By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Y’all, listen up!
(Busted, I’m not from Texas but sometimes I just really think this little phrase works so well!)
Adulting was already hard, then this pandemic came along and has made it even harder on so many levels. Yes, we here at SoulShine are all about finding the blessings in the stressings, flipping the script on negativity, pushing through adversity to grow...that hasn’t changed. But, sometimes, we just need to be seen and heard and acknowledge that this just sucks. If the mantra of your life right now is Hot Mess Express, today is your day!
To the Overwhelmed,
The I’m-Just-Over-It Peeps,
And, finally, Dear Hot Mess Express,
I see you. You are not invisible. Your hot mess might be different than mine. Your struggles, frustrations, irritations, and feelings are unique, just like you are. Here’s the thing...we are all having moments that fall in the overwhelmed, the uninspired, the I’m-Just-Over-It, the Hot Mess category. We are all hot messes trying to navigate through a time that we did not expect and could not plan for. No one on this planet has experienced this situation before. Everyone is doing the best they can to get through this, and that includes you.
Yelling at your kids doesn’t make you a bad mom. Longing to be by yourself doesn’t make you a bad spouse. Kids on too much screen? So what. Everyone is living off of ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches instead of homemade, organic, non-GMO meals? It’s fine. Everything your significant other does is driving you crazy? Been there. Going through the motions at your job? Check! Insert whatever you are currently beating yourself up on here....
You are being too hard on yourself. There, I said it. You are doing great. You really are, even if it doesn’t feel like it. You need to give yourself grace. The grace to just be. The grace to do what feels right in the moment. The grace that you are doing the best you can during this time for yourself and others.
I want you to know that I see you.
You are not alone on the struggle bus...it’s a full ride.
This time will end. It’s just a season in your life.
Give yourself grace.
Show yourself kindness.
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Ask for help.
Feel the feels without shame or guilt.
Share your struggles and frustrations with someone.
You are stronger than you think, and way more capable that you give yourself credit for.
This time has turned out to be a marathon, not a sprint. It’s taking stamina to go the distance and flexibility to roll with the unexpected twists. There will be days that you will feel on top of the world, days that you want to quit, days when the finish line seems too far, and every variation in between. Be brave and share your struggles. Stop pretending that everything is okay. You don’t have to be a warrior. You don’t have to go it alone or be all the things for everyone. Together we can get through this.
I just want you to know that I see you. You are not invisible. You may be overwhelmed, uninspired, and just-over-it. You might think you are a hot mess. I think your hot mess is beautiful and just what the world needs right now.
Shine on, DreamChaser! We got this together! ❤EFP
Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End. Your Guide to Managing Change in The Opening and Closing of The Chapters of Life
By Jackie White
Every life is a story. Each day is a page we write and with time we are continually opening and closing chapters. This month at SoulShine we are going to present a series on the many chapters of our lives. One commonality with life’s chapters is that they all involve change.
Life ebbs and flows with periods of change. Some are expected and anticipated thresholds like markers of age, relationships, career and/or parenthood. The chapters we look forward to make the chapters we leave behind much easier to close. One thing for sure is that the more proficient you become at managing change, the better equipped you will be to handle the chapters you don’t look forward to.
Change is Good…
Yes, change is good. Some people cringe when they hear that, but we all need change to grow. In order to really experience life fully, you must continue to grow and learn and try new things. Now, does change cause stress? Yes, it can, but if you are prepared, you can face change and the stress it may bring.
How to Prepare for Change
Change is inevitable and the opening and closing of chapters in life will happen no matter if you are ready or not. Let’s take the proactive approach and choose to prepare:
Anticipate What is Coming Down the Pipeline: Many changes in a person’s life can be anticipated, but many times we choose to ignore or deny the impending change. When we choose to face change head on, even before it’s arrival, we are able to handle it much more successfully. In the pre-change period we can think through how the change will affect us and how we can choose to find some positive aspects to the change. If that feels too optimistic, then we can choose to accept and move on instead.
Be Calm and Move Through It: Sometimes we make such a big deal about an impending change that it has become the veritable mountain out of a molehill. Sometimes it is just best to move through to the next chapter without so much fanfare. Keeping it calm and even-keeled can keep the stress levels down.
Acknowledge the Anxiety: If the anxiety of change has grabbed a hold of you, the best thing you can do is to face that anxiety head on by acknowledging it. If you are scared or unsure, that is ok. If it makes you feel better, talk your fears out with a trusted friend. They may be able to lend some perspective to the situation you hadn’t considered.
Live in the Present: It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of what has happened or what might happen. When you let those feelings take over, you have chosen to not live presently. Be grateful for the moment in time you are in today and don’t relive the past or awfulize the future.
Time Out: When change happens, it can be overwhelming and take up much of your energy. Put yourself in a self-imposed time out to take a break from what might be going on. Talk a walk, take a nap or do something you enjoy that takes your mind off of the change. Even 10 minutes of stopping and taking a break for yourself can be enough to recharge your batteries.
Whether the chapter you are opening or closing is happy, sad, intended or a complete surprise, your ability to manage the change will determine your experience. SoulShine’s series will cover major life chapters like parenthood, empty nest, divorce, career, getting a pet and more. Join us throughout the month of September to delve further into these life moments.
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
One of the best ways to learn is from others' mistakes and missteps; today, I am going to get real with you in an area where I have made errors...setting expectations with my children for the school year. The interesting thing is I had no idea I was making a misstep and thought I was doing a great job. The pitfall I discovered was a simple missing step in the process, and I want to shed light on it so you can avoid it yourself.
Let’s get clear on what I am talking about in regards to expectations. In the Oxford dictionary expectation is defined as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future”. Expectations that you hold for yourself can be a positive force in your life when you are working towards a goal or trying to put yourself in a positive mindset; I’m referring to the concept of what you think about, you bring about. As we have discussed in the past, though, thinking about what you want in life is not the same as taking the actions required to get them, right, DreamChaser?
The other side of expectations is when you hold expectations for others, like, for instance, your children. Expectations in this instance can be very positive, guiding your children towards achievements and accomplishments. But, beware of the pitfall that I fell into! Lack of communication! That’s right, DreamChaser, the place we fall short in setting expectations is actually communicating them to the person we have them for! We fall into assuming that the other person knows what we expect, why we expect it, and how to get there; and, it is the why and the how pieces that are often overlooked and are the difference makers in successfully achieving those expectations.
This is exactly where I realize I have made my missteps. My husband and I have communicated with our children that we expect them to give their best effort in school. We talk a lot about it being okay and expected to fail in their attempts, especially when it is a new topic, and that failure is the best way to improve their skills. We have actually gone so far in this piece to focus on what they have failed at in a day at school versus what they have succeeded at. We have outlined expectations for reading a certain amount of time daily and finishing any required schoolwork before they get the coveted screen time. We celebrated wins from teachers and discussed how to readjust the sails to continue to excel. We were rocking it, right? Since we encourage celebrating wins, these were definitely good things in the parenting department!
But, then, why did they complain about and resist doing the things we expected them to do? Didn’t they understand that those were the pieces to get them to achieve what we expected??
The simple answer is no, no they did not understand because we did not talk about that part of our expectations. Many of the pieces were in place with the glaring exceptions of the why and the how! The why behind expectations supports the importance of the expectation while the how shows the path to make the expectations become reality. We are all about sports in this house, so sports analogies serve us well. The boys understand that to be a better pitcher or batter in baseball requires putting in the repetitions by practicing. When it came to the expectations we held for them in regards to school performance, we told them what we expected of them but forgot to explain why and how!
As we head into perhaps the craziest school year any of us parents, past or present, have ever experienced, setting clear expectations for your children is more important than ever. Here are 5 tips to help you in the process:
Make Expectations Clear to Yourself First
You can't explain what your expectations are to others if you aren't sure of them yourself! Take a moment to get clarity of what your expectations are and why they are important to you and your child's future success.
Keep the Individual in Mind
Since every person is individual, the expectations for each child in your family may have slight variations based on individual interests, preferences, and abilities. To set your child up for school success, and keep from beating your head against the wall of frustration, individualizing your expectations is important rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Brainstorm Session With Your Child
Here is the crucial step to avoid the common pitfall of miscommunication! Explain your expectations including why you feel they are important and why you have them for that child. Then, work with your child to figure out how to reach them. Having your child be part of the process may help with buy in and commitment.
Write Them Down with the Plan
Once you have the expectations defined with a plan, have your child write this down. Useful tools here might be a schedule, checklists, or progress tracker.
Reassess and Readjust
At the end of each week, take time to check progress. Are assignments completed? How is your child progressing? Check in with your child's teachers to see if there are any concerns or to seek further clarification on assignments or expectations. This is the time to adjust your expectations based on how things are going. You may need to reinforce, rediscuss, or redesign the process with your student to continue moving in a positive direction.
I know…I know...this sounds like it will take effort. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, DreamChaser; one of our goals at SoulShine is to give you guidance while keeping it real. With some exceptions, many of us parents are not teachers. This virtual school was not part of the plan but here we are. Setting expectations with your children will take effort and time. But, like many things, the effort you put into this will pay off in spades and make this virtual school year go more smoothly. You might just find it's a process worth continuing.
You got this, Dreamchaser! Shine on!
Who is this Ed Technology and How Did He End Up At My Dining Room Table? What You Need to Know About Virtual Learning in Order to Succeed
By Jackie White
Ed Technology, short for educational technology, needs to be your friend over the next few months as most of us are schooling virtually. When you become familiar with Ed Technology you will be infinitely more capable of handling your child’s schooling at home.
This Ain’t Your Mama’s Filmstrip Friday
Gone are the days of the AV (Audio Visual) Guy who came into the classroom to set up a film strip. Instead, today we have become almost inseparable with technology and classrooms are no exception. Funny thing though, the classroom has now landed in the middle of your dining room and you feel like you have just been dropped into a reality you didn’t sign up for.
Don’t Worry, Ed Tech Has Gotchu!
Actually, my friend and and most excellent ed technology teacher, Julia Xistris and her co-worker Kiley Ogodogu have been so kind to help us out with navigating the world of virtual schooling from a technological standpoint.
Good Ol’ Ed Technology Brings You the Basics
Many school districts provide devices to the students. Julia and Kiley say that if your child is more comfortable using another device that should be fine, but this should be communicated to the teacher so they know the platform needs. Ensure your child charges their device each night.
Ed’s Tough Love Tip: If they are using a device not issued by school make sure your little angel isn’t sneaking onto games or other sites during the school day.
Make sure your internet connections are stable. If they are not it will wreak havoc with your child’s daily activities. Decide if a new router or an internet booster may help your stabilization of connection.
Ed’s Tough Love Tip: Disney Circle has a device that can control connectivity of all of your home’s devices. This might be helpful if you have a game system like XBox because you can block access during school hours. Your child will think this blasphemy.
The Importance of Digital Citizenship
Digital citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the Internet, and digital devices to engage with society on any level. It is not something that should be a new concept to your children or students if they are utilizing online platforms of any sort. Parents should take an active role in overseeing their child’s digital life. CommonSenseMedia.org has helpful information on digital citizenship as well as reviews and recommendations on games, movies, videos and other media topics.
Ed’s Tough Love Tip: You are in charge and have not only the right but the duty to check your child’s devices. Make sure to set up restrictions to block certain sites or content on the devices your child has access to. The honor system is hard to stick to when temptation is one click away.
There are several platforms that your child’s schooling can be delivered on. Common platforms include Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas or Inkling. Find out which one your child is using and get familiar with it and stay in communication with your child’s teacher on how you can best utilize it in your role. Google Classroom is widely used and is likely the platform you may be working with.
Ed’s Tough Love Tip: Don’t skip the step on understanding how to navigate the platform your child’s school is using. Your role will require you to ensure that your child is doing their work and knowledge of the platform’s functionality will be necessary. This is something you can’t fake your way through.
The Checklist of Success Strategies for
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.