Thoughtful Holiday Season

Lora-Mauricio - 0184It’s the most wonderful time of year, indeed.

Many of us now find ourselves singing, whistling, humming along to our favourite holiday tune as we walk around town, excited about the season, the gift-buying, the work parties, often having too many sweets and being covered by the sparkles from all the holiday greeting cards. At home, decorations are up, and plans have been made with family and friends. Kids are ecstatic, the promise of treats, toys, games dancing in their heads.

There is something intoxicating about the holiday season – nothing in the year matches it. No matter your faith, you can find something to celebrate – oftentimes drinking in the joy like a rich, creamy eggnog. But, in the midst of the holiday crowd you can also find pain for many. This time of year can also be a reminder of broken relationships, hard times, less than successful attempts to live the dream of a better life and maybe the empty chairs of loved ones that may have left us too soon.

I recently came across this ad, which struck a cord…

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So how do we create a balance, an equilibrium between the joy in our own lives and the lack thereof in the lives of others? It seems the answer is found in our own communities. Why not find a moment to assist those who cannot respectively share in the holiday cheer. Maybe as we scurry through the grocery aisles picking up all the last trimmings for the our special dinners, grab an extra couple of items for the food banks that, during this time, are often under strain serving our needful communities. After all, what is the holiday season without giving and sharing? It only takes a moment, but it can make a great difference in someone else’s life.

Many years ago a beautiful song came out called, “Do they know it’s Christmas”. It often plays in holiday concerts and festivities around this time of year. There is one particular line that stands out for me, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” It is a reminder that there is a world outside our window, and it’s not always joyous. It made me think of something we often overlook, especially as we get all caught up in holiday preparations, and that is acknowledging and being grateful for what we have, however big or small. After all, there is always something to be thankful for.

So amidst all the celebration, the family, the music, the presents, the cheer, let’s take a moment and count our blessings, find something to celebrate – whatever it is that completes our little corner of the world.

I am most honoured and excited to introduce my latest picture-book, Lucky Me, which centres around this concept of gratitude, shedding light on all the small miracles that we sometimes forget to be thankful for. I’d love to recommend it to you.


lucky me

 

Lucky Me
Lora Rozler (Author),‎ Jan Dolby (Illustrator)
Fitzhenry and Whiteside (December, 15 2017)

Chapters-Indigo | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

 

Lucky Me celebrates the concepts of thankfulness as it explores the world with a series of evocative, one line descriptions of situations wherein a child (or adult), might be inclined to thank one’s lucky star. The extraordinary book shares 36 of these celebrations, each exquisitely illustrated by Jan Dolby.


Whatever is beautiful, whatever is meaningful, whatever brings you happiness, may it be yours this holiday season. May your days sparkle with moments of love, laughter, and goodwill, and may the year ahead be full of contentment and joy.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday season and a blessed New Year!

Gratefully yours,

Lora

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4 Simple Tips for Planning Your Financial Future

Recently I was contacted by Jackie who shared with us that her husband’s mom had passed away, and as they went through the probate process, she began to feel like her husband and she hadn’t done enough to plan for the future.

She further shared, “Sure, we have a retirement plan and a will. But I worried that we hadn’t done enough to ensure our child on the autism spectrum would have a caregiver into adulthood. I realized I wasn’t clear on whether our home could be passed on to our children if something were to happen to us. And these concerns spun into others.”

So, she did tons of research, and with every new thing she learned, she began to feel better. Here is the piece she wrote for us to help bring more awareness to proper financial planning. Thank you Jackie for your insight.


It’s a tough subject to tackle, but I hope hearing about it from someone who until just recently felt equally overwhelmed will be helpful to those who just don’t know quite where to start.

“Financial planning” sounds a lot scarier and more complicated than it actually is—and in fact, putting it off could ultimately land you in an even more frightening and complicated situation. The sooner you get organized and prepared for the future, the better. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Establish Your Goals
It’s true that you can’t predict everything the future will bring, but you can start planning for the things you hope will happen. Sit down (with your spouse, if you have one) and lay out your goals and a tentative life plan. Perhaps you’re hoping to move up in your company within the next five years, or you hope to move to a new city as soon as it’s feasible. If you have children, consider how much you’ll need to put aside for their college education. For children with special needs, account for any home modifications they’ll need: both in the near-future and far. You should also include vacations you want to take or family events you’ll need to travel for like weddings and reunions.

Account for the Unexpected
Cars break down. Natural disasters strike. Illness and disease occur without warning. The fact is, there are a lot of variables in life, and it’s important to consider odds you might be up against. If you have an older home, it may need updates to ensure it’s a place where you can age in place safely and comfortably. Or if Alzheimer’s runs in your partner’s family, you’ll want to be sure you have funds set aside to cover the care they may need in the future. Even if your worries turn out to be wrong, it’s better to account for them in case they’re right.

Think about your own circumstances, as well. What would happen to your family if you passed away suddenly? Would they have a financial cushion? What would happen to your property? In addition to a will, some states offer a special kind of deed that automatically transfers control of your property upon your death. If you’re a single parent, this can be especially important because it can allow you to ensure your child will have a home should anything happen to you. Be sure to go through all your options of what’s available and legally sound in your area, and choose what’s best for your family’s needs.

Set and Stick to a Budget
You might be a pro at handling money without a set financial plan, but a budget allows you to actually look at how much you’re spending on what and where you should shift priorities. For instance, if your family eats out twice a week, sitting down and evaluating that total monthly cost is nearly identical to what you should be putting into your retirement fund. Once you’ve established how your money should be handled, make the commitment to stick to your budget each and every month. Don’t let yourself skip putting money in savings because of an unanticipated large purchase—perhaps you had to replace your vacuum this month, for example—and instead always make your contributions for the future a priority. Only pull from savings for emergencies and designated goals.

Check In and Reevaluate Your Budget Often
Though it’s important to stick to your budget as much as possible, that isn’t to say that you should never change it. Your needs and situation will change multiple times throughout your life, as well as your goals and needs for the future. Evaluate your budget quarterly, if not monthly, and assess how you’re doing on making progress toward your goals. If you get a promotion and begin making a higher salary, plan carefully for how you’ll spend your extra money each month. Perhaps you’re no longer interested in relocating your family, or you’re looking to enroll your child in a more academically-challenging private school. Talk to your partner about any changes you think should be made in your budget, and make sure the decision is one you are both comfortable with.

Don’t put off planning for the future. Keep these tips in mind for your financial planning and never forget: it’s better to be safe than sorry!

-Jackie Waters

My New Normal – Living With Endometriosis

It takes courage to speak openly about our personal struggles, to invite the world into our private space. But sometimes, those brave words are just what another silent warrior might need; to feel that they are not alone, their experiences are not crazy, they are not just imagining things. They too, matter.

Thank you Julie, for your candidness and willingness to share your story. I hope your New Normal will empower another woman struggling with Endometriosis, to redefine Hers. You are one strong, beautiful, remarkable woman!


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Six Tips to Balance Work and Home without Completely Losing Your Mind

work-life-balanceAnyone who has ever spent a day in mommy-mode, knows just what a demanding role it can be. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing, after-school activities, laundry, homework, you name it, the list is endless. But for many of us, our day’s work doesn’t begin and end there. Add a full-time career into the mix, and you’ve barely got time for yourself.

Here to give us some tips on keeping it all together is Jennifer Raskin. Jennifer is an internationally-published writer and blogger. She and her husband have two darling daughters. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys reading, wine tasting, dining, shopping, and weightlifting at the gym.

Feel free to share your thoughts, or a tip or two, on what best works for you, in the comment section below. Have a fabulous week working moms (and dads)!


Six Tips to Balance Work and Home without Completely Losing Your Mind

Working moms are the hardest working people on the planet. Not only must we go into our jobs and give it our all, but when we get home we’re clocking into our other job as Mom. It’s exhausting but rewarding, however no matter how rewarding, it can be draining. If you feel like you’re being ripped apart at the seams, here are some tips to help you bring a little more balance into your life so you can do your best in every role you play.

1. Get organized and prioritizedtodo

In both work and at home, make sure you’re organizing everything that needs to be done and prioritizing those things. Does it need to be done immediately? If so, put it on your daily list and handle it like a boss. If not, add to your weekly list so you can handle it when the more important things are finished. By managing your time effectively, you’ll find you have more time to do what you want and less stress.

2. Leave office work at the officeworking-at-home-too

Don’t take work home with you. Leave the drama at your desk and start fresh each day. You owe it to yourself as well as the people you love at home to focus on them instead.

messy 3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

So the kids made a mess in the living room. Just chill. It’s not the end of the world. Enlist their help in picking up. If they resist, maybe it’s time to offer an allowance for doing chores.

delegate4. Delegate whenever possible

You might be Super Mom, but no one likes a martyr. Both at work and at home, make sure you’re delegating tasks that someone else can handle, leaving you to take care of the bigger things that only you can do.

slow-cooker5. Take some shortcuts

No one says you need to come home from a busy day at the office to make a 5-course dinner. Make it a taco night, or better yet, use your slow cooker to have dinner waiting when you get home. It will give you extra time to relax.

6. Make time for yourself

It sounds selfish, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Not at all. You need time to yourself to refresh and recharge so you can be your very best. Running yourself ragged and overlooking your own needs is not good. Whether it’s curling up with a book, taking a nap, soaking in the tub, going for a run, or gabbing with a friend, make that time to unwind each and every day, even if it’s only 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll feel so much better!relaxing

If you’ve been feeling like a circus clown trying to juggle everything in your life, take these tips and incorporate them so you feel more fulfilled. Everyone will thank you, especially yourself!


The Rooster!

roosterHappy New Year! I hope 2017 has been off to a wonderful start for everyone. I’m excited to share something that has been rattling around my mind over the holiday season.

With only a day before the work week begins again, (for us teachers anyway), it struck me to reflect on the piece below about a moment in my life where a teacher made in an impact on me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed mulling it over and finally putting it together.


They come to me like snapshots, images of a time long ago.

In one of them I am standing in a beautiful courtyard. The trees are tall and luscious, the grass is green and moist. Next to me is a small tub. I look down at it, eyes desolate, water slowly dripping onto my bare feet. Only moments before, the water which now trickled from my hair, belonged in the same pool. I had been playing alongside my friends, splashing, giggling, pouring water over our heads. The sun was shining. The air was warm. Life was good.

Well, at least until the Rooster appeared.

Rooster was the more-than-generous name I gave the meanest kindergarten teacher ever. Unfortunately, she also happened to be my kindergarten teacher.

“Don’t you dare go back in,” she clucked. “You know the rules. If you step out, you’re done,” bulging eyes looked down at me.

“Mr. Ducky fell out,” I began, but there was no use. The Rooster wouldn’t have it.

Just like that, the fun and games on Water Day were over. I stood there, staring at the others, envying that their stupid ducky stayed put. They looked so happy, so together.  I supposed that’s how I looked not too long ago. It’s funny how in a matter of an instant I no longer belonged.

Lesson number one: It sucks being left out!

Rooster is mean!

I want my mommy!

Another snapshot lays itself atop the last, and I am five again, same place, similar time, same old Rooster.

This time I am sitting on a long wooden bench, head bowed, hands clasped rigidly on my lap. I am wearing my favourite blue dress, the one with the big colourful flowers. It seemed a shame to stare down at such beauty when everything else around me felt so ugly. The time-out bench was no place for me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone pointed their finger at me. Now I had to ‘think about it’ when I had no clue what I’d done.

Lesson number two: Life is not fair!

Kids can be cruel!

Rooster is definitely the worst teacher ever!

I still want my mommy!

So there I was, slowly climbing out of the cozy cradle that had sheltered me for the first five years of my life. This was life though, sometimes not so nice, definitely not as nice as Mommy.


Sometimes the person you become is an amalgamation of the many experiences throughout your time on earth. I found that this moment helped mold the teacher that I would one day become, or at least the teacher that I did not want to be.

Here’s a thought exercise, think of a moment of impact that helped create the You of today. If you like, tell us about it in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Lora

25 Things My Dad Taught Me

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As a little girl, I was daddy’s little princess. Looking back at home videos, it amazes me how happy I made him, like a little kid on Christmas morning. Now that I’m older, we have a tricky relationship but when everything is pushed aside he is still my hero and I am still his baby girl. Here is a man that was once a young boy himself and grew up to have his own kids and did everything in his power to make our lives perfect with love. Father’s aren’t just born, men grow into them and it’s a very important stage of their development. As my mother always tried to protect my siblings and me from the world, my father threatened us with it as we grew up. We aren’t kids anymore he would tell us; the real world is not all rainbows and ponies. For that I thank…

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Words Build. Words Destroy!

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“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.”

Vashti Quiroz-Vega


Words on a Limb is proud to announce the launch of its first picture-book:

Words Title - Regular
Written and Illustrated by Lora Rozler

Softcover MarketingIn this emotional and Hardcover Marketing
highly visual picture book,
a lonely letter sets off on a journey to find meaning.
As it encounters various letter combinations, it is confronted by two distinct paths and must make an important choice.

Readers of all ages will be captivated by this simple, yet high concept, story that explores universal themes of discovery, relationships and the need to belong, with an underlying message about bullying. Both timeless and original, Words is an evocative tale about how letters become words and words create meaning – meaning which could ultimately build or destroy.

“A compelling story-line, simple yet poignant illustrations, engaging language, a great read-aloud that offers many opportunities for reflection and discussion with children.”

“A heart-warming story with a clever, powerful message about anti-bullying. An absolute must-have
for every parent and educator.”


Available at all major online retailers including:

  barnes_noble_samsung

chapters


For a FREE Parent and Teacher Companion Kit, based on the book, Words

click on the image below

Resource PackPic


Attention all Mini-Artists: Join our Words-Through-Art Sketch Competition

IMG_20150707_180423Get out your sketch pads, sharpen those pencils, it’s time foIMG_20150707_171159r an Art Competition. Words on a Limb would like to invite readers (ages 6-10) to send in their best illustrations, capturing the essence of the picture-book, Words. The winner will receive a hardcover edition of Words and have their work featured on our site, as well as Lora Rozler’s author website.

All entries must be submitted to wordsonalimb@bell.net by August 15, 2015. Please indicate Art Competition in the subject line and specify the artist’s age in the email. The winner will be announced on August 22, 2015. Let the sketching begin!

How Diving In Helped Me Get Over Being Bullied

IMG_6388Hello everyone. I hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer. We have something great to share with you. High school student, Kathleen, reached out to us after taking a look through our awareness-related articles. She wrote to us from Educator Labs where she is volunteering to speak out for Asperger’s Syndrome. Along with her research there, she is also creating an outreach program to share resources to empower others to overcome their obstacles. We felt it was a worthy cause and are delighted to share her story. 


Diving

If you’ve ever been bullied, you know how humiliating it can be. Even though you’ve done nothing wrong, you end up feeling ashamed, inadequate, and isolated.

That’s how it was for me during my freshman year of high school when two factors converged to make me an easy target. First, when I entered high school I was around a lot more people who didn’t know me and who didn’t understand my Asperger’s. They saw someone who wasn’t like them and singled me out.

Second, during the summer leading up to freshman year and during freshman year, I gained several pounds. I had always been prone to a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, this is common among kids with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and may be a factor that contributes to the high rate of obesity within the population. Because I wasn’t good at playing sports and I didn’t like exercising, I was always much more content reading a book or watching TV. Then, when middle school ended so did my required PE. It had been the only real exercise I was getting each week.

In high school, the kids who weren’t familiar with me thought I was odd. They’d pick on me because of the hand-wringing and clasping motions I often made and because of my weight.

Soon, just as I had begged my parents not to make me participate in PE when I was younger, I would now ask them if I could stay home sick from school. I even tried to convince my mom to start homeschooling me.

After a trip to the doctor revealed that I could now be classified as “overweight,” upon the recommendation of my doctor, my mom began taking me regularly to swim at the local YMCA. I had learned to swim when I was little, and while I liked being in the water, it was never something I had a deep desire to do. But it didn’t take long for all that to change. After those first trips to the YMCA, I fell in love with swimming. I began to feel better physically and mentally, and on really difficult days it gave me something to look forward to. Here are a few of the ways swimming helped me overcome being bullied:

  • It gave me something to achieve. My mom was completely on board with me losing my excess weight, but she didn’t want me to become focused on achieving a certain weight. So, instead I set different goals for my swimming. For example, I’d set a goal to for swimming a certain number of laps without stopping or to beat a previous time. Having swimming helped me focus on something that I really enjoyed instead of lingering on what certain kids at school said about me.
  • It helped reduce repetitive motions. Swimming regularly certainly helped me get back to a healthy weight. But it was another physical change that helped boost my self-esteem. With autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, repetitive motions such as hand flapping, or in my case, hand clasping are common. But as this guide on aquatic therapy explains, exercise can help reduce those motions. I think swimming and getting other exercise helped me relax a little. I was less anxious and therefore needed to comfort myself with those motions less often. And while kids continued to make fun of me for it, I knew that I had been working hard and that my motions were less noticeable. That gave me a much-needed self-esteem boost.
  • It offered me a safe haven. Swimming has many benefits, and they aren’t all physical. In fact, for me, some of the most helpful side effects of swimming more often have been mental. In an article on the many different kinds of benefits of swimming, U.S. Masters Swimming lists a few of the mental benefits.

One, in particular, stands out for me: “Offers relaxation through the repetitive nature of movement.” Once I get in my rhythm many of my worries about school and being bullied drift away. The water has become somewhat of a safe haven for me. A place where I can just be, without worrying about what someone else might say about me. It has played an important role in helping me move past the negative feelings that being bullied caused me to have.

This is my story, but it isn’t necessarily unique. Many kids with Asperger’s Syndrome are made fun of or bullied by their peers. I want them to know that they shouldn’t lose hope. For me the pool has become my refuge. Find a similar place or activity that provides you the kind of comfort I get from swimming. It will help you make huge progress in getting over being bullied.


Kathleen Carter is a teen living with Asperger’s Syndrome. She enjoys educating her peers and others about AS. Recently, she began writing proudly about how her experiences differ from other people her age. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to write for EducatorLabs.