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A Time to Reflect

We rush about doing the details of daily life. We get out of bed in the morning, grab some breakfast, set off for our day. We come home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Sometimes (maybe often) we don’t stop to reflect. Take a deep breath. Really think about what and who we have in our lives. Take a moment to be grateful.

November is a month for reflection. Both Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving are holidays that ask us to pause, consider the good we have been given, and be grateful.

This year on the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I, we think about loved ones who served in the military. ew reflected on the high cost of freedom. And we are grateful.

With Thanksgiving Day a few days away, we have yet another chance to reflect. We are thankful for family members who love us and believe in us. We are thankful for a roof over our heads. We are thankful for food on the table. My mother had a poem hung over the kitchen sink that began like this, “Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell. While other folks go hungry, we are eating very well.” It does lend some perspective.

As we consider what we are grateful for, the good things in our lives, let us not forget those right here in our towns that are going without. Ironically, on Veterans’ Day, November 12, we had two veterans drop by the The River Center. Both were homeless and reaching out for help. The man was a Vietnam vet. He had been sleeping in his car for several nights. The woman was sleeping on a couch at a friend’s.

Connecting individuals with the services and resources they need is part of what we do at The River Center. In this case, Sheila on our staff, was able to get both these individuals started on the path toward stable housing. She arranged for the man to have a bed at Hundred Nights Shelter in Keene for that night. The woman will stay at her friend’s for a while longer while a more permanent situation is found for her. They were connected with organizations that specialize in resources for veterans, helping them navigate the process so they will have a place to call home. And the help doesn’t stop there. Once they have a roof over their heads they will be connected with food assistance, job search assistance, medical and dental healthcare and other assistance as needed.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for many things. Personally, I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful to call this corner of New Hampshire my home. I am grateful for the warmth from the wood stove. I am grateful there is food in my cupboards. I am grateful for a car that starts in the morning.

I am grateful for The River Center, for our incredible talented and dedicated staff, for our Board that is engaged and committed to our mission, for our volunteers that help us expand the services and supports we provide, and for all the individuals and families that we touch each year. I am grateful for this community. And I am grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone from all of us at The River Center Family and Community Resource Center!

Failure is OK

What?! Failure is Bad. We learn this at an early age and continue to learn this throughout our lives.

We have power failures. Our strength fails us. We fail to pay our taxes. The bank fails. The crop failed. We fail to impress. We fail the math test.
Failure= Bad.

Is it any wonder that we tend to want to avoid failure?

Here’s the deal. If we live so as to avoid failure we never try something new. We don’t take risks. We don’t grow in our skill and comfort levels. We become stagnant. Dull. Predictable.

Fear of failure will keep me from becoming the Best Me.

And…. Wait for it…. Fear of failure will keep my children from becoming the Best Them.
What if we never let our toddler toddle? If I always carried my toddler around because I knew they were unsteady on their feet and would surely bang their head or skin their knee? We all know that we have to let that toddler stumble around so they can learn their own sense of balance. They are actually growing stronger as they pick themselves up and keep on going across the living room floor to the joy of watching family. We make sure the path is safe- we remove the glass do-dads and the sharp cornered coffee tables. But we have to let them go. Falling and getting back up again is a gift we give that toddler.

How about that child that is learning to ride a bicycle? Painful to watch. I remember riding behind my seven year old as we rode the bike path in Franconia Notch. It was downhill and she was weaving all over the place. I was a nervous wreck watching her, but she was having the time of her life. I had to let her learn the feel of the brakes, get her balance, and understand the element of speed. She was wearing a helmet and I had band aids (which weren’t needed, by the way).

Then there is the driver’s license test. I personally failed at my first attempt when I was 16. I thought the world had surely ended. I didn’t go back to school that day as planned. I went home and moped. What could be worse than failing your drivers’ test?! The fact that I went the wrong way on a one way street during the test…. Well, if you put it that way, maybe I should have failed the test. Guess what? I practiced more. I made sure I understood how to watch out for one way street signs. Failure was an opportunity for me to gain more skill and confidence. And I did get my license the second time around. It was hard won but a major accomplishment.

Why am I talking about failure this month? Glad you asked. On October 23, from 6:30-8:00, The River Center is hosting Jessica Lahey, the author of The Gift of Failure, How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. You can register for this free event at www.rivercenter.us/register . She has a wonderful perspective on failure as a valuable element of success.
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I maintain that what she has to say is beneficial to all of us no matter what stage in life. We face failure every day. The failed baking experiment. The failed drivers’ eye exam. The hot water heater failure. The failed sale. How do you deal with it in your own life? Jessica Lahey has wise perspective to share with us.

Don’t fail to show up. Tuesday, October 23, 6:30-8:00 at the Lucy Hurlin Theatre at Conval High School. Register at www.rivercenter.us. Or call The River Center Family and Community Resource Center at 924-6800 to learn more.

Parenting Programs – What’s In It For Me?

Have you ever been so frustrated with your toddler that you locked yourself in the bathroom just to give yourself time to calm down? Have you ever wished you could grab back those mean words directed at your teen? Have you ever thought you were the worst parent ever?
I answered yes to all three questions- how about you? Parenting places us all on common ground. It doesn’t matter how much education you have, what your household income is, or the size of your house. It is a tough job. We love our kids, but darn it all, they can really get us mad. And frustrated. And at our wits’ end! Aren’t we supposed to just slide into this job and innately know what to do?

Well, I have good news for you. At The River Center we have a variety of ways to support parents, grandparents, and caregivers of any age child. If you are raising teens or tweens, you can join our parent group with Bonnie Harris on Tuesdays from noon to 2:00. Bonnie is the founder of the Parent Guidance Center which is now known as The River Center Family and Community Resource Center. She knows the struggles that parents experience and offers solid guidance to navigate the challenges parents face. And, you get the support and collective wisdom of other parents in the group.

Bonnie is also leading a group called, Mastering the Art of Balanced Parenting which addresses questions like, ‘What about me? Do I really need to let my kids walk all over me? How can I get what I want and still raise healthy kids? The balance of needs of both you and your children is essential for living in a family that get along and actually enjoys being together. In this 8 week class, parents will learn what is realistic to expect of both yourself and your kids. Strategies are discussed to help your kids learn problem solving skills that teach consideration, respect and responsibility. This class begins Tuesday, September 18 and runs for eight weeks from 9:30-11:30.

As a mom of young children, I needed regular time with grown-ups. I looked forward to playgroups and story times. My girls got to play with other children their age and I got visit with women who have become my dear friends. I highly recommend joining Playtime with Kelli, a playtime for parents or caregivers and their 0-5 year olds that runs every Wednesday morning beginning the 19th, from 9:30-11:30. Or, join the Farm to Table program with Kelli and UNH Extension nutritionist, Christine Parshal, on Thursday mornings. They are exploring low cost recipes and strategies to feed your family yummy foods. Every Friday Kelli runs a parent group in Jaffrey. Bring your little ones, get to know other parents, be encouraged in your parenting, and join the fun!

Not everyone can come to a group during the day. Join us for our evening programs. October 9, Bonnie Harris will talk about “When Do I Draw the Line? I Am the Parent After All.” Have you ever asked yourself that question? Come and hear what Bonnie has to say, discuss with other parents and walk away with a plan.

On October 23, we are excited to welcome Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure, How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. I have read the book and she makes a ton of sense. We learn so much through failures- large and small. She gently addresses the down side of over protecting our children and robbing them of opportunities to figure it out themselves. I urge you to come- parents, grandparents, caregivers, educators, or anyone who has ever wondered how to redeem their failures!

Sick of feeling like a failure at your parenting job? Join us for one (or more) of our programs this fall. To register, go to rivercenter.us/register; visit us at 9 Vose Farm Rd Suite 115 in Peterborough, email info@rivercenter.us or call 924-6800. You and your kids will be glad you did.

May We Help You?

It has been said that The River Center is “where you go when you don’t know where else to go.” People call us when they don’t know what to do or where to turn. How many times have you, your family, or a neighbor or co-worker been confronted with a new problem that you don’t know how to solve? Have you found yourself wondering where to start? Who do I call for help? The River Center is a good place to start.

There are three ways to get connections to community resources from The River Center Family and Community Resource Center:

  1. Call us at 924-6800. Sheila or any of our staff will be happy to help you.
  2. Visit us at 9 Vose Farm Rd. Suite 115, Monday through Thursday between 9:00-2:00. We have brochures you can browse and you can talk with one of our staff.
  3. Go to www.rivercenter.us/factbook, our resource guide for the Eastern Monadnock Region.

Let me give you some examples of how we can help:

A thirty-something man called us concerned about his elderly friend I will call Rose. Her living situation was worrisome and her personal safety at question. She was presenting as confused and not at all her usual intelligent, engaged, cheery self. The young man was able to make arrangements for her to move out of the rental room and into a short term housing solution. He wanted help for Rose.

We referred the man to Susan Howard, Program Manager at Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter to address the housing needs. He had made efforts to contact family members, but Rose didn’t seem to want them involved. It was decided that a call to the Bureau of Elderly Services would be appropriate as they cover cases of ‘self-neglect’. Those are situations where an elderly person is not caring for themselves and there may need to be some sort of intervention. They were very helpful and compassionate. The happy end of the story: Rose’s son came and brought her to live with him.

A young mom came in. Her car needed repairs and she couldn’t afford it. Could we help? Now, for those of you who are interested, this is truly a need. Matching folks who like to do car repairs (I know there are some of you out there) with cars that need repair would be a wonderful service to our community. For many, the expense of getting the car fixed is that One More Thing that can tip the scales. They can’t afford to fix the car, so they can’t get to work. They can’t get to work so they lose their job. They don’t have a job, so they can’t pay the rent. They can’t pay the rent so they lose their housing. You get the picture. Car repairs. Think about it. How can we as a community help with this issue? For the time being we send them to their town welfare officer for funds to fix the car. For Peterborough residents, there is also the Sunshine Fund and the Salvation Army for these expenses that are not covered through the state funded assistance programs.

In the first half of this year, we have received 171 calls or walk-ins asking for help. People call with questions about food, transportation needs, heating their homes, health insurance, help with taxes, needing a job. They call because they want someone to help them move; need information about senior housing; can’t pay their medical bills; they need a ride to the doctor; need financial assistance for a root canal; looking for a play group; would like help with Christmas for their children; have an eviction notice; need firewood; have run out of diapers; or need money to cover this month’s rent.

Who makes these calls or visits The River Center for connections to services? Individuals come in wanting information for themselves or their families, pastors, home health care providers, employers, social workers, concerned neighbors, adult children, school nurses, lawyers, relatives, YOU.

To ensure that our community knows about the resources available, we facilitate a monthly Provider Network for the Eastern Monadnock Region. We have representatives attend from a wide variety of local organizations including welfare directors, food pantry volunteers, churches, and many social services professionals. If you would like to join us, please contact me for more information.

So, May We Help You? Give us a call, a visit in person or on-line. We are here to strengthen our community, one individual, one family at a time.

We are currently taking registrations for fall parenting programs. Visit www.rivercenter.us/register for more information.

Let’s Talk About Self-Care

​​A recent conversation with family members involved the topic of self-care. We talked about strategies for keeping work and life balance. Cross Fit, ordering groceries on-line, a robot vacuum cleaner set to vacuum at 3:00am every night, setting aside time for friends, getting outside, and Ben and Jerry’s were among the techniques being used to maintain a balanced life.

Why is self-care a topic of concern today? Why is stress one of the major causes of physical and mental health problems? Why do we lay in bed at night unable to sleep, churning over the worries of the day? Why do our schedules get so crammed jammed full that the first thing to go is our self-care: exercise, time alone, a decent meal? Why do we feel the need to literally self-destruct?

If you google self-care you get a number of responses including 10 Easy Habits and 45 Simple Self-Care Practices. I don’t think the number 45 and simple belong in the same sentence. Yikes.

Self-care. I will define it as ‘what I do to take care of myself’ (this definition violates all those rules we learned that a definition can’t include the word- oh well). Most of us would say that we don’t take care of ourselves the way we know we should. We need more exercise, to eat a more balanced diet, to get out more (or stay home more), to be more connected with loved ones (or less connected as the case may be). I am willing to guess that we all have a mental list of what works for us but we just have a difficult time to prioritize and make it happen.

I just spent a week on vacation. I had plenty of time connecting with family, being outdoors, active, a total change of pace. As I return to work, I am reflecting on what I need to do to keep my life in balance. I would like to see at the end of a work day that I have achieved 10,000 steps- not 1800. How do I do that? When? I feel much better when I have had time outdoors and have some physical activity.

In reading about self-care, I see words like flourish, fun, well-rounded human being, being at your optimum. These are words I want to describe me. So, what can we do to flourish? I asked the staff here at The River Center to tell me what they do to take care of themselves. Carrie writes in her journal; Bonnie does yoga and Pilates; Kelli gets in the water- a bath, a pool, the lake; Kristen runs every day; Nisa does crafts or takes a drive by herself; Karen surrounds herself with beautiful art, plants, flowers, books and soothing music; Shannon goes to coffee shop all by herself and gets a haircut; Penelope takes a walk in the woods; Wendy walks the dog and relaxes with a cup of tea. Meditation, walks, alone time were repeated themes. Self-care for me includes a nice walk, good conversation, pausing to absorb the beauty around me, and a leisurely cup of coffee in the morning.

The River Center is a resource to help you care of yourselves so that you can care for your family and those you love. For more information on our parenting programs, money coaching or referral services, contact us a 924-6800 or www.rivercenter.us.

If we take care of ourselves, we are in a much better position to take care of others: our children, our aging parents, our clients or co-workers. I hope that you can enjoy the long days of summer and do the little things that bring you joy, that make you flourish. When that happens, our families flourish, and when our families flourish, our communities flourish.

I think I’ll take a walk.