Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 6 and Done :)

The Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! The first Grand Slam of 2014 is here! Tennis in the morning. Tennis after work. Tennis in the evening. Tennis at night.

And everyone wonders why I don’t get any real writing done. (“Yeh,” say the Aussies).

Yes, I’m moving on. Maybe a calming chamomile tea is in order. (Nah. Hate tea. Coffee’s my brew.) Hope everyone is well, this second full week of the New Year.

Can I possibly wrap up this series? I suppose I should have be done, but one incident with Older Son (OS) stands out too much to not share. And it’s so interesting how several seemingly unrelated events came together to help Hubby and me with our responses to the situation.

OS turned 17 this past November. In my state, that means a driver’s license, which he got December 11, 2013.

That means OS has had a driver’s permit since April. Sometime before June he came across a used car for sale, pretty much what he wanted, and a great deal for him. Hubby and I had our misgivings, but we allowed him to use a portion of his savings to buy it.

It got parked at a friend’s house, pronto, not to be registered or insured until he got the DL.

On a mid-June weekend this past summer, Hubby and I were supposed to go to our PA cottage. A dear friend had passed away and we’d hoped to attend the funeral, which was in the vicinity. OS was scheduled to work and Younger Son (YS) is in the ‘bored’ stage in PA (no internet connection for the X-box in the woods).

Because putting together arrangements for a responsible adult to be available to a 14- and 16- year-old was turning out to be more tedious than we figured it should have been, Hubby and I made a last-minute decision to stay home. Neither of us felt all that comfortable leaving the kids home while we were three hours away. And we’d visited my friend twice during her bout with cancer, so I felt better knowing I’d connected with her before she exited this life.

So, there we were Saturday afternoon, June 15th. Kids are both out and Hubby decides to step out—maybe run to the deli or something along those lines.

He came home livid.

He’s spotted OS driving his should-have-been-parked-car, with his girlfriend (GF) in the passenger seat.

OS came in a few minutes later, pleading his case for the necessity of the run.

Hubby grounded him on the spot, including not allowing him to attend a rather formal birthday party he and GF were due at in less than two hours.

Not sure I agreed with Hubby’s choice of handling the situation—he was pretty mad—and the party, as far as I could see, had nothing to do with the transgression. I spoke to Hubby privately (so that OS wasn’t aware of the conflict of opinions Hubby and I had), but supported his decision since it had already been made, and he felt very strongly about not changing it. He believed strong action that showed OS the severity of his transgression was necessary. I did agree with the rationale, but might have chosen a more related form of discipline (i.e., revoked even permit-driving privileges for x-amount of time, or something along those lines).

Aside: GF was kind enough not to attend the party w/o OS.

So, that’s how Saturday, June 15th went. OS probably said something to me here and there, but I reminded him (nicely) that he’d made a choice, got caught and now had to deal with the consequences of his action.

The next morning we realized there was some emergency vehicle activity going on a few blocks from our house. Being the mind-our-own-business folks we usually are, Hubby walked down to scope out the action then texted OS and GF to come down. They took off on their skateboards.

A FIFTEEN-year-old boy had taken his mother’s SUV—she had gone to church—piled in at least three friends and lost control making a turn. He ploughed headlights first into an electrical pole. (Don’t ask how the force at the bottom toppled the top third of the pole, knocking it onto a power line and taking out the electricity to one or more houses on that street.)

OS hung out, and chatted for a while with the tow truck guy, who talked about the law-end of what this kid and his family would be dealing with in the not-so-far-future. And that kid won’t be seeing a driver’s license anytime near his 17th birthday. (He kind of seriously messed up that privilege.)

So what’s my point? Hubby and I could have ranted and raved at OS for making the impulsive choice he did. We didn’t. In agreement or not, we stood united in doling out consequences. (We are lucky. OS takes his lumps like a man (?). YS shows a much more dramatic side, but eventually does his time—often the next day, once he’s calmed down.)

I’m getting at this: LIFE stepped in and demonstrated a real-life example of what could happen when a kid takes a vehicle, especially if said kid is not terribly skilled/experienced at handling it. Sans getting preachy, we used that illustration to point out how flippin’ lucky OS was that his actions the day before cost him a party and little else.

And how crazy was it that Hubby and I stayed home and Hubby just happened to be on the same road at the same time OS had taken out his car? Coincidence? I’m not so sure…

Anyone out there with similar experiences to share? Please do! How did you handle it? Would you have grounded OS from the party? If not, what consequences might you have imposed? Did life show up with a lesson better than anyone you could have given?

Have a great day, folks,

Joanna

Don’t Spend Your Birthday Like I Did Mine!

Hi all. Hope you enjoyed the previous weekend and, like me, are already looking forward to the next one!

Mothers day flowers 2013 My Mother’s Day Flowers–h’ain’t they purty?

Joanna bday 2013  Standard Birthday activities–on Mother’s Day :)

I wrote this on Saturday afternoon, while taking a break from an evaluation that shouldn’t have been as tedious to write as it turned out to be. My brain felt about to explode.

That’s how I felt Friday night too, after tentative birthday plans to get me an awesome PB and chocolate icy-cream dessert at Friendly’s wound up sidelined by unexpected trips to my local satellite emergency room.

Yep. I had spent most of my b-day afternoon doing some of the easier parts of the report that took up about seven hours this weekend. A coworker had dropped in. While we chatted I heard a thump that sounded like it came from upstairs. Long story short: hubby was soon calling me from the other room. He’d “blacked out” briefly after choking on coffee and hit the hardwood.

Luckily, he didn’t hit his head, but his elbow certainly didn’t look happy and he had a nice little cut just above his hip that was turning some nasty shades of purple real fast. My darling also has a cardiac history, so we trotted off to the ER. That was about 4:00 PM.

Two hours later we were told he’d be transported to the mother hospital for overnight observation. I went home to pick up a few items for the guy.

Younger son came home and headed out to garage, as per mom’s request, to check if lawnmower was inside. (Hubby had forgotten he’d already asked older son to put it away, so it seemed odd that it wasn’t in the yard when I got home.)

Yucky story short: Mom tunes in to younger son crying and shouting for help from outside the garage. (That horrid sound may never leave my ears.) He was sort of plastered to door, with the tips of the middle fingers of both his hands stuck in the hinged space between the garage panels. Thank God I’m not the panicky type and quickly lifted the door until the gap widened and he could slide his hands out. The boy hit the ground. He panicked, and as the pain set in he got a little hysterical. When his eyes started rolling back I was sure he was going to pass out. (Getting that big kid off the ground would have been a feat. ‘Nuff said.)

Calmed the kid down and headed back to same ER with him in tow. Since I’m the primary insurance holder, the registrar girls had already scanned my insurance card when hubby showed earlier. They looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh, it’s your birthday today?”

“Uh…yeah.”

Got the younger one home by nine. Older guy needed a ride to a practice for an upcoming affair he’s part of. Dropped him off and headed back to hospital to wait for hubby to be transported. Made it home a little after ten.

Here’s hoping next year’s commemoration of the day I was born is a little less dramatic. Boring works after that.

Never boring, however, is Nadal at a final on clay. We’ll take Rafa’s win in Madrid!

Have a great day and a great week,

Joanna

Fast Forward to Managing Holiday Stress!

Hi all,

Hope all is well with everyone! If I don’t get these posts into place the weekend before, life on the day-to-day gets so busy-nutty, I can’t make the time to catch up! Just last night, hubby-the-hero-not-a-plumber-but-gets-the-job-done (and I, the assistant) wound up making an  unscheduled trip to my mom’s to do an unexpected faucet installation. And seems every night something else is going on. It is what it is, right? (Though I offer no complaints. There are those in serious and dire situations. I am inconvenienced.)

But, that does tie nicely into…

Wow. As a kid there was no way I could understand why adults found the holiday season so stressful.  Christmas is only a small part of the pressure-I’m-feeling deal; all credit, too, to my younger son (14 y/o) who loves the decorating (inside and out), tree-trimming and gift-wrapping enough to take over most of it! Hubby handled lights inside so the place has a loverly glow in the evenings. They’ve done a phenomenal job and taken a lot of the work load off of me! Thanks, men!

IMGP2101

I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.

I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.

This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, "Santa's Footprints." It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.

This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, “Santa’s Footprints.” It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.

Back to the original reason for this post! I’m sharing my dear friend Diane Lang’s article on handling the holiday season in a more peaceful, positive way. Here is the link to her most recent article! If it speaks to you, please feel free to share and possibly come back here to share your thoughts on her timely tips!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Joanna

Retrain the Brain for Success in 2013!

Yep. Hate to admit it, but a new year lurks around the corner, friends. Thanks for being patient with me lately. Ever since Superstorm Sandy made her way up the east coast I can’t seem to get it together. (I’m also working on an extended post that connects to it, but that seems to have loomed as large as the storm that inspired (?) it. 

So what does a blogger do in the meantime? Lean on the help of friends, thank you very much. Here is  the latest from therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang–and exactly what this blogger needed :)! I so thank her for the today’s tips and now turn the blog over to Diane…

      

Before we know it the holidays will be in full swing and another new year will be on the horizon.  Now is the time to start reflecting on the past year (not dwelling – there is a difference) and looking forward to a new year.  As we set goals and resolutions start preparing now for success in 2013 (and still for 2012!), here are nine tips to retrain your brain for success:  

1. Thoughts produce actions. Change your actions/behaviors by changing how you think. Be self-aware of your negativity. Once you are aware, you can make changes.

2. Know your triggers. What locations or people cause you stress? Once you figure out your triggers, you can set up boundaries and limitations.

3. Make positive affirmations a daily habit. Start every day with a positive thought. For example: I’m healing from an illness so I wake up daily saying, “I’m healthy and happy!” or “I’m feeling better each day.”

4. Listen to yourself talk.  Remove words such as: I can’tI won’tI shouldn’tI don’t wantcould,wouldmaybe, etc. Use new POSITIVE words: I chooseI canI wantI amit’s my choiceI’m free to, etc.

5. Emotional detox. Remove the toxic people from your life. Moods and emotions are contagious so you want to surround yourself with positive people. If you’re surrounded by toxic people, they can drain you and bring you down.

6. Change the things you can control.  When making changes work on things you CAN control; if you constantly work on things you can’t control, you will be setting yourself up for failure. You will feel frustrated and stressed. Work on what you CAN.

7. Clear your emotional debt.  What old thoughts or habits are you holding onto? What need is it fitting? What new thought could you replace it with? What are you afraid of?

8. Visualize the change.  What does your life look like with the new changes and thoughts? How do you act differently? How do you feel? How has your environment or people change? Visualize you with the new habits/thoughts. If you can see it, you can get there!

9. Stick with it!  Be patient, kind and gentle with yourself. Change is a process that takes time and work.

As always, Diane’s thoughts and tips are right on time and I’m always grateful to have them to share with all of you! Please feel free to contact her at her website, and please consider adding one of her books to your gift-list for that special person who–like me–might need to slow down!

Have a great day and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Joanna

SAD–Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 2)

Welcome to Thursday, friends and followers. For those whose kids brought home pillowcases full of Halloween candy, good luck on dealing with having it in the house, lol! If you’re stuck with leftover candy and/or acquired way-too-much to keep, you may want to consider looking into local programs that ship candy to our military personnel overseas. Sometimes what appear to be the smallest acts of kindness can bring joy to folks under a totally different type of stress–and who doesn’t love a care package?

   

Back to today’s topic! Last time, my dear friend Diane Lang discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder and some of its apparently known causes. (Here’s the link to Part 1–please remember to come back!)

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder – 10 Tips to Prevent the Winter Blues 

There are treatment options for SAD so you can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days.  Here are some tips to help prevent the winter blues:

1. Get as much light as you can even when you’re indoors. Open Tahoe shades, roll up the curtains, move your desk near the windows, etc.

2. Spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. The weather is cold and snowy but we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial. Go outside for quick walks and sit in the sun to help lift your spirits. After a few days of spending some time outdoors, you will start feeling a little better.

3. Add exercise into your daily routine. Exercise, even just walking, produces endorphins and reduces stress hormones at the same time so you get a boost of happiness.

4. Make sure to add some fun into your life. Even though the weather keeps us homebound, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Instead of feeling trapped inside, find ways to engage in things you love.

5. Be social even in the winter months. Adding more social activities where you will be surrounded with family and friends can give the extra support you need.

6. Take a vacation. Some clients feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, if this is the case setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to.

7. Try “Light Therapy.” We know that increased sunlight helps improve the symptoms of SAD. There are certain lights you can buy called “Light Therapy Box” which mimics outside light and helps you lift your mood and spirits.

8. See a counselor before winter starts. If you have a mild case, you can take preventive methods such as seeking a counselor right before late fall to start talking to someone who can help.

9. Medications - Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients.

10. Psychotherapy (i.e., counseling) is another great option. The therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.

What I love about Diane’s tips is how practical each is–and most at little to no damage to one’s wallet or purse. #3 is probably my saving grace. Exercise–especially walking and/or dancing to my favorite tracts–keeps me upbeat. The endorphins–i.e., feel-good hormones–released when one exercises regularly are for real. And feeling good about how I look just bumps up my mood and outlook that much  more!

As always, special thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and ideas! And to you of course, for stopping by and adding to the possibilities via sharing what has worked for you. And if you please, won’t you take a moment click one of the SHARE buttons?

Take care all!

Joanna

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 1)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope all is well in your respective worlds. (Somehow, I’m getting by without tennis but that might be a good thing, lol.)

So: Fall is in full swing and the chill is upon us! If there were one season I could skip, it would be winter. Don’t hate it but I don’t look forward to it.

         

Summary:  As the cold weather approaches, therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, explains what Seasonal Affective Disorder is, symptoms of it, and 10 tips to prevent the winter blues so we can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days. 

It’s almost that time of year again — cold weather, snow, ice, clouds and days with less sunlight.

For parents, winter is a tough time — finding activities that are always inside, worrying about snow days and delays and making sure kids get plenty of physical exercise even though the weather is cold and the days are shorter.

On top of that some parents (and non parents) have to deal with a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression usually happens in the winter months due to the weather and shorter periods of daylight. Being that this type of depression isseasonal, the symptoms usually come back the same time every year and go away around the same time. The symptoms usually start late fall or early winter and the symptoms start to disappear when the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight return.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are havingseasonal affective disorder, here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD.

1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months.

2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated.

3.  The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc. start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses.

4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits.

5. Social withdrawal – loss of interest in social activities and hobbies. I know a few clients who “hibernate” during the winter months. They don’t leave their house very often during the winter months, they stop socializing and enjoying their daily activities – they start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. Watch out for this pattern.

The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is still unknown, but we know environmental factors plays a role. I have a client who lives in upstate New York near a lake and gets “the lake effect” where he gets so much snow and very little sun all winter. This client has had SAD at the same time every year since his move to upstate New York.  We also know that SAD can run in the family – genetics plays a role. SAD is more common in women and we usually see symptoms starting in young adulthood.

Think we’ll stop here for today, class. Thursday I’ll post Diane’s 10 Tips to prevent the winter doldrums. I know I start counting the days until spring beginning with the winter solstice! 

Have a great day!

Joanna

Ten Tips To Sweep Out Stress–Declutter Your Life

Hi everyone,

So sorry I’ve been MIA these past two weeks–keeping up with added running around on my to-do list and not all of it mine, lol. Hopefully, life will return to normal sooner than later.

Lucky for me I’ve got wonderful friends sending great content this way. Then I get to share with you! Here are Diane Lang’s top ten tips for minimizing stress. (Thanks, Diane!)

BIO: Diane Lang – Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist – is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living. Lang offers expertise in multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs.  In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and Centenary College.

     

1. Basic needs – Make sure your basic needs are met. Keep a journal for a week of what you eat, how much sleep you get, did you exercise, etc. At the end of the week you can get a clear picture of what’s going on in your life and what changes you can make.

2. Gratitude – start your day off with gratitude checks – this will help you see things clearly and change your perspective.

3. Can/can’t control – work on what you can control. If we continue to work on things we have no control over, we will always feel frustrated and stressed.

4. Social support – have a support system set up.

5. Self soothe – when things become stressful and you’re feeling out of balance, find ways to calm down by doing activities that soothe you such as a bath, talking a walk, listening to music, etc.

6. Pay it forward – we always feel happier when we help others.

7. Exercise is the one of the best and most natural ways to de-stress. If we walk four times a week for 30 minutes, each time we get the similar results as taking an anti-anxiety drug.

8. Nature instantly calms us – spend more time outdoors.

9. Add variety to your life and spice it up. Every time we try something new we get a boost of happiness – when you’re happy you are less stressed.

10. Enjoy the simple things in life – take the small things you love like a cup of coffee, talking to your friend, reading a book and actually enjoy it. Spend time doing that one activity.

I love how number 10 ties it all together, as every one of these suggestions really is simple and easy to employ. I try really hard to incorporate each one but sometimes fall short with #4 and #9.

Your turn! How do you destress? Any of the above areas you feel a need to work on? Did you get the Halloween candy yet?

Have a great week, friends,

Joanna

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