Three Simple Strategies For a Great Start to the Virtual School Year by Kelly.

School is ramping up again and I was wondering how is everyone doing and how are you preparing to make virtual learning 2.0 a positive experience? I love the theme “Looking for Silver Linings!”. Here are some healthy strategies I’m prepping this week after talking with counselors and educators this summer.

1. Sit down with your kid individually and have them generate their own list of ideas for how to calm down and recenter. Ex. Breathing, read a book, do yoga, run, dance, take a walk outside, call/zoom with a friend, etc. Then print out this list and keep it near their work space. When they are experiencing frustrations, have them pick something off their list and break for 5-10 minutes. It gives them control over the situation (removes the parent from the situation) and teaches them mindfulness. (Also, parents make your own list and keep it near by).

2. Sit down with your kids and generate a list of their favorite upbeat songs that will always result in a dance party. The physical movement and music releases endorphins and will help boost moods and improve mental focus. I’m aiming for 2-3 dance parties a day.

3. Trying to carve out time individually with each child for 20 minutes a week. Do a no-fail fun activity meaning there is no chance of power struggles or disappointments. Just something simple like sitting down and play legos, riding bikes together, staying up late for 20 minutes and looking at the stars, etc. Whatever allows you to connect with your child positively for 20 minutes – it will greatly improve/maintain a healthy relationship especially during times when you have another role as educator.

Sending virtual hugs to every parent & educator!

Our family’s schoolroom under construction.

Planting the Good by Carly

Things are hard at this moment. Immensely hard. COVID-19 came in and suddenly life as we knew it, was changed. As if the daily threat of being exposed to a virus with no known vaccine and limited healthcare resources isn’t terrifying enough; the overload on our mental health is just as devastating. People are isolated. People have lost their jobs. They are missing loved ones and friends. Weddings are being postponed. Graduates, who have worked so hard for their chance to cross that stage in front of family and peers are having to do without. Parents are now balancing the daunting task of educating their children while trying to still make an income at home. Educators are working tirelessly, teaching lessons through Zoom and YouTube, offering support to weary but incredibly, grateful parents. Guardsmen and women are diligently answering the call to keep food distribution channels flowing and drive-thru testing sites operating. Nurses, doctors, hospital admin and staff are literally in the trenches, wearing invisible-to-the-eye superhuman capes. It’s beyond comprehension at times; the amount of hard we are all waddling through together while apart. But we’re resilient, we are getting more creative and selective about the things that truly matter to us.

That’s why the good has to be planted. Seedlings of goodwill have to be spread in any and every form that they can throughout our communities. It gives us hope. It gives us a sense of connection during a time when coming together is imperative. It gives us fulfillment, a purpose, knowing we can ease another person’s stress, even just for a moment. Spreading seeds of good reminds us that all of this is bigger than ourselves.

I have heard from countless people in my own community of the good they have planted during these challenging times. It has deeply solidified my faith in humanity. One example of a good seed came from a close friend of mine. She shared that she was inspired on her way home from her essential job one day. She emphasized that she used the word inspired intentionally because the train of thought just appeared to her like a gift. What if she could plant a seed for a neighbor who has the odds stacked against her; a single mother with now zero income. What if this seed she plants, could be shared with other neighbors and allow them to cultivate the seed? What if, with their support, it could flourish? My friend made some calls, had advocates in her corner and got to work anonymously setting up a safety net of basics for this single mother. A few texts later, others got involved. The seed blossomed. That one tiny idea was shared and it sprouted another similar safety net for another single mother. One of the most beautiful parts of watching something grow, is to see the vines traveling to other destinations to help more things sprout.

Here are a few more ideas of good that were recently shared with me if you ever feel inspired to get planting.

  • Do you happen to have a green thumb? Share some of your plant starts with a neighbor.
  • Maybe you have chickens and an abundance of eggs that can be shared too.
  • Have too many seeds? Perfect time to share with a neighbor!
  • Cleaning out closets or rooms? Did you find treasures that you no longer need but know someone else can benefit from? You could drop it off on their front porch.
  • Meals and baked goods left on others porches, almost taste better. The added ingredient of thoughtfulness is a wonderful flavor.
  • Did you clean out your pantry and find an abundance of flour, sugar or canned goods? Share where you can.
  • Making a trip to a store? Check in with an elderly family member or neighbor to see if there’s anything you can grab for them too.
  • Come in contact with an essential worker? Tell them thank you. Shout it from the mountain tops. Trust me, your appreciation makes their commutes to work that much easier.
  • Check in with your friends and family often.
  • Ordering printed photos? Order extra and have them sent to family members as a surprise. Nothing surpasses tangible photographs.
  • Making homemade play dough with your littles? Make extra if possible to share with another parent to help keep their kids busy.
  • Love to sew? Sew a few masks (maybe even child size) and leave them in your community’s little libraries.
  • Create window, sidewalk or other street art to make someone smile as they pass it to get fresh air.
  • Paint rocks however you’d like and leave them for others to find.
  • Offer to walk neighbor’s dogs.
  • Mow your neighbor’s side of the yard.
  • Does your family make donations monthly to non-profits? Reassess those funds to make sure your dollars can be most beneficial in your community right now.
  • When you shop, shop local. This is critical more than ever. Those mom & pop stores have the ability to support the local farmers & producers. In other words, help pay your neighbors bills and put food on their tables.
  • When you order take out (same logic as above) order local take out.
  • Local artists & musicians are self-employed. With galleries closed and no concerts being held, they cannot earn an income. If they offer an online shop – shop if you can. If they offer online lessons or stream music – now is a perfect time to learn to play or pay to hear them play.
  • Check in with local shelters to see what is on their critical lists. They haven’t been able to raise funds in the same manner as before. Fancy galas are not happening. Help where you can.

This list is just a start. A mere fragment of the amount of good that can be be planted in this growing season we all find ourselves in. Have more ideas for me to add? I’d love to hear them! You can contact me here

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

– Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) talking about his mother, Nancy McFeely Rogers

Something To Think About by Ellen.

If you think your governor’s only motivation is to strip you of your LIBERTY, want things “back to normal” to save our ECONOMY, believe the virus is just like the FLU, would you be willing to forgo any healthcare if you or someone in your household falls ill to COVID-19?

It will be our healthcare providers and healthcare system WHO HAVE PAUSED ELECTIVE SURGERIES to help better serve all of us during the pandemic. It is these healthcare providers who will be left to pickup the pieces when there’s a rise in cases.

REMEBER: staying home and keeping our distance is TEMPORARY. We need more time to combat this novel virus, which will only thrive the more people insist on being together. And all of this sacrifice will go down the tubes with your “rebellion”.

So maybe those of you willing to take a chance with your health and *everyone you’re in contact with* would be willing to not seek medical help if you or your close love ones get sick?

Something to think about.