Friday, October 21, 2016

What Does Support Look Like?

sup·port (verb)
  1. to bear all or part of the weight; hold up 
  2. give assistance to; enable to function or act
Have you ever taken the time to consider what support looks like to YOU as an individual? We may assume that everyone feels supported by the same things, and although some might be universal, other support actions may not be as intuitive.

But before getting into the exercise, why is developing a strong support system so vital? Mayo Clinic writes, "Several studies have demonstrated that having a network of supportive relationships contributes to psychological well-being. When you have a social support network, you benefit in the following ways:
    • Sense of belonging. Spending time with people helps ward off loneliness. Whether it's other new parents, dog lovers, fishing buddies or siblings, just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.
    • Increased sense of self-worth. Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you're a good person to be around.
    • Feeling of security. Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance should you need them. It's comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in a time of need."
So support systems are important but how can people effectively show you support if you've never thought deeply about what support looks like to you? And honestly, how can you truly be a support to someone else if you are basing the support you provide solely on what you "think" would make the other person feel supported? Deep stuff. 

Below is a copy of my answers to the exercise. I took 5 minutes and tried not to over-think, too much. HA. I hope to be able to find out what "support looks like" to my family and friends too! For me, the most surprising things that came to mind were: thoughtful questions (you know, those that dig deeper than 'how are you doing?') soft voices, sitting together in silence, and inside jokes. 

Support systems are grounding and uplifting at the same time however, how we individually feel supported by those around us can be different. I hope you'll take 5 minutes today, or over the weekend, to do this little mental health exercise too. As poet, Thomas Merton once said, "We cannot be ourselves unless we know ourselves." :)


Saturday, September 17, 2016

"The Creative Meltdown"

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ― Thomas Merton

My daughter and I went to "The Creative Meltdown" last night. This unique event was a solo art exhibition of Lindsey Strehlow, author of the Creative Souls Blog. Her heart-stirring paintings, scultptures, and dance-designed art are meant to provide a glimpse into what it is like to live with both creativity and mental illness. I hope you'll check out this artist online or at any upcoming exhibits because these few photos will never do her work justice. 

One wonderful aspect of last night was to be reminded that art is created to make us feel something and is not just a meal for our eyes. In fact the sculpture below brought me feelings of whimsy giddy! However, I journeyed around the entire room and had many unspoken conversations with certain pieces. I met a few times with two paintings positioned on opposite walls. (paintings above) Viewing them was so rewarding the first time that I wandered over again to each one and enjoyed their company even further. The textures, shimmer, brush stroke motions, moving. After our time together I found myself feeling more smoothed out and unruffled.


Last night the art, and people, that pulled me close into conversations had movement, deepth, and understanding. I especially loved the moments spent with my elegant friend, Maryanne, who shared about the art that spoke to her. Suddenly I realized that I was moved by those specific pieces because they give me feelings opposite to how I feel as I work to climb out of the boxes society and culture tosses me into each day. I'm a creative. I will always long to follow His Spirit, for trust and truth, and for grace-filled relationships. So during the quiet reflection of my Coffee & Cozy time this morning, two reminders were whispered: 

  • to keep myself fluid and soft 
  • to remain bold and vulnerable, especially when so many are watching (Lindsey taught me that)

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Mom, I need money!" - Teen/Tween Chore Chart

When it comes to being a single mom, in my book, household chores are everyone's responsibility. I've expressed to my teen and tween that we have to work as a TEAM to keep the house flowing smoothly! However, I do still want my kids to learn the value of working hard and earning money. 

Last week I created a chore chart for them to have a way to earn some spending and saving cash. I prayed, looked at my budget, and decided to set aside $50 a month that I'm willing to pay for certain chores. My kids can each earn (in $5 increments) between $20-$25 in a month. I designed it so that some chores could be fairly easy while others are more challenging then split chores into sections of monthly and weekly.  

This list is easily adjustable with the seasons or within any given month. I implemented the chart this month and so far one kid has earned $10 and another $15. That equals 5 different additional chores completed by my kids (the cat litter boxes, all the vacuuming, and all the outdoor sweeping and cobwebs) and these are on top of the others they natural do. That helps me out, for real. Woo-hoo!!!  After they complete a chore, I simply write their name in the corresponding box that shows they've completed it and pass them five bucks! Easy-breezy. Below is the chart I created.

I do state that they can only do one per week but I have let them complete multiple "monthly" ones, like all the sweeping, so it could be all done at one time.