Designed with Heart: Inclusive Playgrounds

We spent all day at a playground when I was a kid. Running, climbing and jumping was what we did. I never gave the tanbark, metal equipment or two-step entrance a second thought.

Looking back, I can remember the kids who never played with us because they couldn’t access the playground. It wasn’t until my own daughter had so many challenges with play spaces I realized that a playground is not one size fits all.

Our daughter has intellectual disability, developmental delay and tremors along with balance and coordination issues. She couldn’t sit on a standard swing when she was younger. She fell easily on uneven surfaces and couldn’t keep up with her peers on most playgrounds. Our trips to the playground usually ended in tears. My son had a very different play experience since he could play on any type of playground. Continue reading

Tips for Going Back to School as a Working Mom

I’ve been in corporate marketing for many years. I enjoy working for small companies where I feel I can make a difference and collaborate with cross-functional teams. I earned my bachelor’s degree at a time in my life when my complete focus was on school. That wasn’t the case when I decided for study for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification online.

I’m a working mom with two active kiddos and a full-time job. The thought of squeezing one to two hours of study time into my day made my head spin. I was at a point in my career I felt I needed to up my game and gain new knowledge in the areas that interested me the most. Continue reading

Book Review: The Happiness Equation

Book Review: The Happiness EquationThe Happiness Equation is a practical guide to developing the happiness muscles in your brain. It gives the reader a framework with real, practical ways to train your mind for the positive.

The book outlines nine secrets for achieving  happiness. And while these “secrets” are really nothing new, the approach and framework provide the tools you need to build a grateful and positive mindset in your life.

Written by Neil Pasricha, The Happiness Equation is a research-based book that shares the insights from thousands of interviews and a range of resources.

Continue reading

How Do You Define Success?

It’s the million dollar question that you have to look from within to define. Success is subjective. It’s an intangible that to some is only defined by the tangible. To others it comes from a feeling of accomplishment.

However you define it, Success Magazine is a good place to find the cornerstones of self-fulfillment that defines how we view success. I started reading Success Magazine a few years ago and have found their podcasts really insightful.

I’ve always had a fascination with people who have achieved greatness in their careers and lives. I’m not so much interested in the money or fame part though. What’s always interesting to me is the path taken to get there. Continue reading

Benefits of Practicing Daily Gratitude

My 2018 gratitude journal. I started last year with these goals and added an entry every day.

We’re already a month into the new year. Hard to believe how fast time flew by this month. Resolutions were made and broken within the first few weeks of the year. One poll suggested that 80% of the people who set a resolution failed by February. Yikes!

Don’t despair if the resolution didn’t work out for you. We always go for the brass ring and create the lofty resolutions that are hard to achieve. It’s the consistent, daily efforts that turn into the big wins over time. The small practices benefit you more in the long run.

Gratitude is one of those practices that’s been part of my daily routine for years now. I’m not talking about daydreams with rainbows and unicorns, although I love both of those things. It’s the daily thought about what you are grateful for. And I get it that some days just really suck. I had a few of those days in January. Continue reading

Kids, Bikes and Adaptive Play

Riding a bike is like a right of passage for a young child. It’s the moment when the training wheels come off and they take off with that little wobble. I saw a father help his girl take that first ride in a field behind our house the other day. She was smiling and beaming with excitement. She fell once and then got back on long enough to ride away.

For moms like me, watching that moment is inspiring and also bitter sweet. It’s hard for me to imagine our girl taking off on her own two-wheeled bike.

She has balance and coordination challenges along with other conditions and intellectual disability. She tries very hard to ride her bike and she really just wants to join in play with others. Continue reading

Book Review: Live Happy

It’s not often I come across a book I want to read a few times over. Live Happy: Ten Practices for Choosing Joy is one of those books. I read it three times so far!

Live Happy combines the science of happiness and ways you can create joy each and every day. From an attitude with gratitude to finding meaning even in the darkest of hours, we can all improve the quality of our lives through small, daily practices.

The book includes stories from people who worked through life’s challenges by simple acts they made each day. Some of the stories you’ll read are from celebrities like Alanis Morisette and Hoda Koth. Best selling positive psychologist, Shawn Achor, offers his research on happiness and is among the 40 stories available from all kinds of people. You will feel inspired about your own journey. Continue reading

A Mom’s Journey into Inclusive Play, Advocacy and Partnership

Inclusive playground visit January 2017.

Advocacy has many meanings. When I think of that word, I imagine protests in the streets to build awareness or a fight to right a wrong with a certain issue. It’s a way we rise up to support people who are under served. It’s how we support a cause to achieve a common goal for the greater good.

Parents with children who have disabilities are the strongest advocates I know. Between medical appointments, school IEPs, state rights and down to daily interactions in the community, we advocate for inclusion, support and compassion. A simple trip to a playground can be a battle of sorts when it’s not designed for all.

Our small town started promoting a new park build with a 10,000 square foot playground in 2016. I was so busy between my kids’ school, the work schedule and life I didn’t think much of the call for community comments. Continue reading

Planning a Petting Zoo Birthday Party for Special Needs Kids

Birthday party invitations are few and far between when you have child with disabilities. My daughter who is part of the SPED program at school has been invited to two birthday parties in the last 8 years. My son who is able-bodied and has a group of buddies he hangs with will get invited to birthday parties throughout the year.

Before we moved out of state from our hometown, it didn’t matter if the party invites came in for her because we had big birthday parties with grandparents, family and cousins. Living in Arizona, we don’t have that network so her parties became dinners with cake and a couple of my son’s friends. Continue reading

Book Review: Strengths Finder 2.0

Strengths Finder 2.0Do you know your strengths? It’s likely you’re not able to use them every day while at the office or home. So many of us move through life without truly tapping into our talents and strengths.

Strengths Finder has been around for many years. The first version came out in 2001 and my husband introduced it to me several years ago when he was at a large Silicon Valley corporation that used it.

Strengths Finder 2.0 is a reference guide by Tom Rath that is based on research from Gallup and Dr. Don Clifton, Father of Strengths Psychology. I call it a reference guide because you can use for years after you complete the assessment tool that comes with the book. You’ll begin with the first chapter that sets up the importance of understanding our own unique strengths and how they impact all aspects of your life. Continue reading