Can you touch your toes?

flexible yogaFlexibility

Can you touch your toes without bending your knees? Try any yoga moves lately? These questions hopefully got you thinking about your physical flexibility, or lack of as the case may be.

Physical flexibility represents a struggle for me. My muscles constantly feel tight and resistant to movement even though I’m in shape (can run a 5k & bike 12 miles) and not what I would consider a weakling (can life 10 pounds weights 100 times in a few minutes).

While I make a point to stretch often, I fail doing so consistently enough to keep inflexibility at bay. And this lack of physical flexibility serves as a reminder of the importance of flexibility – and a regular habit of stretching – not just physically but mentally as well.

The Benefits of Flexibility

What experts tout as the benefits of physical flexibility correlate well with the advantages of mental flexibility. In fact, when flexibility exists as a character trait – those elements that define you and shape your reputation – the same benefits seen with physical flexibility become visible in other areas of life too. Those benefits include:

  1. Reduced Risk of Injury. A flexible person has broad shoulders. Rather than harboring offenses, he releases them by giving the benefit of the doubt and refusing to take them personally.
  2. Improved Posture. Flexibility allows for confidence to stand strong amidst life’s struggles. This confidence reduces the strain that poor posture – lack of confidence – places on the system as a whole.
  3. Reduced Pain. Low back pain can immobilize a person, and flexibility goes a long way in reducing the pain. Flexibility as a character trait reduces the long-term impact of hurt and keeps a person from being frozen by it.
  4. Brings Life. Physical flexibility increases blood flow resulting in greater range of motion, less joint pain and reduced joint inflammation. Likewise, mental flexibility gives a person greater courage, less fear and increased stamina.
  5. Better Overall Health & Vitality. A flexible person lives a fuller life as he exudes positivity and energy. In fact, others are drawn to a flexible person because of his alacrity, making flexibility an impactive and even contagious trait.

Identifying Flexibility

Flexible quoteWhat does flexibility look like in a person? While the benefits listen above serve to create motivation for the individual, they are not always easy to pinpoint tangibly. So, how can others pinpoint that flexibility exists and see its benefit?

When a person’s character involves flexibility, she becomes known for her servant’s heart, consistency & reliability, encouragement, broad shoulders, and abundance of grace. A flexible person draws people to himself, and people leave his presence feeling inspired.

A flexible person becomes so by stretching, by be willing to get outside comfort zones and extend into areas that at first feel unnatural. But with increased flexibility comes tremendous benefits, both to the individual becoming flexible and to every person she comes into contact with. Flexibility serves to amplify an already solid character.

DISCUSSION: What other benefits do you see with flexibility? What other ways is it identified in someone? What specific ways are there for increasing flexibility as a character trait?

How to… Have the Best Summer Break Yet

After adopting our youngest son two years ago, we discovered the need to create more structure in our summers than we’d had previously. (Our oldest is very independent and keeps occupied easily.) The tips below are the result of what has worked well for us over the past two years and that look to make this third summer with him the best one yet!

  1. Know Your Priorities. Many parents save vacation time or adopt a modified work schedule for the summer months. Do this if at all possible. The challenge of summer break is only for a season, and parents whose kids are no longer at home stress the importance of making the most of every opportunity while the kids are still young as a top priority. If a changing work schedule isn’t an option, do what you can to make evenings and weekends as focused on family time as possible.
  2. Create Goals. Have goals to help motivate and focus you and your kids. Set reading goals summer, such as a certain number of books or completing a certain series. Set physical goals such as training for a 5k or exercising so many times a week. Set academic goals too, such as memorizing multiplication facts or completing a summer bridge workbook. Having goals gives kids a “go to” activity when boredom strikes. And, of course, have rewards for reaching goals too!
  3. Have Balanced Structure. Partly because my youngest needs structure and largely because I like sanity, we create a daily and weekly schedule. We allow for alone time, time together, and time out. We schedule TV and electronics time, and we schedule projects and activities such as cooking new foods, visiting interesting places, and playing with friends. We don’t schedule to the point of exhaustion but enough to avoid boredom.
  4. Be Flexible. Yes, we have a schedule, but we’re not fanatics about it. We allow for the spontaneous and unexpected such as weather changes, friends calling and those joyful moments when the kids come up with something to do together all on their own. We keep a list of summer activities to help create our schedule but remain flexible.
  5. Set Boundaries. Many kids would play video games and watch television all summer if they could. To avoid this, schedule media time into the day. Also, even though kids are at home, I still have work to complete. So, the office door closed means I need some time to write without disruption. The office door open means they can sit and talk to me while I work.  Also, they stay in their rooms until 8AM every morning and let me have time to exercise, pray and do devotions until 10AM. Setting these types of boundaries goes a long way in maintaining balanced structure.
  6. Get Input. Toward the end of the school year and when school first gets out, my boys and I spend time creating a list of summer activities. They usually have terrific ideas, and giving input creates excitement for the summer ahead.
  7. Include Mental Stimulation.  Tell kids they need to do schoolwork all summer to keep from losing what they learned during the school year, and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. But include mentally stimulating activities such as summer camps and going to the library or museums, and kids get excited. Get creative, but find ways to stimulate your kids’ minds.

Whether parents are home with their kids or not for summer break, the above suggestions provide ways to help make this summer break the best one yet. Take time within the next couple of days to go through these suggestions and create a plan of action. Oh yeah, be sure to write down what you come up with. My kids love looking at the schedule and list of activities to find out what’s coming up.

DISCUSSION: What suggestions do you plan on trying? What suggestions can you add?

Additional Resource: The article Keep Your Summer Organized by Simple Mom has some terrific suggestions that go well with today’s post. Check them out and let Tsh at Simple Mom know how great her ideas are!

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