Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Focus on the Journey

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I’m back after the holidays, Christmas break, and sickness. Yes, the flu-bug hit our home and got to me and the kids. My youngest had it the worst, but he recovered, finally. Then I got hit with it. (A nasty cough and congestion, but no fever.) Now, my oldest has it. Sigh. When it rains, it pours.

I had a blog post all written for today, when another idea hit me. Yes, I’ll save that blog post for another day, or maybe I won’t. I wasn’t too attached to it, but I digress. Back to the topic at hand. Today, I’d like to talk about focus.

Photo credit: Thomas Sommer on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

What I mean is this. I want to talk about how society tends to focus on the results of our actions. We talk about being “results oriented” and how this is something to be proud of. This focus negates all the efforts it took to reach the result and what happens when we don’t get the results we expected?

We feel like a failure. Our young people are engaging in self-destructive behavior and committing suicide because they’re so focused on the results, if they miss their mark? Well that’s when depression and anxiety set in. We need to change our focus from the results to focusing on the journey.

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Focusing on the journey, allows us to celebrate our smaller wins. For example, if you’re writing a book and you’re focused on the result of getting the book published, you miss out on celebrating hitting your word goals for the day. You miss out on celebrating that amazing description you’ve just written. You see focusing on the journey allows you to enjoy those moments and they are worthy of being celebrated. Don’t let society dictate whether you’re a success or a failure. You decide.

I remember my second born. He was a striver when he was young. He still is, but I digress. Anyway, he was a Transformers fan and one Christmas we got him these big Transformers. They were these robots that could be changes into cars and vice-versa. Well, when he first got them, they were hard to transform. I mean he would be so frustrated, he’d be crying, and I’d tell him, “It’s time to take a break.”

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He’d shake his head and wipe his tears and he’d tell me no. He was determined to get it right. He didn’t give up. I admire this resilience in my son. He’d fail and fail again, but each time he learned something that brought him closer to his goal. He was getting closer, so he knew he could get there. I admire this “stick-to-itivness” in my son.

His focus wasn’t on the result, but on achieving the next step.  This is what we need to teach our kids to focus on the journey and the results will take care of themselves.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! I appreciate it! How about you, what’s your focus for the New Year? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

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. 😉

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

Posted in Family, Health

Getting Back to Nature

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back again after spending a rainy morning working on my WIP. It was a good weekend for working on it because it is definitely cooler outside. Although, I did get my six-mile run in. That felt awesome. When I was done that is. 😊

 

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          Today, I’d like to talk about getting back to nature. We have become the indoor generation. For a clearer picture of this check out this post here.

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          In my opinion, we’ve become a nation of strivers, trying to be uber-efficient so we can accomplish more each day. We’ve become unbalanced, putting work and accomplishment ahead of our health. So, we try to squeeze exercise and self-care into tiny increments. I know I’m guilty of this, but I’m not the only one.

To be fair, we’ve got a lot on our table, with kids, work, and writing, it’s hard to find the time. But find the time, we must or as the old adage says, “if you don’t make time for your health, you’ll be making time for your illness.” I know this is one hundred percent true.

So, I’ve had to set priorities for what’s important to me. I’ve been forced to pay attention to my health. So, I’m making exercise and getting back into nature a priority. I feel better when I exercise and getting out into nature is a great stress reliever that doesn’t cost any money. Win-win.

I try to run on the treadmill in the morning at least a couple of times a week. I find I have more energy throughout the work day when I run. The frequency of these morning runs will increase as soon as the snow flies, and I can’t get outside on the weekends. But enough about that. I want to talk about getting out into nature and relieving stress.  Did you know that walking through the woods is good for you? It’s true. Check out this post on the benefits of  Forest Bathing.

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                We need to reconnect with nature and be part of the circle of life again. We’ve become disconnected and believe we have risen above that need, but we haven’t. We’re destroying our planet with our quest for money and status. Why has this striving become more important than our health and our families?

That question can only be answered individually. I don’t think we were meant to compete so much that it affects our health, both mentally and physically. I know there’s only so many jobs out there and we must compete for them, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of your health. Let’s take a step back and slow down. Spend more time with your family, and less time striving. Is all that striving really getting you anywhere? Or are you a hamster on a wheel because you’ve forgotten how to take care of yourself?

 

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          Sorry, I digress, I got caught up in the moment. I was supposed to be talking about getting back out into nature. Back on track, folks. 😉

Walking among the trees is good for our health and it relieves stress, so does walking barefoot. Do you remember going barefoot as a kid? Remember how happy and carefree we were? I think part of that happiness was because we were receiving anti-oxidants and reducing inflammation while we were running around barefoot. The practice is called “earthing” now, and it has been scientifically proven to be good for you.

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          So, if you can spend more time in nature, do it. It’s good for you and try to get your family out there, too. What are your thoughts? Do you feel getting out into nature is beneficial? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids, Teen

Mentors are Gold for your Kids

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a long week of work and writing. I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, let’s home it’s not an optical illusion. 😉

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But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about being or finding mentors for our kids. I can make suggestions to them until I’m blue in the face and they won’t be motivated to try my suggestion, but if another adult whom they respect makes the same suggestion. Bingo. They’re all for it. I don’t feel bad about this. The reason this happens is because I’m their mom and I love them no matter what, so I’m always going to see the good in them, but another adult who notices a spark… well then it must be true, right?

I stumbled on this concept last year when the tennis coach asked my youngest to join the team. He had never expressed an interest in tennis, but just the fact the coach asked him to join was a huge factor. His father and I had been trying to get him to join a team because he’s very athletic, but every sport we suggested he didn’t want to participate in it. He joined the tennis team and enjoyed it so much that he’s planning on doing it again this year.

 

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So, when a friend complained to me about how her son was nominated for the National Honors Society at his school and he didn’t want to do it because he had to do thirty hours of community service, I decided to test my theory. I suggested to her  she have one of his teachers encourage him to join. She did and now her son is taking the steps necessary to join the National Honors Society.

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Teachers your kids respect are gold. If you can have them help you with your child, do it. The teens years are tumultuous to say the least and I’m not ashamed to say that our teens need all the help they can get. So, don’t underestimate the influence teachers have over your kids. It doesn’t take much. Just a suggestion or a request from one of them is all it takes. Teachers do make a lasting impression on our kids. There’s no doubt about that.

 

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However, it doesn’t have to be a teacher, it could be a coach, a scout leader, or a favorite uncle or aunt. It takes a village to raise your kids and finding them a mentor who believes in them is a great place to start.

How about you? Do you have any ideas that will help parents through the teen years? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you! I need all the help I can get! 😉