Sunday, June 26, 2022



Have you ever felt like you just wanted the world to go away? The real name for this feeling is sensory overload and this can hit any one, at any time, and at any age. Nothing is majorly wrong with us if we ever feel this way. We all have these moments of anxiousness, some more than others. Really, it is my belief that some of us are better at knowing what strategies to use to help in overcoming sensory overload. These are the strategies that work for me and in today's times, I just thought it might be a good idea to share some of them.

Some of the things that can take my senses to an overload status can be a tv or music that is just way too loud for me to enjoy, or being at a public pool where the noise level is way out of control. When I was working at a school, walking into the school cafeteria where 350 children were all eating or in line getting ready to eat or in line to throw their trash away and all speaking loudly to be heard over the other 349 children yelling -- this was most definitely a BIG sensory overload for me. 

Then throw in the smells of the food and the lighting, not to mention the smell of the mop water cleaning up the messes made. I had trouble walking in the cafeteria and then one day the administrative team, of which I was a part of, came up with the wonderful (not) idea of helping the teacher assistants out so they could do their jobs of tutoring the kindergarten students. This was a good thing. The Superintendent and his Board took away more than half of the assistants we had. So who lost out? The children. There was no one to tutor them during the three hours that it took to have lunches going on in our large school. We, as the admin. team each had a 30 minute duty. It was just about all I could do to help out in this way. There were some parents and teachers who told us that we should have a silent lunch. We decided as a team that it just was not quite fair to do that. They needed a time to talk with one another after being quiet in their classroom environment. All we could do was to walk up and down and try to stop the ones who were yelling or getting up out of their seats or God forbid throwing food across the room. Sound easy? Go volunteer for a day and find out for yourself. I quickly learned some strategies that helped me deal with this overload just to make it through the 30 minutes. 

I could not wear headphones. 

Inappropriate! Also, a weighted vest was just too hot to wear. I did put on a apron to help protect my clothes from food on little ones hands or milk that was knocked over just as I walked by. So I just thought of it as my weighted vest using my imagination.

I chewed gum to help get my mind where it needed to be. I thought about that bubble bath when I was able to go home to get all of the gunge off of me. 

Plus, I used my journal to validate my feelings; that it was ok to feel this way. I had to make a sense of some kind of control over what seemed to be uncontrollable things. That helped to soothe my soul. 

Thinking of what dinner my husband and I would put together and then what movie we would watch together. He really did know that I could not take some loud and crazy action movie. Actually, even though retired for a few years now, I still can't take loud music or movies. Guns going off and yelling in a movie just make me more anxious. I need movies like When Harry Met Sally, Love Actually, Steel Magnolias, etc. He watches the loud movies with headphones while I write, paint or read. What a saint he is!

A great strategy that works for me now is to talk it out with my dogs. They always listen and never judge me or talk back.  

In test after test, pets have been proven to lower their owners' blood pressure and decrease anxiety.

There comes a time that we all must lighten our load. This is done by relaxing our need to relax by working on relaxing our attention and what is happening around us by using some of the strategies that I have mentioned. Some of the standards that we set up for ourselves are just not really attainable. It is ok to set our goals high, just be realistic about it. Truly, it all boils down to relaxing our resistance to uncertainty. Let it be! Somehow, things all work out. 

By the way, during that bubble bath, light a few candles around the tub, turn on some soft smooth jazz, and have a glass of red wine.  

Sunday, June 19, 2022



Father's Day means many things to different people based on what their experiences are. Up until I was around 5 or 6 years of age is my only experience of having a Dad. My parents divorced at this time in my life. And I never saw him again. We moved in with my grandparents. Luckily, I had a grandfather who was my world. I still remember my Mom saying for me to be careful of what I asked for from him because if I asked the the moon, he would find a way to get it for me. Looking back, I can now understand what she meant. I was careful and knew my limitations. We were not wealthy, although not hurting for money either. He was a DIY kind of man and if I wanted stilts, he made them. When my brother wanted a skateboard, he made one. There was nothing he could not make for us and it was always special. No one else had one like ours. 

My own marriage also ended in divorce. The children were older but it still hurt them, probably more than a younger child like my brother and myself. That is hard to say. As the years went by, we all survived. Such is life. 

Then came the time that I met someone else and somehow from the very beginning I knew it was meant to be. Never had I felt like this before. It took a little time for my kids to warm up to the idea of a new man in my life and for his children, a new woman in his life. We never pushed and just let things happen as they happened. Neither one of us wanted to be a Mom or Dad to each others' children. Just be there for them if they needed us. We went with the love and married.

One thing for sure was that all four of our kiddos got along famously.

Let's move forward through some very happy years. Now was the time that our daughter was getting married. (all of us do not like the term step mother or father or son or daughter) We are introduced as Mom or Dad. And to help some people along we will say this was my biological daughter who lived here and was planning a wedding. She had no one to walk her down the aisle. Steve suggested her Uncle or her brother or even both brothers. She wanted him. To the point that she came over and proposed on her knee to him, "Will you walk me down the aisle?" She had balloons and a diamond wine stopper as a gift. 

How could he refuse? 

It was a beautiful wedding at a historic mansion and luckily the heat gave way for a gorgeous day.

That was wedding number one. The next wedding was in New Orleans and it was my biological son. And what a wedding it was. Even ended in a Second Line parade down Canal Street. It was spectacular.

As you can see, "Our children are most definitely Our children." He is an amazing Dad and a wonderful role model. I love him dearly! And both married children have kids of their own. Happy Father's Day to Craig and Doug also!

To Fathers everywhere enjoy this special day!

Sunday, June 12, 2022



Do we really know what the word relax means and how good it is for us? If you look it up in the dictionary it is from the Latin word relaxare which then goes on to say "relax, loosen, open, stretch out, widen again, make is an activity. It actually is the practice of loosening the grips of stress and tension that we as humans accumulate throughout the day. It is essential and productive and never is a waste of time. So as we age, which we can not stop; we can lay back and enjoy it and know some tips on how to do so gracefully.

The following are just some guidelines that I found through researching what older people believed in helping them to age gracefully. DNA plays a big part but so do other things that we eat, drink and do.

First some good news: butter is better for you than margarine. So if you can switch back to butter you are helping your health. Of course, moderation in all is the key. 

Overall, taking care of our skin is very important. Sunscreen, hats, facials, stop smoking if you still are, cut back on alcohol, invest in a humidifier and take oily supplements. Various oils are good for our bodies, inside and out. Enjoy a few glasses of wine now and then. Be careful how these things affect our skin. A good aesthetician can help in these matters. Staying out of tanning beds (which I was surprised they are still around) and using a good skin exfoliant are two simple tips we could all take care of. Specialty stores sell exfoliating mitts and sell exfoliants or you can make your own scrubs using coffee grounds and sugar. Don't forget keeping your neck in the picture.

The next tips are fairly self-explanatory:
  • find a furry friend - Having a cat or a dog helps to keep us on our toes.

  • take cold showers - I will be the first one to say that I just can't do this no matter how good it is for my skin. I have cut back on the hot water to more of a luke warm temperature - the best that I can do.
  • stay hydrated... One can live for a while without food but we won't last a day without water. It is like a natural lubricant for our bodies, as it keeps our organs in working order. The rule of thumb is to try for 8 glasses a day. If you have a special water bottle, then it makes it easier to know how much you are drinking.

  • dental hygiene... Nothing can age us faster than a mouthful of grey, yellowed or rotten teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing along with visiting your dentist twice a year is the key.

  • never stop smiling and laughing...This is one of the easiest ways to look and feel younger. Smile lines are the best lines to have because they mean that you are living a full and happy life.
  • less is more when it comes to make-up...It takes time to use less to get that fresh, more youthful appearance. Always take off make-up before bed so that your skin can breathe. 

self expression...Whether it be in doing what you love, wearing your favorite colors, seeing your friends regularly, meditating, getting outside more or exercising - just find what makes you happy.

  • being grateful and appreciating the world around you and loving your partner with reckless abandonment can all make us feel happier - just as sitting up straighter, getting more sleep and exercising our writing muscles (even if it is a sentence or two in a journal about your day) This can help you become more organized in thoughts and daily practices.

    Never underestimate a yearly physical or the power of a good therapist. Our physical and mental health are teammates. 
We all know and have heard what we should try to avoid or at the very least eat less of:

So after reading my blog did I make you not be able to RELAX?

That was not my intention. I think that we all knew most of these tricks in helping us to age gracefully. If you are like me then you may need a crash reminder course in some things now and then. 
One of my favorite quotes is from Meryl Streep, "You have to embrace getting older." So, why not do it gracefully?

Sunday, June 5, 2022




Wouldn't it be great if there were manuals on how to raise children? When my first child was born my Mom came to be with me and stayed for two weeks. When she left, I panicked. What was I to do, how would I know if it would be the right thing, there was no book to tell you exactly what to do. All I knew was that no one ever said it would be easy. At the time that I was a first time Mom there was a book that I was told about written by Dr. Spock. It had some good suggestions and some that even my pediatricians laughed at. So, the one thing that I learned early was there is not always a specific answer on how to handle certain situations. 

All I know is that 17 months later, another little baby arrived. A girl first and now a boy. At first, she was not that happy to have him around and wanted us to take him back. Having two in diapers, a husband who traveled usually 3 out of 4 weeks, and my Mom living 1,000 miles away did not make me happy. I had to pull up my boots and suck it up buttercup. I was the Mom here and I needed to act like one and try to be the best one that I could be.

Somehow, I managed to get through the infant years. And, no, it does not get easier...just different. Through researching I did find that there basically are four styles of parenting. Usually, we fall into one style. Sometimes, I know from my own experience that I could have a characteristic from one of the other styles that was not exactly the best way to raise children. But hey! We all are humans. As long as I caught myself, I needed to forgive myself and move forward.

It really does not take a rocket scientist to look at these four examples and figure out which would be the best way to raise a child. I always tried to strive to be in the block of the Authoritative role. I wanted to not be bossy but to create positive relationships and to set guidelines. The character that young children will grow up with will be what they were trained to have. This type of parent seems to be more flexible with boundaries set but encouraging their children's independence within those limits.

Today's world I see so many parents glued to their smart phones, texting or whatever. Put the electronics away and be there for your child. If a parent is disengaged and uninvolved, they are taking on a limited parenting role to the point of being Neglectful. Which leads us to another type of parenting. It is one thing to be busy for a short while and explain this to your child and then another to just be downright not there for them. What are they learning from what you are teaching by how you are living? Remember the Harry Chapin song? "Cat's In the Cradle?" The little boy asking his father to play and the father too busy today due to his job? Then when the father got older and had time, his son did not have time to give to him. hmmmmm

As an educator I can tell you how children turn out if they have Indulgent parents that are too permissive. These parents may be attentive but not able to set boundaries. They tend to want to be their child's friend instead of the parent. It just does not work that way. 
Just as it does not work with the Authoritarian parent who seeks to have a high level of control over their children and the decisions they make. Everyone needs some space. If we are the parents have set the guidelines then this is possible. When I heard children talking back to their parents in my office, I ended up correcting them. These children are not only being disrespectful, but even another adult should not speak rudely to another adult. There is a proper way to voice opinions. 

No one ever said parenting would be easy.