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.
Trigger Warning: the content below includes mentions of police brutality against people of color.
In May, the killing of yet another black life set off waves of protests around the world demanding change. We watched news reports of millions of people globally calling an end to violence for people of color everywhere. Here at home, it was no different. The streets of Olympia were filled with signs and murals downtown depicting the faces of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Cries of injustice and passionate calls to end systematic racism were voiced. And there was chaos. Private property was destroyed, fights broke out, people were injured. Emotions, politicizing, mass amounts of misinformation cluttered the eyes and ears of residents. All the sudden, three simple words BLACK LIVES MATTER, set off a new wave of controversy. But it doesn’t nor should it be that way.
“Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. BLM is a movement where every day, supporters recommit to healing themselves and each other, and to co-creating alongside comrades, allies, and family a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported. BLM supporters acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.” Black Lives Matter Website, What We Believe : https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/
It DOES NOT mean, cops lives don’t matter. It also DOES NOT mean that everyone’s life doesn’t matter. Of course, all lives matter. But right now, at this moment in our society, we need to acknowledge that the black community is hurting. The black community needs advocates in this world, that is so utterly broken with divisions running deeper by the hour.
Change must occur. Peaceful allies must stand in solidarity. Voting is essential.
That’s why whenever I passed my local neighborhood market and saw three simple words – BLACK LIVES MATTER in the window, I felt hope. If a tiny, mom & pop grocery store in the outskirts of town can get it, maybe more can too. Maybe progress doesn’t have to feel so out of reach. Seeing the words ‘Justice for George Floyd’ on our area’s famous marquee gave me a sense of pride. Immense pride for seeing progress in my own backyard. The Gull Harbor Mercantile received tons of comments in support. People deliberately stopped in to say thank you. New customers started coming in saying they had never shopped there before but want to now because of the signage.
But then the reader board changed. The BLM poster came down. A few days later, us neighbors learned that an employee was fired for wearing Black Lives Matter on her apron. Wait, what? Confusion ensued. What caused the owners to have such a sudden change of heart and to go as far as letting an employee who has worked there for over a decade go? Below that employee’s account of what happened. This is from her perspective. She encourages you to reach out to the Merc to hear their side as well.
Courtney is a Boston Harbor resident of over 20 years. She raised her amazing son Conner in the neighborhood and has deep ties to our community. She’s also been the friendly, can’t help but love her, character at the merc off and on for 13 years. She’s also an advocate. After the world watched. She knew showing public support for the black community was important. It was vital. So on her shifts at the Merc, she put those words on the marquee. She hung the BLM poster in the windows. Then one day management told her to stop. Told her that there were complaints coming in, though Courtney herself never personally heard any. The first of those alleged complaints came in the form of a text message sent directly to management from an anonymous neighbor which read:
“Take it from me, a rich white guy, no one is going to shop in your store if you keep putting up these signs.”
The text was sent directly to the manager, Ted, after this photo was seen on social media. Was it the word ‘pride’ or BLM that compelled this anonymous neighbor to 1.) identify himself as a white rich person and 2.) threaten the business itself?
That may be an answer we never know, but regardless his intimidation tactic worked. The owners of the Merc, the Kistlers demanded all signage be taken down immediately and stated the store was to remain neutral on these topics. Courtney said she felt sad, discouraged but ultimately she understood. This was and is their business. Their livelihood. So she relented. She stopped putting the BLM poster in the window and no longer did she change the marquee.
Instead, to show her support, she wore a pin on her work apron that simply read ‘Black Lives Matter’. She wore it for 3 days straight. Three separate shifts where not a word was spoken about it. Tuesday morning, she came in to find her pin had been removed from her apron by management. She was floored but had an extra BLM pin and put it on. She went out to clean the gas pumps like she’s done hundreds of times before when the manager, Ted came outside and reminded her that the store was going to remain neutral on the subject and that he respectfully asked that she remove the pin from her person. Courtney replied that she respectfully declined. That the message of BLM was important to her and caving to threatening neighbors would go against her morales. Ted then walked back inside made a phone call to his mother, Teri Kistler, an owner who arrived shortly after.
Courtney was reminded again, this time by Teri, that the store was going to remain neutral on the subject of BLM and that wearing the pin on her apron goes against that. Courtney flatly refused citing that this issue was not one in which someone can remain neutral on. This is a societal issue, one of humanity in which members of our community need support. Teri then said,
“You remove the BLM pin from your apron or you are fired.”
Courtney held up her hands, removed her apron and clocked out for the last time ending her time as an employee of the Gull Harbor Mercantile. She stood her ground.
The Merc represented so much more to her than just a way to pay bills. It’s a community to her. It’s her friends that have become family. She loved serving her customers. She may have not always agreed politically with some of them but never did she feel anger or hatred to those who sported MAGA hats. She calls many Trump supporters her friends.
To her, this is not about politics or republican vs. democrat. Her intentions with wearing a BLM pin on her person was not to change the minds of those in opposition. Sure, if a discussion were to come up, she would openly invite a dialogue. But that was not her goal. For her, BLM is a movement of humanity and publicly supporting that type of change needs to happen because it’s about damn time.
Does she want the neighbors to boycott the Merc? Her answer is NO. In fact, a resounding NO. She even still shops at the Merc. She knows the Merc is a source of income for a lot of neighbors and wants our community to continue to support the local farmers and producers. In her opinion, the Merc is awesome precisely because of the community it serves, those folks that bring in their local produce, the folks that knit and crochet, the local artists that sell their art. The Merc has dog bones because the community asked for them. They have gluten-free and organic items because the community requested them. The community literally defines the Merc otherwise it would just be another shell station. She believes they didn’t represent the community that made them so excellent when they chose neutral. That they missed a chance to be on the right side of history. To be on the right side of justice. Her call-to-action would be to let the Kistler family know that their actions do not represent the majority of our community. She wants calls to be made, neighbors to stop by and say they support the black community and remaining silent on such an important issue is no longer an option. She is okay with peaceful protests. This is bigger than her and her story but she wants people to know this happens and it happens in our very own backyard.
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
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?
When I was pregnant with you Georgia Grace, I fell madly in love with wildflowers. I even wanted it to be your middle name, but the nickname GG seemed much better than GW.
It was August and I was hot and very pregnant, I would walk around the neighborhood and pick blackberries. Everything slowed down in that time, I noticed more beauty in the world. It was like my own little bubble, just you in my belly, the beautiful foxgloves and poppies and the birds chirping around. My memory of all this has a lens of rose colored glasses. Like I was a disney princess, skipping along with the bunnies, with flowers blooming and bowing as I dance by…But it was magical, and the sight of a cluster of daisies or sweet peas on the side of the road gave me such immense pleasure, it still does. I am the crazy lady pulled over on the highway picking a bouquet of weeds.
I think if I hadn’t been chosen to be your mother, I never would have found my way. I have always felt like Alice, lost in Wonderland. I was looking for all the things that everyone else had; a family, a house, a perfectly crafted life and home that I had cultivated. It turns out I was a little too messy, a little too wild for “all that” to work out. It hasn’t been easy to find my way back to the wildflowers, but my daughter, you let something bloom inside me and I will always be drawn to it now. You showed your mamma herself. The summer I fell in love with wildflowers was the summer you were born. You were so wide awake, and so alive already. Nothing will ever stop you from being you baby. You came into this world knowing…
About Mothering A Wild Daughter
It is a hard thing to stay wild in this world. It’s a hard thing to raise your daughter and not dim her light. I catch myself all the time, telling her to be quieter, nicer, and more agreeable. Of course I can’t let her run around acting like a brat, screaming and demanding without so much as a please or thank you. It’s not that, it’s all the rest. It’s hard enough to un train yourself and stand in your own wildness everyday, but to take on a whole person and not fuck it up. It is incredibly daunting and HARD. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s HARD. I don’t want to bury the most beautiful thing about my daughter and mold and change and critique everything she does until that wide-eyed knowing has disappeared and it’s all my fault. I have to stop thinking that way. I have to trust that I know and I’m not perfect, I’m messy and that’s okay.
I just have to slow down and go back to that summer. It’s just me and GG and the wildflowers. They whisper all the things I already know, they remind me.
For The Love of Wildflowers will be my compass, my house, my family, and my truth. Whatever I need is held in their petals, safe and waiting for me to come looking.