Boondock Ramblings

6 Simple Ways to Support Your Immune System

I don’t have a Fiction Friday post this week, but I do have a guest post over at Michelle’s blog, Blessings by Me, where she offers “Frugal Tips and DIYs” from her home to yours!


The word of 2020, as we all know, besides “chaotic”, is “virus”. We are reading about it, hearing about it, and face it each morning as we head out to school or work. Most of us are donning masks on our face to try to keep us from giving anything to anyone else and, on a smaller scale, reduce our own risk of catching a virus the medical community doesn’t know much about. 

It isn’t lost on most of us that COVID-19, or whatever the medical community is calling it today (some say SARS-CoV-2), isn’t the only bug out there that can infect us. COVID-19 is one of the more unpredictable at this time, but influenza, the common cold, and respiratory infections can strike us when we least expect it, especially during the autumn and winter months, even when we try our best to keep ourselves safe and sanitized. We can’t ever guarantee we won’t catch a bug or virus, but we can help build up our immunity to help our bodies fight off or repel the viral onslaughts that come our way.

There are nutritional and physical ways we can improve our immunity, but we can also improve it by focusing on our mental health. Harvard Medical College tells us there is no guarantee that we can actually “improve” our immunity at a cellular level, but there are steps we can take to strengthen and support our immune system. 

Here are six simple ways to help support your immunity anytime, but especially over the colder months.

Read the rest at Michelle’s blog.



This is a guest post from Thao Nguyen at Reedsy.com. I was not compensated for this post and any opinions within are the writers and not my own (though I also believe in the power of journaling). I have not used Reedsy much and can not claim to be an expert on the site, but from what I’ve seen, I really like it! So feel free to check it out. I know I will be checking it out more. 


Journaling has been making a spectacular comeback. In an age of fast-everything — from food to fashion to even social interaction — the tranquility of sitting down and expressing yourself the old-fashioned way, with a pen and on paper, sounds soothing to many.

Beyond its surprising mental and physical health benefits, journaling is also a great way to find, nurture, and connect with your creativity. And this creative impetus is not something that only creators — writers, designers, artists — have. Think back to your childhood, to the unpredictable whims and the odd logic that may have been dismissed as being childish as you grow older; they’re all still there for you to tap into! Creativity doesn’t have to mean splattering paint and brandishing words — it can also be looking at situations differently, better organizing your life and goals, and finding new solutions to your problems.

So how can you reconnect to that imaginative part of your brain? Let’s see how keeping a journal can help you get there!

What is journaling?

Journaling can be anything — writing, doodling, structuring your days, etc. — so long as it involves getting things down, often with a pen and notebook, on a regular basis. The last bit is the important thing: journaling is all about routine. Some people do it every day, others make time for it once a week. You can tailor it to your schedule and habits, as long as you do it consistently.

Revisit, reflect, refine

A consistently maintained journal is an album of your life. It can help you see how you’ve changed, what you can improve on, or where things might have gone wrong if you’re having trouble. From there, you can gain new perspectives and find fresh ways to overcome challenges, or strengthen the things that make your life good.

For writers and artists, it’s a great way to jot down ideas, some of which may come to you in one moment and disappear in the next. You can revisit these little notes and sketches and develop them further, even if it’s been weeks after you’ve had those little revelations. It’s like planting a seed and watching it grow.

Moreover, journaling is also a great way to be organized. If you’re a writer, you may wish to record and reflect on your process, whether you’re learning to structure your book, develop a writing style, or hoping to take your project to the next stage and publishing it. Here’s where a journal can really come in handy. Staying organized not only helps you succeed in your endeavors, but keeps your head clear, so you don’t end up accidentally stifling your creativity under confusion and chaos.

How to journal for creativity

There is no correct way to journal because it’s a deeply personal activity. It’s merely a visualization of your thoughts, and it’s only for you to peruse, so be true to yourself and do it the way you feel like doing it. That said, here are some wonderful journaling methods to consider that will help your creativity flourish.

  1. Freewriting

Freewriting is just what it sounds like — where you take a seat and write freely! For 10-15 minutes every day, perhaps at the start or end of your day, just scribble down anything that comes to mind. There’s no restriction on what you can write about — it can be an emotional reaction, something interesting you’ve observed that day, or your gratitude for life (which is a very popular topic for journaling).

These uncensored and unvarnished writings will let your thoughts and creativity flow, with nothing to silence them. Without the distraction of other people (or, more likely, your phone and laptop), freewriting leaves you in the sole company of your imagination.

  1. Responding to prompts

On the other hand, if you’d rather have more structure to your journaling, consider responding to writing prompts. As this is more demanding than freewriting, choose prompts that speak to you and create a short story once every week or month. And since we’re being creative here, why not write a poem, or sketch a comic, if you feel like it? No matter which medium you choose, there are few better ways to be creative than bringing stories to life.

  1. The bullet journal method

Finally, we have the bullet journal method. Its creator, designer Ryder Caroll, described it as a “mindfulness practice” in which you map out your life on blank pages. In such a journal, you’ll have calendars, weekly plans, and monthly reflections. In addition to that, you can have pages reserved for anything you want to do — whether that is doodling, recording mantras, or, if you’re a writer, mind-mapping your next project.

For those who are more artistic, this is a chance to use your skills and create a book that really reflects your mind. This method requires you to take time once a month to go through what’s happened recently and draw out a plan for the next 30 days. It’s a beautiful way to declutter your thoughts, pick up on forgotten ideas, and momentarily escape the hustle and bustle of life.

From uninhibited scribblings to methodically planning your months, these are some suggestions for you to nourish and cultivate your creativity. It’s sometimes hard to manage this in a world so full of noise, but if journaling tells you anything, it is that inspiration really comes from within, and it’ll come to you if you give yourself the time to discover it.


Thao Nguyen is a writer at Reedsy, a platform that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. She enjoys writing non-fiction, especially the historical kind, and is delighted by the prospects that self-publishing provides for aspiring authors nowadays.

When I asked Lisa at The Manitoba Mom Blog if she would write a guest blog post, I wasn’t expecting the wonderful piece that follows. Maybe I think it’s wonderful because it hit me right where I needed it, but I have a feeling there are a lot of other people out there who need it too. If you don’t follow her blog, please make sure to hop over and hit the follow button. She has some very wonderful, thought-provoking posts to offer.


My blogging buddy, Lisa Howeler, said something recently that caught my eye.  She said that writing novels was a way for her to do something other than waiting for the next season of her life to begin.  I knew exactly what she meant.

Have you ever had that sense of: “You’re done here.” – before you were actually done?  A feeling of finality.  Like a premonition: the book is going to close.  You’re in the last few chapters.  Maybe even the final pages.  And you know in your bones, it’s going to end, and you will be starting another book.  But first, you have to finish this one.

There were two times in my life when I knew this very suddenly.  Both of them were job/career-related.  I remember exactly where I was at work when it hit me, and precisely what I was doing.  The moments were, otherwise, insignificant.  (One time, I was going to the bathroom.)  The knowledge came as a surprise – like someone dropping a bowling ball in my lap.  And at once, I knew: “Oh!  I’ll be leaving this place soon.  And I won’t be coming back.”

000050_Lightstock_howeler_may11--144-

It wasn’t sad, or mad, or even exciting.  It was just… “Ok.  Thanks for telling me, God.  For preparing me.  For giving me this knowledge; this advance warning.”  And on both occasions, it was correct.  Within months, I had moved on to some other stage of my life.

Sometimes, though, it’s not an abrupt sense, or only a matter of months, is it?  The time in between books, or seasons, can stretch to years – becoming seasons entirely of their own.  Seasons fraught with obscurity, darkness, disappointment, lack of influence, confusion, and perhaps, even doubt.  You may feel that your hopes are left hanging, and your hands empty.

I have come to think of this as “dead time.”  Not because we’re (necessarily) dead, but because there seems to be little happening.  It’s lag time – a period of quiet, delay, or waiting.  There is something that you are bound for, but you see no guarantee.  Something you are supposed to do, or have, or be…you think.  But you’re not there yet.

000000_DSC_3270-Edit

“Dead time” is the tomb, the prison, the belly of the beast.  It’s the long stretches of Bible stories that we may overlook:

  • Noah, spending several decades building the ark.
  • Abraham, waiting until the age of 100 to finally have his son Isaac.
  • Joseph, during the 10+ years in Potiphar’s house and in prison, wondering what had happened to his coat and why he had that silly dream.
  • David, waiting 15 years after Samuel’s anointing to become king.
  • Moses, living for 40 years as a fugitive in Midian, while his people suffered in slavery and probably forgot he existed.

It’s Jonah in the whale, and Lazarus in the grave.  It’s Jesus – lifeless, still, and quiet on the cross, and His followers aghast.

It’s necessary.  It’s not time to forget the promise or throw away the dream, but to hold it before the One who gave it to you, with an open hand.  To draw in, get close, and let Him rip you open if He has to.  He’ll remove cancerous sins, fallacies in your thinking, and dualities in your heart.  He’ll refine, sharpen, and purify you.  He’ll fill you with pleasures, if you’ll let Him!  Such that the dream you had may pale in significance by the time it is fulfilled, and you realize that the promise wasn’t even the best part.  It was all He was doing in the meantime.

Perhaps this is why Jesus said of Mary, as she sat quietly at His feet, that she had chosen “what is better” (Luke 10:42).  There’s a time to work like Martha, but usually before that, there’s a time to be silent, like Mary.

During these apparently quiet, uneventful times, the Lord is busy.  He is working in you, so that you will be fit to work for Him.  There’s no need to rush.  He has plenty of time.

 

“He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.” Psalm 105:8-9

“…and he sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave.  They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.”  Psalm 105:17-19

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”  2 Timothy 2:20-21

 

 

 

One day a couple of weeks ago I was trying to convince my friend Tiffany to help me with a blog for moms in our area. “I don’t know. I’m not a good blogger,” she texted back to me. I don’t know what a good “blogger” is but I do know what a good writer is (well, I think I do anyhow) so when Tiffany sent an old blog post to me this week for “laughs” I said, “The voice in your head is a liar. You’re a good writer AND you will be a great blogger.” And then I asked her if I could share this as a guest post on my blog and she said “Do whatever you want” and I said, “awesome. I’m going to.” So, all this to explain that this is a guest post from my good friend Tiffany Kuhn, who is not a blogger, or a writer. Yeah, okay. She’s also in denial so when she starts a blog up again for fun or laughs, I’ll link to her blog. Tiffany wrote the following post in 2014, maybe right before baby number five entered the world. Yes, she’s an amazing mom of five really cool kids, six if you count her husband, which I do because he’s a fun, goofy guy with a youthful outlook on life.


Why, lipgloss, why?

By Tiffany Kuhn

Oh boy. There it goes. As I stand in front of my washer, listening to the clanking, I realize my favorite tube of lip gloss is tumbling around and around in a sea of dirty water and dirty clothes. A sight I am all too familiar with since it seems I always find something hitchhiking in there on a monthly basis at least.

Ugh. To save it, or not to save it, that is the question. Do I dare let it dry and use it after the laundry is done? Do I really want to press it up against my lips knowing that it’s been swimming and bathing in dirty water, along with soap and who knows what else while the washer does its thing?  Yeah, I think not.

While I stand here I can think of a huge list of reasons that played a factor in how and why I forgot to check my pockets and grab that ever so luxurious tube of lip-awesomeness. Instead, I am choosing to focus on what can I learn from this all too common scene that I am sure takes place in just about every home at some time or another. So many times I find items at the bottom of the washer that are dirty and need a good clean wash or rinse before I put them back in their respective places. Some things, however, just can’t even be washed and used again, such as my lip gloss.

You can never get all the funk off of it. It may look all fabulous and put together on the outside, but you know on the inside it is crawling with filth and dirt that can never be taken away.

The same can be said for us. When we fill our minds with thoughts and images that are unclean, and hurtful we can never undo that. We litter our minds constantly with violent images, dirty words and envious thoughts towards others. So just as the lip gloss, on the outside, we look all inviting and great, but on the inside, in our thoughts, we are dirty and covered in funk. Do we really want our minds filled with grime or do we want our minds filled with joyous thoughts?

The Lord commands us in Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV):

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

While it is a bummer that I have forever lost my favorite tube of lip gloss, it has also been a blessing in helping me realize that not only do I have to change my laundry habits,(such as checking my pockets from now on) but that I also have to change my way of thinking. Be more like God and less like the lip gloss.

It is an awesome thought to know that God cares for us and wants the best for us. And may you ever be reminded of Philippians 4:8 when you are collecting items from the bottom of your washer.

Windy, your ears are freezing

 Sometimes my dad writes little stories about growing up. That’s when I realize I must have got the storytelling bug from him.

This is something he shared this week on Facebook.

Story, photos and captions by Ronnie Robinson.

”Windy, Your Ears Are Freezing”

It was a calm but frosty minus zero morning; one of those mornings you could see particles of frost glisten in the air as the sun arose. Windy and I met each other at the Laddsburg Pond Bridge. It is the coldest spot in Laddsburg. It was one of those days that was just too cold for Willis Howell’s school bus to start.

Windy, full name Harold Wandell, was a foster child who homed with the loving Effie and Stalwart Carl Norris. He had walked the mile down from the top of the hill. Not much communication in those days and I don’t know if they had a phone but neighbors just met-up. We were there to wait for the bus that did not come.

Windy was one of the older boys that would help put the chains on the bus when it would get stuck in a snow drift. That would be a 20 min delay. But a frozen up bus or bad storm could be a 2 hour delay or a no show at all. Some times we would pile up in Willis’s station-wagon for the first part of the route, then go to his place and see if the bus would start so as to pick up the remaining students for the trip to the high school.  Windy never wore a hat to school. The top of his ears were starting to turn white and I said “Windy I think your ears are freezing”. Then we made our way to New Albany.

 photo and caption by Ronnie Robinson | This is the new bridge.In my mind, I see one with narrow steel rails.

photo and caption by Ronnie Robinson | This is the new bridge.In my mind, I see one with narrow steel rails.

 Photo and caption Ronnie Robinson | The view of the road from the old Corson home going past our home.

Photo and caption Ronnie Robinson | The view of the road from the old Corson home going past our home.

I don’t recall walking or running or how but I remember us being there and then getting a ride to Wyalusing in a milk truck that was picking up milk from the platform at the bottom of Dempsey Hill. You see, we were not that loyal to school but there was to be a WVHS Rams wrestling meet that day and we were on that team.

Another event I remember well was: “The After School Blizzard.” Mary,Mary Inez Corson and I got of the school bus one blistery evening to walk the two  mile (well not quite, it was a quarter mile)  up the dirt road to my place. My parents lived there too. The wind was fierce and cutting. It was difficult to see. It was blowing frozen sheets  and chunks of icy frozen snow from the fields.The  previous snows had melted from the sun shine and then refroze. They were now breaking up and air-born in the strong wind. I think the drifts were making it more difficult also, but the blowing ice and the snow is what I remember most. We had to shield our face from getting hit by them. I was about thirteen then and I felt so manly proud because finally I was able to be ahead of my adventurous mentor and surrogate sister. I walked backward some and I could see her still walking.

 Photo and caption Ronnie Robinson | You may see a set of foot prints. I vividly picture two sets.

Photo and caption Ronnie Robinson | You may see a set of foot prints. I vividly picture two sets.

Thinking back on this now with a touch of shame I realize it would have been more manly-mature of me to help her.

She may have been wearing a skirt. Girls in that day wore skirts. Sometimes they carried snow pants with them. Also being a good student she may have been carrying books. I don’t remember anything after getting to my home. Mary had to walk the five hundred more yards to her home.

Mary, my forever friend, died suddenly at the age of 56. She donated her body to science. She lived in Texas with her husband. My wife Carolyn and I spoke with her when she and her husband were in Bradford County for her father’s funeral.

The portion of that conversation I recall was about being born again. I hope to see my sister again in the “Land Of No More Storms.”

Storytelling through your lens: 10 tips for sharing authentic stories

Thank you to Elizabeth Willson of It’s Still Life Photography for this great post about visual storytelling and authenticity in your photography! I loved it and hope you do too!
 


It was a process. As my children grew I dedicated my free time to learning the technical aspects of my camera. To obtaining gear. To capturing images for others. Yet over the past year, I’ve found joy in embracing the story. Each time my camera is raised is an opportunity. It’s a chance to capture a bit of the true life unfolding in front of my eyes, my lens. Not every story is perfect, yet my challenge is to find the emotion and beauty in it. To connect the brilliance and light to the heart.

While each image may tell a story, sometimes a collection of photographs gives the viewer an enhanced scope of the richness of the moments. Here are a few simple suggestions on how to document YOUR story for you to experience in your memory and others to grasp through your visuals.

Choose an event.

In our home of South-Central Pennsylvania, we are surrounded by gorgeous orchards, fields and farms. Our climate leaves only a few short weeks to pick seasonal fresh fruit. When I received an email that our favorite apple-picking orchard offered cherry-picking, I jumped on a free afternoon. Packed up water bottles and my four kiddos, rolled the windows down, and headed for the mountain. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. An afternoon at the playground, baking cookies, your bedtime routine…

Get Wide.

To grasp the “big picture” use a wide angle lens. My go-to is the Canon 24-70 2.8L. If you find yourself with the inability to go wider with a lens, then simply back up!

Capture the details.

Cherry-stained finger nails? Yes! Yes! Yes! The little things all combine to create the larger narrative and add the sensory element (smells, tastes, touch) that enrich the story as it unfolds.

 Vary your perspective.

Shoot from above, shoot from below. Lie down, climb trees. Perspective makes a huge impact in giving the viewer a more holistic look at the story.

 Shoot Through.

By using framing of objects in the foreground you can create a “tunnel” effect, like you are peeking through a keyhole or looking glass into the action. There is a mysterious and secretive nature to shooting through objects.

Switch up your lenses.

Yes, it’s ok to change lenses in the middle of a cherry orchard! Personally, in order to add a bit of wonder to my images I shoot with either of my Lensbabys (Velvet 56 or Sweet 35), but you could grab a macro lens, switch out primes or even free lens to get varied effects that contribute to your story. 

 Capture the connection.

Relationships are tough, right? But they are so very rich and deep. I simply adore the connection of my children particularly during the rare moments when they peacefully work together (and enjoy one another).

Get. In. The. Frame.

I know, I know. But bottom line is, YOU. WERE. THERE. TOO. And although you remember it was you behind the lens, your children and loved ones (and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) want that visual reminder that you shared intimately in their story. So, sit your camera down on the ground (gasp!), set the timer and run 🙂 Or if there happens to be someone else around, pass off your camera to someone you trust. Let go of how you may look and embrace your beautiful role in the story.

 

Include photographs of “things”

While every story has a “main character”, the setting and supporting elements certainly contribute (sometimes pivotally) to the plot. Grab those “things” even when the people aren’t present.

 Be authentic.

Contrary to what you may see on Pinterest-perfect social media, I’m sure you’ve experienced that stories have their ups and downs. There’s whining, there’s frustration, there’s disagreements, there are hot, tired children (and let’s be real, parents too!). Go ahead and capture them. We’ve all been there. And it’s incredible to share the joys and triumphs through it all.

May you be encouraged to embrace your role as “storyteller” and capture your daily adventures.

I’d love to hear from you with any questions and/or see your favorite storytelling images based on this post. Contact me at:

Facebook

or Instagram