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Welcome back to Creative Tidal Wave! Lots of awesome things have transpired during the break. Cannot wait to blog about my adventures and new developments.

One of the oldest means of music and communication can be traced back to drumming. Recent studies have shown there are great benefits from listening and taking part in drum circles. Drumming effects alpha waves. Drumming is also an excellent group leadership and community uniting activity. The magic of a drum circle to unite bring all the participates in unison is a phenomenon worth experiencing. It is an ageless activity that people of all backgrounds and levels can take part in together to create one flow of positive energy.

This summer I reconnected with my drummer past. In high school, I was a mallet player on the drumline in the marching band. If you have never been around a high school drumline you may not be able to fully comprehend the magic that occurs when the drummers gather. It is a tribal inner connection which is brought about while drumming. It doesn’t matter which percussion instrument you play, it is being a part of the rhythm and beat created as a unit which brings upon the magical trance of the vibrations which radiate through out your body and soul. Yes, I guess one can say it is somewhat of a spiritual experience.

Over the past years I have experienced some trauma. I was aware there was some neurological damage which manifested on the left side of my body. Very slight but still I was aware something wasn’t right. It was very notable when I started back drumming. Over the past 4 months I have experienced a remarkable change. I do owe some of this to my fantastic drum instructor who has amazed me on inventing ways to work around some of my quirks. Working with the drums I have developed confidence, rehabbed my mind by rerouting the messed up wiring, and I have reset my inner rhythms. Now I cannot go very long without the need of chiming in by hand drumming various beats I hear in my every day life. This has been such a calming effect as well as one which has heightened my focus and awareness. The problems with my left hand are returning back to normal as well.

I was pondering what the outcome would be if drumming became a part of the school curriculum. I remembered back to my early childhood days when the arts especially music was a part of my weekly routine. Rhythm sticks, rhythm bands, listening to drum music and learning to tap out the beats, and the field trips to hear orchestras were all a part of my curriculum. In most schools today this doesn’t happen. I dug into more research to find early drumming experiences can have a positive effect on reading and behavior. Hmmm, could the solution to help struggling students be this simple?

Stay tuned to learn the secret of the paradiddle.

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Finland has figured it out!

The internet is busting with articles on Finnish schools. If you read a handful of them you quickly realize that the United States is clearly following the wrong path to success. In fact, it is such a vast difference in theory and practice it makes one wonder who is making the decisions about education in this country. It only makes sense we would seek top ranking educational countries and see what is directing their success.

What secret practices and expensive programs are causing such an uproar? Are you ready for this? You are not going to believe how simple the solutions are. In the USA we are all but cutting out recess but in Finland they have increased it to 75 minutes a day. Yes, you hear me right, 75 minutes of recess. Research shows this to be a key factor in reducing behavior problems and to increase focus. I just wonder why we find such a simple and cost effective solution not appropriate for our children. It gets better. The other secret is reduced homework. Younger students have little to no homework. Plus children do not start school until they are 7 years old. Makes you wonder if education in the USA is not government funded daycare starting some children as young as 3 years of age. Finnish schools are focused on cooperation not competition. Testing is not a focus like it is in the USA. Can you imagine the uproar of the testing folks if the USA dropped all the testing? People are earning billions of dollars off of tormenting children by high stakes testing. Personally, I think it is one of the largest rip off schemes around.

I urge you to investigate education from all over the globe. Things will not change here in the USA until parents and the public educate themselves on alternatives and start demanding change. As noted above, these changes would drastically reduce the cost of education. Behavior would improve as well as a reduction in ADHD medications use. Families would have less stress.


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Over scheduled child

As a parent of two active children, I understand the meaning of being an over scheduled parent. It is difficult to work 40 to 50 hours a week coupled with the duties of being a mom. Add to the work and home chores are the weekly activities. In today’s society we have a driving need to make sure our children are involved in as many sports and arts activities as possible to give them the edge in their future endeavors. Sports are different when I was a kid in the 70’s. Some children practice daily for hours to become world-class athletes at the old age of 12. It is the same for children with music practicing recital pieces for hours on end mixed in with private lessons and group sessions. The pressure to be the best at the age of 8 or 9 years old did not exist some 40 years ago.

Olympians are getting younger. The need to lie about age is a constant reminder of the need to compete for extended years. The same is happening in little league. I have heard of children being put on strict diets to make weight requirements to play recreational league football and wrestling. It amazes me what parents will do in the name of sports and the ultimate glory to win it all.

I believe another term for this madness to push children has been called the “hurried child.” The constant push to excel at all cost has caused many children to lose the best years of their lives, the careless days of fun and exploration as a child. What happens when we take away childhood?

I have witnessed the result of such pressure on children. There is an increase in suicide in children/teens who feel they have failed to meet expectations. The disappointment from a parent who is constantly pushing a child beyond limits is resulting in more failures than wins can make a huge impact on the emotions of a child. Stress injuries are on the rise in children where it was rarely seen before. Some of these injuries are life altering or worse, life threatening. The absence of age appropriate interactions often affects how children deal with problems later in life. The emphasis on personal validation  wrapped around a trophy or rank can cause the inability to find happiness without competition.

Don’t take me wrong, it is good for children to be involved in competitive activities. It is very important to take part in team and group activities in moderation. More so, it is good to be able to balance school and other activities of interest. Colleges do look for future prospects who can maintain good grades while participating in a variety of activities. Success such as excelling in a sport or holding leadership positions builds character. There are those rare exceptional children who are gifted. But we must realize not every child is or can be made into a super star.

Childhood is a time to explore and not worry about the pressures of adulthood. It is a time to  test limits within the safety of supervision. A time to learn how to interact with others via unstructured but monitored gatherings. It is a time to dabble in a variety of interest  without the fear of failure. Children need lengthy down time moments.

A hurried or over scheduled child finds it difficult to handle down time. This includes the excessive gamer children who must always be hooked up to some sort of gaming system constantly. I do consider those in this category because gaming is another form of competition. Children also get wrapped up in winning via thumb-play as much as they do a highly competitive sport but without the physical training which includes fitness.  Those of you over 45 years of age will remember creating games and never having a problem finding something to do after school when you were finished with your homework. We never had excessive ball or piano practice. We had a great deal of outside play or finding fun things to do indoors. We did not need to be entertained at all, in fact we just wanted to be left alone to explore and create. We sought time to disappear to find treasures often getting in trouble for all the holes we dug in the neighbor’s yard. We tested out agility by climbing trees. We would swing on our swing set for hours. We painted masterpieces in mud on the driveway then made to hose them off. We were inventors, dreamers, and no doubt testing limits daily with bending the rules.

I urge you to allow for some unstructured time for your child. If you are the parent of a super athlete or artistically talented child who is involved in competition, please find time to allow your child to have extended breaks. Create a balance. Challenge yourself to revisit those carefree days. You might need to show your child how to build a fort out of sheets on a rainy day. How to make mud pies, win a snow ball fight or the skills in staying dry during  a water gun battle are all things children should experience.  Just make sure there is time for fun creative childhood memories.

Please share some of your best outrageous childhood adventures.

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Environmental Impacts or Simple Causes for Frustrations

You are dining in a popular restaurant around lunch time but during the time between Christmas and New Year’s. Just a meal with a friend but with some business talk on the side. You notice both of you are getting very frustrated. It has escalated. If you have a background in environmental impacts you might have caught it like I did before it became an indirect disturbing emotional moment. People often will lash out at another for no known cause other than something is irritating but not obvious. Let’s look at the environmental impacts which might be causing the disturbance resulting in irritation.

To the left is a table of ladies who are obviously celebrating a gathering to exchange holiday gifts or maybe a birthday. To the right is a bar full of gentleman who are obviously not on the job because they have definitely indulged a bit more than normal at 12:30pm. The noise level of these two groups is escalating. Surrounding you are parents and grandparents out with children who would have otherwise been in school at this time. Normally at this time of day you have your business lunch folks or those grabbing a bit on the job. Little marketing and business tricks, keep the place cool and the music fast paced so people move in and out quickly. This  strategy could be a bonus if you targeting the business folks. It is a psychological trick to get people to eat faster. Business lunch crowd needs to keep up a fast pace and music can definitively shape that behavior. So back to the trouble spots. Fast loud music means the partying groups are getting so loud it was hard to hear. Loud people laughing and doing what loud people do often can upset kids causing them to become more irritable.  Irritable children scream or cry which makes parents raise their voices. Do you see a  cycle here? The other folks elevate their voices to talk over the party folks, crying children and upset parents so the noise level is steadily increasing as more people dine. All folks get anxious thus causing them to get frustrated but never aware it is due the increase noise levels. Oh, and not to mention being cold. Must note that the temperature dropped a few hours earlier from a warm spring like temperature to now a nice polar breeze.

What could management do? Well, someone needs to always be aware of the public dynamics happening, it could influence your bottom line. Because this wasn’t the typical week day lunch crowd the atmosphere should have changed to a night-time one. Slower music does calm the savage beast or lunch party crowd goer. Raising the thermostat a few degrees to welcome folks out of the unexpected cold helps as well. Since the restaurant clearly was divided, place the happy party goers to the right and the lunch bunch even those with kids to the left. I am willing to bet there would be an increase in appetizers,  desserts, and drinks bought that day because folks would have been cozy and desire more food while socializing. A few tweaks would have made a big difference.

Awareness is the key. Have someone who has experience in environmental studies to come into your work place to see where small changes can be made to help improve sales, staff or client behavior, or deal with some frustration to which you haven’t been able to figure out the cause. You might be surprised what small changes can do.

Tomorrow I will address another example of environmental impacts at the work place.

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Do you read poetry?


Poetry (Photo credit: Kimli)

From one of the shelves on my desk sits a row of poetry books. Most belonged to my grandmother. She was a high school English teacher some 50+ years ago. Poetry was a big thing back then. She read us poems, even made me memorize a few when I was younger. Growing up, my life was full of poetry, not from school but in my home. As I pulled down one of my favorites, 1000 Beautiful Things, complied by Marjorie Barrows, 1947, tears formed in my eyes as I read. So many children are growing up not exposed to the wonders of poetry. I know they have a brief unit or two, and even write a few during different phases of their younger years in grade school but it is different now than it was.

With the age of technology upon us written language has changed over the past 20 years. Texting has taken over with a language of its own. Very few if any under the age of 25 ever write letter to anyone. The failing postal service in the USA is feeling the lack of written communication on a personal level. I noticed the other day when my 21-year-old asked me how to address an envelope because she had forgotten how.  I had failed my own children in regard to letter writing. She told me she never had to address an envelope in high school, the last time was in elementary school. She had written a letter for persuasion, to make requests for information and thank you notes but had sent all via email. I realized she had never received a hand written love letter containing a love poem. How sad. Nothing is more touching than to receive a love poem. She also had never received a funny poem written by a friend in honor of a lighthearted situation. In fact, she had never coined a poem or two since it was required the last time was in middle school.

I opened my filing cabinet and pulled out two bulging folders full of poems I had written. I have never shared them. Wondering why I realized it was because someone had laughed so many years ago when I said I wrote poems. Silly how one person could change my beloved past time hobby. I did write again in a masters level college class. No, a poet of great works I will never be but one who sings the songs of my heart and mind across the fibers of paper for my own personal enjoyment and some rare few others I most definitely will do again. I even have a file of some poems I have received. Yes, a few love poems from young loves back in the day. I still treasure those even though time has altered our paths I still can feel the little flicker associated with the words from a time long ago. Two treasured collects are from friends who were poets in the days of high school. I giggle and sigh as each poem reminds me of the memories captured of a carefree time. Some weathered old pieces of paper contain poems written by my grandmother. Those  are very special to me. I hold in my hands a vast collection of heart songs called poems. Each taking me back to a special time and place. Each one bringing me back to connect with people, emotions, places, and most of all parts of my life I often forget until my hands open the files of words of my life.

On my shelf I have many books of poems. Some bring me to the ocean shores as I read them I can hear the waves crashing in my mind. Others take me deep in the woods where the scent of fresh pine and flowers are triggered. There are those that cause tears to run down my cheeks, some from intense laugher, a few from sadness, and those special ones that touch my heart. In a section off to the far side are a few poetry books filled with children’s verses. Those I read to my children when they were very young. A few they could quote when they were little but were soon replaced by words from a big purple dinosaur named Barney or a group called the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. I realized I had allowed this to happen. Sigh.

My goal is to bring poetry and the art of hand written letters back to those around me. I hope to share with the children and adults I work with as well as making a higher priority to commit to writing both letters and poems to my family. Some traditions and ways should not pass as we move forward. The art of writing personal letters and poetry are two which need to be revived to carry on.

In Memoriam

I ask of life this last request:

That word of mine may share

With all who read that loveliness-

The halo of the hair,

The softest voice, the busy hands,

The gentleness and grace-

The logic of the mind- the light

That brightened up a face.

- Mildred Bowers Armstrong


Made you smile, didn’t it. Dig out the poetry books. Find a pen and pencil to write a few of your own. Send a letter to a friend with a limerick or funny line or two. Share a favorite childhood poem with your own children or grandchildren.  Or, create a private journal to fill with poems, letters, sayings, quotes, and pictures of things which touch your heart. In years to come you will find it a treasure of memories which will fill your heart from moments you have forgotten.


Giving Thanks

Flickr friends

Flickr friends (Photo credit: Meer)

As I hover around a warm kitchen preparing the annual feast to shared with family and friends, I reflect upon the year. It hasn’t been one without trials and sadness. It hasn’t been without challenges and disappointments. Through it all one thing has risen to the top, friendships. More than any other year I have valued having friends. We may not have agreed but what we did was to exchange ideas and act as sounding boards through the trials and frustrations. When one mind was not enough they rose to the creative challenge to take on moments to find  solutions. They were also there for some incredibly fun and unbelievable miracle moments as well.

Many parents worry about their challenged kids not having friends. I hear this a lot. Not only is school for academics it is also a learning ground for developing social skills. Sometimes we as parents try to control the types of friends out kids have only to see we are actually running them towards  the very ones that scare us the most. Fostering friendships as adults, our children can learn is probably the most important way for them to learn. Let me note that if you hang out with drinking buddies and do questionable things do not be surprised if your kids do. They do model what they see. If you have no friends and live as a recluse, then know they are not seeing you model how to develop relationships with others. Many times if you try to exclude them from the world they will find a fast track to get as much life experience in as they can at once. It does have a tendency to backfire.

If you are an introvert, discuss your life style with your children. They need to understand it is by choice you do things alone, not because you are “weird.” Sometimes we introverts get some negative labels. We can change by explaining how we work. I have noticed a lot of “How to live with an Introvert” things on Facebook and Pinterest.  Kids are far more perceptive than we give them credit. Discuss the various social types so they will not be so judgmental or be swayed by school stereotyping. It takes Geeks, Freaks, Jocks, Nerds, and assorted others to make this world function. It is far better to know folks by introverts and extroverts. Of course there are other more positive labels. I do not mind being called artsy because now I accept it as a compliment. I relish the title which allows me to dress a bit funky from time to time and get away with paint on me without folks thinking negative. All the negative  changed when I embraced my gifts instead of hiding them. I have noticed when students accept their uniqueness their social lives become more positive.

Let’s give thanks to all sorts of folks who have made our lives better because they chose to be unique. They rose above the negative stereotype taunting to live their dreams.  To all the kids still discovering their talents, growing from their awkward growth spurts and into their own selves, lets help make the process less troublesome. Support them and encourage them instead of trying to rework them into something we feel they should be. We all hated when our parents tried to make us be something we were not. We also admired our friends parents who fostered dreams and allowed some growing room for discovery. We all learn from mistakes. They makes us stronger and gives life lessons. If you grow up in a shielded bubble, reality will bite hard.  Everyone needs a daily dose of reality even as young as a year old. We also need to learn the best protection in life is a good circle of friends when reality bits. Let them explore the world and those around them. Let them have a variety of friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! And I am very thankful for all of you who visit my blog.

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A Clue to the ADD Increase

Students in the incubation room at the Woodbin...

Students in the incubation room at the Woodbine Agricultural School, New Jersey (Photo credit: Center for Jewish History, NYC)

Before the 80’s students played outside not once but often twice a day. When I started teaching in 1986, I taught the last group of kindergarten students who took naps and had two mandatory playtime hours outside. Lunch time was also a period kids could talk and socialize but within limits. Foods were often fresh not processed or canned. Kids had cookies and cakes which they looked forward to. Music, art, and dance were often a part of the daily curriculum. Field trips were every other month to visit farms, museums or concerts. ALL student participated. All were expected to behave. If they did not it was never the teacher or someone else’s fault. Everyone was accountable for their own actions. There were holiday celebrations. There were days when the entire school would take part in field day or even a school wide movie treat. I remember seeing Disney’s “The Shaggy DA” on a huge movie screen via an old reel to reel projector.  I didn’t have to read 20 books or have perfect attendance. It was just a school wide treat for ALL. I never got plastic toys or stickers everyday. I did get those little foil stars. Boy, those were coveted. I do remember getting ice cream and occasionally a lollipop.

I do not remember classmates or parents cussing. I do not remember kids running around or yelling in the classroom. I do remember class bullies but those were taken care of quickly until the next year. I was certain bullies were empowered during the summer months and had to meet the “board of education” before Christmas to fix their attitudes. But we survived and learned how to deal with those types. I remember others who struggled. I remember the teachers working with those students and their parents never having to challenge or threaten the school. I remember teachers commanding respect and me very willing to give it because in many ways they showed us respect as well. I remember pranksters but never to the extent of causing harm to anyone. Many a few of us got embarrassed but we saw it once again as a lesson learned. I am certain I have no lasting scars from my formative school days. I have good and bad memories but nothing which altered my life to one of crime or disobedience.

I believe we became very successful in our own ways because we were allowed to explore and have time to “unwind.” We were not over scheduled or jetting off to tournaments across the state and region. We were not in everything to make sure we had skills above our developmental levels. We were allowed to be kids. We fell down and skinned our knees without causing a law suit. We fell off bikes without suing the company because the training wheel snapped off. We did witness accidents and learned. Not to be cruel but there is a circle of life we cannot challenge. Things happen even if you live in a bubble. Our parents didn’t shield us from such events. I attended funerals of friends who had unexplainable deaths. I visited friends in the hospital. My parents never hid the truth of what happened, it was a part of life. Maybe more so in my case because I grew up on a farm. I witnessed births and deaths. I loss my pets and had to deal with the fact that farm animals have a dual purpose in life. I will leave it at that. Pain, hunger, fear… all emotions and feelings I was allowed to feel. We all have a right to. The more we shield children from these the more tension and hostility can develop. What we do not understand can haunt us. I am not saying we needed all the dirty details. Children need to know what is age appropriate.

Today kids are rushed around. They are expected to achieve unbelievable feats often before their bodies or minds are ready to be fully aware. Technology is great but even the Wii doesn’t substitute for climbing trees and feeling the effects of gravity. A lesson learned by experience. Their lives mimic super adults or professional athletes. Did we really read 60 books a year? I haven’t noticed my performance being stunted because I got to choose my books from the library and write reports, not take a test to prove if I truly read it. Ok, I will make some folks mad but I believe Accelerated Reader and such programs are causing more harm than good. More so for kids with learning challenges. They just do not read as fast not to mention they hate it even more when being forced. Also there will always be great testers. It doesn’t motivate a challenged student seeing the same folks get prizes. That is another blog in itself.

What homeschooling and private schools have that the public schools do not is time. They allow students time to learn social skills. They allow for recess and organized activities which are necessary for growth. Life is not who can work the fastest math problem or can write the perfect essay as a goal for all. Progress will always happen even without test scores as predictors. Einstein, Graham Bell, Beethoven, and others would have never  accomplished what they did because they did not make the grade we assign now to measure success. What they did was to be inspired to dream and explore. They  played and lived even as adults during a time when it was still allowed.

Working with children and adults with ADHD,  I have found they accomplish more when they are allowed to move around. I do not limit them to a lead pencil. I let them read while under a table. They can listen to music while they study. And, some I take on a hike to discover wonders which inspire them to write or compose. I try to never miss an opportunity to teach-to-the-moment. I teach how I was taught. If we allow some wiggle room and some creative ways of tackling a problem be it math or writing I do believe we will start seeing less problems and more interest. All my opinion so don’t sue me for expressing so. But really, would you want a top scoring test taker or a person who can actually walk you through the process and make a discover while doing so to increase the performance of an assemble line?

Sadly, even the zoos are understanding and making changes. Caged animals are more difficult to deal with and are very unhealthy due to being kept in small quarters with limited interaction. Animals in their natural setting given challenges and stimulated, flourish and thrive. Don’t you think the same would be true of children and adults? Check the research about the bizarre behaviors of caged animals versus those in natural settings. You find some similar problems occurring in our schools. ADD/ ADHD symptoms and those of caged animals are…. well, you decide.

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Address the Stress

Apple pie

Apple pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Who cannot smile after viewing this picture?

The season is upon us! Finals for the high school and college crowd, the holidays with travel and extended family events, and the ending of another year. You might think I am jumping forward a bit but it is always better to prep for the oncoming season of stressors. We cannot change some events but we can lessen the stress factor. Another reason to reduce the stress is because it is contagious. Yes, your children, your spouse, your employees, and if you teach, your students will feed off your stress. The higher the stress the more it will affect your body. You become grumpy. You lose sleep. You can become depressed. Your immune system lowers its ability to fight illnesses. Your relationships suffer. It is a never-ending cycle of downward issues which build more stress.

Get started now to make this season a less stressful one. If you are a music lover, surround yourself with happy and peppy tunes. If you are a visual sort, surround yourself with color and fun pictures. Never under-estimate the power of the refrigerator gallery. Fill the space with pictures of fun memories and pictures of friends and family. Also fill your pages with doodles. Lots of fun doodles are pleasing to the eye. If you are a kinesthetic sort, have small baskets of hand fidgets to play with. Stress balls are great for such. Carry one in your purse or backpack. Other ways to reduce stress are sucking on mints, chewing gum, and revisiting the childhood favorites, lollipops. Another way is my filling your environment with wonderful smells. Aroma therapy works! Wonderful holiday smells will bring back fond memories. Fill your house will the smell of cinnamon, apple pie, or hot cocoa smells. If those aren’t appealing, go for the fresh pine or bring back the smells of summer such as fresh flowers or a nice ocean breeze. Whatever scent makes you happy, plug it in. Exercise is another wonderful way to reduce stress. Walking helps drain the stress away. Try yoga. Anyone can do it. You do not have to be able to twist and contort your body to receive the benefits of yoga. Meditation is another wonderful destressor.  There are wonderful DVDs and CDs with guided meditations. You can even download them on your phone or Kindle. Please remember to not use medication music or guided ones while driving. I have given you plenty of examples of great ways to reduce the stress.

At your workplace, add some color to enhance the visual needs. Add some calming music if you are allowed. Fill the air with fresh scents of the season. Not only will these additions help you reduce stress it will also enhance the attitudes of your employees and customers.

For kids, get them outside. A cool breeze and fresh air are good for everyone. Play is a great stress reliever. Often we over schedule children during the holiday with parties, sporting events, and family events. We forget they need down time to recoup and unwind. If a child is fussy, when was the last time there was a day when they had nothing scheduled? Find time to fit in family time. There is nothing wrong with lazy days. Not days filled with gaming but days filled with low tech moments to rest the eyes and sensory system. I am certain the universe will survive without the gamer for a day. Keep a record of the fast food meals. Too much junk food stresses the body. Make sure there are veggies and fruit each day. No, I do not care what the food folks say, ketchup is not a vegetable.

Be proactive! Get ahead of the stress by incorporating some of these strategies now instead of reacting. Try to find time for yourself to unwind. It is ok to say no. Keep the stress down so you can enjoy the season more. If you have special ways you reduce stress please share so others can benefit.

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Rethinking the healing process

Music guitar

Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Having spent the later part of the month of September in the hospital with my mother, I have come to the conclusion that the healing process can be enhanced with a few changes. Many things have changed over the years. Many hospitals have become art galleries. I have enjoyed the beautiful works filling the hallways and the various sculptures in the nooks and crannies. It is a positive pleasure to see such when a life is hanging on by the thread.

What I noticed was the lack of other positive sensory stimulation directed towards the patients. One night Mom could not get comfortable. The pain medications did not seem to work. Nothing could comfort her. I happened to have my Kindle which is loaded with a variety of calming music. I chose a Native Indian flute CD with nature sounds. I led her through a very short visualization. Had her close her eyes and listen to the music to help her envision a peaceful place. It wasn’t long before she drifted off to dreamland. The nurses and techs came by to comment on the peaceful music. Such an easy technique which works more often than not. With such a wide variety on the market I am certain there would be something to appeal to any and every patient. It also drowns out the beeps and whirls of the support systems. It drowns out the moans and other vocal noises of others which acts as a reminder to other patients of the pain and discomfort.

During my 8 night stay, I noticed my mother would ask for more pain medications when she could hear others in pain. She also would ask for pain medications when she got bored. Don’t get me wrong, she had some major surgeries which result in some ongoing pain but there were some patterns. She had a difficult time at night sleeping due to knowing the floor was short-staffed. She feared something would happen and no one would respond. Adding the calming sounds and tunes, she seemed to relax more with less fears.

In discussions with the nursing staff, people who have been in ICU for long periods of time have time awareness problems. Mom also had this confusion once she was moved to a step down unit. Of course rooms have information boards but the black and white set up is often confusing for patients who are on heavy medications. Every hour for several days Mom would ask me what day it was and what was important for that day. Knowing I was to leave her for a few days I was concerned how her constant need to know would affect the understaffed nurses. Being a believer in the Right Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee, I quickly drew out a creative calendar with visual cues in the drawings. Mom was missing certain activities because of the confusion. When Friday came around the date had a little football as the tittle, or the dot in the lowercase letter “I.”  Mom remembered to watch her beloved football games on TV that evening as well as stayed up to listen to the high school team scores on the news. These are things which make her happy thus keeping her focused on positive things not the pain. Each day a little icon represented  something she looked forward to on that particular day. So far it has been a big hit and helped her get her concept of time back without bugging the staff or causing great frustrations trying to figure it out on her own.

Maybe with a bit of expressive arts interventions recovery time could be enhanced. Reducing the need for pain medications is a big plus. Reducing mental and emotional anxiety makes for a peaceful floor for the nursing and tech staff. Do not wait on the hospital to carry out such, take the initiative to explore options trying different ones to see what works. You cannot take the pain and hurt away but you can take the attention away from it reducing frustrations.

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Time Out Twist We Can All Enjoy

Photo of Glitter Particles

Photo of Glitter Particles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, you read that right. Time out is often a negative thing. I don’t know about you but for the antsy sorts and those who enjoy a moment of fit pitching during said Time Out, this can be a great alternative. Not an original discovery but one I have used with success.

Time Out Jars or, in a new forum I found this delightful name, Mind Jar.  This is a self-made project. It helps distract and gain focus during a short period after a misbehavior moment. In fact, I enjoy using it when my brain decides to run a muck. We all love snow globes. This works on a the same principle but with glitter. I use plastic bottles because at times students get a bit excited and knock things over. A broken glass container with glitter becomes a huge mess to clean up.


* small plastic jar the size of a baby food or small mason jar

* Glitter glue

*Food coloring

*Warm Water


Mix 1 tablespoon of glitter glue with 1 cup of warm water. These two measurements might change if you use a large jar. The ratio should be 1:1, so if you have a 2 cup jar then use 2 tablespoons of glitter glue. You can use any choice of food coloring but calming colors such as blue make a difference. Make sure you use warm water, it helps to dissolve the glue. Make sure to secure the lid tight or glue it in place. Sometimes I like to use decorative duct tape.

When a child needs a time out session, shake the jar. The glitter will take a few minutes to fall to the bottom. You might want to test this out, it will depend on the jar size as well. When all the glitter is at the bottom of the jar time out is finished. You will find children will calm down as they watch the glitter in the jar fall.

If you have  a new twist to this project, please share.


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