Doing Different

December 5, 2020

Good morning! I’m excited this morning, and now I figured out what’s making the difference. There is something in my day I have to look forward to. Today I’m going to walk on a trail at a county park–a trail that’s new to me! Plus I invited someone different to walk with me.

This got me thinking about how something new, something different gives us something to look forward to. This can change our outlook on life and more.  Experts tell us that doing something new or different every day gets our neurons firing, lifts our mood, changes our perspective, keeps us healthier, etc. etc.

Here are some things I’ve been doing lately to make my life different and richer.

  • One afternoon I took my exercise to my backyard. With a folding chair and an old baton, I twirled and worked on rising from the chair without using my hands. I felt like my teenage self all over again!
  •  Writing Christmas letters to U.S. soldiers in Africa was high on my list. I thanked them for their commitment and wished them well this time of year.  It got me wondering what it must be like for young men and women to be far from home during the holidays.
  •  I wrote a hand-written letter to a relative in college. That took me back to those nursing days when my Aunt Marles wrote me weekly letters of encouragement and how life-changing her words were for me. Writing about my nursing days reminds me about the chapter in my book Scoria Roads about a death in the nursery that was life-changing for me and eventually led me to my present work. Check it out!
  • One morning I tried brushing my teeth with my opposite hand!  It was VERY uncomfortable, but I kept thinking of my doc, telling me to get those neurons firing! Believe me, that day they were sparking all over the place!
  • Walking backwards in my hallway was very interesting.  This reminded me of an exercise my physical therapist had me do after the Nebraska accident. It felt so good to do something different, instead of the same ol’ thing! Plus it gave me the giggles!  There’s almost nothing better than giggling at my age!
  • Last night I put my meat and veggies in the oven in a shallow baking pan.  Somewhere I’d heard that foods will take on better tastes and be crispier, much tastier.  That supper was scrumptious!
  • Calling a shut-in was on my list, and I did it! And she was absolutely thrilled to receive my call.
  • Dancing instead of walking one cold, cold weather day made me realize how I can exercise in my own home. Again, I felt like my teenage self, dancing to Golden Oldies on a television music channel.  I will definitely do this again!
  • My day was changed last week when I came across a basketful of sticky notes I’d saved from two of my nieces left in hidden places after their visit a year ago. I now have hung them in open places throughout my house to read every day, reminding myself that I am a good enough person who is loved. Write yourself some sticky notes and post them around your house.  Now when almost no one comes, it’s the best time for this.
  • Have yourself a better, wondrous, different day as you try something new or different this week!

 

Making Friends with Winter

Making Friends with Winter

Many of my friends tell me they despise winter! No, it cannot be, my mind screams. We live in the Midwest, so I believe we need to make friends with winter. We loved the snow and the cold and the sledding and the ice skating when we were young! I remember walking to basketball games in my teens in the dead of winter at 20 below, wearing wool Bermuda shorts and knee sox and tennis shoes! And loving that too! (You can read more in my book Scoria Roads.) And I learned to downhill ski at age 40 and dearly loved that too! But now my doc nixed downhilling; I can no longer do that.

With my renewed yearn to love winter still at my age and my yen to always learn something new, I pondered how I will do winter this year. As I pondered tramping through the snow, not on hills, not concerned about ice, it became a no-brainer! Snowshoeing!!  Many years ago, I snowshoed in Itasca State Park on rental lightweight snowshoes and remembered how much I loved that.

After hours of research, I dived in and bought myself a pair of lightweight aluminum snowshoes. Merry Christmas, Norma! From Norma! I now anxiously wait for them to be delivered.

Waiting, I’m looking back on my trips to Norway and the Scandinavians who have a deep reverence for nature. They are almost obsessed with the outdoors.  It is their lifestyle to live to the fullest every season. In fact, they have a word for it: friluftsliv (free-loofts-liv). Their philosophy is we should connect with nature every single day, no matter the weather. So winter is not tolerated; it is embraced. That’s been my theory all along: make friends with winter.

My family in Norway tell me, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” So now I’m digging out my snowmobile, downhill, and cross-country ski clothing that have long been in my seldom-used winter survival clothing bag.

My belief is you don’t have to be miserable to practice friluftsliv in the wintertime. You can do some light snow shoveling, or walking–taking a new route each time, or simply opening a window and letting the cold fresh air pour in. Or you can learn a new winter sport – maybe snowshoeing.

This year, make friends with winter.

Nicknames

November 30, 2020

Hello again!  One of my most memorable experiences occurred during my time of crisis counseling shortly after the 1997 Red River of the North flood. I was working in a Child Care Center, helping young children who had been deeply affected by the flood.  Most had lost their homes and many of their possessions. There were many young children I worked with in various settings, too many to remember their names, so I called some of them Sweetie.

One young boy, whom the teacher told me had spent time in several foster homes and been mistreated, often sat for hours in a sandbox and repeatedly drove his small dump truck back and forth, back and forth, loading and unloading, between his invisible home and a dump grounds.

When I asked him to come visit with me, I called him ‘Sweetie’.  He jumped up and ran around the room, excitedly telling everyone, “She called me Sweetie! She called me Sweetie!”  The emotion in his voice was deep and apparent.

A nickname comes to mirror how a child sees himself/herself and reflects how other children view that child.  Nicknames can affect a child’s self-esteem positively or negatively. Think of the girl who is called “Piggy” because she is a bit overweight, and the boy who is called “Pisser” — the name his mom calls him because he wets the bed at night.  Nicknames come to stand for how we see ourselves.  These derogatory nicknames can zap confidence and self-esteem and be devastating to a child’s development.

In a group setting, name-givers assume a role of power, and bullies are often quick to take advantage of that position. Nicknames connote a deviation from the usual. And then they separate those who are in the group and those who are outside the group.

Children realize when their nicknames are offensive. When children dislike their nickname, they may become withdrawn, refuse to participate in the group; some might fashion a name for the name-giver.

The assigned nickname can also be flattering. A grade school friend with long golden curls liked being called “Goldie Locks,” and the captain of a track team liked being called “Speed.”  A positive nickname can give a child confidence.

Ponder about the nicknames you’ve had in your life and the effect(s) they’ve had on you.

 

Hello! My name is Norma.

Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s exciting to be writing my very first blog!  I retired a few years ago and have been busy ever since! After college, I worked as a registered nurse, educator, crisis counselor, and bereavement facilitator in several different states.  Now in retirement I’ve written two books and am currently a volunteer in bereavement for my county’s hospice program.

During my childhood we moved often, giving me a rich foundation for writing. My first book Missing My Best Friend has now gone into second printing.  It is on the national website for bereavement and is also a collectible. It’s the perfect book for parents, grandparents, teachers, clergy–anyone who works with and/or cares about kids. My second book Scoria Roads takes you on a journey through 20 houses in my first 21 years and shows the contrast between the sweet, safe 1950s and early ’60s in western North Dakota and the chaos the oil boom  brought there in the early 2000s.

I’ve been blessed to have numerous poems, essays. and short stories published and have won a few awards.  My interests are many: the importance of resilience, grief, joy, nitsen, intention, gratitude, positivity, self care, writing, journaling, reading–to name a few, especially now during this pandemic. Check back with me as I figure out this blogging stuff……

Norma