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10 Tips for Staying Sane Working from Home

Posted by on March 27, 2020

10 Tips for Staying Sane Working from Home

by Rebecca Moore, Camp Mom and Entrepreneur

#1 Create A Schedule
Create a schedule for yourself and your family. Let them weigh in, but make sure that the non-negotiables are crystal clear. Examples: breakfast on your own, clean up after yourselves, phone-free time during “remote school hours”, lunch together, chores before entertainment, daily fresh air minimum, screen time limits, if the dog barks let him out, etc.

#2 Be Still
This is important. Get up 2 hours before your family. Before starting your work or making breakfast, take 30 minutes of quiet time to center yourself. For us as believers, we can meditate on Scripture and spend time in prayer. Remind yourself what is truly important: your and your family’s health and well-being, safety, and shelter. The rest is frosting. Think of one person whom you can help and set your intentions to reach out to them during the day.

#3 Eat Healthy Meals
Plan out healthy meals for your family. Plan to eat at least one meal together daily. Don’t let your teen’s lunch times slip to mid-afternoon. Resist the urge to snack all day. Put out a “Kitchen Closed” sign in between meals (the kids hid ours!)  If that doesn’t work, cut up fresh veggies and set them out on a plate to ensure your family munches on healthy stuff first.

#4 Time Block Tasks
Either on a calendar or an app, identify the top 3 things you must complete each day and block out time to complete them first. Then break down all other tasks into 20 minute chunks and keep the list handy, checking off completed tasks. Limit your time spent on social media, news, and any other activity that can turn into a “rabbit hole” and suck your productivity.

#5 Take Breaks
Make sure to get up from your desk every hour to improve your circulation for at least 5 minutes. You can use a timer to schedule breaks. Or, use the inevitable interruptions to get up and move! (I keep a mini notebook handy to jot down what I was working at the time of the interruption so that I can immediately pick up where I left off.) Breaks are important to clear your head (I also use them to complete quickie chores like tidying up, letting dog in/out, loading washing machine, yada yada.)

#6 Buy Noise Cancelling Headphones
By far the single most useful tool for working at home (besides my laptop) has been my noise cancelling headphones. When I wear them, I am able to concentrate and completely block out all the annoying home noises. All I need to do is play the babbling brook soundtrack on Spotify and I’m in “focus heaven”. I recommend investing in a really good pair. Your sanity will thank you.

#7 Create a Work Space (or 2 or 3)
My office is in our finished attic. It’s awesome. But when I need to keep a pulse on the household (and my kids’ studies), I have another spot, namely the dining room table. It is important to stake out a designated place to work and make sure your family honors it. Let your kids choose their own work space to work nearby (NOT on their beds) so that all their belongings and projects stay in one spot.

#8 Quiet Zone
It’s easy to let structure fall by the wayside in these uncertain times. But we ALL need some structure to stay sane. Make it clear what times of day are considered family’s “work” time (e.g. 9am-12pm, 12:30-5pm.) and agree that this time (and your designated work space) remain a quiet zone. This means no blaring music, horsing around, or hollering. Infractions will result in phone confiscation.

#9 Exercise Daily
We all know it is unhealthy to be sedentary. Social isolation should not be an excuse to become a couch potato. Make sure to build exercise into your day, even if it’s a cheesy exercise video, a walk around the block, or jump-roping in your basement. Include the kids and make it fun!

#10 End Time
Agree to end your day at a specific time (this one can be difficult!)  Plan something fun to do each evening with your family (board games, cooking experiment, karaoke, art project, build something, movie) to lighten up and laugh!  If you have an evening conference call, let your family know in advance and find a private corner to take the call so everyone else can enjoy the evening.


Rebecca Moore pictured far right.

Rebecca Moore has lived in Lexington with her husband and 3 Deer Runners for the past 23 years. A dot-com veteran, MBA, and art history major, she founded InANutshell Consulting to empower women to envision and build their own businesses. Her clients share the belief that running a small business is one way to cultivate purpose in their lives and make a meaningful impact. You can connect with her on Facebook @inanutshellceo, instagram @inanutshellceo or via email, rebecca@inanutshellconsulting.com   

For Such a Time as This:

Posted by on March 20, 2020

For Such a Time As This:  Living in quarantine, but not in exile.

By Esther C. Baird, Camp mom and Author

(Editor’s Note: Please don’t leave the blog without clicking through Esther’s new devotional book on Kindle, free from Amazon)

We’re studying the books of Ruth and Esther in our women’s Bible studies at church (and now virtually). It’s been encouraging to step back and see the common themes running through both books. Namely, God is in control and has a plan that is far greater than we can understand or recognize in the day-to-day moments of life. You know, just in case your life feels a little out of control right now. 

In the case of Ruth, she was a pagan widow who was welcomed into the family of God, during the time of the Judges—not a time anyone would ever describe as Israel’s golden era. It was a violent, dark time, full of people who turned away from God. Yet God, in His divine plan and providence, guided this young widow into His land, to His people, and showed her, and all of us, what redemption looks like.

In the case of Esther, in many ways she was the opposite, a young Jewish girl living in exile in Persia who found herself in the King’s house as his Queen. Unlike Ruth, she had access and power and status, and yet she too was living on the razor’s edge of survival, as a plot to kill the Jews was being hatched right in the King’s courts. But God, in His divine plan and providence, guided this young girl into the very seat of power and used her to save His people and to show us how He saves us too. You see, we are in exile in our own land of darkness, like Ruth in her pagan homeland, or Esther in the king’s court—until God calls us into His land and shows us the plan He had all along.

That plan includes this virus and this quarantine and all your cancelled plans and schooling and jobs and your normal way of life. This plan even includes homeschooling, when you swore you would never do that, or doing puzzles when you hate them more than almost anything. (But for real, somebody please come save me from our terrible 1,000 piece Llama puzzle). We are living in uncertain times, perhaps even dark times, but we are not living in exile.  We may be separated from one another physically, we may be in weird locations, or doing new things we never dreamed of, but we are not in exile. If we follow Jesus, we are citizens of God’s kingdom and we can rest in the certainty that He has a plan that is so much bigger than we can even imagine. Just like He had for Ruth and for Esther.

I saw this personally when I was working on my second book. It’s about life’s big questions such as, ‘What is my life about?’ or, ‘What do I do when bad things happen to my family or to me?’ or, ‘How can I feel safe?’.  The answer, I argue, can be found in God’s name. Specifically in the ‘I AM’ statements that Jesus makes in the gospel of John, and, I argue, in the Old Testament.

I struggled to complete my final draft; it was tedious and exhausting and anything but smooth. Many times I thought I should quit and tackle it in the summer (or dump it into the nearest mud puddle). But through the encouragement of family, prayer groups at church, and a sense that God wanted me to keep at it, I finished. Then suddenly, last week, as the virus began to creep into our schools and churches and homes, I received a note saying the book was available on Amazon and I could offer it for FREE for five days! YAY! Back in November and December, I couldn’t see what the rush was to finish my book by March. What was the point? But God knew the world we were about to enter come March. And now, I am able to offer it for free to anyone who has extra time to read books (so basically everyone). My prayer is that God can encourage anyone who has big questions right now, (again, basically all of us) through the answers that are found in His name.

God had a plan, including this tiny way that I could be a part of pointing people to Him during the storm we are all living in. This coronavirus was a shock to the world, but not to God. Know that you are not in exile (even if homeschooling is not your thing and you feel a million miles away from your friends). You have a role to play in this corona-world and it starts by following God—knowing that His name, His plan, and His Kingdom are the only true and certain things. God calls us to trust Him . . . for such a time as this.

Esther Baird (pictured with her family on last year’s spring break, Les, Abby on left (MROer) and Riley on right (Deer Runner) is the Director of Women’s Ministries at her church north of Boston, and a columnist in her local newspaper. Combined her girls have attended camp for 11 summers! The Kindle version of her new devotional book, Echos of I AM: Life’s Big Questions Answered in God’s Great Name, is available on Amazon for free from Friday, March 20th-Tuesday, March 24th. Her first book is also available on Amazon, Exodus to Advent: God’s Christmas plan for you and for me. Her website is: www.estherbaird.com

Cookie Camp 2020

Posted by on March 11, 2020

Cookie Camp 2020

by Susan Bradley Arico, Deer Run Alumna & Camp Mom

Cookie Camp. What a sweet time! (Literally, and figuratively!)

In 2008 I moved away from my beloved New England to distant lands, but a few months before I left, I attended Cookie Camp. It was the first time the event was open to alumni (and the second time that Cookie Camp happened), and I got to be part it! I lived about 45 minutes away in Rollinsford, NH at the time. I got a sitter for my two babies, as my husband had already departed in advance of our pending move, and drove to camp for 24 hours. 

The idea of Cookie Camp was simple. Bake cookies and mail them to camp staff at Valentine’s Day to let them know they were loved and appreciated.

Cookie Camp 2008

With three of my closest staff friends – about a decade out from the last time we’d been on staff – I aproned up, rolled dough, pressed cutters, sprinkled sugar. It was magic. After all, what’s not to love about camp, old friends, girl time, and lots of sugar? There were about fifteen women there that year, and I got to meet a few new friends too.

Fast forward twelve years to this year, February 2020.

I was back living in New England again for the first time in nearly twelve years. What did I want to be sure my first winter back included, of course? Cookie camp!

And here we were again – same girls (several of us, anyway) – aprons and rolling pins at the ready.

Cookie Camp 2020

But my, how the operations had grown and expanded! Instead of 13 women, there were 25. Instead of just cookies to bake, there were whole care packages to fill. Instead of 75 boxes, there were more than 250! It was such an impressive operation! And it was so fun to spend time rubbing shoulders with so many cool, dynamic, faith-filled women from different generations and eras of camp leadership.

Melissa Yonan explained the expansion and rationale. 

As “Cookie Camp” continued over the years, camp staff increasingly became aware of how valuable and meaningful the parcel was to its recipients each Valentine’s Day. They began to embrace it as a ministry in its own right, and they expanded the recipient list from just current camp staff to alumni between the ages of 19 and 25 who have attended camp for five or more summers, or served on staff previously. They began crafting homemade Valentine cards to communicate heartfelt affirmation. They put in some candies to further sweeten the pot. And they added a devotional to ensure that a piece of spiritual content made it from camp to these beloved camp community members in the middle of the dark winter.

“Parents email and call us to tell us what a huge difference it makes to their kids to get these parcels,” Melissa told me. “It reminds them of who they are and that camp loves them – just like God loves them – no matter where they are or what time of year it is.”

I was so touched as she was speaking. And her words prompted a memory: I remembered George Bowling sending me a care package, when he learned I had mono. It was shortly after I’d spent a month working at camp, and I still remember what he wrote in that note. It was 1995 and I was a sophomore; it was the worst year of my college career. It had made a huge difference to me, to know that I had camp’s (and his) support and affection in that hard space.

I left Cookie Camp weekend feeling so humbled and grateful. Grateful for a place like camp that both gathers its people together for meaningful reunions of all different kinds, and also intentionally pours into its people in different places. Grateful for friends so dear to my heart who camp introduced me to, friends of 20+ years who can laugh together till we cry in the dark at 1 AM in Elk Cabin. And grateful for a God who makes it possible for us to be connected in faith with others in this way for both filling and service to others.

Susan Bradley Arico was a Deer Run camper from 1986-1991 and was on staff in 1994, 1996, and 1997. Her husband York was on Brookwoods staff for three years in the 1990’s. The Aricos now reside in Connecticut. You may contact Susan, or view more of her writing on her blog, or her facebook page.

Think About This… (Happy New Year!)

Posted by on January 3, 2020

Think About This… (Happy New Year!)

by Andrea Gurney, PhD, Deer Run Alumna, & Camp Mom

At the beginning of each new year I examine five areas of my life, asking and answering a question in each:

Interpersonal (think relationships!) – How (and who!) can I love better?

Intrapersonal – In what area I can grow in emotionally?

Spiritually – How may I serve God and others better?

Physically – How can I better care for my own body?

Work /School life – In what specific way can I challenge myself to grow in my career?

This has been an annual ritual since my junior year in college after a professor encouraged us to be intentional with our time. He said something along these lines: “Life will keep moving forward. And with each passing year, it will move more quickly. Before you know it—you will be five years out of college. Then ten; even fifteen. So often, we talk about our five and ten year plan—but it would behoove you to make specific goals each year.”

Small chunks. Small hopes. Small steps forward. Keeping the big picture in mind. That was my interpretation. Ever since 1994, as one year turns into another, I have done just that.

As this new year begins, I encourage you to consider how you can love yourself, your neighbor, and your world better.

Happy New Year.

Andrea Gurney, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at Westmont College, and author of Reimagining Your Love Story: Biblical and Psychological Practices for Healthy Relationships. An East Coast camp girl at heart, and Camp Deer Run (Alton, NH) staff alumna, she currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA with her husband, two daughters, and playful goldendoodle. Connect with her at AndreaGurney.com or Instagram @andrea_gurney for practical tips and insights on life!

 

Advent – He is on the Move

Posted by on December 9, 2019

Happy New Year – It’s Advent – He is On the Move

by Matthew Kozlowski, Brookwoods Alumnus

Every December, in the season leading up to Christmas, Christians celebrate Advent.  But Advent is more than just a countdown.  Here are three points to remember about this season.

1. Happy New Year!

In the church calendar, Advent is actually the beginning of the year.  We start anew, as we await the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  It’s interesting that the year starts with a period of watchful waiting.  So much of our culture demands action – what can be done now?  Advent says the opposite: don’t rush to act, but wait, stay alert, watch.  This is the only way that we will recognize the coming of Christ.

I remember at camp how counselors would lead devotionals at night.  A lot of times they would ask, “Where did you see God today?”  This is a good thing to ask ourselves in Advent!  Keep watch, stay alert, He is on the move.

2. The Second Coming

While Advent most clearly awaits the incarnation of Jesus on Christmas, the season also speaks of the time when Christ will come again.  As it says in Mark 13:26, “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”  What will this be like?  The Bible gives us descriptions of the end of times, and many of these descriptions are troubling.  But Jesus also says in John 16:33, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

I had a counselor friend at camp who struggled for a while about whether he was ‘truly saved.’  He confided this to a few of us, and someone replied (gently but firmly): “Look, do you believe in your heart and confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord?” 

My friend replied, “Yes, of course.” 

“Well, then, you’re saved. End of story.”

Thinking about that conversation now, it seems like a good thing to keep in mind during Advent, as we await the second coming of our Lord.  We are assured that Jesus is ours, and we are His.

3. Most Highly Favored Lady – Mary

Advent is a time to consider Mary, the mother of Jesus.  But wait, you might say, is Mary only for Catholics?  While, Roman Catholics have unique devotions to Mary, you don’t have to be Catholic to think about Mary at this time of Year.  In fact, Christianity Today just ran a front page article on this very point.  

The Bible says that the Angel told Mary, “The Lord is with you!”  Indeed, the Lord Jesus truly would be with Mary, growing inside her as an unborn babe.  She literally held the son of God in her body – and years later, after Jesus had died for our sins – she would once again hold his body, this time at the foot of the cross.  At camp there is a place called “Inspiration Point.”  Well, I think that Mary is a “Point of Inspiration.” May her love, courage, and devotion inspire you this season.

He Is On the Move

Well, I couldn’t close this article without mentioning Narnia at least once.  Remember, in the depth of winter, Mr. Beaver whispers to the children, “Aslan is on the move!” I believe that God is moving today, all around us.  Yes, there’s plenty for us to do at this time of year.  But that’s no match for what God has already done, and what God is doing right now.  

Advent Blessings to you and yours!

 

The Rev. Matthew Kozlowski is an associate priest at All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, MD. He lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife, Danielle, and two daughters. “Koz” was a counselor at Brookwoods and Moose River between 2002-2005, where he taught sailing and wrote mildly amusing skits for the Staff Special. matthew.koz@gmail.com