What You Take In… Wise Words Wednesday

Doritos are not allowed in my house. Not in the snack size, family size, or the party size. Doritos are not allowed in my house in any size, shape, flavor, or package.

Why?

I will eat them.

That’s why.

If I have Doritos, I will eat them. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

On a camping trip this summer, I splurged and bought a bag of those delectable Doritos and said to myself, “I’m going to be on vacation. I want to eat like I’m on vacation.”

And I did.

A large portion of that bag was consumed by me. And a large portion of the next two days were drug down by a terrible stomach ache. (My stomach apparently does not share my love for those triangular treats.)

Continue reading “What You Take In… Wise Words Wednesday”

Freedom of Mind – Wise Words Wednesday

We all have that one friend or family member who is just never happy. Whether it’s their job, love life, looks, or the air they breathe, they just aren’t happy.

I have been struggling with a friend like this lately. It is my nature to try to fix things when they are not working. The problem is I can’t fix my friend’s attitude. I can be supportive. I can be kind. I can continue to include that friend in social occasions and conversations, but I can no longer let myself get sucked into the constant vortex of the woe-is-me mentality. I have to free my mind from the belief that I can control someone else’s joy. It’s out of my hands; I need to stop letting it commandeer my mind.

Consider issues in your own life that are out of your control but still seem to hijack your thoughts or contentment.

Is there a situation that seems to unsettle you, but shouldn’t prevent you from being successful? Are there conditions in your life that let you down but should be the least of your worries?

“If it’s out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind too.”

Continue reading “Freedom of Mind – Wise Words Wednesday”

Just Be – Wise Words Wednesday

Just be. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit my sister Robyn and just be calm and comfortable on her couch. The kids were in school. The husbands were working. Her dog Tammy was snoring happily between us. I told Robyn that I wanted her help with the Wise Words Wednesday post for this week.

My invitation was two-fold. One, I needed a post. Two, Robyn has been taking it easy as she is recovering from a recent procedure and this would provide some Intentergy into her day.

So when starting off a Wise Words Wednesday post, I need wise words. After sharing some thoughts that can not posted on this platform, Robyn tapped into her infinite reservoir of memorable quotes and said she her go-to phrase is “Just be.”

Continue reading “Just Be – Wise Words Wednesday”

A Swarm of Appreciation

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Each day I am thankful for farmers. Not just because I married one, was raised by them, or because I am one, but because they are the 2% of the population growing, cultivating, and producing the foods and products our world needs to survive.

One of the things that most people enjoy about farming is the fresh start and cuteness that comes with each new calf, foal, poult, chick, piglet, or seedling. Everything starts sweet, small, and innocent.

This morning I started off with caring for 10,000 poults. (Poults are baby turkeys.) I checked their food, waters, building temperature, and double checked that all safety precautions were in place; doors secured tightly, thermostat set appropriately, and no water or food messes. They chirped, squeaked, and followed me around the building as if they were all on invisible leashes. (Their flocking is really sweet until you have to walk through them without stepping on one of the little darlings.) 

As I watched my fluffy flock swarm, circle, and trip over themselves to get to me, their food and water, or just because one of their brothers happened to be napping where there the stampede shifted, a wave of appreciation rolled over me. There I was with the opportunity to provide care and attention to these baby birds, who will someday provide sustenance to others. Continue reading “A Swarm of Appreciation”

The Hardest Kind of Teacher – #WiseWordsWednesday

The Hardest Kind of Teacher

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever heard smoke alarms go off in vacation condos?

If you’ve ever heard a vacation condo smoke alarm, you know it is a very displeasing sound, as alarms should be.

For two years in a row now I have had the displeasure of hearing the exact same vacation condo smoke alarm blaring for all the world to hear. It wouldn’t be so bad except that when the smoke alarm goes off in our condo unit it goes off in all four of the condo units. 

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “What lesson does this experience teach us?”

Well, there are a few simple life lesson reminders ringing in these alarms.

1. If you ring the alarm too many times, people will ignore your cries for help. It goes along with the proverbial, “Don’t cry wolf.” Our alarm went off so many times last summer that all of the men hanging out telling fish stories on the deck totally ignored the blaring beeps because they didn’t think there was a problem, when in fact, there was a pot boiling over inside as I attending to a bike cycle accident booboo outside.

During our most recent vacation, I set the alarm off repeatedly trying to make a breakfast casserole, no one came running to our aid because they believed there was no fire. They were right; there was no fire, but what if there had been?

The experience lesson here is: If you know an alarm is faulty be prepared to not have anyone come to your aid.

2. The alarms in the other condo units are just as touchy as the one in our room. Unfortunately, this does not stop my panic reaction when I hear the smoke alarm sound. I am always ready to jump up and rescue whomever is in danger. This is stressful because I haven’t had to rescue anyone but went through the adrenaline and fear of needing to save someone with each and every siren sound.

This life lesson is very similar to #1: If you know someone else has a faulty alarm, be weary of always rushing to their aid. It may not always be a fire you can put out or even need to attempt to squelch. It may just be another hot mess looking for someone to rescue them from their insecurities or poor choices.

Let the lessons of touchy fire alarms and emotional appeals allow us to make positive choices as we determine how we use our energy. Don’t go pushing that panic button if panic isn’t needed and you don’t have to suit up and charge in every time someone signals for help. Make the most of your intents and use your energy in real emergencies.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Always know where the emergency exits are. Just in case…

 

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”

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

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.

Quarantine: What Teachers Are Expecting from Parents

COVID Parent Expectations

As our nation faces another week of stay-at-home orders, mandated and self-quarantines, and growing fears for time lost from work or school, I recently had someone ask me, “What do you, as an educator, think about trying to keep school going at home?”

Well, I can’t speak for ALL educators, but here is what I know and believe.

First of all, we miss the kids. We miss the classroom. We miss being able to teach, interact, hug, listen to, and learn from our students.

The greatest hope we have for our students is that they are safe, secure, and still learning on some level.

While most parents don’t have degrees in classroom management or educational psychology, the majority understand what it means to be a kid. Maintaining awareness for their innocence and young minds needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts as we interact with them.

With regards to lesson plans, please just do your best. Try to provide opportunities for kids to make connections between what they normally would be learning in school and what they are getting at home. While there aren’t SmartBoards, extensive libraries, and gymnasiums in our homes, there are still plenty of ways to encourage our kids to keep learning. Some families don’t have computers or internet access. There are still ways to engage children in reading, math, science, and physical activity. Parents, allow yourselves to learn news ways to communicate positively with your children and let them know that change is hard, but we can make it easier together.

To those who say, “It’s not my job to teach. I’m not making my kids do homework,” teachers view all children as their own. When you refuse to put effort into helping your own child learn, you are refusing to help everyone. Please don’t take that from them or us. We all deserve to have knowledge and understanding as this pandemic impacts our lives. You are that child’s parent, and, therefore, you are their first teacher. Join us in the work we do to ensure bright futures open to continued growth and knowledge.

Finally, please remember teachers are people too. We have fears, anxiety, and questions that can’t be answered. We are doing our best to share as much information and as many opportunities as possible with your kids, while caring for/teaching/raising/coping with our own families. Please don’t let our efforts be something that is also lost during this time of crisis.

Again, I can’t speak for all teacher, but this is what I believe most would say. Be safe. Stay healthy. Read, write, experiment, exercise, love, and learn.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Parents, it’s okay to put yourself in detention if you need a time out, but don’t punish your kid if new Math is confusing. Teachers had to learn it too.

P.P.S. Parents, it’s also okay to give yourself an apple or a chocolate bar when you’ve done a good job of helping get through those workbook pages.

P.P.P.S. Teacher friends, thank you for stretching yourselves and adapting to these crazy conditions. You’ve all earned A’s in my book.

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”