Posted in Family, kindness

Kindness Matters

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. The holidays are upon us and I’ve had a busy weekend with Christmas shopping and decorating. Later tonight, we’re putting up our tree. So, I haven’t gotten much writing done. So, it begins…tis the season where I struggle to find time to write. It happens every year and this year is no different. Hopefully, I’ll find some time to do it. I do get a little cranky when I don’t get my writing time. 😉

 

Photo on Visualhunt

 

Anyway, enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about kindness during the holiday season. I remember growing up, we would always spend Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family and Christmas Day with my Mom’s side of the family. I remember looking forward to those holidays with so much excitement. I loved getting together with my cousins and everyone was in such a good mood. I loved Christmas. I loved all of it, the food, the presents, and the high spirits. That’s what Christmas means to me, but it isn’t like that for everyone.

Photo credit: wolfsavard on VisualHunt / CC BY

I know many people have painful memories of Christmas. It’s a lonely time of year for them. There has been speculation that the suicide rate increases during the holiday season, but that has been debunked. In my research, I’ve found the suicide rate rises after the holiday season is over.  What this tells me is people can’t pull themselves out of that downward spiral that occurs during Christmas. So, it’s more important than ever to be kind to our co-workers and people we meet along the way. You never know what people are going through.

Kindness does matter, even if our acts seem to go unnoticed, they are not. They’re felt by the people we touch and they’re able to pass that kindness on. It’s the ripple effect, and it does exist.

I know the holidays are about family, but for many people, their family is the problem. They may have toxic relationships inside their family that they can’t change. If you know anybody like this, extend an invitation to them to spend part of the holidays with you. So, they can find a safe place to decompress if they need to from the toxicity of their own environments.

Photo credit: Abscond on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

So, please be kind to everyone you meet. You never know when you might be the person to turn someone’s day around.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I hope the holidays don’t have you frazzled. Do you have memories of someone’s kindness to you? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Parenting, Personal

Parenting: It’s not for Sissies

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I know I did. Although, it seems like the holidays fly by faster and faster every year. I love the holidays and it’s always great to get together with the family and catch up.

I was also productive with my writing. I got a couple of scenes done and I’m getting closer to the end. I’m hoping I’ll get this done by the end of the year or maybe even January. Cross your fingers for me. It’s getting close. 😊

 

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the sadness of watching your children grow and become more independent. I know they’re supposed to grow up and move away, but I get so much joy just hanging out with them and hearing their stories that it makes me sad to think about the time when they won’t be there. I’m sure every parent experiences this, but for some reason, I’m becoming more acutely aware of it every year that passes.

Photo credit: Ted’s photos – For Me & You on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

I enjoyed all of it, watching them grow and watching their personalities develop. That’s why when I hear statistics saying that the suicide rate for teens has doubled. It scares me. I don’t want to lose my kids to something like that. So, I talk to them about depression and anxiety. I tell them that anxiety runs in our family and if they’re feeling anxious, they can talk to me or the hubster. But I worry. I worry that talking about it isn’t enough.

So, I try to tell them about coping mechanisms they can use to relieve their anxiety or stress. I tell them how exercise is a great way to calm your mind. I’m hoping to get them into the habit of exercising at least three or four times a week. Right now, they have gym class so it’s not a big deal, but later in life exercising a couple times a week will help them manage their stress.

Photo on Visual hunt

I’m trying to prepare them for every situation that comes down the pike, but this is an impossible task. Some things we can only learn through experiencing them first hand.  I hope I’ve given them enough so they’re resilient when adversity strikes. I hope. I hope. I hope.

I know every parent has these thoughts and feelings and I’ll get through them, but I miss those years when they were younger, and they came to me with all their problems. Those years went by so fast. In the blink of an eye they became teenagers with smart mouths and sassy attitudes. I love to hear them stand up for themselves though. It does my heart good to know they’re not afraid to voice their opinion even if they’re different from mine.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

Parenting is a tough gig. No one prepares you for when the kids start to leave the nest. Sigh. They’re not there yet, but it’s coming, and I can tell when it happens, I’m going to be a mess. Thanks for reading my rambling post today. Do you have any ideas on how to handle your kids’ growing independence? If you’ve got some advice, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Writing

Confessions of a Recovering Pantser

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and I finally finished a scene I’ve been working on. I’m getting closer to the end of my story. It’s been hard trying to balance writing, work, and family, but I’m managing, but enough about that.

Today I want to talk about writing. I haven’t spoken about it in a long time because I’ve been busy trying to get my story down. It’s a huge undertaking to write a novel. You have to get the characters down and then the setting and plot. I used to write by the seat of my pants, but this last story I plotted out, and even though it takes longer by plotting, I do find my story is better, and there is less editing. This story has taken me a couple of years to write. I’ve written it over a couple of times and it’s better each time because practice makes perfect, right?

Photo on VisualHunt

Being a Pantser, affords the writer a lot of freedom. Plotting, I’ve found, makes you rein in that wildness inside yourself and forces you to move in a direction. Sometimes, I miss my pantsing style. It was so free and easy, but when I look at my story after plotting it out and I realize it is the way to go.

So, for me to master the art of plotting, I had to study it first. So, I purchased the craft book, “Story Engineering,” by Larry Brooks. I recommend it to all of you aspiring writers out there. It takes you step by step through the plotting process and makes sense of your story.  I wish I had read this before I started writing, but live and learn, right?

 

 

The vast majority of writers begin the storytelling process with only a partial understanding where to begin. Some labor their entire lives without ever learning that successful stories are as dependent upon good engineering as they are artistry. But the truth is, unless you are master of the form, function and criteria of successful storytelling, sitting down and pounding out a first draft without planning is an ineffective way to begin.

Story Engineering starts with the criteria and the architecture of storytelling, the engineering and design of a story–and uses it as the basis for narrative. The greatest potential of any story is found in the way six specific aspects of storytelling combine and empower each other on the page. When rendered artfully, they become a sum in excess of their parts.

You’ll learn to wrap your head around the big pictures of storytelling at a professional level through a new approach that shows how to combine these six core competencies which include:

• Four elemental competencies of concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot)
• Two executional competencies of scene construction and writing voice

The true magic of storytelling happens when these six core competencies work together in perfect harmony. And the best part? Anyone can do

 

I also purchased Steven King’s book, “On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft.” This book encouraged me to keep writing. You need to write as often as possible. You need to practice, practice, practice.  That’s what I took away from his book. He gives practical advice in his memoir and gives me hope that I may eventually reach that New York Bestselling Author status I’m striving for.

 

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

So, there you have it, two craft books I’d recommend. What craft books have made an impact on your writing? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Family, Health, raising kids

Why is Childhood Obesity on the Rise?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy weekend of kids, writing, and housework. I can feel the energy changing because it’s getting close to the holidays. I know it’s getting busier which means I’m going to be frustrated because I won’t have as much time to write. Boo. But it’s always like this during this time of year, so I just have to suck it up and get through it.

But enough about that, today I want to talk about our country’s weight issues. I wrote a post a couple of years ago titled “Is our Food Industry making Us Fat.” At the time I had just learned that food manufacturers had added sugar to much of our processed food so we would like it better and buy more of their brand. This added sugar adds calories, thus making us gain weight.

Photo credit: ubiquity_zh on Visualhunt / CC BY-NCCo

I also learned today that our portion size has grown through the years. I call it portion distortion. Many fast food places have made their portions bigger. For example, a portion of French fries twenty years ago was 2.4 ounces and two hundred calories. Today, the portion size has grown to 6.9 ounces and six hundred and ten calories. This is the reason Diabetes is on the rise and our children are obese.  Even if you’re exercising, there’s a good chance you’re still taking in too many calories.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

I don’t eat fast food very often, but there are times when I use processed food for cooking. For example, canned tomato sauce. Did you know there are two grams of sugar in a fifteen ounce can? I know two grams doesn’t sound like much, but why in the world are manufacturers adding sugar to tomato sauce? Because sugar is like cocaine to our brain. It turns off our over-eating inhibitor, so we eat more, and it is addictive. Doesn’t this sound like what the tobacco industry did to cigarettes? They added nicotine to them so people would become addicted and keep buying their product even though smoking causes cancer and heart disease. They didn’t care. Am I the only one who sees a trend here? To learn more about the negative effects of sugar consumption click here . Negative Effects of Sugar

Sugar does not cause cancer, but it does cause us to be overweight which is a precursor to cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. So, while the food industry isn’t necessarily causing these diseases, it certainly isn’t helping by adding sugar to our processed food.

Photo credit: @bodil on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

What can we do? We’ve got the food industry working against us. First, we can stop eating fast food. I know, it’s hard to do when it’s convenient and we just don’t feel like cooking. However, we must get back to the basics where we cooked our own food. We need to get away from processed foods and fast food. Once we do that, food manufacturers will change their products because they want to keep selling it, and fast food joints will offer healthier alternatives. Wouldn’t you agree? Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about our food industry? Do you think they’re making us sick? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Related Articles:

Is Processed Food Poisoning Us?

Is our Food Industry Making Us Fat?

Is Our Food Industry making us Sick?

An Insidious Epidemic: Childhood Obesity

 

Posted in Holiday Posts

Thank You Veterans

 

 

Image may contain: text

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’d like to take a few minutes today and thank our veterans for their service. I am truly grateful for the freedom you have fought for and protected for us.

Photo on VisualHunt.com

Even though our country has issues, it’s still one of the best places to live. I’m grateful for my freedoms. I appreciate them every day as I watch my kids get on the school bus. I’m thankful for the dedication of their teachers and the guidance they provide when I’m not there.

I’m thankful for my kids. They are sweet, amazing, and smart. I love that they still come to me with their stories and pick on me in the ways only they can. I appreciate that I’m able to laugh and share with them even though they’re growing more independent.

 

Photo on Visualhunt.com

 

I appreciate my family. My mom who listens when things don’t go my way. I appreciate my friends who have stood by me through thick and thin. I don’t get to see them as often as I like because we lead busy lives, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

 

Photo on VisualHunt

I also appreciate the online friends I’ve met along the way.  The writers and bloggers who support me and lift my spirits with their posts and kind words. I wish I could meet many of you in person, but since we can’t, please be aware I appreciate your presence in my life.

Photo on Visualhunt

All this being said, none of it would be possible if it weren’t for the veterans who have protected our freedoms through the years. Some of them paying the ultimate price. So, again, thank you veterans for your service. One day of acknowledgement doesn’t seem like enough.

Photo on Visual Hunt

Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Why it’s imperative to Communicate with Your Teen about Mental Illness in your Family

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a weekend of picking out countertops, (yes, hubby and I have a home project) and fun stuff like laundry and housework.

I’m transitioning from running outside to running inside on the treadmill and I must say, it has been hard because running on the treadmill can be rather boring to say the least, but enough about that. I don’t want to talk about the treadmill today. LOL.

I was able to get some writing time in, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Sigh. There just aren’t enough minutes in the day sometimes, but enough about that, too. Today, I’d like to talk about the book I’ve been reading. “The Stressed Years of their Lives.”

 

It’s an excellent book and I recommend it for any parent whose kids are approaching high school or college age. It talks about how teen depression and anxiety is on the rise and how a mental illness can develop during this stressful period.

If you have a history of depression or anxiety in your family, it’s imperative that you communicate this to your children, so if they experience this type of reaction to stress, they’ll know what they’re dealing with. Sweeping it under the rug does not help them in any way shape or form. It only adds to their confusion and their shame.

Photo on Visual hunt

Sadly, when kids are experiencing anxiety or depression, they tend to lean toward self-medication or drinking and partying. When kids party too much, they can develop alcohol poisoning or even worse, OD. It’s because they aren’t experienced enough with drinking or drugs to know what their limits are. This leaves them vulnerable. When they pass out, they can be victimized by other intoxicated students who have impaired judgement.

Photo on VisualHunt

So, start talking to your kids now and tell them that anxiety runs in the family and it has many forms, like obsessive worrying, irrational fears, and perfectionism. These can all lead to an anxiety attack. Give them the information they need to identify what they’re dealing with, then give them the tools to help them handle the situation.

Unfortunately, we can’t prepare them for every stressor in life, but if we can help them develop their critical thinking, maybe they’ll have the tools to apply what they’ve learned from one situation to another.

In the book, it talks about how teens’ executive functioning skills aren’t fully developed yet, so that adds another dimension to the situation, because there’s no way to speed that process up. At least, not one that I’m aware of yet.

Photo credit: Daniela Hartmann (alles-schlumpf) on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

So, what it all boils down to is communicate with your kids, tell them if anxiety or mental illness runs in the family, so if they start developing symptoms, they’ll know to come to you for help or to seek out a mental health professional.

This book is pure gold for parents. I can’t recommend it enough. There is a lot to this book, so I’m going to be writing about it in a couple of different blog posts. So, stay tuned and let me know what you think! Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!