Wasn’t it just yesterday we were hunkered down, huddled and hibernating? Summer couldn’t come fast enough and then, blink, it’s almost over.
Unfortunately, we can’t stop time. But we can reframe our approach to its inevitable passage. In that spirit, we present our latest issue, not so much as a Back to School reminder but, instead, a Back to Cool primer.
There’s a growing sense of awareness that we’re becoming ever more over-extended, and that the very things that were supposed to make life easier are, instead, making it more stressful. Our smartphones were supposed to allow us more freedom, but, too often, we’re hostage to their ringtones, alerts, vibrations. We’ve gone from a largely understood and widely accepted schedule of work/play balance to an expectation of 24/7 availability. What’s more, these devices frequently separate us from each other, even when we’re actually together!
Additionally, we’re paying more attention to the long-term negative effects of pressure, and it’s affect on mental health, particularly that of our children. Where even one report is one too many, sadly, there has been a seeming onslaught of recent suicide stories focusing primarily on high school and college-aged children and young adults. While the media is varied–from newer online publications like the Huffington Post to venerable print publications like The New York Times–the message is consistent: Pressure, and in particular, performance pressure–whether social, education, sports-related and/or arts-related–is overwhelming our young people and making them vulnerable. Something needs to change.
We’re proud to have published two related articles last December, Time To Talk by Janine Crowley Haynes and When It’s Personal by Rich Klein, on this very topic; prouder still that the Mental Health Association of Westchester has chosen to honor the Inside Press and Publisher Grace Bennett with a “MHA Media Award” for consistent and in depth coverage on topics related to mental health in recent years. I know Janine and Rich’s stories resonated with our readers, and that they were further shared far and wide. Ultimately, that’s what makes us most proud; the opportunity to shed light, share information and help to bring about much needed change.
I have two college-aged children, and, while their paths have certainly had bumps along the way, I like to think they’ve both come to relatively “good places” in their lives. Still, it’s part of my Mom job description to worry. When kids are away at school, that worry becomes more abstract, but those aforementioned stories bring it up close, and make me long for my kids and for a real live hug, not a virtual xoxo.
No, virtual worlds just aren’t good enough. As an empty nester, I realize my kids’ time at home is ever more limited and I enjoy them all the more for knowing that. I felt particularly fortunate that my daughter returned home to work another summer as a day camp counselor. There’s still nothing like a casual car conversation or a shared day of shopping to truly open the lines of communication. I’ll admit that we do our fair share of small screen surfing, but, as she points out, her generation did not grow up on iPads. I read old-school, page-filled paper books to both my children every night, and “screen time” limits were really just about the TV.
It’s very interesting to hear my daughter’s perspective on the generation that’s up and coming. For example, she found it fascinating and, in her words, “a little scary”, that the campers on her bus seemed, initially, quite out of sorts without their handheld devices (per camp rules, these were not allowed). However, the brighter news is that she was able to redirect them; they played trivia games, she brought them lanyard, they listened to music, they engaged with each other. In other words, balance was achieved.
Maybe that’s what is truly best, truly special, about these two months that we so look forward to during the other ten. Balance! As we head into a new season, I wish everyone a sense of balance. Get out and take a hike; we’ve got some great suggestions in Adventures in Armonk. Let your kids and their imaginations run free in one of the many Playgrounds we’ve discovered. Join friends and make new ones at the annual Armonk Outdoor Art Show. Love present-day Armonk? Why not Celebrate the History of North Castle as well? And, when you’re ready, do take some time to get to know Dr. Donohue and the New Byram Hills PTSA; we’ve got these stories and more in the pages ahead.
P.S.: A special thank you note for the terrific work provided by college intern Sarah Jane Weill; from a first-person report of Armonk’s new First Thursday event to a story on the annual Outdoor Art Show to an essay on college advice for freshman, Sarah Jane balanced it all with talent, enthusiasm and professionalism.