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How One Apartment Changed a Grandmother’s Life

Leslie Tander

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In winter of 2018, 79-year-old Jean Simpkins surveyed the lights of Washington, D.C. from her new apartment. The apartment boasted three bedrooms and sat 11 stories over the city. The grandmother was overcome with gratitude and appreciation at the sight of everything around her.

To Simpkins, living in this apartment feels like a miracle, and one that has been a long time coming. When her grandson was born, Simpkins became the guardian and provider for the boy. The same occurred six years after that, when her granddaughter was born. Since then, she has done everything possible to take care of these children, but it has become difficult since she lives on a fixed income.

Simpkins learned about Plaza West when she was in the midst of the struggle. The building, designed by Mission First housing, would save 50 apartments for families in need. Those families were headed by grandparents and other older adults. When Simpkins saw the waiting list, she was initially discouraged. After all, many grandparents raise children in the city.

Fortunately, Simpkins received a call that a space was available for her. She joined a group of other families, each one headed by grandparents who needed space to raise their grandchildren safely. The grandparents and grandchildren learn from each other. The intergenerational community is one of teaching, and many grandparents have become surrogate parents to other children.

Additionally, the grandparents meet monthly to discuss community goals, ask for support, and rant when necessary. The goal is to spot problems as they arise and take care of them quickly before they become bigger issues. Simpkins appreciates this family support and the burgeoning relationships she has been a part of. As she sees it, it really does take a village to raise a child. Parenting is already difficult enough, and it can be even more isolating when guardians are older and feel insecure in their ability to provide a stable home and finances.

Capital One is a company with a strong history of giving back to the community, and that is why they have supported Plaza West as a place for older adults to raise younger children in a strong, vibrant community. It is already difficult enough for grandparents to raise grandchildren, but to find good housing in which they can build a strong home environment can feel impossible. Cost is often a factor in these kinds of situations. New housing options seek to change this unfortunate situation.

Moving is often difficult. For example, Simpkins explained that she and the children had to leave behind people they truly cared about. Fortunately, the move was a successful one, and now the entire family is blossoming. In fact, both grandchildren made honor role and have been able to participate in activities near their home. They are getting involved in their community. Plaza West has been a saving grace.

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Life

Man Sheds His Clothes and Jumps Into a Freezing Pond to Save a Dog

Leslie Tander

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A man has been commended for going above and beyond his call of duty. Ryan Arens risked his life to save the life of a dog while he was at work in Boseman, which is located in Montana.  

In January of 2019, Ryan was making UPS deliveries like he does almost every day. January is Bozeman’s coldest month of the year, and one day in that month was exceptionally different from any of the other days. Something terribly tragic almost happened that day when a dog fell through ice and landed in icy-cold water.

When the UPS delivery driver parked his truck in front of a house one workday, the sound of a dog desperately howling for help caught his attention. Ryan didn’t see the canine, but he could hear it loud and clear, and it sounded like it was in big trouble.

The sun had already started to go down, but he wasn’t about to walk away and ignore the dog’s cries. Because Ryan loves dogs and is the happy owner of a 14-year-old malamute shepherd mix, he couldn’t walk away.  

The sound of the howling canine seemed to be coming from a pond. Ryan searched for the hound, and when he found it, he saw that it was fighting for its life in frigid water surrounded by ice. The depth of the pond the dog was trapped in was no less than 16 feet, so he knew the animal was in grave danger if no one tried to help it.  

Although someone in a small boat attempted to help the dog, this kind soul had no success. After seeing the man’s failed efforts to bring the dog to safety, Ryan decided to remove all but his undergarments and swim to the dog and save it.

As soon as the canine was pulled out of the freezing water, Ryan took it to a house nearby where he and the homeowner bathed the pooch in a tub of warm water. The dog’s legs were so stiff from being in the cold pond so long, it couldn’t support itself without help. Ryan said he didn’t know how long the canine had been in the pond before he found it.

After Ryan rescued the dog, whose name he later found out is Sadie, he put on dry clothing and went back to work.

The following day, he was blown away when he saw Sadie at the house where his next delivery was to be made.

Ryan became a hero that day. Had he not come to rescue Sadie, this story would probably have not ended well. He proved his love for animals, and he proved how selfless and brave he is. He truly is admired for what he did.                           

Let this story warm the hearts of all you know by making people aware of it. This is an amazing story about an amazing man, a man Sadie was so lucky to have met that awful day. 

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Life

Failure Provides Opportunities To Succeed

Lea Lomas

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The fear of failure is failure itself and stops you from moving farther in your life, such as pursuing a relationship a job or anything that requires you to step forward.  No one prevents you from achieving your dreams of a better livelihood. The reason why the goal goes unfulfilled is that you undercut your efforts out of fear of failure. You have convinced yourself that making an effort is worthless and is thus not worth doing. But in fact, making an effort is essential to achieve your goal.  

Stop Bullying Yourself

The struggle may be as simple as filling out an application or applications seeking the job. Fear of failure has the same effect of bullying yourself by having concerns that you will nor be successful.  Failure may lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy of failing, which is a form of circular reasoning in that you know you will fail and then chose a course that leads to failure.  

You Are Your Worst Enemy.

Your fears may be directly be related to the thinking that you do not deserve to be successful. How do you overcome the fear of failure? The definition of failure is different, and it varies from person to person who has a) different red lines to cross that defines failure, b) different values, and c) different belief systems. So what may be a failure to you could be on the road to success for another. So what is failure? You could be so afraid of failing that you become immobilized to the point of depression. You may have had bad experiences as a child and received no positive feedback from your parents. At one time, you were traumatized in your life by failure and stopped trying to succeed. As a result, you become trapped in life’s struggle.

 Negative Mindsets

With these types of experiences, you may have set a death trap, or mindsets, requiring one to reset your life to a better path. The following mindsets set the trap.
•  You sabotage yourself through procrastination, excessive anxiety, or a failure to follow through to achieve your goals.
•  No self-confidence, coupled with low self-esteem, pondering on negative self-feedback that your life will not get better or that you lack the skills or the ability to succeed or it’s too late to be successful.
•  Perfectionism – You developed artificial high standards and cannot reach a level of perfection or willingness to try.

Breaking the Cycle of Fear

1. Fear of failure has the same effect of bullying yourself by having concerns that you will nor be successful, which leads to the self-fulfilling prophecy of failing, a form of circular reasoning in that you know you will fail and then chose a course that leads to failure.   
2.  Be your own best friend.  Love yourself, be your confidant, and not your worst enemy. Seeking external happiness, like a good relationship, may fatefully tie you to the failures of others that will not lead you to genuine fulfillment. It is up to you to change your own life.
3.  Whatever negative trait you may have should be viewed in the whole of a person that you are, so don’t be so hard on yourself or permit any other person’s negative view of yourself to define who you are.

Rational and Positive Thinking  

Failure is common and many times, precedes success. The most successful people have experienced palpable failure, such as Michael Jordan failed at basketball in high school. William Buffet was not academically qualified to be accepted at Harvard. Richard Branson does not have a high school diploma. The words “think positive” is not a mind game but a highly successful method of thinking that refuses to accept failure or treats failure as having another opportunity to succeed.

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Life

How to Boost Self-Trust for the Ultimate in Self-Care

Mackenzie Freeman

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Trust is a concept that you know well. From the time you were born, you learned to trust in the inevitability that a person would do what is expected and promised. Trust is an essential part of your relationships first with your family (parents, siblings, and even extended family). It evolves to become the basis for learning and growth experiences, romances, and (hopefully) something more self-centered: self-trust.  

What is Self-Trust? 

It’s usually called self-trust or self-esteem. The concept traces back to the works of William James, the father of modern psychology, in 1890. His concept of self-trust or self-esteem involved a combination of achievements and expectations, so you could either achieve great things or just lower your expectations. That earliest concept of self-esteem, self-worth, or self-trust changed through the 1960’s as influential figures like Nathaniel Branden ushered in the self-esteem movement, and John Vasconcellos politicized the concept. Fixing self-esteem was lauded as a “social vaccine,” the magic bullet that would remediate or prevent drug abuse, crime, teen pregnancy, etc. The persuasive efforts of Vasconcellos inspired a task force in California turned into the National Association for Self-Esteem (NASE) in 1995.  

Further studies by Psychology Professor Roy Baumeister in the 1990’s demonstrated that the premise for self-esteem was problematic. It could not cure all societal ills, nor could it be easily boosted by artificial means. In 2006, Professor Jean Twenge further found that the current laser-focus on self-esteem not only fueled depression, but also facilitated narcissism. While the concept of “self-esteem” has gradually taken on a negative or skeptical tinge, self-love and self-trust as a more positive spin-off. If you go back to the innocence of youth, before self-doubt crept in, you get the core of who you are and what you want. It’s a diamond in the raw, unmarred by pretension or the fear of failure. It’s something precious, because in that state it’s really about knowing and loving yourself, which naturally equates to self-trust.  

Why is Self-Trust Important & How Do You Reach It?  

The concept of self-trust is important because it relies upon a firm faith and understanding of your own integrity, or sense of self. As you trust yourself, you find a confidence and clarify that you are making the right choices. Self-trust is not about arrogance or narcissism. With true self-trust, it is something beyond external validation or seeking approval, because you have an internal roadmap that lays out your path and direction. Self-trust is unconditional, beyond fear or risk. Even when it feels out of reach, at the bottom of the well, or just beyond reach—self-trust never goes away. It remains, unbroken. 

The question, then, is how do you reach self-trust, particularly since it’s so important for self-care? You might just find that it’s easier than you think. Here are a few top tips for redirecting your focus and mindset inward on your journey toward self-trust.  

Get to Know Yourself!  

Julia Cameron calls it an “artist’s date.” The idea is that you need to find out what makes you tick, feed your creativity, and explore your bliss. It could be a book store, a library, or a toy store. Your exploration could involve a dinosaur expo, a botanical garden, a robot or tech show, a gemstone exhibit, an art museum, or a nuclear science museum. There are countless variations on destinations that could start to restore your self-trust.  

Look Inward, First Thing 

You probably reach for your phone as a first thought when you wake up. It feels natural, but what would happen to your sense of self and self-trust if you repossessed the first moments of your day. Look out the window to notice that the sun is rising. Open a book of poems or quotes, and take time to let the words sink in. Meditate, practice your breath exercises, take 10 or 15 minutes to do Yoga or Pilates stretches in your comfortable spot. Stand in one spot, allowing the silence of your place to surround you. Embrace the blank slate that is the day ahead, as you restore your self-trust.  

Focus on the Now 

When you focus on past regrets or future worries, you’re focusing on fear, loss, and suffering. Instead of living in a state of fear of failure, self-trust allows us to live in the present moment. It can be scary, with a feeling that it’s an unprotected or vulnerable state. What you’ll find is that living in the now opens up a realm of other possibilities. It’s not for the faint of heart. It can take courage, inner fortitude, and more strength than you ever thought you had.  

It can feel hard. It may seem possible… It also might just change your life.

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