Archive for December, 2010

2011: Check Points for an Enhanced New Year

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

     January of 2011, what is your existence?  Has this past year been one of moving forward in various domains of your life, or have you slipped backwards in some areas? What are the measuring sticks for progress or regression – or do you even care about it? If you are a person “slacking” through life, you need not read any further, for the content is not aimed at you.  The following thoughts are for those who want to live life fully and continually are seeking ways to maximize personal and professional opportunities. 

     The beginning of the year is a traditional time to assess one’s status.  What are the categories that you use to assess your well-being?  May I suggest a few:

PHYSICALLY:  How is your health?  Have you had a physical exam this past year? What is your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc…?  Do you know what your metabolic rate is so that you know how many calories are appropriate for you with weight management? Do you have a regular exercise routine? Are you taking your appropriate medication?

 INTELLECTUALLY:  Do you regularly exercise your mind through reading, taking in meaningful presentations, bridge or cross word puzzles?  Keep those neurons jumping or senile staleness will creep up on you.

 EMOTIONALLY:  What are the dominant emotions of your everyday existence?  Are they the negative emotions of Fear, Sadness, Anger, Guilt or do they emanate from the positive emotion of Love.  I encourage you to write in a journal your feelings of the day, ranging from 1 (the pits) to 10 (heavenly bliss).  What are the typical ranges of your emotional day?  What do these numbers say about the way you are living?

 SPIRITUALLY:  What does that word mean for you at this stage of your life?  What is your intellectual belief system?  How emotionally close are you to a Higher Power? Do you need to take another look at the viability of your cradle religion?  Does it need an update or revision? What behaviors do you practice, or actions do you take, that further your participation in your spiritual life?   Are meditation, reflection, or prayer parts of your inner life?  Are services and/or service to others part of what help you feel connected to a more profound life? Does your life have purpose?

 RELATIONSHIPS:  I invite you to draw a set of concentric circles emanating out from a central core point.  The central point is your deepest most vulnerable place, a sacred center.  Each circle represents distance from your core existence.  Place each person currently in your life on a line out from your center.  It will tell you who are closest to you and how far they are from your inner being.  Upon this assessment you may wish to rearrange a few people who are too close or not close enough.  The presence of family, friends, lovers, and acquaintances should all be represented here.

 CAREER:  Where are you professionally? Are you happy with your current career?  Do you want further advancement? Are you burned out, ready to retire? Are you interested in exploring a new avenue of employment?  Do you need some retraining to go forward? Are you looking to find a better balance between professional and personal/family time?

 FINANCIALLY:  How does the “bottom line” look these days?  What are future projections?  Are your investments where you need them to be at this time of your life, or is some fine tuning needed?  Is your spending/ saving ratio what you would like, or do you (and your partner?)  need to make some adjustments?

     I hope that this past year has been a good one for you and that you are optimistic and capable of making the next one even richer and happier.  Perhaps the following may be meaningful as you address your life. “Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change; COURAGE  to change the things I can; and the WISDOM to know the difference.”

             HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Holidays and Values: Parental Message to Kids Is?

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

     Most of our values, manners, and style are learned from our parents at an early age.  Holidays and birthdays are impactful.  Christmas and Hannukkah are particularly potent.  Parental behavior, modeling, tells a child what a holiday is all about by imprinting a certain way of being in celebration.   This affects a child all through life unless s/he consciously chooses a different modus operandi later in life. What parental values were passed on to you during the holidays?

     A colleague of mine, Dr. Rick Blue, has written on this topic.  He counsels parents to be aware of buying an abundance of gifts for children.  He says this “helps kids feel entitled to always get what they want.  Before you know it you have the spoiled child syndrome.”  This spoiled child is not prepared for the “real world”. Mental toughness and resiliency are needed for the arduous journey of life. 

     Dr. Blue continues: “This sense of entitlement and self-centeredness leads to problems with giving and sharing later in life.  The narcissistic personality forms in early childhood when kids learn they’re special and have their needs met whenever they want.”

     Dr. Blue suggests the importance of teaching kids the joy of giving, of service to others.  Opportunities for such service would include volunteering at shelters, hospitals, and animal clinics.  Parents certainly can come up with other ways of giving and sharing.

     To change the style of holiday celebrations involves knowing your values and having the courage to impart them.  Such a change may face challenges of being ridiculed or rejected.  Kids may argue and conflict may result.  Can you handle your children’s disappointment, anger, rejection?  Some parents have such strong needs to always be liked by their kids that they do not teach and stand up for the values that ultimately they wish the kids would have. Only strong parents who are sure of their values and committed to develop this attribute in their children can take on such a challenge.

     What will you choose to do during these holidays?  May you make the right choice for you and your family; one that truly represents your spirit and values at this unique time of the year.  Happy Holiday!

Is Your Sex Life Keeping You Healthy?

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

     TIME magazine did a cover story on “How Your Love Life Keeps You Healthy.” not too long ago.  In its lead article it said:

     “Physical contact – the feeling of skin on skin… is one of the most precious, priceless things Homo Sapiens can offer one another. Human beings are wired in the brain to nurture, be sensual, and sexual.  Couples that have this interaction are happier and live longer.”  The article, citing quality research studies, and there is a ton of it out there, states that “not only does the relationship benefit from a steady sex life, but so can the physical and emotional health of the partners themselves.”

     Studies are showing that arousal and an active sex life may lead to a longer life, better heart health, an improved ability to ward off pain, a more robust immune system, and even better protection against certain cancers, not to mention, lower rates of depression

     The emphasis here is on sensuality and sexuality shared in a loving relationship where two people are intimate.  To be intimate one must be vulnerable and safe in the other’s presence.  Too often individual partners do not have that bond and, therefore, avoid sensual contact.

  I invite couples to go to bed together at the same time, without clothes on, and snuggle. Initially, excuses abound but later most gleefully comply.  Some excuses:

  1. We would have to move the dog/cat/child  between us (life is about choices based on priorities)
  2. We go to bed at different times (that’s a tough one to change isn’t it)
  3. S/he snores (white noise to the rescue)
  4. I’m self conscious about my body (candle light only if you can’t get over it)
  5. I’m too old for that nonsense (bah, humbug to  life)
  6. I’d rather have Haagen Das (you can have both)
  7. I’m afraid I can’t perform (the blue pill and therapy can fit that)
  8. My partner has poor hygiene (suggest showering together)
  9. I don’t want to throw my back out (let your partner do the work)
  10. My partner doesn’t know how/where to touch me so that it feels good (communication might help)
  11. I don’t want to be rejected (fix the relationship, find a mutually satisfying time)
  12. The kids might get suspicious (they might find out that you love each other)
  13. Sex is only for procreation; anything else makes me feel guilty (see a therapist)
  14. My vibrator is sufficient (do you snuggle with it, too?)
  15. I have limited libido (there are ways to ramp it up)
  16. I’m too tired (get more rest and get re-vitalized)
  17. I don’t love my partner anymore.  I’ll just continue to co-exist with my partner. (now that’s a depressing choice. Other options might well be better)
  18. I need my nighty/boxer shorts on to sleep (put back on after love-making)
  19. Your own unique one

 The bottom line here is: are you are maximizing your ability and opportunity to be sensually connected with your partner? We do need to give and receive loving touch to be healthy and thrive!

Do You Know What a Healthy Family Is?

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

     What is a healthy family?  Usually the only one we know is the one we came from, and that is considered normative.  The following is an attempt to bring some objectivity to the understanding of a healthy family.

1. HAS  CLEAR PRIORITIES.  FAMILY IS  IMPORTANT.  EACH PERSON IS VALUED.

2. ACTIVELY LOVE ONE ANOTHER.      THERE ARE DAILY HUGS AND “I LOVE YOU’S”  SHARED.   LOVING WORDS AND TOUCH ARE IMPORTANT!    THE  FAMILY IS A SECURE PLACE TO BE.  SECURITY IS CRITICAL.

3. COMMUNICATES.    LISTENS (WHAT THE OTHER IS  SAYING, BOTH VERBALLY AND NON VERBALLY)    ASSERTS ( MEMBERS STATE THEIR PERCEPTIONS AND NEEDS)  

4. RESPECTS AND TRUSTS  ONE ANOTHER.  (R & T ARE THE FOUNDATION OF LOVE.    LYING  DOES NOT  HAPPEN.  PRIVACY AND GROWING INDEPENDENCE  IS VALUED.   BOUNDARIES ARE SET AND RESPECTED.

5. WORKS   AND  PLAYS  TOGETHER.   THINGS  ARE ACCOMPLISHED,  AND FUN  HAPPENS.  A SENSE OF HUMOR  EXISTS  IN THE FAMILY.

6. FORGIVES AND ASKS TO BE FORGIVEN.  EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES

7. HAS   EXPECTATIONS.   IT HAS CONSISTENCY   THERE  ARE  ROLES/,  RULES,/ & RESPONSIBILITIES.  THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES,  POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE, FOR PERFORMANCE.

8. THANKS AND EXPRESSESS GRATITUDE TO ONE ANOTHER.

9. FLEXIBILITY AND ADAPTABILITY  ARE PRESENT.  THINGS ARE NOT RIGID. THE FAMILY IS DEVELOPMENTAL, GOES THROUGH DIFFERENT AGES AND STAGES.

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.  CHANGE  IS WELCOMED.

10. HAS CLEAR VALUES AND MORALS.   IT INVITES SPIRITUALITY.

SEVEN  STRENGTHS OR RESILIENCIES THAT EMERGE FROM  A HEALTHY FAMILY

1.  INSIGHT  OR  AWARENESS.  PEOPLE ARE TUNED IN, STATE THEIR PERCEPTIONS, ASK TOUGH QUESTIONS.  WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?

2.  INDEPENDENCE  — PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY.   THERE IS A STRONG SENSE OF SELF, NOT NEEDY OR DEPENDENT ON SOMEONE ELSE FOR HAPPINESS     

3. CAPABLE  OF DEVELOPING APPROPRIATE  RELATIONSHIPS  WITH OTHERS IN VARIOUS SITUATIONS AND STAGES OF ONE’S LIFE  — IN WORK, PLAY, FRIENDSHIP, AND ROMANCE.

4. INITIATIVE.   SEEING A PROBLEM AND DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

5.  CREATIVITY    BE ABLE TO CREATE OR MAKE HAPPEN SOMETHING SPECIAL

6. HUMOR.  BE ABLE TO SEE THE LIGHT SIDE OF THINGS.

7. BE MORAL.  HAVE AN INFORMED CONSCIENCE  AND BE ABLE TO PUT IT INTO PRACTICE.   “TO WALK THE TALK”

Who Touches Your Heart? How Close?

Friday, December 10th, 2010

     People vary as to who gets close to their heart.  Some people are naive, their boundaries porous, and they get emotionally hurt often.  They get used and discarded.  Others have rigid boundaries protecting their heart and no one gets in.  They are candidates for the line in the song Desperado: “Your prison is walking through this life all alone.”   Neither extreme is healthy. 

     A question to you is: who has entered your emotional sanctuary?  Has your heart been wounded or broken often or rarely? By whom? Who have been the people who have come close to your heart?  List these people.  After you have done that, give a rating from one to ten as to how close you feel towards them now (one = “yuk!, ten = heavenly bliss).

 What is your current situation relative to emotional closeness?  I invite you to do an exercise that graphically illustrates your current emotional boundaries and evaluate how close individuals are to your heart.  Draw a series of concentric circles, with a big dot in the middle.  The big dot represents the  most personal  vulnerable part of your being.  Each circle is a boundary representing distance away from your open heart.  Plot the people in your life on this grid as to howclose they are to you.  What does it reveal?

 As you evaluate this heart grid, what do you see?  Are there few or many in your circles? Do you like the position of each of these people, or do some of them need to be moved  closer or further from your heart?  Again I recommend that you grade each of the people on your grid from one to ten for clarification as to positioning.

      As part of my doctoral program I wrote a paper called “Love: the Quintessence of Being.”In that paper, based on a derived eclectic personality theory,  I stated that: ” in my personal life I would not allow anyone close to me that was negative, lazy, bigoted, angry or unforgiving.”  It has provided a valuable guideline for people choices in my life.  I am grateful for the positive, energetic, open, loving, and forgiving people that embrace my heart.  They invite me into degrees of intimacy and motivate me to give a life of love my best shot.

 Your heart circle is based on love.  Healthy people have good boundaries and actively control the gate as to who comes in and how close.  Lovers, parents, children, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, etc… may have a place in your heart. Evaluate and choose carefully.

 Your heart deserves the best!