Giving thanks in Confusing Times

Consider this column a holiday public service.

family reunion

Consider it an aide memoire of what really matters. Consider it anything you wish. However, I wanted to take these moments, particularly at this time of year, to remind us — me — of some reasons to offer up thanks. After all, despite what sometimes passes as common belief, Thanksgiving is not a caloric competition.

With beheadings and renewed violence in the Middle East, an exaggerated Ebola scare; a frightening escalation of global warming; vitriolic hyperbolic, unproductive, childlike exchanges among “our leaders” about everything from affordable healthcare to immigration; a still-shaky standard of living for far too many; gridlock in Government, and — oh yeah — the worst drought in centuries here in California, we’re having quite some time of it all.

In times such as we find ourselves, it is vital to recall the words of Francois de La Rochefoucauld,

“Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.”

The future will be better; be assured. Yet, while we are still chopping though the rough seas of today, some reminders might be in order.

Nonetheless, what really matters is that many of us will be surrounded by family and friends, people who support and guide us.

When we are off course, they redirect us. When we are on track, they congratulate us. When illness ravages our body and beats our spirit, they, like angels, sit by our side and heal us. When we are overwhelmed, they hold us near. When infused with joy, they join us in song. What a blessing, in the midst of seas of swirling, chaotic, pandemonium, to find islands of protection where we can have a rest and reclaim our souls. To say to them, “Thank you,” is woefully, pitifully, inadequate. Yet, it can do no harm.

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Start Small and Go Big

Start small. Do more or add more if you want to.

man-looking-at-small-portionIt’s always easier to add more and it’s much more empowering than it is to feel bad about taking on too much.

This applies on many levels.

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, take less than you want. (You can always go back from more but can’t give back what you eat.)

If you’re starting an exercise program, commit to a smaller realistic amount rather than an unwieldy longer time. (You can always add more.)

If you’re cleaning your house, promise yourself you’ll do one room really well instead of the whole house and get overwhelmed. (You can always do more if you want.)


Five Step Plan to Stay in Control Over the Holidays

I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news.


The bad news is it’s commonly believed that the average person can put on seven to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The good news is that several studies now show that the actual number is more like one pound. (Incidentally those same reports found people who are already overweight tend to gain five pounds or more during the same period.)

The bad news is, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medication, that although the average is only a pound or so, most folks will never, ever lose that pound. Moreover, since the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, much of our long-term weight gain as grown-ups can be attributed directly to the excesses of the holiday season.

The good news is one can avoid falling victim to these statistics.

Ever the helper, I provide five simple tips to help you prevent from looking like Jolly Saint Nick come January first. [Read more…]