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OK Not Being OK: A Different Perspective on Grief

I decided from almost the very beginning of this grieving process that I would be OK not being OK.  Because, you see, I think it's OK to grieve although most of the western world does not believe that.  After the funeral of your loved one is over, everyone thinks you should just move on and be OK.  But, in truth, you're not.  I've found that it's only after the wake and funeral are over that you truly begin to come out of what I call a brain fog and begin to mourn the loss of your loved one.
We knew that my mother was going to pass away at any time and even though we were prepared, we were not prepared.  If that makes any sense.  After a death, your body apparently has a protective mechanism that allows you to go through the following days on autopilot.  You get arrangements made and take care of everything that needs to be done.  And then it's over.  And you then find yourself just sitting in a chair doing nothing.  Nothing but thinking.  And if it's been a long process (as it was with us in a hospice situation), you are tired.  Your mind goes a bit numb during this time and you can't remember things you need to do or have already done.  That is what I did.  I sat in a chair for days.  I made myself get out of bed and go through the motions of life.  I ate very little.  My husband brought me food and I ate small amounts of it.  This was the beginning stages of grief; it was shock.  Even though I was  expecting my mother's death to happen, my human body and mind was not ready for it.
As I began to come out of my stupor a bit, I began reading all sorts of literature the church and hospice company had given me to help me understand my grief.  I also ordered some other books on my own and then someone mentioned to me that other cultures grieve differently than we westerners do.  It was quite eye-opening for me because where westerners tend to want people who have experienced loss to move on quickly, other cultures understand that the grieving process takes time.

In some cultures individuals mourn loudly.  Some quietly.  But always, mourning is an individual thing.  No one grieves in the same manner.  In other cultures family members and friends take care of the grieving individual for a long period of time.  They are not expected to do anything or make an decisions.  They are allowed time to themselves to reflect upon the life and death of their loved one.  And as I pondered this I thought, "Yes!"  This was exactly what I wanted to do.  And actually was allowed to do so to some extent.  But then very quickly I found that people expected me to be over my grief and back to my normal activities.  Why?  Because I believe a grieving person makes others uncomfortable.  They don't know what to say to them, how to treat them.  The only way to treat a grieving person is to acknowledge that they are sad.  Maybe not every minute of every day but understand that they are just really sad.  And if they are sitting in a day-dreaming state it is only because they are reflecting and attempting to process everything that has happened.

And so,  I am more OK with not being OK than others are with me not being OK.  And if they have never experienced the loss of someone close to them, they just do not understand.  And that's OK too.




  

7 Ways to Motivate Kids to Clean Their Rooms

Do you have problems getting your kids to clean their rooms?  I know that I did whenever mine were young.  It seemed like a never-ending battle.  Today, I am featuring a guest blogger, Alex Farley, who has a lot more experience with cleaning that most of us do and we are going to get some really great tips for getting your little one to clean their rooms!
             



It is not easy to involve your children in household chores but it is not a mission impossible. You need to motivate them to turn cleaning duties into an enjoyable activity. Take advantage of my tips and you will see for yourself how beneficial they are.

                                        Ways to motivate kids to clean their rooms

1.  The best way to motivate kids to clean their rooms is to make them feel like they are part of something important. Children love to be appreciated and in charge of something, even something that appears to be insignificant. That is why I truly believe that inspiring kids to take part in  household chores is essential. Cleaning their room, for example, shows children that every member of the family has specific obligations and helping each other actually strengthens the relationship between them.

2. Be an example, don’t be too bossy.
This simple step is important when teaching your children things. It is not a secret that little ones watch what we do more than what we say.  For example , “Clean your room!” will not lead to a positive outcome. If you keep all of your personal belongings in order, if you clean on a regular basis, then you are setting a good example for your children. They see what you do as something necessary and expected.  I found out the hard way that bossiness does not produce  the results you desire. The use of controlling language is not the way to speak to your children if you want to get them to clean their room. Instead of becoming a cleaning dictator, try to be more gentle. Give them confidence and you will notice that this motivates and prepares them to take on cleaning duties and complete them.

3. Make them feel that their room is entirely their own.
Over the years I have come to the conclusion that children are more likely to keep an area clean if they realize it is theirs.  Give them responsibility over keeping it clean and they will put forth the effort to keep it tidy and store things in an orderly manner. You can even buy them a child-sized vacuum cleaner.  They are sure to find vacuuming their own space very entertaining which will make cleaning more fun for them.

4. Make yourself clear when giving orders.
If you say,  “Get your room in order!”,  there is a very big chance that he or she will not understand  exactly what is meant by that. Instead try saying,  “Put your toys in the boxes”, “Put your dirty clothes in the laundry hamper”, “Make your bed”, “Vacuum the carpet.”  You need to be very precise with your instructions. Make a simple task list that your children can follow.   Use drawings for younger children and simple words and sentences for older ones.

5. Have an exact place for each item.
It is much easier when everything has a place. Provide your children with baskets and boxes in which to organize their toys. You can also help them label and paint the containers. Quality time together!

6. Start doing chores together.
Forget about supervising from a distance. Instead take part in cleaning together. Don't expect them to know how to do everything at first;  show them how and where things go.  Once they learn how things are to be done they can clean their room independently. However, cleaning together in a positive manner is a great way to enhance your relationship with your child.

7. Be patient.
Some children may be slow to warm up to the idea of cleaning their room but once they have been taught the how to do it and what you expect,  you will be impressed at how quickly they become independent and responsible.

Teaching children to clean up after themselves not only helps you, the parent, out but also teaches responsibility.  Children need to realize that they cannot play with everything at one time.  Toys should be put away before new ones are taken out to avoid having to spend hours cleaning.  Organization is a skill that will grow with your children and one day they might actually thank you for making them clean their room...one day!

Becoming a Yoga Teacher at 55!

I've practiced yoga for approximately 15 years now.  I has always been such a peaceful time in my day, especially during some rough times.  Like the teenage years of my children, for example.  Dim the lights, burn a little incense, turn on some soft music and then it's just me and my mat.  Having been in the teaching profession for not only the junior high and elementary grades but also having taught private piano lessons, I had often thought about training to become a yoga instructor.  Last year I had my chance at that.  And I took it!

I had no idea what I was getting myself into whenever I signed up for a 200 hour yoga teacher training course.  Oh, I knew we would have to engage in the actual physical part of the practice and, of course, I questioned whether I would have to do anything extreme because let's face it...I'm not really into anything extreme.  I also knew that the training would be in a hot studio environment which I used to practice in all the time.  But then came that dang menopause and I was hot enough without being in a room that was 100 degrees.  I much more enjoyed the room temperature studio and didn't mind power yoga at all.  But to get those 200 hours surely I could do it.

Often times I wonder, "WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?!"  The entirety of my yoga training I thought that.  I knew that I would be the oldest student in the room but that really made no difference to me because I think I can do anything (sometimes foolishly...) and experience counts for something, doesn't it?  Well, I'll let you in on a little secret:  Yoga training is not easy.  And not only the physical part but there were sessions of inquiry where you really had to dig deep into yourself and sometimes that sort of thing is more painful than the physical aspect.  There were also very long days (lots of 12 hour ones) where we practice taught and learned about the anatomy of the human body, read numerous books and had to write a paper in the end.  And on top of all that, my mother had her fall and began her decline during that period of time.  Those 200 hours did not come easy and for me it was very stressful at times.

I wanted to quit so many times but it's just not in me to quit.  And now, I'm so happy that I didn't.  Because I really do love teaching yoga; bringing something to someone else's life.  It has also helped me to cope a little with the loss of my mother.  I haven't gotten out very much since she passed away but the one thing that I did do was to take on one weekly yoga class to teach.  It has been good for me on a number of levels.  So, although yoga training was quite a challenge for me, I am happy that I hung in there and completed it!  Namaste...
During yoga training you get so close with the ones you train with and these gals will always hold such a special place in my heart.

Creating Good Habits for 2018

I'm not much of a goal setter or resolution maker so this year I've decided to set some good habits in place for myself.  A good habit may not be a goal, however, it might lead to a goal you have had in mind.  Here's an example:  I have a goal of being able to run a marathon.  My good habit would be that I will start running for 30 minutes each day which might in turn get me to that marathon.  Get it?  Yea...that was just an example because there is no way I ever plan on running a marathon.  But I will share with you a few things I have come up with that will perhaps make my life a little better in this new year.

There's nothing like the death of someone dear to you to make you stand up and take notice of your own life.  After watching my mother fade away in hospice care and eventually pass away during the holiday season, I took stock of where I am in my own life and where I would like to be.  I decided to focus on a well-rounded me and to do that I needed to develop some good habits in several areas of my life:  Physical, Mental and Spiritual.

1.  PHYSICALLY
     I will commit to making healthy choices with food, which includes eating more fresh real food
     than the processed kind.  Also, choosing an exercise that I really enjoy is important because if
     I enjoy it, I am more likely to stay with it.  It is my intention to attend yoga classes at least 3 times
     a week.  And the fact that I am now teaching one of those 3 makes it easier for me to keep that
     good habit.

2.  MENTALLY
     Peace of mind is a big thing for me.  I am a worrier so I am going to get into the habit of living
     more day to day and not borrowing trouble from tomorrow.  Yoga will also help me clear my
     mind and meditate on positive things.  I have recently picked up my painting after quite a long
     hiatus and I remember how happy it makes me to paint and create, therefore I am going to make
     it a habit to paint a little every day...and a lot some days!  And to disconnect more from electronics
     and replace them with enjoying the quiet, outdoors,  music and people.

3.  SPIRITUALLY
     My spirituality is very important to me.  I'm going to make reading and studying my Bible a
     priority this year.  I want to have some quiet time and meditation every morning.  It is my
     intention to simplify my life.  I want to be concerned less with things and more with people.
 

Spending time with my mother during her last days here on earth made me realize that there are so many things in life that often times keep us busy or complicate our lives.  However, in the end, it is a life well lived in peace that really matters.  It's the choices you make that lead to your joy and contentment.
                       

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Where Dreams Come True: Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Disney Vacation

With Mardi Gras, Easter and summer vacation coming up more quickly than we are ready to admit, families from all over are getting ready to travel.  And where do most families travel with children?  You've got it; "The Happiest Place on Earth...DISNEY!"  Traveling to Disney with children can be a bit overwhelming and quite stressful if you are not fully prepared and organized.  With that being said,  today I have a guest blogger, Henry Moore of Fit Well Traveler , who has agreed to share some really helpful tips for planning a stress-free vacation to Disney.


The point of a vacation is to take a break from everyday life and enjoy yourself. In spite of this, sometimes vacations come with unavoidable stressors. Who will pet sit? Will we have enough time to get everything done? Can I really afford this? Just like every difficult situation, there are solutions to every problem. The following is a list of tips for making sure you have a fun and stress-free Disney vacation.


1. Make concrete plans. As fun as it could be to do everything on a whim, not having a plan when going on your vacation could cause unnecessary stress. Particularly when you’re traveling with kids, it’s important to plan out at least some of your travel and vacation ahead of time. Use an itinerary so that you can plan out where you’ll be each day of your vacation. An itinerary lets you plan out a route so there aren’t any surprises while you’re traveling to Florida or California for your Disney excursion. Google Maps is a great tool for this.

2. Protect your home before you leave no matter how long you’re going to be gone. Although it may seem like a chore to fully prepare your home for when you’re gone, anything could happen while you’re away, so you’ll want to be ready. ASecureLife.com recommends doing whatever you can to make it seem like you’re still home to discourage a break-in. This can be as simple as asking a neighbor to park in your driveway, having a friend stay at your house for a few days, or putting a noise maker by your front and back doors playing a recorded conversation or podcast to make it seem like someone is inside.

3. Don’t try to squeeze everything into one trip. Author Robin Hutson from TravelingMom.com has a great list of things to plan for on your Disney trip, and her best advice by far is to not try to do everything at every park in one trip. Chances are, you’re going to have a great time, so you’ll want to go back for another trip in the future. This means that you don’t have to try to do everything at once, because you’ll return home feeling completely spent. Instead of trying to hit every park, visit one or two of them, then spend time at some other attractions in the area that consume less energy and give you time to relax. If you are traveling with your partner, switch off parenting duties. Have them take the kids down to the pool for an hour or two while you relax, or vice versa.

4. Don’t break the bank. Some of the biggest stressors that people experience during a vacation are money-related. Even if you’ve been saving for what feels like forever and you’re sure you’ve calculated enough money for the trip, there’s still a chance that, at some point, you’re going to be stressed about money. Ease some of your stress by first packing responsibly. Don’t buy anything at the parks that you can bring from home. You’ll be surprised how expensive a poncho is just because it has Mickey’s face on it. Another easy way to save money is to avoid Disney during its peak season. Disneytouristblog.com recommends going the Sunday after Thanksgiving through the first week of December. This is when you can be sure to experience mild weather and low crowds.

There’s a reason that they call Disneyland “The Happiest Place on Earth,” so you should try to avoid stress at all costs during your vacation there. By following this short list and by taking time to relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be sure to have a fun vacation that you’ll be telling everyone about when you get home.









Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Don't Let The Grinch Steal Your Christmas...Safely Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping!

Much holiday shopping these days is done online and there nothing worse than completing all of your shopping, giving the gifts and then waking up the day after Christmas to find your credit card has been compromised.  I should know because that very thing happened to me last year to the tune of about $2,000!  Don't worry, I was able to contact my credit card company and get all of it refunded but wow, what a hassle after all of the hectic holiday frenzy.  So, whenever I was asked to post some tips about safe holiday shopping this year I was instantly onboard!




                          Five Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping For Your Family in 2017

We all know how important it is to set good examples for our kids, especially when it comes to internet usage, online information, and shopping habits. This year alone, nearly 72% of holiday shoppers will be making online purchases. With a projected value of $106 billion, online hackers and other cybercriminals have been preparing all year to take advantage of vulnerable individuals and information.


Protecting your family from these unwanted holiday attacks requires a proactive approach. Savvy individuals willing to practice online safety and review their financial information for fraudulent or unauthorized activity are much more prepared to identify and address seasonal internet crime. From reading up on current scams, to actively monitoring internet and account activity, staying safe this season can be easy as long as you follow these helpful tips.

Tip 1:   Check the website's security
With the abundance of fake ecommerce websites, it’s essential to make sure both the product pages and checkout page are secure before authorizing the purchase. Scammers often attract individuals with unbelievable deals, rare merchandise, and other tantalizing offers, however, they’re less likely to have obtained the necessary certifications required to secure the site (but it is possible). Therefore, to be safe, consider checking the URL in question against Google's Transparency Report for the site’s safety rating.

Tip 2: Monitor your account(s) and sensitive information for changes
Individuals should frequently check all active online accounts and billing statements in order to identify and report unauthorized usage or charges as soon as possible. Fraudulent spending or access to sensitive information could seriously damage your current and future financial standing. Therefore, it’s essential to catch issues early and follow the necessary steps required to dispute fraudulent charges or identity theft attempts on your credit report.

Tip 3: Use strong and unique passwords for parental controls and shared accounts
We all know how important it is to keep an eye on the content our children view and the amount of they spend online. Parental controls make it easier to track, limit, or entirely prevent online activity while also filtering websites and protecting your stored information like credit card numbers or other passwords from unauthorized access. Ensuring you have an extremely strong and unique password when activating parental controls is the most effective way to guarantee your kids won’t crack it. Another quick tip is to create entirely new passwords for all new online accounts!


Tip 4: Update your computer’s security software

If you keep clicking “remind me tomorrow” on your computer's update notifications, today’s the day. Installing manufacturer recommended updates ensures that your sensitive information and software is protected against current threats. Although it seems simple, the 30 minutes spent updating could save you hours of headache. Hackers use malware and viruses to penetrate weak or unprotected WiFi networks, programs, or operating systems. To identify and address these vulnerabilities, manufacturers and development teams release and highly recommend installing the most recent security updates to ensure your computer is protected. 

Tip 5: Lead by example and limit online shopping
Although it’s not always possible, limiting your exchange of sensitive information using the internet is the most secure way to stay safe from cyber criminals. Consider leading by example this season in order to teach safe, responsible, and thoughtful purchasing. Instead of shopping online, have a discussion with your kids around the importance of supporting small businesses, security of cash, and value of keeping money in the local system. Try making a new tradition by logging out of the computer, collecting the kids, and exploring your community for unique things and hidden treasures that make the most thoughtful gifts!


 Don't let The Grinch steal your holiday joy by not practicing safe online holiday shopping! 



Reindeer Food Recipe!

Alright, if you're like me and REALLY get into the Christmas spirit then you go all out with the kiddos.  This year I sent them all letters from Santa, complete with maps from the North Pole to their homes.  It was so fun to see their little door hangers that said, "I'm on the Nice List, Santa.  Stop Here!"  Well, if we are in agreement about making this a special time of year for all the little ones in your life then I've got just the DIY project that you need to try!

As we all know, if it weren't for Rudolph and all of his pals, Santa would be in real big trouble getting to all of the houses out there.  And we certainly don't want him losing his way to yours!  So, why not leave a trail of reindeer food for them to follow?  Don't have a recipe, you say?  Well, Personal Creations just happens to have one for you, complete with printable tags that have the cutest little poems!




                                                     CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED!



After making your Reindeer Food, you will want to bag it up and add one of the cute downloadable tags with a poem to it!
                                                   “Sprinkle on the lawn at night,
                                       The moon will make it sparkle bright,
                                         Santa’s Reindeer fly and roam,
                                     This will help them find your home!”

Want a little more hands-on activity for your little ones?  There is even a tag you can download for them to color.

                          And how about one for an elf, Rudolph or even Santa, himself?!





Each of these adorable tags come with their own special poem and they are absolutely FREE for you to download with you kiddos so the countdown fun of waiting for Santa to arrive can officially begin!