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Feeling the Lack of Motivation? Take a Tiny Step

It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Confucius

As I talk with people who are grieving or feel emotionally stuck, I often ask them to do one small thing they aren’t doing now. Dr. Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, calls these “tiny steps.” Increasing a person’s chance for success, however small, increases their motivation to do other things. Make your bed, floss your teeth, walk a block, read a chapter—take a tiny step in a new direction.  

There’s scientific evidence that levels of dopamine tend to be higher in people who get things done. Accomplishing things feels good, increasing levels of dopamine which helps motivate us to want to do more. Ask yourself, “Why does it matter that I ____?” When we connect what we want to do to our values, the chance of moving forward increases. For instance, “I want to be present for my granddaughter” or “I want to honor my mother by a life well-lived.” 

Affirmation: I can motivate myself to move forward.

Coaching questions: What’s keeping you from moving forward? What’s a tiny step you can take? When will you take it? Why does it matter that you regain your motivation? 

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Let Us Fight For Peace

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. General Douglas MacArthur

Like most citizens in the United States, I’m thanking Veterans on this annual Veterans’ Day. My relatives have fought in all the USA wars (except the Spanish American) since and including the Revolutionary War. I currently have a step granddaughter serving in the US Army. I have profound gratitude for their sacrifices. 

I believe the best way to honor our military personnel is to work for peace. Peace within our families, our communities, our country, our world. If we could find a way to eliminate the need for armies, what a wonderful world we would have. I know this is Pollyanna thinking as there is much hatred and greed in the world. However, if we don’t think it, wish for it, pray for it, peace has no chance. 

Affirmation: I believe in peace.

Coaching question: What can I do to bring peace to my corner of the world? 

 

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Tips For Getting Off the Holiday Treadmill

This season, let’s look up and behold the beauty of the here and now.  Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Journal

Thanksgiving in the USA is just three weeks away. For some of us, Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season with Christmas or Hanukkah and then New Years nipping at our heels. Are you looking forward to the season or dreading it? Especially this time of year, it’s easy to get on a treadmill—hustling toward what’s next rather than enjoying what’s present. 

Here are a few questions to consider that might help you to get off the treadmill and, once again, enjoy the season. First, decide what is important to you. Some folks thrive on the “busyness” and, even though they complain, they actually love the craziness of the season. Decide how you want this end-of-the-year to look. What works for you?

To help you realize your vision, consider what’s really important in order for you and your family to have a beautiful, meaningful season. In the age of social media, are cards still viable? Do the kids/grands really need more stuff or would lessons, events, or other non-tangibles be more meaningful? How much is enough when it comes to decorating? How many cookies do you really need to bake? If you’ve recently experienced a loss, how will you take care of yourself during this season? To whom will you confide if you need help? Having the time and energy to spend with the people you love may be the greatest gift—to you and to them.

Affirmation: I have the power to be present during the holidays.

Coaching questions: How do you feel when you honestly answer the questions above—-relieved,  guilty, desperate, selfish, sad? What can you do to remain present this year?

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

How to Handle Unsolicited Advice

It’s quite miraculous when a person feels like they’ve been heard, seen, and understood. Curt Micka, JD 

We’re approaching the season of…..advice giving. That time of year when you see the relatives you haven’t seen since last year. You know, the ones who know how you should live your live. If you want to remain respectful and keep the peace in the midst of their advice-giving, here are a couple of tips.

If the advice or suggestion your relative makes to you isn’t appealing, you don’t need to explain why their idea won’t work or why you don’t want to do it. Instead, take the focus off yourself and switch it to the person who is giving the advice. Be genuinely inquisitive. Say some like, “So tell me more about that? Why do you think that’s a good idea for me?”

To draw the conversation to a close you might say, “I appreciate that you want to help me  be __________(successful, skinny, a better parent, safe as I age). I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet but I’ll consider your advice. Thanks.” 

When you approach their advice with real curiosity, you make the advice-giver feel respected. And, you never know, as you dig deeper, you might find a useful nugget. As you show appreciation, the advice itself becomes less important than the fact that you’re acknowledging their effort to be helpful.

Affirmation: I can reject the advice of others and remain respectful

Coaching request: If you receive unsolicited advice from friends and relatives, practice being curious rather than defensive. Let me know how it works.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

In Memory of Those Lost to Alzheimer’s

I want to tell you how much I miss my mother. Bits of her are still there. I miss her most when I’m sitting across from her. Candy Crowley, Broadcast Journalist

The month of November is known as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan made that designation in 1983. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, at that time there were less than two million people with the disease. Through the years that number has grown to 5.8 million. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.

As I was researching for my book, MOM’S GONE, NOW WHAT? I learned many facts about Alzheimer’s as I read articles and interviewed daughters who had lost or were losing their mothers to this horrific disease. During this time, I had the honor of interviewing, Allie, a young daughter whose mother, Annette, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age forty-seven when Allie was eleven. Allie’s mother died in May, she was fifty-six. 

If you live in the Chicago, IL area or have access to channel WTTW, watch “Too Soon To Forget: The Journey of Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease” on Sunday, November 3 at 1:00 pm or Friday, November 8 at 3:30 am. Allie and her family are featured in this program.

Affirmation: I care about those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and their families. 

Coaching request: If you know someone who is caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s, offer to help them with a meal or an everyday chore. Take time this month to educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease.

fullsizeoutput_fc3.jpegAnnette M. Wheat 11/25/63-5/11/19

What Are Your Halloween Memories?

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam, may luck be yours on Halloween. Unknown

One of the days I especially miss being with my grandchildren is Halloween. When I lived nearby, I attended the school costume parade and went trick or treating with my daughter’s family. Even when my toes froze, I loved being part of the excitement. 

My kids won’t let me forget that, as a health-conscious young mother, one year I gave out nickels and another toothbrushes to Trick or Treaters. Most years I acquiesced and gave out candy. However, after my three kids sorted their candy, their favorite part, I offered them a wrapped gift in exchange for their loot. They could freely keep the candy or accept the gift. They always chose the gift—a big box of crayons or a small toy. Although they loved the sorting, the candy didn’t have much of an allure for them.

In ancient times, it was believed the souls of those who had died returned to visit their homes, and those who had died during the year journeyed to the otherworld on Halloween. Masks were worn to avoid being recognized by ghosts and it is in those ways that witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons became associated with the day. Now, it is a day of fun for children and adults.

Trick or Treat??

Affirmation: Memories and traditions are special. 

Coaching questions: What traditions do you enjoy? How did you celebrate Halloween as a child or with your children? 

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This is my granddaughter, Marcella, dressed up as a taco for halloween this year. 

Beyond Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom. Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese writer

How often do we say, “I forgot….the keys, the sweater, the birthday, a name, a phone number?”  For most of us of a certain age, some forgetfulness is routine. But what about those whose lives are slipping away, those who have passed up simple forgetfulness and are living in a foreign world, one without memories?

As I interviewed daughters for my book on mother loss, I found it particularly heartbreaking talking with those who are losing their mothers to Alzheimer’s disease. One woman said, “My mother is lost to me but not gone.” This mother had forgotten her daughter and everyone else important to her yet she was alive and may live for many more years. One daughter’s story exemplified Gibran’s quote. She said, “My mother used to have great anxiety and worry. As a result, she was often angry and depressed. Now, because of her dementia, she is free of worry and is experiencing joy.” Of course, this daughter knows her mother’s situation will worsen but, in the meantime, she is embracing the moment.

Perhaps you have lost or are losing your mother (or someone else you love) to this terrible disease. I can’t imagine what pain you’re experiencing but I can stand beside you and support you through it.

Affirmation: I’m grateful that my brain is alive and well.

Coaching questions: What does your ability to think, remember, reason mean to you? What can you do to support those who are affected by Alzheimer’s? 

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash