By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Stress. Yuck. We are all feeling that more than ever, right? (Isn’t that the understatement of the world...lol.). There is nothing good about stress; stress is one of the most harmful emotions to our mental and physical health. Numerous studies have shown that chronic stress can weaken the immune system, increase blood pressure, speed up aging, worsen sleep, and decrease the body’s feel-good chemicals of dopamine and serotonin. I don’t know about you but there is nothing on that list that I want more of in my life (‘Cause we all want to look older, said nobody EVER.)
These negative effects of stress are largely due to the activation of the body’s fight or flight response. Put simply, this is our body’s survival response to literally save you from bodily harm (for more information, check out this blog post from SoulShine Life Connections from October, “Take a Deep Breath: Save the Fear Response for a Tiger Chasing You” https://www.findyoursoulshine.com/blog/take-a-deep-breath-save-the-fear-response-for-a-tiger-chasing-you). Stress is a constant battle in our lives and a threat to your health and well-being. And, it is a huge roadblock to you living your best life.
Listen up! I don’t want you to miss this #truthbomb I’m about to drop on you. Even right now, in the midst of a national crisis, you do NOT need survival-mode stress level in your life. And, here’s why. Survival-mode stress makes you focus on the next move for safety and prevents you from coming up with long-term solutions. We need all of our critical thinking ability to navigate this time, and survival-mode stress is not going to help you.
Now that I have your attention, it’s time to give you the power back. Stress isn’t as hard to defeat as you might think. You know where it starts? With you and a choice. Yup. It’s that simple. How YOU choose to react is how to defeat stress. You can CHOOSE to feel blessed instead of stressed, CHOOSE hope over fear. And, what superpower should you use? Gratitude.
Being grateful flips the switch, DreamChasers. Study after study have shown it is impossible to feel stress or negativity when you are expressing and experiencing gratitude. Gratitude releases those feel-good chemicals of dopamine and serotonin that stress holds hostage back into your system. This starts the pendulum of positivity swinging to the hope direction. A mindset based in gratitude, hope, and positivity is the difference maker and will start you on your banishment of stress from your life.
You might be saying, “Great. But, what do I do??”. Never fear, DreamChasers, SoulShine would never leave you hanging without a solution! Here’s the SoulShine Blessed Instead of Stressed Strategy:
Flipping the script not only makes you feel blessed instead of stressed but also see the possibilities instead of impossibilities, recognize solutions through the complaints, positivity rather than negativity, hope shining through fear. And, that, DreamChasers, is how you get past the roadblock and back on the path to your best, most inspired, and purposeful life.
By Jackie White
Meet Tracy Traeder. She is an energy manager, happiness and wellness facilitator, intuitive developer, meditation facilitator, compassion promoter and blogger. She sounds like a woman following her passion and she is, but it wasn’t always that way.
For many years, Tracy suffered from a myriad of ailments including fibromyalgia, migraines, back problems and insomnia. She kept her physical pain to herself and pushed through each day. She says she was a “hot mess’, but felt that this was the hand she was dealt and there was nothing she could do. So, how did Tracy go from a hot mess to someone who is leading a purposeful life? You could call it a wake up call of epic proportions...
Let’s rewind a bit. Tracy grew up in a large family and not only has 5 siblings, she also has a twin brother. Her two older brothers became accountants and Tracy found she too had a knack for working with numbers. The obvious choice for her as she entered college was to become an accounting major at the UW Madison. This choice would almost guarantee her a safe and secure job and although she did consider pursuing social work or psychology, she felt those choices were risky and that she didn’t have the courage or the belief system to do something different.
Tracy married and built a family with her husband Tim. She worked diligently in her job as an accountant for 13 years playing out a script that she thought she had to follow. She wasn’t finding fulfillment in her job. She again considered pursuing other career choices, but the thought of going back to school to pursue something else felt overwhelming. Ultimately, she chose to stay in the job that felt logical to her. At this point in time, she also added anxiety to her list of issues and was feeling that something really was just not right.
On September 11 2001, Tracy’s wake up call arrived. The attack on the United States shook her to the core. Thankfully, Tracy was not near the sites of the tragedies, but saw the devastation and loss of life being broadcast and it hit her hard. All the people who thought they “had time” to live out their lives, lost their lives in an instant. Tracy realized right then that she had to stop running on the hamster wheel that was her life. That tragedy was the catalyst for Tracy to say that wasn’t going to waste another day.
Tracy told her husband “I don’t want to go back to live this life that is not mine to be living”
During this time, Tracy was home on maternity leave with a newborn and her 3 year old. She told her husband that she couldn’t return to her accounting job and that she had to start really living her life and not just go through the motions. Thankfully, Tracy’s husband was on board and together they worked out the details. Tracy became a stay at home mom.
She began to feel some relief by caring for her children, but just as things were calming down, Tracy’s father’s prostate cancer re-surfaced. The doctors were doing all they could, but Tracy felt compelled to help her father and became focused on finding alternate therapies for him. As everyone knows, mothers are better than the FBI in researching information and Tracy was no exception.
Tracy attributes much of the knowledge she acquired on alternate therapies to her personal trainer. He introduced her to the concept of mind, body and spirit. What she was learning lit a fire in her soul. She began to really dig in and educate herself on positive psychology, health and wellness, mind care and spirituality. As she learned, she implemented some of the concepts and therapies for herself and began sharing them with close family and friends.
Tracy began to meditate and turn herself inward. She began to connect with the person who she always had been, but had long been buried under someone she wasn’t meant to be. As Tracy began to follow this path, her physical ailments almost miraculously fell away. She was feeling whole again. It had been a long time. Tracy now understands that because her mind and spiritual being was out of alignment, it caused her dis-ease resulting in all of the ailments. Once that was addressed, life became easier in all aspects.
This metamorphosis also triggered a memory Tracy had always seen in her mind. It was a flashing neon sign that said “Save the World”! Tracy always wondered what that was all about. Finally, after some time, she connected with what that meant for her and that was to share the teachings she had learned in order to educate others on the value of nurturing their mind, body and spirit.
She hoped to create ripples of healing for others as she healed herself. Tracy realized that during this time of discovery, she opened a door that held her passion in life. Her purpose and destiny were right there. When she realized the power in nurturing your mind, body and spirit, she knew she had to share this with others. Her personal trainer gave Tracy her first opportunity by asking her to lead a meditation class. She was hesitant, but decided that she needed to take that first step and just start. She started on a journey that at the time wasn’t clear, but it was fueled by her passion and each step forward became easier and easier. Tracy shares that for those who are wanting to follow a new path in life that taking the next small right step is the best way to propel yourself forward.
The integral connection between mind, body and spirit can create dramatic shifts in a person’s life. A mindset that aligns with who you really want to be in life can truly impact the quality of your life. Tracy feels that people can suffer physically like she did or can experience anxiety or depression as a result of disconnection with who you really want to be. Many people today live in a numbed state that not only numbs out the bad in life, but also the good in life. Tracy suggests a prescription for your soul by making the shift to reconnect with yourself and to follow your purpose in life. Doing this will bring you to a place of peace and of knowing that you are living the life you were supposed to live.
Tracy’s Top Tips for Reconnecting with Yourself
Pay attention - is your body or mind trying to tell you something?
Learn to allow life to unfold
Don’t resist going with your gut
Be curious about life
When challenges arise, arise to the challenge
Live life with love, forgiveness and compassion
Start a gratitude practice
When you begin to implement these things in your life you retrain the brain to connect on a deeper and more spiritual level. When you do this, your purpose in life will begin to be more clear.
One note on spirituality: Spirituality is not defined by any religion. Instead it is how you connect with power greater than yourself.
Today Tracy Lives in Fitchburg Wisconsin with her husband of 22 years, Tim. They have 3 children: Brady 21, Mackenzie 18 and Peyton 17. She is living out her purpose in life. She writes a blog called “Braving the Hot Mess” which can be found at www.bravingthehotmess.com. She also runs workshops and classes that help people realize the potential in their mind, body and spiritual wellness. Her website is www.tracytraeder.com.
Final note of thanks: Tracy and myself met in elementary school and over time were separated by high school, college and life. Somewhere along the way, I found Tracy’s classes and we were brought back together. I am thankful for her guidance and leadership in this area of mind, body, spirit as I can easily say, it’s unfolding has put me on the path to my destiny. Thanks Tracy, you have made a difference in my life!
By Jackie White
Scarlett is a 17 year old senior in high school who will very likely not be returning to school to finish up her senior year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Her hopes, dreams and memories of her last few months with friends are slipping away. Today, we feature her surprisingly positive view on being a senior during the quarantining required today.
This year was supposed to be a flagship year in our family. Our oldest child began her final year in high school. She was thrilled to know she had a whole year to be with friends and make those memories we all look back on with such great fondness. She had one foot in high school life, and her head in the clouds of her future. She was just hitting her stride as a senior! She only had one more semester to go before graduation and so many things to look forward to!
Then, the whole world went viral. Coronavirus was creeping across the continents and made its way to the shores of the United States. Never did we expect to encounter anything like this. To think, my biggest worry was that there might be rain on the day of my daughter’s graduation party. Seems trivial in the world we are dealing with right now.
I understand the situation is necessary, but the impact on high school seniors is significant. It is a major unexpected, frankly unfathomable disappointment. With each day that passes, memories and opportunities are missed. Milestones like the senior night at the final band concert, end of the year field trips, prom, spring sports, graduation and spending time with friends who will soon be moving on are memories that will likely not happen.
How are the seniors really handling this? I spoke with my daughter regarding her perspective on how her senior year has unfolded. Scarlett is 17 and is a graduating senior in high school. Her status to be honest, is unknown - is she done? Will she finish classes? How will she finish classes? All are really good questions. We begin our discussion looking back at her senior year so far.
Senior Year in the Rearview Mirror
Scarlett begins by reminiscing about her senior year so far. She feels grateful to have had the memories she has had. Looking back she is thankful to have been able to attend two senior homecomings, one at her school and another at a boyfriend’s school. She also attended the midwinter dance, played her flute during an assembly and participated in two band concerts. When Scarlett wasn’t at school, she was either with friends or working. She misses her friends a lot, but still can communicate via Snapchat and Facetime. Finally, her work in a local restaurant has been suspended at this time, but she really misses being a part of that community.
Scarlett, ironically, is grateful that her entire existence wasn’t hinged on her life within her high school walls. She empathetically feels for those whose identity was all about something to do with high school. She notes that the high school football star, the homecoming queen or those in the popular crowd may really be struggling right now because all that defined their life was ripped from out under them so unexpectedly.
A Positive Twist on Social Distancing
Addressing today’s social distancing and quarantining, Scarlett is observing complete social distancing. She feels it is her responsibility to stay home in order to benefit our country and its people. When asked how she is handling the social distancing. She states, “ It’s boring, but don’t I have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) because not a whole lot is going on”.
Scarlett shares that the social distancing has actually had quite a few benefits. “I've met a lot of new friends on Snapchat and Facetiming others. I'm learning new things since I have time to research things I am interested in. It’s been nice to have the time, but would rather not have to do it.” Scarlett warns that “if it (quarantining) goes on for more than 2 months I will go crazy.” I think many agree with that sentiment.
On the bright side, Scarlett says the social distancing, ironically, is bringing people together. She feels the drama and social media bullying has dropped off and that the situation has made them realize what they took for granted. She has met new friends because people are being more open to reaching out and chatting to people they may not have in person. She is enjoying huge group facetimes and talking to people daily.
She says to fill the time, she and many others are working on themselves. There are many positive challenges they are sharing online that help them build their confidence in themselves.
Is Everyone Social Distancing?
In the news, we keep hearing that the younger population is not following the social distancing rules. When I asked Scarlett about whether her friends are following the guidelines and are staying home, she confirmed not all of them are doing so. She said a few are still hanging out with other friends. She feels those friends have parents who aren’t enforcing social distancing. Scarlett has also noticed that a lot of the avoidance of social distancing behavior is coming from the teenage boys. She sees them posting videos of them hanging out in groups and even, unbelievably, having sleepovers.
Scarlett says that the kids who are not following the rules are “a little annoying because they are complaining about how long it (quarantining) is lasting but that it is because of them, the situation is being prolonged. Stating “ Even though I am a bit jealous, it’s the only way to get back to normal if we quarantine.”
Looking Forward...To What?
Looking forward Scarlett mentions she will miss many senior-only events including prom. Scarlett said, personally, she would be happy if she gets to dress up and go to dinner with friends and have some sort of celebration. She said one friend is trying to plan a big party for seniors for the summer. She mentions that one thing she'll be sad about is to not have a yearbook. “I love my yearbooks and now I won’t have one for my senior year”.
As for graduation, right now, it hasn’t been canceled, but Scarlett thinks it will be. She offers that perhaps there will be a substitute graduation. “It sucks because we worked really hard to be able to graduate and now it is not going to be a big deal. We are just not getting the proper send off”. She comments that she doesn’t think anything will be as fulfilling as it is supposed to be. She mentions that there will be no pictures in a cap and gown. No feeling of accomplishment or memories of celebrating such a pinnacle moment with friends. She admits if it comes to that, it is going to make her cry.
The special events will most definitely be missed, but most importantly, the prospect of not seeing her friends before they move on in their lives is the worst. She said it may be a really long time before she can ever see them again. It's as if the final bow has been taken and the curtain is closing, without the chance to even say goodbye.
The Glass is Half Full
A surprisingly mature Scarlett is looking on the positive side of things. “At the end of the day, I will be so grateful when things get back to normal and I know I will not take things for granted again”. She feels many of her friends feel the same way.
Looking to the future, Scarlett feels hopeful and excited. She says she is looking forward to moving out and going to college. Much to her mother’s dismay, she also says she can’t wait to get a tattoo and her nose pierced. Her future is bright and her excitement for stepping into her own independence is what she is most looking forward to right now.
Maybe these times will teach our teens and ourselves to be resilient. It is such a great skill to have in life. I am hopeful that our teens will look back on this time and will accept the absolute horrible timing of this event, but can see the silver lining. Scarlett said it best when she indicated that it is important to not take things for granted in life.
Sadly, there will not be a prom corsage, a yearbook or a memento from graduation to occupy shoeboxes on the top shelf of the closet, but instead let’s hope that inner strength, resilience and determination will be struck inside the souls of these senior high schoolers. That would be a real gift for them and the world.
Hang in there, and Shine On!
The Time is NOW to Embrace All The Awesome a Positive Mindset Brings (including 10 Tips to Get Started!)
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Let’s clear up a misconception, DreamChasers. Having a positive mindset is not being ignorant that bad things happen or having your head in the sand, so to speak. Rather, you approach a negative situation in a positive way and believe the best will happen, not the worst. While some people do appear to be wired more towards optimism, a positive mindset is a skill or habit, so it can be learned.
Did you just roll your eyes? Are you wondering why you should care?
Judgement free zone, DreamChasers. A short 7 years ago that was me. I never called myself a pessimist, I believe I called myself a realist to feel better. But, I definitely took the “prepare for the worst” mentality; that way, anything else was a huge win. (Spoiler, that’s pretty negative thinking.) One of the best things that has helped me on the journey to my best life is to continually work on positive mindset skills and habits. I mean, in its simplest form, if you are anticipating an outcome, why not expect the best possible outcome?
You all might have noticed by now, I like to know the how behind things. Knowing how helps me to understand the why and the what. Add in a little science base to this, and, bam, you are really speaking my language. So, this shouldn’t be a surprise that I went looking for the how behind a positive mindset. There are studies showing a huge list of health benefits to being positive, including the following:
The interesting thing about these studies is the exact mechanism of why positivity has such profound effects isn’t known. It could be that positive people lead healthier lives in general with more physical activity, better diet, less tobacco use, and less overuse of alcohol. It might be related to coping with stress and decreasing the negative effects of stress on the body. Or, it could be the endorphins and other life-enhancing hormones and chemicals released in the body. Most likely, it is a combination of all of these things, which is why it is hard to nail down. Regardless, here’s the take home; if something as simple as being positive can improve your life this much, why not try it?
The first step to a positive mindset is getting control of your self-talk and that little jerk, the Inner Critic. (For more information on this, check out this blog ). Put simply, self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be negative or positive; it might come from logic or reason while some comes from lack of information, typically resulting in a limited belief. When you stop to listen to this inner voice, you might notice a tendency towards positivity or negativity. Negative self-talk shows up in one of four ways:
There might be one or more of these that resonate with you; that is where a negative mindset is showing up in your life. My go-to was hands-down expecting the worst for any situation. Once I realized that was my roadblock to a positive mindset, I could dive into where it came from and start putting strategies into place to flip the script on that negativity. Here’s the thing, DreamChasers, this is just an automatic response or habit, which means, you can change it! Isn’t that powerful? Will it take practice? Yes. Will it take patience, grit, and perseverance? Yes. Will it be worth it? Yes. (Still not convinced? Go back and re-read the health benefits of positivity. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, DreamChasers.)
Got your attention? Per the usual, SoulShine is here to help you on your journey. Here are 10 Ways to Shift To a Positive Mindset:
Now what? Start. Just start, right now. Start practicing that positive mindset and turn that Inner Critic into your Inner Cheerleader. Your future self is already thanking you!
SoulShine SOULutions: Let’s Shift Your Mindset on Having Difficult Conversations with Your Kids - How to Give Difficult the Boot
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
When you become a parent, there are a myriad of thoughts swirling in your head, ranging in rationality. An innocuous thought of which diapers or bottles to use spirals quickly into, “Oh no! I used BPA-free bottles with my second but not with my first...have I set him up for cancer??”. Or, was that just me? While many of these topics may require some due diligence, there is something coming that is even more important, has a tendency to sneak up on even the most prepared parent, and WILL impact your child immediately and long term.
I am talking about how you handle having difficult conversations with your child. Let me be clear. There is a difference between awkward conversations that deal with the body changes of puberty or, ahem, what mom and dad were doing the other night and difficult conversations . I’m talking about hard topics that kids stumble into accidentally on the internet or hear on the news or that you want to prepare them for ahead of time like violence or sexual predators.
I know, we want to keep our kids in a little bubble of innocence and safety. One of my most prized roles as a mother is to protect these little humans fiercely (followed closely by keeping them alive...lol...and hopefully, molding them into acceptable members of society). My instinct is to protect them from all these horrible things. The truth, however, is that by sheltering my kids from all the bad, I am actually setting them up to be the next victim.
This hit home recently in our little, innocent town in Wisconsin. Our school’s superintendent was arrested and charged with several awful charges (out of respect to his family who had no idea, I am purposely being vague). It rocked us all on two levels; one, he fell into the you would never suspect category and, two, he was a teacher turned principal turned superintendent so way too close to our kids! My oldest son is in sixth grade and younger son is in second. Thanks to the internet, my oldest son knew as much as I did by the time he got home from school. During the school day, I consulted with my mom tribe and husband on how we would discuss with our two very different aged children. Did we want to talk about this horrible topic? Nope. Did we realize we HAD to? Yes. Why? We wanted to establish an open communication line with our kids for difficult topics, we wanted to be the source of the information and not media or friends, and this topic opened our eyes that we HAD to talk about the scary parts of the world to keep our kids safe.
These conversations do not have to be as hard as you think if you have a strategy going into it. Keep this in mind, depending on the age of your child, will depend on your strategy. The conversation we had with our 8 year old was done separately from our almost 12 year old and sounded totally different. For this reason, the following tips are broken down by age. You are the ultimate expert in your child and should decide the best way to conduct these conversations. The important part is to HAVE them!
Why Having Difficult Conversations is Crucial
SoulShine SOULution Tips: How to Have a Difficult (or Awkward) Conversation With Your Kids
There are times you come across such an awesome resource that you say to yourself, “Whoa, this is amazing and NEEDs to be shared!”. That was my reaction when I stumbled across these tips from www.commonsense.org (and, I realized I could not make them any better). I love that these take into consideration the development stage of each of these age groups. Go to the website for even more details on each tip!
Tips for kids ages 2-6 from commonsense.org
Development Cliff Notes:
Difficult Conversation Tips
Tips for ages 7-12 from commonsense.org
Development Cliff Notes:
Difficult Conversation Tips:
Tips for Teens from commonsense.org
Development Cliff Notes:
Difficult Conversation Tips:
A few final thoughts, parents! Awkward and difficult conversations do not have to be a big deal. These are a part of life and a responsibility that we, as parents, have to teach our children so they are not victims themselves, have compassion and empathy for those that are, and learn how to critically think and handle situations in the world. I hope this mindset reset and these tips help you navigate this part of parenting and turns “awkward” and “difficult” conversations into just conversations. You were made for hard things; you got this!
By Jackie White
Many parents are wondering what they are going to do with their kids now that they will be home a number of weeks. Some schools may provide some online instruction and many will not. As a former homeschooling parent, I would like to say this can be an excellent opportunity to get your kids engaged in learning. There are tons of resources and, along with this guide, you will have a plan to keep your kids brains from melting over the next few weeks.
One thing non-homeschool people don’t always realize is:
EVERYTHING is a learning lesson.
Listen to your kids and what they want to learn about and work it into the day.
Because homeschool is focused solely on your child, a few hours of instruction will be sufficient. A half-day of academics is probably enough.
Before you get all gung-ho and think you are going to knock out an entire grade in a few weeks, let me caution you to start first with some reasonable objectives. Then, from there, temper your expectations. Morale is better served to go after an easier goal with achievement then to have failed at completing a massive list of goals. Here are some ideas:
Occupy time with value-added material
Get a child caught up with missing work
Work on areas of opportunity with your child
Choose a skill to master in a reasonable time frame
Keep practice up in certain critical academic areas
Ignite a passion to learn by providing alternate ways to learn things. Hands on learning or project based learning can help achieve this goal
Age Groups and Expectations
Pre-School - Kindergarten
This group has a lot of energy and can wear you down fast. The good news is they are the easiest to please. The use of lots of books, crafts, outdoor activities all wrapped in an educational topic is the best way to keep learning fun. Switch up the fun often and get them outside to run around!
1st - 5th
This group has a wide range of competencies they could be working on. For each child, this time could be a great time to work on the academics they might need a little extra help with. Mixing that with topics they are interested in makes the day go better. Again switching up activities and getting outside will help things go smoothly.
6th - 8th
These students may be doing work that you are no longer familiar with, which can make teaching them difficult. If your child has an online Google Classroom, check out the topics they are studying and then Google those topics for information and videos related to that topic. You can also look up your school districts syllabus, scope and sequences for classes.
9th - 12th
Again, those days of being able to reconcile an algebraic formula may be long gone, but have no fear, you can do this! The key to managing this group will be setting expectations. Get agreement on spending time on academics, exercise and not a mono-focus on technology (social media or gaming). Address bedtime and waking hours as well. Any parent of a teen will realize that getting your teen up at an acceptable hour may be a battle in itself. Academically, check Google Classroom, school resources or district websites for specifics.
Across all age groups, a plan to follow will be important. For a copy of an example of a homeschool day, click the link below:
The amount of resources available are significant, and you should be able to find something that fits your needs.
Khan Academy - for math, Khan Academy is your friend. It is a free, online math resources that explains all levels of math in very clear and descriptive videos.
You Tube - the world is here for the taking. There are over 500,000 educational videos available. Some videos to check out are Schoolhouse Rock, Bill Nye the Science Guy and The Magic Schoolbus. For older learners, try YouTube Learning. There are so many topics, this is a goldmine of resources!
ABC Mouse - this online resource is for kids 2-8 and, technically, you have to pay for this resource, but there is a 30 day free trial. The curriculum is reading, math, science, art and colors.
PBS Kids Games - has educational online games for younger kids.
National Geographic Kids - has online games which are academically based.
Scholastic Online Learning - is offering free online courses for K-8 grade students.
Online Reading Resources - check out this blog for several options to obtain free online books:
Worth the Money:
Time4Learning - for a price, there is an online resource called Time 4 Learning. It has all levels of classes for K-12 across multiple topic areas. We have had very good luck using this system.
K-12 - has a full curriculum for K-12. The curriculum is top notch and very well done.
Summer Bridge Activity Books: these books are awesome to use during the summer or for homeschool. Books are available in a number of topics by age/grade.
Traditional field trips to a museum may be out, but many museums are offering online tours. This website lists all the museums offering virtual tours: https://www.educatorstechnology.com/2014/01/20-wonderful-online-museums-and-sites.html
Nature hikes are still an option just as long as the trails aren’t crowded.
Car rides to landmarks that are accessible are also fun. Check out Roadside America app or just google quirky roadside attractions to see which might work best.
Other Fun Stuff:
Popcorn Reading: Make a big batch of popcorn and read!
D.E.A.R. - Drop Everything And Read! This just fun acronym for adding in reading spontaneously into the day.
Deep Space Sparkle: Is my absolute favorite art resource. They have very unique projects that appeal to many age groups.
Make: a Facebook site by that name will be offering free art lessons.
Pinterest: has excellent ideas for artwork, academics and homeschool.
Google: of course there are literally thousands of resources here, but I might suggest looking for any homeschooling curriculum you can use. One of my favorite things to do is to have the kids make a Lapbook. It is a combination of studying a topic and displaying it creatively. Some worksheets or instructions are free and some are available for a small fee.
Life Skills 101: Work with those pre-teens and teens who haven’t mastered key life skills like cooking, laundry, hygiene, bill paying, budgeting, college admissions, driving and/or etiquette.
Take a walk or hike
Online exercise courses
Online yoga and/or meditation
Begin a couch to 5K challenge
Practice a non-contact sport outside
Clean up parks or roadsides
Make cards for elderly or those hospitalized. Although WHO says snail mail cannot carry the coronavirus, you might want to wait to send these until a later date to avoid any possible issues.
Donate to Food Pantry - call before you drop off products to ensure they are accepting donations and how they are accepting donations.
Clean the closets out for donation. Check on when donations are being accepted at your local thrift store
Music can play a big part in a homeschool environment. Baroque music has been shown to help students learn. Play it quietly in the background while they are studying. Dance breaks are great ways to shake off extra energy and infuse some fun into the day. Your teens may want to listen to their music while studying, if that works, then go for it! Practicing instruments are also a great way for kids to use their brains while on a break from school. Maybe you have an instrument lying around that no one knows how to play, then hit up YouTube for lessons!
This is do-able friends! Take the opportunity to spend time with your kids and really tap into what they are interested in. You will both learn a lot about each other and we all may come out being better people because of this.
Take care and Shine On!
What if there was a way to simplify life? A way to calm things down and find clarity in what you are doing? What if I told you that you can and that the answer to this is right under your nose. I mean, like literally under your nose. What I am talking about is the heart and brain connection.
It’s not something we think about really. We speak in terms of emotions that we can “feel” in our heart. Sayings like “my heart is full”. “My heart is breaking”, “I love you with all my heart” all seem to indicate that heart is inextricably linked to our feelings. But do our feelings come from the heart? Our heart is an organ that pumps blood throughout our system to keep us alive, so how can that have anything to do with our feelings?
Surprisingly enough, yes, the heart can express emotion in it’s heart brain. The heart brain is composed of about 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn and remember. For example, when you experience positive emotions like caring, kindness or compassion, the heart brain sends a signal to the head brain and lets it know that the heart rhythm is functioning in a harmonious and calmed state. These signals can affect how you behave and feel. Biochemically, neurologically, biophysically and energetically your body responds to the signal your heart brain has reported into the head brain.
Now that you are aware that there is a true scientific connection between your brain and your heart, you can begin to work on managing this to your advantage. When you shift your focus to creating a heart and brain connection, you will feel more centered and in control of your life. Your stress will begin to release it’s hold on you. Research has shown that living in continual high stress states is detrimental to your body. The immediate results of lessened stress are obvious, but lessening stress on the body makes a difference over time for your overall health.
The Most Important Conversation in Your Life
How to make this shift is really just bringing awareness to the fact that you have the ability to get in touch with your inner self and feelings. For some this may be a foriegn concept, but for all, creating that amazing connection with who you really are will change your life. We all are busy and in the busy-ness, we forget to take time to be with ourselves. Maybe we don’t want to hear what we have to say to ourselves or maybe it just never occurred to stop and have a chat with yourself. Well, lucky you, today could be the day you start the most important conversation in your life.
Invite Yourself to Have a Chat
Each day find a few minutes to connect with yourself through really focusing on the heart and brain connection. The best way to do this is to find a quiet spot where you can talk with yourself uninterrupted. This may be the hardest part of this entire process! I suggest getting up earlier than the rest of the family to ensure you have a few minutes to yourself.
Ok, it’s time to have a heart to heart, um or a heart to brain conversation. Your heart and brain contain so much wisdom and guidance that most are not listening to. Today you begin to really listen to what is being said. Here’s how you do it.
Having a Heart to Brain Connection Conversation
Upon completion of the Heart to Brain Connection Conversation process, you should feel refreshed and more in touch and intentional with yourself.
Frequent check-ins with yourself will help guide you and keep stress levels at bay. Daily conversations will be beneficial and since you don’t have to coordinate calendars with someone else for this little chat, you should be able to find a few minutes to set aside. Call this time your miracle minutes sessions because you will see that it will feel that way!
I’ve heard that talking to yourself is totally fine, just as long as you don’t answer. I disagree. Having a heart to brain conversation with yourself will almost always give you the answers you have been looking for. So, here’s to looking inward and connecting with yourself! Find the calm, the direction and intentions for your life with this time of introspection...and Shine On!
By: Erika Fehrenbach Prell
One of SoulShine Life Connections goals is to guide you on your journey to your best life. Guiding means to show the way, right? And, one of the ways Jackie and I got to this point in our lives was using books as a tool. I particularly found audiobooks to be a huge #gamechanger for me, turning wasted time like driving and folding laundry into useful self-discovery time. You want to get ahead in the mindset reset game? You need to tap into the power of books.
For you newbies out there, I hear your pain. Where do I start?? That was me 7 years ago. My husband had been consuming “those kinds” of books for years already. But, I proudly turned my nose up at “them”; I didn’t need personal growth and development, or SELF-HELP, books. Thanks, no thanks.
Boy was I wrong. Turns out, “those” books make you the best version of yourself if you listen and act on them. (Like everything else, it’s the action that gets the actual results). But, I almost gave up before I really got started. My mistake was starting with a book I was not ready for...Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. It is all about vulnerability and, turns out, that it is one of my weaker areas, aka needs continued work. I came away with a bad taste in my mouth, which re-enforced my already negative feeling towards this particular genre.
And, if I am being honest, the only reason I even finished the book at all was because I was reading it with several other people in a study group. Otherwise, I would have swapped it out for a beach read.
As luck would have it, my husband asked me what I thought of the book. He hadn’t read this particular one but was really excited for me to try out some PG&D (that’s what we like to call those books...personal growth and development. Sounds cooler with just the letters. Or, so we tell ourselves). I was honest and told him I didn’t like it; I may have actually said that I hated it (my apologies to Brene. I now love her work and books. This was simply a case of drinking from the firehose). After a discussion that I can’t really recall, Adam got the drift; it was too much and too in depth a topic in my PG&D career.
He asked if he could recommend an audiobook to me to listen to in my car on my work commute to give this genre another shot. Since morning radio drives me a little crazy anyway, I figured I had nothing to lose by swapping out radio for a book. The book? The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The result? Mind-blowing #gamechanger.
This book had a science base that caught my interest and gave it legitimacy in my nurse practitioner-science-needs-the-facts brain. It was all about thinking differently on a simple concept. The book itself wasn’t deep but the concept had a deep meaning. It was the perfect place to start, and I am grateful that I gave PG&D a needed second chance.
I’m not sure where you are in exploring this genre; if you are here with SoulShine, you are at least interested in the concept of living your best life. Books are one tool that will accelerate your journey. But, as I learned, you want to be intentional in your book selection. There are a lot of books out there, and I get feeling paralyzed on where to start. So, if you are new to PG&D, I want to give you what I would call my do-over book list to dip your toe into the self-discovery genre!
5 Books to Start Your Mindset Reset Transformation
1. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rimes
Shonda Rimes is the uber talented Hollywood creative behind Hollywood’s top shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. No surprise, Rimes is hilarious and entertaining as she takes you on her life-transformation by embracing one simple word - Yes! This book is a great first stop on your mindset reset journey!
2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
Mindset Reset stop #2! This book recounts the life and life-lessons of Randy Pausch, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon. The “Last Lecture” series was created at Carnegie Mellon University as an opportunity for featured professors to think about and share with their audience from the perspective of the last lecture they would ever give and how they would like to be remembered. In the case of Randy Pausch, he was fighting advanced pancreatic cancer at the time he delivered his lecture. He used this lecture as an opportunity to leave lessons he wanted his children to learn and know about him before he died. I know, it sounds sad and depressing but it is actually uplifting, insightful, and incredibly eye-opening.
3. On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary
Next stop! (Anyone else imagining a train or is it just me?) This book is an all time favorite of mine, not just a favorite mindset reset book. Author John O’Leary recounts his triumph over tragedy when he suffered severe, life-threatening burns as a child. He reflects on the life-giving choices made by himself and others on his journey back to health and the resulting life lessons he learns and wants to impart on others.
4. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success by Jeff Olson
Book #4 coming at you! This is the book I mentioned that brought me around to the power of personal growth and mindset shifting. This book is a philosophy and new way of thinking about how the small choices we make every day can compound to massive success or failure. If this doesn’t rock your mindset, I will be shocked!
5. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Okay, now that you are warmed up a bit, it’s time to dive deeper and get YOUR mindset on track. A great place to start is this book by Carol Dweck. Dweck discusses the differences between having a fixed versus a growth mindset, and how your mindset will greatly affect your success in life. This is not only a #gamechanger but also a #lifechanger!
This is only the start, DreamChasers! And, some of these books might not resonate with you the same way they did for me. That’s what’s cool about self-discovery; we are all different and what we need at a particular place in our lives is as different as we are. The key is to start! (And, PS, if you haven’t explored the audiobook route, try it out! There are so many areas in your life to fit audiobooks in and turn wasted time into self-discovery time!)
By Jackie White
CON.FI.DENCE: Hear it? The word exudes strength. You can see it: shoulders back, head up and pride flowing from every pore. Do you have it? Do you feel the power of the word’s essence?
If you see this word and say “Hey Girl, I need some of that!”, then this is for you.
If you see that word and say “Yup, that’s me, I got it!” then this is for you too.
You see one of the secrets to living a full life is all about having the nerve to just be you. What does it take? A lot of times, nothing, you are just cool being you. Hanging with friends you trust or dancing your butt off in your living room usually is an easy space to just be you. But what about those times when you feel like you really want to step out and express yourself - the real you, but feel that maybe people will think you are deviating from the expected you.
Well, there is always that...the expected you. The safe and status quo you that doesn’t rock the boat or take too many risks. It’s ok and not scary. What’s the harm? Why can’t you stay in that comfort zone? You can, but you might miss out on some really cool stuff that could be part of you. Let me restate that, it’s not that you might miss out...you will miss out. Doh! I know you didn’t want me to say that, but here it is, maybe that's the message you needed the universe to deliver.
One more thing, if you are a mom, then you do not have a choice here. You must learn to be confident. You are your child’s role model and playing small only tells your child they too should play small. For any child, you are their voice in the world. When things aren’t fair or unkindnesses have been committed against your child, you must teach them to speak up for themselves. When you stay silent, they learn real quick that they too should stay quiet. Even worse, they might think they aren’t worth speaking up for. In the case of a child that has special needs, you especially must have confidence to speak up on their behalf. You are their advocate. Being timid could be detrimental to your child. So, c’mon you can do this!
Your Confidence Jeans
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and figure this CONFIDENCE thing out. You know what it is? It is something you might have to step into. It might feel like a pair of jeans that you desperately want to fit into, but just can’t get that top buttoned...yet! And that is it right there. Building your confidence is a bit like fitting into those jeans. It takes practice. You need to work out your skills!
Where Preparation Meets Opportunity
When an opportunity arises or better yet, you create the opportunity to practice your skills, you have to go for it. Dip your toe in to see how it feels. If, for example, you really want to learn to speak up for yourself more, then prepare yourself for that opportunity.
Power Posture: You might ask what the heck does my posture have to do with confidence? Everything! Don’t doubt me now, this works! Feeling the power of confidence in your body is key to preparing your confidence muscles.
Do the Wonder Woman: Stand in front of the mirror and put your hands on your hips, shoulders back, chin up and take a deep breath and breathe in the power. Imagine yourself in a place where you need to be confident and practice the stance. Channel your inner Wonder Woman!
Speak Up: Now whether you know what you are talking about or not, amplify your voice and speak strongly. (Politicians do this all the time - Lol!) When you do this, you exude confidence. Imagine the opposite, a quiet timid voice that is shaky is not a voice that conveys strength. It makes a difference. This is another skill you can practice at home in preparation for the opportunity.
Self-Kindness: Speak only words of positivity and confidence to yourself. When those negative words come seeping in, and they will, you must handle them. Having confidence to speak up to your own inner critic is a critical piece to fitting into those confidence jeans. Build yourself up, Buttercup! You can do this. Here’s how this works: You hear yourself saying something negative to yourself and right when you hear it, you stop it and replace that thought with a positive thought. You can prepare yourself for the dastardly inner critic by preparing positive affirmations that define the you, you want to be.
Ok, so you have prepared, the jeans are starting to fit a bit better. This is awesome! And then one day, the opportunity presents itself. You have a decision to make. Are you playing it safe and continuing to walk in your own shadow or are you putting on your Wonder Woman cape to accompany those confidence jeans? Your inner critic is now your inner cheerleading section telling you that you are awesome and you can do this! The jeans fit now! The crowd is roaring! Yes, you are so dang ready to do this!
I am so excited for you to gain your confidence and just be you because the world needs you to be who you really are! Don’t forget to keep working on fitting into those confidence jeans!
Now, go forward with CON.FI.DENCE and rock the world!
P.S. Keep working on yourself and building your confidence by signing up for the SoulShine Snap! Click the link below:
By Jackie White
Hey, what the heck is going on? The kids are insane, you just burnt dinner, the dishes are piled up in the sink, your living room looks like a bomb went off and for God’s sake, you haven’t even brushed your hair...sound familiar? Welcome to motherhood!
Days Gone By:
You catch a glimpse of that woman in the mirror and wonder how this small army of children have taken you down so badly. Remember the days when order was a primary descriptor of your home? Remember when your nails were painted and you had it so together? You know like you showered, had clean clothes on that matched and you had time to apply some make up. Ahh, the good old days of calm.
Having children isn’t a walk in the park. Well, I mean like literally it could be, but figuratively, those little buggers bring chaos wherever they go! You thought you were prepared, but sleepless nights with crying babies can really wreak havoc with your functionality. You try to keep it together, but it feels like all hell has broken loose. The Titanic is going down and you are still fiddling on the bow! You wonder what the heck are you doing
Those Sweet Little Faces:
But, would you trade those sweet little faces in? Never. They are your heart and your soul. Yes, you are insane, but you are their mom and they are your beautiful babies. They might even be teens and those sweet little, often confrontational darlings, still hold your heart. So, what are you going to do? How can you calm the chaos and begin to find yourself again?
It all begins with giving yourself a break! You are not going to get an engraved invitation to partake in a break, so you need to do this for yourself. Speak up and ask for help! Get a sitter and take some time to catch your breath. One great way to think about this, is how would you celebrate your friend? Would they like a bouquet of flowers or a nice cup of hot tea? Maybe a walk or that time to read that book they have been dying to dive into? Do they need a hug or just some quiet time? Ok, so now pretend that friend is you… :)
No Excuses Needed:
You do not need an excuse to care for yourself! But, if you really need an excuse, try this on: your kids, your family needs you to be cared for. It’s likely your babies, no matter the age, will not recognize mom needs a break, too. If you are lucky, your spouse may see you need time to yourself, but don’t drop it on him or the kids that you don’t ever get a break. That’s on you. You have to do it for yourself.
Stop being the Martyr:
Many women fall into the trap that they just have to do everything for everyone because the world will stop turning if they don’t. On one hand it’s a great feeling to be the “glue” that holds everything together. It’s a feeling of being needed and that can feel so good, but you can’t do it all. I think that bears repeating: You can’t do it all, nor are you expected to. You may have set some crazy high bar for yourself that makes all things kid and family related fall under the heading of “Mom’s Responsibilities”. Maybe it’s not even that. What if you are a single mom and it does all seem to fall under your responsibility? Well, then the name of the game is scaling back. We all have terrifically high pinterest-worthy expectations for what constitutes a good childhood. You know darn well, we rode bikes without helmets, we didn’t do every craft known to man,we drank out of the hose and we aren’t that bad off. So, come off it and cut yourself a break.
Time to Have a Talk to Yourself:
“Self, let me break it to you. You need a damn break!”
And then you say back to yourself
“YES! Dude, that’s what I am talking about! I really should do that!”
And then you say back to you
“First of all don’t call me, Dude, and secondly, stop should-ing yourself and get to it! Schedule that time for yourself, like right now!
And then YOU do!
So, what are you waiting for? A list of things you can do for yourself? Ok, we got that for you. Feast your eyes on this, choose something and please give yourself a break:
10 Ways to Show Yourself Self-Kindness:
Get out of the house
Find time to relax
Quiet your mind
Do something just for you...don’t worry about anyone else. (Even though I know you will be saying “Oh, the kids would love this”)
Read a book that you like
See a friend
Have a date with your husband (no talking about kids, ok, so, minimal talking about the kids)
Get your hair done
Get a massage
Remember who you are without kids
Do whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed! Then here’s the next tricky part to all of this. Schedule the next time you will have to yourself. Ideally, once a week would be awesome!
This is the beginning of calming the chaos. This month we will be providing more ideas for you. This is important stuff - you know why? Moms are integral to their families, but outside being a mom, YOU are important to the world, so look at doing everyone a favor by giving yourself some self-kindness!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.