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”

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!

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”

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”

Still At It…

This Mamas HeartToday a friend texted that she was sad I quit my blog.

I was sadder that someone thought I gave up my Intentergy.

As most of us have been in a whirlwind with the events of the last few weeks, I felt it was my duty to take time and share some Intentergy and reassure everyone that there is still plenty of energy with positive purpose here.

Two weeks ago I had the distinct privilege of sharing some positive purpose with the teachers at St. Teresa School in Campbell, Mo. We faced the frustrations of teaching in spring time…. little did we know 6 days later, we would have to walk away from our schools and move learning into the homes of our students.

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The beautiful staff at St. Teresa took me at my word that I could be paid in chocolate.

At our meeting the teachers and I discussed the power of counting up our blessings and successes and not letting the count downs lead to let downs. Even though I was afraid they might string me up for blaspheme, I shared my belief that we shouldn’t count down the days until summer break. They may have furrowed their brows at me a bit, but after hearing a story from my first year of teaching, they began to understand my reasoning behind this belief.

My first year I filled a position that had been the turnstile for a revolving door of educators. The students were more accustomed to teachers leaving than teachers staying.

One March afternoon, I was tutoring a student in my classroom and we heard my neighboring teacher loudly announcing how many days were left until summer break. I tried to cheer the struggling student by saying, “You’ve improved so much this year. I bet you’ll be glad to move on to bigger and better things next year.” 

The student frowned and said, “I guess you’re gonna leave too. You want to get away from us just like they (the other teachers) all do.”

My heart ached. What a sad accusation!
Continue reading “Still At It…”

A Hellava Start – Wise Words Wednesday

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“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”

Letters Already Included – Wise Words Wednesday

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Greeting cards are one of the best parts of birthdays, anniversaries, saying thank you, or just to brighten someone’s day. At my son’s 7th birthday party, I gained a new appreciation for the messages inside greeting cards.

A few of the boys made cards to go with their gifts. These were particularly sweet and showed some serious artistic promise. Others purchased greeting cards they thought the birthday boy would enjoy. (His loves for the color yellow, Legos, outer space, and dinosaurs were well represented.)

The magical epiphany of greeting card messages came as the huddle of wiggling wish givers waited for my son to sound out the words inside a store-bought card. One of my son’s buddies (who had made his own card) exclaimed, “It came with all those letters already inside!” 

Wow! 

That 7 year-old boy realized something as simple as a card already containing an expression of friendship was something to celebrate. The fact there was an option to give a card with the message right there inside was something to be proud of, to feel excited about, and to make a gift extra fancy.

Here is your Intentergy challenge for today. You are just like that card. You already have the letters inside you. Dedicate your intent and energy to putting the message out there for others. Be proud of your accomplishments and of your friends and family. Share excitement for great things happening around you. Fancy things up a bit with some flattering, faith-filled, or funny messages. You were sent here with all those letters already inside you. It’s okay if you don’t sound like a Hallmark commercial. The simplest sentiments and discoveries (like a card with the letters already inside) are better anyway.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Special shout out to my friend Angela for being the mom who sacrificed herself as a warrior in the Nerf gun war. Angela took one for the mom team allowing the Nerf war teams to be even. I salute you!

 

Mess Magic

The Magic Mess

Who feels like they are in the midst of a mess right now? A holiday recovery, end-of-year, I-ate-too-many-desserts, what’s-with-this-weather mess?

The holiday meltdown isn’t just for snow, fudge, and small children. We all have the right and inclination to collapse into the most cataclysmic of chaotic mindsets this time of year.

Here’s the good news… the magic is in the mess.

With the heaviest of holiday heaps coming on, eating Dove chocolate is still one of my favorite therapies. As I frantically re-created a lost answer key for my COM 111 final, ithe shiny wrapper of a caramel-filled chocolate provided this golden nugget of peace… the magic is in the mess.

I almost wept at these words. How did that little chocolate know I needed to that mantra in my life?

This morning, as my children are sleeping in, hubby is on the farm, and the end-of-year book work stares me down, I can’t help but hope that this magic mess mantra could become a part of my daily routine.

Why can’t it?

On any given day of any given year, a magician can pull a rabbit from a hat, find the exact card the lovely assistant chose, or a quarter from the unsuspecting ear of a child.

How do they do it? Continue reading “Mess Magic”