My Grandpa Lou was my dad’s stepdad and the only grandpa on my father’s side I ever knew. Once, on a visit with him, I lamented that I would have to take a typing class in the fall. I was 15 and entering my sophomore year of high school. We sat at a picnic table in a park and watched my younger cousins run and play. Grandpa assured me that learning how to type would be a vital skill for me as I entered the job market. I was offended. It was 1990 and I was certain he meant that I was destined to be someone’s secretary. Had he not seen me playing my guitar on his front porch that very morning? I was to be a musician. I loved to write, too, and I would surely journal about his expectations of me later. It would seem we were both full of assumptions.
I would learn way too late to tell him that I was wrong.
“I did not attend my high school graduation. My family had a lot on its shoulders. My dad and stepmom were going through a divorce. I was told the Friday before my senior prom that it was over.
Graduation photos are all over my social media feed, and even The New York Times featured prom photos on their front page. High school graduation is no doubt a rite of passage and a major transition in life. But there was no point in pomp and circumstance for me. It would seem my future was not so bright anyways. I was a horrible student. Don’t get me wrong, I loved to learn, I just didn’t learn well in a classroom. For others, college would be the next logical step, but I barely had the grades to graduate high school.
I clung to the words of Chuck Keller, my junior year English teacher. He had told me, “Your success in high school does not determine your success in life.”
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I’ve kept a journal since childhood. Beyond that writing always seemed to come attached to a punishment. I had to write sentences or an essay about how I felt. I’m not sure that’s the best way to encourage kids to write. Writing is about the use of language and literacy so you can’t start later and just say “write this down.” I really believe it starts when you’re young and teaching kids the context and language of the world that they live in. Teaching them how to articulate how they feel. Before they even write it on paper if you can help them find the words for their five senses and articulate that to you, it’s almost a version of emotional intelligence.
Read more parenting advice from Bonnie HERE.
It was my husband’s insight that helped me plan for “quarantine cooking.” I tend to draw from my parenting experience when I write so it was nice to start with Felipe this time. 😊 While Frozen Pizza and Mac-n-Cheese flew off the grocery store shelves my husband steered us towards the international isle to load up on rice, beans, and bouillon cubes. My husband’s mother is Mexican born and knows how to cook delicious meals from scratch using basic dry stock goods.
Chef Farhana Sahibzada has the impulse – to return to traditional food cooked from dry stock goods that have a long shelf life. She says her quarantine cooking habits start with lentils and homemade paratha. Her recipe she was gracious enough to share with me for the article. It’s from her cookbook Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian/Pakistani Cooking for families to try at home. She also has YouTube Tutorials for some of her recipes that are helpful.
“Most families have only so much freezer space. Instead of stocking up on ready-made mac-n-cheese or frozen pizza, save that space for perishables like meat, dairy, and vegetables. Then stock your pantry with basic dry ingredients that have a long shelf life. This pandemic has given many families the gift of time, so why not use some of that time for cooking meals from scratch, together?”Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
If you like this article about Quarantine Cooking check out a few of my other links about #QuarantineLife:
Whether we’re quarantined or not, spring is here. We could all use a little more wellness in our lives, and gardening may just be the answer for you and your teen. As an adult, my garden is my happy place.The seeds of this love were planted as a child. I call it “dirt church” now and, it turns out, there’s some science to it. When gardening, you can foster mental health with gardening.
My love of gardening led me to a pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Rameshwari V. Tumuluru, in Pittsburgh who developed a wellness garden for her hospitalized patients. I know gardening helps me cope. She helped me apply mindfulness concepts to gardening in quarantine with teens.
I also interviewed Scott Beuerlein, the Manager of Botanical Garden Outreach, and Shasta Bray, the Manager of Interpretive Exhibits, Visitor Research, Conservation Communications & Fun both with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. They provide practical advice for starting small and emphasized that every litte bit helps our environment.
Green space and flowers for pollinators have become scarce in some urban and suburban areas, the value of grass and roadside weeds to the birds and bees is minimal. Even a potted flower on the balcony provides an option that wasn’t there before and the pollinators will find you.
Think of the bird who finds a boat and stops to rest on its trip across an ocean. That’s what your garden provides for pollinators. Your garden, or the pot of flowers on your front porch, provides refuge for both you and the butterfly that finds you.
Read the article in the link below to see how you and your teen can Foster Mental Health with Gardening.
You might find these articles on helping teens through this pandemic helpful:
CDC Guidelines: 10 Quarantine Do’s and Don’ts for Teenagers
Asymptomatic Teens and Mental Health Concerns
Grow Flowers and Foster Mental Health: The Benefits of Gardening
For a complete list of articles by me, visit my Articles and Clips page.
Foster Mental Health with Gardening
I consider myself a pretty internet-savvy adult. I use it for work and for play. I even consult others on how to use social media for business promotion. Then I read Galit Breen’s book Kindness Wins. I felt pretty smug when I picked up the book, like I was going to read some common-sense strategies that any internet-savvy person would conclude for themselves. Boy was I wrong.
I am no stranger to cruel comments. Something about the anonymity of the internet just inspires fighting. I get that. I’ve seen that. I’ve tried to keep myself in check when it comes to my own responses to that.
What I didn’t know, hit me right in the face. In Kindness Wins, Breen showed me that I didn’t know how teens were using social media. Yes, they post a ton of selfies and yes they engage with their friends. However, there’s a big part of their social interaction that is tied to belonging. Belonging is #3 on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
The need to belong is felt most strongly at preteen through high school. In the preteen years kids start to shift from their family’s influence being the most important to the influence of their friends holding the most weight. What Breen Shows us in her book is how this feeling of belonging transfers from face-to-face interactions at school, the notorious lunch table, and social gatherings, over to social media.
I was shocked to learn about how adolescents use pictures and tagging to include or exclude people from certain friend circles. The judgement in these posts are harsh. Much harsher, I think, because over the internet children are not faced with the emotional reactions of those who are left out. Without having to contend with the real and emotional consequences kids can lose their kindness filter. This is where parents come in.
In Kindness Wins, Breen walks the reader through many scenarios with real life examples
to share with children. She also encourages the parent to self check their own behavior and to talk with their peers about internet kindness. We don’t have to be a nasty culture of anonymous bullying. It starts with us. Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair tells us in her book The Big Disconnect that by middle school, children need to know how to use technology appropriately. And it’s up to us, as parents, to teach children that appropriateness. With Breen’s Book we can do that with purpose. Kindness Wins is not only informative, but it also acts as a hands-on workbook for parents with real tips and examples we can apply to our conversations now. Buy it HERE
Breen is right. Kindness does matter. In the end, it’s all that matters. I love that Breen helps each of us take responsibility in the parts that we play. After all, we can only control our own behavior. Let’s start today.
For More about Galit Breen you can find her on TheseLittleWaves.Com