More about food

December 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

My monthly psychology journal came in the mail earlier this week. I was pleased to see that…guess what?!? “Evidence is mounting that microorganisms in the gut affect mental health”! The article was entitled, “The Future of Psychobiotics,” and it was written by Kirsten Weir.

There were ideas in the article that link to the material I was talking about when I wrote about psychoneuroimmunology earlier. One thing Ms. Weir mentioned was that “People with gastrointestinal disorders have higher-than-average rates of neuropsychiatric problems such as bipolar disorder and depression…”

We all need to make our guts as healthy as possible to give the bacteria and any other microbes we need a place where they can thrive. Probiotics can play an important part in this quest, especially after taking an antibiotic for a week or more. Antibiotics kill any bacteria they run into, whether they are bacteria we need or they are the ones making us sick. After we recover from an infection, we need to replenish the good bacteria so our systems can work like they are supposed to.

Speaking of our systems working like they are supposed to…I think I mentioned before that my trainer said that in order to figure out how much protein we need, just divide our weight in half. I started calculating, and I had been eating plenty of protein if I weighed about 70 pounds. Let me tell you, I weigh more than that.

So this week, I’ve been trying to consume more protein. I am convinced that it is impossible to do without supplements! And when I use the supplements, I feel so full, I’m eating less. I’m very excited about the prospect of the possibility of losing weight. I gained weight when I was going to graduate school, because I basically sat down for four years. I was under a lot of stress, and snacked a lot. But fifteen years later, none of that weight is gone.

I decided that if I’m going to talk about how important it is to sleep well and eat right, I’d better be doing it myself.

I am good about getting my eight hours of sleep, because I had insomnia for decades before they found a medication that worked for me. And as you know, loss of sleep is cumulative, so I have some pretty weird neurological symptoms going on before they figured out I was dealing with extreme sleep deprivation. I am good now! If I miss sleep during the night, I try to free up some time to take a nap so I don’t get behind.

Since changing everything to have a healthier life is difficult, please try to select one thing you was to work on. Let me know how it goes, and we can try to encourage each other.

Okay! I have to go work out!

“I’m against medication”

November 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

This is a difficult subject for me to talk about. Parents have the right to say whether their child is put on medication or not. That’s fine.

That said, if a child has diabetes, most parents would give their children whatever medication they needed. With diagnoses that fall under the “mental health” category, however, parents often just say, “I’m against medication.” I confess I sometimes want to ask them, “Really? When you have a headache, you don’t take Tylenol or ibuprofen?” But that would not be kind.

The most frequent diagnosis that I hear that with is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

I understand that there are doctors that might prescribe medication too quickly. I understand that many behaviors associated with ADHD might be improved with better parenting techniques. I also understand, however, that when a neuropsychological evaluation indicates the presence of ADHD, it’s not something that kids can just “tough it out.”

Young people with untreated ADHD have a higher incidence of dropping out of school early. They have a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse, as they are self-medicating.

Even if they are being treated, students with ADHD can get labeled as being lazy because they don’t turn in their assignments. They can get labeled as unmotivated because they have difficulty getting started on projects.

The front part of the brain is what I call our “inner adult.” It helps us make good decisions. It helps us prioritize tasks, doing the most important thing first. It helps us stay focused. Those are the tasks that are often termed “executive functioning,” and with ADHD, they don’t work well.

These students often don’t turn in assignments because they didn’t remember. They started towards the front of the room to hand in their assignment, then someone said something that distracted them, and they forgot about their assignment. If you think that’s silly, have you ever walked upstairs to do something, then forgot what you were going to do when you got up there? Or opened the refrigerator then forgot what you got in there for?

What happens is on the way up the stairs, we start thinking of something else. We become distracted. Students with ADHD experience that even more than typical. So many parents come to me and say, “I must have memory problems because I can’t seem to remember anything.”

Usually, it’s not a memory problem, but the fact that they are working full time, trying to run a household (including buying groceries, paying the bills, cleaning…), keeping up with the schedules of two or more children…. Their lives are distracting. Society promotes multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is anti-focus. I believe the whole popular wave of mindfulness is an effort to be able to learn to focus again.

If the general population finds it difficult to stay focused, imagine what it must be like to have ADHD!

I think we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve had a task to do that was going to take focus. It’s 11:00 at night, and we just say, “Oh, I’ll wait until the morning to do it.” Individuals with ADHD are at 11:00 p.m. all the time. Nearly every task they need to do is going to take more effort than most people would need to put forth. If they seem “unmotivated,” it’s because it’s 11:00 for them. It’s likely not because they don’t care.

Young people with ADHD often can’t stop the impulse to (add just about anything here). Problems arise when they’ve dropped out of school, they develop a negative opinion about themselves, and they believe they might as well commit crimes. Okay, that might not be the actual order of events, but they do tend to have a negative opinion about themselves, and it is not unusual for them to engage in criminal activities. I worked at a school once where the students had severe behavior problems. Most of them had parole officers, and the majority of them had diagnoses of ADHD.

On the other side of that is the parents’ option to fill the prescription the doctor gives them to help their children’s brains. By giving their children medication for ADHD, the chance for success increases, and the chances of dropping out and getting into drugs or alcohol decrease. Why would parents choose not to increase the odds of success for their children?

Seeing negative things in others makes us sad; seeing positive things can make us happier

October 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

There have been many parents who come to me and share concerns about their children, but in the process I hear comments about significant others as well.

The task of raising children is monumental, but in working so hard to keep them from doing things that are wrong, sometimes we forget to notice the things they do well. We become hypercritical, and that overflows into being hypercritical of significant people in our lives, and even strangers.

Years ago, I caught myself seeing the shoes left in the middle of the living room floor and letting the frustration start in my stomach. Once it starts, it’s difficult to stop. I’d start to see all the other things he left out and make myself angry. The reality was that I had just as many things out, but my own messes didn’t both me. I knew I had plans to pick them up, but for some reason, I guess I didn’t think he planned to pick his own things up. That was silly of me.

For example: if my husband put the dishes in the dishwasher and didn’t put the food away, I would focus on the food that didn’t get put away rather than the fact that he put the dishes in the dishwasher. I would focus on what made me unhappy rather than what made me happy. How many wives would be thrilled if their spouse would put the dishes in the dishwasher? Over time, I have worked to focus on the wonderful things he does. When I get aggravated, I work even harder to remember the good things. I believe I am a happier person than I used to be.

I believe there is a direct link between being thankful and being happy. It would be like when we have a nice house, instead of being thankful, we look at houses that are bigger or fancier. That fosters jealousy and unhappiness. If I have a home, I need to be thankful for it, being aware that there are those who have no home.

The same attitude applies to our children.

If your children come home from school and tell you about their days, be thankful! It supports their brain growth and strengthens the relationship between you. They might go on a bit or have difficulty being efficient in their story telling, but that is to be expected (depending on age, of course).      What often happens is that children come home wanting to talk…and eat. They chatter and make a mess in the kitchen. Now on one hand, yes, they need to learn to clean up their messes. But what I’m trying to describe is that many parents focus on the mess and not on the fact that their children loves them enough to share their day.

There is always something good to see. As we point out these things to our children, they blossom. They want attention from us. If we give them positive attention, they will work to be more positive. Given negative attention, they will be more negative.

For an experiment, count how many times you tell your child no in a given day. I used to say it a lot. Now I try to say yes whenever I can. Try to make “No” be the exception not the rule, unless, of course, it’s a safety issue.

One of the worst things parents can do, though, is to say “no” over and over again, then cave. That teaches their children that if they just nag enough, they will get their way. I’ve seen/heard it happen so many times! If you so no, please stick to it! A tangent of that is if you offer fifteen more minutes of play time, and the child begs for twenty, reduce your offer to ten. Negotiating might be a good thing to learn, but not if it undermines your authority. Yes, children do need to learn how to make decisions and deal with consequences. So offer choices. Offer two choices that are both fine with you. That way they get to choose, and you see a result that you can live with.

Joy vs Fun

October 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

I know a young man that shared a book with his wife. The book was called, All Joy and No Fun- The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. Now I’m going to tell you right off that I have not read the book. I have a basic issue with the premise, however.
First of all, fun is transient. Joy is long-lasting. I associate joy with the spiritual part of us. This is just my opinion, of course, but if we pursue fun, we keep needing more. It’s like an addict who needs increasing amounts of drugs to satisfy a need. But joy fills us without us having to make a huge effort.
It is my understanding that most religions believe that God created us in His image. Since God is spiritual, that means the important part of us is spiritual. We can carry spiritual joy with us into the next world. I’m pretty sure the fun activities stay here.
So about children. Yes, they are a lot of work. But they can be really fun, too. I believe raising children is the most important job a person can do. Bar none.
I wrote a song about parenthood when my children were little. It’s not serious at all, so even if it’s a little weird, I’m going to put the words down here.

Fingerprints are everywhere,
Toys are up and down the stair,
Everywhere I look there’s work to do!
Putting things back in their place,
Washing little hands and face,
And walls with pictures hung up with glue!

I would like a little break-
Just a moment I could take
to sit and read a book without a noise!
Maybe visit with a friend,
Talk of nothing to no end,
Without being plagued by girls and boys!

Every time they’re in the door,
Coats and book bags on the floor,
Every day I have to say, “Now hang them up!”
Eating everything in sight,
Never go to bed at night,
“No time to waste, it’s getting late, now hurry up!”

Just when I can take no more
Slamming in and out the door,
I’m about to lose my mind, I know!….
They come and give that little hug
That always gives my heart a tug,
They think of something nice to do
Without being asked to,
They share a smile and wash away
All the worries of the day,
(Sigh)
And what else can I do but love them so!!

I can’t put the melody in there, but you get the idea. The love flows. And all we have to do is let it in.

Connections

September 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

My husband and I drove to Iowa last weekend to celebrate our grandson’s sixth birthday. I helped with the party Saturday morning, and having eight extra children in the house wasn’t as wild and crazy as I had feared it might be. It was my birthday, too, but, let’s face it, it was more important to celebrate his. The bounty of being a grandma is the best thing ever.
We used to live in the same town back in the 1980’s, so we called a couple who had been great friends to see if we could visit with them. They told me they were going to their friends 60th birthday, but if we wanted to stop by at 7, they would visit with us.
When we arrived, I saw my friend inside, but she wouldn’t come outside to visit. My husband pushed me into the room, and I resisted, because, after all, it was someone else’s party. The people were actually singing “Happy Birthday” at that moment. Then I noticed that all of the people were facing towards the door…towards me. They were singing “Happy Birthday” to me!!!
I hadn’t had a surprise birthday party since I was in 7th grade. I didn’t suspect a thing, but apparently, my husband and his brothers, my daughter, and several friends had been busy planning for over a month!
His brothers got into it, because all three of us wives were born the same year. It was clearly a good year! The party was to celebrate all of our birthdays. My two sisters-in-law just didn’t show up until a half hour later. (That’s why they weren’t included in the same birthday song.)
It was amazingly wonderful to see friends I still love even though we moved from the area in 1990. That’s 28 years ago!!!!! I can’t believe I can throw numbers like that around, but it was like no time at all. The affection was still there. It made me think about how connections between people are so important.
I gave up a high school reunion to go to my grandson’s birthday, but it turned out that I gave it up to touch base with wonderful friends. The friends were just different than those I went to high school with. No matter how many material possessions a person has, they cannot compare to the importance of friends.
Connections stay with us and give our lives meaning.
We’ve moved a lot in our 40 years of marriage, but the small town in central Iowa is the place I feel most at home. It was purely coincidence that my son-in-law got a job nearby in Ames, but it had the effect that my daughter and her family are within a nest of extended family and friends. My grandson is starting school in the same school district that my husband attended all the way through, and my daughter attended for elementary school.
The bounty of having connections is that they provide a safety net as we walk the tight rope of life. No kidding. When I’m working with children who suffer with anxiety, we “weave” a safety net out of the names of friends and family that care about them. They work on learning to trust other people to help. They are not alone.
Children (and adults!) suffering with depression work on weaving themselves into a similar net. They are an integral part of the net, making them important to others, therefore a vital human being. (Of course, they were vital before, but this helps them recognize it!)
I am not a huge Shakespeare fan, and I certainly don’t pretend to be any expert in interpreting what the man had on his mind when writing. But the story of “The Tempest” intrigued me. I studied it as part of studying Baroque music, while earning my music degree. The main character, Prospero, and his young daughter had been dumped on an island because the Prospero was a duke and his younger brother thought it would be a great idea to get rid of his brother and be the duke himself. Prospero and his daughter lived, however, and Prospero developed his great powers of magic. After twelve years, Prospero causes a huge storm (tempest) that causes his younger brother and those on a ship with him, to crash and end up on the island.
A lot happens, but the brothers make up, and Prospero goes back to Italy. I like to believe that no matter what wonderful things he could do, his life was not filled until he went back to live within society. What are great gifts for but to help humanity?

Talking PC

September 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

I remember seeing the movie Arthur back in the 80’s. I thought it was hilarious! When I saw part of it again several years later, it wasn’t funny anymore. Alcoholics aren’t funny. As a society in the 80’s, we were too underdeveloped (myself included) to realize alcoholics are not a source of comedy, but we know it now. We are maturing as a society.
I’ve heard many complaints about which comments are “PC” and how we are supposed to know. Some say that the others are just being too sensitive.
I love to go back to the comment made by Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. We can’t guess at what another person is feeling until we walk a mile in their shoes. That’s probably a lousy paraphrase. It’s been a very long time since I’ve actually read it, but I think the meaning is there.
We can’t know what someone else is feeling, but when we are in a position of privilege, we have a responsibility to not make fun of people not in that position. If we are wealthy, we should not make assumptions or make comments about people who have little money, because we do not understand things such as what it’s like to fix Ramen again because payday is still five days away. (Been there. Done that.)
If we are white, we should not make assumptions or make comments about people who are not white because we don’t have to face the indignities they endure every day (the profiling, the facial expressions, the assumptions of diminished worth).
If we are smart, we should not make assumptions or make comments about people who are less intelligent because they have gifts we do not have.
Last year, I worked with a young boy who was bullying other boys. He would say mean things, and it took us a long time to work through that. I remember one day sitting there and telling him “It doesn’t matter.”
He would say, “[name] sucks. He can’t run fast at all. I can beat him in a race without hardly trying.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“But he’s SO slow!!! I hate it when he gets put on my team!” (etc., etc.)
“It doesn’t matter.”
“And [name] is so dumb! He can’t do anything right!”
“It doesn’t matter.”
This went on for a while, until I turned it around to explaining that every person is important. We all share the earth together. I asked him if there were anything that he could do to help the one boy run faster or be a better team member in some other way.
The next week, when I visited the school again, the teacher said that the boy I had been seeing had stopped bullying one of his previous targets. He had become a mentor instead. Of course, I had been working with him for probably two months before something clicked for him, but I still did a happy dance.
Now we’re working on trying not to beat up anyone else that’s bullying his new friend. One step at a time….

Television-Brain Connection

September 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

This week one of my interns was dealing with a small boy with behavior problems at school. Interviews revealed that he hadn’t been sleeping well. He told her he’s been having nightmares.
He’s six years old, and among other things, his parents let him watch “The Living Dead.”
Parents!! We have the ability to recognize that the story we are seeing on television or in movies is make believe. It’s all done with make-up, and no pain is involved. Children, on the other hand, do NOT have this ability. Even if we tell them it’s make believe, they do not have the ability to believe that dead people don’t walk around eating other people. No wonder he couldn’t sleep! Then he couldn’t learn in school, either
In fact, a couple of years ago, I worked with a TEEN who believed that everything he saw on TV was true. He suffered with terrible insomnia! His cognitive ability was lower than most kids his age, but still. I would have thought that he knew better. We can’t assume that our children are processing information in the same way we are.
Generations ago, the phrase, “You are what you eat” became popular. I would like to expand that idea to “You are what you watch, read, and listen to.”
Children absorb so much, and they have little or no filters. Personally, I don’t believe that material about dead people eating people is worthy of anyone’s attention, but at least adults can make their own decisions. Children voice their opinions, but that does not mean that they have the ability to weigh all of the parameters involved in opening up their brains to the presented material.
Parents have the responsibility of making sure children get healthy food, healthy programming, healthy everything as much as possible. I realize that fulfilling that responsibility is more difficult when you’re tired, and when the number of decisions you have to make for your child seems to climb into the hundreds in a single day. That’s one reason I also believe it takes two adults to raise a child. I encourage single parents to partner with each other for parenting support. It’s so tremendously difficult for one adult to take on the task by themselves!
But back to the topic at hand….. Some children can’t even distinguish between real characters and cartoon characters. They don’t believe real people are cartoons. They believe the cartoon characters are real. Their brains have a lot of developing yet to do!
For example, if you have a dog, you may be one of those families that say things like, “He thinks he’s human, just like us.” Dogs often seem to have a “personality,” but they don’t think they are human. They do not have the capability to perceive a living thing at a greater level of development or capacity than themselves. They think you are another dog.
They don’t understand “human.” They understand other animals, but since you are clearly their family, you are just funny-looking dogs.
Children process things through their own level of development as well. Please try to look at what you are letting your children watch on television, in video games, in movies, in books, in the music they listen to, with a critical eye. Is this going to give them nightmares? Is this teaching respect for themselves and others?

Watch for symptoms in children

September 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

This week has been filled with preparations for the upcoming school year. An intern I’m working with and I gave a presentation about symptoms of mental health problems to teachers for professional development. Children are not immune to emotional problems. We need to watch them for symptoms of things such as depression, anxiety, or inattention.
When we see symptoms in our children, it is wise to pay attention, but not panic right away. First of all, consider the obvious possible explanations of variations in behavior before turning to diagnoses such as depression or anxiety.
First check if the child has been sleeping well. That doesn’t mean that they go into the bedroom at the proper time, or even laid down in the bed with the light off. Many times when a parent brings a child to my office, the parent says the child sleeps enough. Then the child will admit that it takes him a long time to fall asleep, or many she wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. A lot of events can affect one’s ability to sleep, but if sleep is interrupted chronically, it’s best to take a closer look.
Both anxiety and depression can impact the quality of sleep. It’s a good idea to check with children in the morning. Ask them how they slept.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, insomnia was one of the long-term effects from the brain injury I had as a child. I didn’t see it as a problem. I would wake up at 4:00 in the morning, turn on the light, and read until it was time to get ready for school. Unfortunately, I shared a room with my older sister. She didn’t find it humorous when I kept turning on the light at 4:00 in the morning. I was moved to a bedroom in the basement where I couldn’t bother anyone.
Anyway, lack of sleep can be cumulative over time.
Another area that has become more and more important to me over the last three years or so is nutrition. Forgive me if I repeat myself, but it’s important to know that a lot of those chemicals we need to fight anxiety and depression are made in the gut, not just the brain. If the gut is not the correct environment, the neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine cannot be manufactured. Then we are depressed…or anxious.
I now recommend to all patients that come see me that they keep a food diary for at least a month. They then note when they have good days and bad. What works for one person might not work for another, but after reading three books on psychoneuroimmunology, (isn’t that a cool word!!??), I believe that most people would benefit from taking probiotics. Please note, however, that neurobiology is not my field of expertise. I’ll share more of what I learned in the future, though! It’s actually pretty interesting.
The reason I got into learning about the gut what that I had a patient that began exhibiting symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in her mid-thirties. Typically, Bipolar Disorder “rears its ugly head” in the early twenties. I always allow for exceptions, but because she suffered from depression that then morphed into mania, a doctor diagnosed her with Bipolar Disorder and prescribed medication for it.
I never like to contradict another professional, but having sudden-onset Bipolar Disorder at that time in her life would be unusual. I suggested tests for other explanations.
To make a long story at least a little shorter, it was discovered that she had Hashimoto’s disease—an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid. With her thyroid medications as well as NO gluten, her Bipolar symptoms are gone.
It took a while to figure out the gluten connection, and again, the same would not necessarily be the case for everyone. I am certainly NOT suggesting that actual Bipolar Disorder does not exist!! I am saying that in some people, symptoms that appear to be a mental health disorder might actually be something else.

Keeping love alive

August 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

Good morning!
When I wrote yesterday about taking charge of creating happiness in our lives, it made me think of how we also think of love as something that happens to us. People feel like they have no control over love. A couple who have been married for several years might feel like the love has gone out of their marriage because they don’t feel that warm glow anymore. Well, love is a noun describing a deep attachment, but it is also a verb. We may not have a lot of control over the warm glow itself, but we do have control over a verb. We can chose to keep the love alive in our relationship. The amazing part is that if we chose to love, we can re-create that glow.
Living with another person is difficult. We all have our own preferences, and we’re never going to find another person with the same exact preferences. I don’t really think it would be healthy if we did. There are so many situations that just don’t matter, though. For example, a toothpaste tube left uncapped, a toilet seat left up, a dishwasher stacked the “wrong” way…what do those things matter compared to being a good parent, being a supportive spouse, or being a moral person? Perhaps the same person who leaves the toilet seat up also takes care of getting the car fixed. In other words, for every negative thing that occurs, there is at least one positive thing, if one makes the effort to find it.
When your spouse or significant other does something that riles you, I suggest you take a moment to think of something kind they have done recently. My husband and I have been married for over forty years. We don’t have all the answers! All I can offer is that as a psychologist, I know focusing on the positive is important for mental health. It can also be important for keeping relationships alive.
My husband and I have very different personalities, but honestly, I think we’re both better people than we were when we first got married.
Early in our marriage when he did something that drove me nuts, I learned that if I pictured him gone, at first that seemed a positive thing. But when I pictured him with another woman, oof! That was worse than whatever was driving me nuts. He is a good man and a good father. When there was something negative, I took a moment to picture him curled up with our girls in a rocking chair, reading to them. Of course, after a few minutes, he would fall asleep, and the girls would be crawling over him. The memory never fails to bring a smile to my lips.
There will be times when a person you live with drives you crazy—not in a psychological way, of course. But working on a relationship means keeping the big picture in the front of your brain. Don’t let one tree spoil the forest.
When people are drowning in chores like laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc., it can be very difficult to keep the romance alive. It is important for both parties to make an effort to do so, because our lives are richer when we share them with another person who is important to us.
In the Baha’i Faith, marriage is called A Fortress for Well-Being. Life is difficult. We are healthier and happier if we have someone to help us hang on during the tough times and to celebrate with us when we make it through.
My life is better with my spouse, even though there may be times that I forget that. I have to remind myself what is really important in life.
My life is also better with my extended family. Even though my siblings and I have divergent political beliefs, we still love each other. We live far apart, but work to get together at least once a year. I am happy when I’m with them because they are more important than politics.
If we keep families together, we can keep countries together, and we have a shot at world peace.

The pursuit of happiness

August 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

Summer is drawing to a close. Teachers (and thus, psychologists working in the schools) go back to work next week. For the last several years, this has caused the onset of depression for me. I love my work, but since moving to Minnesota in 2003, I’ve struggled with the 6-month winters.
I love Minnesota, but I get cabin fever by the end of January. It might be because I was raised in the southern part of Iowa. We actually had spring in March. You know, when spring is supposed to come. Native Minnesotans encourage me to try one of the many winter sports in an effort to have a positive relationship with winter. I tried several. That’s probably a story unto itself, but let me just say I am less than adept at winter sports.
Last year, we had three snows in October, and still had a snow day in mid-April. The length of the winter was particularly difficult, and I was talking about retiring early, let me tell you!
We can’t always run away from our problems, though. So my husband and I have worked hard to set up things that will help us get through the winter with happier moods. (Apparently I share my unhappiness with him.) We’ve (he’s) built raised beds with a lattice background. I put the flowers in, and they are wonderful, but I know they won’t be around in the winter. Therefore, we bought several birdhouses and painted them bright colors. They are hung between eight and ten feet off the ground. I’m hoping the snow does not get that high.
We also installed a huge fountain with lights. (Yes, I helped with that.) The sound is peaceful, and we’re going to run some windshield-washer fluid through it to keep it running down to around 10 degrees above zero. [Note: We put netting over it to keep the birds out, so they won’t get sick. We installed a heated birdbath for the birds.]
And that’s another thing. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of watching the birds at birdfeeders, so we hung four of them up to be able to see from different windows. I used to keep birdfeeders years ago. I don’t know why I never got them out when we moved to this house.
In the winter, I tend to not go anywhere after the sun goes down…except home from work. My husband and I have resolved to go to events at least once a month during the winter months. That may not sound like much, but believe me, with our schedules, it’s a great start.
I realize you might not care about my difficulty with winter, but I wanted to make a point about dealing with things we don’t like, but can’t get away from. It’s a good idea to spend some time figuring out what makes you happy. Then you can work to surround yourself with whatever it is. Too often, we treat happiness as something that might happen to us…or not. Taking an active role in getting things that make you happy into your life gives you some power. You can impact your own happiness instead of waiting passively for it to occur.
This is also a good idea for your children. Help them figure out activities that make them happy. Their first idea might just be asking for more toys, but you can help them realize that more toys won’t make them happier. It’s really more specific than that. Trust me, there are a lot of wealthy people who have a lot of toys, and they are no happier than those of us who are not wealthy.
I have a great niece who started showing pigs at 4-H projects when she was about eight years old. She does not live on a farm. She was given the opportunity by a neighbor who had pigs. You might be surprised to know that I used to have no idea what showing pigs was. I’ve seen her do it now, though, so I at least know what it is. She’s good at it. She’s gone to national competitions for it…and won. Now at the age of 13 or so, she’s still into showing animals, and her passion has spread to her cousins who are now all involved in 4-H projects.
They are learning responsibility. [Did you know the pigs have to be walked twice a day???? This is on top of their school activities.] These children are polite, courteous, and well-behaved. They have found a wholesome activity that involves the entire family. And they have found…happiness.
You’re welcome to give it a try!