Monday, November 14, 2016

The Ultimate Holiday Gift That Truly Keeps On Giving

The airport was crowded, noisy, chaotic. Nothing unusual about that. I was waiting, properly queued up, to board my flight. To my right was a line of nine wheelchair-bound folk also waiting patiently. All but one, who was waiting not so patiently. She was sixth in the line of pre-boarding wheelchairs, and she was not happy about it. She muttered and groused about how long it was taking, and who did they think they were to put her sixth in line, she’d get a terrible seat, and it was going to be too hot anyway or too cold, they  could never get the air right, and she’d probably be next to someone coughing and hacking, and for sure she’d get sick….

How much complaining can one person do? I wondered to myself. Considering that the flight was boarding in plenty of good time to leave right on schedule, that she was being wheeled on as a pre-boarder before everyone else, so no worries about getting pretty much whatever seat she wanted, what on earth did she have to be so grouchy about?

Then it hit me. I was complaining about the lady complaining! Ack! Right on the heels of my very unpleasant self-discovery, I remembered my own litany of “woe is me” yada-yada during a meeting I attended the previous week: “This is a complete waste of my time. What am I doing here? Gosh, still another 45 minutes to go? This is ridiculous.” And on and on, albeit silently, just as grouchy-ouchy as the airport lady.

That did it. I decided that the best possible gift I could give to my friends and family this Holiday season wasn’t one wrapped in sparkly red-and-green ribbon, but rather one lovingly wrapped in good intentions. A three-parter, actually.

1. I would cease to complain about whatever I didn’t like about what was going on.
Period. I would zip it, put a lid on it, change the subject, go to my happy place, do whatever it took to quit complaining, out loud or in my head.

2. I would take responsibility for my situation. If I didn’t like something, I would change it. If I couldn’t change the situation, I’d walk away or change the channel, and leave it be. If I could neither change it nor walk away, I’d daydream, go somewhere else in my head. Which given my over-developed imagination is pretty easy to do.

3. I’d put my focus on what was working for me, on whatever I could find to genuinely like or appreciate in the situation. I could, in that time-waster meeting, for example, have shifted my focus from the time-wasting to deliberately looking for even a single nugget of useful information. I’ll bet with just a tiny bit of effort, I could have found something of value to take home with me.

I’ve been practicing my Holiday gift approach, cracking myself up at how much internal complaining I seem to be capable of, but at least now aware of it, and with a game plan I’m actively working on. Does it take patience, determination, persistence? Sure. But what the heck, as far as I’m concerned, it’s well worth it—my small contribution toward peace on earth, good-will towards all.

Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season!!

How to Get Along With Family During the Holidays

What will family gatherings be like as the holidays begin? The presidential race has made it a tough year on relationships between family members who don’t agree on politics. That rawness is still going to be around during the holidays as we gather to celebrate the season.

The perfect holiday present we can give family this year isn’t one wrapped in sparkly red-and-green ribbon, but rather one lovingly wrapped in good intentions.

Here are guidelines to follow during the holidays to keep relationships—and gatherings--peaceful.

--Cease to complain or argue when you hear something that you don’t like. Period. Zip it, put a lid on it, change the subject, go to your happy place. Do whatever it takes to stop an argument before it starts. No one is going to change someone else’s mind.

--Take responsibility for your situation. If you don’t like what someone says and you feel your blood pressure rise, walk away. You may not have control over the words and actions of your crazy Uncle Harry, but you have control of what you say and do. And by the way, keeping your blood pressure under control is good for your cardiovascular system, which leads to a longer, healthier life.

--Find common ground. Focus on whatever you can genuinely appreciate. It could be great taste of your mom’s pumpkin pie, catching up on family member activities or celebrating the addition of a new baby niece or nephew. With just a tiny bit of effort, you can find something of value and joy that can be shared with others.

Does this approach take patience, determination, persistence? Sure, but it’s well worth the try—and a small yet meaningful contribution toward peace on earth, goodwill towards all.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Ride the Wave: Hawaii 5-0’s Surprising Lesson in Thankfulness

Just the other night, I was watching one of my favorite TV shows, “Hawaii 5-0,” where one of the main characters featured in that night’s episode was a young woman, a veteran, who’d served in Afghanistan, during which time she’d lost both legs. The show was forthright in its brief portrayal of some of the tough challenges such vets can face: depression, falling into substance abuse to alleviate the physical and mental anguish, homelessness.

But the clincher, for me, was to see this young woman, who (in the story) had been a surfing champion before her service, find the courage (with help from one of the show’s regulars) to ride the waves in her bikini on a board equipped with special hand-holds so she could “stand” proud and true, on the little bit that was left of her upper legs, a surfer once again.

I still cry when I think of it. Not only because I think the show is to be commended for its refusal to hide the character’s disability, but because it brought home to me vividly, that every one of our lives matter and have meaning.  Disabled lives, black lives, vet lives, transgender lives, homeless lives, children’s lives, white lives, Native American lives, immigrant lives, and all the other lives too numerous to mention. No matter what label or category you prefer to use to describe yourself (“Other” is my favorite), the truth is that all our lives are important.

You matter. You count. You are important. And so is everyone else in your world. In this season, where thankfulness is the order of the day, I want to be thankful for all those in my world. I want to remember, when someone annoys me, or does something differently than I would, or makes me downright mad, that, as my friend Mike Dooley so wisely says: “People are always doing the best they can, with what they’ve got, from where they are.” Regardless of what anyone else thinks of how they’re going about things.

That includes you, and me. And everyone else. To look at oneself and others as doing the best they can in that moment is humbling. It kicks in my compassion, my patience, and reminds me to try to understand others, rather than knee-jerk into criticism or blame.

And for that, I am deeply, truly thankful.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Meet an “AMAZING!” who returns to the big screen once again to entertain and uplift us all!

JERRY LEWIS, 90, who stars in “Max Rose” this year, brought in $2.6 billion for the Muscular Dystrophy Association with his Labor Day telethon-marathons from 1966 – 2010. Now that’s devotion! Of being 90, he says he’s been told he’s supposed to be slowing down, but he hasn’t, not at all. Maybe it has something to do with all that good humor . . .

Are you an Amazing? Do you know an Amazing?
Tell us about it!! At
For more, go to

Meet an “AMAZING!” who glories in her life-affirming strength!

WILLIE MURPHY, 79, started weight lifting at 73, and a mere 4 years later could deadlift 215 lbs! That’s more than twice her own 105 pounds. She’s proud to be able to carry her grand-kids, shovel snow, and push her car when it gets stuck!

Are you an Amazing? Do you know an Amazing?
Tell us about it!! At
For more, go to

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Next Avenue Article: Think Old Age Means Decline? Then It Probably Will

 Image result for next Avenue

I recently wrote an article for Next Avenue: Think Old Age Means Decline? Then It Probably Will. 

Notice the older people around you who are living happily, who think of age merely as passage through time — those who expect to continue to enjoy good health, enough energy to do what pleases them, who figure life is meant to be lived fully, until the day their expiration date comes due. Use them as your benchmark of what life can be like for you as you travel through your 60s, 70s and beyond.

For the entire article, here's the link:

Monday, October 17, 2016

Want to Stay Young? Stay Busy

Staying “young” mentally is something you work at by keeping busy and active, and that work pays off.
What if ‘busyness’ is kind of like a fountain of youth? What if being busy, staying very active is a way to stay young?”

A groundbreaking study from The Dallas Lifespan Brain Study of 300 older individuals between the ages of 50 and 89, found that the brains of people who were busy, worked better—regardless of their age: “Busier people tend to have better cognition, especially episodic memory. Our findings offer encouragement to maintain active, busy lifestyles throughout middle and late adulthood.” The study noted that busier people could reason better, had better working memory, better vocabulary and had better ability to remember specific events from the past.

Since mental decline is something many of us fear as we go from 50 to 60 to 70 and beyond, this is extremely valuable information. Get busy, and you can keep those brains humming along just fine.

In practical terms, take a second look at retirement. Maybe the fantasy of sitting on a beach sipping pina coladas for those 20 or 30 or 40 years post-retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe you’d be better off sipping a pina coladas on an occasional Friday evening after work.

If your job is not-so-pleasant and you can afford to opt out of the working world, take on a volunteer role: There are volunteer organizations to fit every conceivable interest. There are even online volunteer matching organizations that help you find the best volunteer fit for you. And of course there are hobbies you never had time for, physical activity to keep your body healthy and time even to start a second career.

The Dallas Lifespan Brain Study points out that the more opportunities to learn and the more we are in contact with different people and situations, the more we stimulate our brains. A mix of activities--some creative, some physical, some giving back, some just plain fun—can be a wonderful approach to a busy, meaningful and rewarding long life.