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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Funny Video: Holiday Dinner Get Together

If you’ve ever had to prepare the Holiday dinner and please everyone’s tastes, you’ll find this hysterical.

Most likely you will even if you haven’t had to do the actual prep; especially if you’re “of a certain age” or trying to watch what you eat.

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Time to Take Off the Training Wheels

by Julie Weir

From the minute you put your child onto their first bike you know there will come a time when the training wheels will have to come off.

You know this, yet you don’t realize how quickly that day will sneak up on you.

Suddenly, last week, this day was upon us. We decided that we would take the training wheels off my daughters bike and my son’s bike (4.5 years old, came out of the womb able to do somersaults, self-proclaimed king of the world) at the same time. “Why go through this twice?”, was the thought.

As we loaded the bikes in the van to drive to the nearest bike trail (no way were our kids going learn to ride on the Indy-500 in front of our house) I could feel my stomach cramping. They were going to fall, whine, cry, sniffle, whine some more, and then bleed. My daughter was likely never going to get on a bike again. I thought about hiding the bikes and detouring to an ice cream store in a wildly evasive manoeuvrings.

I suddenly realized I was holding my breath and starting to squirm.

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Upset About Bake Sales

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect July 1, setting new, updated standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium for “competitive foods” sold at schools.

competitive-food

“Competitive foods” do not wear uniforms and engage in sports; rather that’s government-speak for vending machine snacks and bake-sale goodies. This regulation sets standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium, and is attempting to push foods with whole grains, lowfat dairy, fruits, vegetables, or protein foods as their main ingredient. It does require that food and beverage items sold during the school day achieve certain standards, but also allows for special exemptions for the purpose of conducting infrequent school-sponsored fundraisers. What the law does not do is define “infrequent,” leaving that to the states to set their own limits.

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Call a Loved One as a Reward

Rewarding your successes is essential to achieving your goals.

woman-on-phoneman-on-phoneThe problem is many times we don’t know what to do.

This is a great and fun way to do that.

The next time you achieve a goal – even a small one – think of someone you’ve been meaning to call for too long. You know how it is, you say, “I’ll call as soon as I get a moment.” But that moment never comes.

Pick up the phone.

Call him or her and say, “I made a promise that every time I lost 5 pounds (or whatever your goal is), I would reward myself. Calling you is my reward for today.”

Imagine how the person on the other end of the phone will feel. Picture what it will do for your relationship. And, as importantly, imagine how nice you’ll feel for the remainder of the day.

By the way, it sure doesn’t hurt that it will help you build a great supportive network to help you continue down your path.

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