Doing Life Together

lonelyMillions of people feel depressed when they hear the words to that popular Christmas song: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”.  For many, the holidays are times of loss and loneliness.

If you are lonely, it’s important to first identify the reason for your loneliness. Is it due to the death of a loved one, a recent separation or divorce, a military deployment, distance from family, singleness? The reason may not be immediately changeable, but does require good coping skills in order to avoid sinking in to depression.

Here are 10 suggestions on how to deal with your loneliness:

1. Stay engaged in life.

Don’t isolate yourself. Plan to attend activities that don’t require a partner—a sing-along at church, a cooking demonstration, or a book signing.

2. Exercise self-care.

Get out an exercise. Eat well. Treat yourself to a massage or a good book. Take up a hobby.

3. Get a pet.

Pets make great companions if you can afford them and can work them in to your lifestyle.

4. Develop an attitude of gratitude.

Studies show that focusing on your blessings improves your mood.

5. Lose the self-pity.

There is always someone with a story more desperate than yours. Life is hard and loss happens. God helps us through hardship, but He never promised a life without heartache.

6. Help others.

Serve the homeless, take cookies to the elderly, or organize an event for a nursing home. Because our extended family doesn’t live in the area, we invite international university students who can’t go home for holiday dinners over to our house. Be creative.

7. Rethink your expectations.

With all the hype around the holidays, it is easy to think everyone is gathering and having the time of their life. Assess your situation, make realistic expectations and actively work at them.

8. Evaluate your friendships.

Have you spent time all year cultivating friends? If not, this may be one reason you are feeling lonely. Decide to make changes in the coming year to build relationships. 

9. Do not use alcohol, shopping, eating or other vices to cope with lonely feelings.

When you feel down, write a list of behaviors that are healthy. Your list could include listening to upbeat music, calling a friend, writing in a journal, or reading the Bible.

10. Don’t give in to hopelessness.

Get out your Bible, read the promises of God, pray and worship. God never leaves you and offers His spirit to comfort you.


c1 cookiesWhose idea was it to invent the Christmas cookie and give us days of eating temptation?

Actually, the tradition of the Christmas cookie can be traced to Medieval European recipes.  During the 1500s, the Christmas cookie was popular all over Europe. Then the Dutch and Germans brought it to the shores of America in the 1600s. (No wonder I love cookies. I’m German American.)

But enough about history, I’m struggling to say NO to the cookie and YES to the dress. I love Christmas cookies. There is nothing better than a cup of coffee with two or three cookies on a cold winter day. Then a few for dessert and…well you know the drill. The problem is that the cookie sessions make it harder to fit into those holiday outfits. 

It’s not that we have to forego cookies during this season—that thought alone would lead us to overeat. We can have a few cookies. 

According to Cornell University researchers Brian Wansink and Jeffrey Sobal, we make around 200 food decisions a day. But not all those decisions are in our conscious awareness or prompted by hunger. I can honestly say that my intake of cookies usually has nothing to do with hunger.

So, what does cause me to grab two or three cookies a day for pure enjoyment, forgetting that this will impact my wardrobe?

Sometimes, just seeing the food is enough to get us to overeat. The presence of beautifully decorated cookies on a holiday table screams, “Try me.” And the facts that they are ever-present this time of the year and prominently displayed everywhere you look make the cookie monster in us grab a few extras for the road.

Say NO to the Cookie So You Can Say YES to the Dress!

Strategy #1: Don’t leave a tray of cookies out on the counter.

Freeze them in foil and put them away, so you can’t see them. Forget those cookie exchanges; you come home with about 10 dozen – too much temptation. The smell of baking cookies prompts us to eat as well. For many of us, those smells remind us of childhood and the love associated with family meals and treats.

Strategy #2: Move away from the smell.

Embrace those warm fuzzy moments of childhood with a photo album instead of a baker’s dozen. Be careful even after the holidays. The colder it gets, the more we want those carbs.

Strategy #3: Go exercise even when it is cold.

Get up and move instead of eat. We eat just because the cookies are there and because we’re not doing anything else.

Strategy #4: Follow the hara hachi principle of Japanese eating.

Eat until you are 80 percent full. Press pause and ask your stomach, Are you full yet? Grazing each day on the extra calories of Christmas goodies will get us all a pound or two that we later regret. So the next time you stare down a plate of cookies that you could devour, press pause and ask, “Do I really need that cookie?” Hopefully, you and I can answer, “No”… at least a few times.


conflict 2 Jackie and Mike felt like they were constantly battling over small things. Like them, most of us need a little help when it comes to dealing with conflict in our relationships. Here are 10 things NOT to do. They only worsen the situation.

1) Make assumptions about the person or situation. Assume, do not ask, about perceptions, motivations or reactions.

2) Even though conflict is not always personal, take it that way!

3) Blame as much and as often as you can.

4) Make an effort to avoid problems and hope they magically work out.

5) Go after the person’s character, not the action.

6) Tell other people how unreasonable the person is. Don’t keep the conflict between the two of you.

7) In fact, make it public and bring it up in a public place rather than waiting to be somewhere private.

8) Bring up the conflict and then tell the person you don’t have time to deal with it.

9) Bring up conflict when you are upset, angry, not feeling well or especially irritated.

10) Address the problem via social media or email rather than in person.

Thankfully, Time Magazine chose Pope Francis as their Man of the Year, not Miley Cyrus! When I heard the announcement, it gave me a moment of hope. He is deserving of that award. But in one way, he was a surprising choice.

Headlines are made by the sensationalists. And even though I’m growing weary of the obscenity passed off as entertainment, it pulses through our culture like a life force. Yet, it is the same old obvious ploy–be as obscene and sexual as possible. Madonna, who is more my age, is spewing out trash talk like she is 18. Why? According to the Pet Shop Boys, “She’s got to be obscene to be believed.”

And then there is the king offender of sensibilities, Kanye West, whose mix of obscenity and narcissism, just makes me want to diagnosis and treat him. And Jay Z, who is regularly seen with our President, seems limited in his command of the English language. His lyrics are basically trash talk. It all lacks creativity and the beauty of the arts.

We no longer  need cable or the Internet to awaken our animal instincts–prime time will give it to us. The singing glee type people were doing Nelly’s, “It’s getting  hot in here, so take off all your clothes” song on a family show last night!

It’s all become so casual. I even saw a blog recently suggesting Jesus would use the F word if he were living in today’s world. Really, I don’t think so. Why is it that when people get saved, THEY report that God cleans up their language and their thoughts? And why would Jesus use a word that degrades sexuality and women?

What’s happening here is a desensitization to obscenity and sex. It’s the proverbial frog simmering in the boiling water.

Catering to our lowest impulses does not make America great. And it saddens me that  we import obscenity and animal sexuality to the world through our entertainment. But as long as we continue to buy this stuff, our entertainers will keep doing it. Bottom line, if we decide we don’t want this stuff and it stops selling, we might see less.

And occasionally, we’ll have a moment when someone brings in civility and chooses the Pope over a rebellious girl trying to shock her way to the top! It used to be the other way around, we would have moments of vulgarity sprinkled in to the civility. Now, we get excited when civility wins the day. But thankfully, civility won the day on the cover of Time.


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