Blind Cats, Loving Llamas and Happy Horses Prove Any Animal with a Heart Can Be a Therapy Pet

2 months, 13 days ago

It’s National Therapy Animal Day, the perfect time to celebrate the countless critters who dedicate their lives to making hospital patients, schoolchildren, seniors and animal lovers the world over happy.

Pet Partners, the largest non-profit dedicated to registering therapy animals, has helped many of these therapy pets get the training they need to make this possible and has created therapy programs across the country.

Dogs may be the first animal that comes to mind when you think of therapy pets, but Pet Partners knows that therapy animals come in all shapes and sizes; the non-profit has registered rats, cats, llamas and more.

To celebrate National Therapy Animal Day, Pet Partners introduced PEOPLE to some of their non-traditional therapy pets.

RELATED: Therapy Pigs Thunder and Bolt Are Happy to Trade Belly Scratches and Hugs for Smiles

Flight the Senior Llama

Niki Kuklenski, Flight’s owner, says the loving llama is “perceptive and kind.” Also “a total ham,” Flight adores the time she spends visiting new friends as a therapy animal.

“She can always be counted on to work a crowd with her kisses and hugs. Her enjoyment is obvious by her ears being up and the fact she always looks incredibly happy to be doing what she does!” the llama’s mama added.

Monte the Mini Horse

Along with Flight and four other llamas, Kuklenski also visits hospitals with Monte the mini horse, who joined her therapy animal team in 2017. Monte mostly does end stage hospice work, which is important to Kuklenski because the horse is able tp provide comfort to someone when they truly need it most.

“One of my very first visits with the miniature horse was with a man who dearly loved horses. Upon entering the man’s room, I immediately noticed he had horse pictures all over his walls,”  Kuklenski said. “Monte walked right up to his bed without hesitation and all the equipment around.  The man’s joy was evident, and he struggled to sit up. I moved Monte’s head toward his to be able to easily interact with him. Monte reached over and began to slowly lick the man’s face. The man closed his eyes and said, ‘This is my best day ever!’ ”

Tommy the Blind Cat

Christy Santoro knew since she brought Tommy home when he was just four weeks old that this cat was meant to provide comfort.

“He was just so mellow and had the sweetest demeanor. Even after losing his eyes, he loved getting out of the house, meeting new people and greeting our house guests at the front door. As soon he heard his leash come out, he was ready to go out and make someone happy. I knew he would make a wonderful therapy cat,” Tommy’s owner said.

Today, Tommy is eight years old and has been registered as a therapy pet for just over a year. He visits senior care facilities, schools, workplaces, community events and hospitals to teach others about “the importance of acceptance and kindness.”

RELATED VIDEO: Therapy Pigs Bring Cheer to Tampa General Hospital

Stuart and Calvin the Guinea Pigs

This adorable duo visits adult psychiatric facilities and does stress relief events at many of Boston’s colleges and universities, including Harvard. Niki Vettel, the caretaker of the twosome, is a mental health clinician who facilitates animal-assisted therapy groups to “help patients discuss issues of trust, responsibility, and unconditional acceptance.”

“In the course of these visits and work, patients and participants have truly fallen in love with Stuart and Calvin. We enjoy a good laugh from the usual comment ‘Wow, they’re so BIG for hamsters!’, which opens the opportunity to share the history, biology, habits, and personalities of guinea pigs,” she said.

Oreo the Rabbit

Oreo is happy to hop into the hearts of everyone he meets. The bunny often visits nursing homes and also stops by schools to sit in the laps of kids and encourage them to read.

‘His first visit was to an elderly man in a nursing home, who needed a friend. I gently laid a white towel over the man’s chest as he laid in bed. The gentleman’s eye sparkled as he grinned at Oreo; the bunny’s wiggly nose inches from his own,” his handler, Dr. Elizabeth Lynch, recounts. “They talked and snuggled while I stood at the bedside. It was time to leave all too soon, but I sent a poster the next day of the picture I took of the two of them together in conversation with the positive affirmation “Some Bunny Loves You” written across the top. He had the nurse tape it to his wall opposite his bed, so it’s the first thing he sees when he wakes up in the morning.”

RELATED: Dog’s Eye View: See What It’s Like to Be a Therapy Dog at a Children’s Hospital

Vincent the Rat

Abby Chesnut brings her therapy rat to schools and libraries to help encourage children to read.

“We sit with a child who reads to him and Vincent relaxes and listens to the story,” Chesnut says. “We also visit college campuses during finals week and help ease students’ stress. The students really enjoy the uniqueness of having a therapy rat on campus.”

Not everyone is a fan of rats when they first meet Vincent, but Chesnut says the therapy pet quickly wins over the doubtful.

Buddy the Macaw

This 26-year-old bird also helps children learn to read and has been visiting reading therapy programs since 2013.

“It turned out that Buddy loves books being read to by the kids and is quite an active listener. His favorite book is probably Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, although he’ll sit patiently on a child’s lap for just about any book, hanging on every word and studying every illustration,” his owner, Dan Lee, says.

Buddy also works with a group specializing in therapy for kids with Autism spectrum disorder and takes part in a monthly birthday party for some incredible foster children and their loving foster families.

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Measles In The US Are At A Record High Because Of Anti-Vaxxers

2 months, 18 days ago

measels-fbRecord breaking number of measles reported in USDave Heygarth/Flickr/US Air Force

Many anti-vaxxers believe injections could cause their children harm; but as a result of their actions, measles are at an all-time high in the US. 

Although there is a severe lack of evidence to suggest vaccinations could cause autism or other issues, compared with a whole host of evidence proving that not being vaccinated can result in getting measles, anti-vaxxers are still standing their ground.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that 695 cases of measles have been reported in 22 states since 2019 began – that’s more cases than in any year since the disease was considered eradicated in 2000.

man having an injectionPexels

Previously, the highest number of reported cases since elimination was 667, in 2014. Just four months in to the year, the record has already been broken.

The CDC’s press release explains the high number of cases is primarily down to a few large outbreaks; one in Washington State and two large outbreaks in New York, which started towards the end of last year.

The outbreaks in New York are reportedly among the largest and longest lasting since 2000, and the longer the outbreaks go on for, the greater chance there is that measles will get a real foothold in the US.

According to Buzzfeed News, local officials in New York have said most of the cases are young children who have not been vaccinated.

Two recent cases in the state are pregnant women, who are now at risk of miscarriage.

The CDC believes a significant factor contributing to the outbreaks in New York is the delivery of incorrect information regarding the safety of the vaccine. They are encouraging parents to speak to their healthcare provider about the importance of the vaccine, and pushing local leaders to provide accurate, scientific-based information.


Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that there has been a 300 per cent increase in the number of measles cases reported worldwide, compared with the first three months of 2018.

The WHO explains that spikes in case numbers have occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, such as the US, as the disease spreads quickly among clusters of unvaccinated people.

According to CNN, the US Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, released a statement in response to the record-breaking numbers recorded on Wednesday.

He reportedly acknowledged the significance of the number of cases, adding:

The United States is seeing a resurgence of measles, a disease that had once been effectively eliminated from our country.

The staggering amount of people suffering with measles should be enough to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.

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Why are Republicans across the country pushing back against vaccine bills?

2 months, 25 days ago

In response to Washington state’s worst measles outbreak in more than two decades — 74 people have been infected so far — the state legislature moved to pass legislation to make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids. The bill ultimately passed on Wednesday. But every Republican in the state Senate voted against it.

Amid a nationwide measles outbreak, Republicans in Washington and other states across the country are opposing efforts to do something about the public health crisis, citing civil liberties and espousing anti-vaccine views.

This year, 555 people have come down with measles, the second-highest number of reported cases in 25 years. This outbreak is largely viewed as a policy failure, as it’s become too easy for parents to not vaccinate their kids.

In order to protect everyone from measles, including infants and people who just can’t take the measles vaccine for medical reasons, a large percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated — a threshold known as “herd immunity.” A 5% vaccination opt-out rate could threaten herd immunity.

Washington is among 17 states where parents can opt out of vaccinating their children for personal or philosophical reasons, in addition to existing religious and medical exemptions. Republicans in some of these states — like Colorado, Arizona, Maine, and Oregon — have been pushing back against Democrats’ attempts to make it harder for parents to avoid vaccinating their children.

Republicans in Iowa, New Jersey, and New York are similarly fighting Democratic bills to close religious exemptions. In Mississippi and West Virginia, Republicans are pushing to expand exemptions.

Non-medical state exemptions from school immunization requirements (PHOTO CREDIT: National Conference of State Legislatures)

In Washington, about 4.7% of parents or guardians for kindergartners statewide claimed an exemption to at least one vaccine in the last two years, according to The Washington Post. Nearly 9 out of 10 exemptions were for personal or philosophical reasons.

While debating the bill for hours ahead of the vote, many GOP lawmakers downplayed the seriousness of the measles outbreak in Washington.

“It’s not a health emergency, quite frankly. The spread of that illness has affected one community,” said state senator Shelly Short (R).

State Sen. Phil Fortunato (R) asked to amend the bill by permitting kids to take a single measles, mumps, or rubella vaccine, rather than being required to take the combined MMR vaccine. But a single-ingredient vaccine isn’t even available, and taking two shots of the MMR vaccine is 97% effective. Nonetheless, Fortunato and other Republicans rationalized the amendment, saying parents should be able to offer their kids a single vaccine in case of “reactions.”

“I have a personal stake in this. A person in our family had reactions to vaccinations when she was little — it’s my daughter,” said Short.

“It overwhelmed her body to have all those vaccinations at once. I’m not necessarily anti-vaccination, but I am anti taking away a parent’s right to choose what is best for their children and working with their physicians… It’s so ridiculous it has to be one way and one way only,” she added.

“What about the rights of the parents? Parents are responsible for their children. They have the right, the fundamental right, to make a determination as to the medical care of their children on a vaccination that has risks to it,” said state Sen. Mike Padden (R).

Republicans in other states are making similar arguments.

“Parents know their children a lot of times much better than the doctors,” Colorado state Rep. Marc Catlin (R) told the Denver Channel, when explaining why he’s skeptical of a bill to get rid of personal exemptions.

“The state must respect parental rights and can only step in when there’s overwhelming evidence of neglect or abuse,” said Maine state Rep. Jeff Hanley (R), of a bill to eliminate non-medical exemptions. “This truly is about freedom.”

Meanwhile, New York Democrats are trying to allow teens age 14 and over to get vaccinated without a parent or guardian’s permission.

“Young people are often more conscious about the misinformation on the internet and can in many cases disagree with parents who have bought into unfounded and dangerous anti-immunization diatribes and pseudoscience,” said the New York chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization that supports the bill. “These young people have a right to protect themselves.”

The anti-vaxxer movement has spread a lot of misinformation about the dangers of vaccines and has misled the public. Study after study has debunked the theory that there’s an association between getting the measles vaccination and developing autism.

In Congress, there’s mostly bipartisan appetite to do something about the measles outbreak. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), however, used the only Senate hearing addressing this year’s outbreak to speak out against mandatory vaccinations.

“I’m not here to say don’t vaccinate your kids… but I still don’t favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security,” said Paul, after questioning the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who was an emergency physician before entering politics, did use his time to push back against Paul, saying, “If you are such a believer in liberty that you do not wish to be vaccinated, there should be a consequence and that should be that you cannot infect other people.”

To the dismay of public health experts, President Donald Trump — who has previously linked autism to vaccines — hasn’t even mentioned the nationwide measles outbreak.

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Juice WRLD drops new album Death Race for Love: Stream

3 months, 29 days ago

Juice WLRD has released his sophomore album, Death Race for Love. Stream it in full down below via Apple Music or Spotify.

Spanning a whopping 22 songs, Death Race for Love follows debut record Goodbye & Good Riddance, which hit shelves less than a year ago in May. The new LP also comes after WRLD on Drugs, the emo rapper’s collaborative full-length with Future that dropped in October.

For an album of such length, the effort surprisingly features just two credited guests. Atlanta’s own Young Thug shows up on “On Gold”, while Goldlink collaborator Brent Faiyaz drops in on a track called “Demonz”.

Juice WLRD spoke to Billboard recently about the album’s musical versatility. Death Race for Love is “a little bit of everything,” the Chicago-born MC noted. “It’s not just rap, it’s not just rock, it’s not just jazz… it’s like a little bit of everything.” Perhaps there might even be some emo, too.

(Read: The 10 Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums of 2019)

The 20-year-old artist also mentioned how the album touches on his issues with anxiety. “That’s something that I feel like a lot of people neglect, which is completely and utterly wrong,” Juice WRLD remarked.

“You tell your mom, or your dad, or your auntie, or whoever that you feel like you’ve got anxiety, you’ve got depression, you’ve got ADD, whatever, they’re gonna look at you like you’re crazy,” he added. “That’s not how it should be, but that’s how it is, and that needs to change, and hopefully I’m one of those people that could bring that change, or at least start a chain reaction for somebody else to come and do it after me.”

Juice WLRD is slated to perform at Coachella next month, followed by other festivals like Bonnaroo, Miami’s Rolling Loud, Longitude in Dublin, and more. Grab tickets here.

To stock up on Juice WRLD’s vinyl releases, you’ll want to head here.

Death Race for Love Artwork:

juice wrld death race for love album release new music stream

Death Race for Love Tracklist:
01. Empty
02. Maze
03. HeMotions
04. Demonz (Interlude) (feat. Brent Faiyaz)
05. Fast
06. Hear Me Calling
07. Big
08. Robbery
09. Flaws and Sins
10. Feeling
11. Syphilis
12. Who Shot Cupid?
13. Ring Ring f. Clever
14. Desire
15. Out My Way
16. The Bees Knees
17. On God (feat. Young Thug)
18. 10 Feet
19. Won’t Let Go
20. She’s The One
21. Rider
22. Make Believe

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This Dave Matthews-Backed Board Game Has Everything from Chicken to Poop (Yes, Poop!)

3 months, 29 days ago

Know what your board game is missing? Poop. Lots of poop. But don’t worry, Dave Matthews and famed guitar maker Brian Calhoun have you covered!

The Grammy award-winning musician and Rockbridge Guitars co-founder teamed up on a farm-to-table board game for various ages that features chicken-pig hybrids, appropriately called “Chickapig.” The unique, “chess-like” strategy game has gained grassroots popularity, snagging the No. 1 spot on Amazon in its debut.

“One Thanksgiving I was playing a game with some family and friends years ago and I was just a little grumpy because a lot of the games were really boring,” Calhoun, the creator, tells PEOPLE. “But one particular game was just unbearable to play. And I was complaining about it … I started going wild about how I was gonna make a board game. None of my friends believed me.”

So, Calhoun went home, cut out pieces of cardboard and arranged them on a chess board, he says. Thus, Chickapig was born. Excited, he began showing the game to all his family and friends, including his long-time pal Matthews.

“The word Chickapig is not hard to remember. It made me laugh the first time he said it. I was like, ‘What?’ It immediately made me smile. Within a week of you making a game, you showed it to me? That’s insane,” Matthews, 52, jokes to Calhoun. He recalls to PEOPLE: “We would talk about the game and I thought the game was good. At some point I became one of the voices that was saying, ‘Brian, you need to get the money to make a lot of these things!’ ”

Despite its cute creatures and manure-filled makeup, the game is one of strategy, and takes wit to get your creatures to their destination safely — dodging hay bales, your opponent and a pooping cow. Initially, the custom-made game was available mostly by mail but was recently made available at Target.

“We’ve been very pleasantly surprised on how things have unfolded,” Matthews says.

The game was quickly a hit among kids, prompting Calhoun to take it into classrooms, according to NPR. He partnered with Charlottesville Area Independent Schools, in which students formed Chickapig leagues to connect children from the various schools. The Virginia Institute of Autism has even picked up the game as a learning tool, according to WVIR.

So, last year, Calhoun wrote a children’s book based on the game titled Little Joe Chickapig, a story encouraging children to follow their dreams.

“We started introducing Chickapig to more children and we got schools to adapt Chickapig into their school programs, so children and families became our overall market,” Calhoun says. Matthews chimes in: “Kids pick up Chickapig way faster than grown-ups do!”

Matthews says he enjoys playing Chickapig with his family, who often joins him on tour. He even had Calhoun make a magnetic Chickapig board for his tour bus. Matthews adds that he and Calhoun play together quite a bit, but the jury’s still out on who’s the better player.

“I see the look on his face every time I throw my last Chickapig through the goal, there’s a stunned expression on his face,” Matthews jokes. “I beat Brian almost every time we play, even though he invented the game.”

Calhoun chimes in: “I had to let all my friends beat me!”

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Duff McKagan shares first single, “Tenderness”, off upcoming solo album: Stream

4 months, 14 days ago

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan has offered up a taste of his upcoming solo album with the first single, “Tenderness”.

The track, like the rest of the album, is produced by Shooter Jennings, whose band backs up McKagan on the song. “Tenderness” has a bit of a Lou Reed vibe, with some GN’R balladry sprinkled in throughout.

Regarding the song (listen below), McKagan said, “The real point of ‘Tenderness’ is not for me to be some damn politician or some other voice to add to what is already way too much noise. This is a song of unity and peace…and I want this record to be a meditation and to bring maybe some healing, if that is not too high-handed or lofty of a goal.”

He added, “I can use what marginal voice I have as an artist, to hopefully help arrest what seems like a fall. As a father, I must say and do something now…because I love my girls and my wife, and I love my country, and I feel I must be strong and use my voice now, do it while I am able, or perhaps never get a chance ever again.”

Along with the new song, McKagan has announced a couple of concerts — one May 30th at TLA in Philadelphia and another May 31st at City Winery in Washington, D.C. As of now, no title or release date has been revealed for McKagan’s solo album, although it is expected sometime in 2019.

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Tool’s Top 5 Music Videos


Behemoth's Top 5 Songs

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Shinedown tap Badflower, Dinosaur Pile-Up, and Broken Hands for 2019 North American summer tour

4 months, 25 days ago

Shinedown have announced dates for a headlining North American summer tour that will feature a strong support lineup of Badflower, Dinosaur Pile-Up, and Broken Hands. The new run of shows add to Shinedown’s extensive itinerary in support of their 2018 album, ATTENTION ATTENTION.

The new dates will follow Shinedown’s winter trek with Papa Roach and Asking Alexandria and spring “An Evening With Shinedown” jaunt. The summer tour kicks off June 21st in Woodlands, Texas, and runs through a July 27th show in Ridgefield, Washington. Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (February 8th), with various pre-sales happening earlier. You can also get them here.

Along with the tour announcement, Shinedown have released a music video for their current single, “Get Up”, a song frontman Brent Smith wrote about bandmate Eric Bass’ battle with depression. Smith discussed that track and more in our recent interview with the singer.

Meanwhile, Badflower are set to release their full-length debut album, OK, I’M SICK, later this month. The band premiered the song “Heroin” and its accompanying video right here at Heavy Consequence back in early December.

Watch Shinedown’s new video for “Get Up” and see a full list of their tour dates below. Once on sale, tickets can be purchased here.

Shinedown 2019 Tour Dates:
02/20 — Estero, FL @ Hertz Arena +
02/23 — Knoxville, TN @ Knoxville Civic Auditorium & Coliseum +
02/24 — Huntington, WV @ Big Sandy Superstone Arena +
02/26 — Dayton, OH @ Wright State University Nutter Center +
02/28 — Baltimore, MD @ UMBC Fieldhouse +
03/01 — Hershey, PA @ Giant Center +
03/02 — Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena +
03/05 — Youngtown, OH @ Covelli Center +
03/07 — Ft. Wayne, IN @ Allen County War Memorial Coliseum +
03/08 — Milwaukee, WI @ Fiserv Forum +
03/09 — Green Bay, WI @ Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena +
03/11 — Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center +
03/12 — Fargo, ND @ FargoDome +
03/15 — Lincoln, NE @ Pinnacle Bank Center +
03/16 — Cedar Rapids, IA @ US Cellular Center +
03/17 — St. Louis, MO @ Chaifetz Arena +
03/19 — Wichita, KS @ INTRUST Bank Arena +
03/20 — Loveland, CO @ Budweiser Events Center +
03/23 – Tucson, AZ @ Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium ^
05/04 – Jacksonville, FL @ Welcome to Rockville Festival
05/06 — New Orleans, LA @ The Fillmore #
05/07 — Atlanta, GA @ Coca Cola Roxy Theatre #
05/08 — Atlanta, GA @ Coca Cola Roxy Theatre #
05/10 — Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues #
05/11 — Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues #
05/13 — Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium #
05/14 — Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium #
05/21 — Madison, WI @ The Sylvee #
05/22 — Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theatre #
05/24 — Pryor, OK @ Rocklahoma
05/26 — Dallas, TX @ BFD19 at Dos Equis Pavilion
06/21 — The Woodlands, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion *
06/23 — Simpsonville, SC @ CCMB Amphitheatre at Heritage Park Simpsonville *
06/25 — Charlotte, NC @ Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre *
06/26 — Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheater *
06/28 — Holmdel, NJ @ P.N.C. Bank Arts Center *
06/29 — Westbrook, ME @ Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row *
07/01 — Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion *
07/03 — Gilford, NH @ Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion *
07/05 — Bethel, NY @ Bethel Woods Center for the Arts *
07/06 — Syracuse, NY @ St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview *
07/09 — Toronto, ON @ RBC Echo Beach *
07/10 — Burgettstown, PA @ KeyBank Pavilion *
07/12 — Mansfield, OH @ Inkcarceration Festival
07/13 — Detroit, MI @ Riff Fest at DTE Energy Music Theatre
07/14 — Tinley Park, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre *
07/18 — West Valley City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre *
07/20 — Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre *
07/21 — Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre *
07/24 — Reno, NV @ Reno Events Center *
07/26 — Kent, WA @ accesso ShoWare Center *
07/27 — Ridgefield, WA @ Sunlight Supply Amphitheater *

+ = Papa Roach and Asking Alexandria supporting
# = An Evening With Shinedown
* = Badflower, Dinosaur Pile-Up, and Broken Hands supporting

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Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” Annotated Video


Tool’s Top 5 Music Videos


Alice in Chains' Top 5

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6 Ways to Juggle Your Work Life and Personal Life in the New Year

5 months, 4 days ago

professional and personal lives

In the current workplace environment, there seems to be great value placed on finding the perfect work-life balance. However, this idea of balancing the scales between your work life and personal life is a myth we need to blow out of the water.

As an entrepreneur, business owner and mom of three, including a son with special needs, it’s not about finding the perfect balance, but rather learning how to juggle. Think about your own life – can you imagine all of the different facets of your life ever being equal on a regular basis? Life will always be chaotic and messy, but also full of rewarding and successful moments. It’s about learning how to juggle the chaos, so that you are better able to enjoy the rewards.

Below are six ways I’m able to let go of the idea of a perfect work-life balance and become a juggler of life:

It’s okay to drop the ball

There are so many moving parts in my life – I have a husband and three kids and I run a business. When you add in the extra attention needed for my son, who is on the autism spectrum, it’s easy for me to drop the ball, which used to leave me feeling like a failure. However, I’ve come to learn that I need to let go of unrealistic expectations and not sweat the small stuff. It’s helped me so much in both my personal and professional lives to not let dropping the ball negatively impact my day, week or month. When I drop the ball, I focus on picking it back up and moving forward.

Everything is relative

In a world of social media, where all you see are the best versions of people’s lives, it’s easy to feel like a bad mom or unsuccessful in the workplace. Social media is a comparison game, one that I refuse to play. Instead, I choose to reframe how I look at everything. You never know what’s going on behind closed doors, or what people have had to sacrifice to get where they are today. I appreciate what I have and try not to compare myself to others.

Don’t make easy hard

As humans, we tend to over think and overcomplicate things. This can lead to a downward spiral of self-criticism, wasted time, procrastination and negativity, none of which is beneficial to your personal or work life. I constantly have to tell myself to stop making easy hard. If something isn’t working, I modify it. For example, as the business owner, I’m able to accommodate my employees’ different schedules by allowing them to start or end their workdays on a schedule that fits their needs. Everyone is able to still get all of their work done, with the flexibility to juggle the schedules of both their work and personal lives. This turned out to be an easy change for us to implement and it worked wonders for us all. When we stop overcomplicating things and learn how to prioritize what’s important, life becomes so much simpler.

Organization is key

There is no way I’d be able to juggle therapy sessions for my son, extracurricular activities, running a successful business and being a good wife and mother without an organized system in place. Everyone utilizes different tools to help them stay organized, but my method of choice is a crazy, colorful calendar. I’m able to see everyone’s schedules all in one place and can color code and prioritize accordingly. The only consistency in my schedule is inconsistency, along with my calendar that I’m constantly updating – it’s a lifesaver!

Find a good support system

We all need support and encouragement in our personal and work lives. It’s important to have a strong support system in place to help you through frustrating and difficult times. Besides my immediate family, I don’t have any other family nearby or locally. I’ve had to create a nontraditional support system of friends, therapists, employees, and church staff and members to help me out in a pinch. Through social media, I have connected with people who are in similar situations to my own. While we may never meet in person, we’ve created strong bonds by sharing stories and tips and sometimes by providing an outlet when we need to vent our frustrations. Make your own family that can grow and change with you as you navigate life. My support system is crucial to helping me stay on track!

Drink more wine!

I’m a firm believer in a glass of wine at the end of the day. Whatever your method of choice for destressing, take the time to treat yourself. I sometimes need time alone to just sit down with a glass of wine and unwind. If you have trouble finding mere moments to take a breather, try penciling them in. I’ve found that if you don’t make time in your schedule for personal time, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, it will never happen.

I’ve come to accept that my life is a work in progress and that there is no such thing as a perfect work-life balance. This mentality has simplified my life, allowing me to positively juggle all of its different moving parts. When you feel like your life is spinning out of control, remind yourself of these six tips to help you master juggling and continue moving forward.

This guest post was authored by Rose Morris

Rose Morris, founder and president of Abram’s Nation, is a mother who was driven by the relentless pursuit to keep her son, Abram, who is on the autism spectrum, safe at night. When she could not find a suitable solution, Rose designed and developed The Safety Sleeper™, the first and only enclosed bed system of its kind.

Recognizing many others deserved the same  freedom to sleep without fear for the safety of their loved ones, Rose began her mission to make meaningful impact on others through Abram’s Nation. She has since taken her product innovations worldwide, being named 2017 Exporter of the Year by U.S. Small Business Administration and accepting a 2018 appointment to the Western Pennsylvania District Export Council. 

The post 6 Ways to Juggle Your Work Life and Personal Life in the New Year appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

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A Service Dog in Training Went on the Most Adorable Field Trip to Disneyland

5 months, 16 days ago

The happiest place on Earth recently reached peak pureness.

Earlier in the month, Ashley Wilt visited Disneyland with a special guest. Wilt is a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) — a non-profit with six campuses across the country where people train and place service dogs free of charge to those in need.

With her fourth puppy trainee, Elijah, the Carroll College anthrozoology major decided to take a trip she had been planning to take with a service dog in training since she started puppy raising in 2015.

“He is my first service dog pup that I have taken to Disneyland,” Wilt tells PEOPLE. “It is a really, really good training opportunity because he gets to practice and focus on working around so many different distractions: kids, food and characters in costumes.”

When Wilt or any volunteer puppy raiser with CCI receives an 8-week-old puppy from the non-profit, it is their job to care for the canine and prepare them for life as a service dog for the next year-and-a-half.

This precious process starts with housebreaking the puppies and training them to sleep through the night and gradually expands to teaching the little dogs dozens of basic obedience commands and socializing them for a job that can take them anywhere.

“My main goal is to raise a confident and well-adjusted puppy that will succeed in their professional training and eventually as a service dog,” Wilt explains of the puppy-raising process. “We do a lot of age-appropriate socialization and bring them all different places. When they’re young, they don’t go everywhere, but as they get older and show they can handle it, they go everywhere.

“He goes to college classes with me, to movie theaters, restaurants, he has now been on 20 airplane flights with me,” she adds of Elijah’s training. “That’s to make sure he is confident in those situations, because as a service dog we want to make sure he fits into his client’s life perfectly.”

After 18 to 22 months with their puppy raisers, the dog trainees return to a CCI campus to undergo about six months of professional training. During this training, the dogs build upon the basic commands taught to them by their puppy raisers and learn tasks that will be important during their life as a service dog, like opening doors, turning lights on and off and pushing a wheelchair. The dogs that pass this phase of training are placed as a service dog with an owner.

“CCI places a few kind of service dogs. They do not place guide dogs for the blind, but they place dogs with people with mobility impairments, service dogs for children with autism or Down syndrome, hearing dogs and they just started a pilot program to place PTSD dogs with veterans and first responders,” Wilt says.

Elijah will move on to this professional training next month, which means his time with Wilt is drawing to a close.

After a wonderful year-and-a-half together, Wilt decided to treat the well-behaved pooch to a work field trip to Disneyland. The 20-month-old Labrador retriever, who sports a yellow puppy-in-training vest when he is out in public, was still working while he was at park, but was given plenty of breaks so he could cuddle with the characters he met.

Elijah was lucky enough to get quality time with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Ariel, Snow White, Pluto and Cinderella.

“I think he liked Cinderella the best because he just sunk into her lap,” the puppy raiser says.

The experience was so enjoyable for both Elijah and Wilt, who also used the trip to spread the word about CCI’s amazing work, that the puppy raiser plans to take all of her future canine trainees there before returning the dogs to the CCI campus in California.

“I think it will be a nice thing to do as a goodbye. Just have a day of fun,” she says. “It’s a great way to celebrate the year and a half we had together.”

Every goodbye is understandably hard for Wilt, but Elijah’s might be a little more difficult, since the canine lived in Wilt’s dorm with her for her entire freshman year.

“It was super comforting because the first year away from home at college can be a little scary,” Wilt says of her time with Elijah, adding the dog also helped her make new friends at school.

Wilt isn’t sure when she will get her next puppy from CCI, but thinks she might take a few months off from being a dog mom to focus on school. With her major in anthrozoology, Wilt hopes to graduate and become an employee at CCI.

For those who can’t work at CCI full-time, but would love to support the non-profit and their pups, Wilt said that CCI is always looking for volunteers, including puppy raisers. Even if you are not located in the same state as a CCI campus, you can still be a CCI puppy raiser. Right now, CCI has at least one puppy raiser in every state in America.

To learn more about donating to or volunteering with CCI, please visit the group’s website.

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Chris Packham: Nature therapy works for mental health

5 months, 19 days ago

Winterwatch presenter Chris Packham talks candidly about wildlife, mental health and his new royal honour…

Chris Packham: "Only by being candid and truthful can I help other people."Chris Packham: “Only by being candid and truthful can I help other people.”

Wildlife expert, naturalist, photographer, painter, campaigner and self-confessed punk rocker, Chris Packham delightfully defies categorisation. From his outspoken views on wildlife to his 2017 documentary about his experiences of autism, Chris is not afraid to make headlines. And the BBC presenter has been back in the news again recently after being awarded a CBE for services to nature conservation in the New Year honours list.

The tireless environmental activist makes a welcome return to our screens next week, as part of BBC2’s popular nature series Winterwatch, with Michaela Strachan and Gillian Burke.

As the team sets up their camp and hidden cameras in the Cairngorms National Park, we talk to Chris Packham to hear more…
Congratulations on your CBE. How should we address you now you’re a Commander of the British Empire?

Chris Packham: “I don’t want to even talk about it! I’m the same as I always was. It was a surprise. It wasn’t something I’d ever contemplated and I’m not one for prizes. However, I was pleased because it was awarded for services to conservation. I’ll do everything I can to put it to good use wherever the opportunity arises.”

What’s new about this year’s Winterwatch?

CP: “This year Winterwatch, Springwatch and Autumnwatch will all be coming from the same location, the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. I was very much one of the team campaigning to base ourselves for a whole season in one place. The opportunity to look at the Scottish Highlands through a calendar year will provide the full picture that we naturalists love – we’re not so keen on snapshots!”

Chris with Winterwatch co-hosts Michaela Strachan and Gillian Burke

Chris with Winterwatch co-hosts Michaela Strachan and Gillian Burke

What is happening in the Cairngorms right now?

CP: “They are running the largest land conservation project in the UK, called Cairngorms Connect. It’s set to run over 200 years in order to re-establish the native woodland habitat. Our systems of government, irrespective of who’s governing, are just not there for long-term projects. Longer-term conservation investments are rare and increasingly valuable. The Watches are always keen to give credit where credit is due and help broaden awareness.”

What other issues are you exploring?

CP: “I’m meeting Joe Harkness author of Bird Therapy, a really good book about why nature therapy works for mental health. He’s a great bloke, and extraordinarily candid. I know when I’m out in the woods I feel better. As a kid I went there to get away from the school bullies. I didn’t realise it is also a place where my disposition changed. I became calm, rested and relaxed. As an adult I’ve come to realise my daily dog walk is the most important piece of therapy I have.”

You’re refreshingly honest about your autism and health. Is it difficult having the personal and private made public?

CP: “No, I’m very fortunate that I’ve a small voice to affect positive change. Of course sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but only by being candid and truthful can I help other people.

“I still worry about all those kids who, like me aged 18, are sat in their bedrooms listening to The Smiths and thinking about killing themselves. These are creative, able, good people who have the capacity to grow. We have to make sure we can give them the foundation to do that.

“If I can add just something to that, even if it comes at a personal cost… Like I said, I don’t need a prize. For me winning’s not about getting a medal or cup, it’s about never giving up. You don’t pick your fights because you think you can win them. You pick them because they’re the right fights to pick. You may not win but you’ve got to keep trying.”

Winterwatch is airing on BBC2 next week.

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