Think, Talk, Feel

Walking the walk and talking the talk can a be tall order when it comes to being positive. Sometimes positive energy can be hard to find. Other times we have to create that outlook for ourselves.

This week was mid-quarter for my children at school. (Thank goodness our school has made it healthily this far into 1st quarter.) I have started to see a shadow of exhaustion in my daughter.

She is determined to earn high enough grades to be on Honor Roll, practicing 3 to 4 days a week with her competitive gymnastics team, still helping with home and farm chores, and be a normal 11-year old. Not wanting that shadow to become a storm of exhaustion, I devised a way to help her think, talk, and feel positive on Monday.

As soon as my girl was off the bus, I told her how proud I was of her and showed her successful math paper from last week’s homework now displayed on the pantry door. (5th grade math is hard!) Then I had blueberry muffins hot, out of the oven, for after-school snack, and I shared my blog post on The Thunder Tree with her. (She loved Thunder.) I told her to get dressed for gymnastics and surprised her with fresh cup of sweet tea to-go. These may seem like petty things, but when she got home 4 hours later from gymnastics, her mood was lighter than it had been the last few days, and she gushed with the successes of her practice.

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Uncomfortable Can Be a Good Thing – Wise Words Wednesday

I know that 2020 has been a year of discomfort. And that’s not okay, but in reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, I was kindly reminded that some of the greatest opportunities for growing and learning come from uncomfortable situations.

When speaking to her students about vulnerability and shame, Brené warns them ahead of time, “If you’re comfortable, I’m not teaching and your’re not learning. It’s going to get uncomfortable in here and that’s okay. It’s normal and it’s part of the process” (Brown 203).

This warning made me smile because it reminded me of the supply lists for incoming students to my English I class. After typing up and printing the nice, neat lists, I would carefully (in the scariest handwriting I could muster) write “FEAR” in red ink at the top of each list.

You can only imagine the delight I experienced in seeing the eager faces and ready hands grab at the waiting lists from the holder outside my classroom and then the quick flicker of surprise as that word “FEAR” registered in their already-panicking minds.

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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.

How Tranquility Works

photography of flowing water

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

“Peace is the tranquility of order” – St. Augustine

Sometimes we encounter definitions of everyday things in extraordinary ways. In the priest’s homily this past Sunday, the explanation of St. Augustine’s definition for tranquility created one of those powerful moments for me.

According to St. Augustine, “Peace is the tranquility of order.”

In his explanation the priest addressed that most of us believe tranquility occurs when everything stops, but that is exactly the opposite of what St. Augustine teaches. The priest’s example calm cooperation was that of the human body. The mind, lungs, heart, organs, and skin they are all working together even in our most restful moments. Even those moments we consider tranquil. Tranquility happens when everything is doing what it is supposed to be doing in that very moment resulting in peace.

Wow! What a powerful definition!

These were the exact words that I needed to hear Sunday morning as my prayer list seemed a little longer than usual.

Two days earlier my father-in-law Andy had open heart surgery and was struggling in his recovery. That explanation of how peace and cooperation can bring tranquility was the perfect inspiration driving my prayer for my father-in-law and myself. I prayed that God would bring tranquility to Andy’s heart and body so that he may heal quickly and peacefully.

For myself, I asked God to help me embrace each element of the chaos in my life as a piece of puzzle in my daily search for peace.

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Security Brought on by Blankets

Security Brought on by Blankets via Daily Prompt: Blanket

Stolen blanket 1

When you become a parent, you give up the rights to many things. Six years ago I gave up ownership of a blanket.

The blanket was a Christmas gift from my Secret Pal. I liked the blanket. It was festive and cozy. My two year-old liked it more.

As I was 8 months pregnant at the time, I couldn’t chase her very well when she ran away with it. I was too round and too nauseous to run. I really didn’t put up much of a fight.

She sure loved that blanket. Stolen blanket 21It went everywhere with her. It made her feel safe in any situation and comforted her when she was sick or exhausted. That blanket provided a lot of security for my little girl.

Today that blanket continues to be her traveling companion and provides needed comfort often. It also makes a great foot warmer when she is playing on her tablet. 🙂

png 1 What is it about a blanket that provides us with comfort?

Many of us have that one special blanket that softened our childhood. It provided security when we felt scared and soothed us when we needed consolation. Security blankets and leaving them behind are rite of passage.

When I was little I didn’t carry around a blanket. I had a frilly, silk pair of underwear that I loved. Yup, underwear. Today not many little girls have silk underwear with lace sown across the back, but in the early 1980’s a few of us still donned them. I didn’t wear the silky underwear though. I held them between my fingers as I sucked my thumb. Sounds pretty cute right? Well, eventually it wasn’t cool to carry around a pair of underwear or suck my thumb, so I moved on, but we don’t all have the luxury of outgrowing our security blankets.

png 1 Did you have a security blanket?

When my son was born, his godmother gave him a sweet, snuggly blue blanket with his name embroidered on it. The blue blanket wasn’t a big one. It was a small, square fleece with sateen border. It had just the right-sized tag for my little guy to wrap his finger in and he rarely went anywhere without it. One day when he was 2 1/2, we had multiple doctor and pharmacy appointments for his ear infections. It was a rough day. It only got rougher that night when we realized blue blankey was gone!!!! I called and drove back to all of our stops the next day. No blankey was to be found. My mom lovingly made him a new one, but it was just never the same.

png 1 Have you ever lost your security blanket? Continue reading “Security Brought on by Blankets”