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Monday, December 19, 2011

Laugh making snow angels

Monday, November 28, 2011

Laugh while you dance



I love to dance. I even think I am a good dancer, though some may think I resemble Elaine from Seinfeld! I played percussion as a kid, so I really think I have the beat! I have a few favorite local bands that I like to see and end up dancing most of the evening when I see them perform!  Dancing is such a great way to express ourselves, have fun with our friends, relieve some stress and enjoy the moment!

My husband and I took dance lessons at Springvale a few years ago. We were eventually  put in the special education section of the class. Both of us wanted to lead. He felt since he was the man, and a bit larger than me, he should lead. I felt that since I had rhythm, I should lead. It is not easy trying to lead someone twice your size! We laughed heartily at our awkwardness and our inability to follow directions. I don’t think our instructor found any humor in our silly antics! We eventually quit due to our clear ineptness, though  we still treasure the funny memories!!

I had a great evening celebrating my pastor’s birthday at his house one Friday night. He’s a musically talented man who enjoys a variety of classic music! After dinner, we spent most of the evening dancing and singing to great classics like Meatloaf and Queen. Every time I think of that evening I laugh. We had such a good time just dancing the night away! We were all relatively new to one another having known each other for only a few months to a couple of years, but you would have thought we knew each other for a lifetime they way we danced our hearts out that evening!

Dancing is such a fun and inexpensive activity to do with your children. You can form great memories while dancing with your children at home any time! I’ve enjoyed watching “Dancing with the Stars” with my nieces! We giggled incessantly at the fun dance moves the people use on that show! So, the next time there’s a rainy day, you’re feeling the blues or the kids aren’t getting along, put on the old LP player and crank out some fun dance tunes! Let your children freely express themselves, relieve stress, giggle endlessly and expound their vent up energy!! It will be a memory that will have you laughing for years!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dream Big!!!



Dreams have driven me to my present life and I hope continue to drive me through my future. I dreamt of true love with a caring, compassionate man. I dreamt for years of this man. There really weren’t any identifying characteristics of this man other than the way he treated me. He was kind and generous. I also dreamt he had two children and I came along to help raise them. I dreamt of the kind of neighborhood where we would all reside. Several years ago I stopped dreaming this dream.  I never thought about it again until years later when I was biking through one of the neighborhoods by where I have lived since I married my husband. I almost fell off of my bicycle when I saw the house that used to be in my dream. It hit me! I was living my dream from years ago! I had met that wonderful, caring man who actually had two children! I was determined and driven to pursue this dream and it came to life!

I also dreamt of writing books and giving motivational speeches to children of all ages. Though my dream of being an author is quickly coming to fruition, I am hoping to eventually add the presentations to coincide with my books on resiliency. “Dream big” pretty much sums up my anticipation for where I see myself in the next 10-20 years. I hope to not only have my five resiliency books in the hands of as many children as possible, but also hope to be able to present the concept of resiliency in person to these children. I also have a line of adult books that I would like write….Yep, I’m dreaming BIG!!!!!

Children should start young with their big dreams! They need vast experiences to know and understand all of the possibilities out there for them. They need to explore all sorts of areas: athletic, art, mechanical, culinary, etc. Volunteering at a young age can allow children varied experiences, as can organizations like the Boy & Girl  Scouts. What dreams do your children hold? What do they want to be when they grow up? What tools do they need to achieve this dream? What experiences can you start giving your children so they understand the sky is the limit?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Love Trick or Treating

Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year! My family still celebrates the day and trick-or-treats in the neighborhood where we grew up. Yes, my sisters and I, who range in age from 37-49,  still Trick-or-Treat! There are usually at least a dozen nieces and nephews who also participate in the event and my father dresses up to give out the candy. We begin the night promptly at 5pm with pizza for dinner. Then everyone is on hustle-mode to get dressed and be out on the front porch for our annual Halloween picture. At 6pm we are running across the lawns to all of the neighbors' homes screaming, "Trick-or-treat!!!!!" We cover a lot of ground and (truth be told) have been known on more than one occasion to kick out a young kid if he/she couldn't keep up or wasn't in the same positive frame of mind as the rest of us. Yes, years ago when my older sister grabbed my crabby nephew and yelled, "knock it off! We have some serious trick-or-treating to do!" I knew we were a bit over the edge about this event!

Yes, we found a way to take advantage of our small statures and benefit once a year from it! Rarely do we ever get called out for possibly being too old for such an activity. Clearly, I have to cover up my face so the parents can't see my crow's feet and I wear gloves so they don't see my wedding ring. Gotta be smart about this, after all! My older sister didn't get that memo. She was a witch last year and was complemented by a parent on her mask....um, there was no mask...it was her real skin...and we will never let her live that one down!!!

This year is little somber as the last family from our neighborhood (aside from ours) is no longer living on the street as the parents both passed away. I am so glad to have had all of these years to trick-or-treat! I hope my nieces and nephews will always treasure this holiday and will carry it on when they are parents! Happy Halloween, Everyone!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Laugh splashing in puddles

If you live in Cleveland, then you probably started feeling like you were living in Seattle this past year! We had a heck of a lot of rain this  year! I usually don't recall weather patterns, but this past year I remember, possibly because my golf game was a bit restricted and limited as a result. I decided early on to approach each day assuming that it was going to be rainy, cool and dreary. This way if the weather was actually sunny and warm, well, BONUS!!!!! Yippeeee!!!! It's all in the attitude!

After all, it's only rain. There are still a lot of things you can do in the rain. It rained over our Labor day party, but the kids still swam in the pool. Heck, they were wet already! Why not! My sister, Anne, is just an awesome mother of 4 kids! She's that mom who juggles it all while maintaining a great smile and healthy lifestyle! One week in the Spring it had rained so much that her large back yard flooded. Her kids and she know how to make the best out of situations, so they took a large float from their pool, suited up in rain gear and paddled around the back yard like they were on a lake. The picture she posted of it was classic! Another time her street flooded and the city had it closed to traffic while trying to fix the sewers. Her kids took advantage of having their usually busy street  all to themselves and raced around on their bikes and scooters, in their rain gear, enjoying the rain and splashing in the puddles! Again, the pictures she posted were awesome! Those kids sure do know how to enjoy puddles large and small and make the best of rainy weather!

It's ok to send your kids out in the rain. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure most people don't get "P-neumonia" (as my mother used to call it) from splashing around in puddles. Let them splash and jump and laugh in those puddles! The children will dry. The clothes will get clean.  The memories will last forever!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Believe in Heaven

Heaven. Yep, I'm a believer! Not just because I was raised Catholic and it was embedded in my thoughts long before I could even conceptualize it's meaning, but also because if I didn't believe, I probably wouldn't accept death as well as I do.

A number of people in my life have headed off to the big party in Heaven while I am here awaiting my invitation. Patiently, waiting my invitation, that is:) It started with my grandparents, then some older students from my grade school, a neighbor kid, friends, my mother, more friends, my friends' parents...oh the list goes on. My colleagues joke that I should just be a grief counselor as I seem to spend a lot of time at funerals and wakes. I think it was my mother's death that helped me put it in perspective. She wanted more than anything to be with her parents and brother and eventually got her way.

I developed my own train of thinking about death and felt it was confirmed in Mitch Albom's book, "The Five People you meet in Heaven," along with the books, "Heaven is for Real" and "90 minutes in Heaven." I came up with the "Trifecta" of life. I figured everything else religious seems to be in threes, so this only makes sense to me!

We begin in stage one: The Womb. We are comfortable, warm, fed and don't want to leave the environment.The people outside of the womb await our arrival eagerly, while we reluctantly come out kicking and screaming. The second stage, Earth, can last minutes to decades. Again, we may be comfortable, warm, fed and don't want to leave Earth for, again, the unknown. However, our family and friends in Heaven eagerly await our arrival. Finally, our third stage, Heaven, allows us to spend eternity in peace.  It seems like the party of a lifetime to me! This "Trifecta" comforts me.  I look forward to seeing my mother, other relatives and friends, but am just as eager to spend my life with those still on Earth.

I hope that children can see life and Heaven in a similar way so to be at ease with the process.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Laugh playing board games

Board games were such a  great source of family entertainment and bonding. We spent a lot of time playing such games as Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land and moved up to Monopoly, Sorry, Life, Dominoes and UNO when we were a little older. The competition was healthy and in good fun. The strategizing helped us to learn problem solving at a young age. It was a great way to get the whole family to spend quality time with one another. Of course, this was at a time long ago even before Atari existed! 

It is nice to see that despite the video craze now, my sisters still engage their children in board games. It seemed to be a favorite past-time for my sister, Peggy's kids for many years. They played more strategic games like Battleship and Backgammon. Somehow they were able to balance board games with the popular video games and join as a family to play them. I am please also to see my two younger sisters and their younger children also engaged in such games as "match game" and children's Monopoly.

As adults, my family still enjoys board games, though ones like Scattergories, Balderdash, Taboo, Outburst, Pictionary and What's Yours Like? We tend to forget the board and rules and make it as interactive as possible using as much of the contents of the game that we can. This has become a great way to get the family together during the holidays or just enjoy one another during a party. Whenever we play games, laughter certainly ensues!

Interactive board game playing is important for your child's development. They learn to take turns, work towards a goal, lose, win, count, read and get along with others. They learn patience, sharing, giving, helping, guiding, encouraging and competing. The benefits of playing with their family is insurmountable. This is a great time that the family can forget all of the outside stressors and just enjoy one another's company. Family members of all ages can engage in board game playing!  As my father often says, "You are never too old to enjoy a happy childhood!"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Relax on a rocking chair

Oh, the comfort of a rocking chair!! I remember having one throughout my young childhood! It soothed me when my grandfather passed away, it calmed me when I watched my cat get run over and it probably tired out my darn Jimmy legs (Seinfeld episode)  that had to keep on going even when I wasn't! My childhood chair had a little music box under the back leg that made music every time I rocked back and continued long enough until I rocked back again. It provided great peace and comfort to me for many years. 

Interestingly enough, I have had a rocking chair of some sort in my life ever since! Whether it was a recliner rocker, old fashioned rocking chair, swivel rocker or outdoor porch rocker, I had it and used it. Presently, I have a few rockers of sorts and use them often. There is a unexplainable comfort in rocking. Maybe it came from my first year on Earth when my mother rocked me to soothe and comfort me? (Of course, I'm assuming she did this as I do not recall the details:))

Amazingly, I am still comforted and able to sort through my thoughts when rocking on any one of my assorted rocking chairs around the house. I'm actually rocking on a sofa rocker in my sunroom as I am writing this! Truth be told, I'm a bit hyperactive, so the rocker might not just comfort me, but also slow me down a bit. My mother used to tap my legs while I was in church because I would rock the entire pew.  Kinda funny that my husband has to do the same thing to me years later??!! If only they made rocking pews...like a glider...maybe I'm on to something?! Gotta keep the legs going, I guess! 

Are your children energetic? Do they rock or always have to tap their feet or move their legs? How about getting them their own rocking chair? My parents clearly saw this in me early on (and well before there was anything called ADHD!) and gave me a rocking chair....oh, and a drum set, to calm me down and comfort me. Your child may benefit from the same thing (maybe not the drumset?). Rocking helps a child gather his/her thoughts, relax, regroup, concentrate, calm down, and find comfort in his/her surroundings. It can serve as a great time-out tool as children can rock themselves to comfort and calmness, too. Clearly, a rocking chair can help people of all ages to just RELAX!!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Believe you can ride a bike

Riding a bike was an integral part of my life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. My father was instrumental in teaching me to ride my bike and provided me with a variety of fun bicycles throughout my childhood. When my twin sisters came along 8 years later, I was eager to teach them to ride a bike. I remember Judy's eagerness to learn how to ride when she was only 3 years old. She practiced daily on her little bike with blocks on the pedals so she could reach them. One afternoon she hollered across the street for me while I was swimming with my neighbor. I looked out from over the pool side as she told me to watch her. Next thing I know she was peddling away without any help! I truly think that was the moment that I knew I wanted to be a teacher! Seeing her believe in herself and push herself to reach her goal at such a young age was so rewarding!


I am relieved to see my little sisters instilling bike riding in their children. At first my sisters rode their adult bikes with the children behind in the kid carriers. Role modeling biking is so important! Once the kids were old enough they moved on to 2-wheeled bikes with training wheels which seemed temporary as they were eager to ride the big bike without the extra helpful wheels! About a month ago, my 4 year old nephew graduated to the two-wheeler without training wheels! That was pretty much the average age for any of my family to learn to ride a bike.

My sister, Anne lives  3.14 miles from my house...roughly:) Over the past few summers, I would ride my bike to her house, get her two oldest kids and the three of us would ride back to my house to swim. Later, I would ride with them back home. They were 6-9 years old and riding over 6 miles. Pretty impressive! This summer my 5 year old niece rode to and from my home on her little bike. She had no clue how much peddling was entailed given the size of her tires and the distance. She was a trooper!!

I hope parents are still encouraging their children to not only learn to ride a bike, but actively use a bike daily. Not only is biking a great social tool connecting kids from areas they may not otherwise walk, but also it is a great source of exercise.  Bike riding also connects family members as it is a great activity that all members can enjoy! Let your children ride their bikes in parades, play follow-the-leader or race! These activities will be fond memories for them for life!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dream Sweet Dreams


My older sister and I shared a large bedroom when we were young. To say she tormented me every opportunity she could find would probably be an understatement! Before going to sleep each night we would always say to each other, “Have sweet dreams, I love you!” which inevitably would be followed with giggly sayings like, “nighty night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” This of course, would only be culminated with her sneaking out of  her bed, crawling over to my bed and scaring the daylights out of me! Somehow through the silliness, I still managed to have sweet dreams!

Though I don’t remember specific childhood dreams, I do remember sleeping soundly and being refreshed each morning.  My mother taught me early on that I should watch something pleasant, humorous, inspiring and/or powerful before I went to sleep. This should aid in having sweet dreams as the last thought or sight before falling asleep can have some bearing on your dreams. As a practice I opt for Comedy Central before I go to sleep. I laugh at the obnoxious shows like TOSH.O and drift into a sound sleep filled with sweet, fun dreams.

You can help your children have sweet dreams, too. By having them read fun stories before bed, they relax and can forget their hectic day. If your children share a bedroom and tend to  play around before they fall asleep, that’s ok! The fun liveliness of their play may aid in them having sweet dreams!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Love the Beach

I had the wonderful experience of vacationing in South Carolina last month. We visited Folly Beach for a few days and then Hilton Head Island. Both hotels were located on the beach with beach views from our hotel balconies. The weather was hot and sunny, the sand was as white as cotton and the ocean water was at a  perfect temperature!

Over the years, due to greater knowledge (JAWS, the news, JAWS, media, JAWS), I have become rather  apprehensive about swimming in the ocean. I walked it many times and viewed it from the hotel pools on most vacations. On occasion, I even dipped my feet in the water to get a feel. But, I have not boogie boarded or rode the waves in a long time. Of course, the new movie, “Sole Surfer” isn’t helping my case any!

Oddly, this past vacation I put aside all fears and doubts about the great ocean and hit it head on! My husband and I rode the waves and played like kids in the ocean at Folly Beach. We laughed and splashed and let the waves tackle us to the ground. I had forgotten just how much fun the ocean could be!!

With great enthusiasm and no trepidation, we hit the ocean almost immediately once we arrived at our hotel on Hilton Island. Once again, we were laughing, splashing and playing like little kids in the ocean. That came to a quick end, however, when the couple next to us yelled, “Hey we just got stung by jelly fish!!!!” My husband and I parted the ocean like Moses! We spent the rest of the day at the pool. Later that day I walked the beach only to find 4 jelly fish washed up ashore and hear the cries of 4 different people getting stung by jelly fish. The next day I decided the pool was for me, though I again walked the beach. This time I heard the shrilling cries from NINE different people getting stung by jelly fish. A few were kind enough to show me their sting marks and describe the intense pain they experienced from the sting. I was glad to have the refreshing and relaxing pool to enjoy that day.

I was amazed at how many people remained in the ocean despite seeing their neighbors getting stung.  That evening I even posted something about it on facebook. My friend, who was about 60 miles north of us at Isle of Palms beach commented that she, too, was stung. She  then stated that the sting only lasted 5 minutes and she was right back in the ocean! WOW! These people seriously love the ocean! I love the beach.  I love the ocean, too. But I'm good with loving the water from afar, pain-free, sting-free and with all body parts in tack.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Believe in yourself!

My little sister, Judy, is my inspiration when it comes to believing in herself! She has set  a number of challenging goals throughout her life and continues to meet them. She jumped out of a plane, ran several half marathons, ran a full marathon and just recently completed her first triathlon. Running and biking have always been a strength of Judy's, but swimming was not.

For a month prior to the triathlon, Judy trained religiously. She lacked form and knowledge about swimming competitively, but was determined to learn. She took advice from my step daughter, Jessica, my friend, Dave, and her friend Jenny all of whom were on the swim team in high school. She came to my house and swam daily and even practiced in the area lake where the competition would take place. She believed in herself and her ability and was determined to succeed.

On the day of the triathlon, Judy was prepared and confident. She swam first and had perfect form and  looked very strong! During the bike race she was soaring and looked like she was just taking a leisure ride....at a VERY rapid pace! The run was the last part of the competition. She was amazing!  She looked so strong and relaxed like she hadn't even competed in the other events prior.

Judy not only completed her first ever triathlon, but she did it at a competitive pace, time and place (1st in her age division-20th overall).   Our father, all of her sisters, her entire family and  friends were there to witness this incredible feat! We are so proud of her! She accomplished her goal because she believed in herself! She is a true icon of Believing!!!

Have you accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish to this point in your life? What do you believe  is holding your back and how can you overcome those obstacles to achieve your goal? What do you need from yourself to get there and what do  you need from others (spouse, children, family, friends, co-workers) to reach your goal? Set out with a strong belief in yourself and you will accomplish anything on your list!

What about your children? Have they been raised to believe in their abilities and strengths despite any possible obstacles (disability, stature, level of intelligence, socioeconomic level..)? Have they been taught to go after their goals and push themselves to their potential? What can you do to help them to believe in their selves?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dream about going to school

So your children have probably been in school for a few weeks now. How have they adjusted? Are they on a schedule? Do they have a routine? Are they enthusiastic about going to school and learning? Luckily, you, as parents, have the tools and school experiences to help your child enjoy his/her academic experiences. Children need to not only be prepared for school  academically and socially, but emotionally, as well.

Children need to hear about your positive school experiences at a young age. If there are older siblings attending school with pre-schoolers at home, they can help by sharing positive stories from their school day. Pre-schoolers should look forward to the experience, not fear it. Take your preschooler out with your older children to watch them get on the bus, so they are prepared for school transportation. take your preschooler to the elementary school to visit before or after school hours so they can visualize what the school looks like.

Pre-school is also a great way to prepare children for elementary school. Children learn routine, expectations, socialization skills and, of course, academic skills. They have a clear understanding of the role of a teacher and their role as students. They increase their attention spans so they are better prepared for half-day or full-day kindergarten. Their thoughts about attending  elementary school should be positive since they enjoy their pre-school experiences.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love your teacher

Well, it's that time of the year again: Time for the kids to go back to school.  If you thought the two months  of summer vacation went fast for your children and you, try being a teacher.  It is amazing how fast two months of summer can go, yet how slow the last two months of the school year can go for a teacher. 

Though I only taught for 10 of my 21 years in education, I have nothing but respect and admiration for teachers! They have one of the most thankless jobs available with the responsibility of  educating, parenting, coaching, counseling, mediating, guiding, etc. The list goes on and on. Parents may not always agree with a teacher's approach or style, but they need to trust in the teacher and believe the teacher has the students' best interest at hand.  

I have found that some of the most strict teachers actually have quite a large heart. (yes, there is always that one who maybe doesn't-but for the most part.....) When or if your child comes home possibly complaining about his/her teacher, remember there are two sides to every story.  Try not to be quick to judge! I know as a school counselor I have had ample opportunities to do this when student's have a conflict with their teachers. It is amazing how the two stories differ once I talk with the teacher?!   As parents you need to keep an open mind and positive attitude until (and hopefully after) you have all of the details. These are great opportunities for you to role model to your children unconditional love and respect for others.

Take yourself back to your classes when you were a student. There were probably class clowns and poorly behaved students in your class. Your teacher had to deal with all of them while making sure you received a valuable education. Compare  how you perceived the interactions back then to how you see those same experiences now as an adult.

Personally, I can think of a number of teachers I could have 'loved' a little more. I was that class clown (or poorly behaved student????) in most of my classes. I never thought of what my behavior did to interfere with the teacher's responsibility of teaching or my classmates interest and need to learn. I didn't quite get that memo until I taught special education, moreover,  children who were Severe Behaviorally Disturbed. I am sure the nuns were laughing   as they watched me in action from the Heavens. Paybacks, ey?

Have a great school year!!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Laugh in the pool

I am loving this summer thanks in part to all of the swim parties at my house. The kids just make it so much fun! Their enthusiasm, laughter and playfulness is so contagious. They have no inhibitions and all the energy in the world! They will step out of the pool soley to refuel with snacks and then they are right back at it. Games like "Fish out of water" and "Marco Polo" are played along with silly diving board contests. The kids really make it a blast when we are in the pool.

Somehow, somewhere in our lives we find ourselves sometimes just lounging in the pool, which is certainly healthy and good for the soul. I, myself, like to have both: lounge time and play time! I float around on a couple of noodles while engaging in play with the kids. We can learn a lot from the kids in the pools.

Do you make time to play in a pool when weather permits? Do you play with your kids in the pool? Do you show them ways to enjoy the pool, laugh and have a good time while swimming? The pool can be a great source of good fun and lots of laughter!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Relax on a couch

This is one of our pages from our "Relax" book which says, "Relax on a couch." How often do you allow yourself to just sit or lie down on your couch for a few minutes or hours a day? You can sleep, read a magazine or book, or you can just sit and think. You can think about your day: how it has gone or how you anticipate it going. You can think about how you could have done things better or what you need to do better for the remainder of the day. It is good to reflect on your day each day just to keep yourself grounded.

My husband has taught me how to relax, though, as I have stated in another blog, I am a work in progress. I have come a long way, I can say that, but still could just sit and relax a little bit more after a day of work. In the summer, I do try to sit on the couch once a day and either watch a mindless TV show, read a magazine or just take a nap. I am off of work during the summer so I best relax around noon each day when I take a nap on the couch in our sunroom. It is very relaxing and I feel very rejuvenated afterwards.

What do you do to relax? Do you make time to just sit or lie down on the couch each day and either nap or reflect or do something mindless? What about your children? Do they ever take time to relax? Maybe you can have "couch time" set aside during the day?

Monday, August 1, 2011

RELAX!

Relax. In order to face life's little challenges, you have to know how to relax and make the time to do it! Life can get hectic and stressful given the obstacles thrown at us at times.

Do you make time for yourself each day and just relax? Everyone relaxes differently and everyone needs time to relax. My idea of relaxing includes taking a walk or reading a book, even Facebooking is a relaxing activity for me. My husband can relax sitting in his chair and watching sci-fi for hours. He is the poster-child for "Relax" and has taught me to slow down a lot. I'm still a work in progress, though!

I used to think that the day wasn't well served if I didn't have a list of accomplishments completed at the end. I would review all the tasks and activities I did each day and feel like I really conquered the day. I am a lot like my father and not my mother who would sit and stare at a lamp for hours just thinking about where it might look best.  (for real!) My husband has taught me to just sit and enjoy a TV show. I do, but I am usually multitasking with my computer and Nook-yes both. Maybe that is a female thing? Maybe it is just the way I am wired. I feel relaxed and I don't feel stressed, so it must work for me.

What do you do to relax? Are you taking care of yourself? You have to take care of you before you can take care of others. You have to make time for yourself. Everyone needs downtime. I know a number of young (30's-40's) mothers who have anywhere from 2-4 kids each. They are all runners-most are very new to the sport. They run 5k's, 10k's half-marathons and full-marathons. They work and either have full-time working husbands or are divorced, but somehow they make the time for themselves each day. To some, running is relaxing. It calms the mind, clears your thoughts and also releases endorphins which allow you to feel better about yourself. These mothers seem very relaxed when I see them at work or at social gatherings. I am impressed with their drive to take care of themselves so that they can take care of their families. They relax through running and that works for them!

Set aside 30 minutes a day just for you. Wake up a half an hour before the family, go to bed a half hour later or take off some time when your spouse gets home. If you are a single parent, work something out with a friend or neighbor. Watch their kids while that parent relaxes and then he/she can watch your kids while you do the same. It can be a  simple activity: meditate, stretch out, do yoga, walk, run, watch TV, Facebook, look at old pictures, garden... anything, as long as you are relaxing and not doing household chores at the time.

You will find that by giving yourself one half hour each day, you will actually have the time and energy to get through the rest of your day. You will work smarter not harder and you will work with less stress on your mind. Try it. Relax!!!

Teach your children to relax, too. This seems to be the generation of kids having to be overly  involved in sports, dance, skating, clubs, etc. Every day the kids have to do something, be somewhere, have something scheduled. It's ok to let them just go outside and play and it is ok to let them just relax. They can sit under a tree and read a book, ride a bike, play in a treehouse, fish, take an afternoon nap. They have to learn at a young age how to relax so they are prepared better for life's challenges, too!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

LOVE

My parents were the icons of love with their unconditional dedication and devotion. They greeted one another with hugs and kisses whether they were coming or going. They even held hands while out in public! We never witnessed them fight or show any disdain or disrespect towards one another. In fact, it wasn't until we were adults that we learned about my father's passive-aggressive approach to my mother when he disagreed with her. 


Unlike most homes, my mother was the one who was just a little bit strict while my father was easy going and non authoritative. So, when my mother would occasionally ground my little sisters and he would disagree, no one would know. My sisters thought he was just a bit absent minded when they would ask him if they could go out at times which just happened to coincide with my mother being gone for the day. My father would allow them and coincidentally ask them to be home 10 minutes before my mother was expected home. And so this went on throughout their teen years. He loved my mother but didn't agree with some of her decisions. Instead of showing any disrespect in front of the kids or towards her, he just played dumb. Kind of genius-like! 


I longed for their compassionate kind of love and looked in all the wrong places for a real long time...20 years to be exact. Love has to be shown not just stated to be real. If someone tells you he/she loves you and then abuses you, hurts you, cheats on you, etc., well, that is just not true love. Abusive spouses/friends often will woo their significant other back into their lives by telling the person how much they love them. The actions state otherwise. Everyone deserves to truly feel loved and to have someone to love. Once you have that in your life, WOW, what a life you will have!


My husband reminds me a lot of my mother with his compassion, hugs and constant verbal reminders that he loves me. I thank God every day for such a warm, loving man in my life. It took a lot of lessons to get here, but once I got here, I embraced the relationship whole-heartedly. 


Kids need to be exposed to loving relationships. After all, kids learn what they live. We all know this. Are you role modeling a loving relationship in front of your kids? Do you deal with your disagreements behind closed doors? Do you show respect towards one another no matter what underlying stresses you are facing? What can you do to better role model unconditional love to your children?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

LAUGH!

Laugh! Laugh often! Laugh at silly things! Watch a comedy before you go to bed or before you start your day. Read a joke each day (you can have them sent to your email or can buy a 365 day calendar with funny daily whims). I have one on my desk that I read and laugh to daily! Just laugh! Laughing releases endorphins which are mood enhancers!

No matter how tough, depressing or upsetting life might be right now, you have to find something to laugh about. During the 8 years that my mother was sick, my three sisters and I would try to stay amused and humored through some of the darkest times. Yes, we were sad and scared and upset with the circumstances, but they were out of our control, so humor was one way of getting through it. We had a Brittany Spears song that reminded us of our mother's circumstances. Any time one of us would hear the song, we would call a sibling and play it to them or  their voicemail and just laugh. It was one way in which we coped. We could cry and laugh at the same time.

When my mother finally passed away my family was at the back of the church ready to process in with her casket. The priest blessed my mother with a sign of the cross with the holy water. Unfortunately, in doing so, he soaked my one sister. Mistakenly, he then handed the water to that sister who made the sign of the cross and inadvertently soaked another sister. And so this went on all the way around the casket with all four daughters and my father soaking each other with the holy water, and of course, laughing. Even the priests were laughing. One stepped away and was doubled over trying to gain his composure.  My mother had a good sense of humor so we were sure she was laughing in spirit with us.

Somehow, in the darkest moments, you have to find something that makes you laugh! Laughter can help you get through the tough times and help you to be resilient to the obstacles you are facing!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

BELIEVE

"Believe." That word is posted throughout our home. It is on wall artwork, pillows, candles, plaques, shelf decorations, blankets and Christmas ornaments. In any room in our home, you will find the word "Believe!" This is the word that helped my husband through his divorce after his wife left him many years ago.

He was in the kitchen fighting tears looking out the kitchen window asking the question, "Why?" Randomly, his eight year old daughter asked from the other room, "You know what one of my spelling words is this week?" Through tears, he responded, "No, what is it?" She said, "Believe. B-E-L-I-E-V-E. Believe."

From that point on, "Believe" was my husband's mantra. He got through his divorce, remarried and raised two great kids while balancing his successful business. Even a few years ago when his company fell victim to the recession, he kept on believing that things would get better and they did.

You have to believe that life can and will get better no matter what your circumstance.   Believe in your ability. Believe in your strength to get through difficult situations. Believe in a better life. Believe in a happy future. It is kind of like the old saying, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right!" Believe you can!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

DREAM!

One of the factors for being resilient is having a DREAM. You have to visualize your future. Where do you want to be? How do you plan to get there? What resources do you need to get there? What obstacles are in your way and how can you overcome them?

Many years ago, at a low point in my life, I often dreamed and even daydreamed of a better life.  I would take long bike rides and walks dreaming of the good life. Mine was not traumatic or horrible, I just wasn't in a good place or a good relationship and wanted better. I mainly wanted a caring, loving husband.  I visualized myself living in a nice neighborhood with kids and this special husband. From the beginning of my dream, I never dreamed of having my own children, they were always going to be step children or foster children whom I could help. Anytime I found myself down about my present life, I drifted away in my dream. That dream got me through some tough times and rough relationships!

 A few years ago I was bike riding in my neighborhood and it hit me. I was living that dream I had years before!  I literally almost fell off my bike when I saw the home that I dreamed about  just a few blocks from my present home. I was (still am) married to the most loving, caring and giving man. He has blessed me with two step children who are now young adults. I am blessed. I am grateful. I am in a much better place because I never gave up on my DREAM!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do you have what it takes to be resilient?

Life comes at you fast. Some people were faced with adversity at a young age and some adults have not faced any major obstacles or issues....yet.   Regardless of when your time comes for this thing called life, you have to be ready! If you were already hit by it, maybe through abuse, loss, disease or divorce, I hope you were able to recover and move forward successfully.

So, what made you resilient? How were you able to rebound from the incident(s)? Did you have outlets like music or sports that allowed you to RELAX? Did you have a DREAM that you would someday be something big and important? Did you BELIEVE that things would get better at some point? Did you have at least one person in your life that your truly felt LOVED you and whom you loved? Were you still able to LAUGH & find humor in the funny things in life despite the sad or hurtful experiences you had? Those were the ingredients for resiliency.

If you were lacking any of those resiliency factors, you may still be struggling with whatever issue you faced. It's never too late to attain these factors, though and get through life a little happier!!Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Resiliency in families

         How do two children from the same abusive family grow up so differently: one resilient, one not-so-much? As a counselor who has worked with students  from  a specific part of the alphabet for the past 11 years, I have met many siblings who have faced the same adversities, yet turned out so differently.
         I had a young girl, I'll call Mary, who was the ideal teenager. She was so full of life, loved by her peers and teachers and very actively involved in her school. She was the poster-child for being "well-rounded!" On top of balancing band, orchestra, dance and theater, she maintained about a 4.4 GPA with as many honors and Advanced Placement courses she could possibly take. I would see her late after school while still at drama practice and see her first thing in the morning at band or dance practice.  I often thought what a great upbringing she must have had given her personality and livelihood.




Her younger sister, I'll call Carey, entered high school when Mary was a Junior. She was gothic, depressed, uninvolved in school activities and struggled academically with just the basic curriculum. I spent a lot of time with this young lady. I learned of her abusive father who was an alcoholic and her difficult mother who was nothing less than miserable.

Both girls: Same parents-different outcomes. 

Mary had a DREAM to be a musician, Carey had no DREAM, no future plans, no desire to go to college.
Mary BELIEVED in her ability to succeed no matter what the challenge. Carey did not BELIEVE in herself and in fact compared herself to her more successful sister.
Mary RELAXED with her music and dance and Carey was an angry young lady who didn't even make time to RELAX.
Mary LAUGHED  with her variety of friends while Carey was grim and sad and didn't crack a smile, let alone, LAUGH.
Mary had a lot of peers and staff who really LOVED her. Carey did not feel LOVE from her parents and had few friends she could rely on, let alone feel loved.

Two children. Two years apart. Two dysfunctional  parents. Two different outcomes.

Resiliency can make or break you.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mind Over Matter (M.O.M.) Intro

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to introduce my new blog: Mind Over Matter. This blog focuses on  resiliency and the children's books I have written (with the help of a great team) to help kids become resilient.
     I specialized in researching what makes children  resilient, (able to rebound despite adversity), while pursuing my ED.S. degree and planned on further researching HOW to help a child become resilient at the doctorate level. Unfortunately, I had begun working at a new district where I was contractually unable to take a sabbatical until my 5th year in the district, at which  point my credits were no longer valid towards the PhD.
     Still having the interest and drive to help children become resilient, I decided to write childrens' books which would also serve as motivational decorations for their bedroom or playroom. The books, which are aimed for pre-schoolers, are titled: Believe; Laugh; Relax; Love; and, Dream.
     My niece Jackie Kennedy and I initially brainstormed the contents of the books. My friend Dawn Luce believed in my idea and set me up with her friend, Jan Hill, a very talented and whimsical artist. This past Spring & Summer we brainstormed, revisited and refined the pages. Many of my nieces, nephews and friends have given us great input throughout the  process. My friend and colleague, Kim Weber, eagerly joined the team and became our typesetter. Presently, we are doing the finishing touches on the book, "Relax."
     Through much deliberation, I came up with the name for these books: M.O.M. Mind Over Matter. This title certainly describes the books and the ability to be resilient, Also, the acronym, M.O.M. brings my late mother into the making. She was my inspiration and the reason I am resilient.
     Our goal is to have all 5 books on the market before the holidays of this year (2011). They will be sold individually or as a set. My ultimate goal is to create the same type of books for elementary students and teenagers.  (Shhh. I haven't quite told the team about this part yet!)