Encouraging women to evolve and create new opportunities at any age.

Thoughts for the Holidays

Kendra Brown
The actual Pages had quite a lively discussion about the difficulties inherent in holidays, so I “recruited” the fictional Ellen (on page 58 of Eavesdropping) to earnestly jump right into the subject. 
”I’ve come to hate holidays, really,” Ellen was saying.  “I used to love them – decorating the house, preparing special foods, everyone together.  Now my favorite holiday is Columbus Day.  No one expects anything special on Columbus Day.”
While you might not have exactly the same reaction as Ellen, holidays can be a challenge to all of us beyond the gift lists: social events with difficult people, juggling relationships (some of them wounded over time), and coping with sad feelings about those we’ve loved and lost – their memories made all the more poignant by the holidays.  Our expectations about the holidays and how they “should be” often contribute to depression, or at the least, to dissatisfaction.
As was our custom at the end of meetings, the Pages listed thoughts and suggestions about meeting the challenges of holidays (pages 65-66).  Although our specific suggestions might not address your current situation, the theme may be helpful:
Take time to examine your holiday plans :
  • Discard those that no longer work for you. 
  • Someone said (and I paraphrase):  Don’t just think outside the box.  Think:  there is no box!  Don’t box yourself into an old holiday tradition that no longer fits. 
  • Gift yourself. 
  • Be creative and design something that will add joy to your celebration.
And speaking of gifting those we love, we’re delighted to include this (paraphrased) from the Rev. Dr. Todd Cederberg, Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stuart, Florida. 
The tools and questions found in Appendix C of Eavesdropping, Writing an Ethical Will, can help people think about the place of final gifts and final blessings.  Here, the topic is gingerly yet very practically opened up.  The material presented might be incorporated into one’s plan.  In the process, one has the opportunity of thinking about final plans in a very different way; one that might just take away some of the anxiety - and that's always a good thing!
One of the things we try not to think about is what happens after we're gone.  On the surface it's a depressing question.  Yet, we can never really avoid it.  It's always there.  And, surprisingly, by denying it we may be robbing ourselves of one of the biggest gifts we can give.
Sunday, December 8th Parade magazine had an essay by Connie Schultz: "You Won't Be Home for Christmas?" it’s delightful!   Funny, no matter your age- there is a compromise to how you spend your holiday.  Anyway it turns out, spending time with family is a privilege. 

Looking Forward to 2014
And a Happy
and Healthy New Year!

As promised, here is Part II on Healthy Living from our reader, Kelly Turnbull
Of the four thought provoking categories laid out in the July newsletter: "Preparing for the Storm" health and physical fitness issues top the list for me right now.  Although I practice yoga and walk consistently, I need to step up my strength training that I've let slide a bit:  nothing too crazy, simply exercises that will allow me to continue to lug around that bag of mulch in the garden or to hoist a suitcase into an overhead bin on a plane.  Exercises that ensure I will be able to continue to live functionally.  I regret that my grandmother didn’t stay in better physical condition. I think she may have been able to avoid some of her current medical issues.  Small amounts of strength training help at any age. 
The western diet is heavily influenced by meat and dairy based foods. I think we should seriously consider a diet that incorporates more whole grains, beans, healthy fats, fresh vegetables and fruit to equip our bodies to live long and well.  Two of my goals this past year have been to get more leafy greens on the dinner table and increase my vegetable intake at lunch.  Other changes I've made recently that will help me live a healthier life?  I've significantly reduced my gluten intake.
For my final tip, I recommend a daily practice of meditation. 
  1. Samatha Meditation: This is a gentle training of the mind in which a support is used to bring one's attention back again and again to the object of support.  It teaches us to experience everything we encounter more fully including our thoughts and feelings. 
  2. Mindfulness Meditation:  This draws attention and awareness to what one is doing right now -in the present moment.  It enhances awareness of our deeper selves as we encounter situations in our lives. 
  3. Metta Meditation:  Develops and focuses on cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for all sentient beings, including oneself. 
  4. Insight Meditation:  Teaches about the workings of the natural mind so that we are able to see (or begin to develop the capacity to see) things as they are rather than through our preconceptions.   This is primarily done through resting in open awareness and resting with natural mind.  
Kelly Turnbull  

From the Bookshelf:

And just in case you think of exercise like a necessary medicine – something you must do but don’t have to enjoy:  how about this creative idea –combining walking, reading and engaging with interesting women.   This sounds like fun!  
From Terry Gray
Gail Borden Library in Elgin, Ilinois is an award winning library with a world of wonderful offerings each month.  I enjoy Toastmasters at the library twice a month, concert series, American Bald Eagle watching during the winter and recently I joined the Walking Book Club. The perfect combination of two things I love: walking and reading, with the added benefit of meeting some amazing women too.
Nancy Haggard, Volunteer Coordinator at GBL shares a brief history:
“The Walking Book Club started in June of 2009. Danielle Henson and I were asked by library staff to organize and lead a walking book club in April of 2009. We had no model to follow and I had never even been involved in a book club before. When asked, we looked at each other and Danielle said "I don't read fiction" and I replied "I don't read non-fiction" and together we pointed at one another and said "I'll do it if you will!" Danielle has now read fiction and I now have read lots of non-fiction!!
We researched book clubs and learned a great deal but nothing to help with a walking group. So we picked a date for the first meeting, picked titles from the libraries Book-Club-in-a-Bag collection and advertised in the GBPL newsletter and on the library's plasma screen. We mapped out safe walking routes, partnered with the Centre of Elgin for indoor walking, and hoped and prayed that someone would show the first night. 18 people did show!
Our plan was to read a book in a 4-week cycle and to discuss that week's section while we walked. With 18 people, it became clear that first night that we would not be able to walk and discuss at the same time. There were too many of us to hear everything and we walked at different paces. So since the second week we have walked for 45 minutes and then discussed for 45 minutes. We walk either on the River Walk bike path or through town in good weather and at the Centre in bad.
Four and a half years later and almost 60 books later, 7 of those charter members are still reading and walking as a group. We have all grown to be good friends and helped each other through tough times and celebrated good times. We have seen movies and plays together, held parties at our homes, even sung Christmas Carols while walking in the snow! We have weathered rain, snow, humidity, 90 degree temps, and lots of mosquitoes!
I can't imagine my life or my job without the Walking Book Club and luckily I don't have to.”
The Walking Book Club has shared their book list.  The members have rated the books with feet- from one toe on up to five feet and four toes. Click here to see a copy and enjoy! 
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Copyright © 2013 Kendra Brown, Ph.D, All rights reserved.

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