Blogcation

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m taking a Blogcation Day today. I’ve been very busy with my writing, back to school, and birthdays so I’ve got to have a day of rest. (pant, pant)

So, I’ll be back next week for our regularly scheduled programming! 🙂

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Kindness Matters

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy working on my latest WIP and polishing the manuscript I just finished. I ran across an article on Facebook when I was in the middle of revising. Yes. I’m trying to stay away from social media so I get more done, but some days I’m better at it than others. But I digress. Today I’d like to talk about Mob Mentality.

 

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The event that inspired this post is an article about a new release coming out. Here’s the link to the article here:  Article about the Book Review

 

This all started over a review about the story, “The Black Witch.” One reviewer didn’t like the book and she wrote about it on her blog. It offended her. She’s entitled to write about her reaction to the story, but what happened afterward is sad.

Many other bloggers and many of her followers jumped on the band wagon and criticized the book even though they hadn’t read it. This is what I mean by a mob mentality. People joining in on the criticism even though they had no idea if what this blogger said was true. So, a book that had a popular buzz going ended up tanking because of this blogger and the people who jumped on the band wagon.

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I think this is unfortunate, but I’m not here to complain about that. I wonder if mob mentality is something we can use to spread kindness. Let’s think about it. We know it exists so let’s use it for good instead of evil. What do you think? Is it possible?

I don’t know. But I’m willing to find out. Why can’t some form of kindness go viral? Why is it always something negative? I know negativity sells, but we could turn that around, too. Don’t you think?

 

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What if a bunch of us bloggers got together and wrote posts about kindness?  How it matters. The positive impact it has on our lives. Anything like that, and we used a hashtag like #kindnessmatters. I wonder if we could get it to go viral.

 

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Wouldn’t that be something? Just think if we could start a positive vibe. I wonder what the ripple effect would be?  Well, there’s only one way to find out. Is there anyone who’d be interested in getting together and doing like this? I’m thinking maybe we could write a post once a week about an act of kindness we preformed or one we received. The more bloggers who get involved the bigger the ripple. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know. I’m up for it, are you?

Posted in kindness | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

The Benefits of Forest-Bathing

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week. We went on a quick vacation to Tahquamenon Falls and had a good time. We hiked along the river and got some great pictures. I love getting out into nature, it’s so calming and good for you, too! Experts are calling it Forest bathing.

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I mentioned it last week in a post and I thought I’d dig a little deeper. Forest bathing originated in Japan where it is called Shinrin-Yoku. Why is walking through a forest beneficial for us?

That is a very good question. The reason traipsing through the woods is good for us is because we inhale phytoncides when we breathe in the forest. These are antimicrobial volatile compounds derived from trees.

 

Photo via Visual Hunt

These phytoncides are released by the trees and plants as a defense mechanism against fungus, bacteria, and even animals. These compounds are good for humans as well. According to one study, they enhanced the destructive mechanism in our cells that kill the cell when its time has run out. It also enhanced the anti-cancer proteins production.  Now that is good news.

To put this in layman’s terms, breathing in phytoncides enhances our own natural defenses.  I think this is incredible. It supports the theory that we’re all connected, with each other, and with nature. Wouldn’t you agree?

Not only is forest bathing physically healthy it’s also psychologically good for us, too. It has been found to be advantageous to people who are dealing with chronic stress. I can attest to the stress-relieving benefits of walking through nature, but now I have scientific proof. Yay Me! For more info about this, check out this post from Huffington Post.

Huffington Post

It’s important in our hustle and bustle world that we teach our kids how to take care of themselves, and one of the things we need to teach them is how to decompress. Not only is forest bathing a great way to relieve stress, it’s a great way to reconnect with your family. It’s important to reconnect with our loved ones. It’s vital to everyone’s psychological health.

 

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So get out into the forest and get moving! It’s good for your body and your soul. Thanks for stopping by, I’d love to hear your thoughts on forest bathing so leave a comment. Or maybe you have other stress relieving habits you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Health | Tagged , , , , , | 45 Comments

What Should We be Teaching our Future Generations?

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about some vital skills our future generations will need to survive on our planet.

 

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Our kids are going to inherit this messed up world we inhabit and they’ll inherit all the problems our greedy society has created in our quest for more. More money. More possessions. More power. More. More. More.

 

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The thing is we’re teaching our kids that striving for more is the only way to be. It’s not.  We need to teach our kids the concept of enough and the concept of balance.

 

Why?

 

Because being in Striver mode all the time is not good for our health.  If we continue in Striver mode and we continue to reproduce at the rate we are, we’ll soon be fighting over smaller and smaller space. We’ll be producing more trash and our landfills will overflow. This is a problem. By any chance did you see the movie “Wallie?” The Trailer is below.

 

 

In the movie, humans have to leave earth and move out into space into a floating world because earth is no longer able to sustain life. It’s covered in garbage and all the humans are too heavy to move or exercise. It’s an awesome movie and I’d recommend watching it with your kids if you get the chance.

That’s where our society is headed if we don’t start taking care of our planet and each other. Haven’t you heard? Obesity is an epidemic.

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We need to teach our kids to slow down and take care of themselves.  Because we’re in Striver mode, we eat fast food and processed food. We do this because it takes less time to prepare and gives us more time to work. What happens when we reach that pinnacle of success? We have more money than we ever dreamed of, but we can’t enjoy it because we don’t have our health.

 

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Sad.

We need to slow down and teach our children to garden and how to cook for themselves so they can control what they put in their mouths. By doing this, they control their health.

 

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  We need to teach our kids to be fair. We can do this by teaching them to empathize with their fellow man. Empathy? How do you teach that?  By encouraging a love of reading.  By reading about different characters, our kids step into their worlds and learn about them.

 

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The more knowledge and tolerance they have for others, the better they’ll be at getting along with their peers. A vital skill when space is becoming smaller and smaller, wouldn’t you agree?

Reading you say? Yes reading. It’s also an awesome coping mechanism when you’re dealing with stress. Just an FYI. 🙂 Sadly, it isn’t a cure-all. We need to teach our kids how to communicate, using I messages so they can resolve conflict without a lot of negative feelings.

These Negotiation Skills will be in high demand in the future.

How can we teach this? By having our kids interact with their peers. Don’t let them play video games all day long. Don’t let them use their phones as their only means of communication.  Arrange play dates and get them outside, playing games, and solving their own conflicts.

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Last but not least. Teach them a love and respect for nature. Walking in nature is good for you. It’s called “Forest Bathing.” This practice originated in Japan, and there’s scientific proof it’s beneficial. Something I’ve known for a long time, but didn’t know there was actual proof of it.

 

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“A 2010 research review found that forest environments promoted lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than city environments. [6]

Forest environments have been found to be advantageous with respect to acute emotions, especially among those experiencing chronic stress.[7]

Nature isn’t just good for you, we as a species need the trees and the bees in order to survive. The bees are our biggest pollinators. Thirty percent of our food crop depend on them to grow and ninety percent of our wild plants depend on them to flourish. That’s a tall order for those tiny bees wouldn’t you agree?

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And trees? They provide oxygen. It takes TWENTY-TWO trees to provide enough oxygen for one person. There are 7.442 BILLION people on earth. That’s a lot of trees. Now do you see why it’s important to have a love and respect for nature?

 

Photo via Visual Hunt

So there you have it.  My view on some of the essential skills our kids will need to survive on a shrinking planet. Are there any vital skills I’ve missed? Share your thoughts!  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Posted in Future, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

What is the Underlying Cause of Addiction?

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you and that you’re having an awesome summer. We’ve had a couple of weeks of hot, sticky weather and it’s the type of summer I used to love. However, I’m old now and the heat isn’t quite as much fun. Thank God for Air Conditioning! 🙂

It saddened me this week when I learned of Chester Bennington’s death. For any of you who haven’t heard, he was the lead singer of Linkin Park and he committed suicide this week.

 

It just breaks my heart that someone who gave so much to the world struggled with drugs and alcohol. I was further saddened when I found out that Chester was abused when he was a child by an older male.

I’ve done a little research on alcohol and drug abuse and it’s my opinion that the majority of addictions stem from abuse. Either emotional, physical, or sexual. I believe an addiction is a form of self-medication that has run amuck.

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Addiction is a symptom of a much bigger problem. So we as a society need to stop treating addiction like it’s something to be ashamed of. We need to support our addicts and help them get better. How do we do that?

 

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Good question and I’m glad you asked. 🙂

We need to treat the underlying cause of the addiction. We need to get our loved one into therapy so he can deal with the abuse he has received. Once we give him coping mechanisms for that abuse, the need to self-medicate will disappear.

I know it sounds so easy, but we all know it’s not. Dealing with the shame, fear, and anxiety this abuse causes is extremely hard. Abusers are smart. They know how to manipulate and control their victims so they can come back and abuse them over and over again.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to speak up and stop them. A fine example of this is the documentary, “The Keepers.” I know I’ve mentioned this one a number of times, but I’ve got to say I’m amazed by the outpouring of support the victims of Father Maskell have received. There are over one hundred thousand members in their Facebook group and the majority of members offer support to the victims who are willing to speak out about the abuse they’ve experienced.

Their goal is to get the Archdiocese to release their files on Father Maskell. They’ve got a petition going where they are asking the Bishop to release the files. If you’d like to sign the petition, click here:

Petition for The Archdiocese to Release Files on Father Maskell

They’ve got about forty thousand signatures and they’re hoping to reach fifty thousand.  This is a step in the right direction. The church needs to be held accountable for hiding the abuse and not turning the pedophiles into the authorities.

There are other forms of abuse that priests and other members of our society are involved in as well. I’m talking about human trafficking. Recently, I watched the documentary, “I am Jane Doe.”  Here’s the link to the trailer.

I am Jane Doe

Teens are being taken right off the streets and sold online. They are forced to have sex up to twenty times a day. It’s happening in every state in the US. It’s not just a problem overseas. How do we stop this?

By arresting the people who pay for this kind of thing. Once you eliminate the demand there’s no one to buy the product. I know easier said than done. (I think I’ll save this one for another blog post. It deserves its own.)

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This is another form of abuse that will lead to addiction if these victims don’t get help. These victims did nothing to deserve this kind of treatment, but our society engages in victim-blaming quite often. So not only are they dealing with trying to come to terms with what happened to them, they’ve got society pointing an accusing finger as well. So you see how easy it is to slip into self-medicating behavior?

Once we step forward and stop the victim-blaming, we’ll be able to provide these people with the counseling and help they need. This is a huge step, I know. There are so many abused people in the world today. I’m not sure how to do it, but I’m open to ideas.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How about you? Do you have any ideas on what more we can do to stop this horrific abuse? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Parenting, Teen | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Is Processed Food Poisoning Us?

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about the food we eat. I just watched a documentary titled, “What the Health.” It was eye-opening to say the least. To check out the documentary click the link below.

What the Health 

In this show, the producers claim it is the meat we eat that’s causing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They feel the public has been misinformed by all the health organizations who encourage us to eat meat. Their spin on the whole thing is these organizations accept donations from the meat industry and therefore, act as advertisers for it.

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I watched the documentary in its entirety and it did make me question whether or not their claims could be true. There were people interviewed on the show that were taking all kinds of medications for diabetes and heart disease and after two weeks of eating a plant based diet they were either off all medications or on their way there. They interviewed doctors who all claim that meat is the cause of many of our society’s sicknesses.  The popular theory is that all the pesticides and preservatives in our meat are causing these life changing illnesses.

The way our food is processed has come under attack before. In the documentary, “Fed Up,” it illustrated how sugar is added to our processed foods, like canned tomatoes and other vegetables (See the link to the trailer below).  It’s added to our soda and cereals as well.Now sugar is just empty calories, so if we’re adding empty calories to our diet, what happens? We store those calories as fat and now that we’re a more sedentary society, we don’t burn off those extra calories. Where does that lead us? Obesity. What happens when we’re overweight? We’re at a high risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Trailer for “Fed Up”

 

Photo via Visualhunt

 

We are literally poisoning ourselves with the food we eat. How sad is that? So what’s the answer? Well according to the producers of “What the Health,” we need to eat a plant-based diet. But where will we get our protein you ask? From nuts and beans.

 

I’m going to try and eat a more plant-based diet and see how I feel. How about you? Do you feel the way our food is processed is making us sick? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

**** On a side note, there were some conflicting claims between the two documentaries so keep that in mind if you watch them. 🙂

Posted in Health | Tagged , , , , , | 51 Comments

Have you Outgrown your Critique Group?

 

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’d like to talk about writing. I haven’t done a post on the craft in quite a while and I know it’s time.  In this post, I’m discussing critique groups. Are they beneficial to writers?

 

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A good group is invaluable to a fledgling writer as long as they’re offering constructive criticism. Unfortunately, not everyone offers that. There’s always one person in the group whose main purpose is to just criticize. If they tell you your writing stinks but can offer no advice on how to improve it, then ignore them. Remember there’s always one 😉

What happens when you’ve gone to the group for a while and the only feedback they can give you is your story is good. This is awesome to hear, but it’s not constructive to improving your writing. Now, maybe your story is that good.

Or maybe, you’ve outgrown the group. They can’t move you beyond your current skill level. This happens and it’s not a bad thing, but if you want to continue improving you need to move on. It’s hard because you’ve developed relationships with these people and some have even become friends, but in order to grow, you must join a new group or find an expert who can tell you where your story is weak.

The question is, how do you tell when you’re ready to move on?

Here are some guidelines. The first one we’ve already discussed, but it bears repeating.

  1. When you get positive feedback, but you feel there’s still something missing in your story.

 

  1. When you leave the group meeting, frustrated because you didn’t receive any valuable feedback and this has been going on for quite some time.

 

  1. Your skill level has grown so much that you’ve become the expert in the group. Remember the old saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room. You’re in the wrong room.” That applies to writing groups as well.

 

The second one is the biggest indicator. When you’re feeling frustrated, it’s time to move on. Now I know your next question is move on but where to? That’s when I’d make my way to social media and search for some experts. One that I’ve found to be invaluable is Kristen Lamb. The link to her blog is below.

http://authorkristenlamb.com/

Kristen Lamb — Photo

 

Check her out, I’ve found her classes to be helpful as well as her advice.

In a few words, Kristen Lamb delivers.

 

There are other experts who can help you as well. Follow the hashtags #amwriting or #ontheporch on twitter and you’ll meet all kinds of experts who you’ll be able to establish a relationship with and go on from there.

Another expert who comes to mind is Angela Ackerman. Check out her website.

http://writershelpingwriters.net/

 

 

She offers all kinds of advice on the craft of writing and she’s frequently on Twitter chatting with writers. These people will help you hone your craft and if they can’t, they’ll be able to direct you to a person who can.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Do you have any advice for writers trying to improve their craft? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Comments