to be still. I believe my favorite instances of appreciation occur when I discover wild flowers. 

The moments of beauty created as wild flowers reveal themselves to us are truly miracles because they occur so surprisingly and often in very brief windows of time. One day there will be a hillside of blooms, and the next no blossoms can be seen.

Today I encourage you to seek out some wild flower moments. 

Allow yourself some quiet time to stumble across surprise lillies; stare into the eyes of  black-eyed susans; delight in the darting centers of cone flowers; and collect the wealth of the golden rod’s glow. If wild flowers are not your thing, search for the simple pleasures that do peak your interest. Put energy into appreciating tiny treasures or magic made my Mother Nature in other ways. If your intents are positive and full of gratitude, you will reap the rewards of experiencing moments just as bright and much less brief than those found in wild flower moments.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Picking wildflowers is legal in Missouri, so long as you do not pick them with the intent to sell. Be sure to check with your state laws before plucking those pretty posies from roadsides and state parks. Enjoy!

Weighted Blanket Benefits – Lifting the Weight of Stress and Exhaustion

Weighted Blanket 1

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.

Be Like the Aspen

selective focus photographed of trees

Photo by Logan Fisher on Pexels.com

Be Like the Aspen

Aspens grow in tightly bunched groves on mountainsides and in rocky, hilly areas. They grow closely together because aspens are not a singular tree but rather a system of trees connected by roots to form one organism.

Their root systems provide them with stability and sustenance. Those roots keep them clinging to the steepest hillsides and standing up to the most treacherous terrains and storms.

We are kind of like the aspen.

Not one of us can exist to our fullest potential alone.

We are not able to fend off everything that comes our way if we stand alone. There isn’t one of us that can make it through life successfully without the support of another.

Just like the aspen, we grow best when we grow together. We need to help support those around us. We can nurture and sustain one another by sharing what we have. Helping others grow taller because of our own gifts is the best way to reach our highest heights.

I encourage you to remember we are like the aspen.

Put your energy and positivity into building a strong support system and working together to weather the storms of life.

Stand tall, give support, stay connected.
Be like the aspen.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I’m not telling you to make like a tree and leave. I’m telling you be like a tree, well, a bunch of trees. Trees that share roots. You get what I’m saying. Be like the aspen.

Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday

Stars Can't Shine

Darkness gets a bum wrap.

Many are afraid of the dark.

All too often we describe the tough times in life as the dark times.

The Dark Ages is a term assigned to the days after the fall of the Roman Empire and the years of struggle within the church for guidance and acceptance because of the uncertainty and haphazard rule of warring leaders. People felt lost, scared, and hopeless.

Even Star Wars warned us to not got to the “dark side.”

If it weren’t for the dark, the stars would not shine.

When life hands us lemons, we say, “Make lemonade.”

So why not do the same with tough times?

If you are going through some dark times, it’s okay to recognize the darkness. It’s okay to say, “This stinks.” It’s really okay to feel sad or mad or frustrated. Once you’ve acknowledged the darkness, you can find the bright spots.

tunnel

My kiddos entering the tunnel to create their constellations.

Our local library offered a constellation creation station this summer. Kids were invited to sketch a dotted outline of any constellation they could imagine. My daughter designed a horse constellation and my son created at robot. As they poked their holes in the “sky” with thumb tacks, the flashlight beam prevented them from seeing the darkness and appreciating the brightness of their work.

Once the holes were punched and the flashlights extinguished, the darkness was welcomed.

It took our eyes a moment to adjust, but once we had time to accept the unlit canvas around us the sight was incredible. Continue reading “Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday”

Keep on Flowing – Intentergy Boost

 

Waterfalls rarely get a break from flowing and you are no different.

Right now you may be avoiding work, resting after work, wishing you had work, or maybe just getting started at work. Whatever your situation, I hope you find that you have the energy to be positive in all you do and each task you complete.

While not all of the tasks we take on are downhill like those of a waterfall, we can expect more challenges and choices to continually come our way. We have to just keep things moving and going with the flow.

So if you are feel like you are barely above water, roughing the rapids, or floating with the breeze, I hope you will keep your positive energy up and let your successes keep on flowing.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I am avoiding doing housework as I float this post along.

Rain Brings on the Blooms

 

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On a recent trip to Colorado, we experienced some crazy downpours. At times it felt like the rain was coming from every direction. It was cold. It was dreary. It was not what we planned for our trip. The rain put a temporary damper on our fun. On more than one occasion, we trampled back to our lodging in search of dry clothes and hopes of brighter skies. As we went from place to place, we heard from the locals that it had been a wetter year than most.

While these rains may have caused some problems for those not used to the mud and tragic vacationers (such as ourselves), the showers also brought on some benefits.

The blooms of the wildflowers could not be ignored. One guide told us he did not know the names of all the blooms we saw because he had never seen some of them before. The rain had allowed plants to prosper that had not done so in decades. The mountains and rock faces were speckled with yellows, purples, oranges, and greens, where they normally had shown brown, red clay, and gray.

The last few years wild fires destroyed foliage and fields and prevented many plants from producing beyond their basic stems. The scenery was pretty bleak in places, but thanks to this year’s rains, the blooms brought new light to the landscape.

Blooms 3.jpgAfter what has felt like a drought of goodness, our lives are kind of like those mountains and valleys.

We feel drained, dull, and fruitless.

Other times it seems like the rains won’t stop.

The good news is that, once the drought or mud has moved on, the good stuff can take root and you know beautiful things are gonna pop up.

If it feels like you have been in a drought of kindness, beauty, or success. Look for those storms that have blown through your life. There will be something new and refreshing that comes from those downpours. Let the waters of change wash away the dreariness and welcome a stronger, brighter you.

Be like those wild flowers in the mountains. Let your colors show and your vibrant personality be the thing that others notice in the new you. Remember rain brings on the blooms. Welcome the storms of life and know that no drought is forever.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Next time I will take a Colorado nature book, rain boots, and additional pairs of socks (my normal stash of 2 extra pair was not enough).