Yes, taking five minutes each day to write 3-5 things that made us happy can make a difference in our attitude. And in our life!
I wrote a blog recently about mantras to help you out when you're experiencing a difficult moment. I added some thoughts on happiness journals as well, and I realized I could probably do an entire blog about happiness journals, so here we go!
I had decided earlier in my blog-writing history to write about happiness journals, but thought that probably wasn't necessary.......most of my readers are grandparents and people of a "certain age." We're in our golden years and conventional wisdom tells us, that means our "happy" years. But that's not always the case. Even those of us who consider ourselves happy and content, have times of distress, worry and depression. We miss our children, our grandchildren, old friends. We have health issues that bring about distress and anxiety. Those bad knees or arthritic hips make us downhearted. The list goes on and on. Even when you're going through a difficult situation, you can find small moments of happiness and gratitude. My friend always reminds me that the Apostle Paul when he was emprisoned looked for things that brought him happiness. And we've all read about Nelson Mandela who was in prison for 27 years in South Africa found joy in his jail cell.
The old adage says, "Bloom where you are planted!" So let's do this.
I told you in a recent blog that a friend had told me about happiness journals. Then I saw Shawn Achor on a talk show telling about the same thing, and I was sold on the concept. Shawn is a teaching assistant at Harvard University and taught a course on happiness. He's also written numerous books on the subject including, The Happiness Advantage and The Happiness Project. I'll link some websites at the end of my blog. Shawn says keeping such a journal on happiness or gratitude for a month actually rewires the brain. It resets it to look for small moments that bring you joy. And as we've heard over and over, gratitude in small things is the key to happiness.
So it's pretty straightforward. Just find a little journal or notebook and start recording those things. And really, they are tiny little things........not necessarily big moments like a birthday party, but small things, like the smell of popcorn popping in the microwave.
Don't want to go to all the trouble of having a journal set aside for "moments of gratitude"? Then just add some pages to your date book.
Yes, I still keep a paper calendar or date book. I like the idea of writing things down in a date book and checking it each day. I realize there are phone apps, but I still like the act of writing things down on paper. So since I still have an appointment with my calendar first thing in the morning and the last thing in the evening, I used some of the extra pages for writing things that made me happy. Here, I'll let you take a look:
I took photos of things that make me happy, so that you can see they are very simple things. Just some small moments that can really lift your mood on a down day.
But wait! There's more!!
You can even get online, and Google "gratitude journals," and find writing prompts that can help you along in your happiness quest. Here are some sample questions:
I love gratitude journals. They just help you to refocus on the things that are really important. Writing your small blessings can reduce stress and help you to live in the moment. It can lift your mood on a down day, or even when you're going through really difficult times. Even during those times you can find something to be grateful for.
Want to read more about them? Try this article from the Huffington Post:
I'll end today's blog with one of my favorite things I'm grateful for: SUNSETS! Being a west Texas gal, from the home of the world's most glorious sunsets, I love them. I always try to make each list of my five happy things unique and try not to repeat, but sunsets make my list more times than I can count. Here's one from my sweet niece, Lisa~
Yes, as parents and grandparents, we can help our kids deal with bullies. And it's that important.
When I left the teaching profession back in 2006, conventional wisdom contained a shift in thinking about this difficult subject. The move was from counseling kids to not bully to HOW NOT TO BE A VICTIM. Psychologists and others were telling us that in actuality, it wasn't bullies who were the instigators of mass shootings, but VICTIMS--people who were marginalized by society. And we see that over and over again in today's news.
So this is just another way parents and grandparents can help--and help we must!
I culled articles, books, and blogs on the internet to find suggestions. I've listed some here:
How NOT to Be a Victim of Bullying!
My added thoughts~
I write this blog primarily for grandparents, but I'm hopeful that my friends who are young parents will also take to heart the information in this blog. In the list above, probably the #1 that grandparents are good at is helping your grandchild have good self esteem. We grandparents are good at telling our grands how special they are, how smart they are, how beautiful they are......and the list goes on and on. The only thing I would add is to be specific with your praise. For example, if they always help you when they come over, tell them how much you appreciate that. Say something like, "I am really grateful to have such a fabulous grandson who is always willing to help me when I ask." That way it's not hollow praise. They are learning the traits they have that are special and valuable. You might tell them they are great problem-solvers or have wonderful manners and are respectful which you appreciate. All of these specific compliments help them to realize they ARE special and valued. When they have good self-esteem, they usually think enough of themselves so as not to give in to peer-pressure or bullying. And although I addressed this comment to grandparents, of course parents, aunts, uncles and older siblings can heed this advice too, and build each other up! Let's help our kids out.
Also remember that bullying is not always someone that wants to harm them physically. Most times it's just those "mean girls," or someone who is making fun of them. Those are the sorts of things that really hurt. Help them to deal with that. All the suggestions on this list apply to bullies who use hurtful words.
I don't know about you grandparents or parents, but oftentimes it's helpful to me to have a checklist of things I can do to help my sweet grandchildren navigate this big world. I sure hope this list has helped you, and please let me know of other techniques you have tried.
We're just walking each other home. . .
Information on the "Buddy Bench Project"~
An easy checklist for kids:
Closing thought from Henry James~
"Three things in human life that are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is be kind."
Quick strategies for dealing with modern-day stress and anxiety:
We all suffer from this from time to time--even us grand folks and retirees. Yes, even those of us who have a record of life experience, and know that these moments of anxiousness or difficult days will pass. Today I'm writing for us and our younger friends who are going through times of stress.
I'm seeing more and more articles in the news and online about how to deal with this 21st century world. In my blog from May of this year, I wrote this and shared a quote:
"I saw this on a Facebook page I follow called, The Daily Positive: 'The world we live in IS changing faster than our minds have evolved to handle. And we are all getting to learn how to be more conscious and careful than ever before as to how we learn to manage our emotions and train our minds to handle all this energy it's taking on.' Tara Wagner" (See link at the end of this blog.)
Schools and even entire communities are meditating and doing yoga together to address this need!
There was an article in the Houston Chronicle recently sharing quick techniques to increase one's positivity now. I'll link the article below. In the meantime, I'll share two key points--using a mantra to get through the difficult time/moment, and writing a happiness journal.
Having a mantra is easy and most of you have been doing this for years. You either repeat a Bible verse, song lyric or just a phrase you heard from your mother or grandmother. I have a friend who came up with her own, "Right now, it's like this." She said by adding the "right now," it reminds her that nothing is permanent--even a difficult situation will pass.
So here we go. Here are some mantras I've gathered from friends, family and online. Maybe you can adopt one of these or come up with your own.
Kids use mantras too!
I've had my five-year-old grandson with me this summer, and of course that means watching some of the great children's programing on PBS. More than one show gives kids tips on dealing with various difficulties and gave examples of mantras that they could repeat when they are having a difficult time. I talked with my grandson about this and we tried to come up with mantras. For some reason, most of ours involved nursery rhymes, but hey! Whatever works!
This is a blog for grandparents, so my fellow grandparents, we can help our grands out with this.
My friend Kathy, told me about this one several years ago. I consider myself a fairly happy and positive person, but even this small strategy helped me out. We've heard it time and time again, that in reality, the key to happiness is gratitude, Consequently, these are also called gratitude journals. Another oh-so-simple technique that can make such a big difference in your life.
Live and learn and pass it on!
I do this blog simply to share ideas. I never have come up with these things on my own. They are usually ideas that friends and family have shared with me, or something I've read about that I think others might like as well. Check out these articles and websites:
The article from the Houston Chronicle~
"Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom." James Allen
Sending a friend or family member a care package!
I recently had a friend make a hospital visit with the usual recovery time of six weeks after she gets out. I knew she needed a care package. Someone sent me a "Box of Sunshine" years ago after a hospital stay, so since then, I've tried to pass this sweet custom on. I remember how fun it was to open the package of small little trinkets and favors--really made my day.
So here we go--it's really easy to do. I'm partial to finding items with a "sunshine" color, but you certainly don't have to do that. I just happen to find it fun to find items that fit in with my "sunshine" theme.
You can find lists online or on Pinterest. You can brainstorm your own ideas for items and then go shopping. Or simply walk through a pharmacy or craft store and grab those items you think would be appropriate.
And that's it!
They even have websites where you can order a box of sunshine already prepared, but I like creating my own. That's half the fun! And you can personalize it with items you know your recipient would like.
My friend lives out of town, so I used a box and mailed it. But if your friend is in town, you can use something else--maybe a sweet basket that they can use later. Or even a pretty gift bag. Let your imagination run wild.
With the recent events in our country, it's nice to walk away from the horrible news of the day, all the sad thoughts swirling in your head, and do something for someone else. You might even have a friend who's simply down in the dumps. Take her a box of sunshine! This whole world needs a box of SUNSHINE. Good for the recipient as well as the giver!
Looking for a new hobby? I really recommend writing a blog. I find it very fun. Just pick out one or more of your current interests and do a blog about it. Gardening? Quilting? Needlepoint? Cooking? The list is endless.
And what does writing a blog entail? Well, the writing of course, but that can be minimal, especially if you're sharing recipes or sewing tips. Then there's the research which is also fun and can reenergize your brain. Finally taking photos. I get a kick out of that, especially if I can involve my grandkids. And that's what this week's blog is about--writing a blog and involving your grandchildren. It's important to share your hobbies with your grandchildren, no matter what that hobby is--it doesn't have to be blogging.
Get ideas from your grands.
Since my blog is about grandparenting, I often get ideas from my grandkids. Either something they are currently involved with or something that interests them. For example, that's how my blogs about a costume box came about, and the one about sewing--they wanted to learn how to sew.
They can help with the photos for your blog.
This is mainly how they help me. Oftentimes I will decide to do a blog about some activity we've already done together, But then I discover I have no pictures. We will get together and re-stage it. Sometimes we do an activity together specifically for my blog, and we'll take the pictures as we go. And lastly, I might do a blog on a particular subject, and text them that I need pictures. They are always so sweet to oblige. For instance, I did a blog on yoga, and simply called them requesting pictures. Another time I needed pictures for my "kindness rocks" blog, and once again, they obliged with the photos.
Getting together to work on a blog.
Our "kindness rocks" project involved a lot of togetherness. We got together to paint, and of course, that was fun. I fixed lunch for us that day. Another time, we passed out the rocks down by the waterway, and that enabled us to go on a little excursion. We had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants down there, and then hid our rocks along the boardwalk. Involving your grands in your hobby is ever so much fun!
Getting together is the best, and your grandchildren can learn to be supportive of YOUR hobby all the while everyone is having fun!
Bottom line: whether it's a family activity wherein you take photos as you go, or re-staging a previous event, or specifically taking pictures as needed for your blog, it's all good and it's all FUN!
I started doing a blog just for ME. Who knew it would eventually involve my entire family.
And yes, I often involve my grandsons too. They help as well.
My blog this week has a two-fold purpose:
I asked my granddaughter to share her thoughts on helping me with my blog:
"I love helping my Gigi with her blog. Sometimes she will call and ask me to take some pictures that she needs to complete her blog. And being the lovely granddaughter that I am, I graciously agree ;)
For instance, she once asked me for pictures of my sister and me writing in our journals. On another occasion for Gigi's mindfulness blog, I took pictures of my sister doing yoga. Another topic she blogged about was the grounding technique to handle anxiety. I took a picture of our playroom to demonstrate that you look around your surroundings, and find something you see, feel, hear, and smell.
On another time for a blog about kindness rocks, she had me take pictures of us placing rocks around our neighborhood.
I think it's a great opportunity for me to pinch in and help her with her blog, and give you readers some examples."
If I have convinced you of the fun of blogging, your next question might be, how do I begin? Simply google "creating a blog," and you'll get lots of online help with various sites for making your blog. If I can do it, you can do it. You'll notice at the end of my blog the site that I use. It's very user friendly.
And as always, if you already blog, share the name of your website. I'll share the address on here. And if you do a hobby with your grands, share that as well. We're always looking for new ideas!
As my oldest son's first grade teacher said about him, "He's a spoon. He's always stirring the pot." So I say to you, let's be spoons and stir the pot! It makes for an interesting life!
Until next week!
It's almost back-to-school time! But you still have two or three weeks to take a fun road trip with your older grandchildren. The possibilities of places to go are endless! And the length of time can vary as well, from a short day trip, to a few days, to two-three weeks!
I've taken road trips with my grandchildren when they were pre-schoolers. I've even done a blog about that. Here's the link: www.gigisseasonings.com/blog/road-trips-with-the-grands
But last year my husband and I took a road trip with our pre-teen granddaughters. Instead of zoos and a children's theater, we looked for things that would appeal to these young ladies and their interests. They are both actors who are involved with a local theater group, so we were pretty certain the destination had to be an outdoor theater production in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas. We were off!
Things to consider with older grandkids:
My retired friends have done this as well, and I have their testimonies.
One friend took her grandson on a one-day trip to a famous and historical ranch here in Texas. Besides exploring and learning about the Goodnight Ranch and Charles Goodnight, there is the matter of the sweet conversations between a grandmother and grandson in the car. That's priceless. So even a day trip can be fun. Don't rule that out!
My sister-in-law took her daughter, granddaughter and two great nieces on a road trip to the next town a little over a hundred miles away. Who says it has to be some great, grand trip? It's the time together that counts! And while they visited restaurants and a museum, she reports that the girls' favorite part was the hotel stay. They loved ordering pizza and hanging out by the pool. What teenager wouldn't?
Now....about those car games!
Earlier in the summer, I was trying to plan another trip with my granddaughters, and was researching car games for older kids online. Here are some I think that would appeal to older grands:
Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think!! And this bit of wisdom certainly applies to grandparents, and the time they have with their grandkids. Just do it! It's very rewarding and downright FUN! I hope I've given you ideas and a bit of inspiration. Remember, the whole point of this is to go without their parents! It's your time together!
And as always, please write me about road trips you've taken with your grands. I love to hear, love to get more ideas, and I promise to share here on my blog. Until next week!
"Everyone needs to have access to both grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being." Margaret Mead
Police Appreciation Bags!
I've done this subject before in my blog and with my grandkids, but I can never cover community service enough in my blog. Besides being a great activity to do indoors with your grandchildren in this oppressive heat, you're teaching these impressionable youngsters the importance of appreciating and showing gratitude to our community helpers.
Talk with your kids about all the things these men and women do for us. They often only think about the police as monitoring our roads and highways for speeders. They don't realize all the other jobs they do as far as keeping us safe and intervening in difficult situations.
I like the above quote by John Kennedy. And I need to be reminded of this myself. In these difficult days of our nation where there is so much hate, it is often not enough to just voice our appreciation, but show it by our actions. Do something good for those unsung heroes around us!
This community service project is pretty much straightforward. After you've had the talk about what these members of our community do for us, then plan out what you want to include in their individual bags. You want your grandkids to have ownership of this project too!
We bought some plastic zip-lock bags, laid out all our goodies on the dining room table and began to fill our bags. Of course my grandson helped. Then we invited a cousin to join us when we delivered our appreciation bags to our local police station.
Seriously, this is a great activity to do with your kids and grandkids, We're often looking for things to do with them on these long, hot summer days. It does involve a trip to the grocery store to get the supplies, but it's well worth it to model SHOWING appreciation and not just mouthing the words. "Actions speak louder than words."
And for you grandparents who don't have visiting grandchildren, you can still do this activity. So many of my peers are bakers and lament not having anyone to bake for anymore. Bake some treats for your neighborhood police department. It will absolutely make their day. And yours as well!!
Thank you for reading my blog. Please share it with others. And please share any community service projects you have done with your children and grandchildren. I love to hear and quite often share on this blog.
Until next week: Be the GOOD you wish to see in this world!
Added note: You can get online to find lists of items to include in your bags. It's always helpful to get other ideas and suggestions I know.
Skills kids need for life!
I'm sure you've read the articles and even seen the print-out on Facebook. The one called "40 Old-Fashioned Skills that Kids Need to Know Today." Here's the link:
Or even read the articles about local high schools having "adulting" classes for teens, especially seniors going off to college or career. The schools might spend a day or even a week on such classes, and kids can sign up for those they are interested in and feel they might need. During this time, there might be classes on how to change a tire, how to keep a checkbook, how to cook, and even how to apply for a job.
I see your posts on Facebook about how such things are needed by today's generation and even lamenting that young adults today don't have these basic life skills. But we, as grandparents, can help. In this hectic, modern world, parents can't do it all. That's where grandparents can come in. And even if you don't live in the same town, when they come to visit is another time wherein you can carve out a bit of time for instruction of such skills.
You can start when the grands are small~
I started with some of the items on the list when my grands were small, and I'm sure you did too. Things like GARDENING:
Cooking or even following a basic recipe is on everyone's list for a life skill~
Here's a fun one I'm sure every grandparent has participated in teaching: How to attend a concert or performance and use proper theater etiquette~
How to wash dishes~
Honestly, this is one we shouldn't neglect. Sometimes the electricity goes out. Sometimes that first apartment doesn't have a dishwasher, or at least a functioning one. And those times when there are not enough dishes for a load. You know the drill. Grandkids need to know this simple skill.
How to weigh pro's and con's of a decision~
I pulled this one off the list linked above, and I think it's a good one. I've bought my grandkids journals and even wrote with them, so they'd have some ideas on how to journal. Their journal is a perfect spot for weighing pro's and con's of a decision. Just divide that page in half with a "plus" on one side and a "minus" on the other and start listing...this way you can see which list is longer.
Check out this link for yourself and find out which ones you can help with when you're with your grandkids. It's a good list. And you'll probably be surprised which ones you've already done:
A final word from this blogger:
I've been gone a couple of months. I've missed doing this blog, and I've missed hearing from my readers. I love to share grandparenting ideas, and I REALLY like hearing YOUR ideas and thoughts. It's good to be back. Hope to hear from you soon. And if you've got teenage grandchildren, ask them about "adulting" classes at their school. More and more schools and communities are doing this--even local libraries! Check it out! Remember that African proverb, "It takes a village." And to my way of thinking, we grandparents are the most important members of that village!
Happy July and Happy Grandparenting!
I think we all need this now...another blog about mindfulness and handling stress.
It's true. I was watching the national news the other night and there was a report about the US being the most stressed country in the world. Can you imagine? According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans are feeling stressed and overwhelmed--even angry. (I've posted the magazine article at the end of this blog.)
And then this on a Facebook page I follow called, The Daily Positive: "The world we live in IS changing faster than our minds have evolved to handle. And we are all getting to learn how to be more conscious and careful than ever before as to how we learn to manage our emotions and train our minds to handle all this energy it's taking on." Tara Wagner (I've included this website at the end of my blog.)
I've done a couple of blogs about teaching our grandchildren how to handle stress in this modern world we live in. With these two news reports, it got me to thinking that I also need to stress with my grandkids that how to handle stress is a LIFE SKILL. They need to learn it now and carry the techniques with them their entire life.
As I was researching online for tips for children on how to deal with stress, I found a wonderful poster on a website I'll include at the end of this blog. It had some great ideas for kids on dealing with anxiety including~
I realized my grands do so many of these activities, and I know you grandparents have seen your grands involved in these things too. In fact, you probably encourage many of these things when they visit your home.
Point out to your grandchildren that these things they enjoy doing can help them deal with stress. Instead of yelling at your big sister, or picking on your little brother, go to your room and get out your Legos or do a puzzle. Calming down is a skill they need their entire life.
So I took a page from my teacher book, and my grandson and I made a book with tips on dealing with stress. You might want to consider doing this with your kids, grandkids, and great-grandchildren. Such a nice token when you've been sent to your room for an inappropriate outburst. (Insert chuckle here.) Just grab your "Calm Down" book you made with your grandma or grandpa. Here's the one we made:
Make a book about dealing with stress~
I also found a great little book at the bookstore entitled, "Breathe with Me," by Mariam Gates. In it she describes various breathing techniques with such names as, rainbow breath, dandelion breath, counting breath, and belly breath. It's a good book.
And there you have it! More tips for your youngsters to learn and use to deal with the stress of our modern-day world. I bet you can use some of these too. I know I do!
And how to make that neat little 8-page booklet with NO STAPLES~
My previous blog with mindfulness and breathing techniques for kids. It includes the handouts that we used in our book. Write me via my "Contact Page" and I'll send the handouts.
Finally, another great book to read to your kids:
"Breathe with Me. Using Breath to Feel Strong, Calm, and Happy," by Mariam Gates. Illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder
Looking for fun treats to add to your grandkids' Easter basket? Be sure to include some books!
I recently went shopping for my youngest grandson's Easter basket. Besides the religious books that I wanted to include, I found some good secular books as well.
Easter weekend fun!
Just like you I'm sure, we always dye Easter eggs, bake and decorate cookies with a springtime theme, and of course hide those eggs after church on Sunday. Since my grandson will be with us the entire weekend, I decided we needed to add another activity to the mix. And one that went with the fun books I bought,
A Reading/Art Connection~
Since a chick figured prominently in two of the Easter books I bought, I thought we could make an Easter chick finger puppet. Both books have a familiar plot line and pattern, so besides the craft, we could then use the puppet/puppets we make to act out the story from the book. This is such a good literacy experience for my 5-year-old! It includes reading, art, and dramatics. Anytime you can extend one of your child's favorite books in this way, it makes for a very rich experience for him.
I got online and found a website with instructions on how to make a chick hand puppet:
So I was off to the craft store, my home away from home!
I had these two books in mind as I set out to create one puppet before my grandson gets here. That way, when he makes his puppet, I can anticipate his needs and his abilities.
Another idea with this craft project is to include it as a station during your afternoon of decorating eggs. I don't know about your family, but Saturday's the day we decorate eggs. We make an entire afternoon of it--decorating eggs and cookies. One year we had 2-3 stations in our backyard so that when the grands and cousins completed one task, they could move on to another station. This puppet idea could be added as a station. Then at the end of the party, they could put on a puppet show using the finger puppets and paper sack puppets they have made.
It's all about adding to your family traditions. And what can be better than using a good book for inspiration and fun.
I found these two books at the book store and I think my five-year-old will really like them:
"There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick" by Lucille Colandro and illustrated by Jared Lee. Patterned after Rose Bonne's story, "I Know an Old Lady." Kids of all ages love this cumulative story and song.
"The Night Before Easter," by Natasha Wing. This one is of course patterned after "The Night Before Christmas." Another good story that children love.
And you don't have to wait till Easter to do this. You can add an art activity to ANY book you and your grandchild read together. Things like that just enrich the grandparent/grandchild experience. I'm guessing it's something they'll always remember.
Have fun and Happy Easter!
Website with instructions for making the bunny paper sack puppet:
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!