Simple Is Enough

I had two great conversations the other day, one with a dear friend about the challenges this particular generation of children is facing.  Her theory as to why children have more sensory challenges, obesity, attention deficit – in other words, why are these children so darn unhealthy – is, in her mind, a mixture of things:  environment, too much stimulation, schedules that are like an adult, too much of making the child a miniature adult, diet, lack of physical work and movement.

Then I had another conversation, this time with a dear friend and physical therapy colleague.  She is in geriatrics, but specifically wondered why she is seeing more and more dementia and Alzheimer’s-type symptoms in patients of even younger ages than before.  “The people I am seeing, HAD those kinds of childhoods that you wish for – eating local, farm-raised food before agribusiness became huge, collecting eggs and walking to school, playing outside for hours on end in rivers and creeks and the mountainside.  So why are these folks getting dementia at such a relatively young age?”

Of course, no one knows for sure; these are the kind of rhetorical things physical therapists and I am sure other health care professionals sit around and ponder.  We all wonder.

I am sure it is all the things of childhood, but also mixed with all the things of adulthood:  taking adults who were used to moving a lot to moving them into jobs that were more sitting than usual, more modern conveniences than ever that also cause decreased movement, a more toxic environment, an increasingly over-stimulating environment ( the friend from my first conversation was remarking that now when you go into a grocery store, there may be TV’s in the shopping cart, cows mooing in the diary section, dancing vegetables with loud thunder that mists over the veggies!  How true!)

But I think it is also community – or lack thereof.  The church or synagogue may not be the same hub of the neighborhood it once was, which is a shame for many reasons and on many levels but also on a health level:  one six year study showed that those who attended religious services once a week were 46 percent less likely to die than those who did not.  You can see an article about this here:  http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/spirituality-may-help-people-live-longer.  This article points out, though, that community and having personal inner practices may also lead to the same benefits as those who attend religious services: less depression and anxiety, better health.  I think this is important as we raise children; to think about our own health and to find meaningful ways to keep ourselves vital, active, healthy.

Community is also about friendships.  Friendships are a huge social buffer against dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Here is an article about that:  http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/20061101/strong-friendships-may-help-you-live-longer and this really interesting one about how seeing friends and family outside of your spouse and children is a buffer believed to buffer Alzheimer’s disease:  http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/20061101/social-buffer-against-alzheimers. My favorite part of this article is this quote:  “Participants with larger social networks tended to have scored higher on their mental tests, even if they were later found to have more severe amounts of brain plaque and tangles. In other words, a participant that would have been expected to have more severe Alzheimer’s based on their brain analysis, didn’t when they had a large social network.”

I think simple is enough this year.  Simple schedules, the simple warmth and pleasures of community, of having enough but not extravagant.   Form a community, join a community, make a community.

All kinds of thoughts to ponder today!

Many blessings and happy and beautiful wishes for a splendid New Year,

Carrie

16 thoughts on “Simple Is Enough

  1. I think you’ve hit on a missing link. I read on the news that loneliness is a bigger predictor of death than most other lifestyle risks (obesity, poor diet, etc). Researchers noted that people with poor social networks had the same negative health impact as someone smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

  2. I couldn’t agree more,,but how do we do it? Create community?! I am desperate for friends, support, etc. I have joined a church, but everyone seems to keep to themselves. Where do we start? Last summer I made one new friend at the park,,,and this year I wish to make several new friends since family is at a distance. Happy New Year, your posts are so inspiring,, thank you~

    • Mel, just wanted to send you *HUGS.* We are also in the same boat. You don’t happen to live in NC do you? hahaha. I am signing up for some photography classes at the local college at night, in hopes of making some friends. No one else I know does Waldorf-inspired homeschooling. . .although I am part of a co-op. So far everyone has been very nice and open, however I would LOVE to find a family who thinks along the lines as we do when it comes to play and learning. Best of luck to you Mel and remember you are not alone. :) Ashley

    • Aww Ashley, Hugs back to you!!
      This christmas I had a personal awakening..I realized that I cannot fully be present in my life in this new city (10 years now) if I don’t cut the “emotional cord” I have with my home town. I felt very much alone and once I was done feeling sorry for myself (lol) I set some goals so that next year would be very different. This post came at the perfect time, but then again,, there really are no accidents right? ;)
      The difficulty in city living for me is that I grew up thinking everyone everywhere was friendly and kind and that community was vital. Here, when I listen to the radio, they talk of traffic accidents and routes to avoid as if the accident would be a “burden” to drivers!! Back home if we heard of an accident we’d all wonder who it was, if we knew them and what we could do to help!
      But I suppose times are changing. I just crave so bad to have some of that closeness in this city. Maybe I’ll follow your lead and take an evening course….
      Anyway, I’m in Ontario Canada..don’t be a stranger, and thanks again!!!!!

    • Mel,
      I think this is fabulous, to really own where you are… military families are often my role model in mind for embracing where you live. My husband moved about every two years growing up, including to foreign countries (so not easy on the middle school and high schooler!) and I really hold his parents and such in my heart when I think about the possibility of new places…

      Hope this year is wonderful!!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

    • Thank you Carrie!
      Thank you for being a “mentor” of sorts for me also!
      Blessings
      Melanie

  3. Dear Carrie,
    thank you for this interesting thoughts, I take them as a way to wish “happy new year”. You are a phsycal therapist, is it the same to “fisioterapista” in italian?

    Buon anno nuovo a te e a tutti i lettori.

    Federica

  4. Love this, so true. We have been hard at work as a family building a little home school community, and while the families who participate are all quite different, we take from it what we can and keep things simple.

  5. Thank you, Carrie. I have decided that this is the year of simple living. I want my small family to focus on keeping things simple – less rushing, less ‘stuff’, less commitments – in order to gain more peace, more order, more spacious family living where everyone’s needs can be met.

    Wishing you and your family well for this year.

    • Karen,
      THis is lovely, and will tie in so well to the theme of this blog after our next book study as we will be doing the book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne…Happy New Year
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  6. Since my grandmother suffered from dementia for 8 years before she died, your post was particularly poignant for me. The question of building community is one I have had to ponder this year. I withdrew my son out of his Waldorf KG because his sensory processing issues were not making things easy. Consequently, my husband, son and I lost the school community, which to be honest was our main social and support circle. Luckily I have family nearby and mums from pre-school days. However, I’m also happy to say that we have found new communities. These are: a small but active homeschooling group. a model engineering club with a junior section (fab for my train obsessed son) and recently we joined a community allotment. My son is the only child at that one but he just loves (and needs) lots of hard, physical outdoor work. From the community allotment I have found out about a developing community orchard and an urban farm. I signed our support up straight away. I just wanted to say all this because I’ve seen readers ask about how to build community. It can be particularly difficult with an only child. Keep reading local papers, read every notice on every noticeboard and think about your and your child’s interests. Just finding one thing can set other opportunities in motion. Best wishes to everyone on this path this year.

    • Tania, THis is just lovely, and I thank you so much for sharing your experiences of building community.
      Many blessings for you in this New Year,
      Carrie

  7. I agree that that sense of community is so important. Finding homeschool connections and similar family/ lifestyle approaches is quite hard. I think the key could be to look in other directions for friendship groups. My sister moved to a new town a year ago and is living on her own. She joined a spinning group and they welcomed her with open arms, inviting her along to all sorts of events. When I moved to the Blue Mountains in Australia I found that joining the local choir was my salvation. A great bunch of people, something fun to look forward to each week and involvement in an increasing number of community happenings. Its really important to develop one’s own interests, apart from being a mum and a homeschooler. Maybe its more important to continue building new interests and interest groups as we get older too.

  8. I am so late to respond to this post…. just getting “caught up”. But I wanted to comment. I too, have struggled with finding a community or just a few friends to hang out with for that matter. 3 children within a few years, which are now 3 1/2 year old twins and a 20 month old, I had a hard time even getting to the park in the morning, especially on my own. I am desperate for some adult interaction and I think my twins are definitely ready for some more socialization. I have decided I am going to start a small play group that will meet once a week. I’m just going to make up a flyer and post it at our communal mailbox. What have I got to lose?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s