A resource for families in Santa Cruz County
Loneliness/Hands Connection
Are you feeling lonely? Alittle down today, depressed? Overwhelmed with too much to do? Blocked? Is your mind racing with worries, self-doubts? It happens at moments, and sometimes more pervasively, to all of us and especially to moms and dads with young children. The world is full of answers, help, support. Reach out. Find what works for you.

We bring you several ways to get out of the doldrums! Reinvigorate an old friend or try something new: certain foods, exercize, gardening, knitting, painting, walking in the woods or on beaches, talking with a close friend. Take an embroidery class at The Art Factory . Go to the Quilt Show this weekend. Move dirt in your garden. Repot a plant. Notice these activities involve connections between the mind, body, hands!

Frances Hodgson Burnett , author of The Secret Garden, knew exactly what was good for us. “Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden, I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something were pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast.

Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden—in all the places.”

Have a "handy" weekend, perhaps in the garden, Parmalee

"Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain as prozac, without the negative side effects and potential for chemical dependency and withdrawal .

It turns out getting in the garden and getting dirty is a natural antidepressant due to unique microbes in healthy organic soil. Working and playing in soil can actually make you happier and healthier.

What gardeners and farmers have talked about for millennia is now verifiable by science. Feeling like your garden or farm is your happy place is no coincidence!

The soil microbe mycobacterium vaccae has been found to mirror the effect on neurons in the brain that drugs like Prozac can provide, but without side effects.

The way it works is the “happy” microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which leads to the production of more serotonin.

This bacterium is found in healthy soil and when humans are exposed to it, the microbe stimulates serotonin production. Serotonin makes us feel relaxed and happier.

Conversely, lack of serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorders.

Some studies on cancer patients have demonstrated better quality of life and less stress when patients were given mycobacterium vaccae. Read more>>>
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The first list of antidepressant foods restructures the "standard" American diet

Michael Pollan was onto something when he added two words to conventional wisdom, writing, "You are what what you eat." The nutrients your meal consumes becomes part of you as well, whether it's a cow munching on grass or the soil your vegetables grow in. We know eating has an emotional effect, but you cannot separate emotions from psychology as they are the basis of your mental states.

We can extrapolate philosophically, but we can also look at actual studies on the nutrient profile of foods and their relationship to mental states—specifically, in this case, depressive disorders. A recent study, published in World Journal of Psychiatry, investigated 34 nutrients, extracting data as it relates to foods high in at least one of 12 antidepressant nutrients. Read more>>>>
Art takes many forms and one of the loveliest is the traditional art of embroidery. To quote Lousia May Alcott, “Good, old-fashioned ways keep hearts sweet, heads sane, hands busy."
The Art and Benefits of Hand Embroidery
 by Yvette Contois

1. At the end of its life, embroidery can be added to the compost pile (but who would toss a work of art!?) It’s truly a zero-waste, eco-friendly art form.
2. Embroidery enhances motor skills and hand-eye-coordination at any age. 
3. “This is so relaxing!” is a common phrase we hear during our embroidery classes. 
It encourages mindfulness which reduces stress and anxiety. 
4. Like other hand-crafting activities, embroidery and hand-stitching increases 
dopamine in the brain. While you are creating, you are sure to feel more positive.
5. As you embroider, you must remember specific steps. This keeps the mind active, clear and focused. 
6. It’s an all-ages activity at home, on the road and in classes with mentors. Embroidery allows for quiet family time, unplugged meditative time or thoughtful, collaborative group activities.

Yvette Contois is a local parent, artist and founder of The Art Factory. Read more about Yvette and her contributions to the community, here .
Preview Day for Parents , Kirby School Grades 6-12, 2/26, 11:15am-1:15pm, Details

Campus Tour Day, Mount Madonna School PreK-12, 2/28, 9:30-11:30am Details

Shadow Day for Students , Kirby School 6-12, Mondays, Details

"Shadow-A-Ram" for a Day, Good Shepherd Catholic, Wednesdays, Details

AFE Info Evenings , Independent Home Study School Program K-12, Branciforte Small School Campus, 3/26, 6:30-8pm, Details

School Day Tour, Gateway School, 3/3, 9-10am, Details
Family Events
Movie Night, Capitola Recreation, Capitola Community Center,2/21, 6pm, Details
Grand Opening Celebration Felton Library, Felton Library Friends, 2/22, 9:30am-5pm, Details
Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour, Rio Theatre, UCSC Recreation, Santa Cruz Thurs, 2/20-23, 7-10pm, Details
3 Keys to Weight Loss: How to Release Weight, Feel Great & Have Unstoppable Health! Scotts Valley Library, Tuesday, 2/25, 6-7pm, Details

Pruning Small Trees, Shrubs and Perennials - 2/23, 1-3PM, $5 at Quail Hollow Ranch, Details

Storytelling Night: “Trickster Tales from Around the World” Mission State Park, 2/22, 6:30-8:30pm, Details

Flower Volunteers Sought, Castro Adobe State Historic Park, 2/22, Details!

Youth Sport Equipment Exchange! 2/22, 9am sharp, Capitola Recreation, 4400 Jade St., Capitola, You must show up at 9am in order to join. Because of the event set up, late arrivals will not be able to be accommodated. Bring your gently used equipment to exchange. Details

Quilt Show! SC County Fairgrounds, Pajaro Valley Quilt Association, 2/22-23, 10am, Attractions of the show include: • Over 300 quilts and wearables on display • Fashion Show Merchant mall with 30 vendors from around the state • Large sewer’s Flea Market • Lunch and snacks will be available for purchase • Ample free parking and shuttle • Admission: $10 General / $8 Advance Details

Middle and High School Scholastic Surf Contests, Santa Cruz Surf League, Steamer Lane, 2/22-23, Details

Clam Chowder Cook-Off, Boardwalk, Saturday, 2/22 & Sunday, February 23, 10am-4pm
- Rain or Shine! Details

FREE Self Defense class for ages 5-7, Watsonville PAL, 130 Rodriguez St, Saturdays 10-10:45am, Details

Rockin' Popup with the Geology Gents, S anta Cruz Museum of Natural History, 2/22, 10am-12pm, Details

Community Art Market, Abbott Square, MAH, 2/22, 12pm - 3pm, Details

March for Housing, Neighborly Santa Cruz, 920 Pacific Ave., Downtown Santa Cruz, 2/21, 12-1pm, Details
by Joel Salatin

“Loneliness increases when we don't feel loved or connected. This is why gardening with children, or raising animals with children is so
important. We humans, made from humus, have a primal connection to soil, to plants, to animals. Amazingly, a milk cow never laughs at my ears or the wart on my nose. She couldn't care less and only responds to my care in abundance and gratitude. She puts it in the bucket.

I wonder how far a culture can become removed from life, from nature, from connection to our ecological umbilical, before it simply spirals out of control. Author Richard Louvre coined the phrase "nature deficit disorder" and pulled from countless studies to show the therapeutic effect of communing with life.”

The antidote is to touch plants, touch animals, touch soil.  The physical-mental relationship is direct and profound. My heart aches for people who never contemplate soil, who never see the response of a cared-for animal, who never interact with the magic of a sprouting seed. Such a disconnected existence inevitably facilitates negative self-worth and loneliness. Read more>>>
Website Update
Our web builders are working on revision #1. We have "tons" of data ready to upload to the Resource Directory for Parents. We've collected a year's worth of special and ongoing family-friendly events.

Keep sending us your family stories and "aha" moments for our Blog section. We love them! info @ santacruzparent.com

Thank you for your patience!