Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Year's Jingle

This posting is a follow-up to last year's "Twas The Night After Christmas" (12/2/07, 12/12/07):


I know what you're saying. "It's that danged resolution time!"
You're right! But fixing thing's in your life is not a crime.

Let's take a brief look back, check out how you did.
Was '08 a good year? Did you break a bad habit?

Do you now drink or smoke less? Did you drop a pound or two?
Were you kinder to people? Does your partner more often hear ' I love you'?

Well, if so, that's great? And if not, "Oh my!"
GOOD NEWS for you,... you get another try.

This was a difficult year for us all. America was not at it's best.
The wars continue, many jobs have been lost, and the economy's a mess.

But last month we pulled together, and we voted for hope.
Let's look forward to '09 as a new opportunity to cope

With the personal issues that plague us, and those problems we have still.
Now's the time to dig deeper. Call on your stronger will.

Remember: small steps is the answer. It's most important to start
Inch by inch it's a cinch, so let's all be smart.

Love better, play more, eat smarter, relax too.
Less drama, more peace, exercise will make for a healthier you.

What you do in your head that will help as you go through the year
Is more optimism, positive thinking, more confidence, less fear.

And do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it in 2009.
Too many of us don't do that, and end up in a bind.

You deserve to be happy, so focus on that.
Visualize good things in your life, and you'll have no regrets!
I hope you've enjoyed this jingle, and I appreciate your acknowledgement.
But now's the time to STOP and THINK, "What am I going to get out of it?"
There should be something you've decided you'd try, before you reach the end.
If not your best move may be to start over. Read it again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm Sorry For Your Loss...

This is a difficult time of the year for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one or a relationship. That this is considered a time of celebration and joy, sometimes makes it more stressful for those people who are sad about not being able to share the holiday with people they've been with in the past. Theories about stages of grief can help explain the variety of feelings that one experiences in response to a loss. You may be sad, then angry, confused or lost, as you try to adjust to a world without the person you are missing. There is no specific time frame that determines how long one is to grieve. You may feel that a few months, or a few years is enough to "get over it," or maybe people close to you try to suggest that. My feeling is that you have to take as long as you need. That the "stages" don't necessarily happen in order, nor do they necessarily dictate what you "should" be feeling at any particular time. Feelings can be triggered by situations, memories, something someone says or does, or just by it being a moment of downtime for you. Planning an activity can help you survive this process without disabling pain and anguish.

Here are some of the things I typically suggest to people struggling with grief during the holidays. It does not help (long term) to try to avoid the feelings altogether. However allowing yourself to be lost in them for long periods of time can increase your suffering. It makes sense to give yourself time to engage the feelings, to allow yourself to feel the sadness, hurt, or anger. If possible allot yourself a limited amount of time to explore these feelings, and then have some other activity planned to distract you for a while. This can be daily if necessary. If you know you'll have time to attend to those feelings, they won't interrupt the rest of your life as much. It is very helpful if you have someone to talk to about your grief, as well as if you have people to spend time with and not talk about it. I think having other people around for emotional support is the best thing you can do. Also journaling helps a lot. You have the opportunity to get some of the feelings out, and not get overwhelmed by them building up inside. My goal in doing grief work is to help people move from the hurt that comes from memories of lost relationships, to enjoying pleasant memories of that person or relationship. Photos can help facilitate this process.

I know that this is a difficult process. But it is a very important one. Especially important for kids too, as they often don't know how to handle these feelings. They tend to follow your lead. Please be mindful of that. Encourage them to talk IF THEY WANT TO. Check in on them, especially if they seem preoccupied, or sad. Finally, plan to have some enjoyable time. That is important for you and your family.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Retirement, ... Ready Or Not Here It Comes!

Maybe I've been avoiding this topic. Who wants to think about getting old, right? But it will happen to all of us, whether we're ready or not. As you know, I prefer that people be as prepared as possible for what life has to offer. However, it seems that our society tends to ease our elders out to pasture. The media, for example, does not typically portray seniors as active and vibrant. We (there I said it!) are sometimes appreciated for our wisdom, and even our life experience. But American culture is mostly youth oriented, even though there are actually more of us.

So how do we prepare for our "golden years?" I do want to look forward to my retirement as my reward for years and years and years of study and hard work. I do intend for those years to be "golden." Let's deal with the tough stuff first: health and finances. Unfortunately, any familial predisposition we have for health or emotional problems (for example high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, etc.) tend to show up as we age, especially if we don't manage our stress well enough (which most of us don't). And speaking of stress, as the years go by it's effects tend to add up (see my posting of 9/28/08, "Stress, It Adds Up"). So my first suggestion is to manage your stress better. Financial problems are the other major concern that worries seniors. What can I say? Save? Pray for our leaders to deliver us from this economy? Do both.

Let's look at some other things we should do to prepare for our retirement. From my perspective, relationships are very important. Whatever obstacles you have keeping you from having them in your life as much as possible, overcome them. Love makes everything better ("All You Need Is Love," 9/22/07). Figure out how to meet that special someone. Make up with that family member that you have issues with. Loneliness makes things worse. Secondly, develop some new interests. There really is no reason not to do this. Fortunately for us in Florida, older folks are catered to a little more than in other parts of this country. Thirdly, and I know you've heard this before (from me), EXERCISE. Four, go ahead and look at breaking some of those bad habits that tend to linger, or return during difficult times. And finally (but you don't have to stop here), make your happiness important to you. Be optimistic. Have a more positive view ("The Glass Is Not Empty", 3/11/08). Love yourself, and allow others to love you. Reduce the amount of drama in your life. Find more peace.

So our first priority is surviving these difficult times. A close second, is preparing for a healthy, happy retirement. It's coming!