Note from the Editor

It seems like all that is encompassing our minds this year is the pandemic. While it has dramatically affected our lives and we can’t take our eyes off it, life must go on. But it’s affect upon us can sometimes be surprising. Read The Weight of a Pandemic to discover how one woman fell back in love with her body after gaining weight.

Another article which helps put things in perspective is Exploring Social Connection in Times of Social Distancing. This article requires that we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to see what it’s like to be quarantined in a country far from family, friends and all that’s familiar.

And if you’re seeking advice on how to deal with this change in daily life routines, check out Coping as a Family during COVID-19. Our local YMCA gives us lots of ways to stay active, healthy and happy. Likewise, if your sleeping habits are being adversely affected due to stress and anxiety, read our article called Sleepy Worthy. It’s packed with useful information on how to tackle the things that are keeping you awake at night and will help you change your habits so that you can get your rest.

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The Importance of Art in our Communities

by Dr. Sharon McCoubrey, Professor Emeritus, UBC

Many years ago, I was assisting an artist install a sculpture in our community when a store worker came outside to eat her lunch. She watched us for awhile, then approached me and asked, “why are you spending money on that art when we need to fix our roads and clean up our water?”.  It was a legitimate question and one that I always keep in mind and fortunately, can always easily answer.

Adding art to a community results in a better community.  I will support that declaration by giving a few reasons, but first, a brief exploration of what is meant by art will be helpful.

The term art is used to cover visual arts, music, dance, film making, architecture, landscape design and more.  For the discussion here, my use of the term ‘art’ will refer to the visual arts in all its forms, paintings, sculpture, drawings, installation art, realistic or abstract, as a few examples.  It will refer to both indoor and outdoor art.

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Hatch a Chick

by Quality Farms

When I met David, owner of Hatch a Chick and Quality farms and he told me about his business and asked me if I was interested in hatching eggs and taking care of chicks, I thought, well okay. We didn’t have any pets so I thought it would be a learning experience for my daughter.

Hatch a Chick has been operating for more than five years! They go to libraries, schools, retirement homes and neighborhoods like mine to teach people about the process of hatching a chicken from incubation to the hatch, to taking care of chicks until they become laying hens or roosters.

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Coping as a Family during COVID-19

by Erica Marshall, Marketing and Communications Manager at YMCA of Okanagan  •  Photo provided by YMCA

We are all experiencing added stress and anxiety to some degree, which can have devastating effects on our health both long term and short. A healthy mind and body are key to a strong immune system. Coping through COVID is a marathon not a sprint and families need to focus on the physical, mental and emotional health of their children, as well as themselves. Unfortunately, this pandemic will be our norm for the foreseeable future. The warmer months may be easier, but the winter months will likely bring its own set of challenges. The good news is, there are many practices and techniques to help families stay well, together.

Get Active  •  Get those endorphins pumping to combat stress, calm your mind and build your immunity. Activity levels are at an all time low and many studies report exercise as the biggest tool to enhance our mental and physical wellness. There are many ways family members can exercise while remaining physically distanced. Some may be able to join certain sports, swim lessons, a gym, or online fitness classes that are safe and follow COVID protocols. If this is not an option, get active outside or at home. As a family, make it a priority to do at least one activity a week like hiking, visiting a pool or snowshoeing.

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Parenting for Positive Identity

by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.   •  Psych Central

Identity. It’s a complicated concept that defies easy definition. Yet it is at the heart of the lifelong question, ‘who am I?’. How we answer includes how much we value ourselves and how safe and competent we feel in the social world. Although it can and does change in response to life experience, the foundation is laid down in childhood.

Parents can and do have enormous influence. Yes, identity development will happen whether parents actively do something or not. All children absorb the attitudes, attributes and values of the people around them. Parents can, however, provide the care and environment to foster the healthy identity that includes security, a positive self-esteem and resilience. Several factors foster a positive identity:

Belonging  •  According to early 20th-century theorist Alfred Adler, knowing that we belong in the human community is fundamental to mental health.

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Exploring Social Connection in Times of Social Distancing

by Dorothee Birker, Communications and Development Coordinator for KCR Community Resources

‘We are all in this together’ has been recited over and over as a well meaning catchphrase to give us strength and comfort as we grapple with a new COVID-19 world.  It’s a simple phrase that speaks volumes about the human need to be connected. When we feel bound, tethered or grounded together we aren’t weathering the COVID storm alone.  However, while the phrase is encouraging, it may not be that true. We are in the storm together, but the type of boat we are in varies greatly.

Certainly all of us have been impacted by the pandemic. And certainly, all of us have had to struggle with our new circumstances.  This is new territory and we are learning to cope as we go through it. This pandemic is hard. But while we are all in it together, our individual experiences, our toolboxes and our ability to cope, are vastly different.

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Getting Off to the Right Start in Reading

by Brenda Larson, B. Ed and M. Ed, Creator of Itchy’s Alphabet

Every parent wants their child to experience success at school. Yet, statistics show that close to one in three children may struggle with learning as they begin their school journey. Here are four steps to ensure your child has the best chance of becoming a reader.

1. Focus on Language Development  •  Children with strong language skills typically become readers. It stands to reason when we recognize that the material we read is simply our language put down in print. We develop those language skills by talking to our children right from an early age.

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Sleep Worthy

by Amelia Ellsworth

The Problem  •  I’m lying in bed. It’s two o’clock in the morning. I’m supposed to be sleeping and I want to be sleeping, but my brain defies me and its wide awake. Thoughts race through my mind and I can’t shut them off. I’m consumed with worry and I’m exhausted. I know it’s only a few more hours before I have to get out of bed and being awake now, is stressing me out. Why can’t I sleep?

Night after night, I was experiencing this same scenario. The worries in my head playing out my worst nightmares, reciting a cruel mantra: ‘You are stupid. You make bad decisions. You are useless. No one likes you. You’re a failure’. Self-loathing was a blanket of shame I unintentionally pulled closer. After many sequential nights, this led to exhaustion and an inability to make the simplest decisions.

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Perfecting the Family-Work Life Balancing Act

by Melanie Williams  •  photo Julie Koivisto

The family life – work life balancing act has always been difficult to juggle. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelowna local, Marissa Dutoff, someone who stands out as having mastered the family life – work life balancing act. She owns and operates a business with her husband Kelly and as any entrepreneur will tell you, having your own business often means more personal time and energy is required. In fact, Marissa and her husband travel an average of 158 days a year for their business.

But Marissa had a clear vision of what she wanted her life to look like and didn’t venture into parenthood with traditional notions. This charismatic woman is mother to three-year-old Sam and nine-month-old Audrey and knew that being with her children as much as possible was her top priority. She also had no intention of giving up her career and instead has successfully created a lifestyle that synergistically combines her roles. I visited with Marissa to uncover her secrets to perfecting the working parent’s most precarious balancing act.

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The Weight of a Pandemic

by Melanie Williams; wife, mother, friend, confidant, writer, inclusion advocate

I have always felt like somewhat of a fraud in my own body. I am 5’3” and have a small frame but I have never had a flat stomach and my thighs squish together in the middle. Being petite has a certain image attached to it that I’ve never been able to live up to. I fail miserably at meeting industry standards. Shopping is tedious and clothes never fit me right. Trying things on usually leaves me feeling fat and ugly. I tell people, ‘you can be small and flabby’. This seems to extract a certain amount of disdain from others. What I never would have predicted, was how COVID-19 would fundamentally change how I saw myself – for the better.

When the pandemic unfolded and we were told to stay home, I rushed to Costco in a panic to stock up on my essentials: 2 kgs of mixed nuts and a case of my favourite red wine. Three weeks later, with my husband working out of town and home schooling my two children a total disaster, more essentials were required; nuts and wine. The pandemic made me a regular Costco shopper. I survived each day by eating my emotions and celebrated each night with Cabernet Sauvignon.

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