Monthly Archives: December 2011

Between Holidays

I’ve always enjoyed the few days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Everything slows down and is quieter and more peaceful. I love the lights and decorations, but I’m always anxious to “put Christmas away”. When my environment is cleared out, so is my mind and my life.

It’s a time to reminisce about the past few days, delight in the moments that were exciting and fun – and digest those moments that were a little less so. . .

I used to beat myself up over those times when I allowed myself to get pulled into the chaos – when I reacted before I thought about the consequences of my behavior. I had one of those moments this year. I’m not proud of it, but I know it’s a learning experience that I will tuck away and use again. I was not able to use the techniques I know work to slow my life down enough so I can handle such situations the way I would prefer. (Note to self: FIND a way to do those things!)

I also use these days to renew my own energy. Even though I don’t get caught up in a lot of the holiday madness, there are still added stressors that can’t be avoided. I handled those OK. Now it’s time to rejuvenate.

Most of all, I just enjoy the peace and quiet of coming back to a routine that provides safety and order to life. It’s another exercise in living in the moment.

Morning After (Repost)

(I posted this blog a year ago right after Thanksgiving. This time of year, I think these are things we all need to remember).

Good morning. Hoping you all had a great Thanksgiving day yesterday, regardless of how you spent it. I was Mrs. Clause most of the day, since my husband was Santa at the Bass Pro Shop in Independence, MO. While it may not have been spent with family, we enjoyed seeing the joy (& sometimes fear) on the faces of the children who came to have their pictures taken with Santa & to give him their lists of wishes.

Among all the toys & video games, there are occasionally some requests that tug on your heartstrings, as well. This year a child asked for a new motor for their family car. A couple of years ago, a little boy wanted a job for his daddy.

These are reminders to all of us that, while we’re running around looking for the best deals and frantically trying to decide what we should buy for someone, there are those who would just be thrilled with the basics that we all enjoy, but take for granted.

I hope to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas alive in my heart, so I can live from a place of abundance and share it with others on a daily basis. I challenge you to do the same.


Expectations and the Holidays

Any client who has worked with me knows I talk about expectations a lot, because they affect everything in our lives – our relationships, our jobs, how we view our lives in general. . .

The holidays are no different. My office is busier this time of year than any other. For starters, the sun is less visible, causing a lower level of vitamin D and more cases of the blues, if not depression. And then we have the anticipation of celebrations that we fear will not measure up to expectations, or the letdown when they didn’t – but mostly I hear the awareness that it won’t actually come close to what it’s “supposed to be”.

In fact, there may be more expectations wrapped around holidays than any other time of year. The media throws romanticized versions at us, dictating what is “traditional”. Many people believe holidays should be spent with loving family where everyone smiles and laughs and gets along wonderfully. If it doesn’t turn out that way – or if their family doesn’t look like that, they feel upset or down that their family is so dysfunctional. And some are just depressed because they don’t have family to spend the holidays with – or can’t be with their family, and feel they have nothing to look forward to at all.

The truth is holidays were seldom, if ever the way the media portrays them for most of us. Movies, TV shows and songs are forms of art. Art is supposed to evoke emotions, so they sometimes portray things more extremely to reach that sentimental place within each of us.

My husband and I had a few years where we couldn’t connect with any family for one holiday or another. What we did was to start a new tradition. A couple of Thanksgivings were spent in a Bed & Breakfast at a tourist location where there was lots of shopping and interesting restaurants. One year, we went to a different movie each day for 3 days. The point is that we spent time doing things that we enjoy doing, but seldom have time for.

I love having my family here, as we plan for this Christmas, and it’s especially exciting because we’re seeing it through the eyes of our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, who’s trying to figure out why Papa looks like Santa – or is it the other way around? I’m hoping it will rank up there at the top of my “favorite holiday” list. But I’ve learned that the only way it can is if I go into it without expectations of how everyone should behave. I love them for who they are, not who I want them to be.

Choosing to Make Your Holidays Happy

If you find yourself getting more stressed as the season continues, here are a few things to keep in mind.

CHOOSE to stay in the present rather than dwelling on past experiences and traditions that place high expectations on you and others.

CHOOSE to keep a sense of humor about it all.

CHOOSE to take a break occasionally and do something different — like taking a walk, deep breathing, or calling a friend who will understand and not judge you.

CHOOSE to avoid major life changes during the holidays. If at all possible, this is not a good time to move, change jobs, or begin or end relationships.

CHOOSE to keep a running list of Gratitudes — helps the attitude. There is much to be said about counting your blessings rather than stewing in your sorrows.

CHOOSE to start a new tradition this year. If your family isn’t healthy for you to be around, find something else to do that you enjoy — sleep in, take a short trip, read that book you haven’t been able to find time to get to — or just spend time with someone you enjoy being around. A change of scenery can be especially helpful – fewer reminders of the negative past experiences. And if you go somewhere you’ve never been, you have to be more in the moment just to find your way around.

CHOOSE to take one day – hour – minute at a time. We can get through anything for a short period of time, easier than thinking in terms of “forever”.

CHOOSE to remember that we have choices in how we look at things – and that perspective will determine how we feel about those things.

Best Wishes for a great Holiday Season!!

(Reposted from my December 2010 Blog)

Get Outside Your Own Head

(This blog is a repeat from last December).

One of my favorite quotes: My head is like a bad neighborhood and I shouldn’t stay in there alone!

I’ve shared that with many people over the years & what it’s always meant to me is that if I try to analyze my problems myself without verbalizing them to a trusted friend or therapist – or even just writing them down – they just seem to take on more & more power over me and I get even more screwed up.

In the 12 Step Program we talk about getting outside our own heads, which I’ve taken to mean something similar – and also understood that if I carry the message on to others, then I will learn and grow more myself – and often I will at least understand better how to handle my own problems.

This past few weeks, I’ve had some real hurt in my life, and I’ve prayed & meditated to help me stay in love as I dealt with it. Then, in the past couple of days, a couple of very good friends shared some very difficult problems in their lives. I’ve “gotten outside my own head” and reached out to them. I’ve felt their pain so deeply that it almost took me over a couple of times. But, as a therapist, I’ve learned the art of being compassionate while detaching at the same time, so I can remain objective enough to be helpful. It’s much more difficult with friends and family, but I’ve been able to use that skill to be there for my friends.

During the time I was focusing on my friends and their issues, I totally forgot my own problems. And today, the issue I’ve been trying to work through just turned completely around and is working well again. I know it won’t be that way forever but I’ve learned to live in the moment with this one, and take joy in the good times when they are here without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The part that amazes me is that I just know part of the reason it turned around is because I let go of it for a time, and gave from love to someone else who needed it. I swear what you put out there comes back to you!