Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey Through Grief

When I finished the very last words of the final acknowledgement, I closed the book, Leaning Into Love by Elaine Mansfield, hugged it to my chest and wept.

Elaine has written a manual for living when your spouse is dying. She has written a story so poetic and yet truth itself. 

Her writing is so honest and raw that you will cry with her, for her and for yourself and the losses you have been dealt and the resilience you have found.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

You'll Be Surprised That This Is The Gift That Doesn't Get Old, Even When We Do.

The National Mall, Washington DC
As we head into the holiday season, which customs and traditions are you most looking forward to? 

Do you repeat those you enjoyed as a child?

Have you created new ones with your family?

It's hard to tell which ones stick with us through the years and why.

Along with the many benefits of bringing loved ones together, I have discovered that these traditions, often planted in childhood, can bring great and perhaps unexpected comfort and joy as we age and our short-term memories dissolve. 

Let me tell you about Cecilia....... 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

You Are Not Alone.Finding Support When Life Gets Tough

It's been a long time since I sat in a classroom waiting for a group of children to join me. But that is where I found myself on a Wednesday lunchtime.

I was seated on one low chair of 7, around two equally low tables pushed together. A tupperware of crayons and a tissue box acted as  a center piece.

As the door opened, in ran Robert*, toothy grinned. He stopped to look around and asked me,

"Where are the others? I need to know who they've lost." 

And by this I think he meant, "Where are the other children like me?"

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Parenting: What To Do When You Realize It's YOUR Attitude That Needs To Change, Not Your Kid's!

As he leaned over the toilet bowl for the sixth time this evening, (a repeat performance of a Sunday night the week before) all I could think was, 'poor Jacob.'

His chronic illness had made a return visit….

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

3 Things YOU Need To Know About Trigeminal Neuralgia: My Husband's Story

A while back, whilst working in Oregon, my husband, in agonizing pain, took himself to the emergency room at the local hospital. 

He had just suffered a severe burn, about 5 x3 inches, on his stomach. (How that happened, is a story for another time.)

The attending doctor asked him to rate his pain. He rated it an 8/10 on the pain scale. 

She was very surprised as she said she would have  expected a 10/10 and tells male patients, that this type of second degree burn is the worst pain they will ever experience. 

She added, 

"But having seen from your medical history, that you've had trigeminal neuralgia, I now know you've experienced worse pain than any burn like this could give you." 

Her comment was shocking. Not just because she was one of the few ER doctors who has heard of trigeminal neuralgia, but also because she re iterated, what sadly, we know: there is no known pain worse than that associated with trigeminal neuralgia…... 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

If You Think You're Stuck With A Perpetual Job Description, Think Again - A Personal Journey

I have been shedding. 

Like a tree losing its leaves, a snake shaking off its skin, a caterpillar cocooned before its new life begins, I am preparing for a new phase and a Jewish new year. 

My shedding has taken place completely inside my head. 

I am not dropping leaves. You wouldn't know it from my skin and I haven't been spinning a cocoon.

There are no visible clues. 

My mind, however has been working furiously to get to this point. 

You see, I had been comfortably attached to my roles as wife of the Head of School and as serial caregiver to my husband and sons for many, many years…….

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Desperate to Help Your Friend in Crisis? First Steps To Bringing Comfort

When a friend is depressed, has a major life change or is grieving, it is very tempting to want to rescue them from their sadness, anxiety and pain.

To shake them out of it.
To make them laugh.
To make everything normal.
To help them climb out of their darkness and brush off their fears, regrets, anger and despair.

We want them to feel better and feel alive. We want them to be part of our world which is familiar, comfortable and safe to us.

We want to tell our friend it's all going to be ok.
They will get over it.
They will move on.
This pain won't feel this deep, this stabbing, this visceral forever.

And I'm sure if they could they would want to return to that normality too.

They would desperately want the difficult times to pass quickly so that they could join you in your revelry.

They don't want to feel this angst any more than you can bear to watch it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Poignant, Powerful Gift with No Power Chord: What We Can Learn About Gift Giving & Bringing Comfort From a College Bound Teen

At the risk of stereotyping: one of the great things about teenage boys, (well my teenage boys) is that as long as they have some form of technology in their hands, they do not want very much else.

Last August when it came time to kit Aron out for his college room, he didn't seem to want or need anything.

Hangers? -I can take them from my wardrobe.

New blanket? - I'll take the one from my bed.

Garbage can? -I'll take the one from my room...and so it went on.

Aron, unlike many of his (female) friends did not want to buy up the brochure display of college rooms or have everything matching. 

I, on the other hand, wanted to buy him ONE new thing for his college room or at the very least, encourage him to use some of the generous gift cards he had received as graduation gifts. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Number ONE thing You Can Do to Set Your Child Up For Success in School.

Your children are about to go back to school and (apart from secretly or not so secretly, jumping up and down with excitement), you have been rushing around gathering everything they need for a smooth start.

You have assembled their
Superhero backpacks
School supplies
School clothes or uniform
School and medical forms
Lego themed Lunch boxes and healthy school snacks
PE kit
Locker decals, fancy highlighters and Frozen themed everything
And so on….

You are trying to get your kids back into some semblance of a normal bedtime routine and making sure they've done their summer reading and completed their math packets, even if it means 8 hours of reading, every day, from now until school begins.

You have checked all these things off and now you are left perhaps with your child's angst about the new school year and probably your own.

I have sat on both sides of the teacher's desk, as a classroom teacher, special needs practioner and Principal and as a parent for 21 years!

I have partnered with parents to ensure a good outcome for their kids and been that anxious parent with a litany of worries about my own three kids.

When school begins will they be with their friends, or make new ones?
Will they be bullied?
Will they stay organized?
 Will they manage to find their way from one classroom to the next?
Will they struggle with their writing?
Will they cope with the new math program?
Will they find the homework load manageable?
Is a second or third language too much for them to learn?

 And probably most importantly of all, will they have a great teacher or teachers who can help make a difference in all these areas?

The number one thing you can do to enhance the chances of a great school year is relatively simple, costs nothing but can have the biggest impact on your child's happiness and success…...

Monday, August 11, 2014

6 Ways to Bring Light Into a Dark World

Our world is in a period of great turmoil.

Negative clouds have thrown shadows over the goodness in the world.   

 The 24/7 news is bombarding us with images of hatred, death and destruction.

In addition to a daily diet of shootings, rape and racism, the news is now replete with the horrific actions of terrorist groups: ISIS, Boko Haram and Hamas. Children have been kidnapped and murdered. Planes have disappeared or been shot down. Overt anti-semitism has returned to Europe. And Ebola has reared its ugly head. 

Facebook, twitter and emails are filled to the brim with negativity and vitriolic, hateful comments.

We are feeling angry, afraid, anxious and depressed.

We feel like helpless witnesses to a world that is out of balance.

How can we temper this darkness  so that we don't sink into an abyss?

How can we possibly make a difference?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 Blessings of a Skinned Knee, When You're 48 1/2

In    that        oh     so      slow-motion   moment     between   tripping   and      landing,     SLAP    on the flagstones,  
            I think I was…..airborne.

I don't remember it exactly.

I had an image flash by, of a woman in the distance, bringing her palms to either side of her 'o' shaped mouth. 

 I heard the crack of my iPhone screen, in my hand, as it met the sidewalk of a leafy Manhattan street.

 Landing on my hands and knees, I looked up to see a young couple peering down at me with great concern.

Friday, July 18, 2014

How Stories Help You Bring Comfort to Your Children During Scary Times.

My Dad was dying. 

I was devastated and I knew my children aged 3 and 5, would be too. 

I realized I needed to tell them what was happening and give them opportunities to ask questions. But I didn't feel I had the language  to explain to them in a way that would be meaningful, honest and age appropriate. 

As a matter of course, when my boys were small, we read together every night and this was a familiar ritual and a comforting time at the end of the day.

I love books and as a parent and educator, I know that appropriate stories are a great vehicle for introducing new ideas to children  and for calming their fears.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How to Be Mindful When Your Mind is Full: A Ridiculously Easy Step by Step Method

Have you or has someone you love, been extremely stressed in the last year?

If so, you and 50% of America, are in the same boat, according to a new survey from National Public Radio, Harvard School of Public Health and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

1 in 4 people reported stress last month and one in two were incredibly stressed over the course of the year.

Our stressors are not going away.

 Our fast paced lives and worries about problems, that are not in our control as the survey reports, are all compounding the stresses we are intimate with. Death of people we love, poor health for ourselves or loved ones, 24/7 caregiving, problems at work, financial difficulties and worries about our kids are a few examples.

You may not be able to take the causes of the stress away. 
you can take steps to manage how your mind and body responds to the stress 

Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Talk to Your Kids About Violent Death & Terrorism

The murders of three innocent teenage boys, captured at a bus stop in Israel, have brought the country to a standstill. Jewish people around the world are united in grief. 

 We are at a loss for words that this is the outcome. Many of us, together with our children, have kept vigil for 18 days, hoping and praying Eyal, Gilad and Naftali would come home alive. 

Now our fears have been realized, what do we do with all that pain, fear, anger and confusion? 

We have so many questions.

These are legitimate feelings and they need to be validated.
There are no bad or inappropriate feelings.

As we process our grief, we also need to consider our children, who are watching and learning from our responses. 

They will be listening to our conversations with other adults and learning about how we respond to bad news. 

Here are some things to remember:-

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lost For Words? 12 Suggestions For What to Say (And Not Say) to a Friend Who Is Bereaved or Dealing with a Trauma

The three of them, met up on a glistening Spring day. They picnicked under blossom-covered branches with a gaggle of families. Their children danced in and out of their vision, as they caught up on the 8 months since they'd last seen each other.

They discussed jobs and childcare, picky eaters and their children's schools.

Dafna kept an eye on her three young kids as the conversation continued. Lindsay a pediatrician and Jack an accountant, avoided the one topic that hung heavily between the three of them:- 

Dafna's husband.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On Parenting: How to Bring More Balance to Your Life and Comfort to Your Soul.

Do you remember when babies were your life?  When each day was a whirlwind of food stops and diaper changes and the need for more sleep.

What kept you going? 

What provided a counterbalance to your exhaustion and brought you joy?

Your baby's smile that crinkled her eyes when she spotted you?

 The sound of gurgling chatter from his crib? 

A blissful uninterrupted nap or shower....for you?

We all rush around depleting our emotional and physical energy reserves, responding to work deadlines, children's karate classes and our parents' failing health.

And when the opportunity comes to refuel, to take a long walk, a weekend away, a meal for two, or to join a celebration out of town, it sometimes seems easier to turn the chance down. 

We're too tired, We don't feel 100%. It will take so much planning to leave the kids for two days….and on we go. 

Sound familiar?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Remembering Debra 1964-2014

(You can listen to this post by clicking the arrow above)

A childhood friend died today, in London.

Debra had beautiful chestnut hair that always smelled FLEX-shampoo fresh, a lovely smile and a wicked sense of humor.

She had been fighting breast cancer for 18 years and she was only 49. She leaves behind, her husband and two children, her parents and sisters, their families and many, many friends.

The crowd of us who met up every weekend as teenagers, are scattered across the globe as adults. 

We may not have seen Debra recently or kept in touch, but Debra was part of the fabric of our social life then and her untimely passing, rips a hole in us now.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Warning:You May be Tripped Up by Unexpected Emotions! You're Not Alone.

(You can listen to me read this post by clicking on the arrow above)

I don't normally tell anyone when I'm going for a check-up at the doctor.  

It's almost like posting a picture of what I ate for dinner, on Facebook….. Not very interesting.

But on returning home from this particular visit, my emotions are choking me.

I feel tears welling and I'm shocked that my body is responding this way to a routine appointment.

But here's the thing…….. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

9 Simple Ways to Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Feelings

(If you prefer, you can listen to this post by clicking on the arrow on the picture above)

Meet Sisi Gamble, my new role model. 

She was featured on the Facebook page, Humans of New York, (HONY)  last month and I cannot erase her message from my mind.

Sisi explained to Brandon, the creator and photographer of HONY, 

"For the longest time, I was so focused on being deaf in my left ear, that I almost forgot my other ear was perfectly fine. "

Sisi's words were so simple and yet so profound…..

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Is Our Parenting & Teaching in Crisis? What We Can Do About Kids Failing to Be Kind.

(Click the arrow above to LISTEN to me read this post.)

Tom is adamant that he doesn't want a birthday party.

He's sure none of his classmates will want to come.

Tom is just turning 6, but he feels this very acutely.

He's tried making friends and has asked if he can join groups in the playground. The other 6 year olds say no. They're too busy to play with him!!( Where did they learn that phrase?)

Tom broke his leg a few weeks ago and now he can't run around during recess.

So he sits by himself. 

One activity  the other kids do want to do with Tom, is to play with his crutches. The teachers have told Tom he mustn't let them because it could cause an accident. Tom finds himself having to enforce this rule in the playground, further diminishing the other children's interest in him. 

Kindness is not an attribute Tom's classmates seem to connect with how they should behave with Tom.

It's devastating to Tom's mom to hear these stories when Tom comes home. He is sad and alone.

She's wondering why these children have failed to be kind……..

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ignoring the Homeless. What would you have done?

What would you have done?

(If you would prefer to listen to me reading this post, click the arrow below)

As we opened the back gate of our garden towards a wooded area behind our house, we noticed a white tarp bunched on the worn ground.  

My husband and I had been taking a little walk around the inside perimeter of our fence, checking its condition and notching up what might need repairing.  

Having spotted this discarded tarp and having just read a great psychological, detective story called In The Woods by Tana French,(See Amazon link at the side of this page)  our minds were racing. 

We speculated aloud about what could be underneath….. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

5 Ways to Entertain an Introvert at a Party: Helping Everyone Feel Comfortable at the Table.

 It was a humid Saturday in September when we were invited to the Rabbi for lunch. We had been living in the USA for just 3 weeks, and we and our three young children were still very much in culture shock. 

The Rabbi and his wife, a warm, gregarious couple, welcomed us and 6 of their friends -all pillars of the community, to their table. 

 I sat there, fearing our crawling 8 month old was going to pull something precious off a low surface, and tried to make small talk with the other guests whom I had never met.  

That was intimidating enough. 

But then the Rabbi announced that to get to know each other, we were going to go round the table describing to the other guests, how we had first met our spouses. At this point, I was horrified and terrified and focused on just one outcome - how I could make a quick exit.......

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Surprising Secret to Joyful Living.

On my Facebook page, I asked my FB friends this question,

 "If you could repeat one simple pleasure or go to your favorite  spot, what would it be?" 

The answers, and I got many (thank you!) included,

beach walking during the day or at dusk,  picnics, sunny spots, sunsets, diving, honeymoon vacations, star gazing, a soccer stadium.

Cities with special memories, childhood homes and rose gardens.

Snow capped mountains and busy markets,

Pina coladas, iced coffee, tomato soup and warm bread, belgian chocolate and peanut butter ice-cream.

To be fair, I wasn't quite honest with my question. 

What I really wanted to ask was.........

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Listening Should Be Easy. So Why Is It So Difficult?

   Listening should be easy. So why is it so difficult?

After all  we have been listening from the womb. Scientists encourage us to talk to our pregnant bellies and companies have made millions of dollars marketing CDs of classical music to our yet-to-be-born proteges.

Babies learn to speak by imitating the sounds they hear. And we know our  children are  listening because they quote us far too accurately in embarrassing places....

Monday, March 10, 2014

When You've Been Let Down AGAIN by Someone You Depended On: 5 Ways to Cope.

America has expended a lot of energy, trying to change Putin. Sanctions, threats and many meetings and discussions have not made any difference.

Typically people don't change just because we want them to. 

I'm no political theorist and I don't have a solution to the Russian conundrum, but I do understand something about relationships. 

Whatever kind of relationships we are talking about, one thing I know for sure: we can't change other people. Only they can change themselves. 

So where does this leave us?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Healing Fractured Lives: What You will Learn From the Wisdom of a Holocaust Survivor & an Ancient Art of Pottery Restoration

The death on Feb 23rd of the oldest Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer  at the age of 110 gave many of us pause for thought. 

In 1943, by the time she was imprisoned  in the concentration camp in Terezin, Alice was an accomplished musician, married and had a 7 year old child. Playing in the Nazi camp's orchestra, saved her and protected her young son's life. (A documentary of her life just won an Oscar: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life) 

Having her mother transported to Dachau- the death camp, her husband die of typhus in the concentration camp in which she was imprisoned and witnessing the atrocities of the camps, I wondered how Alice not only managed to contain her feelings, survived the wounds of her experiences, but also pieced her life back together. 

How did  she go on to thrive, grow and live a rich, rewarding, remarkably long life?

There is nothing that can compare to the horrors and evil of the Holocaust, but Alice's story begs the question - how do any of us pick up the shards of our shattered dreams and recover from the difficult challenges life throws at us?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Behind Closed Doors Everyone is Struggling with Something: Here Are 3 Ways to Show Compassion & Provide Comfort

3 Closed Doors

Three Closed Doors

1. In a shocking story reported in the Daily Mail, on CBS news and many other sources, a 20 year old student, Nicholas Barnes was found dead in his dorm room at the University of Chicago, a week after anyone had a record of seeing him. 

You may be wondering how it was possible that his neighbors, friends or family, in this technologically savvy century, had not been concerned by his absence. 

 In the world of instant connectivity via text, Facebook, twitter and mobile phones, how did this happen?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Who Benefits From Finding Silver Linings? You'll Be Very Surprised.

I am not a violent person.

In fact standing on tiptoes at 5'0, 
I avoid conflict if possible, speak quietly and generally try to look positively at the world. 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This One Question Will Change The Way You See Yourself Forever

This morning we woke up to an over-night snow dusting. Temporarily it has softened the landscape and beautified winter's harshness. It reminds me of the magic of foundation over face wrinkles and a golden tan over cellulite. It covers flaws and surfaces, only to reveal them again as it melts away. 

But beneath this frozen ground, important work is going on to prepare for the beauty of spring. Bulbs are rejuvenating themselves, woodchucks and chipmunks are sleeping deep in their burrows, the soil and seeds are taking a hard earned rest. These are the enduring, lasting, magical components hidden from sight, but important for long lasting health and growth of the lives that depend on them. 

This metaphor reminded me of a Dove commercial about beauty and how to redefine it. It also gave me an idea for a simple exercise any of us can do to remind us of what is truly unique and more than skin-deep beautiful about each one of us.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Parenting When Your Child is Sick: Finding Strength You Did Not Know You Had Until You Were Put To The Test.

It can be tough being a parent, even when things are going well.

Juggling your children's meals, activities, learning, moods, hormones, social lives and school schedules along with your own, can be challenging at the best of times.

So when something goes wrong for your child, that may affect them for a lifetime, only then do you realize where your strength lies and how it re enforces what it means to rise to the tough task of parenting.

Living in Hong Kong in 1999, at the age of 3, our middle son Aron was diagnosed with a rare developmental ( acquired) cataract in his right eye. 

This meant he could barely see the big A on the screening board.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Finding Calm After an Emotional Storm: The Power of Validation

We've all been in situations when a friend, family member or co-worker feels angry, disappointed  or upset and wants to vent.

Often our instinct is to problem solve or try to diminish their difficulties in the hope of calming the situation. 

We are often surprised that we have not brought them comfort through our suggestions, or by trying to put their issues into a perspective.

The truth is, that listening and validating their feelings rather than trying to solve them, is what is needed, to soothe and bring relief.

Here is an example of the importance of validation. It shows clearly how the lack of it can exacerbate a situation and the power of it can turn your loved one's storm into a calmer sea.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Year's Resolution is Something That Goes in One Year and Out The Other. 3 Easy Ways to Make Sure it Doesn't!

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.  ~Author Unknown

Guest blogger: Dr Anita Sanz

Not everyone makes New Year's Resolutions...
there are some people who don't see the New Year
as a time for reinvention, recharging, reconditioning,
re energizing, reinvigorating, reorganizing.
It's just January.
But if you're one of those people who have made a resolution
to change something in 2014...
and, by the way, if you are one of those people,
you are TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY to make a significant
improvement in your life this year...
then this post may help you to do that!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Shocking Truth About a Megalomaniac's Daughter: How One Person's Courage & Kindness Can Change History

Moses in the Bulrushes
Last weekend was a joyful time as our son Jacob celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. 

As is customary in our synagogue, he spoke at the end of the service about something he had learned to do with the Torah portion he had read earlier in the morning. This portion tells the well known story, set in Egypt, of Moses (Moshe) being hidden in the bulrushes and subsequently rescued, to prevent him from being killed by the ruling Pharaoh. 

The lessons Jacob articulated in his speech, relate to bringing comfort and caregiving through empathy, courage and kindness. He also discusses how we can learn to resist the tendency to stereotype at first sight. I thought these messages would resonate with you and so I have reproduced the speech here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Healing After a Serious Injury. You Might Just Want To Get a Dog!

This week please meet my guest blogger and friend, writer and researcher, Robin Gould. 

Robin describes how a four-legged friend has brought more comfort to her son than she could ever have imagined and a bonus she never predicted.

Let us know how a pet has been therapy for your family and leave us a message below.

Have a great week
As I head outside, leash in hand, dog in tow, for our ritual morning walk, I notice frost on the grass, the first frost of the year.

It’s 28 degrees outside and I wish I were back in my warm bed. 
It’s mornings like this one that I ask myself,

 “Why did I ever cave into my almost 10-year-old son to get a dog?”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's So Simple! How You Can Give and Receive Comfort Through Social Media.

In the midst of making my Jar of Joy, I marked the15th anniversary of my father's death at the age of 59. My inclination was to mark this loss quietly, without mentioning it to anyone. 

However what I really wanted to do was reminisce about his life with others who remember him. 

The problem is, I live continents and large time differences away from those who knew him. There is no one apart from my husband, who lives close by to share memories with, in person. 

I hesitated to put something on social media, but then I decided that perhaps if  I reached a little beyond my comfort zone of privacy, I would be able to share a small piece of what I loved and miss so much about him.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stay Happy This Holiday Season & Beyond:How to Harness Your Joyful Moments Even In Tough Times

I have found a clean, empty jar and labeled it 'Jar of Joy.'

Over the last few weeks, one challenge piled on top of another and as I was feeling weighed down, I spotted a post on Facebook (thank you Rama!) and thought it was just what my family and I needed - A reminder. A jar full of joyful memories! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Family Home Destroyed By Falling Tree - Do Worries Like These Keep You Up at Night?

Ever since we moved into our house, this worry has kept me up at night. 

With every raging storm, I have been convinced that the whining, creaking sounds outside are emanating from a tree about to collapse.

 Last weekend those worries rose to the surface again.  

It's not always easy to see the silver linings in the gathering clouds. 

It's not easy to be thankful when plans are upended and unexpected situations take away time, money, future plans or good health. 

Sometimes, however a prevailing feeling helps us to understand that even when seemingly bad things happen, there is goodness within.

Since I wrote my last blog post a week ago, a huge tree came crashing down, in our garden. When Jonny (my hubbie) posted a picture of said tree on Facebook, a friend commented,

"Never a dull moment in the Cannon household." 

And that was an understatement.

Too right! It's never dull!.....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

4 Powerful Words That Show You Really Care

Have you been wondering if a friend is ok because he seems out of sorts?

Have you realized you haven't heard from your cousin for weeks or months?

Have you noticed the absence of your neighbor at synagogue or church or exercise class?

Has someone you haven't spoken to in a while, suddenly dropped into your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Typhoon's Deadly Toll: How You Can Go From Feeling Helpless to Helpful In This One Simple Step

Aida, our former housekeeper, was born in the Philippines. Her sisters and brothers are directly affected by the super-typhoon that hit Tacloban.

The deadly storm, Typhoon Haiyan followed hot on the heels of a 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on October 15 and has further devastated the towns and villages of Aida's family and friends.

World catastrophes can make us feel very helpless in the face of such enormous devastation and tumult.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On Friendship, Death and Bear Hugs

Due to a sick son and work-away husband, I have spent a lot of time at home over  the last few days and have been able to catch up on 7 episodes of Grey's Anatomy, back to back.

There is something delicious about watching one of your favorite shows, episode after episode, wrapped in a warm blanket, steaming hot tea in hand, skipping the ads and not having to wait a week to know what happens next. It's even better watching with a friend!

I don't just watch it for McDreamy. I'm very fond of many of the characters, having been a lifer since the series began (10 years ago!) and I have to admit I shed a few tears over my 7 episode marathon. 

I was not looking for deep messages whilst I was watching, but there is one theme that resonates over and over, through the seasons.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Moving Home? 10 Ways to Calm Your Fears And Feel Positive.

A friend from abroad is packing up her home and sent me this message on my Facebook page today.......(Including the icons!)

  • Dear Gilly, 
    Please find calming words for me, as I pack up to move house!!! I spent the afternoon tidying my desk of Stuff. I came across an album of photos from 2000. I hope, I know what we are doing.....

    As I thought  about how best to reply, I reflected upon what had helped our family as we moved from continent to continent over a five year period. I came up with 10 suggestions to calm and soothe in many situations that require transition including packing up your home......Here's my answer and the list. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

One Great Fitness App, When It's Hard to Get Moving

Dancing in the window
If you pass my house at certain times of day you may catch a glimpse of a small blonde person, dancing carefree, arms moving to a beat, uninhibitedly past the living room windows. 

This is not because I have gone completely out of my mind. 

More that I have finally got my mind around a great method to get moving. 

Six years ago, I was running up to 15 miles a week, doing yoga and  taking step and weight classes at the JCC. I was very focused on fitness.

Then life interrupted my workouts....

Monday, October 14, 2013

How to Succeed Despite the Naysayers.

Do you have a naysaying voice in your head?  A little devil that jumps on your shoulder and whispers in your ear.....

"That's the silliest idea I've ever heard."

"Don't waste your time." or " It'll never work."

I certainly have. It's the same voice that tells me I did not complete a project perfectly. I ate too many cookies, didn't exercise enough, should have preempted my children leaving their cellphones/homework/ PE kit at home and should have written that thank you letter 2 weeks ago.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What a 12 Year Old Knows About Driving in The Rain

A number of the male species in my family are organizationally challenged. They have been known to forget to put their laundry in the dirty wash pile, clear the plates from the table or  have difficulty remembering to take their forms/phones/school ID/homework with them to school.

You get the idea.

I got a panicked message today from Jacob, my 12 year old who had left his English book by his bed, at home. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Raise Your Happiness Barometer With This One Scientifically Proven Action

When we moved to Washington D C  in August 2001, we rented a house and inherited a party. 

The home owners had hosted this event every September/October on one of the Jewish holidays.

You did not misread that party piece. 

I know it sounds strange, but for years, friends of the owners had been coming to celebrate and they jokingly told us, that even though we were now living in the house, they thought they would come anyway. Many of them had welcomed us when we first arrived and entertained us in the first few weeks of our new American lives. Some we had never met!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Getting Out of Bed. 5 Ideas to Help When It's Hard to Face The Day.

Every day begins with an act of courage and hope: getting out of bed. ~Mason Cooley

When I first read this quote it made me laugh. 

Yes! I thought. Courage is definitely needed as winter begins to hint at its arrival. 
As hope for a dry, crisp day replaces the hope of a warm, scented one. 

As mornings become darker and colder, the changing seasons do that to you. They can make you want to hold the covers high around your body and squeeze your eyes tighter to stop the grey light from seeping in.  

I wonder how many of you feel this way on a Monday morning. (Or Tuesday or Wednesday....)

Sleep is a quiet, contemplative space. A time where you can retreat inside of yourself, into your dreams and thoughts and nothingness.

For some, getting out of bed is more than just getting over the alarm clock nudge. It takes true courage and hope to face another day. 

You may have had the odd day like that. Or many in a row.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Comforting Without Words:The Power of Touch

In 1998 when my father was dying in a hospital in London, we all tiptoed round him, sat close, but not too close and observed him drifting in and out of sleep. 

Benjy, my first-born, who was five years old at the time, came into my father's room to say goodbye. He walked to the end of my father's bed  and in a clear voice asked him very simply, 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Apologizing: Valuing Your Relationship More Than Your Ego

As the Jewish season of repentence reaches a crescendo and apologizing is high on the to-do list, I have been thinking a lot about why apologizing can be so difficult. The  process for giving an apology is well documented by psychologists and Rabbis alike. 

1. Recognize you have upset someone
2. Ask for forgiveness
3. Offer to make reparations
4. Don't do it again.

Relationships we value are precious and require nurturing. However that does not mean they are without controversy, misunderstandings or disagreements. Relationships - professional and personal - need constant work and communication. Even with the best intentions, arguments can ensue and feelings can be hurt. 

Here are some questions I have been grappling with and I wonder if you have too.

When we do argue with people we care about, what is it that can make apologizing so difficult ?

Why do we have a difficult time apologizing without justification or caveat?

What must  we do BEFORE we make the apology?

A story first.....