Why gratitude and service go hand in hand

As we head into the season on gratitude and giving, I wanted to focus my columns on what it meant for our community and for ourselves. I hope you enjoy reading this four-part series and reflecting on what this means for you. All four columns linked below.


Be the Helper You Need To See in the World

Whether it’s in friendship or community, it’s hard, satisfying work for which nothing is owed and no one has to earn. It’s our humanity. This season of gratitude and joy let’s say “yes” to the work that needs doing and discover the helper within. Read the column HERE.

Volunteering Helps Both the Community and the Volunteer

There’s also some science to the idea of helping oneself by helping others. Snyder’s research showed that those who volunteer long-term don’t stay for altruistic reasons alone; they keep going back because they see the benefits in their own lives. Read the column HERE.


How Cultivating Your Purpose Begins With Knowing Yourself

How we react, overcome and persevere is intrinsically tied to our sense of purpose and it turns out that purpose is tied to how well we know ourselves. Burrow says it this way: “We might start to think of identity as sort of a foundational layer of self-understanding that when you are equipped with a sense of identity, you might stand a chance at figuring out and cultivating your sense of purpose.”

Purpose is a life aim, something that’s always in front of you and never quite finished. It’s different from a goal. Purpose is connected to our well-being and provides stability. Read the column HERE.

It’s OK to gush with gratitude, so let the love flow

The more thank-you cards I wrote the easier it became, and I noticed a shift. Something was happening internally. I stopped using a script and I started just writing in real-time. It shifted from a practice to sending something truly heartfelt. I could feel the gratitude radiating from me as I wrote. A big smile would form on my face, and sometimes I would well up with tears. My gratitude was deep and real, and though I had felt gratitude before, writing it out by hand for my intended recipient helped me feel it in full. Read the whole column HERE

How Cemeteries Get Creative to Survive in Their Role of Caring for the Dead

“As a teenager, I frequently walked to St. Stephen Cemetery after school to sit by my mom’s headstone. She died in a car accident when I was seven and I didn’t confront what that meant for me until adolescence.

“A local cemetery frequently hosts events and entertainment in their space, and it didn’t sit with me well at first. It seemed flip. Disrespectful at the least. An exploitation of death at worst. It bothered me and I had questions. Luckily, I knew just who to ask.

Cole Imperi is not only a friend but a leader in the death community. She’s a thanatologist, an expert on death and dying, and she is the president of the Board of Overseers for Historic Linden Grove Cemetery & Arboretum in Covington, Kentucky. Imperi helped me understand what I was missing. When a historic cemetery can no longer perform burials because they are full, how does the cemetery afford the maintenance and management of an expansive graveyard that’s over 175 years old?”

Read the whole column at the link below:

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.

How being a lazy gardener makes life a little sweeter for pollinators. Let industrious squirrels pick up the slack in the fall

These three columns focus on nature in the fall. How squirrels play an important roll in planting oak trees, how lazy gardeners are good for mother nature and why goldenrod doesn’t deserve its bad rap. Help pollinators overwinter by putting down your rakes and letting your garden look like a bit of a mess.

Fall nature series:

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.

Where Are the Hispanic Executives? Why Representation and Mentoring Matter

for Hispanic Heritage Month I wanted to shine a light in a dark spot and I’m grateful that my husband let me write his story to help do that. I hope you’ll read and share.

“My husband, who is also Hispanic, has worked in manufacturing for over 25 years. He started in accounts receivable and then moved to operations, working first on a manufacturing line. He’s encountered bigotry and racism while forging his own path to upper management. One of his early supervisors thought it was cute to call him “spicktacular,” and she honestly believed she was paying him a compliment. Another manager questioned my husband’s motives when he helped a Spanish-speaking hourly worker write an incident report in English for human resources.

“Now my husband is the plant manager of a local auto manufacturing plant. He is also the only nonwhite manager at his factory. Recently, my husband came home from work with quite a different story. A Hispanic hourly worker approached him to say that because of him, she has an example for her teenage son. She tells her son, “No nomas somos trabajadores.” Which means, “We are not just workers.”

“Workplace representation matters. It not only matters for aspirational employees, but a study from McKinsey and Co. also found that diverse businesses enjoy increased profits as well as better employee engagement, access to talent and consumer insight.”

Read the full column below.

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.

Breastfeeding Moms Need Support to Succeed

“Last week, a Washington mom made news by getting kicked out of a restaurant for breastfeeding her infant son. Women need support, not judgement, and certainly not shame when feeding their babies. The restaurant owner made a bad situation worse when responding to the family’s online review, “Be like decent people not like animals, there are places for everything and this place is not to breastfeed your children.”

“The science supports that “breast is best,” but what we don’t talk about is that the most common deterrent from breastfeeding is lack of support.”

Read the full column below

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.

The Disruption This World Needs

Bonnie Jean with her son at the park

“We like to talk about “getting back to normal” which feels like a comfy old shoe. On the other hand, a “new normal” was thrust upon us, born from necessity with masks, sanitizer and social distancing. However, the pandemic has carried on long enough that I no longer crave getting back to some pre-COVID-19 before times “normal.” Something in me has crossed over.

“I want more from life.

“Humanity is in a collective existential crisis.

“Our mortality is being showcased, and we’re all coping in real time in our own way. Whether that’s in denial, in faith, through science or ritual, we are all taking a hard look at what it means to live.”

Read the whole column at the link below.

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.


Parent choice for masks isn’t helpful in the classroom

Teaching a class of 25-plus kids requires some uniformity and consistency in expectations for the day to run smoothly. Why then, are people advocating for “parent’s choice” when it comes to school mask mandates?

Read the full column linked below

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.


Back-To-School Mental Health Series

Bonnie Jean with her family for her son’s first birthday.

So many things in the press recently have come with a mental health cry for our children. Mask mandates, Critical Race Theory, Transgender rights… “Our poor children.”

In this back-to-school mental heath series I take a look at what the mental health issues of back-to-school really are, with the help of a few mental health experts along the way. Below, is the result. Both in a 50-minute podcast and four short columns. I hope you’ll listen, read and share.

Parent Footprint Podcast with Dr. Dan Peters

Thank you Dr. Dan Peters for inviting me on the Parent Footprint Podcast to talk about my back-to-school mental health series. Listen to it here or at the link below.

Dr. Dan talks to award-winning columnist Bonnie Jean Feldkamp about her new three part Back To School series which focuses on therapy, mental wellness, parenting mistakes, adolescent milestones, masks, and more. Bonnie passionately believes that prioritizing mental health is even more important than other Back To School essentials like backpacks, new sneakers, and haircuts.

Mental Health is a Back To School Essential with Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

Dr. Dan talks to award-winning columnist Bonnie Jean Feldkamp about her new three part Back To School series which focuses on therapy, mental wellness, parenting mistakes, adolescent milestones, masks, and more. Bonnie passionately believes that prioritizing mental health is even more important than other Back To School essentials like backpacks, new sneakers, and haircuts.


Read the Back-to-School Mental Health Columns

Unmasking Support for Mental Health in School

If you are pro-mental health of kids or pro-suicide prevention, then you should consider supporting policies that benefit youth mental health across the board.
Read More…

Mental Health Matters More Than Adolescent Milestones

Though I didn’t have a pandemic to contend with, I saw my bright, talented kid struggling and wanted the best for her. But taking a “timeout” for mental health seemed like it would just add to her hardships down the road. 
Read More

Therapy Is a Valuable Parenting Resource

Vulnerability requires courage, and parents should cultivate trust and create a safe space for their children to be vulnerable in both good and challenging times. Creating emotional equity in regular conversations that prioritizes mental health and normalizes talking about our feelings will help diffuse some of the shame that society has attached to psychological wellness. 
Read More…

Making Peace with Parenting Mistakes

I love my children, but love doesn’t make anyone perfect. I know my intentions, but I also know that I still don’t agree with every choice my parents made for me. My goal was to do better than my parents, but it turns out I’m not any better; I’m just different. Now that I’m older and have children of my own, I do understand more, but I’m also trying to understand it from both ends.
Read More…

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.

The Challenges I’ve Faced Trying to Manage My Weight with Psoriatic Arthritis

It’s hard to do everything you know you “should” be doing when symptoms like pain and fatigue keep getting in the way.

“Though it’s logical to think that managing your weight can also help manage your quality of life, that’s easier said than done when your body hurts.”

Read the article at the link below.

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.

Making Peace with Parenting Mistakes

This is my bonus column for the back-to-school mental health series.

If you missed the first column read it here: Unmasking Support for Mental Health in School,
The Second one is here: Mental Health Matters More Than Adolescent Milestones
The Third one is here: Therapy Is a Valuable Parenting Resource

This week’s column is linked below.

“Conversations with my daughter revealed that she feels some of my parenting choices have even caused her lasting damage. I love my children, but love doesn’t make anyone perfect. I know my intentions, but I also know that I still don’t agree with every choice my parents made for me. My goal was to do better than my parents, but it turns out I’m not any better; I’m just different. Now that I’m older and have children of my own, I do understand more, but I’m also trying to understand it from both ends.”

Read more from Bonnie Jean HERE and HERE.