Our winter holidays have so much build-up whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah. December is the month when it all comes to a head. Then you celebrate the new year! Afterward, everything seems much colder and drearier. It’s still cold, but the bright lights fade, leaving us feeling less festive.
How do we combat gloominess? Especially when – we Arkansans know – winter could last well into April or decide to finish in February only to make a comeback a couple of weeks later! We truly never know. I don’t know about you, but even my urge to drink cocoa is gone!
About Me Most people get through it by having resolutions or deciding on a goal for the year. Gyms are packed in the first few months, and everyone’s fridges are filled with healthier foods.In this way, the beginning of the new year starts on a high positive for many. However, this often goes by the wayside quickly for many – we’re only human!
We have to work to hold onto that cozy feeling and plan spring gardens or vacations we want to go on in summer. Instead, we should let the cold days push us towards warmer ones because we know they’ll come! Good things always come around, even if things are drearier now.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about New Year’s resolutions. It has been a crazy year. Not just for me but for many people. I’ve lost loved ones, gotten more than one fantastic opportunity, and have had time to reevaluate what I want to accomplish moving forward into 2023. My most significant conclusion was the importance of focusing on myself—my health, my goals, and the gifts I have to offer the world.
I have talent, and it’s hard to say that out loud sometimes. But we should all shout from the rooftops that we all have gifts to give the world. Yes, we need to eat; no, we shouldn’t all quit our jobs and become starving artists, but maybe you can afford to cut a few hours at our job to go back to school. Perhaps you have enough saved from skipping Starbucks to get a Fitbit and start running in the mornings? It’s all about small steps toward big accomplishments. So that is my focus for 2023. I resolve to make headway on the things I want to achieve.
I’ve been writing a book since 2010, but it has never gotten anywhere because I have had too many real-life barriers and mental health hurdles to jump to get anywhere with the project. So, I beat myself up every single day about not progressing. Not just that, but about my weight, eating habits, and training goals with my dogs – leaving me feeling like a failure rather than looking at the steps I’ve made toward my larger goal.
So, for this year, what can you do to get where you want to be? Let’s all focus on ourselves a bit more and forgive ourselves for previous “New Years” that maybe we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do. Learning how best you work as an individual is just another step in the right direction of achieving what you set out to do.
I used to HATE Thanksgiving. Yep, that’s right. If the Grinch hated Christmas, I would’ve been stealing cornucopias instead of decorated trees in Whoville. It’s still not my favorite holiday, and I have many reasons why that is that I won’t get into this go around.
One of my key complaints is that Thanksgiving is stressful for many people because of its proximity to Christmas. In addition, it is another obligation to travel when it’s already off to grandmother’s house we go in December. It’s just a lot to put on people in a short amount of time. I’d be happier if Thanksgiving were, say – in June! But the idea of pumpkin pie in summer feels a bit odd.
Another critical reason for my early aversion to the holiday stemmed from its excess. It was always too much food for not enough people. My mother would be exhausted when dinner was ready, and – to me – it was an over-the-top and unnecessary amount of work. She wasn’t cooking for dozens of people, just a handful.
Don’t even get me started on the fact that we have a turkey AND a ham every year. It’s too much food, but she loves cooking for us, and I would never rain on her parade. Plus, it is all delicious!
I’m not writing this to bah humbug all over the fun of Thanksgiving though. On the contrary, as I’ve grown, I’ve come to appreciate the heart of it. It’s about family, sure (which was part of the issue that made me dislike it, if I’m being honest). It’s more than an excuse to gather. As stated above, that is also part of Christmas, and the countries that don’t have a Thanksgiving holiday manage to annoy each other just fine.
No, we’re fortunate enough to have food to share – that is a blessing! So many people in our world don’t have enough food. The fact that I can cook a meal with my family and have electricity, hot water, and a roof over my head reminds me to be thankful. If we approach Thanksgiving ethically (and economically), we can also use it as an opportunity to support local farmers by purchasing farm-raised meats and vegetables. We can let it spur us into volunteering at the Arkansas Food Bank or a local homeless shelter. It creates a time of giving, which should exist year-round, but when the weather turns cold, we need each other to keep warm. Thanksgiving is a bounty celebration- a day to share with those around us.
Plus, if you freeze the leftovers, they can last the rest of the year – thanks, mom. . . Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
I wasn’t fortunate enough this year to get a garden in for Summer, but Arkansas is a great place for preparing a Fall garden! There are lots of crops you can plant now to have a delicious selection before winter!
Starting in August, you can sow your seeds of leaf lettuce, mustard greens, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, kale, collards, and spinach. Make sure you don’t plant them in direct sun, however, as heat will wilt the seedlings before they have a chance to establish. Plant your pea seeds now, as well, and make sure they have something to climb on for the vines to grow.
Finish starting seeds inside for fall crops like Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower. You’ll want to plant these a little later once the heat dies down. Because our area is warmer, we can easily plant a fall crop of potatoes. Try to get them in by the second week of September.
If you did manage to get a summer garden in, harvest vegetables such as beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, and okra regularly to prolong production and enjoy peak freshness into autumn. Continue your regular weeding efforts. Every weed that produces seeds means more trouble next year. Cut down any weeds before they can produce seeds and spread those seeds throughout your yard. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
When September rolls around pumpkins are ripening and when they start show color can be harvested as the color will continue to develop afterward. Just be careful not to damage the surface of the fruit as it will invite mold and bacteria.
It’s finally time for houseplants to come indoors again after their summer vacay because the nights and mornings will begin to get cooler. However, the cooler weather means you can continue planting spinach, lettuce, radishes, arugula, Asian greens, kale, and collards if you haven’t already. Some crops such as parsnips, peas, Brussels sprouts, and kale have enhanced flavor after a frost.
If you’re not feeling a fall garden this is the perfect time to start preparing your soil for next year’s Spring crops! Add fertilizer or manure to your field or plant a cover crop that can be tilled into the soil. Wood ashes contain phosphorous, potassium, and calcium. They can be placed on vegetable gardens and flower beds as a top dressing that will feed into the soil all winter. What a great use for your leftover bonfires!
The Arkansas heat is miserable. Well, the humidity is miserable, and the heat is just a bonus to that misery. Things get HOT here, and I am less motivated to exercise in the summer. Probably more so than any other season! I have found that maintaining your health is easier to keep up with when you’re doing activities you enjoy! I love hiking and walking my dogs, but when the pavement gets too hot for them and their paws (if the air temperature is 95 degrees then the concrete is 140) then that’s marked off the roster almost entirely unless I want to get up before dawn.
Spoiler: I don’t. So what can I do to keep active? Then it hit me. Water sports! I love the water, and I love swimming. If I’m not in or around the water in the summer I don’t want to be outside. This past weekend we rented a paddleboat for less than $11 at Pinnacle State Park. My husband and I paddled around for a good hour, and let me tell you, my legs were feeling the burn! When you’re doing something fun, you don’t notice how much work you’re doing until it is over. Now, Pinnacle State Park doesn’t allow you to swim in their pond, but many other parks in Arkansas do and also have marine rentals available! Get out, grab a paddleboat, and if you get over-heated relax in the water a while.
Speaking of water, we visited Lake Catherine the next day for a 4th of July adventure! This park is another great place to rent boats, and this time we chose to take out a tandem kayak. Disclaimer: if you aren’t good at communicating directions with your kayak partner, I highly recommend a single kayak instead unless you enjoy spinning in circles out in the open water. If the paddleboats were leg day, then this was arm day. Our arms were so tired, but we felt proud because we went to the end of the lake and back. Afterward, we swam at the swim beach. We were still exercising, but the water helped us feel refreshed. It was so fun!
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise, and it takes the weight off your joints, which is helpful if – like me – you don’t exercise enough, and your joints aren’t ready for an intense workout. Physical therapists often recommend hydrotherapy for this reason! I’ve even been looking into hydrotherapy for my dog, Rosten, who has hip dysplasia.
Paddleboarding is an activity I’d like to try next, as it seems like a perfect way to work on your full-body balance. I’ll give my arms a break, though. If you’re interested in any of these activities, Rock Town River Outfitters is located in the heart of Little Rock! They provide rentals and can get you started on your watersport journey.
Whatever you decide to do this summer, whether in the water or on dry land, remember to stay safe and hydrated!
If you have a birthday on or near a holiday you know that there are a lot of hurdles when it comes to celebrating. I was supposed to be born in June, but when it became apparent that my mother’s pregnancy wasn’t happening anytime soon, they slotted her for July 5th to induce labor. Her doctor, however, had a fishing tournament that day – so I ended up being born on July 3rd.
Being an Independence Day baby meant firework-themed birthday cakes, lots of actual fireworks (which I never liked much), and cooking out on the grill once I had blown out my candles. My friends could seldom make it to my parties because most had out-of-town plans preceding the 4th. That was always disappointing, but my parents did their best to throw me a big shindig. My attendance may have been down, but I always had fun, even if only one person showed up – and I have been best friends with that girl since I was three years old!
What I run into now as an adult is the lack of planning capabilities. I know anyone with a Christmas birthday, or one on Thanksgiving knows that these times of the year are booked solid! You have to plan months in advance if you are wanting to go somewhere to celebrate or if you just want to do something special.
With the 4th of July happening in summer (obviously), I and the Memorial Day babies had better know what days we’ll have off from work months before our birthdays because there will be no last-minute trips! Good luck finding lodging anywhere, especially if you’re like me and forget you have time off before, on, and after your birthday – the week before.
Another bum deal of having a holiday birthday is the themed parties. Listen, I love Halloween and the idea of a spooky birthday sounds fun, but if you’re like my husband, who was born at the end of October, the novelty wears off after your fourth costume party. To this day, he still doesn’t want to have his birthday associated with Halloween at all – and I totally get that! I still hold a lot of animosity towards fireworks.
The MVP of holiday birthday kids though are those born in December. Is the day that you’re supposed to receive gifts and celebrate your birth on or near the day your family gets together and exchanges gifts? What could be more annoying, especially for a kid? I have had several friends while growing up that never got gifts because of the proximity of their birthday to Christmas, or if they did get gifts, they only got one. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all blessed to receive any gifts! But when your friends get a Power Rangers-themed birthday in August, and you are relegated to being gifted as an afterthought – there is a discrepancy in fairness there in the eyes of a 9-year-old.
So, it’s safe to say we holiday-born kids have had a bit of the birthday blues in our lives at one time or another. I think it’s also fair to say that we’re grateful to be here another year! Whatever day your birthday falls on, I hope you have a wonderful celebration of your life. You’re unique and deserving of a day to celebrate yourself and if that means ignoring a holiday to do so – then go for it! There may be many birthdays, and there are many holidays, but there is only one you, and there are people who are so glad they get to say “Happy Birthday” when they see your face!
Happy Independence Day / Teighlor’s Birthday everyone!
The loss of a father is a hard thing, and with Father’s Day around the corner, I’ve been thinking about this holiday a lot since losing my father on Mother’s Day this year. Unfortunately, both celebrations of parenthood will be difficult for me now. However, it is essential to remember why these holidays exist and why Father’s Day is such an important thing to celebrate.
We are not all blessed to have our fathers in our lives, but the men in our lives, whether they’re stepdads, uncles, or friends – those who served as a father figures are all an integral part of our development as people.
Father’s Day was created in response to Mother’s Day’s popularity and commercialization. A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to have an equal day for fathers and crusaded for the holiday. Sonora was one of six children raised by a widower, and thanks to her efforts, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. Finally, in 1972 Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.
On June 19th, I will think of my father, Kirk Daniels, and be grateful that I could have him in my life. He taught me how to laugh in any situation, how to fish, and to see the beauty in the world around me, but mainly – he taught me to treat everyone equally. He was the funniest and kindest man I’ve ever known. I took for granted the time I had left with him, and I wish we could celebrate Father’s Day together this year so badly. However, my appreciation for him and all fathers will continue, and I urge everyone to spend some time with dad this year. The memories are worth it, I promise.
Many of us enjoy walking with our dogs to get some exercise and fresh air. It not only benefits us and our overall health but our canine companions’ health as well. Exercise stimulates the mind of each species. For us, it frees our minds and lets us have a moment to take everything in stride. For dogs, the smells of the world outside their yard are exciting. Walking the dog can get a bit tedious though. Same path, same trail, same neighborhood, it becomes mundane, then we look for excuses to stay indoors – especially when it gets too hot or cold outside! But what if you could enjoy something that is not only fun but also competitive?
In the dog world, many sports exist, tailored to each dog’s specific talents, and that list seems to expand each year! They have sports for each lifestyle and fitness level. Some of these include:
Dock Diving – this is a sport that involves water, so it is perfect for summer. Many people already have dogs that have mastered the basics of this event during regular play sessions. In dock diving, the handler throws a toy into the water. The dog is then measured on the height and length of their jump when they dive after it. Many dog breeds, such as Labradors, excel in this sport.
Agility – arguably the most popular dog sport, agility is all about speed and athleticism. This includes the handler. There is a lot of running involved! In agility, dogs must complete an obstacle course under the guidance of their handler. It takes a lot of discipline and focus on the dog’s part and is best suited to obedient and high-energy dogs.
Lure Coursing – do you have a speed demon that chases everything in sight? Then this is a great sport for you and there is no running on your part! It all comes down to the dog and their natural drive to chase. Many breeds such as greyhounds and Ibizan hounds are masters of this sport however any breed with speed can excel. It involves a white flag placed on a motorized line. The dogs are judged on their speed. It’s a wonderful outlet for their need to chase without the potential of harming another animal!
Rally – if you have a focused obedient dog, this is great for them, no matter the age, breed, or size. This goes for people too! Rally is about the team of dog and handler working together to follow obedience prompts. These prompts are placed on signs that the owner must read then direct the dog to do. Your marks reflect your swiftness and correctness in obedience.
Nosework – do you have nothing but a hound dog? Are they crying all the time? Then this is a great sport for them! This appeals to a dog’s natural instincts and comes in many different forms. There is tracking, which mimics search-and-rescue. Nose or scent work requires the dog to find a scent and alert their owner. This one is an easy one to do at home by hiding hot dogs in boxes and rewarding your dog when they locate them. Finally, there is Barnhunt, which is a trial involving rats (humanely protected in carriers) hidden in hay bales. The dog must hunt the rats as their ancient ancestors did, tunneling and climbing to find them.
In all dog sports, any breed can compete, whether a mutt or a purebred! Blue ribbons aside, the main goal of these events is to bring joy to dogs and build the bond shared with their owners. If you’re interested in participating the best place to start is by taking an obedience class at your local dog training club. Below are a few nearby locations here in Little Rock. Having practiced some of these myself, I highly recommend it.
As many of our patients know, the Pinnacle Physical Therapy office sits beside a pond. This lovely pond is home to the resident Canada geese. During April we had a few new additions added to the goosey crew! On my first day at the office, I was so excited to see some adorable baby geese (goslings) waddling after their parents right outside our window. What a great first impression of my new journey with PPT!
Now I know, I know – not everyone likes geese. My husband is particularly averse to them and mentions it every time I talk about the geese hanging around our office. I’m finding out he has a pretty common story. That is, he a goose attacked him as a child! While at the zoo with family, a pair of geese approached. His mother and grandmother surrounded him to keep him safe, but the geese were too fast for them.
Side-stepping the adults, they bit my husband, and he’s had a distaste for waterfowl ever since. I was fortunate that I never had that goose-related experience, so it’s hard for me to relate. I think they’re so cute! I would also love to have one but have gotten a resounding “no” in response to that request.
I’ll have to be satisfied with the geese here at our office. We’ve been watching our goose family here at PPT grow every day, and their transformation has been amazing to witness. Very soon, they will be adults and flying on their own. In fact goslings can fly 2-3 months after hatching! Speaking of goose facts, did you know:
Nesting season: Mid-March to mid-May
The mother goose waits until all eggs are laid before she begins to sit on the nest to incubate eggs.
All geese eggs in a single clutch hatch on approximately the same day.
The Canada geese population grows about 19.5% each year.
You can check out some more goose facts HERE. Maybe learning a few facts about them can help alleviate the suffering geese have caused some people – but I doubt it.
When you come to our office be on the lookout for these little guys, and feel free to go behind the building to see the pond. It’s very peaceful watching the birds on the water taking life at a leisurely pace.
I think we could all learn a little from geese. Take things slow, don’t back down, and make an impression wherever you go – even if it’s in someone’s way, such as in front of my car when I try to leave in the evenings.
With the changing season, many of us have begun gardens. Growing your food produces fresh, healthy fruits and veggies to fuel your body, and gardening gives you a good workout!
One of the issues I face is pest control, and using harmful pesticides is not an option for me. Because of this, I’ve researched alternative ways to repel pests and better the health of my plants overall. One of the fascinating things I’ve learned about is plant compatibility.
Certain plants help with soil nutrition when grown near each other. Clover, rye, and oats, for example, can be used as cover crops, fixing helpful things like nitrogen in the soil promoting plant growth. They also smother weeds keeping down the growth of these competitor plants. Many plants can help repel pests, attract vital pollinators, and increase growth. Some combos include:
Lettuce and calendula. Calendula attracts slugs, so they feed on them and not the lettuce.
Tomato and basil. Not just a great combo on pizza, basil repels insects, improves growth, and enhances the flavor of tomatoes.
Cucumbers and radishes. Radishes help deter cucumber beetles, acting as a trap crop for flea beetles and other insects.
These are just some of the many combinations in the gardening world! Companion planting is a great way to get the best bang for your buck this summer and increase your garden’s output.