No need to take unnecessary baggage with you into the New Year!

Forgiveness is not about condoning a behavior, but rather letting go of the hurt or anger we are feeling about it.

2013 is right around the corner and as with any New Year, there will be  things ahead we can’t control, but forgiveness is not one of them. We are in complete control of who we forgive and when. Why not spend the next few days, exploring your feelings and options, so you enter the New Year with a fuller heart and a lighter load?

It’s not easy to forgive, but study after study shows the benefits to our physical and emotional well-being are more than worth the effort.  Forgiving reduces stress and enhances our health and our happiness and fulfillment levels.

Here are some steps to get you started.

  1. IDENTIFY – Start by admitting – to yourself, not others – that you are upset, frustrated, angry or hurt. Identify your emotions.
  2. EXPLORE – Figure out why. This step isn’t about what they did or said; it’s about why it is upsetting to you. (And, remember sometimes the first person we need to forgive is ourselves.)
    • Why does it hurt? How does it hurt?
    • What do you think it means? Is there a connection between what the person did or said, and a belief you have about yourself? (Sometimes the actions of others can trigger a fear – real or imagined that we have.)
    • Write, draw or mind-map your way through this step. Jot down your thoughts or journal; draw pictures or symbols; or brainstorm your way to clarity. Try them all, and then do what works for you.
    • Don’t feel you have to get to the bottom of your emotions in one sitting, be willing to come back to your notes or drawings, again and again. It can take days, weeks or months, don’t rush it. And, you may end-up having to forgive more than one person.
    • Promise yourself not to think or worry about these feelings, unless you are seated and actively writing or drawing them out. This will cut-down on your stress and keep you focused on honestly exploring your feelings.
  3. WRITE A LETTER – Once, you have a better understanding of what you are feeling; write a letter –BUT, DO NOT SEND IT – to the person you are trying to forgive, even if that person is you! You can use as many details as you like, but make sure you include the feelings associated with them, as well. Explain what they did that hurt you, why, and why you are forgiving them.
  4. VISUALIZE – Now, visualize yourself having forgiven the person. How does it feel? How does your forgiveness look? Try to imagine how you want to feel when you are with them. Picture how you will be thinking and acting around them; revisiting a memory when you liked being with them in the past can help. Or, if you have chosen not to be around them, fill your visualizations with how this will make your life better, as well.
  5. REPEAT – these steps as needed. As many times, as needed!

Forgiveness takes courage. We not only have to be brave enough to explore our innermost thoughts and feelings, we also have to trust that we can forgive and that we can deal with this situation and any others that might arise in the future. Make sure you congratulate and treat yourself to something special for being brave enough to forgive! Also feel free to tell a friend you trust that you are very proud of yourself – no details – just that you did something you weren’t sure you could do, and you are happy about it!

PS The “forgive” drawing is from helobiae, another great WordPress blog!

“If” your way through the day . . .

Red Decorations on BranchesMake today all about the choices you have  . . .

If you’re heading back to work, find at least one small task you’ve been avoiding – maybe for the entire year, and start or finish it. (Listening to your favorite tunes, Christmas or not, will add some fun to getting the job done.)

If you’re heading out the door to shop, enjoy, but get home before the excitement and thrill of the chase and your wallet wear thin.

If you’re home alone or with the kids, revel in every lazy minute of it – interspersed with mini-moments of productivity. And, remember no matter how noisy or cranky the kids get, they’re yours and a joy to have! Find low-key ways to connect with them by following their lead. Cocoa and whatever they want to do, is the way to go.

If you have leftovers, eat them, but be picky!  Select the best of what you have and savor each and every bite.

If you are going to eat a plateful of cookies, go ahead, but do it in style!  Plan to eat them, don’t let them sneak up on you, and replace the guilt with sheer enjoyment.

If you aren’t absolutely loving what you are eating, stop and find something else. Don’t settle! The key to successful holiday eating, is making sure the calorie-count and the psychic-satisfaction level match. Give the calories the attention they deserve!

Happy Birthday to “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

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Here’s an easy holiday memory to relive or a new tradition to begin . . .

When Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) wrote the poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” also known as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822, he had no plans to share the poem publicly; it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel, which then published the poem anonymously. The first publication date was December 23, 1823, and it was an immediate success. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry. 

Years ago we memorized and shared it with our boys each Christmas Eve.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.


With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!


“Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”


As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too.


And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.


He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.


His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.


The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!


He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.


He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!


He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

On the first day of Christmas . . .

The Wishful Thinking Works

The Wishful Thinking Works’ “Twelve Days of Christmas” can help you turn prickly moments in festive memories!

This post is for all those folks who are heading home or to gather with family and friends this holiday season, but might not see eye-to-eye with their loved ones about touchy topics such as: politics, religion, child-rearing, sports, the weather, lifestyles or even who sat on the cherry pie in the back seat of Dad’s car or what we named the fluffy little white dog who slipped through the fence on to the turnpike. (Okay, maybe those are just things my family disagrees on as we stroll down memory lane, but I’m sure you get the picture.)

I’m sharing the Wishful Thinking Works version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, which I wrote in 2010 after attending a presentation earlier in the year by author and life coach Marianne Ford. Marianne reminded us that being right isn’t a right and sometimes conversations and life go better when, instead of sharing our wisdom, opinions, advice, or rebuttals – we simply listen and respond with a friendly, “I hear you.”, or a non-committal, but respectful “Ah- huh.”, “ Wow!”, “Okay.”, or “Really?”

In other words, when respect is present, agreement is not a necessity. And, we can change our experience and the conversation by using Marianne’s tips to transform potential debates into discussions and boring exchanges into interesting encounters. I can always use help in this area, so I wove Marianne’s words of wisdom and some of my tips into . . .

“Wishful Thinking Works’ Twelve Days of Christmas” or “Twelve Ways to Survive Holiday Happenings”

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Patience for the party.

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Two sacks of courage . . .

On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Three “Ah-huh’s” . . .

On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Four smiling nods . . .

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Five “Oh, that’s great!” . . .

On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Six “Tell me more’s”’  . . .

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Seven “That sounds fun.” . . .

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Eight “I-can-do-this!” . . .

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Nine “Okay.”-“Wow!”-“Really’s” . . .

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Ten “That sounds hard.” . . .

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Eleven “Oh my goshes.” . . .

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me TwelveI got through it’s!” . . .

Patrice Koerper Robson, 2010

And, just in case you are wondering, the twelve days of Christmas are the evening of December 24/January 6  or December 25/January 7 – depending on the calendar, Julian/Gregorian, you are following.

Feel free to share this new helpful, holiday classic with your friends and family, not that I’m shamelessly suggesting you email it to everyone you know, or share this post on Facebook or anything, but if you want to . . .

And, for those of you, who are now trying to remember the original lyrics to the “The Twelve Days of Christmas”,  they are:

Twelve drummers, drumming,

Eleven pipers piping,

Ten lords a-leaping,

Nine ladies dancing,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four calling birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Happy Holidays!

Use your happy holiday memories to create happier moments now

 

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Research reveals that happy memories are a sure-fire way to boost our current happiness levels.  A friend’s recent post on Facebook brought back a flood of positive memories and feelings for me, and reminded me about the research on the positive connection between the past and the present and our happiness. Reliving positive memories definitely increases our current happiness levels, so why not spend some time this weekend remembering “the good times”?

Find a way to relax and sip a cup of tea, hot chocolate, or a glass of wine, and then simply remember the good times – even if the good times were just last week. Add some background music, photos, books etc., anything that will help you recall all those sweet holiday moments that are hiding beneath the tension and stress of this year’s holiday season.

If you are lucky, lots of moments have already come rushing back, savor and enjoy them!

If you are saying to yourself, “What happy holidays moments?”, don’t worry. Simply close your eyes and imagine a positive holiday scene from a movie or book. Sounds silly, but it works!

Then, if you like, you can extend your journey down-positive-memory lane, by finding a way to work your memories, real or imagined, into this year’s holiday season. If the smell of cookies baking holds sweet memories for you, bake some, even if you just buy and bake a ready-to-go roll from the store. Or visit a bakery and soak in the scents. If decorations are part of your holiday memories, try to find a mini-version of something you remember and love – a pine-scented branch can bring you as much pleasure as a 10 ft Christmas tree and one special ornament can be the perfect substitute for a houseful of decorations, as long as you choose it with intent and care. If ice-skating or tobogganing illicit invigorating memories, but time or resources are short, a walk in the woods or park can bring back all those positive outdoor vibes.

And, if your reservoir of holiday memories is not brimming with blissful moments take a minute or two to create some. Staring up at a starlit sky on a clear winter’s night can work wonders for your mood, and may help you create new memories. Even squinting at Christmas lights can release a flood of positive emotions.  Learn to take advantage of each and every moment in the days ahead.

Happy memories and moments are yours for the making.

Happy Holidays!

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Don’t be afraid to feel this holiday season, and then breathe! This post is from the talented helobiae’s Word Press blog, click here for one of my posts to help you walk thru your feelings.

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That morning, after breakfast, Julia opened the box of magical words and took a card out. The card read:

feel

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5 P’s for perfect holiday parties

Young Woman Holding Christmas Gifts

“Tis the season when holiday parties dot or engulf our calendars. While many are fun and festive, thinking about attending others may be adding to our holiday stress. 

Have you ever dreaded going to a family, office, or neighborhood holiday gathering?

Or, maybe you’ve worried that your own event might not turn out “right.”

You are not alone. Attending and hosting holiday gatherings is a big contributor to holiday stress; accepting and sending invitations can make us feel like jumping for joy or running to hide!  

Not to worry, my “5 P’s for Perfect Parties” can help you deal with any holiday happening woes.

“5 P’s for Perfect Parties”

1. PRIORITIZE

If you are dreading attending an event, not going may be a perfectly valid option. If your schedule is too full, and you need to prioritize time with family or you’re just not up to it, let the host or hostess know as far in advance as possible. Last minute cancellations, except for true emergencies, are a no-no and just add to everyone’s holiday stress.  If you can’t make it, after sending or calling with your regrets, send a short, but sweet email, FB message, note, or card as a follow-up, and then try to arrange to share time together after the holiday rush. The goal is to let them know you care, even though you can’t be there.

2. PREDICT BETTER

Thinking about a positive outcome – even for a few minutes, will make you happier than worrying about a negative outcome for weeks, days or hours in advance – predict success! Parties and life get better when we predict better. Take a minute or two and picture the party working out great. Picture yourself leaving the soiree thinking, “Wow, that wasn’t so bad. In fact, I had a great time.” or “OMG, that was wonderful.” Envision whatever works best for you; the more details you create, the better. If you’re hosting an event, and are nervous about how it will go, picture everyone complimenting your food, decorations, (or whatever you really want them to compliment) and telling you what a great time they are having.

3. PREPARE – CREATE PLAN B, C, D

If you fear the folks or the situation, giving yourself options in advance, will help you relax, and if you are creative with your “blanks”, may provide you with a few well-needed laughs. Come-up with what you will do if you do find yourself getting frustrated or bored. “When I start feeling ___________ (frustrated, angry, annoyed, impatient, bored, out-of-place, etc.) I will ___________ . Fill-in the blank with a series of workable options . . . Check on the kids; compliment someone; help with the food or dishes; play with the kids; walk the dog; ask about vacations or recipes; sneak a peek at presents; dance; sing; play the piano, or move to a new chair or room, making sure your exit is not too dramatic! Be sure to include some fun options that you would never or can’t do, but make you smile – standing on your head, releasing a protective shield, spinning like a top, floating above the guests –  get creative, have fun with it!

4. PAY ATTENTION

Shifting your attention from your worries to the eyes of others is a great way to focus on what really matters. When people are talking to you don’t worry about what you are going to say in response or look above their heads or around the room, simply notice their eyes. Take a second to really look into their eyes. This small, but meaningful gesture, will let them know you are really listening and will bring you fully into the moment, which can lift your mood and theirs. You’ll be amazed how relaxing and rewarding it will be. (Most of us think we are already doing this, but more often than not, our minds and our eyes are focused on something else.)

5. PUT OTHERS IN THE LIMELIGHT

Focusing on what you can learn about others can lead to rich conversations and connections. I use this strategy almost every time I attend a party where there will be lots of folks I don’t know or don’t know well. Although I’m an extrovert, I’m a closet introvert at parties. I’ve done PR and special events for years, and I’m completely comfortable in those realms, but for some reason small talk at social gatherings is often difficult for me.

I’ve learned to take a few minutes before going to a party to think of at least three things I have enjoyed learning about folks in the past. I love finding out what people like to do in their spare time, what they enjoy about their professions, where they grew-up, or where they like to go on vacation. Another favorite topic, especially with extended family members, is to ask about their favorite Christmas or how they celebrated the holidays as children. I always learn something new and interesting. Before you head to the party, remind yourself that if you feel nervous or self-conscious, you can always ask about  ________, __________, ___________. With those thoughts in mind, it will be easier to shine the light on others and to keep it shining as you ask follow-up questions about what they’ve shared. When we put others in the limelight, we are giving them a precious gift – listening. It’s a priceless gift, something everyone wants, and we can deliver it anywhere.

Each of the “5 P’s for Perfect Parties” is cost and calorie-free, and will enhance any event. The “5 P’s” work so well, because they put the emphasis on people not the party, which is a warm and wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.

P.S. This is an updated post from 2010. Since holiday happenings, happen each year, I thought I’d make this column an annual event, as well. Do you have tips that have worked well for you? If so please share them! We’d love to hear about your best holiday party experiences. 

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