Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
By Holly Miller
As a rule, when I am on Summer Break, I put up personal barriers so I can relax. I do not allow myself to dwell on the past school year or worry about the upcoming one. The 2020-2021 school year, however, causes more anxiety than usual. “Are we going back to in-person instruction? How will social distancing work? Are we really expected to enforce mask wearing for students of all ages? If we go to a hybrid schedule, how will I have time to teach in person and online all in one day? Students are going to be eating lunch in my room?! How do I space 30 desks 6 feet apart in a 20 by 20 room?” All of these thoughts and more started seeping into my relaxation time once summer break began. I threw up my barriers again because, as a teacher, I have no say in what this upcoming school year will be like, so why stress about it? I do want to write this month’s blog to frame this upcoming school year in hopes of insight and easing some worry.
If you are a parent of a student, I know you have so many questions. I know there was so much that you would like to see improved upon if we are doing online education again. I realize what a hard choice it will be to send a student to school or continue distance education if you are given that option. But here is the number one thing you can do to help your student. Have a positive attitude. Children are VERY perceptive. They can instantly pick up on how you are reacting to hard news. When schools closed in the Spring, did you huff and puff and complain? Then I guarantee your children did the same. If you tried to give it your best effort and tackle what you could with what you had, I bet your children were willing to at least TRY to follow your example.
So no matter what is decided for the upcoming school year, realize those decisions are pretty much out of parents’, students’, and teachers’ hands. What we CAN control is how we react to these tough decisions. We can change our attitudes to meet challenges head-on. Will this upcoming school year be all rainbows and smiles? Probably not. Be willing to roll with the punches, expect the unexpected, and be ready to adapt to multiple changes. Children learn by example, so we must lead by example. I’m not saying we can’t be sad or disappointed if things don’t go how we would want, but we have to meet this school year with a ‘can-do’ attitude and I know it will go much better than those who find something to complain about at every twist and turn. If I hear the word ‘unprecedented’ one more time, I might scream, however, these times are truly unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. I NEVER would have imagined my school year would have ended the way it did. We all must realize that while we are all in the same storm, we may not be all in the same boat. So have a great summer break, do things that make you and your family happy, and be ready to return to school rested and ready to rise to the challenges we will be facing. We can do this if we BELIEVE we can do this!
By Cherie Faus Smith
I have always considered myself a strong woman. After all, I’ve survived three abusive relationships involving intimate partners, am a melanoma cancer survivor, and clawed myself out of the trenches of depression and anxiety that left me with dirty fingernails.
Do I feel sorry for myself? NO!
Why don’t I? Because I have a strong woman in my life who has shown me what it takes to be a survivor, I call her mom.
Looking back on my childhood, I realize that my strength came from watching her persevere.
As a teenager, it was a tough transition. I left my friends and moved to a neighborhood full of strangers.
My brother and I made the best of it even though we found trouble or trouble found us (shh…that’s a secret).
There is a saying that my parents often repeated, "If things aren't going your way, punt. It's not the end of the world." That has stuck with me my entire life because life isn’t always easy – there are lots of lessons to be learned along the way.
Thanks to her, I’ve grown into a strong and confident woman. But what happens when that woman breaks?
Recently, we said goodbye to our precious dog, Sadie. It was unexpected, and she has left an enormous hole in our hearts.
When I found her, she was standing on the side of the road, eating pebbles. I wasn't supposed to be on that road that day. The path that I usually take was under construction, and there was a large orange detour sign. I was annoyed knowing I was already late, but then I saw her - this beautiful creature with black fur, cream paws, and tan markings above her eyes.
I stopped and opened the van door. She immediately hopped inside, walked to the front, and plopped herself on the passenger seat, looking at me as if to say, "Hey, let's go! Floor it, lady."
We did everything we could to find her owner, but after a month of no luck, we made her part of our family.
She instantly became my shadow and was by my side during my cancer diagnosis and recovery, depression, and anxiety bouts. Most importantly, she was there day in and day out for the last nine years to provide constant companionship. She was the best dog ever, and I miss her every day.
The day after we said goodbye, I sat on the sofa, bawling my eyes out while my body shook. I was inconsolable, and even my husband couldn’t help. I’m sure he felt extremely helpless, watching me fall apart.
I distinctly remember saying, "I'm breaking."
She was going to be my riding partner once I bought that Jeep that I’ve had my eyes on for the past year.
She was going to fill that void when our son moves into his place this fall.
I had so many plans for the two of us. Life isn't fair, and I wanted more time with her.
I’m a fighter.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a tough cookie.
But even strong women break.
I have a passion for supporting women and created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
By Julia Morrissey
Given the current situation, we can likely all see how critical it is to help prepare kids to face challenges. One way to help prepare kids is to encourage a growth mindset. This post discusses what it means to have a growth mindset, the advantages for a growth mindset, and some tips and tricks (including three printables) to help encourage a growth mindset in kids.
What Exactly is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset is a mentality where an individual believes that their intelligence and abilities can be developed. This is the opposite of a fixed mindset, where it is thought that you can’t really build on the abilities you are born with. With a growth mindset, kids often feel more encouraged to work hard and strive for personal and academic growth. Kids who believe that working hard is what makes them smarter, are more likely to be interested and engaged in learning.
What Are the Benefits of a Growth Mindset?
There are many benefits of having kids develop a growth mindset. Not only can this mindset help kids enjoy learning and school more, but it can also make them feel more motivated and confident. Additionally, a growth mindset can also help kids:
How to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Kids
The process of developing a growth mindset can be challenging, but there are a number of ways to help kids be successful. Always be sure to check in with kids to make sure you know how they are feeling about the process. The following are additional ways you can help encourage a growth mindset in kids:
Utilizing Printables to Encourage a Growth Mindset
Using printables is a great way to make developing a growth mindset an enjoyable process. Below you can find three printables for helping encourage a growth mindset in kids. You can download them at the end of the post!
2. Goal Setting Worksheet: Assist kids with creating goals and developing plans for achieving them.
3. Growth Mindset Conversation Cube: Help kids open up about how they are feeling.
Download all of these printable activities (courtesy of Tommy John) below to start helping your kids develop a growth mindset.
A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks and we are all impacted at one level or another. Dealing with the emotional (and other) toll of corona was hard enough and now the issues of social injustice, racism, and safety are front and center. Many have lost their lives in the past week and beyond.
In the past few days, I have had many courageous conversations in diverse circles. I talked with my church small group on what the church can do to be the solution. I have also had friends who asked me what they could do to help. Emotions are high and so is helplessness.
And I understand both but I want to remind each of us that we need to have faith and hold on to hope. We also need to remember thatchange starts with each one of us. In order to change the world around us, we need to first change ourselves.
Furthermore, I want to tell you personally that I see you. I see you wanting to do your best and feeling like it's not enough. I see you having so much to say and not sure if it's the "right" thing to say. I see you wanting to make a difference and not sure where to begin.
I see you being filled with anger, frustration, sadness, confusion and even despair at times. And I see you. I see you because I too, am dealing with similar emotions and I have been working hard at recentering myself.
I see you and I want you to know that you are not alone in what you think and feel.
I see you and I'm only a click away if you need a safe place to be heard.
I see you and I want to hold space for you!
The recent events have been affecting my emotions big time and I needed to center myself in prayer this morning, maybe you need this as well. If you would like to pray with us on a regular basis, join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrayWithChou/
It's so easy to let life and everything happening around us, bring us down. But don't see the full picture and don't know the full story. Acknowledging that not only brings peace but also hope.
By Julia Morrissey
In addition to the normal stressors in life, quarantine also has psychological impacts. This is why it is more important than ever to check in with ourselves. The pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated, less productive, and disconnected. Some people may also be experiencing new or increased feelings of anxiety or depression as well as patterns of negative thinking. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to strengthen and improve mental health. It is possible that some of us may even have more time now to spend practicing self-care. This extra time can also be an opportunity to seek out new self-care tools that work well for you. One practice that has been shown to be effective for improving mental health is self-discovery.
In addition to eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep, working to improve self-awareness is an important part of self-care. Practicing self-discovery by taking the time to answer specific questions honestly and without judgement can really help individuals gain a better understanding of themselves and cope better with stressful situations. This ultimately helps to reduce the mental and physical toll of stress on the body.
By practicing self-discovery we can improve our emotional intelligence, assess our strengths and weaknesses, improve communication, and make better decisions. This practice can also help us create action plans, which will allow us to solve problems and get closer to achieving our goals.
Depending on what you are looking to address in your life, there are specific questions you can ask yourself. These questions can help you find clarification, grow, and ultimately succeed. Below are some sample questions you can use when you are looking to learn more about yourself and your relationship with your family. At the end of this article you can also download printable personal and family self-discovery questions to start practicing now.
Questions like these can help you learn more about your relationship with yourself:
Questions like the following can help you learn more about your relationship with your family:
Julia Morrissey is a content creator for University of St. Augustine Health Sciences and she works to develop helpful guides and compelling stories. Her passion for creative writing has led her to cover unique topics ranging from business to lifestyle. She calls New York City home and enjoys spending time with her rescue dog, running in Central Park, and finding new vegan dining options around the city.
By Cherie Faus-Smith
Saying goodbye to my son as he headed away to college was heartbreaking. I was losing my mini-me and I enjoyed spending time with him each and every day. We’re so much alike and it was tough for me knowing that I wouldn’t see him walk down the stairs in the morning, say goodbye to him as he left for school, or hear about his stories at dinner.
My first few weeks with an empty nest were uneasy and lonely. Preparing mentally for your child to leave the nest and start their journey at college can be filled with a lot of anxiety. They are venturing out on their own and, if you’re like me, this mama bear worried about his safety. The experience was heightened because he is our only child, which left my husband and I to find our new normal.
We’ve all heard the stories of couples ending their marriages because they couldn’t find common interests after their children flew the coop. Would we become a statistic? No! I was determined to pull myself (and us!) together. Instead, we worked on reconnecting with one another after he left for school.
As we spent more time together, we developed sort-of informal couple goals. My husband and I changed our diet and I began cooking healthier foods. We also began working out together and it felt good to be on the same page. Being able to go to bed when we wanted to without feeling guilty and watching our own TV shows without him complaining was amazing.
When I was finally comfortable with the fact that my son was gone, winter break began, and he was on his way home.My husband and I were excited to have him home for six weeks even though we knew our relationship would resume its spot in the backseat. We didn’t prepare ourselves, though, for our son’s own sense of newfound independence.
In the beginning, spending time with him was amazing but then we began butting heads. As a business owner who works from home and has daily deadlines, I found myself balancing client time and giving him attention as well. He loved coming into my office and chatting for HOURS. Even though I knew work needed to get done, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him he had to leave. After a week or so, my patience grew thin and I began lashing out at him.
Our uneven keel wasn’t only my son’s fault - we had both become accustomed to doing things our own way.After a few weeks of me raising my voice and him feeling left out, we had a heart-to-heart. I hadn’t taken into account how he was feeling about the changes. Once I began to see things from his point of view, and he from mine, we were able to get back on track.
My 5 tips on surviving those college years:
Our son has graduated from college with his Bachelor of Science Degree and has moved home to pursue his master’s degree. It’s been an adjustment all over again, but we have set boundaries and expectations on both sides of the playing field and we are enjoying our time together.
Because I have a passion for supporting women, I created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
I would love to hear your tips on surviving those college years or even if your adult children have moved back home.
Cherie Faus-Smith is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, & transformational coach focusing on women over 50. Her goal is to inspire women (like you!) to live life on their own terms. Cherie’s been a guest on Good Day PA and, most recently, was the keynote speaker at the YWCA's fashion show event to raise money for their Domestic Violence program.
She shares her experiences with surviving domestic abuse and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to inspire women to live life to the fullest, push their comfort zones, and thrive.
Find out more about Cherie on her website. Also, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
By Holly Miller
Mrs. Miller, will you be here after school for a while?” In my third year of teaching, one of my tougher students poked her head into my classroom at dismissal. “Yes Maria, what can I do for you?” I said smiling, hiding my own hesitation. Maria and I had a rocky start to the school year. She was defiant, cut class, and often didn’t have her work done. But I tried my best to give her a clean slate every day and be as patient as possible. She asked if she could get some help on the assignment we were working on in class earlier that day and I was pleased to see her actually putting in some effort so I happily obliged. She actually didn’t need a whole lot of help and it seemed like she just needed a place to work and have someone hold her accountable. Maria started coming by after school once a week for extra math help. After a while, she asked if she could come work on any work in my classroom, even if it wasn’t for my class. I had plenty of grading and lesson planning to do, so she came by a few times every week after school and we often chatted and worked, each accomplishing what we needed to do.
After these impromptu work sessions became the norm for us, Maria started to try in class, had her work done, dropped her ‘tough girl’ exterior with me, and stopping missing class. One afternoon, she shared with me that she couldn’t get work done at home. Her mom worked late hours and she was responsible for picking up her younger siblings, making dinner, and ensuring they did their homework. She couldn’t complete homework unless she found a quiet place to work directly after school for the one hour she had to wait for the elementary school to dismiss. After she completed her work in my room, she would walk to the elementary school and basically start a ‘second shift’ taking care of her siblings. Maria shared with me that she felt like no one really cared about her success and well-being and she was too busy helping with her family to worry about herself. But coming to my class after school focused her one hour into time to complete school work and decompress from her day. I saw Maria go from almost failing to an exemplary student. She went from being angry, combative, and evasive to focused, goal-oriented, and even polite. While I heard the old adage “students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”, Maria was my first encounter with how much truth there is in that saying. I tried my best to give her a place where she felt safe, supported, and loved.
I am a firm believer in the words of Rita Pierson, “Every child needs a champion.” If you have never heard her TED Talk, do yourself a favor and watch it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en
While I haven’t put in the 40 years into education that Rita has, I can affirm that in my 12 years in education and 4 years previous to that in early childhood education, this is true. I have seen first-hand students who are loved, supported, and have safe environments succeed while others who don’t have consistent support, have hard home lives, or simply feel like no one is looking out for them fail. The number one reason students succeed is love. Behind every successful student is at least one person who told them they could do it; one person who consistently was there for them. I have had the pleasure of being one of those people to many students, but I have also lost sleep and cried over students who I couldn’t reach. While I can’t be a champion for every child, I wake up every day trying to do so for as many as possible.
We all have young people in our lives. Our own children, nieces, nephews, friends’ children, or little ones at church or in our community. It is imperative that children know they are seen, that they are important to someone, that they are loved. You can be a champion for any child. There are studies done on non-parent mentors and the positive effects on children. (There is an excellent article about it in Psychology Today, found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moment-youth/201301/mentoring-youth-matters). As adults, whether you are formally responsible for children or not, we need to be there for the children in our lives and cheer them on. Have conversations. Check in with them. Get to know them. Ask what made them smile today. Ask what their favorite class is this school year. Ask who they sit with at lunch. Find out what makes them laugh. Do anything you can to show that you care. So many students slip through the cracks. I have mourned the suicides of too many of my students. I have felt the blow of students dropping out of school or being arrested and sent to alternative education. Raising successful young people is not a one-person job. All adults need to step up and champion children in their lives. Eventually, if there are enough people who do not give up on them, students will realize someone believes in them. There will be at least one person they can connect with and be inspired by. While many things go into student success, the greatest of these is love.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached email@example.com
A couple days ago, my daughter and I did a Facebook Live and talked about many of the things that our family does for fun. We also discussed why it's important to be intentional about building and cultivating relationships within the family.
What does your family do for fun?
How do you cultivate relationships within your family?"
There’s a growing number of people struggling with their work-life balance. A large percentage of American workers feel their job demands that they should be available 24/7 since they can check in from anywhere using their smartphone. This constant availability takes a toll on both a person’s mental and physical health. Humans need to socialize, relax, and care for themselves to stay happy and healthy.
Here are four simple ways to improve your work-life balance:
It’s easier said than done, but avoid checking your phone for work matters after hours. This constant checking may have become a habit you wish you’d never started, and if you are honest, practically all work-related matters can wait until the next day. It’s key to unplug from work when you get home each evening and on the weekends. Let your coworkers know you won’t be returning emails, calls, or texts regarding work after hours so that they can prepare for this change.
If you can’t seem to get all of your work done within your working hours, you aren’t alone. An alarming number of Americans work more than 50 hours a week, every week. Before you go to your request a reduction in your workload, take a careful look at how you are spending your time. Track it for a few days and see what’s causing you to stay late each night and come in early each morning. You will be surprised by the ways you can change or eliminate distractions and other time-wasters.
Take A Stay-Cation
Another vital way to establish a healthy work-life balance is to make use of all of your vacation days. A large number of US workers lose essential time with their family or with themselves because they don’t take all of their vacation days, or in worst cases, don’t have any vacation days at all. If you feel uncomfortable about using all your allotted holidays in one long vacation, schedule the occasional day off here and there to enjoy “stay-cations.” Breaking it up like this will give you the mental health days you need while ensuring you don’t come back to an overwhelming mountain of work.
Train Your People
Many of us grew up hearing, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Unfortunately, this gets ingrained to the point where we feel we can’t delegate any tasks lest they end up back in our laps in worse shape than before. If you have employees you manage or freelancers you outsource to, take the time to train them well. Make sure they know exactly how to do things. Of course, this will take time upfront. But, once they understand your requirements, you’ll be able to hand off more work and give yourself some slack.
Feeling out of balance?
Schedule a FREE consultation at Calendly.com/chou
We need to create a safe place for men to share their feelings and seek help for mental health when needed. Our physical health affects our mental health. We need to seek help for all of us, not just part of us. We need to do a better job at supporting caregivers. If you are a caregiver, we are here for you. Reach out to us today!
Here are the websites I mentioned:
6 Key Benefits of Reinventing Yourself
We often make our way to the idea of reinvention after experiencing frustration and discontentment with our lives.
Sometimes there’s a sense of longing to do something different, to find a new way to live and to be. This kind of reinvention evolves from the human need to grow and to change. Change comes about because there has to be more to human existence than simply existing and most people sense that over time.
Sometimes in the early stages of reinvention, we think about what benefits we might receive from building a new self. Perhaps we just want to be free of a stale, confining and suffocating way of life, but that might not seem enough to us right then.
Other than liberating yourself from a life with no change and no growth, what other benefits does reinvention offer?
Of course, a huge benefit is a more authentic and fulfilling life. After all, that’s the first purpose of going through this transformation process. More importantly, you learn how to be adaptable in the face of new challenges and that is a life skill that is useful in many ways.
You learn how to cope with new problems and new situations. Once you've been through one reinvention cycle, you’ll be ready to do it again when you feel the need.
You may never decide to reinvent yourself again, but that’s a matter of choice. You’ll know how to do it . That’s a life-changing benefit all on its own!
How will you #ReinventYourself this year?
The holiday season is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to take some time off work, or even escape for a winter getaway. For all the joy and fun, though, so comes the stress.
The expectations of social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much for even the most festive types. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association 8 out of 10 people expect to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season.
With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays. All is not lost however, there are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season.
1.Set A Budget
Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. You can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.
A lot of the stress that we experience during the holidays is due to financial pressure and the Mayo Clinic suggests that setting a budget can be beneficial to your stress levels. Work out how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts, and stick to it.
The American Heart Association wants you to stay active all the time, but it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. It’s going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.
You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you will feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports, and find time for aerobics. Also, find an accountability partner. I’m working on this step so if you are too and want to link arms, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can do this together.
3. Take It Easy
The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are parties and gatherings and we are constantly surrounded by people. It’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days.
You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of is setting unrealistic expectations. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes. If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate- whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or you rope in the family to take on certain tasks.
4. Stay Smart
The holiday season is a time of indulgence, but as the Mayo Clinic directs- it doesn’t mean you should abandon your healthy ways. There’s no need for a free for all that will just add to your stress.
Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack while you’re out. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.
5. Choose Your Battles
We all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way. It’s only natural- not everyone can always get along. Allowing someone else to get under your skin, though, is only going to ruin your holiday and increase your stress level. Learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you have a real problem with someone, set it aside and save it for another day. Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays.
Self-care is a conscious choice and this is even truer during times of more stress, such as the holiday season. Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan! Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family, and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with this great time of year.
For more tips on self-care and stress relief strategies, grab your copy of my book here: https://amzn.to/2V4r4Qp
If you need hep finding resources in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 717-216-0230.
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org