Posted in Health, mental-health, Writing

Maintaining Balance

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing, work, and kids. My new WIP is going strong and I’m looking forward to the finished product. 😊

But enough about that. Today, I want to talk about keeping the balance in your life. It’s hard when you’re juggling family, work, friends, maintaining your health, and writing. I find when I’m in the zone (writing) I have a tendency to not eat as healthy as I normally would, and I have no problem skipping a run or workout to move my story forward.

But this response to my writing isn’t good for my health. I can’t skip too many runs, or I’ll start gaining weight, and we all know it’s easier to eat junk food instead of taking the time to prepare a healthy meal, and that leads to weight gain, too. When I catch myself falling into this routine, I have to force myself to take the time to run and prepare healthy meals.

Running, Maintaining Balance, Exercise, Lisa Orchard
https://allthefreestock.com/

I used to struggle with this, but I’ve been able to maintain my routine by establishing writing goals. I set a goal for one thousand words a day. So, when I reach one thousand words then I know it’s time to go for my run or start dinner. 😊

It satisfies the urge I have to write without being destructive to my health. I have time to exercise and prepare healthy meals. I must say this type of routine has been working wonders for me. I’ve been able to lose weight and keep it off. I’m excited about that. The exercise is a great mood booster and helps with my creativity as well.

So, that’s how I maintain my balance, by setting realistic goals with my writing and exercise routines. How about you? How do you maintain your balance? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

The Power of a Hug

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. This week has been a busy one of work, writing, and family. I’ve been inspired by another idea, so I’ve started a new WIP. This idea demands to be written more than the other one, so I’ve put the other one on the back burner. I have to go where the Muse takes me.

Photo credit: MacBeales on VisualHunt

I am sad to see summer’s on its way out. We had to turn the heat on a couple of mornings this week. Sniff. But that’s okay, hubby’s getting ready for winter by cutting wood for us, so we can have our toasty fires on those cold winter nights.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the power of hugs. I grew up without technology, and when I was growing up, I spent all my time outside during the summer months. We rode our bikes, went swimming, and played frisbee outdoors. This was important for our health, to get out into the fresh air and sunlight. We had a lot of face-to-face interactions.

Photo credit: PeterThoeny on VisualHunt.com

Now, my kids’ generation still get outside, but technology has changed the way they communicate. They can interact with each other via the computer, or their phones as opposed to face-to-face communication. This is good and bad. They can connect any time, but it’s not the kind of connection we need as humans.

I strongly believe we need physical touch. We need hugs and kisses to avoid depression and anxiety.  It sounds so simple, but it’s true.  In fact, studies have found that hugging, touching, or sitting close to a loved one releases Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Dopamine into our bloodstreams. These are all the “feel good” hormones.

Photo credit: Zanshin Art on VisualHunt

It has been scientifically proven that physical touch relieves depression and reduces stress. What happens to kids who don’t know how to ask for hugs or physical touch? Who have grown up with technology as their only form of social interaction? We’re seeing some of the results right now. We see it in increased mass shootings, Higher rates of suicide, and depression.

Photo credit: Elva Keaton on VisualHunt

Can hugs really lower the occurrences of these events? That’s a great question and my instincts say yes. We just have to increase the number of hugs we give out a day. I’d love to do some sort of study on this, but that would upset the drug companies, wouldn’t it? They’re busy creating drugs for depression and anxiety and making billions on the fact that we’re not getting enough hugs.

Photo credit: _casterclass on VisualHunt.com

We need to get back to basics. We need to model for our kids physical touch is important. That it’s okay to give and receive hugs. We don’t want to raise a generation of unhappy adults, right?

Do you feel physical touch is important for the Technology Generation? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in mental-health, Personal

The Need for Distractions

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of work, writing, and kids. The kids are back in school. It’s the end of summer and that makes me sad. I wasn’t ready for it to end and I’m hoping we can eek out a few more hot days before winter hits and I go into hibernation mode.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about the importance of distractions. I know, right? Distractions, how can they be important, but they are. Let me explain.

We as humans need to make sense about what is happening to us. We need to find a rational reason behind an experience. We want to find the lesson. What is this experience teaching me? So, we mull it over, trying to find the why. Right? I know we’ve all been there. But sometimes the answer eludes us.

The why will never be found. Either it’s because the person who we need to find the answer from isn’t available or refuses to communicate with us. That happens. That flash of understanding, that epiphany never happens.

This is the time we need to pull out our bag of distractions. To get our mind out of the groove of trying to find the answer. Otherwise, you can sink into a depression. I’ve seen this happen with myself as well as some of my friends.

So, what are good ways to avoid sinking into the pit of overthinking?

I like to escape reality and read a book. There’s nothing like sinking into a good story to forget about life for a while. When I start overthinking about a problem, and I recognize I’m doing that, I pull out a good book and forget about life for a while. It works wonders. This takes away the power of what I’m overthinking about, and when I’m done reading, the issue I’ve been thinking about is much smaller and more manageable.

Another way I distract myself when I start overthinking, is to exercise. I go for a run and that seems to jolt me out of the overthinking groove, and again when I’m done the issue doesn’t seem so big.

I also distract myself by writing. Working on my story, is the best way to get my mind out of that familiar groove of trying to understand the problem. and solve it. Some problems just can’t be solved no matter how hard we try.

So, there you have it. Distractions are important in our lives. They serve a purpose. How do you get your mind out of the groove of finding the why in a situation? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in 911, Personal

Never Forget

Todd: Hello… Operator…listen to me…I can’t speak very loud. – This is an emergency. I’m a passenger on a United flight to San Francisco.. We have a situation here….Our plane has been hijacked…..can you understand me?

Lisa: (exhaling a deep breath to herself) I understand… Can the hijackers see you talking on the phone?

Todd: No

Lisa: Can you tell me how many hijackers are on the plane?

Todd: There are three that we know of.

Lisa: Can you see any weapons? What kind of weapons do they have?

Todd: Yes…. they don’t have guns….they have knives – they took over the plane with knives.

Lisa: Do you mean…like steak knives?

Todd: No, these are razor knives…like box cutters.

Lisa: Can you tell what country these people are from?

Todd: No…..I don’t know. They sound like they’re from the mid-east.

Lisa: Have they said what they want?

Todd: Someone announced from the cockpit that there was a bomb on board. He said he was the captain and to stay in our seats and stay quiet.

He said that they were meeting these men’s demands and returning to the airport… It was very broken English, and… I’m telling you…it sounded fake!

Lisa: Ok sir, please give me your name.

Todd: My name is Todd Beamer.

Lisa: Ok Todd….my name is Lisa…Do you know your flight number? If you can’t remember, it’s on your ticket.

Todd: It’s United Flight 93.

Lisa: Now Todd, can you try to tell me exactly what happened?

Todd: Two of the hijackers were sitting in first class near the cockpit. A third one was sitting near the back of the coach section. The two up. front got into the cockpit somehow; there was shouting. The third hijacker said he had a bomb. It looks like a bomb. He’s got it tied to his waist with a red belt of some kind.

Lisa: So is the door to the cockpit open?

Todd: No, the hijackers shut it behind them.

Lisa: Has anyone been injured?

Todd: Yes, ..they…they killed one passenger sitting in first class. There’s been lots of shouting. We don’t know if the pilots are dead or alive. A flight attendant told me that the pilot and copilot had been forced from the cockpit and may have been wounded.

Lisa: Where is the 3rd hijacker now Todd?

Todd: He’s near the back of the plane. They forced most of the passengers into first class. There are fourteen of us here in the back. Five are flight attendants. He hasn’t noticed that I slipped into this pantry to get the phone. The guy with the bomb ordered us to sit on the floor in the rear of the plane……….oh Jesus.. Help!

Lisa: Todd….are you ok? Tell me what’s happening!

Todd: Hello…..We’re going down….I think we’re going to crash……Wait – wait a minute. No, we’re leveling off….we’re ok. I think we may be turning around…..That’s it – we changed directions. Do you hear me….we’re flying east again.

Lisa: Ok Todd…. What’s going on with the other passengers?

Todd: Everyone is… really scared. A few passengers with cell phones have made calls to relatives. A guy, Jeremy, was talking to his wife just before the hijacking started. She told him that hijackers had crashed two planes into the World Trade Center……Lisa is that true??

Lisa: Todd…..I have to tell you the truth…..it’s very bad. The World Trade Center is gone. Both of the towers have been destroyed.

Todd: Oh God —help us!

Lisa: A third plane was taken over by terrorists. It crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC. Our country is under attack….and I’m afraid that your plane may be part of their plan.

Todd: Oh dear God. Dear God…….Lisa, will you do something for me?

Lisa: I’ll try….if I can….Yes.

Todd: I want you to call my wife and my kids for me and tell them what’s happened. Promise me you’ll call..

Lisa: I promise – I’ll call.

Todd: Our home number is 201 353-1073…….You have the same name as my wife…Lisa….We’ve been married for 10 years. She’s pregnant with our 3rd child. Tell her that I love her…….(choking up)..I’ll always love her..(clearing throat) We have two boys.. David, he’s 3 and Andrew, he’s 1…..Tell them……(choking) tell them that their daddy loves them and that he is so proud of them. (clearing throat again) Our baby is due January 12th…..I saw an ultra sound…..it was great….we still don’t know if it’s a girl or a boy………Lisa?

Lisa: (barely able to speak) I’ll tell them, I promise Todd.

Todd: I’m going back to the group—if I can get back I will…

Lisa: Todd, leave this line open…are you still there?……

Lisa: (dials the phone..) Hello, FBI, my name is Lisa Jefferson, I’m a telephone supervisor for GTE. I need to report a terrorist hijacking of a United Airlines Flight 93….Yes I’ll hold.

Goodwin: Hello, this is Agent Goodwin.. I understand you have a hijacking situation?

Lisa: Yes sir, I’ve been talking with a passenger, a Todd Beamer, on Flight 93 who managed to get to an air phone unnoticed.

Goodwin: Where did this flight originate, and what was its destination?

Lisa: The flight left Newark New Jersey at 8 A.M. departing for San Francisco. The hijackers took over the plane shortly after takeoff, and several minutes later the plane changed course – it is now flying east.

Goodwin: Ms. Jefferson…I need to talk to someone aboard that plane. Can you get me thru to the planes phone?

Lisa: I still have that line open sir, I can patch you through on a conference call…hold a mo…..

Todd: Hello Lisa, Lisa are you there?

Lisa: Yes, I’m here. Todd, I made a call to the FBI, Agent Goodwin is on the line and will be talking to you as well.

Todd: The others all know that this isn’t your normal hijacking. Jeremy called his wife again on his cell phone. She told him more about the World Trade Center and all.

Goodwin: Hello Todd. This is Agent Goodwin with the FBI. We have been monitoring your flight. Your plane is on a course for Washington, DC. These terrorists sent two planes into the World Trade Center and one plane into the Pentagon. Our best guess is that they plan to fly your plane into either the White House or the United States Capital Building.

Todd: I understand…hold on……I’ll…….I’ll be back..

Lisa: Mr. Goodwin, how much time do they have before they get to Washington?

Goodwin: Not long ma’am. They changed course over Cleveland; they’re approaching Pittsburgh now. Washington may be twenty minutes away.

Todd: (breathing a little heavier) The plane seems to be changing directions just a little. It’s getting pretty rough up here. The plane is flying real erratic….We’re not going to make it out of here. Listen to me….I want you to hear this….I have talked with the others….we have decided we would not be pawns in these hijackers suicidal plot.

Lisa: Todd, what are you going to do?

Todd: We’ve hatched a plan. Four of us are going to rush the hijacker with the bomb. After we take him out, we’ll break into the cockpit. A stewardess is getting some boiling water to throw on the hijackers at the controls. We’ll get them….and we’ll take them out. Lisa, …..will you do one last thing for me?

Lisa: Yes…What is it?

Todd: Would you pray with me?

They pray: Our father which art in Heaven

Hallowed be thy name,

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive our trespassers,

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory

Forever…..Amen

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…

He makes me to lie down in green pastures

He leads me beside the still waters

He restores my soul

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for His name’s sake

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…..

Todd: (softer) God help me…Jesus help me….(clears throat and louder)

Are you guys ready?……..

Let’s Roll……………………

Never forget.❤️

Posted in community, education, Parenting, Personal

Let’s be more like Finland

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work and writing. I’ve started a new project and I’m happy to report it’s going well. The kids are back in school and we’re settling down to a routine. Summer went to fast for me, and I’m already missing it.

But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about our school system. For children, play is how they learn. They learn how to manipulate their environment through play. As they grow, their play changes. They go to school and start learning to read and write.

Our educational system needs to incorporate play more into the curriculum. Do away with homework and have more recess for the younger kids and maybe some recess for the older ones as well. Finland ranks the highest in education and their system is radically different than ours.

In Finland, kids start school at the age of seven. They start later in the morning between nine and nine forty-five, and homework is frowned upon. We need to mimic their educational system. I’ve also heard that they’re a people who place a high priority on family and community. Are there mass shootings in Finland? Not like in the US. In fact, seventy-three percent of the one hundred and thirty-nine mass shootings in developed companies are attributed to the United States. Not that the educational system is to blame but revamping it couldn’t hurt.

Finland also provides educational options past the traditional college degree. There’s less stress and more emphasis on caring. Spread throughout the day are fifteen and twenty minute intervals where the students can get up and decompress. It seems to be working for them.

We could learn a lot from Finland, and it should be our country’s goal to educate all members of society in a way that’s beneficial for the members. Why aren’t the powers that be looking at this and making changes?

The reason is because our educational system has become a politician’s tool. A way to secure votes from parents. Promises are made but rarely kept. I’m not sure how to go about making the changes we need to make. Any ideas? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

For more information on Finland’s educational system, click on the link below:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/10-reasons-why-finlands-education-system-is-the-best-in-the-world

Posted in Personal, recipes

Labor Day Weekend Dessert

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work and dealing with my oldest. He had his wisdom teeth pulled this week and he’s recovering, so not a lot of writing done, but I have the long weekend to indulge in that.

But enough about that, today I’d like to share one of my favorite desserts. My kids love it, too, and it’s a great one for a Labor Day get together.  The recipe is below:

Lorna Doone Dessert 

1 package Lorna Doone cookies crushed

Add melted butter to cookies (this is the crust so add as much butter as you prefer; about ¼ to ½ of a stick)

1 7 oz Chocolate chips

2T Sugar

2-1/2 T water

4 egg yolks

1 teas. Vanilla

4 egg whites

Crush Lorna Doone cookies and add melted butter for the crust. Put crust in 10” baking dish and bake at 350 degrees until crust starts to brown. Combine chocolate chips, sugar, and water in double boiler until blended. Remove from fire and add egg yolks, beat after each one. Add vanilla. Chill for a short time maybe 10 to 15 minutes or until the pan is cool to the touch on the bottom.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into chocolate mixture. Spread over cooled cookie crust and top with whipped cream.

**I usually double this and put it in a 9×13 dish.

Posted in Personal

The Four Agreements

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I had a busy weekend. A class reunion and a pre-reunion get together, so I didn’t write a post. However, I thought I would share with you something that popped up in my feed on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by and we’ll be back next week for our regular scheduled program. 😉

The Four Agreements

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”

~Don Miguel Ruiz

Art | Catrin Welz-Stein

Posted in Parenting, Personal

Parenting, It’s not for Sissies

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of working and writing. I’ve started a new project, and we’ll see where it goes. But enough about that.

Today, I’d like to talk about dealing with your kid’s independence. This stage of parenting is not for sisses, and I seem to be struggling with this one a little bit. I loved being their mom and planning their playdates and watching them learn and grow. Now, they want their independence as well as my approval, and I’m walking the thin line between being a helicopter parent and allowing them to make their own decisions.

Part of me is excited. They’re on their way. I’ve done the hard part. I kept them alive to this point where they’re almost ready to fly. But I still worry. Did I prepare them enough? Did I help them enough with their critical thinking so they’ll make good decisions? Did I prepare them for the big bad world out there?

I won’t know until they’re in a crisis situation. That’s the hard part about parenting. We can try to prepare our kids for life and hope when they have a difficult decision to make, they’ll have the wherewithal to make it, but we won’t know until they’re in the situation.

I can only hope I’ve prepared them enough. I have to let them make their own mistakes and learn from them too. That’s the part I’m going to have a hard time with. How am I going to help them get over a broken heart? What if they get involved with someone who isn’t healthy and has bad relationship skills? This is the part that keeps me awake at night.

I hope I’ve shown them enough love, so if they get involved with an unhealthy individual they know enough to get out.

I hope they’re not afraid to stand up for themselves and stand up for what’s right. I hope they know I’ll always love them even as I’m letting them go.

Sob. I guess all we can really do is teach and hope they’ve learned the lessons we tried to teach. And pray. Lots of prayers. Parenting, it’s not for sissies. How are you getting through this stage, or how did you get through it? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Reading, Writing

The Importance of Fiction

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work. I went to a writing conference this weekend and it was a good one. I got some feedback on my story and met some other authors who I was able to talk shop with.

While I was there, I started thinking about the importance of fiction. Why are stories important? There are many reasons, but I’m only going to explore a few of them.

One reason is because they allow us to learn about a particular situation without having to experience it. This teaches us empathy. Many therapists use stories to get their point across to their clients because it lowers their defenses, and they actually listen to what the therapist is trying to illustrate with the story.

The leads to a deeper understanding of what people experience and how they react to these experiences. This is the most important reason for writing stories.

Stories are a great way to connect, too. Right now, connection seems scarce. After the pandemic, many companies have decided their employees will work from home permanently. So, we don’t get the in-person connection we humans need. When we meet with people face to face, we share stories about our experiences. This verbal storytelling is a sharing of our soul with another human. We’re connecting. Reading is another form of connection. It allows us to connect with characters and flex our empathy muscle. So, with all the remote working and social distancing going on, reading fiction is more important than ever.

Another reason fiction is important is because reading is a stress reliever. Life is incredibly stressful right now. What with all this political unrest, mass shootings, and inflation, stress is at an all time high. Reading fiction for only fifteen minutes a day can reduce your stress level by 68%. That is huge.

People need good stories right now. There are so many problems with our world, and many individuals just need a break from all the chaos. Stories help relieve the tension. So, writers keep writing. Keep honing your craft. Your stories are having an impact on your readers. You are making a difference.

What about you? How does reading fiction impact your life? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, Personal

In-Person Connections Part II

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and noodling a new idea for a new story. I haven’t started it yet, but it’s brewing, and I’ll be starting it soon. Hubby and I got away for the weekend and we took the boat out on the water. It was good for the soul to get away.

Now that I’m working from home, I need to get out of the house more often. It’s not just kids who’re becoming dependent on their computers for social interaction adults are too.

I just watched a documentary this week about Hunter Moore and his revenge porn website Is Anyone Up. He worked with another individual (Charles Evens) and they hacked into people’s email accounts and stole photos. Many of these photos were naked pictures. So, the first lesson to learn here is don’t store naked photos of yourself in your email account.

He would then load them up on his website for the world to see, and he could get away with this because he claimed someone else submitted them to his website.  This was true for all intents and purposes because the friend he was working with submitted them under a different name and email account after stealing them from the email addresses he’d hacked.

This created a lot of turmoil for the people who were hacked. It ruined lives. Finally, one angry mother went after him after her daughter’s photos were loaded up on the website. It took a few years, but he was finally sent to prison.

But what about the young girls who’re so needy for approval and attention who load up those pictures themselves? One girl on the documentary wanted this guy’s approval so badly she would do anything to get it. She lost her children because of the things he got her to do. He even loaded pictures of her kids up on the website and that’s what got her in trouble.

If this young girl had had a good support system, she would’ve never gotten into this situation. Our kids need a support system, so when they run into someone who’s unhealthy, they won’t fall under their spell. There are no boundaries on the internet. With in-person contact, people are less likely to cross those social boundaries, and the more healthy in-person contact our kids get, they’ll be able to recognize unhealthy behaviors on the internet, and steer clear of those people.

There are ways to provide that support for our kids. Make sure there’s an open line of communication between you and your children. As they get older, they’re less likely to come to you before going to their peers. Get to know their friends and provide them opportunities to get together with them.

Our house happens to be the one the kids tend to gravitate toward, and we have an open-door policy. I’ve told the boys if they’re ever in a sticky situation, they can call us day or night. We don’t want them driving if they’re intoxicated. So far, this hasn’t been an issue and it’s great. I’m proud of my kids. They’re smart and they listen to their mother…most of the time. 😉

How about you, do you have any ideas on how to keep in-person social connection alive? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!