Doing Life Together

ID-100288088It’s a new year. Time to question your thinking, “I might need this someday!”

All year long I’ve stared at that cluttered basement–wrapping paper everywhere, half-emptied boxes scattered over the floor, bins of “stuff” that need to be sorted and no sense of order. It is driving me crazy and time to take action. I need to get organized! Sometimes, just looking at it all feels overwhelming and I don’t even want to begin the task! So I’m writing to you, but taking my own advice. I’m getting organized and creating tips to help:

1) Look at the space of clutter. Can you group items? If so, move them together for storage. For example, I can move all the Christmas decorations to one spot, the books to another, and old pictures to another.

2) Decide how to store items. I need more bins, shelves and a system. Do I want to stack and store? Buy a few cheap shelves and get things off the floor? Buy see through bins so I can tell what is in each bin if I need something.

3) One I have enough storage items and have grouped things together, tackle one area first. I don’t have to do the entire basement! Just my one area of books or pictures first. This makes the task less daunting and also gives me a sense of success because one part is not days of work.

4) Schedule a de-clutter session. The tendency is to go all out and lose steam because there is too much to do in one attempt. So pace yourself. Work an area for an hour or two and stop.

5) Photograph the kid’s artwork and pitch it. I know, this sounds cruel, but boxes of old pictures and art are never going to be brought up to the light of day. So why not take pictures of it all to enjoy and savor the memories?

6) File all important documents and store them in a safe or someplace secure. Boxes of paper can be easily misplaced, lost or thrown away by accident. Better yet, shred what you don’t need and scan the documents you do need.

7) Take garbage bags and follow the rule–it you haven’t used it in two years, give it away. And if you are saving items for your kids, ask if they even want them. I saved a set of dishes for years and my daughter-in-law had no interest in it. Time to ditch the hand me downs that people really don’t want.

8) If something has true emotional meaning, find a bin, store it and decide later, but at least organize it.

9) Here is a question I’ve started asking, “If something happened to me, would anyone in my family want this?” If the answer is NO, I’m more apt to give it away.

10) If you still feel overwhelmed, ask help from a friend. I visited the basement of a friend and saw her system. It was awesome and easy. She walked me through the process and I have a plan. Find someone who is killer at organization.

Finally, if the thought of this is making you anxious, you may have issues with hoarding or difficulty organizing even with the tips. If so, you may consider counseling. Hoarding disorder is real and a professional therapist can help.

But for most of us, time to think like Nike and JUST DO IT!




It’s the start of a brand new year. Happy 2015!

Once again, you determine to make a fresh start. You’ve thought it through. There are a few things on your list of TO DOs this new year. So, like millions, you make those resolutions.

The top resolution for most of us involves fitness. Lose those 10 unwanted pounds. Get to the gym everyday! Stop smoking and eat better.

Well, if you want to up your chances, move to Florida. Geography matters in terms of follow through. Floridians do better than New Yorkers or Californians.

And so does follow through. You have to figure out a way to make it happen. Otherwise, you will struggle to juggle that schedule and be part of the 8% that actually follow through on New Year’s resolutions.

So what else can do you to make those resolutions stick?

1) Aim low not high. This is especially true with weight loss. Don’t start the year with lofty goals like losing 50 pounds. Rather, begin with a small goal of 5, then 10. It’s psychologically easier to attain and you won’t feel like a failure if it takes awhile.

2) Start early. Did you know that it is better to start  changes in August, not December? We are geared up and ready to go (Maybe it feels like the start of a new school year!) and January is the worse month for follow-through! You’ve heard of Christmas in July, how about New Year’s Resolutions in August?

3) Stay the course. If you can go 90 days, you have a better chance of making a change. Think about the gym–most people who crowd the machines in January are gone by March. They haven’t made exercise a habit. So from the beginning, make this a commitment in your head, something you have to do regularly to make it stick.

4) Tell someone who will make you accountable. Like studying, if I know the teacher will quiz me, I study better. So find a friend or loved one and make that person your accountability partner. And your odds of success go way up of there is a financial incentive attached.

So are New Year’s Resolutions a good idea?

Only if you are truly commitment, juggle your schedule to make changes, stay the course, have realistic goals and are accountable to others. Otherwise, you join the 92% of Americans who have good intentions, but don’t follow through! And that doesn’t feel like a Happy New Year!


ID-100111171Caregiving an elderly parent is not an easy job.

The toll of decision making, talking with doctors, flying home on a regular basis and taking care of multiple needs can be physically and emotionally exhausting. For me, it wasn’t an option not to do this. My mom took care of me when I needed her. Now it was my turn.

Even when you choose to give care, it can create an emotional strain. The National Family Caregivers Association reports that almost half of all caregivers suffer from depression; two-thirds regularly feel frustrated; and two of five feel “debilitated” due to the changes in family dynamics (same reference as above).

The emotional side of caregiving raises several issues:

1) Your own mortality. Care taking an aging parent causes you to think about your own aging process and eventual death.

 2) Who will take care of you if you need help some day? You may begin to think more about your own options and plans for care.

 3) Unresolved parent-child problems. The hope of many is that taking care of a parent may reverse a damaged relationship. When this doesn’t happen it can be even more distressing for the adult child. For example, a daughter might find the father who never gave approval, still not giving his approval, or the mother who was depressed and emotionally unavailable, still emotionally distant.

 4) Remorse about the past. You may have regrets that were never discussed.

 5) Reversal of roles. You become the parent and the parent becomes the child. This reversal of roles requires adjustment for both child and parent.

All of this requires extra doses of patience, understanding and grace. Try to honor your parents no matter how difficult the care taking becomes. Remember their dignity. They desire to be independent and self-sufficient as long as possible. Aging parents often worry that they are a burden to their adult children. They are not used to their children having to do for them. Put yourself in their place, having to depend on others when they have lived a life of independence. This perspective helps.

Be aware of the emotional issues raised and then work to manage or resolve them if possible. If you need the help of a therapist, find one who will counsel you and who specializes in treatment with the aged. Take advantage of help and support so you don’t become one of the seriously stressed.

The positive side of caretaking is that you will be more aware of what you need to do in terms of your own planning, you become more self-confident in terms of your ability to deal with health care workers and you can end well with your parent, not having regrets about the end of their lives. So do what you can, watch your stress levels and get plenty of support along the way.




I had to laugh as I watched the commercial. A woman and man were running towards each other just like you see in an old romantic movie. But as they get nearer and nearer, arms stretched out ready for an embrace, they by pass each other. The woman’s face drops, she cries and looks distressed. As she lifts her head, a red sweater is hanging on a clothes line in front of her. The tag line, “The man may leave you, but the sweater never will!”

Hardly a Hallmark moment!

But the idea that a gift can bring you joy is only true for a moment. More is needed for continuous joy! And there is one gift that lasts for a lifetime and brings comfort and joy. It’s not the sweater!

My mom’s Hummel Nativity scene greets you when you walk in the door. I love this time of year. The house is lit up with lights, candles glow in the evenings, and the fireplace warms the house as we enjoy the beauty of the tree. But the manager scene is front and center as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. It is the reason we are joyous.

God gave us a gift, HIs Son sent as a baby.

This gift is not for one year, but lasts for all the years to come. And this gift continues into eternity. It is the gift of eternal life spent with God.

No dream destination can match this prize. No sweater, car, new gadget or money can bring such comfort and joy.

Today, on Christmas, receive the gift of God’s Son. It is freely given. JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!