Fun Workout Opportunity and Autism Artistry

Fun Workout Opportunity and Autism Artistry

Last week I went to an incredible Jesus at the Core Retreat through Revelation Wellness and Holy Yoga. It included a wonderful blend of scripture, worship, devotions, stretches and fun filled workouts.  I went with a group of precious ladies who are involved with REFIT (several are instructors). I learned so much! I am currently attending classes on Tuesday nights at 6:30 at Eagle Creek Church in Harrisonville.  The classes are through donations and the workouts are so fun. If you are interested in joining us I am including the contact information.  My plan is to be certified as an instructor in October.  Remember, exercise is an essential part to overall wellness, so find what works best for you and keep moving!refit Retreat

Shannon McCordrefit retreat 2

Certified REFIT® Instructor

AFAA Group Fitness Certified



The main part of this post, I wanted you to hear from a dear friend of mine. Her name is Janice and she has three wonderful adult children. Kaleb is her oldest  and he is autistic.  She has been a driving force behind this website and we have been working together with nutrition and exercise for her family: especially Kaleb.   Janice is very creative and artistic.  She has totally remodeled their home (including tearing down walls and re-configuring rooms).  She is an entrepreneur at her core.  Pull all these things together and I am watching “magic” happen with Kaleb.

I wanted you to hear her story in her own words because I know she will inspire and encourage others.  As I am involved in events and around larger groups in the public, I am hearing more and more from parents with adult special needs children. I know you will be blessed by this story.


Aspiration For One Young Adult With Austim

Kaleb is 26, is pretty much non-verbal, lives in a rural area where employment opportunities are extremely limited- sheltered or otherwise. As his mom, creative, but not a professional anything except maybe dabbling in various hobbies- I’ve always looked for ways to merge what has always been my breathing space with this unrelenting autism that is holding my beloved son captive. 20160605_162725


During Kaleb’s teen years I began making birdhouses for our farm, and did a few small craft shows, always with Kaleb- he enjoyed the social aspects of going with me. With the mentality of a second grader it never occurred to me that he could do woodworking. Eventually we tried the local sheltered workshop, however- this did not last, he got fired because he wouldn’t stay in his seat, he obsessed over a kid that rejected his friendship – talk about a low point in parenting… Kaleb wants the world to like him, and is very sensitive. He picks up on my ‘annoyed’ tone every time- and I have to stop and deal with it.

One fall we went to our first ‘big’ craft show- over a hundred vendors, all handmade, re-purposed crafts… I talked to some of the vendors and the light came on. Kaleb and I can do this! So we set up my workshop to be all about Kaleb’s sheltered workshop.  We name it “Horsefeathers Farm”.  I cut the wood out, and tediously helped him glue. …sloppy and painfully slow for me. The saw was too loud, nail gun- too loud. (even with hearing protection) He could hand sand, fill holes and paint. Painting snag.. he wanted to control color… Then there was decorating and tin roofs… too hard for him.

So, we make 50 or so- takes me all summer, and they are a compromise of quality- even after I went back & redid some crooked glue-jobs. We did some small local shows. He wanted all of the cash people are handing me. We talked about percentage. Serious obsessing. Stressful. I can’t do this.

2016, New idea, I hire him as an employee. He can fill nail holes, sand and paint (my colors). This spring he earned $30 painting my deck furniture and the welcome posts. Then, one day I’m in Hobby Lobby & see these simple wooden trays for $40. I think “Kaleb could do that”. I had a small stash of lath from a friends’ remodel- so we tried one. I told him I’d cut the wood & the rest is yours. Diane (his aide) and I worked out the steps and she meticulously assisted him through learning the steps. I happily did my thing on ‘my side’ of the barn, and he took ownership of his side. He took a paintbrush and painted MS on my work table & KS on his. (Mom’ side and Kaleb’s side)stenciling with help

We had two months to complete our set up for Vintage Market Days from start to finish. I saw some of the sweetest changes through this process. He arranged and organized his work space. He listened to suggestions, allowed me to help him. I saw the pride of a young man using his own vice and drill with confidence. Complete enjoyment working together, listening to music. He showed up on his own and worked until he was at a stopping point of his choice. With 27 trays, there was a measure of ‘sticking to it’. We did the math and that big number $300 was as high as the moon to him. He priced them all, sorted colors and was excited (and validated) when his custom sacks arrived… So many small moments of joy.

When his brother wanted to buy one, Kaleb shows him the price tag. No discount. Jordan reassures him it’s fine, “It’s just business”. So when I went to buy one & asked if I got a ‘mom discount’ he uttered the words in his low, gruff voice (that is so rare & I love to hear)- “It’s just business” I’m thinking this kid is made for this.   kaleb proud of work

During set up he took over carrying the big items- the posts and fence sections… (no argument here) I’m seeing him take initiative to be the strong man & love it!

vmd set up 3

I anticipated there would be some mixed purchases- (his items and mine), and credit cards, so I told him I’d divvy up the pay at the end of each day… what a fun time. He sold out and made his fortune on the second day! Complete success!payday smile

Like any kid, a parent has to expose them to activities, whether they ‘take to it’ or not. It’s true, success builds success. Several people asked me if Kaleb liked ‘woodworking’… I had to say not particularly, but he has discovered the feeling of accomplishment. Of earning real money on his own. Of self-empowerment. I think in time, he will come to love woodworking. He will grow in skill. I am curious to expose him to canvas art painting. I know there is some affinity with color. That’s a whole story in itself that goes way back to early childhood. I have the canvas and paint, so we will see.

Monday we drove in town and he opened his own checking account complete with debit card. Then we drove to this re-modeler friend’s house and loaded our truck up with more lath.

new lath

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The Best Exercise

     I have to be honest and say that I have not really liked to exercise consistently. I know that it is very important and an integral part of health but there is no love relationship here. I am blessed with a higher than average metabolism and a small body frame, so weight has never really been a worry for me.  Genetic factors in other areas have always been a concern. My sister and my daughter have Crohn’s disease as well as family members with Celiac and a variety of autoimmune issues. That being said, I have always tended to focus on digestive concerns with food and nutrition at the top of the list and exercise taking a lower priority.

Don’t get me wrong, over the years I have been engaged in a variety of exercise regimens. These programs will totally date me (they were the originals on VHS) – Callenetics and the original Buns of Steel were some of my favorites. Today I enjoy T-25 DVDs. I have always loved working outside in flower beds and gardens doing all the work by hand. Digging in the dirt and tearing up weeds is a great way to take out frustrations as well as being a pretty good workout. (I have very large flower beds). I reasoned that all this physical labor allowed me to stay in pretty good shape for a grandma (nine grandchildren so far) and I am able to complete some of the crazy obstacles we have built around the farm. However, reality always has a way of haunting you if you get honest with yourself.

My husband was gently, but continually challenging me to commit to daily, consistent, vigorous exercise. We recently read the book “Extreme Ownership” written by two incredible navy seals.  (This book is listed on our resources section under Food for Thought.)  I was totally busted in this area of exercise, as well as several others.

I began to evaluate myself physically and was convicted that I had many areas to work on (especially if you start to compare you own commitment to a navy seal). I knew that I really needed to tone muscles all over. I had to think through all the reasons I didn’t like working out and come up with my own plan to overcome those reasons. The phrase that I began repeating over and over to myself was “The best exercise is ANY EXERCISE YOU WILL DO”. I totally knew the muscle groups that I needed to work on. I had enough knowledge and experience to come up with my own daily routines that I would enjoy and stick with. I came up with combinations from all the years past of my favorite exercises – ones I knew I liked to do. I also knew that stretching is very important the older I get. I started slow and began working up to more reps every day. I enjoyed my own routine so much that I even found myself doing some of it before I went to bed at night. To my surprise, the lighter exercise and stretching before bed actually helped me relax and sleep better. Now I was consistently exercising and stretching twice a day.  I know every navy seal or athlete out there is totally shaking their heads and laughing at me, but I’ll take it.

If I can encourage others out there it is to remember – the best exercise is any exercise you will do – consistently committed. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader. Go Team!

Fit Bit and Faith

There is a revolution going on, and I would like to think I am part of the solution, not the problem.  Who
am I kidding?  Hi, my name is Jessica,  (Melanie’s daughter-in-law) and I am addicted to my Fitbit.  Maybe addicted is too harsh.  I just have to have it on all the time or I freak out…
About a year and a half ago, I started making some serious changes in my life.  I was unhappy,
unhealthy, and just didn’t really like myself.  After some serious reflection, I decided to take a step (pun
intended).  I have shared before, that one of the first steps I took was changing my diet and adopting a
Paleo lifestyle.  The second thing I did, was start drinking the Fitbit Kool-Aid.  To be honest, I wanted to
get in shape, all my friends were jumping on the bandwagon, but when I looked at the price tag of some
of these bracelets, I saw past failures in fitness with the only outcome being less money in my purse.
Peer pressure will get ya every time though, so I ended up buying my first Fitbit from a friend who was
upgrading to the next best model.  So, let me reiterate, at this point, I had given up carbs, sugar, and
dairy (yep, no cheese), and had this fancy new accessory that reminded me how much I didn’t move
throughout the day.  I might have been a little cranky.
There is this entire culture of people and their fitness trackers which includes a great social aspect to
fitness.  I am a competitive person, so this was great.  I joined challenges, and would push myself to do
better each week winning a few and usually talking a little friendly smack.  I would park further away
from the door, take the stairs, or sneak in a morning walk before work.  The better I ate, the better I felt.
The better I felt, the more exercise I would sneak in until it was part of my life.  You could hear my
friends and I frequently say, “Ya, we can walk, I need the steps!”  What I love about all this, is that it is so
simple.  It is a stylish pedometer that keeps me accountable to myself and others.
I had the funniest conversation the other day with a girlfriend about our Fitbits.  I laughed and said that
now the only time I took mine off was to take a shower and when I got out, it was the first thing I put
back on.
I’m about to make a crazy jump here, so follow me on this.  I recently poured over scripture that
reinforced that God meets you right where you are in your mess.  He doesn’t wait for you to have it all
figured out, or be “clean” enough to seek him.  All it takes is a choice.  A choice to turn to him and not
look back.  A choice to make changes in your life, regardless of how difficult they may seem in the
beginning.  Through the transformation that follows, Christ guides our path to feats we would have
previously never been able to fathom.  Take Rahab the prostitute for example.  Just as her name eludes,
she had a less than desirable profession in Jericho.  She enters God’s word just as the Jewish people
were about to overtake Jericho in pursuit of the Promised Land.  Regardless of who she was, what she
did, or the mess her life may have been, when presented with a choice to further the mission of God,
she chose wisely.  God took this display of faith, the choice of Rahab to turn to God, and used it to
further His kingdom.  Later in scripture, we find her in the genealogy of Christ.  Quite a transformation
to go from a prostitute in a condemned city to a mother in the line of David.  Wow!  What a God we
serve!!  (Joshua 2)
So, although I have never been a prostitute, I have just as many sins.  I have so many transgressions in
my past and present (more to come on that), that I am so far from perfect it isn’t even funny.  I have
fought horrible bouts of depression, self-doubt and some pretty rough outlooks on myself.  When I
found nowhere else to turn, I turned to God.  I didn’t wait to be faithful until I was good enough, I
turned it all over to God when I was still unhealthy, unhappy, and I feared, unfix-able.  But just like
making that choice in my pursuit of health to put that Fitbit on for the first time and never take steps without it, so is the choice now to never take a step without my faith.  The more choices I took in pursuit
of my faith the easier it became, until it is as much a part of my life as breathing.   My faith is the true
first thing I put on in the morning, and it never comes off during the day.  My faith is social, and doesn’t
need an app to accomplish that, I talk about it frequently.  My faith never needs to be charged, but I
recharge it every Sunday and all throughout the week.  It never needs to sync or needs tech support, but
I continually drop to my knees for support.  It isn’t a black band on my wrist, but something you can
absolutely see me wear daily.
I am still a mess, but God meets me in that muck every day.  I’m finding that physical health and spiritual
health go hand in hand.  So each morning, I get up, say good morning to God, take that shower, and
strap on my Fitbit.  I get my steps, and God is right there with me.  So here is the most meaningful
challenge request, I challenge you to turn it all over to God.  All the mess, doubts, worries.  His plan for
us will be far greater than we can imagine for ourselves.  His perfect ways of transforming your
imperfections will take you much further than you could ever imagine.  Christ took my 300 pound self
and asked me to go for a walk.   Although in my health, I have lost over 70 pounds, in my spiritual health,
I have gained a kingdom.  I can tell you without a doubt what I hold more dear.  Wear your faith proud
and don’t leave home without it.

Are Resolutions Silly?

By Jessica Schieber:

As I am working today December 30th, 2015 and I have the TV on.  Every commercial that comes on has one theme, gym memberships and weight loss programs.  It’s New Year’s Resolution time!!  I read an interesting statistic that only about 40%-60% of people make New Year’s Resolutions, and only about half or less of those keep them throughout the year.

The concept of making a New Year’s Resolution goes back nearly 4000 years to Babylon and the idea that they would reaffirm oaths to their gods each year around spring for a good harvest.  Then we see the tradition continue in Rome around 300 BC where we see it move to pledging oaths to the Roman god Janus.  Janus was the ancient Roman god depicted with two faces because he looks to the future and the past, beginnings and transitions.  Early Christians used the tradition to reflect on past mistakes and resolve to improve upon those for the year ahead, which is the widely accepted application of the tradition today.  With all that history said, if few people make them and even fewer keep them why do we do it?

I don’t know if you are like me, but every year when I set a resolution, come the middle of January when I was back to eating chocolate or watching too much TV, I spent another month of self-loathing not understanding why I couldn’t do something so simple.  Well, the short answer is, a life change is not simple!  Added to the difficulty of implementing a sometimes drastic lifestyle change, we add all sorts of pressure, by thinking about it for weeks, having a specific starting date, and then publicly plastering it all over Facebook.  So what is the solution?

Stop it!!  Stop making these big resolutions when you are setting yourself up to fail! I think about my transition to Paleo.  I knew I needed to make a life change.  I thought about it for quite a while and it still felt daunting.  My poor health and poor eating habits didn’t just happen overnight, but over 20 years of putting junk in and getting junk out.  If you know anything about a Paleo lifestyle, it is a complete change, eliminating dairy, grains, soy, beans, refined sugar, and anything super processed.  Needless to say, to someone who loved fast food and anything covered in cheese, this seemed like a pretty big mountain to climb.  So imagine for a minute, if I, who obviously had little will power and even less self-esteem over my weight and health, had waited months to start, plastered it on social media, and tried to take on all of those changes at once!  I would have accepted a quick defeat and ordered a pizza to eat away my worries.  Instead, after I thought about the big change I wanted to make, I didn’t wait until January 1st to start.  I also had a few keys to success that I think is applicable to any life change.

  1. Don’t wait!  When you are most motivated take the first steps!  If you wait, you are bound to over analyze and talk yourself out of it. What is one small thing you can do today to start your journey?  My transition to Paleo didn’t include me eliminating everything at once, but rather one thing at a time before I moved on to the next.  Start with one little thing.  Take a walk, take cookies off your shopping list.  Whatever it is, the important thing is to start when you have momentum.
  2. Be realistic in your goals.  You didn’t get into the situation overnight, or even only in a year.  I suggest setting 2 goals, short term and longer term goals.  When you reach your short term goal set another one.  The more you reach the short term goals, you will build momentum to keep going. For instance, set your first short term goal to exercise (walk, gym, whatever makes you happy) for 30 minutes a week, when that is easy, set your next to 30 minutes a day until you look forward to going to the gym.  Then maybe your long term goal is to lose that 20lbs.  The smaller achievements will keep you focused.
  3. Reward yourself when you reach milestones! Did you meet your short term goal of exercising 30 minutes a day for over a month?  Buy yourself a new workout shirt!  Hit that 10lb mark and your jeans are too big? Have a little splurge and buy a pair that make you feel great.
  4. Have a support system!  You don’t have to overshare on social media to hold yourself accountable, because most of us have hundreds of friends, and the most communication we have with them is hitting “like” on their newest cat video.  Instead, find a smaller group of like-minded people who don’t shy away from speaking the truth to you!  It also helps if they know enough about how to get past your struggle to give you good alternatives.  A couple work friends and I would get together for a quick walk over lunch every day.  They kept me accountable to getting active.  My mother in law teaches Paleo classes, she challenged me to stay the course!
  5. Finally, recognize and appreciate not only your achievements, but your journey.  It sounds fluffy I know, but a good friend would tell me constantly how good I was looking as I started to not only feel better, but lose weight.  My response was always, “no I don’t” or “I still have so much to lose”.  Her so simple, but thoughtful response was, “STOP IT. Just say thank you.” I thought and thought about that.  We are much harder on ourselves than we are on others.  Treat New Year’s Day like the early Christians did, and reflect back on your journey the previous year.  What was important to you? What did you achieve, and how did you feel about it all? If you had a misstep, did you just keep going?  When people praise you, say thank you, and stop there.  Never forget to praise yourself.

Don’t go resolution crazy or you will make yourself nuts.  Start small, and start now.  You got this!!



A Little Spring Time Exercise

I know it has been a long while since writing something about exercise.  This will start short and sweet.

When dealing with my own health, my husband has always encouraged me to start with the two basics of diet and exercise.  Of all four areas we focus on here at WellStone Gardens, consistent exercise is my most challenging.

The older I get, the harder it becomes just to stay toned up.  I have found for me, it is easier to work out at home.  The time it would take me to drive into town and back was a good excuse I would use not to work out.  I use several video’s that I enjoy that I wanted to pass along.

The two video’s that I use most often are T-25 and 10 Minute Trainer.  I started with T-25 and I love it, but I found there were days when I didn’t think I had even 25 minutes to exercise.  The beauty of 10 Minute Trainer was that it took all excuses away.  I started to compare just how quickly 10 minutes of doing anything would go by. In the time it would take to empty the dishwasher or rotate and fold a load of laundry, I could have my exercise for the day accomplished.  10 moves at one minute each – really?? I could not come up with any more excuses.

I have found with exercise (just like healthy eating), small steps done consistently reap more results than larger steps done 3 days a week.  A great book I have read that backs up this concept is “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olsen.  This approach is so very true in all areas of life.  Start small, be consistent, be encouraged!

Fitness Five Percenter

I’m sure if I took a poll of how many of us have resolved to get in shape and never started, or started and quit, I’ll bet the number would be high; at least 95%. That would leave 5% who are strong and fit their whole lives. If you could just make a wish, which group would you like to join?

Obviously, 100% of us would want to live strong and fit. We all know the benefits. We would experience less sickness and disease, we’d sleep better, be less uptight, and laugh more with a greater sense of overall well-being. Why the are there so many of us non-starters and quitters? What does it take to become a 5 percenter? It’s going to take a different approach. Before we ever start another exercise program, there is a foundational understanding of what makes us tick that we need to establish. We must realize that all human decisions, even our subconscious ones, are motivated and fueled by two active and ever present forces; Pain and Pleasure.

Even as you were knit in your mother’s womb, so was your capacity to feel physical and emotional pain or pleasure. Your first encounter with this reality was the day you entered a strange new world filled with pain and you let mom, dad and the doctor know about it. In that universal, easily understood baby dialect, you let everyone know you wanted some pleasure – and you wanted it now! The only thing that has changed from that day to this, is the maturity level at which we process the inevitable pain and pleasure we experience in every area of our lives.

These two forces are so fundamentally important, that I’ll be covering them extensively in our Inspirational blog, but for now, the question is – What does all this have to do with health and fitness? Pain and pleasure have everything to do with why we desire to be strong and fit. They also have everything to do with why we succeed and why we fail. If that sounds contradictory, that’s o.k. I’m going to work through this in my next three posts.

Today was part 1 – Intro. To Fitness. Next, part 2 will be – Pleasure; part 3 – Pain. Last, part 4 – Breaking Free to Get Started. I hope you’re interested enough to follow along, because there’s a huge benefit. This powerful duo of pain and pleasure is rooted deeply in our hearts and affects success and failure in every area of our lives. I’ve failed at a lot of things, and succeeded at others. I’m just a 56 year old, ordinary guy, who’s learned some extraordinary truths along the way and I’m excited to share them with you.