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 community, current-events, Family, friendship, Health, mental-health, Parenting, Teen

In Real Life Connection vs. Engagement

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work, writing, and running. It’s treadmill season at the Orchard household and I did something to my back the other day when I was running. It hasn’t gotten any better, and I fear I’m going to have to go to the doctor and get it checked out. It has been four days and it hasn’t gotten back to normal. Ugh.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about staying connected. With social media we can connect any time for any reason, but is it a true connection? I don’t think so, there’s nothing like taking the time to sit down with family and friends and spending good quality time with them.

The social media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, main intent is to keep you engaged. Behind the scenes, they analyze your likes and comments to learn what your interests are so they can plant more of those interests in your feeds. This keeps you on their site longer, and it appears like you’re connecting with friends and family, but in reality, it’s more about keeping you engaged than connecting with people.

Don’t get me wrong I love social media because it allows me to stay in touch with friends in other states and countries, but it doesn’t take the place of a true connection with your family and friends right here.

Just the other day, I had brunch with some friends and then we spent the afternoon painting together. It was an In Real Life Connection. One in which, I’m learning how to paint, and I must say Bob Ross is right, there are no mistakes just happy little accidents. 😉 But I digress, the point I’m trying to make is we need in person connection now more than ever. If we lose the ability to read social cues and body language, we’re going to set the human race back to the caveman era.

Evidence suggests there is a correlation between the rise in suicide rates and the rise of social media. We have more access to more information than we’ve ever had. That means we have access to chat rooms and forums that are pro-suicide. Our kids have access to these forums. So, if you’re dealing with a child with some mental health issues and they find their way to one of these forums, it could be trouble.

Cyber-bullying has led to suicides as well, especially among the younger crowd. Social media has become an avenue for that also. So, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a connection with your loved ones. We can never truly know what’s going on in someone’s mind unless we watch for the signs.

But that’s not where I want to go with this. I digress again. Sorry. What I want to say is that maybe Social Media is the symptom, and the real disease is lack of connection or disconnection.

I believe that if it’s not the sole cause, it’s a big part of it. So, keep the communication open with your family and friends. Stay connected. Make sure your kids learn how to make an emotional connection with their friends, so they won’t feel isolated.

So how do we stay connected with so many distractions?

  1. Engage in a common interest like hiking or biking or robotics
  2. Have family night where you play a card game or board game
  3. Watch a movie together once a week
  4. Take a family vacation

These are just a few ideas. There are many ways to make connections with your family. How do you connect with yours? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Reading

Technology’s Effect on Our Health

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week with work and writing. I’m editing my second work in progress, and I’m happy with the results so far. This story is flowing smoothly and I’m enjoying it.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology’s effect on our health, both mental and physical. When I think back to my own childhood, I remember being extremely active. I rode my bike everywhere. I remember going to my friend’s house and swimming in her pool. We’d play games like Yahtzee and Monopoly, or we’d go for long bike rides. When I look back, I realize how wonderful my childhood was. My friends and I had a connection.

Then I look at my kids, and I’m frustrated. They’re glued to their computers. If they’re not playing games, they’re chatting with friends online. The face-to-face interaction isn’t there. I know they get that at school, but I feel something is lost for our kids. They’re missing out on that special connection that I treasured in my younger years.

I also feel that we’re losing some of our vocabulary. I mean when you can communicate with an emoji, what do you need words for? Is our technology dumbing down society?

I think so. Instead of reading books, kids are looking at their phones. Social Media’s goal is to keep everyone engaged. So, they have complicated logarithms that keep track of the things you like so they can show you more. This keeps you engaged longer. I suppose you could argue that they’re reading, but they’re reading posts, and as we all know, posts on social media are usually a way for the individual writing it to receive acknowledgement from their followers.

Right now, kids need to read stories that teach them empathy and compassion. They need stories they can connect with and relate to. The teen years are the hardest years in my opinion because there are so many firsts. First loves, first rejections, first successes, and first failures.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of ten and twenty-four. I’ve always felt that the reason for that is disconnection. They feel disconnected from family, friends, and community.

We need to make the family bonds stronger and protect our children. We need to bring story-telling back. It has always been a way to connect with our family members. We need to sit around the campfire and tell stories of our youth, so our children can bond with us.

Stories are more important than ever now. I know when I was a teen, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It was a self-inflicted kind of pressure. I was afraid to make the wrong decision. I couldn’t articulate this pressure to my parents, so I wasn’t able to talk to them about it. I felt so alone.

To escape this pressure, I’d read. When I was finished reading, I’d feel better. The pressure wasn’t so bad, and I was calmer, so I could look at my issues more objectively.

In my opinion instead of more technology, our kids need more physical exercise, and they need to spend more time reading stories not social media posts. Not only will reading stories relieve stress, but it’ll teach empathy and compassion. So, writers keep writing. We need your stories now more than ever.

How about you? Do you feel our kids need to feel more connection? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in friendship, Personal

In Real Life Connections

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing and work. I did take a day off and spend some time hiking with one of my gal pals. It was so nice to meet in real life with a friend and go hiking. I appreciate these moments together and the deepening of our connection.

I appreciate my gal pals. It’s so important to make time with your friends. I’ve found through the years some friends leave to travel their own paths. Sometimes there’s a falling out that makes us sad, but inevitably, we find new friends whose energy is closer to our own. I feel we develop more authentic friendships instead of situational ones as we grow older.  I’ve found some awesome friends who support me, and I support their endeavors. The friends I’ve kept along the way are the ones I just clicked with. They get my wacky sense of humor and enjoy the same things I do.

We have to honor the ebb and flow of these friendships. Sometimes, we can be extremely close and get together often. Other times life takes us in another direction for a while. The bond is still there, but it’s stretched to accommodate the distance we have to put between us. There are friends who’ve left me to pursue another path, I honor the history we have together and if we were ever to come back into contact, I’m sure we’d pick up right where we left off.

The circle of friends I have now, I value with all my heart. I have an artist friend who I’ve been spending a lot of time with. She’s showing me how to create some beautiful art. This is good for me because it’s another avenue for me to express my creativity. In our moments in her studio, I’ve shared details of my life and she’s shared details of hers. What I’ve noticed is that we’ve had similar experiences along the way, so we understand each other. She is wise beyond her years and I appreciate her wisdom.

I feel with the age of the computer, we’ve lost some of the ways we connect with our friends. Just working on a project together is immensely satisfying. There’s something to be said for those old quilting circles and I remember years ago getting together to play cards. I miss those days. I feel we’ve become lazy because we connect on social media now. It’s not the same. I believe this kind of loose connection is one of the reasons the suicide rate is rising. I worry about how future generations will interact. How will they make real connections over the internet?

I hope they’ll see the positives of the internet but also the negatives. I feel fortunate that I have the friends I have and we’re able to get together in person as well as connect on the internet. How about you? Do you have a circle of friends you connect with? What do you do when you get together? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, kindness, Love, mental-health, nature, pandemic, Personal

Let’s be like the Trees

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week with work and Christmas shopping and plans. It’s the last weekend before Christmas and we’ve finally got a vaccine being delivered. So, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic. But I don’t want to talk about any of that today because frankly, I’m sick of the pandemic. Today, I’d like to talk about connections. I read an article yesterday and the jist of the article was that trees in a forest communicate with each other through their root systems, and they can even recognize their offspring.  To read the article click this link:

Trees Talk to Each Other

Their root systems are kind of like their own internet. 😊

To me, this is evidence. Evidence that we’re all connected. That the actions of one causes a ripple effect in the universe. Now, the thing about the trees is that they take care of each other. They don’t spew hate along their root system. They send nutrients and healing vibes to their neighbors. Of course, they take extra special care of their offspring which coincides with us taking care of our family.

This is something we as humans need to emulate. We need to resist acting on our negative emotions. I know this is hard. I have negative emotions, too. But what if we resisted and tried to focus only on the positive. When something negative comes up try to give the other person some grace. They may be dealing with some incredibly difficult issues that they haven’t shared with you.

I also believe we need to practice forgiveness. It’s hard to forgive especially when the person who wronged you doesn’t believe they’ve done anything wrong. It’s hard to forgive someone like that, however, you need to forgive them for you. Holding a grudge is poison. It doesn’t mean you have to continue to take their abuse. You have to do your best to protect yourself even if it means removing yourself from the situation. But do it with grace. Try not to damage the other person too much. They’re already damaged. They wouldn’t have done what they did to you, if they weren’t. Remember that. We’re all broken. Some of us a little and some of us a lot.

I know this seems to go against the theme of this post. Connection, but, I it really doesn’t. If someone who’s abusive to you loses you. Maybe they’ll get help. Maybe they’ll become healthier because you’re leaving was the catalyst for change. So, even when we leave a relationship, we can inspire another person to change and grow. Then when that person gets into another relationship they can do better. It’s the ripple effect.  Let’s try and be like the trees and send positive ripples through our root system and see what kind of world we can create.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you stay connected to your loved ones? Leave a comment, I love hearing from you!

P.S.

I saw this on Facebook this morning and thought it was appropriate to add to this post!

Image may contain: text that says '05 Good BE LIKE A TREE. Stay grounded. Connect with your roots. Turn over a new leaf. Bend before you break. Enjoy your unique natural beauty. Keep growing Joanne Raptis'
Posted in Family, Parenting, Personal

Connection is the name of the Game

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back after a busy week at work, but I did take Friday off to hang with my kids even though they’re too cool to hang with their mom right now. They’re teenagers after all. 😉

Children go to school

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I’m worried about how this pandemic is affecting them. Especially since they haven’t been able to get together with their friends like they used to. So, I’ve made a concerted effort to get them away from their computers. I appreciate the fact they still listen to me. When I tell them to go outside and get some fresh air, they usually do it. They grumble at first, but they usually go.

I’ve talked to them about finding other interests besides their games, but my youngest pointed out that there’s nothing else to do, and unfortunately, he’s right.

So, tonight he was shooting baskets and I went out and challenged him to a game of horse, but he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to play one on one. Now, I haven’t played basketball in years and it shows. My youngest ran circles around me.

Four People Playing Basketball

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But the thing is, we had fun. We were laughing and giving each other grief. It was good to connect with him on a different level than parent and child. He didn’t trash-talk me too bad. He’s kind and has a good heart. I hope the world doesn’t hurt him. He’s a good kid.

Well, our laughter drew out my oldest and the three of us ended up playing horse together. They ganged up on me, of course, I knew that would happen. But it was nice to see their camaraderie. My youngest ended up winning the game, and he did gloat a little bit, but what I liked was how he was careful of his older brother’s feelings. He said, “It just goes to show that we’re both better than Mom.”

Baseball glove

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He didn’t rub it in to his brother that he beat him, too. That made me feel so good because when my hubby and I are long gone, all they’ll have is each other, and one of my goals with my kids is that they have a good relationship. I know life is hard and things aren’t always going to be easy, but I hope they know they can count on each other when things get tough. That’s what family is all about.

Children sitting together with parents and laughing

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It’s so important to connect with your kids. I believe by participating in something they’re interested in you strengthen your bond. One good thing about this pandemic is that it has brought us all a little closer. We appreciate each other more and I think my boys feel the same way.

Has the pandemic brought you closer to the ones you love? How has it strengthened your relationships? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!