Bodies in Motion: PRCA-Cooling Cabin Fever & Empowering Kids

Parents, do you ever feel like your kids are climbing the walls, especially in the cold winter months? It’s common to spend more time cooped up inside once the snow starts to fly, though of course there are plenty of fun ways to get outside, such as skiing, snowshoeing, or building a snowman. A new way you could consider getting the kiddos out and moving is trying the sport of ice climbing—yep, an organized way to “climb the walls”!

The Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy, or PRCA for short, is a Michigan non-profit that provides low-cost rock and ice climbing opportunities to Upper Peninsula youth ages 7-18. They are based in Marquette and rock climb in the Marquette area in summer, and ice climb around Munising in the winter. The PRCA was established in 2016 when world-renowned alpinist Conrad Anker noticed no local kids were ice climbing at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. At that year’s annual Michigan Ice Festival, money was fundraised to start the PRCA.

Since then, the PRCA has gone full steam ahead with all things climbing! The PRCA prides itself on providing not only climbing opportunities to those who might not otherwise have them, but also fostering community and stewardship for its members. From guided outdoor rock and ice climbing, volunteer opportunities at local events, weekly indoor group climbs during the school year, yoga, attending climbing festivals in the Midwest, and more, the PRCA provides unique experiences to UP youth. No gear or experience is required to climb with the PRCA, and membership costs are low, with scholarships available to those who need one.

For many, climbing is much more than just a sport—it’s a lifelong pursuit that connects them with wild places, a strong community, and opportunities to constantly learn. Climbing pushes you to trust yourself and those around you, constantly learn and adapt, and widen your comfort zone. Climbing also promotes positive mental and physical health, such as improved strength and balance, and higher feelings of self-sufficiency. The PRCA is run by volunteers with years of climbing experience who teach these values and experiences to UP youth. 

With climbing’s rising popularity, thanks to more gyms opening across the country and the sport being featured for the first time in the Olympics, it’s important to understand the mentorship aspect the sport has compared to other outdoor pursuits. Climbing is inherently dangerous, and historically was taught almost strictly through mentorship. These days people can get started climbing in the gym, through online videos, etc. While it’s great to have these more widely accessible resources available, without mentorship it’s possible to have gaps in knowledge and safety. The PRCA helps serve as a bridge for this mentorship gap.

Safety is the number one concern of the PRCA. All guided rock and ice outings are facilitated by Michigan Ice Fest Guides. These guides have taken and passed one or more guiding courses and assessments run by the internationally recognized and accredited American Mountain Guides Association. The PRCA teaches youth many things—climbing movement, gear use, anchor systems, belaying, and more—all adjusted to the age and experience level of the climbers participating. 

So, parents, if your kids are interested in a new way to recreate outside, face fears of heights, be more active in community stewardship, or just want to try something new, check out the Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy. 

To get involved with the PRCA, reach out through their website’s “Contact Us” page. If you’re over eighteen and would like to volunteer, don’t hesitate to reach out as well! 

Website: picturedrocksclimbingacademy.org
Facebook/Instagram: @picturedrocksclimbingacademy

Laura Slavsky (she/her) grew up in Marquette, MI and began climbing in 2014. She has guided ice climbing clinics at Michigan Ice Fest, is a Community Ambassador for the national climbing non-profit Access Fund, and has volunteered with the Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy since 2019.

Excerpted from the Winter 2021-22 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

An Alarming Trend in Kids—What Great Lakes Recovery Centers & We Can Do About It

Many call the U.P. “God’s Country,” and see it as a great place to raise kids. Good reasons for this abound, however, our kids have become increasingly endangered by a threat many of us may not easily see—suicide.

The most recent U.P. Community Needs Assessment reports that suicide related calls to Dial Help in the U.P. tripled between 2010 and 2017. The U.P’s suicide rate for 10 to 24 year olds was 14.2 per 100,000 residents, while the average for Michigan was 7.9. And stressors have only increased since then.

As Great Lakes Recovery Centers (GLRC) Foundation Coordinator Amy Poirier explains, “If someone’s having suicidal thoughts, it’s not one thing, one incident behind it. Multiple factors can be involved.”

“I see what’s happening with our kids,” Poirier continues. “They don’t know what life will be like from day to day. It’s hard for kids right now. Every day, kids are seeing their friends being quarantined or needing to be tested. What goes on in the minds of all those kids—is my name, my friend’s name, my teacher’s name going to be on that list? The stress that they’re going through right now is unbelievable. And that’s just COVID, that’s not even counting the everyday life stressors of a teenager.”

Poirier facilitates the West End Suicide Prevention coalition.

She is also very active in the Marquette County Suicide Prevention Alliance, is one of the Marquette County Suicide Prevention Walk coordinators, teaches suicide prevention courses, and works with social media and community outreach.

“We’re trying to break down the stigma around mental health,” describes Poirier. “Between one in 4 or 5 people are suffering from mental illness, yet there’s so much stigma, and no one wants to talk about it. Our goal is to open up the conversation, normalize it, help people realize ‘It’s not just me. There are also a lot of other people out there that are having this problem. We can get help, help one another, and get professional help too.’”

GLRC coordinates several of the U.P.’s Communities That Care evidence-based coalitions that work to reduce kids’ risk factors. Nearly all of these have a suicide prevention work group. The West End Suicide Prevention coalition, a diverse group of people on the west end of Marquette County, developed LIVE, a positive mental health campaign (Love yourself, Include others, Value life, Engage community) which was brought to the entire Upper Peninsula through a grant from the Superior Health Foundation.

GLRC helps coordinate and teach various suicide prevention courses throughout the U.P.

GLRC also works with many U.P. schools to help reduce the stigma around mental health issues, and on any suicide prevention activities the school might want to do. The LIVE Art & Word contest for high schoolers to support suicide awareness and prevention efforts was just completed on Nov. 15th. Seven cash prizes will be awarded, including a $500 grand prize. You can vote for your favorite visual art, word, and song entries at West End Suicide Prevention’s Facebook page.

GLRC also opened Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Services in Ispheming a couple of years ago to help address the unmet psychiatric needs of kids with mild to moderate mental health issues who don’t necessarily qualify for community mental health services. This includes Trauma Development Assessment to look at where a child’s development is at due to trauma they may have experienced, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, parent education, different types of therapies, and psychiatric consultations.

However, with an issue as pressing as children’s suicide prevention, support is needed across the community. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, work with children, or not, below are some ways you can help.

Take part in a suicide prevention gatekeeper training course, such as:

Mental Health First Aid – An evidence-based, free eight-hour course for adults only. Instructors from GLRC and other agencies teach you a five-step process to help someone who’s having a crisis, whether it involves suicide, anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, or substance abuse. You can sign-up at GLRC.org/mhfa. Once enough people register, a course is organized.

QPR (Question Persuade Refer) – A one-hour course that can also be presented to adolescents (as young as 12) and adults. This course is often taught in schools. Parents can ask if their school has this program.

ASIST Training – Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training for anyone in the community. No prior training is required. DIAL HELP, a U.P. center that provides crisis support 24/7 by phone, text or chat, will hold the next one Nov. 18th and 19th in Hancock. Contact Krissy Martens at kmartens@dialhelp.org to register.

Promote the LIVE campaign – Put up a decal in the window of your home or business, keep informational cards on hand for someone who might need the national suicide hotline number. If they are local, the call goes straight to DIAL HELP. To receive these items, call the GLRC Foundation office at (906) 523-9688 or talk to any member of West End Suicide Prevention.
Support and be present at locally held events such as suicide prevention walks and Walk a Mile in Our Shoes.

Get involved in a community coalition. Almost every U.P. county has a suicide prevention-related group. Contact Amy Poirier at (906) 523-9688, apoirier@greatlakesrecovery.org for info on a coalition near you, or go to glrc.org/wesp to learn more about West End Suicide Prevention.

If you’re concerned your child or a child you know may be having suicidal thoughts or feelings, talk to the child. Get them the help they need, and help the child as well as their parent understand that they’re not alone.

Before you get to that point, if you have a kid or know anybody (child or adult), take one of the free suicide prevention courses.

You can also join a free and confidential parent support group–the Parents Support Network of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It meets for an hour and a half each month, currently virtually, and is peer-led by facilitators that have had experience with their own kids’ mental health concerns.

Note from the editor: We are very pleased to announce that Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine’s 2021 annual donation is going to Great Lakes Recovery Centers’ children’s suicide prevention and awareness efforts. For a list of businesses that have helped support this donation, click here.

Excerpted from the Winter 2021-22 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Positive Parenting: Mental Health Red Flags

U.P. holistic wellness, children's mental health, U.P. holistic wellness publication, positive parenting

How often have you or someone you know been shocked to discover that a child in your midst is suffering from a significant mental health disorder? The National Institute of Mental Health explains that in 2017, 9.4% of US 12 to 17 year olds, an estimated 2.3 million, had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. And, according to childtrends.org, “While research on the pandemic’s effects on mental health is still in the early stages, current evidence shows a surge in anxiety and depression among children and adolescents since the pandemic began.”

“When we have less positives going on in our life and more negatives, it increases our stress, MARESA (Marquette-Alger Regional Education Service Agency) school social worker Ann Lacombe explains. At the age a lot of the students I see are at, interactions with peers or sports or people overall is their main positive. When something that’s really fun is taken away from you, it can be rough. I’ve seen a change in the mood of students. They’re dealing with different stressors than they’ve ever had to deal with before. Organized sports are a good environment for making new friends. Being without that made this a really difficult year for students to organically make new friends. Lunch and recess had to be less social than in past years for everyone’s safety. A lot of the fun times students looked forward to looked very different for them.

When a child is suffering from a mental health disorder, the sooner we can step in and support them, the better. LaCombe says red flags to be on the alert for include:

  • Avoiding or missing activities the child used to engage in–sports, time with friends, school in general
  • Changes in sleep patterns—way too much or not at all
  • Changes in eating habits—sudden weight loss or gain
  • Sudden changes in mood—observing body language and facial expressions
  • Hurting themselves or talking about hurting themselves or talking about death
  • Withdrawing from social interactions in general
  • Sudden changes in friendships
  • Substance use
  • Change in performance overall—sudden failing grades, withdrawal from effort in anything


“Trust your gut. I think parents know their kids best. If you get a sense something’s not right, a great first step is approaching the child and saying, ‘Hey, I’m worried about you, and I care about you. How can I support you right now?’ You can open that door to communicating with you and trusting you, even if you don’t get much response right away,” says LaCombe. “Focus on not being judgmental, and no matter what they tell you, not being overly reactive. Let your child know ‘I’m not here to judge you or get you in trouble. I just want to help. I hope you can be honest with me about what’s going on.’ Then look into what additional support may help your child.”

“You can check whether your child’s school guidance counselor has noticed any changes in your child’s behavior, and see what options they may have at school or in the community. If he or she doesn’t want to go to school because of a conflict with a peer, connect with the school on this. Otherwise, meeting with your primary care doctor can be a great place to start so you can get their thoughts and recommendations on where to go. They’ll be able to look at a list of providers that your insurance covers, and also check if something medical is contributing to what your child’s experiencing. Often the first things students with anxiety notice are physical signs—‘My heart is pounding, and I just feel shaky and dizzy.’ This way the doctor can make sure there’s nothing else causing those symptoms outside of a mental health challenge,” adds LaCombe.

U.P. holistic wellness, children's mental health, U.P. holistic wellness publication, positive parenting

Parents can also contact their school’s social worker. LaCombe says, “If we don’t immediately have an idea of a resource in the community, we’ll get back to them with a resource or article, and look at how else we can support them if we don’t have an answer right away. When parents reach out right away and are interested in making some changes at home, we can see improvements so quickly. It’s so helpful for them to reach out, even if it’s just asking questions and for resources. We’re happy to do that.”

Another resource is North Care Network, which can do a screening to see if you qualify for community mental health services, and if not, point you to other options available.

LaCombe reminds, “There’s nothing wrong with asking someone if there’s something going on, or saying that we’re worried. We’re often worried about offending, or hurting, or annoying the person. Even if it’s something small we’re noticing, even if they say no, it’s worth bringing up. Make sure you’re opening that door. Let your child know, ‘I’m worried about you; I care about you.’ They may not be ready to talk about it yet. Let them know ‘I am here and am ready to talk about this whenever you’re ready. You’re never going to be in trouble for talking with me about this.’ Opening the door is the most important thing in those initial conversations.”

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression

Excerpted from the Fall 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Positive Parenting: How to Keep Kids Active, Engaged & Learning This Summer, Jamie Hutchinson

positive parenting, U.P. holistic wellness publication, pandemic parenting advice

So, we’re home with our children, and we are limited in what outings we can do. Now what? How do we keep our kids active at home? How do we keep them engaged in learning? How do we come out of this summer feeling like we did our best, especially as we may be working from home at the same time?

As we gear up for the season in these challenging times, it’s important to acknowledge that each family will have their own very unique work and home situation. Some people may have more flexibility, more caregivers in the home, or older children who are more independent. Others may have less flexibility, younger children, and may be the sole caretaker of those children. We honor all of you, and know that you are doing the best you can. The following suggestions are offered as a starting point for consideration while navigating having children home and working at home this summer.

Children thrive on structure. They do best with routine. Create one for your family that will give children some academic time, active time, and FUN time. Also build in some time for you and your work, and you and the other supportive people in your life. Of course, as you create order, create some flexibility too. This will help everyone adapt.

Keep the routines. Do you have a set bath time? Bedtime? Mealtime? Keep these times consistent. It will allow everyone to feel some sense of normalcy. It also allows our brains some breathing room. Change is taxing on all of our brains.


Get outside!

This is really important to do when and where you can. Being out in nature resets our mind and body in so many ways. If you can go outside to a place that does not have a lot of people, then do it. Do you have a yard? Use it.

Have a family meeting to discuss the situation and the structure you are implementing. Ask every family member to step up the best they can. Emphasize that you are all doing this together, as a family.


Be creative and make some memories!

Maybe you make a fort and read books together, perhaps you have a picnic dinner in the living room while blasting your favorite music. This will be challenging, this will be new, but we can still have fun. Actually, fun is essential in keeping our stress levels manageable. Did you know that belly-laughs are therapeutic?


Managing your stress will help your kids manage theirs. Your children will look to see how you are managing everything. Taking care of yourself is the best way to be sure you have something left to give to your family and your work. You are important. You are worth taking care of.


Do you need some ideas to mix things up? Here you go! Write a book, have a family game night, hold a movie marathon, make a craft with household materials, write a rap! There are no limits.


Build in learning with activities.

We all need to eat, right? Cooking together is a fun way to practice practical math. Double a recipe, measure, add, figure out how many servings you will be making. Take the things you do, such as bedtime stories, and ask some reflective questions after you read. What was the most surprising part of this story? Which character do you relate to the most? How many pages are there? Anything that is age appropriate is helpful.


Speaking of learning…there are free online educational programs available while schools are closed. I like Kahn Academy and PBS Kids. If they are going to be on their tablets more, you can make it educational.


What about activity? Adults need 30 minutes of physical activity a day, children need at least an hour, preschoolers need three hours a day. Get creative. Have a dance party in the living room, use the Wii Fit if you have one, make activity stations around the house and rotate them for two minutes each. For example, kitchen: jumping jacks, living room: sit ups, dining room: wall presses, and so on. The main idea is to stay active. A healthy body and a healthy mind are connected. The healthier you stay, the better you will feel.


Work together.

Thinking of doing something fun? Share the list of fun active things to do at home and let the kids choose. Swap menu planning and chef duties among each other. Take turns caring for pets. This will give you some variety, and be an example of how everyone is working together.


Stay connected.

Schedule times you can reflect with your colleagues via teams or Zoom. Pick up the phone and check in on someone you work with to see how they are doing. Connect with your family via Skype or over the phone. Just because we are may be physically distanced does not mean we should not be connected. It will take us all working together to finish getting through this.


You are doing your best. Have compassion for yourself and others. We can get through this.

Deputy Director of the MSU WorkLife Office. Jaimie Hutchinson holds a BA in Psychology from Michigan State University, a MA in Community Counseling from the University of Northern Colorado, is a licensed professional counselor, licensed school counselor, and holds a Global Career Development Facilitator certification.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Positive Parenting: Mindfulness for Parents during COVID-19, Angela Johnson

mindful parenting, holistic wellness, U.P. holistic wellness publication

With COVID-19 here and affecting nearly every aspect of our lives, it is not surprising that many families are reporting heightened levels of stress. The pandemic is placing additional pressure on parents in many different way—from working from home, job insecurity, or complete job loss, to homeschooling, heightened behavior issues, and a lack of social connection. Although no two families are experiencing these challenging times in exactly the same way, we are all in some sense struggling through this together.

However, the struggle need not be for naught because as Einstein once said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” Mindfulness is one of these great opportunities, as it is a powerful tool scientifically proven to reduce stress—the very thing we need! By turning our attention inward, we can still the waves of restlessness and worry in our active lives. Mindfulness teaches us how to do this.

As a parenting educator and meditation teacher, I feel especially called to share mindfulness with families now more than ever. I focus on both formal (meditation) and informal (everyday activities) mindfulness practices to help people learn to be more peaceful and fully present to their lives. I will share a few of these practices with you here.

Parents, this is a little reminder that you have to take care of yourself first and foremost. Peace begins within. Then it spreads.

Let’s begin with a couple of definitions . . .

“Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity.” —Dr. Amy Saltzman

“[Mindfulness is] the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

Here are some exercises for you to begin your practice today:

Sitting Meditation

Meditation is both a state of deep present-moment awareness, and a practice intended to bring about that state (Ananda Sangha Worldwide). There are many different meditation approaches and techniques ,but ultimately, the universal intent of all is to learn to experience life more from your center, and less from external input. The benefits from this practice are overwhelming, from stress reduction to lower blood pressure and better sleep. I recommend using a guided app or taking a class to get started. Make sure you practice in a quiet space. Sit up with a straight spine, as relaxed awareness rather than sleep is the goal. Close your eyes, gently lift your eyeballs and focus, and breathe. For the best results, a daily practice is recommended, even if for only a few minutes each day.

Mindful Breathing

The mind and breath are interconnected so that when the breath slows, the mind automatically follows. Therefore, taking the time to bring awareness to your breath can have an immediate calming effect. Try it and see for yourself.

You might also place a reminder somewhere in your home or at work that says “breathe,” or get in the habit of taking a few deep, intentional breaths at the start of your day, or when you get in the car, or before responding to your child’s behavior . . . the options are endless. Our breath is always with us, so it is just a matter of intending to notice it, follow it, and then feel the relaxation that results.

Walking Meditation


Walking meditation is an ideal practice for bridging the gap between outward activity and inward peace. It is best to walk outside in fresh air. Any amount of time is good. As you walk, focus on the natural flow of your breathing. Smile. Listen. Look. Feel your feet as they touch the earth. Walk tall, and with strength. Notice and enjoy the fresh air on your face and the natural beauty of the day that surrounds you. Be present with your body, mind, and soul on this walk, in this moment.

Mindful Nature Play

This one is especially enjoyable to practice as a family. Go outside in nature and play. Follow your child’s lead (inner child or actual child). Get down on his or her level. Be present to him or her, to this moment, and to the natural beauty surrounding you. Be free and have fun. Climb a tree. Build a fort. Roll down a hill. Follow a bug. Feel your connection to all that is and you will find peace.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating will not only bring you pleasantly into the present moment, but will also enhance your gratitude and enjoyment of food. Begin by taking one minute at mealtime to take slow bites and savor. Notice the smell, the texture, the taste. Think of where your food came from. Feel your connection to the earth in each bite. Be silent and grateful for this moment

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Angela Johnson, Great Start Collaborative (GSC) Director for Marquette and Alger Counties, works at Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (MARESA). The Great Start Collaborative (https://www.maresa.org/early-on/marquette-alger-great-start-collaborative/) works in communities throughout the state to ensure Michigan is making progress toward four priority early childhood outcomes.

Excerpted with permission from the Winter 2020-2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Positive Parenting: How to Raise Empowered Women, Danielle Drake-Flam and Cynthia Drake

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There is no one right way to raise a daughter—everyone is so wildly different with varying beliefs that are bound to affect their child-rearing. However, parents can find common ground on one factor: making sure their daughters know they’re important and loved.

Danielle: My mom instilled many great practices in me—expressing gratitude, being kind to everyone, the power of communication—but perhaps her greatest mantra was her constant reminder that my voice mattered.

Below are a few aspects we’ve found to be helpful in raising empowered women through our mother/daughter relationship:

The Power of Choice
Danielle: Growing up, my mom made me feel I was in charge of my own destiny. She was never one to ask me what my grades were in school, and she didn’t push me to be number one. She made me feel as if I had a choice. Because I was allowed to function so independently, and given the space to think on my own, I didn’t want to disappoint her.

If a difficult situation would arise, she would talk through it with me, and we would lay all the options out on the table. But, ultimately, it was up to me to decide what I was going to do.

Cynthia: Know you are a vessel for life but your daughters are not an extension of you and your life. They are their own beings, and you are there to nurture them and let them grow into themselves fully. The process of raising daughters is a gradual growth into trust—trusting they are growing into themselves as they make their own mistakes and have their own adventures in the world. You can be there to help pick up the pieces, give a bit of time-tested wisdom, and allow in the excitement of discovery through their eyes.

Respecting Boundaries
Cynthia: Be present to your daughters fully and also allow them to have space to learn and grow into healthy boundaries. Notice who they are and foster opportunities for them to explore themselves and their interests. Be a cheerleader, but also a silent observer. Learn when to be which.

Make sure you have your own interests and life beyond being a parent. Let your daughters know about who you truly are as a full person with a life of your own. This gives them a model for themselves to also be a full person in the world.

Teaching How to Stand Up for Yourself
Danielle: Too often women are expected to roll with the punches—sit back and be quiet, we are often told from a young age. However, when someone says something rude or makes us uncomfortable, we need to hold each other accountable to speak up. I’ve learned this quiet self-respect only after years of practice, and constant reminders from my mom. Having watched her stand up for herself both professionally and in personal situations, I see what a positive effect it has had on my life. Now that I know my own self-worth, I find myself speaking out against injustices, and not just those committed against me.

Being Open to Having Honest and Real Conversations
Cynthia: Hold your daughters accountable for what happens; don’t bail them out. However, you can also be a soft place to land for discussion and decisions on what to do next time, and how to make amends for this time. Let them out into the world to test who they are and discover their own boundaries. Give them a strong foundation of truth to stand in. Then let things roll. Be ready to trust them to learn and grow again.

Expressing Gratitude
Cynthia: The practice of gratitude is just as important as being honest with one another. Take the time to appreciate your daughter and tell her why you’re grateful for her. This can be in the form of small notes (Danielle: My mom likes to leave little ‘thank you’ cards around the house) or just a simple ‘thanks’ when you notice she’s done something nice.

Relating Hardships
Cynthia: Allow your daughters to see you as a real person with emotions, someone who makes mistakes and who is fully, vulnerably human. Let them in, but don’t make them responsible for holding you up. Know you will scar them in some way no matter what because we are all out of balance with ourselves and the world from time to time. Let them hear “I’m sorry” from you here and there, and talk through why.

If you are divorced, try to co-parent well, allowing the traumas and dramas of your adult world to stay between you and your ex. Let your daughters know they are the product of two people who came together for good reason for the time you were meant to be together, and that life does not guarantee “happily ever after,” but it does guarantee you can stay strong, resilient, and even loving, through turmoil and pain. Let them know that love for the time it was meant to be is good enough. Show them that being a woman who is single is enough, and relationships do not define who we are, but may challenge us to grow into the best parts of ourselves.

Encouraging Growth Through Education and Pursuing Passions
Cynthia: Valuing and respecting your daughters by allowing them to show the way toward what draws them is important. Then support them with enthusiasm and helpful mentors and teachers to assist them in reaching toward their own light through their passions. Make sure they contribute financially too, if possible, so they come to understand the importance of personal investment by earning their own way.

In Summary
Raising an empowered daughter is like allowing a tree to take root and grow. You are the fertile ground upon which she stands and firmly roots herself. All the while, she reaches her arms toward the sky and leans into the winds of life, knowing the ground is always beneath her no matter what.

Danielle Drake-Flam is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. She was born and raised in Houghton, Michigan. Currently, she works as a freelancer for Footwear News in L.A., and as the Director of Journalism for the pro-bono consulting initiative Rem and Company.

Cynthia Drake is blessed to be mother to three strong, courageous, unique daughters. She’s a community builder, encouraging people to find their deepest potential via her life’s work: raising daughters, as a transition coach, grief counselor, Quaker youth leader, and living as a full human being. 

Excerpted with permission from the Fall 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Extraordinary Endurance, Chandra Ziegler

positive parenting, U.P. holistic wellness publication, parenting challenges, U.P. holistic business

I’m not here to provide any life-changing advice on how to raise kids. The truth is, as parents, we make hundreds of decisions any given day. We answer questions, and ask questions, sometimes straight to our kids, and other times just in our minds. From the moment they wake up until they fall asleep, we’re on duty. There’s already enough people telling us what to do, and what not to do. It can all be very exhausting.

What I will provide is a simple story and some tips on how to stay fit for the marathon of parenting, a feat that truly tests our limits, and one that takes extraordinary endurance.

Should I really give her juice as soon as she wakes up? What kind of habit am I creating? Maybe I should wake them up with nice classical music. Why couldn’t she sleep for a little longer? Do you want to lay back down, sweetie? Why didn’t I douse myself in patchouli? What should I pack in their lunches? No, you cannot wear your pajamas to school. Why are you still in bed? Did you brush your teeth? Do you have your snow pants? Yes, you need to wear a hat and gloves; it’s 3 degrees outside! Check watch…7:07 a.m.

Fast-forward to 8:07 p.m…

I let the older two watch Sofia the First a little longer than they should, which led to them being tired and cranky, and not so kind to one another in the bathroom while getting ready for bed. I could’ve walked away, used a nice, calm voice, remembered to have a sense of humor, or had some empathy… all those great parenting and teaching tricks that I know work, and have used a thousand times. Instead, I got irrationally upset.

Once we all settled down, and I got them to bed, I heard yelling and arguing so I went back into their bedroom. I looked at Emma, who had a thousand things surrounding her and asked, “Emma, look around you! I just don’t understand. Why do you need all this stuff???” And as I watched the tears well up in her eyes, she proclaimed with enough drama to win an Academy Award, “It’s just that I love you so much that I have to build up all this stuff around me to try to replace you, and help me calm down!”

I seriously melted. I embraced her and said how much I loved her and how happy I was that she still loved me even when I yell at her. We were able to rewind the not-so-good bedtime, and end with peace and calm. Thank goodness.

Parenting is hard, and I believe we’re all doing the best we can.

Whether you’re a parent of little kids, big kids, furry kids, or no kids, I know you can relate. While there can be many rip-your-hair-out moments as a parent, there are far more joyous moments and reasons to celebrate. We can become inundated with information, but in the end we just need to trust ourselves.

Children are kind, intelligent, incredibly sweet, far more enlightened than we give them credit for, and simply hilarious. We need to stay in the moment, see the world through the eyes of a child, look for the pearl, and live more joyfully. Since I said I wasn’t going to give any advice, I’ll just call that homework.

Because parenting is the toughest job on the planet, and requires extraordinary endurance, and an exorbitant amount of energy, we must first show up for ourselves. We need to take care of our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies so we can more fully take care of the precious humans we’ve been gifted. So here are some things to consider doing:

– Rise at 5 a.m. to do some quiet reading or writing or anything else that you love.
– Rise at 5 a.m. to get a workout in to a) train for a marathon, b) burn off the calories from all the Halloween candy you stole from your toddler’s pumpkin or simply, c) stay sane and be a better parent, spouse, and person as a whole.
– Be happy with where you’re at and your decisions.
– If possible, take a day for you.
– Take any help that is offered.
– Get active in the outdoors. It’s good for the body, mind, and soul.
– Give a massage, get a massage.
– Play now, clean later.

7:07 p.m the next day..

Emma tiptoed quietly into Kate’s room as I was rocking her to sleep. She kissed her, squeezed her tight, and said, “You are so beautiful and kind! You will change the world. I just love you so much. You will make the world a better place because you’re so kind.”

The tears rolled down my cheeks. Emma noticed and asked, “Why are you crying?” All I could squeak out was, “I just love you so much.” But in my heart, I thought ‘Maybe I’m doing okay as a mom. Maybe the messages and lessons I’m trying to impart to my children are really sinking in.’ Because you know what? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if they hear what I’m saying.

For instance, how many times have I said, “Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, that’s enough chips, hands are for helping, stop hitting your sister!” But tonight, I can pause and thank God that the things I’m saying and how I’m living are making a difference.

A child’s love is unconditional, so remember this:

“It doesn’t matter what color you are. The most special thing is that you have someone that loves you.” – Four-year-old

Your spirit is strong and vibrant, so when the going gets tough, tell yourself,
“I can do this. I just have to be brave.” – Six-year-old

You are extraordinary. And maybe you’re not an athlete, or active at all, but trust yourself that you have the endurance it takes to keep going and be the best parent you can be.

Chandra Ziegler is a Yooper wannabe in Crystal Falls with a Minnesota heart. By day, she is a mother of three girls and teacher to even more. By “night,” she runs non-profit Iron Endurance, teaches yoga and painting classes, trains for marathons, and writes.

Excerpted with permission from the Spring 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

Positive Parenting: Simplify This Holiday Season, by Angela Johnson

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The holidays are meant to be a time of peace, connection, and celebration. However, in our consumer-driven culture, the holidays seem to be more about guilt-driven gift giving than the deeper meaning of the season. There are many reasons to want to share more meaning than money this holiday season. You may want to simplify the holidays for less stress, environmental concerns of unnecessary consumption and waste, or maybe you can’t afford to spend that much this year. When I was looking for some resources to support this article, I came across a lovely quote that inspires my reasons for wanting to simplify the holidays:

If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money. – Abigail Van Buren

I have two teenage daughters, and for me this quote rings true. Over the years, it is the quality time that I have shared with them, not the gifts I have given, that forms our strong bond, cherished memories, and the base of their overall well-being. This quote is a good reminder of that truth and it makes me want to do even better for them. Yes, do better for them by giving them less. I even like the mathematical formula for this and may try it out this year. “Twice as much time, and half as much money.” This might be a good place to start.

Okay, so maybe you’re sold as I am, but now what? How do we fill the void of piles of presents under the Christmas tree? We still want Christmas to be special, and depending on the age of your children, Santa may still be visiting. So how exactly does this whole simplifying the holidays thing work? According to the “Simplify the Holidays” booklet by The New American Dream (www.newdream.org), the best place to start is with some personal reflection:

“Before deciding how to simplify, take a moment to reflect on what kind of holiday celebration you want. Are you looking for more activities to enjoy with your children? A celebration focused more deeply on nature? New charitable or community-based traditions? A clearer confirmation of your spiritual beliefs? Or are you trying to reduce stress and get a little extra time to sleep? Once you have decided what you want to do differently, it’s easier to decide how to act.”

Once you’ve done a little contemplation, I suggest checking out “The More Fun, Less Stuff Catalog,” also created by the Center for the New American Dream (https://newdream.org/downloads/New_Dream_More_Fun_Less_Stuff_Catalog.pdf).

My favorite idea from the catalog is a coupon book.

In the catalog, you can download a free, easy-to-use coupon template which you can customize. I have done this for my husband in the past, and he loved it. (He keeps all his coupons in the drawer next to his side of the bed with all his special keepsakes.)

The catalog has great ideas for all the people in your life—from children to other family members, and friends. Whether it’s art lessons, concert tickets, donations to a charity, or handmade gifts, there are tons of wonderful ideas. Some people, especially those with children, may still want to purchase a few store-bought items.

What I usually do with my children is use the holiday gift-giving time to buy them one or two things they need and also some things we can share as a family. Things they might need include socks, or a pair of jeans without holes in them (when they were younger the holes were from playing and now as teenagers, they are because they bought them ripped!). Either way, this mom prefers the no-holes version. Another idea, if you still want to purchase something simple to put under the tree, consider family-fun items such as a good board game or outdoor play gear (sled, fishing pole, etc.). Right now, my daughters and I are totally hooked on Scrabble. Back in the day, it was Memory and Sorry! If games aren’t your family’s thing, think of what is, and take this holiday season to invest in quality time doing that.

When thinking about buying less this holiday season, a good place to focus instead is on quality family traditions.

This might be something classic such as making Christmas cookies together or watching or reading a favorite holiday story. Children (and adults) love family traditions, and if you want to focus less on gift giving, creating a new holiday family tradition is a great place to start. It could be a simple as a walk through the woods, but oh, how fun it could be to traipse through the snow as a family under the stars on Christmas Eve! Maybe that’s just me, but whatever you choose, tailor it to your unique and wonderful family, and have fun!

Simplifying will mean different things to different people. No matter what you decide to cut back on materialistically speaking, I wish you and your family a holiday filled with “less is more” meaning, so here’s wishing you less stuff, and more quality peace, meaningful connection and celebration this holiday season.

Angela Johnson, Great Start Collaborative (GSC) Director for Marquette and Alger Counties, works at Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (MARESA). The Great Start Collaborative (https://www.maresa.org/early-on/marquette-alger-great-start-collaborative/) works in communities throughout the state to ensure Michigan is making progress towards four priority early childhood outcomes.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

Positive Parenting: 6 Tips for a Great Start Back to School, by Angela Johnson

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Back to school is an exciting time.

However, without the proper preparation, it can also become stressful for both you and your children. Here are six tips from your local Great Start Collaborative on how you can give you and your children a great start to the school year!

1. Keep a Regular Sleep Routine

Routines help children feel comfortable. A week or so before school begins, start to readjust bedtime schedules to be more in line with the school day schedule. Establishing a good school year bedtime routine where your children go to bed at the same time every night will help them feel rested, relaxed, and ready to learn!

The time allotted to provide your child with a relaxing bedtime routine will vary some, but on average, you want to work in thirty minutes to an hour. After this, there should be no more electronics. According to the National Sleep Foundation, spending time on electronics within an hour of going to bed negatively affects quality of sleep.

One great option to include as part of your child’s bedtime routine is quality reading time. This can be either you reading a story to them, and/or your child silently reading to him or herself. Another nice thing to do at bedtime is spend a few minutes tucking your child in and actively listening to them. Your child’s bedtime routine might also include picking out his or her outfit for the next day, and/or organizing his or her backpack, and will certainly include basics like putting pajamas on and brushing teeth.

Sleep is fundamentally important to your child’s success in school and in life, so take the time to adjust your child’s sleep schedule to the school year and you will prevent a lot of unnecessary stress.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines, which are approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are as follows:

Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
Ages 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
Ages 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

2. Provide Healthy & Easy Food Options

In addition to making sure our children are getting plenty of rest, it’s important they fuel up with good food for their busy day of learning. I think most of us would agree that the best meals in a busy family household are the ones that are both healthy and easy! To make sure this happens, all you need is a little meal prep and weekly planning. A little something that has worked well for me over the years (my girls are 14 and 19 now). . . keep a bowl with fresh, easy-to-grab fruit out on the kitchen table. When it’s easy like that, they really do go for it!

3. Go School Shopping

Obtain a class list of required supplies for your child, and plan a special trip to pick everything out. The right tools are important for your child’s success at school. While you’re at it, make sure he or she has few new clothing items for back to school too. Having enough socks, shirts, and a good pair of shoes, etc., will alleviate a lot of laundry stress for you, and also help your child feel confident and organized for their first day of school.

4. Visit School & Talk to the New Teacher

This one is pretty straightforward and simple, but important nonetheless. Usually some type of open house is held so you can go check the school out and meet the new teacher before school year starts. Try to make this happen for your child, as it will help them to feel more connected and ready for the new school year.

5. Know your Transportation Plan

Again, this might seem like a minor detail, but it is important for you and your child to understand what transportation to and from school will be like. It’s a basic thing, but important to work out and discuss with your child so they feel comfortable with how they will be getting to and from school.

6. Slow Down & Make Time for Balanced Living

We live in a fast-paced society, so it takes a conscious effort to slow down and not fall victim to the stress associated with such a speedy tempo. It is important to both your health as a parent and your child’s as well to not overschedule the family.

Take care of yourself as the parent. Listen to what you need to maintain peace and balance, and give yourself some time for that each day.

Listen to your children. Give them your full, undivided, quality attention each day. Give them free-play. Set limits on technology. Eat a meal together. Play a game together. Just be together.

Powerful times to listen and connect with your children are right after school, during dinnertime and at bedtime.

Best wishes to you and your family in the 2019/2020 school year!

*The Marquette-Alger GSC welcomes any professionals and/or parents/caregivers that touch the lives of children in our community, from pregnancy to eight years old. Our next meeting will be Monday, September 16 at MARESA from 11:30-1:30. (Lunch is provided). Please RSVP with Angela @ 906-869-0566 or ajohnson@maresa.org.

Angela Johnson, Great Start Collaborative (GSC) Director for Marquette and Alger Counties, works at Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (MARESA). The Great Start Collaborative (https://www.maresa.org/early-on/marquette-alger-great-start-collaborative/) works in communities throughout the state to ensure Michigan is making progress towards four priority early childhood outcomes.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Positive Parenting: Nurturing Our Children’s Creativity, Joy Bender Hadley

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One of my favorite memories from my childhood was listening to my mother play the piano. I loved how smoothly her fingers went from key to key, playing each note. She furthered my interest with an interactive musical game for my siblings and me. She would play various tunes, each offering different tempos. When she played the faster music, we would dance with quick moves around the whole house. As it slowed, we would too. It was a marvelous way for my mother to introduce us to the world of music. The bonus may have been that it also tired us out eventually. This was the beginning of my love for music and dance. My mother was always finding ways to nurture our creativity. Our house always had a supply of simple visual arts materials, and no end to creative ways to keep our imaginations blossoming.

The impact of the arts on the developing brain is essential.

The brain is stimulated in positive ways while creating art, dancing, or playing an instrument. The research for this is even included in the Search Institute’s forty developmental assets for youth. These are building blocks to help children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. The more assets our children experience, the healthier they will be—not just as young people, but as they transition into adults as well.

By introducing creative activities into our children’s lives, we can help them develop skills that will create healthy habits. The arts can support creative problem-solving as well as celebrate our individuality, uniqueness, and diversity. Creativity encourages self-expression, a way to create something from personal feelings and experiences. This can increase self-worth and self-esteem.

Though here in the Upper Peninsula we may have fewer offerings such as art museums, programs, and concerts than a larger metropolitan area,

we do have abundant opportunities to share the arts with our children in many ways. We have art galleries and art centers in many of our communities. It is my belief that children are never too young to start interacting with or in art. Bring them to an art gallery, outdoor art fair, symphony concert, or take the time to pick up books about the arts at the library and start conversations with your child. If discussing art makes you feel nervous, that’s all right. Learn with your child.

This type of conversation does not have to happen only in a gallery or concert setting, though. You know the game of lying down outside on a blanket and looking up for images in clouds. That is a creative activity that can help stimulate your child’s imagination. Point out what you see and ask your child if they see it. Then ask them to find something. Observational skills are important to your future scientist, mathematician, artist, or engineer. The arts help greatly in fine-tuning those skills.

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Studies have concluded that it’s very important to introduce art education at a young age because children are developing their critical thinking skills.

Our children fine-tune their motor skills while creating art. The cognitive processes involved in learning to draw, choosing shapes and colors, and creating detail in visual work help develop the skills associated with these tasks. The musical arts can translate into better math skills. Musical rhythms can provide a way for students to learn fractions, counting, and patterns.

We do have opportunities to meet artists, musicians, dancers, and performers in the Upper Peninsula. You know the Michigan State motto, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”? Well, I truly believe if you seek creative activities in this pleasant Upper Peninsula, look about you. Here we are more likely to meet talented artists face-to-face. We are a personable group of neighbors. Ask local friends and family about local opportunities. We have galleries, art class opportunities, creative businesses, and children’s museums.

As you introduce your children to these types of skill-building creative activities, you’ll be having fun right along with your child.

Try collaborating on a painting or drawing. One of my favorite drawing opportunities as a child was having an adult draw a simple scribble on paper. Then I would take it and see if I could make an image from it. A simple figure 8 might turn into a twirling dancer or an animal. That kept me occupied for hours. The adults seemed to have fun coming up with odd scribbles just to see if I could find anything to make out of it. I did this with my own children, and you can try this too. You might ask your child to make a scribble for you and you try to make something out of it. This type of dialogue between adult and child can help to develop not only the budding artist in the youth, but also help further communication between you and your child.

Through the arts and nurturing creativity, both you and your child will have fun while developing lifelong skills and the blossoming of imagination.

(https://www.search-institute.org)

Joy Bender Hadley is an award- winning art educator working in schools and as an artist-in-residence throughout the region. She believes in the importance of art education in the development of all youth. Aurora Artworks, her art service business, offers creativity coaching for adults.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.