Friday, August 18, 2017

Stick With True Friends

We can have all types of friends, yes, but pay special attention to those who are true friends.  To me, true friends are those who:

  • celebrate milestones.  Of course, any friend may react positively to your good news, but the closest of your friends will get in there and celebrate your news with you.  You can tell the difference between heartfelt congratulations and the halfhearted variety.
  • call, text, email or visit often.  If you are on her speed dial, stick with her.  If you hear from him daily, weekly, at regular intervals relatively close together, or when you're sick and she just has to bring you over her homemade chicken soup to comfort you, hang onto that friend.  That person cares.  You may not even be especially close to her.  You may not be able to tell your deepest, darkest secrets to her.  You may even feel a bit intimidated by him at times.  But if he's there for you, if he cares, pay attention to him.  In these times of crazy busy lifestyles when friendships are dissolving due to lack of time, these types of friends are worth their weight in gold.  
  • are inquisitive.  I'm not talking about a busy body who doesn't know how to mind her own business.  I'm talking about the friend who is truly interested to know what's going on in your life.  She wants to know the details of the trip you went on or the book you're reading.  She wants to know how you managed to pick the career, child's name, the book, the vacation, the clothes you love so much, or what your childhood was like.  Did you have a treehouse?  Did you grow up in an apartment, mansion, orphanage, farmhouse?  He wants to know why you feel, think and act the way you do.  She wants to know what makes you tick.  She's curious.  These friends are awesome!
  • open-minded.  These friends take you as you are, 110%!  They love you no matter what your house looks like, what you look like, how you dress, who you voted for, what kind of car you drive, what your sexual orientation is, what your beliefs, values, and opinions are, where you come from, how much money you make, or anything else.  They are in your corner, without question.
  • spontaneous.  Okay, it's not necessarily that great to have friends knocking at your door at 7 AM wanting to chat or inviting you on a road trip THAT VERY SECOND.  But, it can be energizing and heartwarming to answer the door and find your best friend standing there with a wide smile ready to hug you, or just to say hi and see how you're doing.  They may invite you to lunch, they may just stay a minute, but you're better for it.  It perks you up.  
I am lucky enough to have these types of friends.  They are the ones who are there for me no matter what.  I can turn to them for help, a chat, anything, anytime.  They make me smile.  It's comforting to know I have such special friends in my life.  

How about you?   Do you have these types of friends?  How have they enhanced your life?  If not, that's okay.  Everyone has a different view of friendship, and what they need as far as friendships in their day to day lives.  I'd love your input on this.  Thanks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Message to Parents: Encourage Independence

Hi all!  I hope you're having a good week.  Today's vlog is on coddling.  My message to parents--and other family members--is to avoid coddling your children with chronic health issues and special needs.  Let them grow, learn, explore, make friends, and be independent.  It will help your child develop into a strong, confident adult.  Of course, you need to do this according to your child's abilities and needs, but each child should be encouraged to be as independent as possible.  Do you tend to be protective of your children, whether they have health issues or not, or do you let them explore their world?  I'd love to hear your take on this issue.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

Listen: To Break Down Barriers and Avoid Conflict

Listening is such an important skill.  Do you feel that people really listen to you?  Do they hear what you say?  Do they pay attention?  Or do they busy themselves with projects and everyday tasks and insist that they are still "listening?"  Or, do they flat out ignore you as you talk?  Same goes for you.  Do you really, truly listen to people when they are talking to you?  Do you engage in conversation?  Or is your mind wandering all over the place, thinking of the laundry building up at home, the report that's due tomorrow, the doctor's appointment on Wednesday, the friend you promised you'd make time in your schedule to meet with this week, or how you're ever going to fit in everything you have to do today?  

No, you don't have to get right up into someone's face like this cow gets right up close to the camera, but it is important to listen closely to others.    It can make or break friendships and business deals.  It can make the difference between a person really feeling heard and giving up on life.  It can help those who are mourning the loss of a loved one work through their thoughts and emotions in order to heal.  Mindlessly nodding and periodically mumbling, "uhuh," won't do.

Listen up!  Listening is a skill that many of us don't have or hone, but it is key to successful relationships, both personal and professional.

Breaking Down Barriers

If you experience barriers to work, shopping, activities, friendships, or other facets of life, think about how you can knock those barriers down.  Is it due to chronic health issues, race, social status, religious or political views, or something else?  Get to the heart of it.  How could you make a positive change, or at least begin the process?  Here are some ideas:

  • Arrange a meeting with a prospective employer to discuss concerns regarding accessibility, abilities, reliance, sick time, and so on.
  • Ask for a family conference so you can all air your concerns, good news, bad news, and discuss and resolve any conflicts before they blow out of proportion.
  • Attend a board meeting to voice your concern over accessibility problems at various businesses around town.
  • Speak at local organizations about chronic health issues and special needs to raise awareness and answer questions.  
  • Approach one person at school, work, or in the community, smile, say hi, and break the ice.  Start a conversation about, well, anything, and, over time, open up about yourself and encourage the other person to do the same.  You may build a lasting friendship that means the world to you. 
  • Really listen to that friend who is going through chemo or a divorce.  Sometimes that's all a person really needs.  They don't need your coddling, your answers, your sympathies.  They need your undivided attention in order to vent about the BS that is happening their lives.  Give it to them.
  • Take notes while a person is talking while maintaining eye contact as much as possible.  The note-taking will help prevent the urge to interrupt the person while they are talking in order to say something before you forget it.
  • Switch off your cell phone while having a conversation someone else.  If you're having lunch with a friend, be there for that friend.  Eliminate the temptation to answer the phone whenever it rings.  
By listening to others, we can open minds, ease tension, clarify positions, promote understanding--we can break down barriers.    

Avoid Conflict

Avoiding conflict has a lot to do with effective listening as well.  Consider the political and religious conflicts of late.  People are giving up friendships, not talking to family, firing employees, beating and killing people over differing political and religious beliefs. Those beliefs run deep, of course, but there is absolutely no reason for people to do such awful things to each other in the name of politics and religion.  My advice is to calm down, grow up, and listen to each other.  Converse.  Communicate.  Respect.  Listen!  

Magical things can happen when you get together with people you don't understand or agree with, and:

  • really talk 
  • really listen
  • use non-threatening speech
  • avoid blame
  • show respect for the other by being silent while they are speaking
  • reflect the other person's emotions
  • rephrase what they say so they know you are listening
You come to realize that, yeah, maybe you don't agree on certain political issues, but you do agree on others.  Same goes for religion.  And, you may also discover that you are both huge fans of the same band or author or movie, love to travel, enjoy woodworking, love classic cars, participated in theater at the same college years earlier, share the same birthdate, went to the same high school, lived in the same far off place thirty years ago, both worked on a kibbutz, or are obsessed with Pokemon.  You never know.  Once the listening starts, all that conflict begins to be resolved, the stress eases up, and other more positive likenesses come shining through.  

Are you a good listener?  If not, use some of the tips above to improve your listening skills.  Do you have any other tips to add to the ones included here?  Feel free to leave them in the comments.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Practice Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is very important.  I didn't realize how much so until I was an adult.  I had never accepted myself fully throughout childhood.  I had never fully accepted my life with spina bifida and the health issues that came with it.  I got good at self-care, but that didn't mean I had made my peace with it.  I hated it.  I was very self-conscious, shy, and insecure.  I didn't appreciate the fact that being unique was a good thing.  I didn't appreciate my talents and strengths. 


So, how can you practice self-acceptance, you may be asking.  Here are some of the ways:

  • Avoid judging or criticizing yourself.  Be as good as you can be.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Don't beat yourself up about it.  
  • Be your own friend.  Remember that your friends wouldn't say hurtful things to you, so neither should you.
  • Accept your body as it is.  This doesn't mean to let yourself go, but to accept what is, and not freak out or punish yourself for not being "perfect." Flaws are inevitable.  Work on improving yourself over time without judgment. 
  • Live a healthy lifestyle.  Eat properly, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.  Your body knows what it needs.  Listen to it.
  • Do what makes you laugh.  Do what makes your heart sing.  Wear what you want.  Wear your hair the way you want.  Be your best self.  Be someone you'd love to hang out with, because, let's face it, you are who you hang out with ALL the time.
  • Make a point to challenge feelings of self-blame, -doubt, and -shame.  
  • Celebrate your strengths, talents, abilities, and uniqueness.
  • Take notice of the types of people you hang out with.  Are these healthy relationships?  Are these people good to you?  Do they have your back?  Or are they always finding fault or trying to drag you into activities you don't feel comfortable doing?
  • Surround yourself with positive people.  Get yourself a strong support system you can rely on.  Stick with people who believe in you.
  • Forgive yourself.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Mourn those mistakes and move on.
  • Tell that inner critic to hit the road.  It doesn't serve you in the least to listen to that negative voice.  It's not wise.  It's not protecting you.  It's only helping to kill your self-acceptance.  Ditch it.
  • Let go of those things; those circumstances you can't control and concentrate on those that you can control.
Do you do any of these things?  I do, yes.  Some.  Do you accept yourself as you are?  Yes, I do, now, I'm happy to say.  Of course, everyone has their off days, but make a point to practice self-acceptance every day and you'll find it easier as time passes.  

Can you think of anything else that I've missed?  Let me know in the comments.  Have a great weekend!  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fitness and Chronic Health Issues

Hi!  I hope you're having a great Wednesday.  Today's vlog focuses on fitness and chronic health issues.  I discuss how to get started, the importance of talking with your doctor or medical team before starting a fitness program, and how to advance your fitness program to get better results.  I hope you find this video helpful.  Exercise is so important to our well-being.  Whether you use a chair, walking aids, or you walk without aid, there are exercises you can do to get and keep fit.  I'm a former certified personal trainer.  I gave up my certification recently, but I still know a thing or two about fitness.  So if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  If I can't help you, I can refer you to other professionals who might be able to answer your questions for thoroughly.  Good luck with your fitness program and have fun!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Take Time to Let Loose and Have Fun

I was on Facebook Live this afternoon.  My phone isn't keeping a charge, so I'm coming to you from Facebook Live.  Here's the link to my Facebook page.  Scoot down to today's post (August 7, 2017) and check it out.  It's all about letting loose and having fun.  Let me know what you think.   Thanks.

Start Where You Are Now

Do you feel stuck?  Do you wonder what career you should pursue?  Do you want to make friends but you're unsure how to go about it?  Have you experienced a major life change and you just don't know how to restart your life?  

Years ago, I read "Three Feet From Gold," by Sharon L. Lechter and Greg S. Reid.  In it, they talked about combining what you love with what you're good at to be more successful.  That concept has stayed with me ever since.  I truly believe that if you do what you love and combine it with what you're good at, you will succeed at whatever you set out to do.  

Try it.

  1. Start where you are right now.  Really feel, hear, touch, taste, and see your surroundings.  Be present. What do you experience?  What makes you want to change?  What things would you like to change regarding your current situation?  
  2.  Take a notebook or open a new document on your IPad or similar device, and make two columns.  Label the first column, "What I Love."  
  3. Ask yourself what you love or love to do.  What brings you joy, excitement, satisfaction?  List them all in this first column--as many as come to mind.
  4. Label the second column, "What I'm Good At."  
  5. Ask yourself what you are good at.  What skills, knowledge, abilities do you have?  List everything you can think of in the second column.
  6. Compare the two lists.  What do you see?  Can you combine one or two items from each column to make a career, find friends, restart your life?  For example, say you love to teach and you're good at playing the piano.  Could you possibly combine the two and give piano lessons?  Or, you love animals and you're good at organizing.  Could you volunteer to be on the board of the local animal shelter and help organize fundraising events as a way to potentially meet new people and make friends?
  7. Once you've picked at least one item from each list, start thinking how you can make this new venture a reality.
  8. Make a new list.  What tools do you already have?  
  9. And another.  What tools do you need?
  10. And another.  What potential roadblocks could you come upon to keep you from following through?
  11. Another list.  Who could help you conquer these roadblocks and accomplish what you set out to do?
  12. What timeframe will you give yourself to accomplish this goal of a new career, new friends, new lifestyle--whatever new endeavor you chose?
  13. Another list.  What three things will you do in the next week to kickstart this new venture?
  14. And one more.  What will you do to celebrate little victories along the way, and that big victory when your goal is accomplished?

So, what do you think?  Is this exercise something you're willing to try to get yourself unstuck?  If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out.  I'd love to hear about your journey.