By the time you read this column, you may have already abandoned your New Year’s resolutions. What sounded like a great idea on January 1 has become simply wishful thinking. OR you may be fully resolved to be successful in your plan for positive change and are making progress.
What is the secret to making positive changes in our lives? The idea that comes to my mind immediately is taking a strengths-based approach to change. The River Center uses this approach when working with individuals and with families. It is a commonsense strategy that builds on already present strengths rather than emphasizing problems. This approach encourages a positive partnership and ultimately leads to positive change.
Mother’s Day having just passed, I have been thinking about my mother. She was the quintessential post World War II housewife and mother. Here are lessons I learned from my mother: Your dinner plate should be color balanced. Oh my if you served macaroni and cheese with corn and summer squash (yellow). Or a white fish with parsnips and mashed potatoes (white). If she inadvertently served a one palette plate, she would chide herself and let us know that just wasn’t right.
Volunteers are the secret sauce of the nonprofit world. Volunteers do so many things that are essential to the functioning of our nonprofits. Let’s look at the volunteer Board of Trustees. They give of their time, their skills, their wisdom. The Board is responsible for ensuring that the nonprofit is fulfilling the mission of the organization and is fiscally sound. The River Center’s Board is comprised of individuals who are excited about the mission of The River Center which is, “The River Center provides parent education, family support and community connections in a welcoming environment to strengthen individuals and families in the Eastern Monadnock Region.”
This month I am thinking about being strong. When I was in my twenties, I didn’t really think about it. I could sit at a desk all week and then hike Mt. Katahdin on Saturday. I slept well that night, but my muscles could adjust without too much complaint. When I was pregnant with our first baby I was hoping the doctor would agree with me that helping Dave haul in the firewood was too heavy for me. The doctor thought it would be great exercise for me- sigh. When I was in my thirties, I didn’t really think much about taking a walk with a baby in the backpack, another in the stroller and cajoling the oldest to keep up with me.
Random Acts of Kindness Day was last Friday. Somebody decided it would be a good thing to celebrate such a day. Why? Being curious, I did some research. I found out there is the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation with a mission to make kindness the norm. Here is what they say on their website: “We are rooted in the belief that all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught.”
I went for a walk along Brush Brook recently. It was refreshing to my soul. I love the outdoors in any weather, any temperature, any season. There seems to be something essential to my wellbeing to live within the rhythms of four distinct seasons. I am excited about a program at The River Center called Mini Explorers which fully embraces our four seasons. This program is geared toward parents and caregivers with their young children and they meet outdoors. Every week, all year long. And they explore together this beautiful region we call home.
What are your family traditions for this time of year? Our families develop traditional ways of decorating, giving, and eating. Part of the joy of the season is creating traditions within our families and sharing them with others. Family traditions make me think about a parenting class we did at The River Center called Guiding Good Choices. The course talked about defining your family values. It is helpful to think about what your family values are talk about them with your children. Every family has it’s own way of doing life.
We are heading into what is sometimes referred to as the Season of Giving. Which is preceded by the Season of Thanksgiving. Personally, it makes me kind of sad when I see the jump from Halloween directly to the December holidays, skipping Thanksgiving altogether. It seems that pausing to reflect on thankfulness is important to our perspective. Could it be that a thankful heart leads to a generous heart? When I pause to consider what I am thankful for, I start thinking about what I have, not what I don’t have; a position of bounty, not lack. And then I want to share and be generous.
A few weeks ago, I gathered in Maine with my relatives for a memorial service for my aunt who passed away last winter at the age of 97. As I think about Aunt Evelyn, I remember that she made me feel that I was important to her. As the youngest of the cousins, visits could easily be the older cousins hanging out together, the adults chatting, and me sitting observing everything. But Aunt Evelyn would notice me and talk to me directly. She wanted to know how I was doing, asked me questions, and sincerely wanted to know about me. She would tell me funny stories about her life, her friends, whatever. She was fun to be with and I looked forward to her visits. She made me feel seen.
This week marks the change of seasons. We officially say good-bye to summer and hello to fall. The nights are cooler, the hours of sunlight are decreasing. We are getting used to carrying a sweater or jacket with us when we are out and about. This year we officially declare that it is fall on September 22 at 9:04PM. Some will say hurrah, others will mourn the passing of summer.