Create Your Own Meaning of the Holiday Season

“May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Dear Friends,

The holiday season originated in the mid-20th century with a blending of religious holidays, cultural traditions and commercialism surrounding a series of events, activities, experiences, and expenses. From Thanksgiving dinners to Christmas pageants, department store Santas, and much more, expressing the holiday spirit and participating in myriad events became common.

Commercializing the holidays may have boosted the economy, but it also pressured families to expect more, do more, spend more, and experience more. In most people’s mind, this time of year should be filled with fun, wonderment, and awe, but is often wrought with stress, worry, and anxiety. Time that’s supposed to be centered on the magic of the season, family gatherings, and creating special memories is instead characterized by dysfunction and...

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Nurturing a Spirit of Gratitude

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others." -- Cicero

Dear Friends,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m reminded of the power and benefits of gratitude. Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus, which means "thankful or pleasing." It is the quality of being thankful or the readiness to express appreciation.

Why Gratitude is So Powerful

In positive psychology, gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Gratitude fosters positive feelings, emotions, and experiences; improves overall physical, mental, and emotional health; helps us to deal more effectively with adversity; and helps build strong relationships. Gratitude cannot be demanded, coerced, or requested. Gratitude is not an exchange; it can only be given as a gift.

Gratitude has many other benefits including, but not limited to increased self-esteem, improved relationships, stress reduction, increased resilience, improved sleep quality, increased compassion, and an...

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Honoring Grief

"Grief is not something we overcome; it’s something we endure."

What is Grief?

Dear Friends,

In its simplest form, grief is our response to loss. Grief is our natural response to someone or something that has been taken away. While many people tend to associate grief with the loss of a loved one, grief can result from any loss such as the loss of a significant relationship, a pet, safety, freedom, health, a limb, bodily functions, a job, a home, financial stability, a dream, or an opportunity. Even subtle losses can trigger grief: moving away from your childhood home, relocating to a new city, graduating from college, or changing jobs. Unresolved grief can be passed down through generations; take a toll on our minds, bodies, and spirits; affect relationships; and prevent us from moving forward. 

Traditionally, grief emphasized our emotional response to loss. The concept of grief has since evolved, and we can now explore the physical, cognitive, behavioral, cultural,...

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Bouncing Back from Brokenness

Dear Friends,

Adversity is an inevitable part of life, and resilience is the ability to mentally and emotionally cope with and recover from adversity. In fact, resilience is the cornerstone of your personal power.

Why You Need Resilience

Pressing through hardships and overcoming challenges gives us greater belief in ourselves and our ability to bounce back from brokenness. Resiliency equips us to not only face future challenges, but to develop essential life skills that help us to be more effective and efficient. As our resilience increases, so does our coping skills, patience, awareness, confidence and support systems. We inspire those around us and are better equipped to navigate any obstacles we face.

The Power of Resilience

Psychologists have studied the link between resilience and personal power and identified five (5) aspects of resilience that support personal power: (1) focusing on the present supports faith in yourself; (2) learning from your...

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6 Steps for Setting and Sticking to Healthy Boundaries

Dear Friends,

This is the final post of our September boundary series. I'm hoping you can now finally imagine living your life on YOUR terms. A balanced life whereby you dictate how and with whom you spend your time and resources.

As I close out this series, I want to ensure that you have the tools you need to set and stick to healthy boundaries -- the invisible lines you draw around yourself to protect you from being used and manipulated by others.

  1. Decide. Sit down and consciously decide that you not only deserve to have boundaries, but you need them for the sake of your future mental and physical health. Making this decision will free you to pursue a life of change and possibilities.
  2. Create. Rewrite the script. Think about the ways you’ve been taken advantage of, and make a concrete list of the ways in which you want to change. What are the new boundaries you’re establishing? What do you hope to accomplish by establishing them? In creating...
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5 Strategies for Protecting Your Personal Boundaries

Hello Friends,

As we continue our personal boundaries series, imagine an invisible fence set around yourself, with a single gate that is shut and locked, and only you possess the key. How does that make you feel?

When you have healthy personal boundaries, you’ve established a space around yourself that YOU control. You've set limits that communicate to others how far they can go when interacting with you. You decide if and when to open the gate, and who you will allow in your personal space.

The problem with personal boundaries is that the world has a way of pushing against them. There will always be people who want more of your time, more of your energy, more of you. When you have set personal boundaries, thankfully, there are things you can do to guard and keep them strong. 

  1. Identify your limits. It’s impossible to guard what you haven’t defined. The goal here is to define your limits clearly and...
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Signs You Need Healthier Personal Boundaries

Hello Friends,

Earlier this month, we began our series on boundaries. Perhaps you have  personal boundaries, but they don’t seem to be working. Maybe you still feel that people are taking unfair advantage of you, and your self-esteem is taking a constant hit.

Chances are you need to take a serious look at your personal boundaries. It's possible that the ones that used to work don’t anymore because you aren’t the same person. Or it’s time for a tune-up, so that you not only strengthen your existing boundaries, but also make them healthier.

Here are some signs that indicate your boundaries need work:

  • You remain silent when being bullied.
  • You agree to things you don’t agree with (such as political opinions) to avoid ‘rocking the boat’.
  • You suffer from guilt whenever you do something good for yourself.
  • You feel invisible most of the time.
  • You say ‘yes’ even when you want to say ‘no’...
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7 Reasons Why We Don't Set Boundaries

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Week 2 of our September series on personal boundaries! This week, we're reviewing seven reasons why people fail to set boundaries.

You know you really need to establish boundaries, but you just can't seem to get there, (which is not as abnormal as you might think). Here are some reasons why we don't set boundaries:

  1. Fear. The number one reason we don’t set boundaries is generally fear. After all, the devil we know is less frightening than the devil we don't know. Yet, there's something inherently self-disrespecting about not setting boundaries because we risk over-extending ourselves, over-sharing and tolerating bad behavior (our own and others).  
  1. It would be selfish. Very often, we're made to feel guilty for drawing personal lines. After all, why should your needs come before anyone else’s? 
  1. Self-care is abnormal. This point is an extension of the last one. Not only is self-care...
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What Are Personal Boundaries and Why We Need Them

Hello Friends,

For the Month of September, I've decided to focus on personal boundaries. You’ve probably heard the phrase before, but may not be sure what it means. Exactly what are personal boundaries, and what difference do they make in our lives?

To understand the importance of setting personal boundaries, you must first know what a boundary is: 

bound·a·ry (noun) -- a dividing line that marks the limits of an area

Most boundaries, as the above graphic illustrates, are relatively easy to see. For example, yellow tape protecting crime scenes, fences, highway dividers, and white lines marking off parking spaces. A personal boundary does the same thing – only on a more invisible and internal level. Let's take a closer look.

What is a boundary?

  1. A boundary delineates your responsibility in a given situation. For example, you likely already operate within certain boundaries at work or school. These...
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How to Get Unstuck and Move Forward

Greetings Friends,

Are you stuck in a rut? Not just a rut, but a completely furnished rut? It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be stuck, but to stay stuck is a problem.

If you're stuck and desperate to find a way out of your rut, I’d like to share with you a few strategies for getting unstuck and moving forward.

Identify root cause. Before you can find a solution for any problem, you must first identify its root cause. A simple way to do this is using the 5 Whys technique where you repeat the question Why? five times, and each answer forms the basis of the next question. This interrogative technique is used to explore the cause-effect relationship underlying the problem. Not all problems have a single root cause, so you would need to repeat this method using a different set of questions each time. Here's an example:

Problem – I got a speeding ticket.

  1. Why? I ran a stop light.
  2. Why? I was late for work.
  3. Why? I woke up late.
  4. ...
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