health · introvert · kids · Uncategorized

5 Things I Did (and Do) to Overcome Social Anxiety

I was watching a series on Netflix with my kids called “The Healing Powers of Dude.” It’s about a middle school kid named Noah who has an emotional support dog named Dude…and social anxiety.

I was explaining to my almost eleven-year-old daughter that I could relate to Noah in so many ways. That I was very much like him at that age. As a young adult I wasn’t surprised when I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. My daughter couldn’t believe it. She said, “But Mommy you seem extroverted.” I thanked her for the compliment and started sharing some ways that I overcame it.

I wondered if other young people might benefit from the wisdom I’ve gained and maybe wouldn’t have to struggle like Noah did. Like I did.

So here they are, five things I did (and still do) to cope with and eventually overcome social anxiety:

1. Stop nightmaring. Nightmaring is where you go “worst case scenario.” You come up with all kinds of imaginary possible outcomes in your mind, and many of them are utterly absurd and irrational. I totally had a habit of this, and still catch myself doing it from time to time. In “The Healing Powers of Dude” Noah imagines losing Dude or his schoolmates turning into Zombies. Some more common examples of nightmaring would be imagining that everyone is looking at you, or talking about you. Somehow I felt like imagining all of the possible negative outcomes would help me be prepared, but what I realized in time was that those negative things rarely ever happened – I was just imagining for nothing. The key word though is “imagining” and it’s good news because that means it isn’t real. It’s fiction. And you cut it out by staying present which is number 2.

2. Stay present. The term anxiety means that you are focusing on imaginary negative future outcomes. They are illusions only in your mind. You can eliminate them entirely by staying present. But how do you do that, you ask? When you can’t shut your thoughts off? There are several strategies I use: conscious breathing. Meditating. Yoga. Go outside and be in nature. Tap into any one of the five senses. Finding joy in what you are doing in this moment, which is also number 3.

3. Find joy. Look for things that are satisfying. Make lists of things that bring you joy. Lists of your hobbies. Create vision boards. Find a couple of safe people, like Noah did.

4. Recharge your battery daily by taking some quiet time for yourself. Chances are, if you have social anxiety, you also are an introvert. Your energy gets depleted around others and especially new social situations. You need to know when you need to withdraw and recover. In one episode of “Healing Powers” Noah realized he needed to step away from the party and be alone in a quiet room. I still to this day will withdraw from a group when I feel low energy. It’s self-care when you have social anxiety.

5. Take comfort in routine, structure and schedules. Those of us with social anxiety are often triggered by the element of surprise. The unknown. The unexpected. On the flipside, routines and structure are calming and reassuring for us. This is how I am able to teach middle school. I need structure and routine for my own well-being and it makes it very easy to create it for my students. I generally feel safe with my groups of kids, we know each other and the sequence of events from day to day is predictable. I am writing this during the 2020 quarantine and even here at home, without realizing it, I have created a very predictable routine and schedule for our family. It becomes second nature with practice. Noah enjoys going to concerts and I do too. He says he feels like he can blend in with the crowd and I totally get that. After you’ve been to a concert you know what to expect and you feel at ease with the whole show routine.

I have come to accept that I will never be an extrovert, and I don’t know that I want to or need to.

Final words of wisdom?

🐾 Practice staying present and being in the moment! Remember that life is supposed to be fun. Plan fun and exciting things for yourself.

🐾 Try as much as you can to replace your nightmaring with daydreaming. It’s great to flash forward and think about what might happen in the future – but make sure they are good things.

🐾 Give yourself space when you need it.

🐾 Remember that structure and routine are your friends. They are comforting! The whole reason anxiety exists is because it is fear of the unknown. By creating predictable routines for yourself you lower the anxiety for yourself and those around you. This does not mean you have to live in a box. Our family goes on lots of adventures! But I make sure I do lots of planning beforehand and that I am with people I trust when I do them.

🐾 And one final thought. Give yourself permission to just stay quiet. So much of my social anxiety as an adolescent came from feeling like I had to know what to say. But now as an adult I realize it’s perfectly acceptable, if not preferable, to stay quiet.

adventures with kids · parenting · quarantine · Uncategorized

Making the Most of this Quarantine Life

My dad used to say “attitude is everything,” and as a teenager it would annoy me. Now, as an adult, it resonates. We are doing our best to make the most of this stay home time and have the best attitudes we can. I wanted to share some of the things we’ve been doing to make this time special and memorable.

We love going for walks in the neighborhood and really love going on hikes. Many activities have been cancelled, but hiking and being outdoors is not cancelled!

Hiking is our favorite. We are so lucky to live near so many different trails and parks.

Flying kites. Most people think of March as the windy kite flying month. But the entire spring season rocks for this. Check out my blog post on my three best kept kite flying secrets. (I just gave you one.)

Flying kites isn’t just something on our spring checklist, it’s a pastime.

Crafts! We love arts and crafts. It’s super fun to get curious and try new things with art. One of my favorites was making our own scented crayons. Check out my post on how to make them.

We made our own scented crayons.

Scavenger hunts. My kindergartener, Madeline, has received quite a few scavenger hunts from her teacher and really liked them. I am a teacher too, so it inspired me to try and find some my middle schoolers would enjoy. Our favorite was without a doubt was the photo scavenger hunt. You can find it as well as photos from ours here.

The photo scavenger hunt was the best!

Sidewalk chalk fun. We have always loved sidewalk chalk, but we were really inspired when our friends started posting their chalk mosaics on social media. So of course we wanted to try it ourselves. You can check out my post on them here.

Sidewalk chalk mosaic!

Acts of kindness. We have had fun trying to think of ways to show kindness during this time. One way was to paint and hide kindness rocks at one of our favorite hiking trails. Another was to go through our books and take some we didn’t want anymore to our Little Free Library so other children can enjoy them.

Madeline found a kindness rock on our curb which inspired us to pay it forward and make our own.
We donated some of our books to this Little Free Library.

Drives. We live near country roads and drives out in the country are the best. Winding roads lined with trees, beautiful fields and farmland, favorite music cranked and sun roof open. This was not canceled. I would like to add the we are so grateful for drive through coffee and curbside pickup. This lets us help support local businesses too.

Supporting one of our favorite local coffee shops.
natural lifestyle · quarantine · Uncategorized

Earthing: Getting dirty for your health.

During this time of quarantine, I try to stay focused on ways to give myself and my family every advantage possible: to be the healthiest, mentally stable versions of ourselves. Healthy diet and self-care have been a priority for sure. We have slowed down, are eating better and exercising more than we did prior to this time.

But I am always open and seeking other ways to keep us at our best in a time where circumstances would point to the opposite. I follow a gal on Instagram who mentioned earthing in a post, and that she found her info on NCBI, and I was intrigued.

What is earthing? NCBI explains, “Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.”

Early humans walked the earth barefoot and even slept on the ground. Could this have given them a physical advantage over their modern-day, rubber-sole-wearing counterparts?

I also share the concern of many about the introduction of the fifth generation of wireless communication technology. The NBHI study gives us hope stating that earthing “essentially eliminates the ambient voltage induced on our bodies from common electrical sources.” 🌲❤️

After reading through the NBHI study on earthing, it does seem to show evidence that walking barefoot is more than beneficial. When we engage in earthing we are making direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Order up a serving of “sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, physical activity,” and add to that list…earthing. Research to date shows “it may be an essential element to the health equation.”

The past two days, I’ve experimented. I made a point to do simple outdoor tasks barefoot. Watering the flowers, checking the mail, having coffee. What I noticed afterward was not only a calming, but the nostalgia of that feeling of grass between my toes. And the realization that I am much more tender-footed than my ten-year-old self who could run across a gravel driveway unfazed. I have missed this.

Move over Lysol and Clorox wipes. Dirty feet may keep you healthy.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

Edited to add:

After reading this study several years ago on the effects of wifi, I quit sleeping with my phone and using it as an alarm clock. And it also birthed a skepticism and concern within me about the effects of our electronic devices on our bodies, and ultimately the writing of this post.

 

kids · parenting · Uncategorized

Sidewalk Chalk Mosaics

Have you had a chance to make a sidewalk chalk mosaic yet? We love them. Every aspect of it is satisfying, from planning a design, to putting down the tape, coloring and maybe especially peeling off the tape for the big reveal.

My girls had been begging to do another sidewalk chalk mosaic ever since the rain washed away their last one. Thankfully, the Easter bunny brought them more chalk and tape. 🐇

Anna Claire, our ten-year-old, was very strategic about choosing the day to do it, watching the weather so that they would get the maximum number of days to enjoy it before the next rain.

Last time I did most of the tape work. This time the girls did it without help. We have learned you don’t have to be too perfectionistic about it. It will look good no matter what.

We have also learned it is wise to sweep the area or pick up any debris so the area is clean before you start taping. If you don’t, the tape won’t stick and stay put as well.

It is also worth mentioning that we did not use a template. I have read that others “combed Pinterest” searching for a template. You certainly could! We personally opted not to because we felt like part of the fun is creating your own design.

If you do create your own design, it’s helpful to decide what the outside shape will be, then just be sure to the smaller shapes you create inside are polygons: triangles and trapezoids look best. Lots of angles!

You can put in some additional planning if you want the design to be symmetrical. We opted for more abstract.

We also had better chalk this time, “much more pigmented” (the words of Madeline, my six-year-old) and we loved the names of the colors: Macaroni and Cheese, Mauvelous and Granny Smith Apple, to name a few. We have decided we would like to be hired by Crayola to choose the color names!

A new box of chalk is so satisfying

For this project you will need:

Uncategorized

Movies to watch with kids during quarantine

So many parents have been reaching out on social media about what to do with their kiddos during this time.

It can be hard to find movies that are fun for the family without any inappropriate language or violence. I am starting a list here that I will build on and add to. While they aren’t educational, quite a few are based on books and I find my oldest often wants to read the book before or after watching. These are safe and enjoyable and we are all reaching for that right now. I hope these bring joy to your home as they have to ours. Feel free to share any you’ve discovered in the comments.

  • Stargirl (Disney+)
  • Jinxed (Netflix)
  • Hop (Netflix)
  • A Dog’s Purpose (Amazon)
  • Bridge to Terabithia (Netflix)
  • Because of Winn Dixie (Disney+)
  • Wonder (Amazon)
  • Freaky Friday (Disney+)
  • Aladdin (Disney+)
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Amazon)
  • Scales: Mermaids are Real (Netflix)
  • Wonder Park (Amazon)
  • Trolls: World Tour (Amazon)
  • Onward (Disney+)
  • Mrs. Doubtfire (Amazon)
  • The Parent Trap (both versions Disney+
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney +)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies (HBO – free 7 day trial)
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • BFG (Netflix- be sure to check out this BFG Dictionary and word search. So fun!)

Bonus – Shows/Series:

  • Just Add Magic (Amazon)
  • Odd Squad (PBS Kids)
  • Kids Vs. Food (Amazon)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix – mine loved the SERIES. The movie, not so much.)
  • The Healing Powers of Dude (Netflix)
  • Good Luck Charlie (Disney+)
  • Stuck in the Middle (Disney+)
  • Muppets NOW (Disney+)

(FYI: I’m a parent of two girls, ages 6 and 10 so this list will apply more to that subgroup.)

Uncategorized

DIY Mama: How to Fix Your Leaky Hose

After connecting our hose to the spigot this spring, I was frustrated when I noticed more water was coming out at the spigot than the end of the hose.

YouTube to the rescue!

I did a search for leak at hose and spigot connection and this short and sweet video came up. All I needed was a gasket and some plumbers tape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ3Jfk4OHEE&feature=share

This literally took less than a minute and there is no leak whatsoever! And I am not who you would call “Mrs. Fix-it!”

This is all you need! Total cost? $3.50. And please purchase from your local hardware store.
Uncategorized

Homeschool Supplies: The Basics

If you’re reading this, maybe you’ve been homeschooling for awhile. You chose homeschool as a lifestyle. Or maybe homeschool chose you because we are in the midst of a world pandemic and your child’s school has closed.

Either way, I hope this list serves you well. This is a no-frills list of supplies you will want to stock up on to make life easier.

I took the time to find the lowest price for each of these on Amazon and included links for them below. I hope that this will save time for some mamas out there.

Continue reading “Homeschool Supplies: The Basics”
Uncategorized

How Bubblegum is Made: Plastics and Rubber?

We watched this video for “science” this morning and then wished we didn’t. Gum used to be made from gum from trees but now it is made of synthetic rubber and plastic! We did more research after the video and learned that nowadays gum is not biodegradable.😷

Did you know most chewing gum contains plastic?

This is why mom always said, “Don’t swallow your gum!” I do not want my kids chewing on plastic and definitely don’t want them potentially swallowing it. Kids say they don’t but we know different. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Then we discovered Glee gum. It contains no plastics, is sugar free and contains no aspartame (associated with Alzheimer’s). Looks like a good one and I’m pretty sure I have seen it at our local pharmacy. Sorry and you’re welcome. We can’t unlearn this stuff.

foodie · health · quarantine · Uncategorized

Changing Your Perspective on Food

What is your relationship with food? Do you eat to nourish your body? To bring you joy? To comfort you? To satisfy your hunger? If you’re like most people, you probably answered “yes” to all of the above. Me too!

However, as I’ve gotten older and cared more about my health and feeling good, over time I can honestly say I have shifted to eating more for these two reasons: to satisfy hunger and to nourish my body.

I think part of the reason we struggle as a culture with our food relationship, is that during phases of our life, we have placed too much focus on the other two reasons: we reach for food to bring us joy and to comfort us.

The greatest shift can happen for you when you stop (and this is the magic sentence, hence the boldface) stop choosing the foods you eat for the taste factor and choose them for how you know they will make you feel.

Those who are around me for much time at all are surprised at how easily I can say “no thanks” to a big bowl of ice cream or to donuts. It’s because I’ve learned I’m lactose intolerant and I’ve spent many a day doubled over in a ball on my bed, with the sharpest imaginable pain in my gut due to eating dairy. Same can be said for gluten. I have slowly evolved to the place where I care more able how I will feel for the rest of the day than a few brief moments of “yummy.”

When I have weak moments and give in to either my own cravings or into peer pressure of what those around me would prefer to eat, I always regret it. Physically, and sometimes also emotionally. Our physical health as you know impacts our emotional health, and vice versa. So before I choose what I want to put in my body, I try to always ask: is this the best thing I could be eating right now? Am I eating it because it is yummy? Is that the only reason? How will I feel after I eat this?

Another catalyst that helped me make the shift, was learning that the “food on the aisles” are loaded with preservatives and some of those include additives that make you crave more of that food. Some of you reading this may feel betrayed by the food industry and angry to learn this – I know I did. These are the packaged foods: boxed, canned, frozen. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it.

This is why I suggest to folks to shop the perimeter of the grocery store: meats, seafood, dairy (we do lactose free), fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts. The good stuff, the healthy stuff, is always on the perimeter, not in the aisles (this is generally true, though there are some good foods to find in the aisles.) You need to eat real food.

What I wasn’t expecting, is that once I cut out the junk food, I stopped craving it. Now I pretty much crave real fresh food. Then I read a quote that pretty much summarizes this idea: “what you eat you crave more of. ”

So if you eat junk, you crave more junk. When you eat real food, you crave that. The hard part is making the shift. When I cut out junk food, it wasn’t easy. It helped that I was pregnant, and my primary goal in life was to provide the healthiest possible environment for my baby to inhabit. I had a greater motivation and something outside myself that helped me have the willpower to make the change.

It also helped that my mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimers and my research to help her benefited my whole outlook. It was then that I learned about the terrible effects of artificial sweeteners.

And later still, when my oldest child was diagnosed with migraine headaches, my research to help her led me to my knowledge of food coloring and sugar. Both of these are migraine triggers and I would recommend cutting these two out to anyone who suffers from them. Even further research of food coloring led me to how  it effects those with ADD, and I learned sugar consumption lowers the immune system.

I realize these aren’t popular schools of thought and may even be unwanted because they don’t line up with how you would like to eat, but if you are aware, I promise your outlook on how you eat with shift and YOU WILL FEEL BETTER.

And in the face of a worldwide pandemic, as we are right now, you need to be reaching for every possible advantage that you can to increase your wellness and immune system so that you are resistant. Eat for your health, friends. You are what you eat.

 

 

adventures with kids · clarksville · kids · quarantine · Uncategorized

Our Second Week of Quarantine: “Spring Break”

I know we are like so many who have mourned (or are mourning) the loss of our spring break plans. We had so many fun adventures planned! But instead of being sad, we got creative and found ways to make the most of our time.

I felt like the girls deserved a week off – no school work. If it was going to be their spring break, quarantine or not, I was determined to make it the most fun I possibly could for them.

Neighborhood walks are the best medicine.

We went for a walk almost every day. It is amazing what being outdoors and taking in the vitamin D does for the body. Loving some sunshine after rain almost every day last week! Madeline asked for a horse, and I remembered a couple of stick horses I had bought way back, stuck in the closet and had forgotten about. I pulled those out and she has loved riding her hobby horse all over the house and outside.

Meet Diamond. 🐴

All of the rain delivered lots of growth in the beds so I weeded and prepped them while the girls played outside. Lots of bike and scooter riding, basketball, and badminton. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles and jumprope were favorites too. They enjoyed these simple pleasures so much.

Sidewalk chalk and bubbles

The girls asked to do some school work, which I hadn’t planned on, as I said, with this being Spring Break. But if they are wanting to learn, I am never saying no to that. Madeline working on ixl and AC worked on science fossils diagram.
AC found a recipe for Nutella fudge, and had been talking to us about it, writing it all out and begging for the ingredients to make it for several days. Larry got everything for her and helped her make it over break and she was over the moon. And her fudge was amazing. She seems to have a natural knack for cooking just like her dad. If we can just train her not to lick her fingers!

Watch out! This girl is going places. Everything she cooks up is amazing.

I had read on social media that many folks do Takeaway Tuesday. So many restaurants that we had been wanting to try have made the shift from dine-in to curbside and take-away, so we took a drive and picked up Nicholetta’s southern chicken salad and a calzone from Caprizios. We also did a curbside pick up of art supplies from Michael’s. It is so great that they offer this option! I ordered a giant pack of markers, some water color paper and a Frozen II jewelry making set for Madeline.

Nicholetta’s for the win!

It was a rainy day so we did washable marker designs on the watercolor paper and let them sit outside in the rain for a tie dye effect. AC was missing her friends so we let her call one of her best friends which she needed and loved. Madeline made one of her friends a necklace, colored her a picture and wrote her a letter. Both girls have enjoyed writing letters and receiving them. They discovered hangman and have become obsessed with the game.

Rainy day art!

Hangman!

When we were out getting Nicholetta’s we had noticed something we never noticed before – our favorite ice cream shop, Golly G’s has a drive through! So the next day, we hit the Golly G’s drive through for ice cream then took it with us to the park to enjoy outside. We hiked Spur Line Trailhead, which is a lesser known path. I like that you run into very few if any people. It is pretty with lots of flowering trees and the girls love crossing the bridge.

Spur Line Trailhead – downtown Clarksville

This was our “big trip” for break, but I do think we social distanced well and followed guidelines. AC had been begging to go to Five Daughter’s Bakery in Nashville and it was near the top of her bucket list for spring break. Well, when I was looking over our would-have-been-plans, Five Daughter’s delightfully stood out to me as something we could still do. They did online ordering and curbside pick-up so minimal human interaction. We got our 100-layer-donuts and took them with us to devour at Radnor Lake, another bucket list item. I told the girls awhile back that it was Taylor Swifts favorite park and they have begged to go there since. I thought it was doable since we would be close by and wanted to do a nature walk anyway. It was breathtaking. None of us were expecting it to be as beautiful and charming as it was. We will most definitely be back! When we got home I cut back monkey grass in our front bed while the girls blew bubbles and did sidewalk chalk.

Radnor Lake – our new favorite place.

To wrap up break, we had a rainy day, and treated ourselves to a spa day: charcoal soap, facial scrub, mask and foot bath. This could be habit forming!
Finally, I took Madeline to our small country store down the road (she calls it “the honey store.”) While we were there she discovered the little free library and found a book on butterflies. It was windy and I quickly remembered our kites I had picked up a week ago. It ended up being the perfect day for flying them.

Little Free Library

Kite flying success