Parenting ADHD style.

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Exploring nature very seriously.

Exploring nature very seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you are the parent of a child with ADHD, life is different. After a couple of years you no longer notice how different life has become. You get use to the routines. You now longer notice that your life is divided into blocks of time on the weekdays and that what seems like a free for all on the weekends is still on routine. You adjust to your child’s anxiety, take over more chores than is good for you and plan out 5 or 10 minutes of alone time just to regain your sanity. You forget that you are constantly on edge and worried that at any moment, your son may dash out the house and run down the street because he thought he saw his friend all while you had the audacity to use the bathroom and shut the door and come back out a quick 2 minutes later to find your house empty, no sign of the little escape artist anywhere so now you have to search the entire neighborhood calling his name loudly like he’s a lost dog but thankfully you find him 2 blocks away playing with a friend you never knew he had, but it’s OK because it’s his very best friend that he just met 1 minute ago (true story).

Still, it’s all part of the norm for a parent with an ADHD kid. Until report card time…

At report card time, you open that little manila envelope, rejoicing that there are no Ds or Fs and being totally surprised that there is a B along with a smiley face from the teacher. You jump for joy when you read the note that says, “your son is making progress.”

Then you open up Facebook.  What do you see? Dozens of posts from your friends with perfect children getting perfect straight As and making the honor roll with their perfectly happy cherub faces smiling at you with captions like, “Isn’t she so smart” or “proud mom here” or “look at Johnny, he is such a genius getting straight As and taking after dear ol’ dad.” And you can’t help but be bitter all while “liking” the post because that is what you do on Facebook.

That’s when you are reminded that your child has to fight and struggle for a C. That you fight and struggle right along with him. That even though you love him dearly, you secretly mourn the fact that he isn’t a genius who tested into the gifted program and will land a nerdy job that will gain him riches, comfort and let him solve world hunger problems. That sometimes you fear for his future education. That you don’t even know what to do to help him so you try every suggestion possible, ending up in a helpless heap of motherhood on the floor while your child tries to explain that his brain just doesn’t know how to read that big word.

You cry.

You pray.

You despair and wallow in self pities of, “why me,” and, “why my child.”

And then, you remember all the quirks that come along with ADHD: the hyper-focusing, the obsessing on physical details of a peregrine falcon verse a red tailed hawk, the ability to think a million thoughts at once and sometimes, nothing at all. That’s the moment when you realize, your child’s ADHD isn’t a disability, it’s their super power and your job as a parent is to foster it. It may not manifest itself in straight As’ or Honor Roll. It may come in the ability to see grand designs or details where others do not or simply in their loving nature.

Parenting a child with ADHD is different. Because it is so different, you can’t just expect your child to measure up to a certain society norm or educational goal. You have to help them find their meaning, hone their superpower and sharpen their tools of survival. So, to all the other parents of children with ADHD, I feel ya. I understand ya. I’m with ya. And for goodness sake, get back up off of the floor and run outside because your little one probably escaped while you closed your eyes for a moment and chances are, he’s down the street, playing with a dead creature he found, trying to understand how it works.

Something wonderful with a little BS.

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Something wonderful has happened and it has only taken 17 years.

It actually happened two weeks ago but I was too embarrassed and a little ashamed to announce it to many people. Mostly because it’s something that should have happened 13 years ago.

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

Because of choice that I made right after High School (yeah, that means I got married waaaaaay too young), I’ve started and stopped and started and stopped and stopped, and paused and whined about my higher education. I started at the junior college in 1996, right after graduation but I got sidetracked with dating. Then I got back into the game in 2005 with an AA. Finally, with support of my family, co-workers and most amazing boyfriend, I started on my BS in 2011.

I’m both jumping for joy while being extremely sad. Like a juxtaposition of thoughts laid side by side, opposing but still in harmony with each other.  Or maybe it is just cognitive dissonance that I’m not fully aware of yet.

I do know that I feel as though I should have had this finished 13 years ago. It’s my own personal shame of not facing my fears (cost of college, fear of leaving home, introversion, blah, blah, blah). But then again, dammit, I struggled for this degree. There were days, weeks, when my humble trailer was cluttered and dirty. My kids ate hot pockets and we all did homework together. And I did it for some very important reasons. 

1. I wanted it. For myself and for my kids. I really hope that the example I’ve set of sacrifice and determination will stay with them when it’s time for them to make choices about higher education.

2. I didn’t want to live in poverty forever. The stats were against me: rural working environment, poor economy, single mother, woman, and no degree.

3. The constant barrage of  comments from my Epidemiologist. Melanie has her Master of Public Health (also BA in English from Harvard) and while I didn’t need a degree to keep my current job, she knew I would need it if I ever decided to move. I complained about her constant prodding but I’m so very grateful for her encouragement (especially in those early years).

4. It was a dream that my mother had. She always wanted us to have college educations but didn’t know how to do it. Her genetic DNA provided me with a jumping off point. I’m naturally smart because of her (and naturally nerdy because of the Turnbow side of me but that’s another blog post).

5. I don’t really have a 5th reason but doesn’t 5 sound better than 4.

I’ve learned that there is no “best way” to go about earning a higher education degree. Just like there is no “best way” to run a marathon (all my marathon runner friends would probably disagree). All that matters is that you do it. That you finish your goal. That you may stop and start and stop and pause and whine about the process but in the end, you’ve stuck to it. You’ve finished the race. I also wonder if marathon runners are just as sad when they finish a race. If they too feel disappointed that they didn’t run as fast as they thought they should.  I’m reminded of Philippians 3:12-14 and indeed, many times it felt like I was trying to strain ahead for the goal.

So here I go, starting a new goal, with higher stakes. I’ve enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing. I’ve found a new prize and I am racing ahead at my own pace.

Thank you to my mother for her 35 years of support and to my co-workers who constantly pushed me forward and most of all, to @PIOGreg who gives unending support and encouragement.

Let’s do this!

Inspiration: close to home.

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I’ve spent the past two weeks looking at some pretty dismal health statistics for La Paz County. We are second worst in AZ for premature deaths (under the age of 75). We are the worst county when it comes to being physically inactive and excessively drinking. You are more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash in this county than most other counties in Arizona. Almost half of all families in La Paz are single parent families. We are the second worse for teen pregnancies (age 15-19). Almost 1 in 3 adults lack insurance and are obese. A few months ago I was presenting these statistics to a Rotary Club when someone chimed in with, “So you are saying that we are the oldest, laziest and drunkest count in AZ?” Well, we are also the poorest.

How depressing. How dismal and bleak. Why do we live here if it’s so bad? If these numbers are representative of who we are then what is our future going to be like? Statistically speaking, I am a single, obese mother who doesn’t get enough exercise. I will probably die of coronary artery disease before the age of 75 and I will likely die without insurance. OH MY GOSH! Why am I even trying to diet and exercise if this is my future here?

Because, it isn’t our future here.

Inspiration is in short supply. It’s rare. And, if you look at our statistics, we are not really being inspired to make healthy choices. No, I’m not going to get into work related stuff and talk about some of our fantastic programs like Healthy LA PAZ here on my blog. Instead, I’m going to talk about how a few people in our community were inspired to make a change and provide new opportunities in Parker, AZ.

As the poorest and second smallest county in AZ we often feel like we are left out of big, exciting things that happen across our state. March 25th, that all changed. That Monday I attended a dedication ceremony for a new baseball field in Parker, AZ. Not just any field but a brand new, professional, Little League approved, bare feet compatible, green, luscious Diamondback sponsored ball field.

Introducing the Aaron Hill field. Paid for by the Arizona Diamondbacks, APS and Aaron Hill himself.

Aaron Hill speaking to the Town of Parker.

Aaron Hill speaking to the Town of Parker.

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New Aaron Hill field

New Aaron Hill field.

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It's the greenest thing in Parker.

It’s the greenest thing in Parker.

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But what you don’t know is what it took to get this field. We all know grants and programs are hard to come by. The Arizona Diamondbacks have a give back program in partnership with APS, but it took the hard work and dedication of these people below to make it happen.

Town of Parker Council

Town of Parker Council.

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Over a year ago the Town of Parker council started working with the Diamondback foundation to get a new field for our youth. It didn’t look like it was going to happen when one of the players (Upton) passed up our town for a location in the city. As I was taking pictures of the event, I heard a comment about this lady here.

Town Council Member Marion Shontz.

Town Council Member Marion Shontz.

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She was thanked for her hard work and dedication to bringing in a ball field. Tenacity. Marion Shontz is a Town of Parker council member who fought for this field. Born and raised in Parker, AZ, a graduate of Parker High, she contributes to the improvement of our town. Marion Shontz is inspiring. She believes in giving back to the community and inspiring others to do the same. If you need an ounce of inspiration, look no further than your own community. It’s here and it’s growing faster than our health stats.

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PS: In full disclosure, Marion is my boss but has no idea I wrote this.

PPS: The ball field really is awesome.

Honestly, the best feeling grass in Parker.

Honestly, the best feeling grass in Parker.

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What do you love?

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This weekend I spent some time doing some serious thinking. Deep thinking. Like Deeeeeeeep thinking.

Yes, this is deeeeeeeep thoughts with Katie Handey.

You know what’s a good idea to keep on your porch in the summer time? To keep mosquitoes away from you and your guests? A big bag of blood.

OK, ignoring the big bag of blood, let’s get back to the topic on hand. There was a question that was asked of me on Friday afternoon. “What do you like about being a PIO?” Like? How about LOVE!

So, with this question in my mind (What do you like about being a PIO), I set out for a hike to clear my mind and think about life changes and the answer to the question.

Incredible view from the top of Buckskin Mountain

Incredible view from the top of Buckskin Mountain

For those of you who don’t know, PIO stands for Public Information Officer. We are the spokespersons for our agencies, the stream of information to the media during an emergency and the clearinghouse of knowledge for the general public. Being a PIO, at least a good PIO, means taking facts or raw data, molding them around and presenting to your audience in a way that they can understand. If I say, “my agency has a 33% vaccination rate amongst school aged children,” do you even know what that means? But, if I say, “1/3 of all kids have been vaccinated by us, helping to stop the spread of (insert disease),” you have a better picture of what I am trying to say. I LOVE THAT! I love taking information that is confusing, or statically heavy and molding it in such a way that the audience can understand it and make a healthy choice because of it.

“Washing your hands can prevent the spread of flu.” OR

“You touch your face about 800 times during the day. Think about where you hands have been. Wash them often with soapy hot water.”

Which statement affected you more? They are both saying the same thing: hand washing is important and helps to prevent the spread of diseases. But, only one of those statements makes you really think about where your hands have been and gives specific action to take.

“Winter Storm Warning: Be Prepared.” OR

“It hasn’t been this cold in over 10 years. Visit (insert website) to learn how to be prepared.”

OK, so there isn’t much direct information in the second statement but at least there is action and a clear message that it’s going to be really cold. The website should have plenty of information available on how to prepare for the winter storm. The messages are clear and concise. The training I’ve taken through Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been incredible in message crafting.

Equally invaluable, a presentation by David Ropeik, Consultant in Risk Communication, opened my eyes and inspired me to be a better PIO by learning about the risk perception gap and how people measure risk. It’s too much detail to go into on this blog but if you have the chance, watch this video:  http://bigthink.com/users/davidropeik  In fact, I think I will watch it again. Right now…

I love the solitude of the mountain. Even with my 7yr old sun throwing rocks.

I love the solitude of the mountain. Even with my 7yr old sun throwing rocks.

K, I’m back. So, I feel as though I’m staring down Robert Frost’s wood once again. Making a decision on which path to take. The one well worn and trampled or the one less frequently traveled. And, the point of Frost’s poem is not to always take the road less traveled but to take the road that appeals to you the most. To make a choice that is right for you at that particular moment in time.

I feel like this is important and ties in with why I love being a PIO. It’s as though I see two career paths in the forest. One is well worn by others, there are set standards and guidelines of conduct and little creativity. The other is bumpy and exciting and sometimes a little dangerous with loads of creativity.

Which way?

Which way?

And before I make the choice of which path to go down, I needed to reflect on why I love being a PIO. Indulge me in a little more poetry… If I may, rewrite a poem by Emily Dickinson and not upset the literary gods…

If I can help one family in preparing,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can show one agency

How to be emergency trained

Or help one mother

To get her flu shot again,

I shall not live in vain.

I feel like I need to make the proper prostration to the literary giants now.

Back to point!

My path is the one that I love. The rocky, exciting, twisted path of a PIO. One lined with reporters and cameras and the worried public in an emergency. And I will carry my talking points and my books on the theories of risk perception gap. And I will be happy because I’m doing what I love.

It's the appeal of the unknown, right over that hill.

It’s the appeal of the unknown, right over that hill.

The next time you are staring down Robert Frost’s wood, take a few moments to reflect on what it is you love doing. Remember, it’s not the road less traveled that is so important, it’s taking the road that is pulling at your heart the strongest.

 

Winter is coming… (but it doesn’t feel like it).

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A few months ago Greg and I took a trip to Flagstaff, to see the Aspens. This trip was a long time coming since he had been promising me for two years. Each year, there was some conflict that kept us in our individual homes during the change of colors. We are both Arizona natives but only one of us (guess who) had never seen Autumn in action. That’s right, I had never seen the changing of the colors. Unless you count the desert turning from dark yellow/brown to bleached out yellow in the summer time… then yeah… I’ve seen.

So in October we escaped the still blistering heat of Summer (it still felt like Summer even though it was Autumn), and climbed the mountain.

It was breathtaking as always. I really do love Flagstaff. You know, for having grown up there, Greg isn’t much of a hippie. I find that odd.

Flagstaff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could see some of the colors from a distance but nothing prepared me for the raw beauty of seeing the Aspens up close. The way the leaves flutter in a breeze remind me of cottonwood trees.

Aspen grove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike cottonwood trees, the leaves don’t just turn brown and drop off, they turn all sorts of yellows and golds and oranges.

Yellows and Golds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son loves to ham it up for the camera.

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There was even a bit of snow on the ground from the last storm. Finally, it felt like Autumn. In fact, the snow reminded me that Winter was coming. I could picture Eddard Stark leaning against his longsword, Ice, exclaiming, “Winter is coming.” Only Winter no longer feels like it is coming. We are in December and the temps are still in the high 70s, low 80s. Way to go AZ. Way to go.

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By the way, doesn’t it look like the Aspens have eyes? You know what else has eyes? The Weirwood in Game of Thrones. :D

heart tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laaaaazy

Have I really not updated my blog for months?

Call me laaaaaazy. Sounds like a Carly Rae Jepsen song doesn’t it?

Between working full time, finishing my bachelors, chasing my crazy kids, and starting new projects… I’m not laaaaaaaaaaaaazy… I’m busy. If anyone has found the secret to perfect organization, please share it with me (I actually think the answer has something to do with IKEA. Have you seen how perfectly organized their showcase sections are?).

 

Does La Paz County need a farmers market?

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DISCLAIMER: This post totally represents the ramblings in my mind and in no way reflects my very awesome employer.

Does La Paz County need a farmers market?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself for the past 10 years or so. Maybe not 10 years specifically but for as long as I’ve known about farmers markets and that has been at least 10 years. Consequently, I’ve been growing a garden with my mother for even longer but that’s another blog.

Also, I LOVE PINTEREST for their gardening pins.

So, does La Paz County need a farmers market?

The county health department (for whom I work) is embarking on a project that will look at what the health needs of the county are and how we, as a community, can help create a healthier La Paz County. Recently I watched the HBO special Weight of the Nation that was done in partnership with CDC.  Access to healthy fruits and vegetables were highlighted in the special. So here I was, still pumped up from watching the special and sitting in a planning meeting with my colleagues when I blurted out, “I would love to see a farmers market.” To which a colleague replied, “Vegetables at a farmers market aren’t any healthier than vegetables at the grocery store.”

And I love my colleagues for challenging me!

Those of you who know me, know that I like to get excited passionate about things that I believe in without necessarily researching them first. So I was caught. She was right. Also, my enthusiasm was a little crushed. Vegetables at a farmers market aren’t any healthier than vegetables at the grocery store. I fell victim to my biggest pet peeve: I didn’t research my opinions before I formed them and I really can’t stand it when someone tries to argue an unformed opinion. So I did what I should have done months ago… research. On a side note, I could have gone off on my theories that mass produced vegetables don’t have as high quality of nutrients as small produced vegetables and how Monsanto is an evil overlord but I don’t know if that has any truth to it or not.

Research:

I started with the American Journal of Health Education (AJHE) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC). The AJHE looked at farmers markets in rural settings in order to see the benefits to a community. One thing was certain; there wasn’t much research to start with. But there is a ton of information on the state of health in people in rural settings. If I was clever, I would do an inforgraphic titled State of the Health in La Paz County. But I’m not that clever so I will just ramble out some statistics.

Over 33% of U.S. adults aged [greater than or equal to] 20 years and almost 19% of U.S. children aged 6-19 years are obese. (1,2) The steep increase in the prevalence of obesity over the past several decades has become a considerable public health concern because of its association with serious, life-threatening illnesses. (3) People who are obese are at greater risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease; and obese children are becoming victims of these diseases that traditionally were seen in adults. (3,4)

Obesity disproportionately affects minority, low-socioeconomic-status (SES) and rural populations. (5,6) African American adults living in rural areas have the highest obesity prevalence rates of all groups studied. (5) American children living in rural areas are 25% more likely to be overweight or obese than children living in metropolitan areas. (7)

Why rural residence increases the risk for obesity is unclear. Rural communities tend to be populated by people who are at greater risk for obesity due to age and low SES. (8) On the other hand, the physical or structural environment of rural communities may present challenges to healthy levels of physical activity and good nutrition. (7,8)

All these statistics come from the AJHE study. But they are backed up by research our department has done and can be found here: http://www.lapazhospital.org/docs/2011LaPazCountyAssessment.pdf

So how does having a farmers market change this?

The study said, “Farmers’ markets are a potential evidence-based intervention for obesity prevention. Recent research has supported the potential for farmers markets to improve health outcomes, particularly among women(12) and children. (13) Also, the national effort to allow low-income community members to purchase food from farmers using their EBT cards demonstrates the support for farmers’ markets at the policy level. (20) Further, the lack of demonstrated relationships between demographic, income, and educational factors and farmers’ market participation(17) indicates a potential for participation among at-risk groups if farmers’ markets are promoted effectively. With the increasing popularity of farmers’ markets, health educators can make an impact on community health by collaborating with their local communities to initiate a farmers’ market.”

Even the study wasn’t very clear. CDC is just now starting to do studies that link farmers markets, increase in school healthy lunches and physical activities and community design to a decrease in obesity. For now CDC is promoting farmers markets, school lunch policies, PE, and healthy community design.

While CDC conducts their studies, I have a theory.

WARNING! This theory isn’t based on any scientific data. I made it up. WARNING!

When I go to the farmers markets in Phoenix, I’m excited to buy healthy food. I feel like I’m getting something special, something local, something no other community in Arizona has. It’s definitely something Parker doesn’t have. I’ve gone enough times to know which farms are selling and who’s produce I like better. If I want candy stripped beets, I know I can get them in the middle of the market. If I want sweet apples, I know I can get them right at the entrance. And, if I want to splurge on a hot dog from the Short Leash food truck, I know I will be getting a dog that was made by the local sausage shop Schreiners. (BTW, mom. This is where I get that yummy Linguisa).

When I come home with my bags of fruits and veggies and an occasional bar of soap made by a local artesian, I feel excited. I want to eat all my kale in one sitting and can the beets that I just picked up. I feel like I’m a part of the community. I feel more committed to eating healthy because I’ve invested more into my food. ISN’T THAT INSPIRING? It is for me.

Does La Paz County need a farmers market?

I’m going to say yes. I don’t feel that community pull when I shop for veggies at the grocery store. I’m not invested when I buy veggies at the local grocery store. Often, I don’t even eat what I buy. Yes, that is incredibly wasteful of me. And I know that in the smaller communities of Salome, Wenden, Bouse, Cibola, and Ehrenberg, fresh fruits and veggies are hard to come by. I know, I’ve tried to shop in Bouse. It’s just not there. Residents in the smaller communities shouldn’t have to travel an hour just to do grocery shopping when they can have access to healthy foods in their communities. Agriculture is La Paz County’s second largest economy (tourism is first), so why can’t we have more locally grown food being sold here?

Story

Let me leave you with one of my memories. This would be so much cooler if I had a pensieve. When I was a kid I spent most of my time on my Grandfather’s farm in the Parker Valley. He mostly grew alfalfa but there was a small spot of land towards the end of the farm that was partially shaded by a big tree and alongside the irrigation ditch. We grew all sorts of vegetables there but I especially remember the carrots. We would dig up a carrot and wash it off in the ditch and proclaim them to be the best carrots we ever ate. I’ve never eaten so many carrots in my life. We might not ever see a farmers market realized here in La Paz County and I’m OK with that. But if the community wants one, I will give my all in support.

REFERENCES

(1.) Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, et al. Prevalence and trends in obesity among U.S. adults, 1999-2008. lAMA. 2010;303:2235-241.

(2.) Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, et al. Prevalence of high body mass index in U.S. children and adolescents, 2007-2008. lAMA. 2010;303(3):242-249.

(3.) Koplan JP, Liverman CT, Kraak VI (eds.). Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press; 2005.

(4.) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. (NIH Publication No. 00-4084). Available at http://www. nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/prctgd_c.pdf. Accessed July 27, 2011.

(5.) Jackson JE, Doescher MP, Jerant AF, et al. A national study of obesity prevalence and trends by type of rural county. J Rural Health. 2005; 21(2):140-148.

(6.) Wang Y, Beydoun MA. The obesity epidemic in the United States–gender, age, socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and geographic characteristics: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Epidemiol Rev. 2007;29:6-28.

(7.) Lutfiyya MN, Lipsky MS, Wisdom-Behounek J, et al. Is rural residency a risk factor for overweight and obesity for U.S. children? Obesity. 2007;15(9) :2348-2356.

(8.) Tai-Seale T, Chandler C. Nutrition and Overweight Concerns in Rural Areas: A Literature Review. Rural Healthy People 2010: A Companion Document to Healthy People 2010. Volume 2. College Station, TX: The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health, Southwest Rural Health Research Center; 2003.

(12.) Jilcott SB, Keyserling TC, Samuel-Hodge CD, et al. Linking clinical care to community resources for cardiovascular disease prevention: the North Carolina Enhanced WISEWOMAN project. ] Womens Health. 2006;15:56%583.

(13.) Leung CW, Laraia BA, Kelly M, et al. The influence of neighborhood food stores on change in young girls’ body mass index. Am ] Prey Med. 2011;41(1):43-51.

(17.) Blanck HM, Thompson OM, Nebeling L, et al. Improving fruit and vegetable consumption: use of farm-to-consumer venues among U.S. adults. Prey Chronic Dis. 2011;8:1-5.

(20.) Lock K, Pomerleau 1, Causer L, et al. The global burden of disease attributable to low consumption of fruit and vegetables: implications for the global strategy on diet. Bull World Health Org. 2005;83(2):100-108.

Communication Control

It’s a bit ironic when someone tells me I need to communicate more. I’m a communicator by trade! lol. Seriously, do we need me talking more? Even I get tired of talking.

It was recently brought to my attention that even though I’m a communicator, I sometimes forget to communicate with people who are close to me. All day long I gather information. Information on work, influenza, community needs, pageants, info for my Bachelor’s degree, how my children are faring in society, and so much more that it’s not even worth thinking about because I won’t stop thinking. Honestly, a few years ago I would have said that I’m the most mellow person ever but lately I’m so Type A that I worry about my health. Wow, I’ve gotten off subject (I do that a lot).

So I gather information. This action makes me feel empowered; I know more about myself and my community. And honestly, gathering information gives me a sense of control about my world. Sometimes I don’t realize that other people, especially those in my immediate circle, need information as well in order to have that same sense of control. It’s a basic concept that I learned many years ago, when I first started studying Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication. When people are put into an unfamiliar setting, there is a primal urge to gather information so they are in control and can make healthier decisions. So if, as communicators, we take away information, we add to the panic a person feels when experiencing something unfamiliar. At this point I could go on  and on about communicating in an emergency but what I really want to do is bring this to a more personal level.

I’m reminded of how it feels to be waiting on communication, whether it is from the doctor, an agency, my friends or even my children, and I realize that it can be frustrating. Just because I’m aware of a situation (like how to make a 72 hour emergency kit) doesn’t mean that someone else is as clued in. Communication with a spouse,* family and friends is more important than many of us realize. Because communication=a sense of control. Everyday I wake my son up with a weather report and a schedule. “Carsten, it’s Monday morning. You are going to school and I’m going to work. The sun is shining and boy is it warm already. Let’s get up and find some shorts to wear.” Honestly, I do that. Why? Because my son has anxiety disorders and he needs to feel in control of his surroundings by knowing exactly what is going to happen that day.

My point is, if someone close to you expresses a need for more communication, don’t immediately take offense (like I may or may not do) and realize that they have an internal need for something more. Help those around you make good decisions by providing information. Don’t be afraid to communicate. If all else fails, call me. I will communicate for you.

 

*disclaimer: I don’t have a spouse. In fact, I divorced 2.

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Inspiration is better with a soundtrack.

Several mornings ago I was driving to work in a horrible mood. The kind of morning that started off with a late wake up, coffee spilled down the front of your shirt and stubbing of two toes with two kids in the background complaining that they don’t want the breakfast you made, they want the super sugary, good for nothing, marketed directly to children kind of cereal that I don’t even buy. What’s wrong with homemade oatmeal? Honestly!

So we finally get to the car and I’m ready to make a left handed turn onto HWY 95 from my residential street. I figured I had less than 2 seconds to get in front of a major group of vehicles that were likely coming from Lake Havasu City. Yes, I was the jerk that pulled out in front of you all. And yes, Mike from the Health Department, I saw you too (thanks for the scary honk). There I was trying to keep up with the monstrous wolf pack, cranky as can be and wishing I had more coffee. That’s when something awe-inspiring happened. My daughter turned on the music.

Instantly, I felt better. My face relaxed, my hands opened their death grip on the steering wheel and I slowed down to a modest 60MPH, letting the wolf pack pass me by. My head nodded and I started singing along to the dulcet tones of Iron and Wine.

“I should get a Tajine to cook in,” thought I. “What an inspiring thought,” I replied… to myself.

That is the exact moment it hit me. Right as I was passing the outrageously large sign for the casino… Inspiration is better with a soundtrack! The music that I was listening too had calmed me and my negative emotions gave way to creative ones. Instantly flashes of the best musicals popped into my head. It makes sense doesn’t it? When a character in a musical experiences an emotion (like inspiration), they suddenly break out in song and dance. Don’t pretend like you never wanted to do it. Just last week radio DJ Josh Savino erupted in dance when he realized he had the power to host the Miss La Paz County Scholarship Pageant. In fact, I will be the first to admit that I occasionally sing “I Feel Pretty” or “Seventy-Six Trombones” and most often “Good Morning” when the mood strikes.

So why music? That morning I got into work and checked Facebook (disclaimer: I run all social media accounts for work so that is part of my everyday job) and saw that someone had posted this:

A recent study reveals something I’ve believed for a long time…listening to your favorite songs increases optimism and joy while squashing negativity and sadness. That’s because hearing tunes you love triggers the release of feel-good endorphins in the brain.”  

Reeeaaahhee he he heeaaaly? I did some research and sure enough, there is a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center that shows a relationship between music and the cardiovascular system. It seems as though the blood vessels dilate (expand) when participants of the study listened to certain types of music. The article went on to say that endorphins likely played a role in the overall good feeling we get when listening to certain types of music. Also interesting was the fact that when participants listened to country music, they experienced the most dilation of blood vessels but when they listened to heavy metal, the blood vessels constricted.

My experience that morning was excellent. I decided that I wanted to play around with different songs and see which had the most calming and inspiring effect on me. In short, what would be my ultimate inspiration soundtrack? I came up with this short list:

  1. Great Heights, Iron and Wine
  2. Cinder and Smoke, Iron and Wine
  3. Love and Some Verses, Iron and Wine
  4. The Shrine, Fleet Foxes
  5. Grown Ocean, Fleet Foxes
  6. Battery Kinzie, Fleet Foxes
  7. Bedouin Dress, Fleet Foxes
  8. Skinny Love, Bon Iver
  9. Lovers in Love, Portugal. The Man
  10. The Sun, Portugal. The Man
  11. Got it all, Portugal. The Man
  12. So American, Portugal. The Man
  13. Home, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  14. Scarbough Fair, Simon and Garfunkel

Is this an odd list to you? I’m super curious to know what you would put on your list. What would be your top inspiring song? Let me know in the comments below and keeping being inspired.

Christmas Newsletter?

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My son's greatest moment in 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Holiday everyone! Or Merry Christmas if you prefer but since I’m boycotting the belief that there is a war on Christmas, I’m gonna say Happy Holidays. So I’ve gotten several of your Christmas/Holiday newsletters by email and it made me realize, I haven’t done my Holiday/Christmas newsletter by email. In fact, I’ve never done one.

That’s about to change. RIGHT NOW!.

Because I know everyone one of you want to hear about me and my family. We are that awesome.

So 2011 was a year of love and anxiety. After all, it is the year before 2012 so we spent the entire year knowing the world was going to end and I’m really upset about that. I haven’t gotten to my 3rdmarriage yet and I was really looking forward to that one. It also brought me a year full of wondrous inspiring love. The kind of love that makes grown women believe in fairy tales again. Love that inspires you to write poetry and read all your romance novels in a new light. Love that drives sadness and loneliness away with a great laugh. Love that brings hope and dreams. That’s right. I finally got a unicorn.

My Unicorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO I DIDN’T YOU GUYS! You fall for the funniest things.

Hipster D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter turned 12 this year but didn’t do anything amazing like all of the children in the other letters I read. She’s got a pretty sarcastic humor and dresses like some hippie pixie that crawled out of the forest and just discovered facebook. She’s been playing the flute for 3 years but is still in beginning band. Meh. Recently she took up cheerleading and looks sort of cute because all the other kids are a foot taller than she is. But you know what? They are all gonna cry when they see how adorably petite and beautiful she turns out to be. Her grades are extremely average and I suspect she walks around singing Party Rock Anthem in her head. I can’t get her to go to bed at a decent hour because she is constantly reading or crafting and I recently walked in on her writing poetry. Hopeless, I know.

Gangsta C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son is 6 and in Kindergarten. I’m not really sure if he is going to make it out of Kindergarten.  We did an experiment and let his hair grow really long and curly in the beginning of the school year. Then during the second semester we cut it to look like a regular boy cut. I noticed that he went from not getting into trouble to suddenly having all of his recesses taken away. Coincidence? I haven’t discovered any real hidden talents in him and I’m really hoping I do. Sometimes kids with ADHD like my son have these amazing abilities but so far the only ability he has is to make a mess. Also I suspect that he is a vegetarian. He isn’t too big on eating meat but loves to eat asparagus and other strange vegetables. Maybe his hidden talent is gardening? Sweet! Personally, I hope his hidden talent is cooking because I really want a personal chef.

I haven’t traveled to any place awesome but I have thought about it. Aaaaaand, I looked at pictures of far away places on the internet. This only makes me realize that I need to have a real vacation. So, that brings me to 2012. Instead of New Year Resolution I’m going to create my Apocalyptic To Do List. But I will save that for another post because I really need to think about it. No way I want to put up something totally stupid and unattainable like losing weight or something.

So, what will be on your Apocalyptic To Do list?

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