When Covid-19 Hits Home aka The Twilight Zone

Well we have all heard about it and have all been affected by it in some small or large ways but this week it has hit home for us. On Saturday my daughter, who lives with me, tested positive for Covid-19. She and I both have been primarily working from home since March. Two weeks ago she returned to work in her office and less than a week later she came home sick. At first we were hoping for the best and just taking care of her while she worked from home but mostly keeping her primarily in her room.  Once she tested positive, I was tested and we began to get serious about treating her while attempting to keep me well. All friend visits have had to end, although they were limited since March already but when the “plague” hits you are isolated.

We are unable to just relax and be at home around working, there is now a special regimen. The regimen includes masks, special handling with gloves for dishes and other items. Washing sheets and towels in hot water. Airing out the house (thankfully we are having some cooler weather). Daily wiping down surfaces outside of her quarantined area (bedroom and bathroom) with, get ready for it…vodka.  Recommendation from a friend whose daughter and son in law had gone through everyone in their home being afflicted after the military base on which her husband works being hit. Their recommendation: vodka for cleaning surfaces, sanitizer and Lysol deemed less effective and vodka has no fumes like bleach.

So now I can’t see clients in person until I experience no symptoms for a week following my negative test result and she has to have two negatives in two weeks prior to her returning to work. I totally understand that we want to keep everyone safe and not risk anyone else getting it. We feel certain that someone else did not take the precautions that they should have and that is why my daughter has it and we are now dealing with all of this. South Carolina just put more strict guidelines into place for my business so once I am clear, I will have to meet clients at their cars and take their temperatures before letting them into the building for any face to face sessions. After the sessions, I have to sanitize the office between clients as I have previously been doing. Oh yes, and I failed to mention that my daughter has almost always worn a mask when taking limited trips away from home because she knew that she was at risk. I, on the other hand, only began to wear a mask since she was diagnosed. My trips were somewhat limited as well, other than being outside hiking or kayaking alone or with friends but I did not wear a mask.

So what is the answer to this insanity? Do we stay in our homes and do everything online and no longer interact with each other? Do we wear masks and constantly clean everything? Do we all take a vaccine which will likely be developed through a company owned by Bill Gates who has a bad track record so far with vaccines? At least my daughter will not have to decide on that one. I am not here with answers only questions on this one but I would like to voice what a lot of us are feeling and thinking in these times. “This feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone.”

Now some of you are not old enough to remember this interesting and ahead of it’s time science fiction television show. A lot of us watched it in black and white, religiously back in the 60’s and 70’s. You always felt pulled into the story and part of you felt like it could be true but part of you knew that it couldn’t be true because the stories were always so bizarre. Welcome to 2020, the year of the bizarre. Now I am a person of faith so I am praying that my daughter will recover quickly without any permanent damage or issues and I am believing that God will use, even this, for our good. This does not remove my propensity to feel like we are living in a a new episode of the Twilight Zone. Just waiting for Rod Sterling to say, “Not everything that meets the eye is as it appears”.

 

What Good Can Possibly Come From Quarantine?

What good can possibly come from quarantine? Before you stone me for being insensitive to the seriousness of the Covid-19 virus or the hardships that many are suffering due to this virus and the quarantine, please hear my heart on this. I am sorry for all of the people who are and have suffered as a result of this virus, due to sickness, loss of life, lose of family members and friends, lose of livelihood, depression and even suicide. These have been the horrible results of this virus and the quarantine instituted in an effort to control the spread of this virus. I am also not here to debate whether the quarantine is warranted as this stage based upon the statistics or if your particular state should be opened or continue under a “stay in place” order. There are many more knowledgeable than myself who can’t agree on this topic but I would like to help you to stretch your view of what is currently taking place during this “forced downtime” which most of us are experiencing.

Whether you are able to work from home or are temporarily unemployed, I would like to propose that this time can be a reset for you and encourage you to stop wishing to return to “normal”. First, let’s look at what we had begun to believe and accept as “normal”. Most of us were overstressed, not getting proper exercise nor nutrition, spending too much time sitting in traffic, overworked, not spending enough time with our families, not giving enough time to our friendships, etc. I could go on but I think that some of you are beginning to acknowledge this and are somewhat enjoying the return to a simpler life. I would like to encourage you to look deeper than that to the place of questioning just how you can benefit from this time as you look at your future and your new normal.

I would encourage you to look at this time as a reset button, like the reset button on your modem or other device. This button allows you to clear the clutter and often to return to factory settings. I previously co-owned a telephone company and often we would encourage our customers to turn off or unplug their telephone systems in order to reset the device. We would laugh at how often this “troubleshooting” would eliminate the customer’s problem. What if, we are being set up to push the reset button upon our lives? What if, during this downtime, we begin to examine our lives for what we need to let go of and what we want to pursue?

For those who read my blog, you have often read of my encouragement to examine your life. “An unexamined life is not worth living.” is one of my favorite quotes. I personally have spent a lot of time examining my life and have encouraged others to do the same but this is even more than that. I have spoken with my clients about how they are doing during the quarantine and most of them are working from home, some are alone due to being single, many working at home with theirs spouses and some with children as well, some not living in the same state as their families, unable to do many of the things which they enjoy such as attend church, go out for dinner, movies, sporting events, concerts, bars, bible study, shopping or whatever. I have begun to see a pattern in the responses which I am getting. Initially, there was a lot of shock and even some grief over the loss of the things which they had previously enjoyed but as the weeks have gone on I am seeing some positive feedback as to what they are gaining through this experience and I am beginning to see positives in my own life as well.

Many are noticing that they enjoy spending more time with their husbands and children, many are enjoying their homes more and are doing projects around their homes and in their yards or outdoor areas. Many are cleaning out their closets and homes to remove things that they really no longer want or need. Many are exercising more as they take numerous walks or working out during the day and are making more of an effort to get outside on the weekends. Many are looking at their time working from home and deciding that they really love working at home and are looking at how they might continue doing that. Many are realizing some of the things from their “previous life” that they want to let go of and many are realizing that there are some things that their “previous life” did not contain which they would now like to include in their “new life”.

Maybe you are saying, “Good for them but I just want things to go back to what they were.” Well, are you sure? Maybe this is a great time to assess your life and decide if it is everything that you want it to be or if there are some areas which you would like to tweak before or once things “return to normal”. Have you gotten complacent and just continued on with the same old things out of habit and because change is difficult. Maybe your life could be more, maybe you could do more of what you love and less of what goes against who you really are or what you want to be. Maybe there is something that you have always wanted to do or some business which you always wanted to start. Maybe you have always wanted to go back to school. Maybe there is a hobby or skill which you have always wanted to take up or get back to, that you may have not explored in years.

Maybe you just want your life to remain at a slower pace where you can truly enjoy life and “stop to smell the roses”. I did that the other day in the middle of the day on a walk around my neighborhood and had to laugh. I must admit that this time is stretching me because I like to work and I also like to get out to hike or kayak whenever and wherever I want. This is definitely the time of year that I like to go to the beach and hang out with friends at various places or take trips but this is forcing me to look deeper. I would like to encourage you to look deeper as well. Join me and many others by using this time as a reset button for your life. You will thank me if you do and you may regret it if you miss this opportunity.

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Covid-19: What Are You Feeling?

As a result of the Covid-19 virus we are living in unprecedented times. Many of us are experiencing our third week of either self-induced or municipality-induced quarantine. Many of us are working from home. Many of us are struggling to make ends meet due to diminished or reduced income. Many of us are having trouble locating toilet paper and cleaning and sanitizing products. Some of us are sick. Many of us are unable to visit with family and friends. Many of us are experiencing inconvenience and life limitations due to this virus.

I am doing both face to face and teletherapy in which I meet with clients through video communication software. Almost all of my clients are having some trouble as a result of this virus and many are struggling to identify just what they are feeling. We can easily point to boredom, inconvenience, frustration and concern as feelings that we are experiencing as a result of this virus but there is something more that lives behind these obvious feelings. There have been many who are much more proficient writers than myself whom have broached this but I would like to share my take on this as it may have some merit and some may find it helpful in identifying their own feelings.

My contention is that we are feeling many things but that unknown, uneasy feeling is a combination of fear, sadness and grief. We are afraid of what is coming next as each week and often each day brings some new, not so pleasant reality. Will we find the food and supplies which we need when we venture out? Will we encounter some rudeness or curtness as we experience the brunt of the fear and anxiety of another? Will we encounter some new “rule or restriction” which will limit those already limited activities in which we can engage? Will the money last? Will the clients/customers stay or come back? Will we or our loved ones get sick, or worse? Will we lose our jobs or our businesses? Will we lose our minds or just lose it on our loved ones?

It makes us sad to not be able to continue life as normal. We are creatures of habit and are most comfortable in routine, scientists call it homeostasis, meaning the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. At first we may enjoy working from home in our pjs, while being able to do some household chores, take a walk, play with our pets all while working and getting paid. After a while, however, we miss the routine of getting up, getting dressed and going to a familiar place to interact with familiar people, while temporarily leaving home and those we love only to return ready to interact with them. We love our visit to the favorite coffee bar, restaurant or hangout spot where we get that coveted drink, meal and interaction with friends. We miss going to church and to favorite activities in which we interact with our friends and others. We worry about those we love and those we know which are struggling with the result of this virus/quarantine. We miss shaking hands, hugging, holding hands and other personal touch, while not intimate it is certainly a personal need for most of us. It is also saddening to see people in fear and anxiety when we do encounter others out for a walk or for supplies.

We are grieving! We are grieving the loss of freedom, the loss of choice, the loss of interaction with other people, the loss of our normal lives. The stages of grief are very much alive throughout the community and we may find ourselves at very different stages than those of our loved ones and friends. The stages of grief are: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and acceptance. We have never experienced anything like this before and therefore we have no tools to aide us in this process. People who live alone are often experiencing huge amounts of loneliness and extroverts, who are energized by being with people, are struggling as well. My advice is to allow yourself to grieve this time. Recognize where you are in the grief process and journal or talk to someone whom you trust as to what you are feeling. Support is important. Make contact. Now I am not advising you to break the social distancing protocol but utilize the ways in which we can connect with others by telephoning, Skyping, Zooming, texting, Facebook, Instagram, saying hello to your neighbors if you walk by them or strangers at the park or store.

We are social creatures, created for fellowship with God and each other, so fear, sadness and grief are very natural during this time. We were not made for isolation and disconnection. Combat fear with faith, facts and reasoning. This will end and we will see the other side of it and hopefully learn and grow from it. Combat sadness with fun activities, funny shows or movies, music, dancing, interaction with pets or pet videos, getting outside in the sun and take a walk if possible, also exercise, rest and eat well. Combat boredom by taking on some of those tasks which you have been wanting to do when you have some time; now you do. This too will pass but in the meantime, let yourself grieve and work at overcoming fear and sadness. We are all in this together.

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Over 50 and Feminist

What does it mean to be a feminist to the over 50 woman? I grew up in a very misogynistic world where men ruled and women were submissive. We were submissive when men abused us. We were submissive when told education is wasted on women. We were submissive when our husbands ran around with other women. We were submissive when our bosses asked us to sit in their laps and take notes. We were submissive when our husbands hung out in bars rather than being at home with their families.

We were submissive when male coworkers flirted and leered at us. We were submissive when men took home more pay for the same jobs than we did. We were submissive when men yelled at us from construction sites and passing cars. We were submissive when our husbands viewed porn.

We were submissive when our husbands talked to us in embarrassing and degrading ways and even frightened us. We were submissive when we were expected to work all week and cook and clean in our “free” time. We were submissive when we were expected to look sexy and professional at the same time.

We were submissive when professors flirted with us. We were submissive when male coworkers or fellow students brushed by us touching or commenting about our bodies. We were submissive when we were expected to raise the children with little help from our spouses. We were submissive when we were expected to give up our careers, at least temporarily.

I would like to declare, We were the first feminists but we had less power and less influence than those today. We were dealing with newly won territory as women had not long held  even the right to vote. We exerted the influence which we could and we raised our daughters with freedoms and insight which we never had.

I, for one, am tired of men of my generation speaking against feminism trying to ridicule this generation of feminists. There are areas which I believe they have gotten it wrong but I admire their courage and unity. Men are not our enemy nor are we their’s. There are good and bad people from each sex.

The point is respect and humanity. I don’t hate men but I hate sexism. It is time we respect people for who they are and their personal accomplishments. It is time for mutual respect.

I don’t want to be a man. I love being a woman and being feminine but I do not want to be treated as less than any man. I want a partner in life, not a Sugar Daddy, not another child, not a man to lord over me. I don’t need a man but I do want one to come along side with me in this adventure of life. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a friend. I am educated. I am an intellectual. I am tender. I am strong. I am Christian and I am a feminist.

Identity

Identity

There are a lot of problems in our world today and there are a lot of people struggling in this life. I would like to offer an opinion concerning the genesis and the source of a lot of the problems with which people struggle today. I would like to propose that a lot of what is behind the mental and emotional struggles with which people struggle is identity. I could not even begin to sufficiently address this in this post but I would like to provide food for thought and a challenge to you if you believe lies about yourself.

From the beginning of time people have struggled with identity. “Who am I”, is the ultimate question with which we all struggle as we are coming into adulthood and many continue to struggle with throughout life. There are so many things coming against us and leading us to question who we are. It definitely begins in childhood, when we are looking to our parents to affirm who we are. It is the question of every boy and girl as they gaze into the eyes of each parent and silently ask the question, “Who am I?” Those early answers put us on a path for good or for harm based upon the affirmations or lack thereof which we have received. Unfortunately, many of us were given broken people to answer those questions, who, in fact, had no answers even for themselves as to who they were much less who we are.

Ideally, parents speak the language of affirmation to their children, teaching them through words and actions that they are capable, good and wonderful. What happens when this message is withheld or worse, another message is received? When we receive the message that we are broken, no good, flawed, not enough or too much, odd, limited, or fill in the blank with any negative which you heard, we internalize the message without question. Children believe that parents know more than they do and that the message that they are sending must be true. Even if they have the wherewithal to question the message, acceptance and incorporation of the message is subconsciously received.

As we progress through life, messages that speak to our identity are constantly forced upon us through those around us, the media, even the toy industry. “You are this and you must do and be this.” Why do we so easily receive these messages? I am here to say that we are programmed to receive them. Our greatest desire is to be fully known and fully loved. The lie is that if we are fully known, we will not be loved. If they knew that our bodies are not smooth and wrinkle-less, if they knew that our hair is grey, if they knew that we didn’t possess a certain ability or affinity or talent. . .  It goes on and on. So what do we do? We learn to “cover the flaws” and hide the shortcomings or even the differences.

I want to shout it to you and I want you to learn to shout it to yourself, “YOU ARE ENOUGH!” “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!” ‘YOU ARE UNIQUE!” “YOU ARE TALENTED!” “YOU ARE PERFECT FOR YOUR DESTINY!” “YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO FULFILL YOUR DESTINY!” This is my gift to you! You have no idea the power that you have to change your life. Your thoughts toward yourself and the words that you speak over yourself are more powerful than those of others. We are no longer children, nor do we have to operate in the identity which was imposed upon us in childhood. Give yourself the gift of the truth. If you don’t see this as the truth over your life, ask someone who cares about you. Ask them how they see you. Allow yourself to question your longstanding beliefs about who you are. If you don’t have a person in your life who can give you positive feedback, reach out to a counselor, life coach, or pastor. If they don’t give you the answers which align with a positive prospective, keep searching. There is someone out there that can help to point you into the direction of your true identity. If you don’t find them, reach out to me. I love helping others find who they truly are and how to get to where they want to be. May you enjoy this season and may your relish who you really are. You are a gift!

Thanksgiving

The holidays are coming and how does that make you feel? Often the holidays bring with them lots of stress and lots of opportunities for us to be less than our authentic selves. If you find yourselves feeling stress at the possibility of spending time with your family, take a hard look at the reason why this might be true. Does the prospect of spending time with your family stress you out because of who you are or because of who they are? The answer might surprise you. Often we find that our feelings line up with the idea that “Aunt Jane stresses me out.” Often we demonize the person who “makes us feel uncomfortable”, but do others have the power to “make you do or feel anything?” If so, you might be allowing others to cross your boundaries and allowing yourself to pass the responsibility of your happiness onto someone other than yourself.

“Well, you just don’t know how she is.” I have heard this and I have said this but I have found that we all have difficult people in our lives but this, in and of itself, does not allow us to shirk responsibility for our responses. Your happiness is your responsibility. Let me say that again, YOUR HAPPINESS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! I am not responsible for your happiness, nor are you for mine. I cannot control your behavior nor do I have the right to attempt to. I can only control my own behavior and my responses to your behavior. I think the holidays are a lovely time to have and practice this reminder. I do have the right to stop a person whose behavior is harmful to me by avoiding them, leaving the room or ceasing to have conversation with them. If the person is not harming us but only “making us so mad” then we have a problem and our problem is not “them”. We have a problem with ownership.

We have a choice as to whether we allow another person’s words or actions to affect us. This is one of the most important aspects of being an adult. There is an ancient word of wisdom which states, “You can’t keep a bird from landing on your head but you can keep them from building a nest.” I think this applies here in that you can’t keep others from saying and doing things which you do not like or appreciate but you can keep them from having power over your life and your personal happiness. I am not saying that this is easy. Trust me when I say it is one of the most difficult things in life but it does get easier with practice. The holidays are a great time to practice these boundaries. When your “Aunt Jane” says, “You are still not married”, you have a choice to be angry, to walk away or to just laugh it off, maybe with a witty comment. When your mother or father makes a comment about your appearance, decide if you really think that you still need to dress, wear your hair, or address other matters of appearance in accordance to the desires of your parents. If so, you may not be acting as an adult. If your sibling makes a comment about their “great job or great life”, don’t take it as a slap to you if this has not been your year. Maybe you could be happy for your sibling and know that better times are coming because you are going to make things happen in order that your life line up with what you want it to be in the coming year.

Sometimes people make comments without thought as to how they will be received. Especially when family members don’t see each other often this can happen because they don’t know what to say. So, I am encouraging you to take ownership for your happiness, consider overlooking rather than overanalyzing comments, and exercise boundaries when family members do or say hurtful things so you can enjoy your holiday. Your attitude can give you a different experience. If the experience does turn out dreadful, take time to decompress with a friend, maybe over a glass of wine or a walk or a shopping trip. Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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What to do When Anxiety Strikes

We all experience anxiety at one time or the other and we can have an impact upon how long it will last and how intense it will become. There are basically two types of anxiety: normal anxiety and chronic anxiety. Normal anxiety is what we experience when we are hoping for something or waiting for something but do not see the response coming in the way that we desire or as quickly as we hope. I can also be that we are dreading something that is coming in our lives or that we need to do and thinking about it causes us to be stressed and uncomfortable. Chronic anxiety is a state of mind in which we are always worried about something bad happening or dreading some possible negative outcome at all times. This is a constant state of “expecting the worst” or “waiting for the other shoe to drop”.

We have the power to affect both types of anxiety. Often we can completely eliminate normal anxiety by questioning our thoughts and replacing those thoughts which are unreasonable or untrue with the truth. Chronic anxiety is another matter, although we can question our thoughts even with chronic anxiety. Our thought life is very important to the state of our minds. Healthy minds will generally maintain a state of homeostasis or equilibrium, also known as calm balance and when we experience anxiety our goal is to return to homeostasis. We can do that by questioning our thought life. Analysis of our thoughts helps us to identify why we are where we are and how we got there. It can also help us to question erratic or unhealthy thoughts which have lead us there. Maybe our thinking is flawed or it stems from “voices in our head” from the past. Now I am not alluding to hearing voices, but that critic whom we all have that will often sabotage us with negative or anxious thoughts. We have the power and responsibility to ourselves to quiet them.

Chronic anxiety is less affected by questioning our thoughts because often the person with chronic anxiety recognizes that their thoughts are unreasonable and untrue but feels helpless to control them. Medication can be helpful but questioning those thoughts can often be used in conjunction with medication for the most effective treatment. Medication on its own is not as effective as medication and examining our thought lives. Those with chronic anxiety are often also dealing with the voice of a negative critic. That voice is often a parent or authority figure that was critical or disparaging. When we feel anxiety which tells us that we will fail because we are a failure or that things will never work out in our favor because we never have good things happen to us or we never have good luck.

Any time that you find yourself thinking in absolutes or “black and white thinking”, as we counselors like to call it, question the truth in that thought. No one always fails. No one is always incorrect. No one always has “bad luck”. No one always makes bad decisions. No one always comes up short of their goal. No one always gets bad news. Not all men are bad. Not all women are bad. Not all relationships end badly. Not all people are untrustworthy. Not at people are mean or angry or stupid. Life is not always unfair.

“Black and white thinking” is always a problem because it is always untrue and unreasonable. If you find yourself using it often or at all, question where that comes from. When do you remember first feeling and thinking that way? Often you can trace this thinking back to childhood. Not that we are blaming our parents but most of our conditioning began in childhood and unless we recognize the need to change it, we don’t.

Another effective tool in dealing with anxious thought is to stop the thought before you begin “spiraling” or “going down the rabbit trail”. Spiraling when used in conjunction with the thought life, is when you begin with a negative or anxious thought and your imagination is allowed to run wild and take this thought to its worst possible conclusion. I have often referred to this as “going down the rabbit trail” as it is similar to proceeding in a direction without conscience thought as to the path that you are on. When one negative thought leads to another and so on and so on . . . you can find yourself sinking in anxiety over conclusions that will never take place in reality.

We do have the ability and the responsibility to steward our thoughts. We get to decide which thoughts we allow to live in our minds and take up valuable real estate there. We do not have the ability to control the thoughts that drop into our heads but we do get to decide what stays there and how we process it. Mindfulness practice is helpful in this area. Mindfulness with the thought life is just stopping to be mindful of what you are thinking and why without judgment of yourself for thinking the thought. We need to practice mindfulness often but especially if you find yourself feeling anxious.

• Stop!
• Examine the thought and where it came from.
• Decide if it is true and reasonable.
• Decide if it is something that you want to think on.
• Throw out or replace with something more positive.

Your thoughts determine your words, your words determine your actions and your actions determine your life.

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Valentine’s Day and the Single Woman

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Well, it is here again, the dreaded “holiday” where Singles feel the most rejection. If you have any rejection issues in your life, they are triggered today. The expectation and disappointment of being single at Valentine’s Day can really get to you if you don’t take control of your thoughts and put things into prospective. Just because you are single at Valentine’s Day does not mean that you are unwanted, unchosen and unloved. We do, however, sometimes need to remind ourselves of just that.
We are loved! We are loved by a Heavenly Father, loved by our children, friends and family (for the most part) and our pets (yes, even your cat loves you). Some of us struggle more with rejection and the feeling of not being loved than others but there is someone in your life who loves you. There is someone who counts on you and your presence to help them to have a better day and when they think of you, they smile. There is someone who looks forward to seeing you and knowing that you are in their lives. There is someone who misses you when they haven’t seen or spoken to you in a while. There is someone who would love to hear from you today.
We may be single on Valentines by choice. Maybe your being single is by choice because you have chosen to free yourself from a relationship which is toxic or codependent or even abusive. Maybe you have not met anyone worthy of your time and energy or just not the right fit for you and your life. Maybe you have chosen to focus on raising your children, furthering your career or finishing your degree and just do not feel that it would be fair to someone to not be available to them. Maybe you are in between relationships and have resisted the urge to just date someone to have a date a Valentine’s Day. Well for whatever reason you find yourself single on Valentine’s Day, take heart, there are many of us out here, single and yet not rejected, nor unloved, nor unlovable. Just single and sometimes 1 is a complete number. Happy Valentine’s Day!

What are you doing with your “Blank Slate”?

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“New Year, New You!” “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” It is January 2nd and they are everywhere, the kitschy phrases and weight loss ads, the marketing schemes that seem to capitalize upon the new year. It is nice to begin again, but what are you doing with your “clean slate”? Some people set goals for the new year, such as weight loss through exercise or diet, smoking cessation, returning to school or other worthy goals. Some people avoid New Year’s resolutions because they have “been there and done that” too many times.

So, what are you doing with your “clean slate”? It is a fresh and shiny new 2019, with only one day under our belts in which we have succeeded greatly or failed miserably. I do believe in setting goals and making “business plans” for our work, relationships and life, in general. “You can’t hit a target you can’t see.” (Zig Ziglar) Is this, however, too much pressure for some? I believe that it is. While goals are there to guide us and help us to have success that matter to us, resolutions being shared with all of our friends are often too much pressure.

The downside to those resolutions is when we fail and we often do, research shows that most people fail at their New Year’s resolutions and quickly. I believe that failure is a good thing but the key is to not beat ourselves up over failure. If we never try to attain those goals that are in our heads, we will surely fail and while we may not feel like a failure if we don’t try, we truly are. “You never fail until you stop trying.” (Albert Einstein) This quote is true in life. Every success is preceded by many failures. There are very few people who succeed upon their first attempt at anything that is difficult. History reveals many successful people who indeed failed many times prior to reaching their goals. Thomas Edison, for one, failed numerous times before he succeeded at inventing the light bulb, as did Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Charlie Chaplin, and J. K. Rowling, just to name a few.

So, what are you doing with your “clean slate”? Not sure where to start? I say start with last year, 2018, was it a success or are there things that you still hope to accomplish? What were your goals last year or were you just surviving? Are there things that you wish you had done but just didn’t get around to them? Are there things that you tried to achieve but didn’t quite succeed? Maybe it is time for a second chance or a third or fourth try. Things that are worth accomplishing are worth failing at and getting back up and trying them again. “Nothing worth doing comes easy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) I say, be thankful for the failure and what you learned as a result of it. Brush yourself off, look at what you did well and what worked and adjust what you did poorly and what did not work.

Maybe you have to look further back to find the things worth doing with your “clean slate”? What have you always wanted to do but felt there was not enough time, or energy, or money, or whatever kept you from accomplishing the goal? Maybe now is the time to pursue it. What did you try, fail and put away a long time ago, believing that your failed attempt made you a failure? Making a mistake, falling short or failed attempts do not make us failures. Maybe it is time to dust that idea off and go at it again.

So how do you begin? I like to have clients write their goals and keep them in a prominent place. Viewing goals and thinking about them often helps to increase success rate. Also talking about your goals with others increases your chances of success. Often wise, encouraging friends and/or family will have some insight into ways to meet your goals. After determining your goals, set out the steps that you believe will be required to attain them. Often this takes some tweaking as you go along in the process. Setting time/money/energy requirements also helps to increase the success rate of reaching your goals. Not counting the costs is often the reason that people fail to meet their goals. If you have made attempts previously, write down what you have done in the past, what has worked and what has failed. Give yourself credit for any strides that you have made toward completing your goals.

Your goals can be relative to anything. People often have fitness/nutrition goals, relationship goals, savings/debt resolution goals, academic goals and many others. There is a way to begin to fill the “clean slate” with positive and affirming goals and steps toward your success. The difference between resolutions and goals is that we don’t beat ourselves up when/if we fail to reach them. Sit down today and think about what you desire to accomplish in 2019. Take a step toward those goals. Sometimes it is as simple as buying the running shoes or the journal to begin to write them down. Good luck! May your failures eventually lead you to success!

 

A Holiday to Remember

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We are a week away from Christmas Day and everywhere you go there are a mixture of feelings among the people which you encounter, joy and stress. This time of year can be one of the most joyful times of the year, with gatherings with family, presents, decorations, more special events than one can attend and opportunities for giving and sharing of one’s resources. This time of year can also be one of the most stressful times of the years, with gatherings with family, presents, decorations, etc. . . . Well I think that you get the picture.
There are more suicides during the Christmas session than at any other time of the year. There are also more disappointments, more pressure to overspend and overcommit than at any other time. Christmas can be a really terrible time if we lose perspective or if we place too much pressure upon ourselves. There are certainly more expectations this time of year, which press the buttons of those of us who are people-pleasers and perfectionists or who have not quite developed the ability to say no and exercise good, healthy boundaries.
Please remember that there are very few people who are actually living those idyllic lives that we are seeing portrayed in the movies or in the Lexus commercials. Christmas is stressful, some of it is positive stress, such as, trying to attend all of the wonderful opportunities available this time of year or buy all of those gifts which you want to give to your friends and family. Some of the stress, however, is deadly, such as overspending and going into debt in order to buy those gifts, time with toxic family members, disappointment due to unrealistic expectations and the press to create the “perfect Christmas”.

I would like to encourage you to spend more time during the next week doing the things that you want to do with the people which you want to be with. Enjoy time with those who feed your soul doing things that you love. There are many opportunities to find ways to give back to those who are less fortunate than you. There are also simple ways to give and to show love which do not “break the bank”. I have known for quite some time that experiences are worth more than things and I try to employ this philosophy into the Christmas season. Enjoy a meal or a walk with the one you love rather than exchanging gifts. Some people, me included, would rather have a nice meal or take a walk on a sunny day with the people which I care about than to receive presents. Handmade or personal gifts are also a good way to bless someone without spending a fortune.
For those who have friends and family who spending time with causes damage to you, consider taking a break this year from them, if possible. Sometimes those visits would be better placed after the holidays when they can be less volatile. If there is no way to avoid spending time with Aunt Jinny who always makes you feel like you need a bath after your time with her due to negativity, then limit the time you spend alone with her. Intentionally steer conversation away from matters which might cause discussions to become heated or only visit with her in the presence of someone else as people tend to be nicer in the presence of others.
Don’t spend the holidays alone, unless you will enjoy the alone time more than being with others. If your family is not an option, seek out activities around other people or maybe reach out to that person whom you know might otherwise also be alone. Start a new tradition. If you always spend Christmas Eve with family but you know that doing so will be harmful to you, find a more helpful way to spend the time. Go to the mall for last minute deals or just to people-watch, or find a place that is serving the poor or homeless where you can volunteer. Check out some of the attractions which are open Christmas Eve, as they are often less crowded and more enjoyable. Maybe visit a hospital or a retirement center. You are not alone; there are many people who find time with family is the last place that they want to be.
Find the joy! It is there but sometimes you have to look for it. Find a way to give to others. Find the simple pleasures of the season. Let go of expectations. Only you can make this a holiday of peace and joy. Prioritize so that you spend time and money in the ways that are true to your values and needs. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May you find the Peace and Joy of the season!