About Those New Year’s Resolutions…

 

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How can I be a better parent to these two this year?

January is a great time to think about how we can be better—whether it’s nutrition, working out, cleaning closets, quitting bad habits, or getting more work done. It’s also an ideal time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. I try to set realistic goals for the New Year and not something too huge or unrealistic. It amazes me how the time flies by and stuff I was sure to get done by summer managed to get by me—again!

I ran into a slew of parenting tips to start the New Year. If you browse through daily newspapers and blogs, all sorts of parents will tell you how to be a better parent in 2018. In The Herald-Tribune from Florida, two moms with nine kids between them, Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman, wrote “PARENTING: The goal of the elementary years is independence.” Although their article focuses on the elementary years, it’s something I can still work on with my kids. They are in transition points in their life, becoming adults. Independence is something they crave, yet they still want to be pampered and taken care of by mom and dad. Here’s some of the advice from Jenni and Jody:

 

“Most people embrace the idea of goal setting just before the new year, especially when it comes to personal, professional and financial growth. But how about setting goals for our children’s growth?

If you have an elementary aged child, this is the perfect time to set some goals for your child’s independence.

For starters, the elementary years are the training ground for learning to take care of themselves and their things. It’s the season when they develop habits of brushing their teeth, washing their hands, making their beds and keeping their space clean and organized.

Life is busy and often it’s easier to pick up the toys or do the dishes ourselves. But if we start the new year with the goal of helping our kids become independent, it can prevent us from doing things for our children that they should be learning to do for themselves.

This means taking the time to carefully teach them these skills and then coach them along as they become more and more proficient. In the end, it will save time as we nurture and cultivate independent kids who can take care of themselves and contribute to the household.

The elementary years are also the time to begin teaching our kids to become academically independent, to take responsibility for their education. It starts by giving them systems and tools that will help them become more mature students.

For example, we can create a checklist for our kids and then help them end each day by cleaning out their backpacks, making sure they have everything they need for the next day and writing down questions to ask their teachers about things they didn’t understand in their homework.

We can also set goals during the elementary years to help our kids learn to advocate for themselves. Of course we always want our children to know they are supported and that, in their homes, they are part of a family (a community) that operates as a team, where everyone is loyal to one another and committed to each other’s success. But that doesn’t mean that we fight our kids’ battles for them. No, our job is to help our kids become independent and learn to effectively stand up for themselves.”

I read “8 resolutions for better parenting in the New Year” By David G. Allan on CNN’s website. He had some good practical advice that starts with being in the moment. I get admonished by my daughter for not paying attention. It’s usually because of my iPhone. I confess that I get busy looking at texts or emails. My son will text me while I’m with my daughter, and she’ll say “I’m here with you now!” A good goal for me in 2018 is to put my phone down! It reminds me of a video by “Smog and Fog” called “Put Your Phone Down.” 

Here are the first three tips out of eight from Allan:

“If you’re looking to improve your parenting, you’re not alone. In my opinion, it’s an essential area of course correction, up there with weight loss, better eating and better spending, arguably more essential.

What’s beautiful about parenting resolutions is that your kids benefit too, and likely your spouse and any potential future grandkids. You get a lot of bang for your resolution buck.
As with any resolution, honestly examine areas where you feel you could be doing better or want to improve. Below are eight parenting resolution thought-starters in categories we all probably need to give more attention in the coming year.

Being there
There’s a lot of talk, many articles and a long shelf of books on mindful parenting. But it all boils down to this: When you’re with your kids, give them full, curious and happy attention.

Be more laissez-faire about some things
You may be burdening yourself with milestones and cultural expectations that really don’t matter if you pause to think about them. Here are some developmental achievements you don’t really need to waste time, energy and anxiety pushing. Rest assured these will almost always work themselves out in due time.

Don’t drive under the influence of your phone
Here comes your PSA: More than 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016, according to National Safety Council estimates. Many roadway fatalities involve drunken driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts (so don’t do any of those things, clearly), but increasingly, accidents are being caused by people texting or talking while driving.

DWD: Driving While Distracted
Fifty-one percent of teens reported seeing their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving, according to a Common Sense Media poll last year. And when you repeatedly model a behavior in front of your kids, that’s called teaching.”

 

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Me and my son in San Francisco.

What are your goals for the New Year? Did you make a list of New Year’s Resolutions?

 

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Have you ever had a gray day?

 

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My backyard is gray today.

 

I’m having a bit of a gray day today. Yesterday was my first full workday home in two weeks and I was filled with energy and enthusiasm. Today, not so much. Maybe it’s the weather. It’s decidedly gray out there. And raining!

We had two leaks on opposite sides of the house. One in our bedroom closet and the other in my daughter’s room. The repairs were done less than a month ago. This is our first rain since, and I’m not happy to report that I’m waiting for the roofer to return to fix the once again leak in my closet! We just had the closet replastered and painted, and now that will need to be done again. I have yet to get my stuff back in there. And I’m desperate to do so. The good news is that the roof repair in my daughter’s (empty) bedroom is holding.

Combine the gray, the rain, the leaks, and my not hearing back from the orthopedic surgeon to find out when he can see me—and I guess my gray day is one of frustration.

I’ve read in the news that five people have died from this rainstorm in Montecito. Montecito is a magical town adjacent to Santa Barbara. It’s where the gorgeous old Spanish mansions are with long winding driveways. It’s where celebrities live like Oprah and Ellen. But because of the Thomas fire, and now the deluge of rain, hills of mud are sliding through the town wiping out houses and causing deaths. You can read the Los Angeles Times report on the mudslides and flooding here. The freeway is closed, people are stranded, and hey, I don’t have it so bad, after all! Prayers to everyone affected by the fire and rains.IMG_0039

What do you do to lift your spirits during a gray day?

For Your Health: Just Breathe! And Act Silly!

 

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Act like a child to improve your health. You too can pretend to be Sailor Moon!

I’m beginning the New Year with a focus on health. It is something I attempt each year, to do something more and better than the year before. I started walking seven days a week several years ago, and have doubled the miles I do each day. Then, I started swimming and I definitely have improved—from not wanting to drown to swimming five thousand yards. In addition to freestyle, I’m getting the hang of breast and back, too. Butterfly is still an enigma. However, this year after I tweaked my knee skiing, my health goals have little to do with activity.

Instead, I ran across two articles that I can do while awaiting knee surgery—work on breathing and acting silly. Yes, according to these articles breathing and acting like a child can improve your physical and mental health.

When I took a prep course to pass the Series 7, a financial advisor exam, our instructor Tina from Training Consultants gave us some advice about breathing. She said during the exam, to stop every 45 minutes and breathe. She said to lift our arms to the sky and inhale through our nose, release our arms slowly and exhale through our mouth and repeat five or six times. She guaranteed a five-percentage-point higher score if we did the breathing during the test. I did it and didn’t worry about looking weird. I wanted to pass–and did.

In The New York Times “Want a Better Workout? Just Breathe” by TATIANA BONCOMPAGNI the article gives several tips to better breathing, gives some app ideas, and tells you the benefits:

 

Twice a week, often between video calls or meetings, Andrew Lowenthal takes a break from work to open an app on his phone that helps him focus on his breathing.

The payoff? Better stress management, clearer thinking at work and — to Mr. Lowenthal’s surprise — more strength and power in the gym. “It’s such a fundamental part of being human but not something that we think about often,” Mr. Lowenthal said about his breathwork.

As the executive director of Out in Tech, a Manhattan-based nonprofit, Mr. Lowenthal, 33, typically spends three to 10 minutes on an app created by Inscape, a New York meditation studio. He inhales, holding and exhaling his breath for various lengths of time according to prompts. Mr. Lowenthal said that he now exercises more regularly and takes care of himself better because of his breathing exercises. “It definitely helps me with my endurance,” he said.

Long a key part of meditation and some kinds of yoga, breathwork is now becoming a discipline in its own right, with proponents offering classes, one-on-one sessions and apps dedicated to the practice. And whereas the focus has predominantly been on the mental and psychological benefits of breathwork, fitness industry professionals are increasingly saying that it can also enhance athletic performance or speed muscular recovery after a workout.

As far as acting silly, I will always remember when we were visiting our daughter in Salt Lake City and she was cranky and angry. We tried to lighten the mood, but it seemed to frustrate her more. Then, my husband stopped at a Walgreen’s for a quick errand. A few minutes later, he sat behind the steering wheel and slipped on a big red clown nose (which he found in the store.) He turned and looked at my daughter and we couldn’t stop laughing.

I found a story on a website called StudyFinds.org, “Be Sillier For Long, Happy Life? Study Finds Key To Feeling Younger Is Acting Younger.” This article inspired me because I felt so much younger by taking up something I did as a child—skiing. However, it was short lived as my old body didn’t live up to my memories. So, I may try some card or board games instead–or just stick my tongue out at someone while waving my hands from my ears.

LONDON — It’s hard to ignore tired feet and that constantly-achy back as we get older, but a new study finds that a key to a long life of good health and always feeling younger — no matter our age — is to simply act younger from time to time.

Researchers from Healthspan, a supplier of vitamins and health supplements in the United Kingdom, polled 2,000 British adults on the effects of nostalgia and youthful behavior on mental and physical health.

Woman wearing gag Groucho Marx glasses
Being silly gets tougher as we get older, but a new study finds that acting immature is actually good for your health and well-being, and a great way to start feeling younger.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that occasionally forgetting you’re an adult and tapping into a more immature mindset — be it watching old cartoons, pulling pranks on friends, or playing classic board games — was important for their health.

 

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Smile and don’t forget to breathe!

What goals do you do to improve your health each New Year?

 

Why I’m Thankful My World Slowed Down

 

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Waffles snoring and asleep on my lap with his Nylabone.

I’m sitting in my daughter’s house in Utah with a torn ACL from a ski accident barely able to hobble around the house, wearing an epic knee brace. My life has slowed down dramatically and it gives me a different perspective on my days. I’m thankful that I’m not in pain. I’m trying to make the most out of the situation and strangely enough, I’m feeling positive. There are so many things in my life to be thankful for.

First, I’m thankful for my son and his girlfriend and the days they spent with us—before my accident. I’m thankful my son had returned to his home before I fell and he wasn’t with me. I will treasure the time skiing with my son, just like the days when he was a child living at home. It’s an activity that he and I shared and will still do (next year when I’m healed.) The time with our son is not very frequent now that he’s in the Bay Area and a working man.

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My son and his girlfriend at The Little America Coffee Shop for dinner after skiing.

 

Second, I’m thankful for our good friends who came and shared their company with us over the New Year’s weekend. It was a 12-hour drive for them and I don’t take their sacrifice to leave their home and make the trek to stay with us lightly. The Thompson fire came within 400 yards of their home, and I’m thankful their home was spared and they are okay.

Third, I’m thankful for the patience my husband had for everyone taking off cross country and downhill skiing, leaving him in the house alone while we were out adventuring. Because of his bad knee, he didn’t want to join us. Ha! Now I can truly relate.

Fourth, I’m thankful for my daughter’s pug Waffles, who has been a comfort to me since the accident. He’s a good dog and likes nothing more than to snuggle and nap in my lap or next to my side. It sounds silly, but he’s wonderful company. I’m enjoying the sound of his snoring.

Fifth, I’m thankful for my daughter’s concern and her arranging friends to stop by and take Waffles out for walks. I love her texts and calls and the memories from the week we spent together over Christmas.

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My daughter and I riding the chairlifts in Deer Valley this past summer.

 

Sixth, I’m thankful for rest. I’ve been napping and sleeping so much better than I have in years. I slept from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. without waking up once. Plus, I am napping during the day. I believe this ability to rest and sleep uninterrupted is God’s way of healing my body.

Seventh, I’m thankful for friends. I have received notes and calls of encouragement, concern, and an offer of a visit from a friend close-by. Often, my life is too busy and I don’t want to be bothered with other people. This has been a good reminder to reach out to friends and their importance in my daily life.

 

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A Winter’s view from my daughter’s neighborhood.

 

What things are you thankful for in your life?

 

 

About This Adventuring: The Toboggan Ride Was Fun

 

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A perfect day at Alta, Utah.

All my excitement of the New Year came to a crash on the slopes when I made one turn and lost my balance. I went skidding down the mountain spinning on my back and side—but only after feeling a rather awful snap in my left knee.

I stood after a friendly stranger helped me up and I thought I was okay. I skied a hundred yards more and “yikes!” The pain in my knee was sharp, intense and I collapsed. After a third try with the same result, I told my ski companion that I needed help down the mountain. I crossed my poles and we waited until a ski instructor stopped and called a number for the ski patrol to come get me.

Long story, short…actually, it’s a short story because it was only the first turn of my third run on a perfectly beautiful, sunny day in Alta. I was lifted into a toboggan with my left leg in a splint and wrapped like a burrito as ski patrol Chris, skied me to a snowmobile patrol, who took me the rest of the way to the clinic. I held onto a little flap of tarp over my head because the ski patrol Chris said it would keep the snow kicked up by the snowmobile from hitting my face on the way off the mountain.

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My view from the Ski Patrol toboggan.

 

The nurse, doctor and receptionist were really kind. They empathize with all their patients whose vacation has been ruined. In my case, I’m not worried about the torn ACL ruining my skiing days. I’m worried about the rest of this week taking care of my daughter’s house and puppy. (I’m in Salt Lake City, Utah to housesit and puppysit for my daughter, who is with her swim team in Florida. I thought I’d take advantage of her proximity to gorgeous ski resorts and ski for the first time in a decade.)

I have a lot going on and I don’t have time for this. In addition to taking care of the pup, there’s a swim meet I was going to compete in early February. Also, I’m traveling back to Salt Lake for my daughter’s senior day and final dual meet. Plus her final PAC 12 swim meet in Seattle. My cousin is coming to visit. My high school friend plans to stay with me. Yikes again. How do I have surgery and participate in all the momentous occasions ahead? What will I do to keep my sanity without my daily walks and swims?

I think a lot will depend on my attitude and outlook. After a good cry that hasn’t happened yet, I’ll pull myself together and face life every hour the way it’s put before me. I remember after my big accident in college, when I was crossing a street and hit by a pick-up truck going 35 miles per hour, it hit me to appreciate the little blessings in life. Don’t take anything for granted. And live life the best you can.IMG_9968

Adventuring Into the New Year: Day One

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I’m pup-sitting this good boy.

Now that the busy family days of Christmas are behind us, filled with sweet memories and fun, I’m off on an adventure of my own making. I’m house and puppy-sitting for my daughter. For a few days, I have family and friends with me and I’m going to attempt to ski after too many years away from it.

We used to be a ski family before swimming took over our lives. My husband and I would trek up to Big Bear more than once a week (before kids) and ski with a group of friends who lived next to the slopes. Those are some of the special New Year’s Day memories of waking up early and being the first to arrive on the slopes with our friends. We tear across the mountain from one side to the other. We’d end the day with big family dinners in our friend’s home and New Year’s Eve was always lobster flown in from Maine.  After kids, we’d put the kids in ski school for a few hours so we could get some good runs in. We spent several holidays in Colorado skiing with my brother’s family.

Then swimming happened and we no longer had time for the mountains. For non-swimmers, the sport is literally 50 weeks a year, 6 days per week training plus weekend meets that can last one day to five. Once the kids are serious, there’s no skipping workouts and skiing became an afterthought.

So what’s my adventure today? I’m going to hit the slopes. My son and his girlfriend want to ski too (it will be her first time ever). Plus our good friends who survived the Thompson fire have joined us as well. Yesterday was a travel day and it was exhausting for everyone. After a good night’s sleep, we’re all ready to ski, although there’s not much snow. I’ll be honest that I’m apprehensive after not skiing for a decade or so. We may try cross-country skiing today which is something I’ve never done. But we will be making memories.

 

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At one point, the pool took over our lives and we quit being a ski family. Now it’s time to return back to earlier days and hit the slopes.

What adventures do you have planned for the New Year?

 

How I Had Fun on New Year’s Eve

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Palm Springs Pool on New Year’s Eve

I did something I’ve never done before. It was on New Year’s Eve.

December was a crazy, busy month. I’m sure most parents can agree with how the clock runs out at the end of the day in December, and there is always so much more that needs to be done.

First, I loved having my two kids home from college. Don’t get me wrong about that. But, it does take time and effort on my part. My daughter came home as soon as she could before Christmas. My daughter’s trip was quick because she had to return for intense Christmas break swim training.

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Master Swimmers on New Year’s Eve

My son stayed through New Year’s and not only brought his girlfriend, but a couple from Sweden, who are here studying “abroad.”

Add that to a number of other Christmas duties, like sending out Christmas cards, gifts, and preparing our home for Christmas, and it was especially busy. Yes, I kept up with my various writing projects, too.

Which brings me back to New Year’s Eve—the last day of the year. What I did has to do with swimming (big surprise!) As a new swimmer who began US Masters Swimming in April, this was a big step for me.

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Two of my friends, Lori and Karla. They both swam 100 100s.

I went to the New Year’s Eve Masters fundraiser for Angel View, hosted by my kids age group and my masters team, Piranhas. I swam double what I have ever done in my life — 5,000 yards or 50 100s. I enjoyed being a part of the team and the effort. There were more than 40 of us in the pool, including my husband and many friends, swimming and raising money for a great charitable organization here in Palm Springs. #piranhapride!

“New Year’s Eve Angel View 100 x 100s” was started by managing partner of Maryanov Madsen Gordon and Campbell, CPAs, Masters swimmer Steven Erickson, along with our Piranha Swim Team CEO and Head Coach Jeff Conwell. Here are the numbers so far:

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The numbers from the Piranha FB page

I feel strongly about Angel View because my daughter and I volunteered for six years to bring a little joy to the people living in Angel View homes. It was an experience that we both benefited from, and helping there brought not only tears to us, but extreme moments of joy. You certainly learn to appreciate the basic things in life, like your ability to stand, walk and eat. 

“Angel View’s mission is helping children and adults with disabilities reach their maximum potential. Each year, we help hundreds of people make significant gains toward independence through three primary programs. We accept clients without regard to race, color or national origin. We make every effort to accommodate our clients’ cultural and religious customs.”

—from the Angel View website

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Coach Jeff with a few of the Angel View residents who visited the pool on New Year’s Eve.

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Steven Erickson, who started this fundraiser four years ago,standing with my fellow swim mom and master swimmer Sunday, who swam 80 100s!