• Jocelyn

Just a simple smile can go a long way towards feeling better. True you won't feel like doing hard work in your garden every day especially when it's the hottest days of summer your body aches, and pains again. Having special plants and tools designed simply to make you smile can go a long way towards coping with life issues giving you many happy thoughts.

Our new sprinkler system is such a great tool in the garden. Once all the tweaking is done I can smile whenever I watch it work or just remember the sprinklers makes my vacation possible.

This year I planted flowers with my usual veggies and herbs. So now even if I'm not eating the plant whenever I go out to sneak a peek I have beauty and colors that bring a smile in a space to release all my cares of the world.

Think of which one of these plants in the summer garden make you smile and why?

Roses -are still blooming, dark pink and pink some deep red and some soft pink.

Marigolds - deep orange, yellow, and others deep red with orange constantly blooming now.

Lemongrass - finally growing strong, lemon scented perfectly tiered. Now it's saying" eat me now"!

Cantaloupe – starting from sprout in the compost. Now five almost ripe melons and still flowering.

Colored Swiss chard - not like it's brother green chard it's really waiting for fall to shoot forward. Moving it maybe a welcome sight. Plan to Grow, Plan to Smile is Planning to Live Healthy!

  • Gwendolyn Easley

Self-Care is not selfish. It’s imperative!

Self-Care is one of those subjects most Americans are preached to about as mental health professionals go on & on about how we should incorporate self-care into our lives.

In the past, when I would hear the word, I would picture a woman penciling in hair and nail appointments every two weeks. I might also have imagined a man on a golf course with his buddies on a Saturday morning.

These pictures of self-care are nice, but does one really have time to make it part of their day? Can you even afford to do so? There are so many reasons why self-care isn’t in the cards for most people.

Right? Wrong.

Self-Care was pitched to us in the early ’00s as a “glamorous endeavor” connected to privilege and seemingly reserved for those with money, time & access. Thinking of self-care as something that’s “high end” isn’t completely out there, however, what typical Americans miss is that self-care isn’t always synonymous with spending money. It’s actually connected to cultivating a healthy lifestyle.

Most of us already engage in some form of self-care without realizing it. That lunch at Chipotle you had last weekend with your best friends where you laughed your head off was self-care. The long bath you took after putting the kids to best was, yup, self-care.

How are these things self-care? Because they’re all part of taking care of one’s self, needs, desires - mentally, emotionally, spiritually & physically.

We also all need “escape” at certain points as well. Escape includes taking care of our bodies, minds & souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so allows us to live lives that are full, vibrant, and balanced. Without balance, our lives tend to become “out of whack” usually resulting in feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, lonely, scared, or developing a lack of motivation.

So, what are healthy examples of self-care? Let’s list some activities:

● Cleaning

○ Cleaning can be relaxing and for others, having a clean space without clutter enables them to think and enjoy their space.

● Cook or bake

○ Not just cooking for your family, but for you! Why not prepare a healthy meal more suited to your weight loss goals.

● Exercise

○ Begin building the body you’ve been dreaming of, especially post-covid

● Get a massage

○ Yes, this one is still on the list. It supports drainage, removes toxins from the body, and helps you get to sleep.

● Go for a walk

○ Sometimes the beauty of the world around us, even in our communities, gets missed while rushing around in our cars. Take time to really observe!

● Listen to music or a podcast

○ Something educational today? Maybe self-help tomorrow? True crime podcast after that? Whatever it is, indulge.

● Make art

○ Art doesn't always mean painting & sketching. Do you enjoy photography? Take some new photos of your kids. Did you sew? Hit up Joanne’s and buy some new patterns. It all counts!

● Mediation

○ I love The Calm App! And no, mediation isn’t a “weird new age thing” as the stigma suggests. It’s allowing yourself to take mental breaks. Here are some great apps to get started, HERE.

● Mindfulness

○ Did you even notice how tall your oldest child has gotten this month? Or how the cat’s meow sounds like he’s saying “NOW!” lol. These questions all allow you to tap into your senses in this very moment. Get support on exercises to begin today, HERE.

● Play a game

○ Board games are all the rage right now! Uno, Taboo, Would you rather, Apples to Apples, Monopoly...pick one!

● Read

○ Did you know the average person spends 5.4 hours on their phones DAILY? Get off the screen for at least 60 minutes a day!

● Take a Bath

○ Browse the Target bathing aisle and grab a bubble bath that has a fancy fruity scent OR go for a soothing all-natural brand. Whatever your preference, give yourself the time and make it a ritual.

● Take a nap

○ Don’t underestimate the power of rest. Even for 15-30 min a day.

● Watch TV or a movie

○ Instead of Netflix surfing, why not reserve two hours a night to watch something you really like.

● Yoga works!

○ Ease arthritis, relieve pain, cleanse your organs, get better sleep!

Overall, you probably have a better idea now of why self-care is important and why it should be a staple in your life. Remember, it’s not selfish, it’s needed to free your mind, spirit, & body of the trials that come.

Let yourself relax, recuperate and heal from the “boxing ring” of life in some small (or big) way TODAY!

  • Gwendolyn Easley

Mother’s Day. How did this holiday begin? To be honest, this isn’t a question we typically ask ourselves BUT we decided to do a little research anyway and VIOLA! After 5-10 minutes of googling, we found the origins to be anchored in spreading community, volunteerism & charity.

Ana Reeves Jarvis came up with the concept of Mother’s Day in the 19th century intending the holiday to serve as a day to help other women care for their own children - sort of like a “Mom’s Club”. As time went on, the clubs became more focused on reconciliation after the Civil War and then moved on to promoting world peace.

Mother’s Day has also been used to launch political & feminist causes. In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, used the holiday to host a march in support of underprivileged women & children. In the 70s, women’s groups used the holiday to highlight the need for equal rights and access to childcare.

So now we know the foundations of this cherished holiday. However, what does that mean for us celebrating the holiday in 2021? Well, for starters, we really like the original concept of the holiday - promoting equality, equity, peace, support & reconciliation. When you think about it, aren’t these characteristics similar to what makes up the idea of “mom”? For example, even on a day supposedly dedicated to her, she’s out giving & supporting everyone else’s causes, dreams, agendas!

Mom’s support their families with an unmatched level of sacrifice, bringing peace and resolve to most situations. Case in’s are the ONE person EVERYONE travels back to. Whether they live across the state, country or world, everyone takes the pilgrimage back home to see her.

She offers a sense of reunification with others in our family, whether it’s coming together around the table for mom’s cooking even with that sibling you struggle to get along with or mom convincing you to partake in the family photo shoot when you hate taking pictures. She’s the center (or the sun) that the family rotates around.

The values & personality of a “mother” most definitely range depending on her culture, background, etc... but overall, a mother is: a caregiver, a friend (your first friend), and gives unconditional love).

Maybe you feel without a mother this Mother’s Day. Perhaps she has passed on or you never were able to know her. If this is you, think to yourself...who in my life encapsulates similar qualities? Who brings me this sense of peace, love & reconciliation. Is it an aunt, an older sister, a foster parent, a grandparent, a neighbor?

This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the special God given qualities that ONE person brings into our lives. Mother’s (and those that have served as our mother) remind us that we’re worthy of love, have purpose & value. Let’s thank them for that this weekend!

References: editors. (2011, April 19). History of Mother’s Day 2021. Mother’s Day 2021.