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10 Dec

All Children Are Our Children

A study commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption showed that nearly 40% of American adults, or 81.5 million people, have considered adopting a child. If just one in 500 of these adults decided to adopt, all of the 134,000 children in foster care waiting for adoption would have a permanent home.

 

I’ve written before about my experiences volunteering at a local group foster home. It’s actually a residential treatment and crisis care center. While there are many children who live there for varying amounts of time, I have been lucky enough to establish relationships with a handful of them. I love these kids. I feel like they are my children. And in a very real sense, they are mine. And they are yours. They are a part of our community, and they are a part of ourselves.

 

When I first committed to this “job” I agreed to come in for two hours a week, for four weeks. I’m now averaging four hours a day, five days a week, and I just was there for eleven days in a row. I’m well into my sixth month, and I can’t imagine stopping ever. Being a volunteer means that I am not paid, and spending this much time at the place actually costs me lots of money each week. I can’t help but bring fresh fruit and books and things like that. I make the time because this is important. I spend the money because I would rather help these kids than save up to buy a designer purse.

 

More and more we are learning that we live in a global community. We see how much of what happens in other communities, and other countries, has an affect on our own lives. And because of the internet and ease of travel, it’s easier for us to reach out and help children not only in our hometowns, but around the world.

 

I recently met Vivian Glyck, an amazing woman who has made a difference by following her vision. She says that after becoming a mother, she developed “a keen sense that the world is so small, it is really just one community, and I realized that taking care of oneself means heeding one’s calling – without hesitation or deliberation.” Vivian’s calling is helping children in Uganda. Why? Because 25 million Africans, many of whom are children, are infected with the HIV virus. Every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies of malaria. 12 million children are already orphaned by AIDS. Vivian travels to Africa and works with children personally, and she says they are “just like my child” which is why she named her organization “Just Like My Child.” The mission is to alleviate the suffering of women, children, and families in rural Uganda by empowering communities to create their own long-term solutions to healthcare, education, and microenterprise. Read more about Vivian’s story at: justlikemychild.org

My friend Lysa Heslov is also helping children with her foundation Children Mending Hearts. Her mission is to give children worldwide the power to find and use their voices through creative expression. This is a global arts exchange between at-risk children in America and children living in conflict zones around the world that educates, empowers and encourages all the participants. People of various cultures connect the different projects, and learn and grow from their experiences with each other. Lysa has traveled to the Congo and worked with children first hand. And now her foundation is traveling around the United States to conduct art workshops. For more information visit: childrenmendinghearts.org

 

My friend Joseph Curiale saw a news story on CNN which compelled him to start a foundation to help orphaned girls in India. Right now there are four girls going to school on scholarships, who would otherwise be living in poverty in a government orphanage. Joe has traveled back and forth to India 12 times to make sure that these children, whom he considers his own, are getting the support, and the love, that they need. Joe is a testament to how one person can make a difference in this world. The work he has done is remarkable. Read more about his story at: josephcurialefoundation.com

 

Through organizations like Plan USA we can sponsor an individual child, and help that child’s family and community as well. Sponsorship helps to provide vaccination and nutrition programs, community water systems and well construction, home and health clinic construction, school and teachers, and so much more. As a sponsor you receive a photo of your child, a family profile to introduce you and provide information about the community, and regular updates on how everyone is doing. You can send letters and small gifts, and you can even visit your child! This sponsored child becomes your ambassador to a place and culture that you might otherwise never know. I began sponsoring Swapna, a little girl in rural India, in 2005. I’ve been able to see her grow and communicate through Plan USA’s field office volunteers. We don’t speak the same language, and the geographical distance is great, but we are connected through our hearts. She is a beautiful child, and I am grateful to be able to contribute to her life in some way. If you’re interested in sponsoring a child, visit: planusa.org

All children are children of the world. All children are our children.

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29 Nov

Divorce Is Forever

My friend Sandy and I had had yet another one of our philosophical discussions this weekend. She said, “I have a great title for your next blog: Marriage is Temporary, Divorce is Forever.” Having been divorced myself I can understand her sentiments. Yes, divorce is forever. But now, truly happily married, I’m in the state where I once again feel that marriage is forever, too. Maybe there really is no delineation — maybe it’s that these relationships we get ourselves into go on and on, and it’s just the definition of the relationship that changes. Whether married or divorced, there is this person in our lives that we love — or loved — and through whom we are tied with children, or finances, or history.

As celebrities give us this great illustration with which we can all better understand, let’s explore this theory with a few examples. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore: married, seemingly happily, for enough years to produce three beautiful daughters. They divorce amicably, and no bad blood shows up in the press. She later marries Ashton Kutcher, and Bruce shows his support as the three attend many family occasions and holidays together. One big happy family! And when Bruce remarries, of course they’re all there, too. Very civilized, very mature. So Bruce and Demi, although married to different people now, are still tied to each other through their children, and have managed to maintain a functional relationship.

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt do not share any children, although they shared years of their lives together as husband and wife. Will the press ever let them forget that? I think not! Even as Brad welcomed his 5th and 6th child, twins, with his current partner, Angelina Jolie, tabloids speculated about an Aniston-Pitt reunion. What gives? These people have all clearly moved on, but why can’t we? Is it because Brad and Angie have yet to tie the knot? They are clearly committed — and they certainly are looking to the future as they raise these children together. I think it’s because we want to see that Jennifer is okay. We want her to be happy, and in love, like Brad is. That way it seems more “fair.” But life is not always fair. Life gives us lessons, and sometimes they’re tough ones. We just have to trust that somehow, someway, through some power greater than our own, that it all balances out in the end. Karma? Destiny? Maybe that’s it.

From Sandy’s point of view, her marriage was temporary. She didn’t plan for it to be that way. She went in with the best of intentions, until death do us part. But as it goes, things happen, people change, and plans go awry. So now she’s divorced, which she considers to be permanent. This is the new definition of her relationship with her ex. Can she “wash that man right out of her hair?” No. They have kids together. They had a life together. And now all of that has to be shifted to fit this new paradigm. It can be painful, and certainly stressful. There are unfulfilled expectations. There is grief, fear, and uncertainty. And what can we do about it? Somehow we have to manage. We have to redefine the relationship in such a way that it makes sense to us, and that we are okay with it, taking the good with the bad, however we choose to see that. We have to let go of any anger or resentment because there comes a time when we realize that we are only hurting ourselves with it.

So yes, my first marriage is over. But am I over it? Probably not. I’ve still got these two kids as constant reminders of the years we shared in it. Those years don’t disappear. They are a part of my memory, and my psyche. They helped to shape who I am today. But I still wouldn’t change a thing about it. I know mistakes were made, but those mistakes helped both me and my ex to learn and to grow. I know we are both better off where we are today. I love my life, I love my husband, and I know that I wouldn’t have what I have right now had the divorce not happened. So it’s all good. And I am sure that my ex feels the same way.

Life is full of challenges and full of risks. Marriage is a big risk. Divorce is another. Both take a commitment. It’s a commitment to living life to its fullest, to being true to yourself, to doing what you feel is best, and to honoring the wisdom that you have gained through your experiences.

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15 Oct

13 Romance Ideas to Warm Up the Fall Season

1. Join In On Football Season

For many men, “Fall” is just another name for “Football season.” Since you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em! Get tickets to a local game, pack a tailgate picnic and head out to the stadium. Be sure to bring a warm blanket for the two of you to snuggle under, and maybe a thermos-full of hot chocolate laced with coffee liqueur for half-time.

2. Take Advantage Of Pumpkin Season

Jack-o-lanterns aren’t just for kids — this Halloween, pick up a couple of extra pumpkins and spend the evening carving them up together! Maybe you want to work together to create an amazing masterpiece, or maybe you want to work solo to design special “his and hers” messages for one another. Some ideas: a big set of lips and some false eyelashes on a girl pumpkin for him — an “I love you” message that lights up when the candle is inside for her!

3. Play High Stakes Board Games

Take a traditional board game and make up your own rules. Yahtzee can become “Strip Yahtzee,” by simply adding that for every three of a kind you roll, your partner loses a piece of clothing. For every four of a kind you roll, you get a “wish”: a kiss, a foot massage, etc. And for every Yahtzee, set the timer for 5 minutes (and only 5 minutes!) of “high scorer dominance.” You can do something similar with Scrabble – earning extra points for sexy words, or Monopoly – paying for properties with “favors” rather than cash.

4. Share Firelight

There’s nothing more inviting than the glow of a fireplace on a crisp Fall evening. Spread a blanket out in front of the fire, toss around a few fluffy pillows, and serve up some warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks. Relax and enjoy each other’s company. Soon you’ll be toasting more than your tootsies!

5. Dance In The Dark

Set up an impromptu dance floor in your bedroom. Light some candles, turn on the Harry Connick Jr. CD and hold each other close. Dance the old-fashioned way, cheek-to-cheek, and whisper sweet nothings in his ear. Let the music move you, and melt into each others arms.

6. Want To Make It interesting?

When the weather’s crummy and he wants to spend the day watching sports on TV, make it interesting for both of you! Place bets on how many car commercials are shown in the next station break, which team’s cheerleaders get on camera next, how long it takes five minutes to really play. Bet kisses, massages, sweet treats, etc.

7. Puzzle Him

This takes a little forethought – get a jigsaw puzzle and put it together on a piece of cardboard. Put another piece of cardboard on top of it and flip it over. Now write a message to your significant other, or make it an invitation! Be creative, even naughty! Then flip it back over and pull the pieces apart. Keep one piece hidden in your bra. That night, ask him to help you with the puzzle. If you have a glass top table, do the puzzle directly on the table. Once the puzzle is all assembled, have him look for the missing piece under the table. When he can’t find it, crawl under the table to help, and show him your message. It won’t take long for him to find that missing puzzle piece now!

8. Create Your Own Starry Nights

Get a pack of glow-in-the-dark stars to stick on the ceiling over your bed. Have them spell out a love note to your honey. When the lights go out, you can lie under the stars and cuddle.

9. Wash Your Cares Away

How about a soothing bath for two? Make bath sachets by wrapping cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peel in pieces of fabric and tying with a ribbon. Drop into a hot bath, add a few capfuls of almond oil. Indulge!

10. Tea For Two

Take a little time-out with an afternoon tea party. De-stress over chamomile and banana bread, and take turns with the shoulder rubs.

11. Recipe For Romance

Cool Autumn breezes call for simmering stews. Spend time in the kitchen together chopping up herbs and veggies and create your own cold-weather feast! Serve with corn bread and your favorite wine.

12. Bicycle-Built-For-Two

Enjoy the last few sunny weekends by renting a bicycle built for two and cruising the neighborhood!

13. Story Time Together

Grimm’s Fairy Tales take on a whole new meaning when read aloud by the one you love. Curl up on the couch and revisit some of your favorites, and love happily ever after.
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27 Sep

Self Care – How Well Do You Do It?

As a Counsellor and Life Coach, self care has always been very important to me and to the people I have supported (in a professional capacity).

Self care is something that I always advocate. However, self care can sometimes be misunderstood.

To gain some clarity on this topic, I refer to an article by Megha Pulianda (a Ph.D. student in counselling psychology at Texas Woman’s University). She states “Self-care is anything but a one-time act. It is a mindset and a process”.

A process indeed!

When I speak about self care to kids who are getting bullied at school, the key word that I emphasise is “habit”.

What does that mean?

It means that you should make self care a habit. It should not be a one off activity that temporarily uplifts you or relaxes you. It should be something that is ongoing and it should serve you long-term.

Let me share a personal example with you. I love training in combat sports. If I am working on a demanding project, just like most people, I will feel the effects of working long hours over a given period of time. Going to a mixed martial arts class after working on that project all day will definitely make me feel better. I will be energised after the training session. Here’s one question – should I only go to MMA training when I am working on a demanding task? Or, should I go on a regular basis, regardless of what type of workload I have on my plate?

The answer to that question is quite simple. If something is uplifting your mood, you should be engaging in it on a regular basis, regardless of how much you have on your plate.

So, how do you begin your self care routine?

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Find something that will minimise your chances of making excuses – let me share an example with you. A close friend of mine was having some mobility issues. Her GP suggested doing yoga. She had a relative who had been attending yoga classes at a wellness centre. She decided to join this relative in doing yoga. The wellness centre was almost one hour away from where my friend lived. She started off well, and was attending yoga classes three times a week. Eventually, the traveling got to her. She said “I have to do more than two hours of driving for just one hour of yoga”. She quit! My message to you is this – include something in your self care routine that will maximise your chances of ongoing involvement.
  2. Be clear on what’s important to you – in one of her articles, Dr Barbara Markway (psychologist) outlines seven types of self care activities. She lists them as spiritual, emotional, physical, social, mental, sensory, and pleasure. If you had to list these seven types in order of importance, what would your list look like? Please think about that. Your priorities will decide what type of self care activities would suit you most. I have mentioned earlier in this article that physical self care (MMA training) is what suits me most. If I was feeling drained after working hard on a project, and a friend asked me to meet for dinner, I would prioritise MMA training over meeting a friend for dinner. That is what I prefer. Have a look at the seven areas mentioned by Dr Markway, and pick which areas you can engage in, when it comes to self care. That will provide you with clarity.
  3. Have support – it can be very easy to lose momentum when you need self care the most. I once delivered a presentation on “Burn out” to a group of animal rescuers. These brave beings are often confronted with unimaginable animal cruelty. One of the concerns raised by that group was the loss of momentum, regarding self care. A young lady in the group said “Sometimes I just cannot be bothered with any of this. I just feel emotionally drained and physically tired. I wish I had someone who would motivate me to do more self care activities”. My emphatic suggestion to you is to reach out and ask for someone to hold you accountable in your self care routine. Ask them to be strict,  and constantly remind you to engage in self care activities. If that person would like to join you in self care activities, that would be great! If not, let them support you in keeping the momentum.

Self care can be a complex subject for some people. If you feel that you are getting close to burn out or compassion fatigue, please seek professional help.

Quote: “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”  Anonymous

I sincerely hope that you have gained insights into how you can begin to engage in self care.

Influencing you to your excellence,
Ron

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses how to handle overwhelming thoughts and feelings when you are getting bullied (https://bit.ly/2OsIxy9)

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24 Sep

Change Your Life, Be A Mentor!

January is National Mentoring Month. Being a mentor can mean different things to different people. When I was growing up, my parents were divorced and my mother worked full time. My dad moved away, and my mom was stressed out and tired when she was home. Luckily we had Diana. Diana was our real estate agent when we had to sell the family home and move. She and my mother became friends, and Diana ended up moving in with us. It was a blessing in many ways. It helped my mother pay the bills, gave her someone to talk to, and it gave my sister and brother and me an additional adult in our lives.

At the time we thought of Diana as our friend. She introduced us to tacos, and hot fudge sundaes. She stayed up with us until midnight on New Year’s Eve. She made sure that our birthdays were celebrated in a grand fashion. Even after Diana moved out into her own place, she was always there for us, just a phone call away. We could talk to Diana about anything, and know that she never judged us. One of my favorite memories is when she took my sister and me to the beach and we made Clam Chowder from scratch and went bike riding. Diana helped us feel normal, and brought light and joy to our lives when we desperately needed it.

Diana has always been a member of our family, kind of like the hip Aunt you always look forward to visit. And now that I’m involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, I can see that Diana was also our mentor.

It is evident how much having a mentor can mean to a child, no matter what circumstances that child is in. All it takes is one adult to show support, encouragement, or concern to absolutely affect a positive change in how that child views himself and the world. I knew this going into the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. What I didn’t know, and soon learned, was how much the experience would change me.

I’m a parent, so I know what it means to love a child. I know what it means to want the best for this person, to put his needs before your own, and to make this person your priority without hesitation. I have a child with special needs, so I know about the obstacles, and the heartache. I thought I was fully prepared and well equipped to handle all of the emotions and challenges that come with mentoring a child. But every day I learn something new. And every day my heart is opened more, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to expand my awareness because this girl is in my life.

What makes Big Brothers Big Sisters unique is that it is a one-on-one mentoring program. There are local chapters all over the country, so that many different geographical areas are served. When an adult volunteers to be a mentor, there is an interview, and a background screening process. Then the “match” part can begin. The adults, the “Bigs,” and the children, the “Littles,” fill out a questionnaire that reflects their interests, needs, and wants in a mentor relationship. From there a match specialist pairs up two that are compatible, and a match meeting is set. At the match meeting, the two meet for the first time, and get to know each other. The parent, foster parent, or guardian also gets to participate, and if all parties are agreed, the match is made.

The minimum time requirement is four hours a week. This can be accomplished in one visit or several visits, depending on how the match wants to work it. There is a lot of flexibility to the program. Low cost or no cost activities are encouraged. Time together is what is emphasized, as that is what the kids need more than anything. Some adults express that they worry that they don’t have enough to give, that they will have a hard time finding interesting things to do each visit to keep the child interested. But once they spend a few weeks just hanging out, they discover the beauty and simplicity of the relationship itself, and know that time together is the most valuable gift there is.

Adults who enter the program are required to commit one year to it. It takes a few weeks, or even months, for the relationship to really gel. Many times the kids have trouble trusting, and it takes time for them to bond to a new person in their life. The year goes by quickly, and if at the end of the year, for any reason, the adult needs to dissolve the match, they can. But most matches last much longer, even a lifetime. Children ages six through eighteen can be matched with a mentor, and they can stay in the program until they are twenty-one years old.

My Little Sister is sixteen years old now. I’ve known her for almost a year. I can’t imagine my life without her. We have a lot of fun together, going to plays and movies, cooking, and discovering different parts of the city. But the best times are when we just hang out and talk.

People come into our lives for a reason. We learn more from our relationships than we do from anything else. Diana came into my life when I was a child, and she’s still an important part of my life today. She’s family to me, and I love her. And now my Little Sister is an important part of my life, too, and I love her. I hope that I am helping her as much as Diana helped me, and that she will mentor someone when she has the opportunity. Relationships are the heartbeat of this world, and Big Brothers Big Sisters brings people together to make the world a better place.

Introductory video, Big Brothers Big Sisters Ventura County:

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03 Sep

Got Closure? How To Move Forward Powerfully And Positively

Each of us experiences some kind of loss in this lifetime. People come and go from our lives, whether by choice or circumstance. How we cope with these events affects how we move forward, how we see the world, and how we feel about our lives.

I’m not the only person to have been through a divorce. When my first marriage ended after 17 years, I thought I handled it well. It was an amicable parting, and we maintained a friendly relationship. But then a few years later my sister’s husband died unexpectedly. My grief brought up new emotions, and I felt sad and angry and hurt as I relived the divorce in my mind. I realized through this experience that although I had moved on, I hadn’t really gotten over it; I didn’t have closure. I saw the parallels between my sister’s loss and my own, and I actively sought to come up with a formula through which we could both alleviate our pain.

Relationships take many forms: marriage, friendships, family, co-workers, classmates, lovers. Whenever two people have some kind of a connection, a relationship is established. Our energy goes into these connections, our emotions, our hopes, our human vulnerabilities. A relationship is an organism itself, and it can have a life cycle. But since relationship is a spiritual organism, it doesn’t die. It merely changes shape. The relationships we build with the people we encounter continue in spirit, in memories, and in lessons learned.

We are invested in our relationships with other people. We spend our time, and emotions, developing a kind of bond with a person. We give of ourselves, through our love, our friendship, our concern, and our efforts.

When we are faced with what seems to be the “end” of a relationship, we may feel loss, grief, anger or pain. We might even feel relief, or freedom. We may question the purpose for this change, whether it is abrupt or expected, and the necessity of it. The change may or may not be our choice, or our desire, but something we must learn to live with. The uneasiness may nag at us for years as we struggle to understand. How do we get that “closure” that our hearts and minds so desperately seek so that we can move forward with our lives?

We need to shift our perspective a little bit when it comes to relationships. In our human form, we see the illusion of death, and the ending of relationships. But what really takes place is a transformation. As we learn and grow through our relationships, our relationships evolve. We can use this evolution as an opportunity for continued growth, and for personal transformation. The pains that we feel are growing pains. However a relationship changes, whether it is a loss from physical death, a divorce, a move away, a growing up, or a falling out, we can not only survive, but thrive, knowing that everything, always, is exactly the way it is meant to be.

A Natural Law works whether we are aware of it or not. It is a principle of nature that is in effect at all times, without favoritism. Gravity is a natural law. It works the same for everyone, at all times. By being aware of gravity, we can move about more freely, with less risk of pain from falling down.

The Law of Relationship is two-fold. It says:
1) We are all connected.
2) We are here to help each other.

We are all connected in one way or another. We feel the same emotions; we share the same experiences. We are brothers and sisters on this planet. This connection bonds us, and gives us a relationship with each other. A mother in any part the world, can relate to another mother she has never seen because she knows what it means, and how it feels, to be a mother. We are all born the same way, and have to learn how to walk and talk and find our way in the world. We face challenges and heartache, no matter where we live, or how we live. Our connection cannot be broken.

With our challenges and experiences we learn and grow. Our relationships bring us many challenges and experiences, and through our relationships we learn and grow. This is how we help each other. We may not even know that we are doing it, but just by being in a person’s life, in some small way, we are contributing to the learning process, as they are contributing to ours. Our actions affect other people in ways we can’t even imagine. Even in times when we feel hurt by someone, that is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. We might not realize it in the moment, but in some strange and miraculous way, we are helping each other by going through this experience together.

Closure is different than grief. Grieving is looking back; closure is about looking ahead. We want to let go and move on. This is what closure gives us. We may have gone through the grieving process and still not have the closure we seek. The law of relationship helps us to maneuver our way through the five set process of closure: Recognition, Acceptance, Understanding, Integration, and Gratitude. When we reach a feeling of gratitude, we know we’ve come full circle to experience closure.

Closure is actually the perfect word for it. It’s more than neatly tying up loose ends. Think about life as a series of events and relationships, all linked together in some sort of artistic way, like a beautiful piece of jewelry. We can’t wear a necklace or a bracelet if the chain is just left dangling. The jewelry maker finishes off the piece by adding a clasp, one loop that kind of ties together the beginning and the end, the start and the finish, so that what we are left with is one strong continuous chain. Our closure is that clasp. Closure helps it all make sense. It turns something seemingly broken into something useful, purposeful, and lovely.

Lissa Coffey is the author of CLOSURE and the Law of Relationship: Endings as New Beginnings.

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16 Jul

Parenting the Vedic Way

Ayurveda is India’s 5,000 year old “Science of Life,” and it is the art of living in harmony with nature. Ayurveda gives us tools for living that we can apply to every aspect of our lives, especially parenting. Your dosha is your Ayurveda mind and body type. There are three doshas in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We each have all three of the doshas in our physiology, just in different proportions, so your dosha is unique and personal; it is like your fingerprint. To determine your dosha, or ayurveda mind and body type, start by taking the dosha quiz. This will tell you which dosha is dominant for you. What’s your dosha, baby? Take the dosha quiz and find out!

Parenting is an application of love in our daily lives. Our children give us the opportunity to experience and express love, every day. As parents, we have a very unique relationship with each of our children. We interact with them on so many different levels at the same time. We can be a parent, teacher, friend, chauffeur, psychologist, advisor, disciplinarian, coach, referee, or whatever!

Mind-body type does have genetic components, but a family doesn’t necessarily have to be dominant in one dosha or another. A Kapha mother and father very well could have a Pitta child, for example. You need to look on both sides of the family to see where a dosha may be inherited. For example, a Pitta child could get her blue eyes from her Pitta grandmother, or her athletic ability from her Pitta uncle.

It is interesting to look back at your own childhood and discover the doshas of each of your brothers and sisters. Look at how you interacted with your siblings. What were these relationships like? Remember that your kids look to you for skills to handle each other, too. They learn from your example.

When you know your child’s dominant dosha, you are better able to handle the myriad of things that come up at any given moment. You are better able to parent from a place of love rather than expectation. You know, for example, that your Vata child may have some anxiety about a friend’s sleepover, or that our Kapha child may need two different alarm clocks to get up in the morning.

Kapha Kids

Kapha kids tend to be more solidly built. They’re stockier and more resistant to illness. They love to eat and have a sweet tooth. You need to watch their diets so that they don’t overeat. Kapha children are very caring. They’ll be the first ones to give you a hug. They may be a little shy at first, but once they warm up, they’re all smiles.

Kapha kids like to lounge around, so make sure there are plenty of activities for them to participate in so that they don’t turn into couch potatoes. If given a choice, the Kapha child would choose playing video games over a trampoline, but the trampoline would do so much more to keep him in balance. To get Kapha kids outdoors, have them help in the garden — they love tending to flowers and gardening.

Kaphas tend to have beautiful singing voices, so it’s a good idea to nurture that at a young age. Have your kids join the church choir, or take singing lessons.

In school, it seems like Kapha kids take longer to learn things, but the upside to this is that once they learn something, they don’t forget it. Kaphas learn best by association, so it’s a good idea to tell stories and give them experiences that help make the subject matter relevant to them. Be patient with them, work at their speed and don’t give up.

Kapha kids tend to be very loyal and loving toward their friends, but they are also sensitive, and their feelings are easily hurt.

Pitta Kids

Pitta kids are the ones who play baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey. They go from one sport to the next, and like whichever one they’re doing at the time the best! They want to be the best one on the team, and they want to bring home the trophy to prove it.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the Pitta competitive spirit will spill over into the classroom. The Pitta child will be motivated to work hard and get good grades. They’ll be keenly aware of their grade point average and do extra credit work if necessary to make honor roll. Pitta kids are great at memorizing and do well with flash cards, which is a visual tool for learning. They love to read.

Pittas can be show-offs, and they like to be in charge. As parents, you can teach them social skills to help them control their anger and get along with everyone.

Vata Kids

The day-dreamy child drawing rainbows on a pad in the back of the room is the Vata child. These kids have great imaginations, and they’re gifted at making up stories. If you ask them a question, they’ll talk up a storm. They’re often perceived as “spacey” or “weird.”

Physically, Vata is slight. Whether tall or short, these kids look skinny; they have narrow hips and shoulders. Their appetite varies, but no matter how much they eat, they don’t seem to put on weight.

Vata kids learn things quickly, but then they forget them almost as quickly. You might think they’ve got their times tables down cold, only to have them fail a test the next day. Very often, kids with ADHD are Vata dominant. They are auditory learners, so sometimes it’s easier for them to listen to a book on tape rather than try to sit still and read for long periods of time. A multi-modal approach to learning in general is best for Vata kids — they like to hear it, see it, touch it and experience it. They’re great at all things creative, and likely will be in the school plays, draw cartoons for the school paper or be nominated for class clown.

Lots of hugs and a warm environment help keep Vata kids from getting out of balance and feeling nervous.

Growing and Glowing

It doesn’t matter how many children you have. As a parent, you soon learn that you can’t parent any two kids the same way. When we look at all the factors involved in a child’s individuality and the different ages and stages they all go through, there is no question that parenting is the most difficult job there is! Ayurveda gives us tools to help us relate to our children, and to help our children relate to each other.

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21 Jul

5 Common Senior Care Options That Are Available

senior care optionsAs people are living longer these days, you may have to take care of the senior in your family for a longer period of time. According to the “Life Expectancy at Birth by Region” chart, the average life expectancy in developed regions went from around 66 in the 1960’s to around 78 the in 2010’s. It is estimated to move up to about 83 years of age in the 2040’s.

 

Although we may live longer in the future, our bodies will still go through fatigue in the later years in life which require assistance. Many seniors are more prone to falling over during these times which can lead to a serious fractures. Since family members might not have the time to take care of their elders, it leads many to seek for care options.

 

A frequently asked question is what type of service would be best for their elder parent. To answer this question, they suggest you look at the many options available and choose according to your budget and which they may be most comfortable with. It is important to look at the following:

  • costs involved
  • consider the type of problems the senior has
  • determine if medical assistance is needed
  • and what living environment the senior prefers

 

This article will provide you with some information about each of the different types of services there are to help your elder.

 

In-Home Senior Care

A lot of times, the elderly dread the thought of living in a nursing home. Some seniors simply prefer to live in their own home until their last days. For example, when my grandmother started needing assistance, our family mentioned that we could take her to a nursing home. Her reply was always the same – she insisted that she could take care of herself at home to get off that topic. In reality, she needed assistance because it was hard for her to see, hear, and get up from the couch.

 

In cases like this, in-home care is an option to allow them to stay in the comfort of their homes and get assistance from a caregiver when scheduled. Most home care agencies are non-medical so many of them only cover basic assistance services.

 

This service is typically private-paid but some long term insurance companies are covering the cost of this option. It can cost anywhere from $15 – 24 per hour for this service.

 

Medical Home Care

This is sometimes known as home health care and is needed when a more specialized caregiver visits the senior in their home. It is similar to the in-home care services described above, except a licensed person such as a registered nurse helps them. This is typically needed after a patient is released from the hospital and may require close supervision by a healthcare professional.

 

Independent Living Communities

Independent living is also commonly referred as a retirement living community. This is basically a small neighborhood area where other seniors live. They often consist of apartment complexes or condos. These communities are great for elders that are healthy but want security. Some even offer meal preparation, house keeping, and transportation services.

 

Assisted Living Facilities

This is a step up in assistance from the independent living communities. I consider is a combination of a medical home care service and an independent living community. Elders have more private space than a nursing home, but still have the same services from nurses.

 

Nursing Homes

Most people are familiar with nursing homes because traditionally, they are the most used senior care services. I like to consider these as similar layouts as college dorms for elders to live in. Seniors live in the same building but each have separate rooms to sleep in. They are offered medical assistance from nurses if needed and is somewhat similar to a hospital layout with a little more comfort.

 

That should give you a little background on each type to help you begin your search. If you haven’t already had to care for your elder parent or grandparent, you may have to in the future.

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24 Jun

A Lifetime of Sleep!

As human-beings we all need sleep. Just as every living animal does. But the amount of sleep we need, and the challenges that prevent us from getting the sleep we need, changes as we age.

 

Let’s start at the very beginning; newborns sleep from 16 to 20 hours a day. Of course, not all of the hours a baby sleeps are in a row – as new parents know very well! It can be challenging to get your little one into a sleep routine so that they sleep through the night, and their parents can, too. After 4 months, babies want to sleep through the night, but they might not know how. Here are some sleep strategies you might want to try:

 

  • Avoid using a pacifier for nighttime sleep. Some babies start to depend on a pacifier to get to sleep. The problem is that when their binky falls out at night, they don’t have the fine motor skills to put it back in their mouth. At about 8 months of age they have enough dexterity to manage a pacifier on their own.
  • Play some white noise. In utero, babies hear all kinds of muffled sounds, so they find this soothing. Use a fan, a white noise machine, or look online for some white noise MP3s to download.
  • Work with your pediatrician to gradually cut back nighttime feedings so that baby doesn’t wake up and expect a bottle.

 

By 12 months of age Baby should be easily sleeping all through the night, for about 12 hours.

 

Toddlers will continue to take naps as they grow, but they will take fewer naps as they get older, and get all of their necessary sleep at nighttime by the time they reach six years of age.

 

When children outgrow their crib and move into their first bed they often want to delay bedtime and “stay up.” This is when sleep habits start, so it is important to get kids on a good sleep routine. It’s always a good idea to have your child participate in the bedding decisions so that they really love spending time in bed. Allow them to choose sheets with their favorite cartoon characters, for example, so they look forward to going to bed. It is important to purchase a new mattress for your child so that they are comfortable and supported during sleep.

 

Keeping in mind that grade school kids need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night, look at the time they need to wake up and work backwards to set their bedtime accordingly. A good routine to follow is the three Bs: Bath, book, bed. The bath will help them relax. The book will give them quality time with a parent where they read together. And then they’ll be ready to be tucked in with goodnight kisses.

 

There’s another change when children reach adolescence. People have a “circadian rhythm,” a kind of internal clock that cues us when to fall asleep and when to wake up. Hormonal changes seem to affect this cycle, causing teenagers to prefer both staying up later at night, and waking up later in the day. However, high school tends to start classes much earlier, so students struggle with having to get up before they feel that they’ve slept enough, and they get tired during the day. In addition, teens often spent time in artificial light, especially computer screens as they do homework late at night, making it more difficult to get to sleep when they finally turn in. Here are some sleep tips for teens and college students:

 

  • Make sure to get some sunshine as much as you can every day. Also during the day, avoid caffeinated beverages, especially after 2 pm.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Power your computer completely off before you get into bed, and keep it on the other side of the room. If light bothers you, invest in some black-out shades, or wear a sleep mask. In the morning, open the curtains wide and turn on the light to wake up more easily.
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bed to help you relax. It’s good to have some break between computer time and bedtime to help the brain prepare for sleep. Listen to some soft music and maybe do some easy yoga stretches.
  • If you need a snack before bed, keep it small. Carbohydrates will help you feel warm and sleepy. Graham crackers, a piece of toast, or a few crackers and hummus are all good choices.

 

During the teen years kids are growing a lot, so make sure that their mattress is keeping up with them. Most college dorms provide extra-long twin beds for their students. However, your child is not obligated to use this mattress, feel free to provide your own to assure the quantity and quality sleep your student needs.

 

The older we get, the more likely we are to have sleep disturbances. Harvard University Medical School says that 7 out of 10 adults experience problems that affect sleep quality. Many of these sleep problems are particular to women, related to their cycle, pregnancy, new motherhood, or menopause. We have a more in-depth article about Women’s Sleep Issues posted on BetterSleep.org.

 

Chronic medical conditions that often come with age, such as arthritis, congestive heart failure, depression, and digestive issues can cause sleep problems. In addition, respiratory disorders can cause awakening during the night. Restless legs syndrome, which results in an uncontrollable need to move the legs while drifting off to sleep, makes it difficult to fall asleep, or stay asleep. One home remedy for RLS is putting a bar of soap under your sheets near your feet. No one knows why this works, but 40% of people who tried it said they had good results. You could use lavender soap to get the added benefits of the relaxing aromatherapy that comes with it. Fortunately, when any underlying medical disorders are treated sleep dramatically improves.

 

Because older adults have more trouble sleeping, they are more likely to suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, causing them to unintentionally nod off curing daytime activities. But sleep problems don’t have to be a part of aging, there are many solutions to help us sleep better. Here are some tips that can help:

 

  • If a nap is required, keep it to the morning hours so that it doesn’t interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Let your doctor know when you are experiencing sleep difficulties so that you can work together to solve the problem.
  • Make sure to get some exercise every day, both mentally and physically. Be up and active as much as possible in the day so that you can feel sleepy at bedtime.

 

If you are caring for an aging parent or grandparent, the best gift you can give them is that of a good night’s sleep. Look into their needs, and see if a mattress that elevates the head would be helpful for them.

 

At 115 years of age, Susannah Mushatt Jones was asked what her secret is for living such a long and healthy life. She said simply: “I sleep.” That is good advice for all of us, Susannah. We will follow your example. Thank you!

 

 

 

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06 Apr

When Someone You Love is Dying

84601An excerpt from Words at the Threshold by Lisa Smartt

 

When her father became terminally ill with cancer, Lisa Smartt began transcribing his conversations and noticed that his personality underwent inexplicable changes. Once a skeptical man with a secular worldview, he developed a deeply spiritual outlook in his final days — a change that was reflected in his language. Baffled, intrigued, and compelled by her linguistics training, Smartt grabbed pencil and paper and tracked his final words.

 

The inquiry that began with her father’s language went on to become the Final Words Project, in which she collected and analyzed hundreds of final words for their linguistic patterns and themes.

 

In her new book Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We’re Nearing, Smartt decodes the symbolism of those last words, showing how the language of the dying points the way to a transcendent world beyond our own. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

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If you are facing the death of a beloved right now, I invite you to write down the words you hear — even those that seem to make no sense — without editing, fearing, or judging them. As you transcribe the words, and as you read through these chapters, you may discover that the very changes you hear in your beloved’s language, which may seem scary and confusing, may ultimately bring you comfort and meaning.

 

Jewels often emerge as we listen closely and write down final words, and the transcription process can help us feel more connected to our loved ones and even closer to Source. Many times the dying say things that don’t make sense at the moment. But months or years later, you will find hints of prophecy or answers to questions in those words.

 

Here are some suggestions for you to use as you courageously and compassionately witness final words.

 

  • Enter the world of your beloved. Imagine you are visiting a new country. Keep an open heart and mind. Record in a final words journal what you hear, see, and feel; it will be your private travelogue about that other place. You may be surprised later by the pearls of wisdom you find there.
  • Have eyes for the sacred. If possible, imagine that the territory you have entered is sacred ground, despite the terrible loss looming before you. Be open to the possibility that something transpersonal is occurring, and that the words you hear are tracking its course.
  • Validate your loved one’s words and experiences. Repeat back what your beloved has said, to let the person know you heard it: “Oh, your modality is broken. I would love to know more about that.” Avoid telling your beloved that what he or she is seeing or saying is wrong or “not real.”
  • Be a student of the language. Since you are in a new country, learn its language. Study it. Practice it. Speak it. Listen for the symbols and metaphors that are meaningful to your beloved and then use them when you communicate. For example, ask, “Would you like me to help you find your passport?” When you hear things that sound nonsensical, simply think, “Oh, that’s how they phrase things in this country!”
  • Ask questions with authenticity and curiosity. It’s okay to let the dying person know you are confused and would love to hear more of what he or she wants to communicate. “Could you tell me more abou..?”
  • Assume your loved one can hear you even when unresponsive or quiet; let the dying person know how deep your love goes. As we die, our sense of hearing is the last sense to go. When you are in another room, and especially when you are speaking about your beloved, speak with lots of praise and gratitude. Speak words that will bring joy or comfort to the person.
  • Savor silence. Sometimes it is better to just sit with your loved one. When words don’t build bridges, know that the dying may be much more attuned to telepathic or other nonverbal communication, much like the kind of communication we experience when we pray. Speak to the person you love as you would in prayer.

 

Healing Grief

Your listening to and honoring final words will make the dying process easier for your beloved. At the same time, transcribing the words can be healing for you as you move through the loss of someone you love. Make a journal out of the words you’re writing down. Remember that the words that don’t make sense are as important as the ones that do. Notice metaphors or symbols that are repeated, and paradoxical phrases. Are there certain colors or shapes that are repeated? Are there references to people or places you do not see? Meanings may not be clear at first, but when you write down the words you have heard, you may find comforting or healing associations.

 

What might seem senseless to a stranger may hold deep personal meaning to you. Final words can be like dreams. We learn so much by reflecting upon these words and free-associating with them. In your final-words journal, write down the words you hear, and allow yourself to free-associate. Imagine the words are those of an oracle, or the wisdom of dreams, and let them evoke images and reflections in you. You may be surprised and moved by what emerges.

 

My mother and I created raku-fired plaques of my father’s final words in honor of his memory. Art is a powerful healing tool. Many times, the best way to process grief is without language. Taking final words and building art with them and through them brings us to a greater understanding of their meaning and of those we love. Integrating final words with art is one way to keep the portal open between the living and the dying, and a way to honor those who left before us.

 

Shedding Light on the Path of Consciousness

If you are not currently facing the loss of someone you love, it is my hope that this book will offer you the tools for when you do. Perhaps it will also answer your questions about an afterlife and deepen your appreciation of the connection between language and consciousness.

 

As much as the death of a beloved is grief-filled, it is often also a sacred time. The language at the end of life offers a pathway to a better understanding of the spiritual quality of dying and living — and can help us develop deeper connections with our beloveds. With each word we transcribe, we are invited into the consciousness of those we care about as they transition.

 

The continuum of language in the communications of the dying includes an increase in symbolic and metaphoric language, repetition, sustained narratives, various kinds of paradoxical and situational “nonsense,” and a variety of other linguistic patterns that shed light on the path of consciousness that we traverse as we die. By analyzing the language of those who have had near-death experiences, we can learn from these accounts about words at the threshold.

 

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Lisa Smartt, MA, is a linguist, educator, poet and author of Words at the Threshold. She founded the Final Words Project, an ongoing study devoted to collecting and interpreting the mysterious language at the end of lives. She lives in Athens, Georgia. Visit her online at www.FinalWordsProject.org.

 

Excerpted from the book Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We’re Nearing Death. Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Smartt. Printed with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

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