Any light, positive vibe, wisdom, or good act you see as coming from me, it doesn't.......... not really. I lean on something, someone a lot bigger and better than myself, to try to do as much good as I can, and to squash the bad that is always trying to bubble to the top and OVER, just like my oatmeal each morning. ")
To Do Lists! Most of us make them, either in our heads, on our phones or even on paper. They help us to NOT forget, to stay on track and to move forward. Ok, this is GREAT, right? So what exactly IS on our To-Do Lists, hmmmm? Is there any mention of loving acts for our dear ones? Is there anything on that list about the actions of appreciation we're going to make happen today? If so! Wow! Good for you!! You can stop reading now. But, if we're like most, probably not, and this isn't to make anyone feel bad; this is just a wake-up call, for everyone, including ME!
Our loved ones can NOT possibly know what we are thinking and feeling about them all the time, and depending on the person, this 'unknown' can feel very uncomfortable. Luckily, we can act in purposeful ways to reveal our true intentions and keep our relationships on positive grounds. Sounds like a lot of effort, doesn't it?
So, Why bother?
It’s sounding DIFFERENT outside these days. Here in Michigan, early September, I’m hearing a constant hum of crickets all day. As a matter of fact, as I am now writing, with my windows open, I hear them. Falls coming, and I love it!! It fills me with anticipation of new beginnings, of a new school year!! I’m a dork! Even though I only teach one class a school semester, and I only have one child left in school (a college senior), I just LOVE it!! And I am an actual online student, so that counts too! Nevertheless, I KNOW!! Not EVERYONE shares this thrill.
For many, the thought of a new school year can produce dread or anxiety at a variety of levels. This can apply to parents, students and teachers, too. Today I address my parents and teachers with some tips and reminders that will hopefully contribute to a more peaceful mind.
These are all tips that I've had to continually remind myself, too, at one time or the other. I hope you find some that prove helpful, as well. Every day is a gift and that includes school days! Claim it!!
Retreats! Aww! They sound delicious and so self-serving don’t they? Well THIS is a mindset that needs to change right now! Actually, retreats do you and those you interact with MUCH good.
They CAN be a key element in personal growth. At the very least, I’ve found them to work wonders in defining my next major goal(s) and the steps needed to move ahead. Besides a relaxing getaway, retreats can illuminate our next personal missions (for the season), or even year. It’s because we ARE more relaxed, with no other demands, that our brains are able to expand and think more clearly. It’s a lovely thing!!
Retreats do not have to cost any or much money, nor must they require a whole week, or even a few days. Even though this length of time sounds grand, sometimes we just don’t have it in our busy lives. Nevertheless, there is a way! Home or not, retreats can be 4-6 hours, or 4-6 hours a day for 3 days, or a 3 full days, up to a week. It all depends on what we need, our environment and the time we have. But no matter what, believe me, each one of us should claim one.
My personal idea of a retreat is SOLITUDE for, at least, 4-6 hours a day for a few days in a week. Most importantly, it is a time where nothing is expected and therefore I experience no “lazy” guilt. The chance is there to totally relax and focus on myself and God. Later, to complete my day, there is usually 1 or 2 other chill people I socialize with in the evening, and this makes me happy.
No matter your preference, retreats give an opportunity to contemplate what we like about our life, what we need more of, and what we can do without. We focus on those events, tasks, and behaviors that WE have control over because, frankly, anything else is USELESS!!
It’s a time to DO and “study” the things that bring joy and growth to our spiritual and practical lives! Yes, please take that fun book that you’ve been wanting to read, and certainly watch a great movie or two, but ALSO use the time to learn and plan for some aspect of life that could actually make a DIFFERENCE in your weeks and months to come. I’ve got a ton of ideas, so here are a “few”:
· Study ways and exercises to strengthen the lower back.
· Learn about clean ways of eating and setting up a menu plan.
· Learn about good workout programs that you can implement.
· Do a workout that you’ve been planning to try.
· Learn and practice different methods of prayer / meditation.
· Find new recipes that you might want to try.
· Do that puzzle book you’ve been meaning to take out.
· Run, Canoe, swim, lay on the beach!
· Take long walks. Contemplate on the move.
· Learn about new places you would like to vacation with the family.
· Plan next year’s garden (or anything for that matter).
· Learn about ANYTHING that gives you pleasure and will make you a better version of YOU in the coming years.
· Plan for anything that will give you peace of mind once your retreat time is over.
· Do any fun project (scrapbooking, painting, knitting, etc.) that you just haven’t allowed yourself in lately.
So, SERIOUSLY! Take this into consideration. If you’re not comfortable with the Retreat idea, start small (4 or 6 hours or 1 full day), but definitely take it on. Decide on an amount of time, then OPEN your calendar, FIND your date(s), write it in and then COMMIT. Protect that scheduled retreat time like you would any other event or appointment. Next, you can take a few days to brainstorm and decide what your focus will be, and the materials you need. Then, you guessed it, COMMIT! 😊 Make any arrangements you need to so that this can happen, and then ANTICIPATE the time to come.
It’s worth the planning, and If you follow through, I GUARANTEE you will be sooooooo HAPPY that you did. Remember, at times, WE really need to be our own BEST friends.
GATHER YOUR PEARLS!!
Dark Secrets (being victim of abuse, or other violence) are toxic substances that spread disease throughout our bodies, brains and emotions. Even more, they overflow into our relationships and spiritual well-being for years, if not a life time. This hurt can manifest in some very significant ways such as:
So why such secrets? We all understand secrets involving our own misbehavior, and wrong doing, but WHY when we have been the victim of an offense? Why the embarrassment or shame? Turns out that, in the perspective of the “holder”, there are a good number of reasons to be silent,
So who knows? There may or may not be a hurtful secret at the bottom of all the sadness or anger or anxiety; however, what we CAN do is provide all the opportunities as possible so that disclosure and/or sharings can happen. And although we can’t force ANYTHING, we can always work to project the most nonjudgmental attitude possible which will create that SAFE ZONE, which each one of us needs. Talk LESS; listen a lot MORE. You might be surprised at what happens next.
The Key Points to Remember:
1. Acknowledge specifically what it is you want to feel, experience and see when you do obtain your goal.
2. Look at the facts of your situation: the positives as well as the negatives.
3. Identify the positive results (no matter how small) that have occurred.
4. Identify what is not working, what still needs improvement.
5. Develop strategies to move you ahead by mini-steps so that they are achievable.
6. Note (0r even better, journal) the results and effects of those strategies week to week.
Following these steps will lift you out of deep discouragement because you will clearly identify your progress. Everyone needs to know that they are moving forward, so let's make it visible and clear all those tiny steps forward we are actually taking. Peace!!
We want our children to develop their own happy voices in the world, to know that their thoughts and feelings matter, that they have ideas worth listening to, ideas to contribute. People confident in their own voice are people listened to and, assuming that quality information issues forth, are also ones that are looked up to and followed. As parents, we have a HUGE effect upon this voice in each of our children. Our influence begins the moment our babies enter this world, but as early as 4 months old, our actions need to be even more purposeful and consistent. As they actually start to verbalize their own gurgles, coos, and laughs and then onward to words, phrases and sentences, parents can give a wonderful gift to their children by maintaining eye contact, positive verbal and visual reinforcement and allowing them the opportunity to speak up in the appropriate situations (even when they do not want to!).
If a person is maintaining eye contact with me as I express my thoughts, numerous elements are reinforced. First, my speech must have some value because this person is paying attention! Second, I feel more amicable with this person, and a stronger rapport develops because he shows interest in me. Third, my confidence increases, giving me a bank of courage to draw from the next opportunity I have for conversation. This all makes sense, right?
So now, think about it! Our parents should be our BEST audience EVER. BUT if THEY are not making eye contact with me as I speak, what then? If these two people, of all the people in the whole wide world, don’t find me interesting enough to pay attention to, then who the heck would? To my way of thinking, NO ONE, so the conclusion could be to STOP talking or to KEEP talking and be obnoxious. This same train of thought can be seen if we ignore the last two elements (positive verbal and visual reinforcement) as well.
Nodding our heads in agreement, leaning forward, smiling, giving short utterances of interest or agreement, are some of the visual and verbal reinforcements we give to people when attending in conversation. Our children deserve the same encouragement as they strive to communicate with us. We must watch ourselves, shouldn’t we? Because we’re human, our impatience to get on with our to-do lists, to make it to the next appointment or to work, can really bog us down and so, without realizing it, we’re FROWNING at our children, as they try to speak with us about a topic of their concern and interest. Now, of course, we can’t constantly give devoted attention 24/7, but we CAN communicate that we ARE interested in what they have to say, but that it will have to happen at another specific time because NOW, “Mom has to get to work.” 😊 And this is another CRITICAL lesson, “The World Does NOT revolve around them ALL of the time.”
Parenting is a strategic endeavor, but believe me, it is WORTH the thought, trouble and effort all making for strong and confident future adults. Take on the challenge!!
The stress! Hit the junior year of high school and suddenly the tension builds! It is time to seriously think about college! Of course there are those irritating standardized tests to deal with but the task list goes beyond that. There are campus visits to attend, college applications to complete and scholarships to seek. There gets to be a lot looming over the heads of our youth (parents too) and many of them just want to bury their heads OR they want to apply to colleges too far, too close, or too expensive.
Particularly when our students aren’t moving fast enough, or we perceive them as too busy or occupied, we want to take the reins and make things happen. This can seem especially doable when letters of recommendation are required. We see this as an area that WE, the good parent, can and should take control over. My thoughts? Bad idea!
Let’s not rob our children of this opportunity to learn, practice and acquire some self-advocacy skills, skills which will prove VITAL for their collegiate success and survival. Now is the time, with Mom and Dad close at hand for ADVICE, to grow in this ability.
Even though it is the student's job to request and collect recommendations, Moms and Dads are EXTREMELY important in the process! Our children need help and advice, whether they know it or not, on a multitude of levels. Parents are needed:
* In brainstorming the different possible sources for such recommendations. Also, being sure they are legitimate.
*In creating an outline of the different points their child would appreciate stressed within the letters. This could be different for each person asked. Also, though you do not want to push your agenda on the person who has agreed to write the letter, many people appreciate some direction because they want to give you the best letter possible. Just have it on hand, letting them know it is available if needed.
*In gathering the necessary contact information. Phone #s and emails.
* In encouraging and advising on the appropriate approach to the source and the professional follow-up.
* In helping to set up a time table for when they will contact their sources.
* In following up with your child to keep them accountable and on target.
Parents are extremely important in the task of acquiring Letters of Recommendation, of course, the child has never had to think about such a task before. However, our work is in the background, gently pushing our children to the foreground so that this can be a mystery no longer, their confidence and self-esteem build, and they gain more of that crucial skill for adult living……..Self-Advocacy!
For our children, our marriages serve as endless lessons on how human relationships (especially marriage) are to be handled. When we focus on being examples of the 'shoulds' in our marriages instead of giving overwhelming examples of the 'should NOTS' we're a lot more likely to raise positive and hopeful adults. Instead of our marriages being all about US, they are definitely about our children, as well. Our marriages shape their world view of marriage itself and their overall sense of security throughout their growing years. So, it is more important than you ever thought, this marriage of yours, these marriages of ours!
Being a positive witness of marriage is not about always getting along. My husband and I would have FAILED long ago if that was the criterion. No! It is not about being perfectly content, or never having disagreements or arguments. It's about NAVIGATING through those difficult times and ending up on safe and forgiving land. Married partners working well through struggles give great encouragement and teach significant lessons. Here are a few:
As couples committed to our marriages, there are toxic behaviors that need to be avoided on a regular basis but, for sure, to be avoided in front our children. We should NOT...
Instead let's have an overwhelming focus on the positive interaction in front of our children as often as we possibly can! We SHOULD...