Month: February 2015

5 Senses; being present in the moment

Sound, sight, touch, smell, taste.  Our bodies are made so that if one of these senses is compromised, others are more fine tuned and sensitive.

I have some things to say about being present in the moment with all five senses within my own life (to come in a moment).  But, where I want to start is with the people that I work with.  I’ve written before that I am a Recreation Therapist, more precisely, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.  I work with people with disabilities in care home settings where I visit and provide services on a quarterly basis.  Many of the people I work with are not responsive to activities that others may be, and that’s where I’ve used Sensory Stimulation.  My definition of Sensory Stimulation is: using activities that rely heavily on the five senses to help create responses or emotions; with people that I work with that at times would not otherwise respond.

I have many, many, stories and experiences I can look back on, but one of my favorites happened over 10 years ago.  There was a man who lived in one of the care homes that I had consulted for who was unresponsive to activities I offered, other than giving eye contact, or at times crying.  During one visit, possibly my 30th time working with him, I placed his feet on a vibrating foot pad.  As I put pressure on the foot pad for the vibrating to be activated, he laughed out loud.  Everyone in the room lit up, staff, other clients, we were all excited to hear him laugh.  He continued to laugh off and on for a few moments, and it was an amazing successful experience.

I saw a video on Facebook last week that just made me smile.  Check it out:

I love this video.  Sound, music, a fathers voice and touch, all produced that amazing smile and dancing.

Therapeutic Recreation is about promoting quality of life through recreation.  I have found that Sensory Stimulation both when used in my profession, as well as personally has absolutely promoted quality of life.

I’ve written before about how music is so powerful, it can send you back to a moment in time, bring out emotions at the first sound of a musical chord or beat.

Sound, it’s powerful.  My husband tells the story often about how when our son was born, and I was still in the hospital with him, my husband came home, and the door made a squeak when he closed it.  He said it sounded like a sound our new baby made, and then opened and shut the door over and over again.

Smell is another powerful sense.  I did a workshop on Sensory Stimulation a few years back.  One of the activities was smelling different items that were in unmarked jars and identifying them.  A colleague of mine smelled the peppermint sample, and said that it brought back an instant memory of Christmas time as a child when her mom used to pull her tights up and accidentally pinch her legs in the process when getting ready for a holiday get together.  She was floored because she hadn’t thought of that memory, yet smelling the peppermint promoted it.

The smell of freshly cut grass, it can bring so many back to the sports of their youth, along with the emotions that are attached it it.

Taste is crazy.  I love my food.  A good friend made a salad dressing that I really liked a few years back.  Whenever I had it, there was a familiar feeling that I couldn’t place with a memory.  After many times having that same dressing in my present day, it finally came to me, it was like a salad dressing that was from a restaurant I would eat lunch at during my early 20’s while I worked at a bank job while going to college.  And now each time I have that, I am brought back to those times, all the feelings of my life at that time, including the insecurities and unsureness of what my future would hold.  Crazy stuff.

I don’t have to explain too much about sight.  You can see something that reminds you of someone or something, and the emotions it can provoke can be so raw.

Here’s my tie back into my own need to incorporate all 5 senses more often:

Multitasking is the norm, for myself, as well as about everyone else I know.  The amount of times I am truly ‘in a moment’ rather than thinking of other things, or what I need to do next, it’s too embarrassing of a number to admit.

I gave this story of my real life experience during my workshop on Sensory Stimulation:

I was sitting in my front yard one late afternoon, in a big chair, with a nice glass of wine.  It was one of those rare moments where (as a mom of three kids with a husband, two dogs, three cats, yet no chickens at the time) no one needed anything.  I sat back, sipping my wine, looking up at the sky.  All of a sudden, all I could hear were birds.  Like some crazy call of the wild, Ace Ventura apartment call type bird sounds everywhere.  It was a bit psychedelic for a moment, as I looked and watched birds fly from nearby trees, making conversation as they went.  I had never paused enough to realize how many flippin’ birds were in my front yard, let alone take a moment to listen to them.  As my family members found me for different levels of need, I pointed out the birds and their sounds.  I think they all thought I had officially lost it as I sat looking and listening to the birds that have always been there.  It just took me until that moment to pause and let my senses bring things to my attention.

Another example, running on the treadmill.  It’s awful, no one ever talks about it being fun.  I turn the TV on, pass the time.  The goal is the workout.  I did a run (I don’t call it a race, because that would be hysterical, I don’t race, I go from point A to B, not too fast) in San Francisco that went from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate a few years back.  Same goal, a workout, fun with friends, but a workout no less.  As I looked over to my right, a pelican speared the water and came up with a fish and flew away.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Same workout, but rather than watching the regurgitated news on TV, I was smelling the sea water, and watching a frickin’ pelican pluck a fish out of the water.  So cool.

I know I need more moments where I take in all that my senses want to give me.  To slow down and truly ‘be in a moment’ like I so want to be more often.  To realize it’s a ‘perfect moment’.

I took a video of this perfect moment from a couple of years ago, because I didn’t want to forget it.  Lake Tahoe, at sunset, my middle daughter hanging on a boogie board in the water, never turning down an invitation to be at the beach.  It was perfect, the sight, the sound, the smell, sipping on a glass of wine, and my feet in the sand.  Here are pictures from that moment:

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I’m hoping to slow down and pay attention to all 5 senses at once for many more ‘perfect moments’ in 2015.

 

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Little moments, with a soundtrack.

One of those perfect moments happened yesterday.  Little and perfect.  Just a moment that makes you think ‘this is good stuff.’

My daughters and I took the dogs for a long walk to the creek, girls were on their bikes, I was walking the dogs, getting a good workout.

On our way back from the creek, where the dogs and girls played, I was walking alongside my 9 year old daughter.  She was looking straight ahead, pedaling, and in her own world while singing Maroon 5’s latest song out loud.  Not for me to hear, just singing to herself, happy.  I looked at her, and just couldn’t help but smile.

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I love that my kids have a love for music.  They are like sponges, they pick up on lyrics so quickly.  But then again, I knew the entire album of Barbara Streisand/Barry Gibb album Guilty, as well as Carole King’s Tapestry, and Diana Ross and The Supreme’s Greatest Hits, as well as many Four Tops and Temptations songs courtesy of my parents.

I can be brought straight back to a moment in life that was attached to a song, now Maroon 5’s Sugar will bring me back to a perfect moment watching my youngest, with big sister just a bit ahead of her.

I recently found out my son has songs as a soundtrack to moments in his life too.  When we heard Calvin Harris’ Feel So Close, my son said ‘this is the song that played when we were driving in San Francisco with our cousins last year’.  He told me that song always reminded him of that day when he heard it.

I can hear songs that instantly put a smile on my face, as well as songs that can make me get a look of disgust, or even sadness, just by hearing the first few chords.  I’m happy that I have a new song to smile to, one that I really hadn’t even listened to closely before!

 

 

I miss Little League

At the end of each season my son played Little League, I was ready for it to be done.

But at the beginning of each season, I couldn’t wait for it to start.

I miss the raw confidence the 9 year olds had as they walked up to the plate. And I miss the swagger the 11 and 12 year olds had gained and displayed when they walked up to the plate.

I have often joked that I will one day be found when I am an old lady watching random kids playing their Little League games. Because I miss it.

I miss the familiar fields, the rules, the families, watching the same players return year after year.

I miss seeing the young players hanging on the fence of the Majors field with the light up scoreboard, thinking one day they will be in that ‘show’. I miss seeing my son, taking the mound on that big field, wondering how did it go so fast from when he was watching an inch from the chain link fence, in awe of the big guys.

I miss the pure definition of being a fan. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, thrilled to watch your kid play. Watching plays that you know belonged on that days ESPN top 10, as well as some that let’s just say, were interesting!

My son’s self proclaimed ‘walk home run’ at about age 9 where he was walked then proceeded to manage to steal all the way across home plate.

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Game ball from 1st home run.  (A “walk-home-run”)

Fast forward to his 12 year old year, stands full. Family, friends, and what makes Little League so special, fellow Little League families that didn’t even have a kid playing, just there to support a 12 year old TOC game.  My kid hits one over the fence. Legit. I cry thinking about it.

I miss Little League.

I don’t miss all the work, but I miss being proud of all the work that was accomplished.  Volunteering at that level is a thankless job.  Watching people come together to make life moments for kids, that’s so special.

I miss each and every night, the center of my husband and my conversations being about the team.  We talked about practices, games, funny stories that happened, bad behaviors, and amazing plays.  The heartbreak of a tough loss at that level, when you are so involved, it’s truly crushing.  I know that may sound silly, but that’s what made it so special.  We were all in.  It wasn’t perfect, there’s no way to coach kids, and to volunteer countless hours for there never to be mistakes.  But it was always for the kids.

To watch those kids round the bases at Opening Day Ceremonies as their name was called and their fans cheered, nothing like it.

To watch a kid hit one into the outfield, or over the fence and see him run the bases, nothing like it.

To watch a kid that’s struggled, the whole season, to get that base hit, and to see his teammates cheering louder than the fans, nothing like it.

I miss it.  I do.  Feeling a part of something so important, hoping to instill values of sportsmanship and integrity, it was so special as I step away and look back.

I don’t miss the work, the Board positions, the field clean ups, the prepping and repairs of fields that my husband enjoyed raising his hands for.

But I do now miss the twice a week games at the Little League ballpark.

So many memories were made there.  So many lifelong friendships.  Both for my son, and for our family.

My daughters at the time would of course complain that we were going to ‘another game?’  But as the last game of my son’s Little League career came to a close, they were sad and shed tears.  My daughters grew up on those fields too, playing with other siblings of the team, eating countless cups of shaved ice, and enjoying the safe familiar territory of the fields.  My middle daughter even played Little League softball one year, and played Minor B baseball with the boys one year as well.  Those were really tough years, I wished there was a rainbow bridge across the parking lot so I could watch both my son and my daughter’s games at the same time.  I was fortunate enough that a few of the games were on the same sides of the field, and I’d set up shop right between them in the outfield grass.

My husband still has the honor of being called ‘coach’.  Some that were his Little Leaguers are still calling him that on his travel teams that we have since been a part of.  These teams have been amazing, boys playing a high level of baseball, demonstrating skills that I hadn’t anticipated seeing for years to come.  There has been some sweet successes with our travel team, and I am so glad I still get the honor and opportunity to watch my kid, as well as so many I’ve watched about as long as him play the sport they love.

As much as I enjoy watching baseball currently.  I miss Little League.  I remember talking to my husband and son that his 12 year old Little League year, that was the last year just to have pure fun.  From there, baseball will probably get more serious, especially as it moves into high school.  Although, serious is what you could call many of the moments in the seasons we shared during Little League, it was the sense of a common goal.  It was the territorial way we supported our League.  We still go back and watch when we can, especially All Stars and TOC games.  It’s so special.

Those years were busy, filled with a lot of work, but some of the best memories of our lives are in those Little League years.  For that, I miss it.

Keep fighting the fight.

I am very fortunate that at this time I seem to be in between rounds of my fight against migraines.  I am a realistic person, and not going to say that I am retired from fighting.  I just know that what I’m doing right now, is winning the fight.  What started as a blog surrounding my migraines, has allowed me to write about all sorts of things while I’m in between rounds, and it’s been fun.

During this time, I’ve referred back often to my ‘anti-migraine potion‘ that seems to be what’s working for me.  I’ve recently talked to two people I know about their current struggle with migraines, and the frustration that comes with it.  I wish there was a magic one size fits all pill for migraine sufferers, but there is not.  The pill that I was instructed to take unfortunately held hands with possible side effects of suicidal thoughts and the lack of being able to put a sentence together.  That was when I knew I had to try everything else I had ever read about before succumbing to that option.  Some people are lucky and are able to find the right fit to help combat their migraines.  For the ones who haven’t found their answer to help relieve their migraines yet, keep pressing on, keep exploring options for what will work for you.

I went to the doctor yesterday for a routine physical.  As I arrived in the office, I semi-panicked wondering if the spots in my eyesight were from the bright sunlight coming though the windows, or if a migraine was coming on.  Anxiety and panic swept through me as I began to rub my forehead, and then press my earlobes closed multiple times.  Not sure why I feel like this helps maybe prevent one, but I do feel that, so I had no shame in putting my fingers in my ears and pressing repeat as I was in the middle of talking to the receptionist, reporting to her that I was worried a migraine may be coming on.  I then went on to make myself yawn a few times (I read somewhere that yawning relaxes your body and could prevent a migraine from coming on.  Whatever, it’s now part of my routine.)  No shame.  I don’t care about looking cool, or even sane if any of my weird habits work.  No migraine came, and I  think it’s safe to say it’s not because I closed my ears about 20 times, but it makes me feel better.  My migraine fear was still on my mind as I realized it was funny to list my vitamin and herbal supplements as the three things I take as my ‘medications’ for the first time in that doctors office, the nurse not familiar with what any of them were.  The doctor, after learning about my migraines, pulled up some information on an electronic headband type thing that is supposed to be beneficial to migraines that he recently read about and found interesting.  Here it is.  You never know, it may be an added step to accompany my ear closing regimen in the future.

 

http://www.cefaly.ca

Migraines are so much more than just a headache.  Migraines often come with, or lead to, both anxiety and depression.  These are the things that at times can take a bigger toll than the actual migraine itself.  Having people around you that listen to you, and respect what you are experiencing makes such a difference.  Be your own detective, keep pushing the envelope if and when your doctor wants to give you their auto-migraine-sufferer-speech and auto-prescriptions.  Research.  Not only medical research, but research other migraine sufferers.  I have found a wealth of information through following people who blog about their migraines.  Find the best option for you!

I am going to continue to celebrate between my rounds of this fight.  Good luck to you, keep fighting the fight!

 

My husband is my best friend…NOT

“My husband is my best friend.”

If a note were passed to me and it said ‘who is your best friend?’ My husband’s name is not who I would write down.  And I think that is perfectly ok.

I chose my husband, out of all of the people in the world to spend my entire life with, together side by side until my very last breath.  I think that’s pretty good.  And I’d still pick him, all these years later.  Pretty damn good.

I am so fortunate, I have always had a fantastic set of friends throughout my life, many of them best friends.  My husband has a ton of great friends also, many of them still strong friendships from childhood.

Honestly, I don’t think my husband would want the roll as my best friend if he sat down and thought about it.  Here are some things he’d have to do as my best friend, and he’d hate it:

  • Talk about the percentage that was saved by using the Safeway Club Card off of the whole bill.  Compare and discuss for about 15 minutes.
  • Talk about how Trader Joe’s really isn’t that expensive, like I had the impression of.  Proceed to list my favorite things to buy there, compare, then discuss for about 15 minutes.
  • While away for a weekend, sit and lounge in jammies for the day while ordering movies on pay per view.
  • Talk about what we want to have for dinner at breakfast time.
  • Text about a reference to an event that had happened about 10 years ago, with full expectation of a best friend being able to nail the reference, and respond.
  • Wake up, not sleep through a phone call that is being received after a best friend has gone to sleep.  This hour of phone call would only mean that a) something is wrong, or b) something was really funny that couldn’t wait until the next day.
  • Talk to me on the phone while we are both making dinner and discuss what exactly we are making, how to make it, where we got the ingredients, and who will and won’t eat it in the family.  This may or may not relate back to a prior Safeway or Trader Joe’s conversation.
  • Order an extra mascara for a best friend when placing your order because she likes it too.
  • Get teary eyed when a best friend is emotional over something.
  • Send texts to each other of your drink when you’re having your best friends favorite beer with ‘wish we were having one together.’
  • Make homemade snickerdoodle cookies when your best friend gives birth just in case the chocolate chips would affect the breast milk.
  • Have important, lengthy conversations about people who are famous i.e.: Is Bruce Jenner transitioning into a woman?  Do you think that Jay-Z and Beyonce are splitting up, because I don’t.
  • Texts back and forth with pictures of the song that’s displayed on the car radio, or just a song that you had heard earlier.  (This also is immediately referenced and replied to.)
  • Make reference to Loony Tunes whenever applicable, as well as other coined phrases from cartoons of our youth.
  • Texting to see if I noticed that E-40 is in the front row behind home plate at the Giants game.
  • Make reference to Eddie Murphy whenever applicable.  (ie:  ‘Sorry about your job’ when someone is bent out of shape.)
  • Always respond with ’24 robbers came knocking at my door’ when a story is started with ‘not last night but the night before.’
  • Laughing and crying at the same episode of Scrubs, or, The Office.
  • When something new is learned about an ex boyfriend, a moment must be taken for discussion, and the discussion must always include how lame he is, and how thankful you are that you dodged that bullet.
  • Have a running list of songs and what memory they pertain to in order to reference at any time.  You must nail this one each and every time.
  • Talk about food.  Endless talks about food.  Even if the particular food has been discussed at length in a prior conversation, be prepared to discuss it’s wonderfulness again.

Here’s the thing, my husband is someone who can make me laugh harder than anyone, and the person that I can have the best time with.  Although, he’s also the one that can make me see red.  My best friends help level that playing field at times.  Kinda like a shield to my husband for when I’m seeing red sometimes.  If I can talk and vent and get things out to my best friend when I’m annoyed (or pissed) it takes A LOT of edge off of me, and therefore doesn’t get fired back on him. There are times, every now and then, when I’m mad over something, and those every now and then times, I can overreact.  (So seldom do I overreact that it really shouldn’t even be mentioned…..ha ha, a bit sarcastic.)  I am someone who needs to vent.  I need to make sense of things in my head before I can move on.    Don’t think that I share everything, or private things about my marriage with my best friends, I don’t want to be misconstrued, the point is that at times venting about something allows me to get over it quicker than if I didn’t!

I’m not a hater, I love to see married couples happy.  If your husband is your best friend, that’s awesome.  This post is my best friend outlook.  I’ll keep my best friends that I’ve made throughout my life.  And I’ll keep him as the person that I chose above all others to spend my life with, that’s a pretty good title if I do say so myself.

Disclaimer:  If you are reading this and thinking my husband’s feelings may be hurt, they aren’t.  He read it, he approved, and thought it was pretty funny.  He’s pretty thick skinned, and has a good sense of humor, two of the many reasons I married him and didn’t just make him a friend!  🙂

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School Sleepover for Teachers

I just finished they 3rd week of my 6th grade long term sub gig.  This one is a pretty sweet gig, I job share with another teacher, resulting in either 2 or 3 days of work per week, flip flopping every other week between the two.  This allows me to constantly ask questions (stalk) my job share partner while trying to allow peace to the teacher I’m filling in for to be with her new little cute son!  (During my long term sub gig last year, I likened myself to Squiggy due to the amount of times I’d throw open my 5th grade neighbor teacher’s door and say ‘hello’ followed by a question.)

 

One thing that came to mind as I was leaving Friday after a 3 day week for me, is that I think a teacher could live at school for the weekend, wake up on Monday for work, and still have a ton of things to do.  It’s like never ending.  Some of the things I think could be done over a weekend, and then still not be caught up:

  • Grade.  Homework, quizzes, projects.  It’s crazy the amount of feedback and grading that you teachers provide.  Just last week after math had ended a half hour prior, I had five students ask me if their quiz had been graded yet.  What?  I proceeded to explain that I am not Superman, or Superwoman if I need to be PC, and that I’m shooting for getting them back tomorrow, which is still pretty impressive!  An 11:00 pm completion of grading that night allowed for me to pass them back the following day.  🙂
  • Plan.  Oh my gosh, this could last weekends and weekends.  To have your lesson plans all worked out, laid out in front of you so you could just say ‘GO’ to yourself as you walked into the room.  But even when you have the basics covered, you could then spend endless time dazzling things.  Finding videos, pictures, books, props to support what you are going over to make sure that you’ve tried to reach each and every kid in some way.  Never ending.
  • Clean.  For the love of God, what happens to these floors?  Hole punch pieces.  Broken pencil pieces (who is this person that can shred a pencil into mulch and I don’t see it?)  Is that a smashed Smartie candy?  Kleenex on the floor?  Is it used?  Oh hey look, there’s _____’s test on the floor that they are supposed to get signed tonight.  Sigh.  And the desks?  What goes on that there seems to be a sludge that comes off when a Clorox wipe is applied?  I sat down with a small group after school to work on math at a large table, but had to wipe it down before I’d work with them.  I should take it to a lab to see what they could discover.  There may be a cure for a disease on that wipe.  And this is after wiping it down earlier in the week!!!
  • Rearrange and/or decorate the room.  No further explanation, the amount of time that could be spent on this is exponential I imagine.
  • Care.  The amount of care and attention that is given to students that I have witnessed by my children’s teachers is amazing.  As a stay at home mom first, my job is my kids.  I have said many times that during the school year, my kids are at school for longer periods of the day than they are at home with us.  I have been so fortunate to have my children under the instruction and care of teachers that I have had full faith in.

As a sub, I have to reel myself back in sometimes, remind myself not to get too frustrated if things can get overwhelming, because it’s temporary.  I really enjoy the position, and there are some small things that I have found can shoot a little extra sunshine into the day:

  • Raiding the candy.  I haven’t eaten a Jolly Rancher for years.  MAN those are delicious!!!  (Sidenote, do they still make the stick Jolly Ranchers?  The one’s you’d mold to the top of your mouth and pretend that it’s a retainer?)
  • Laughing at lunchtime with adults.  Being a stay at home mom for over 14 years, it is a lovely time getting to eat lunch with adults and laugh!!!
  • The look on a students face when they ‘get it’, such a great feeling.
  • Playing music during study hall or quiet work time.  I haven’t mastered the quiet work time thing yet.  But when it is quiet enough to be able to hear music, I find myself brilliant that the class is being pumped with Pink Floyd…..Symphonic Pink Floyd.  No student has any idea they are listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘Brain Damage’, only I can pick out the lyrics which are being played by a symphony.  Brilliant and super enjoyable.

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I am able to keep the ship afloat, and navigate through some rough waters every now and then, and I am so thankful for the support that I am given.  It’s a fun glimpse into teaching, but I know that the real captains of the ship know all the controls, the routes, and maneuver through courses that only a captain can.

Thanks teachers, you rock!

 

 

 

 

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*gif http://tvland.tumblr.com/post/21380084671/gifs-gone-wild-the-laverne-shirley-edition