Today is the International day of hugs. I have to admit, I am not the most touchy feely person and I am rattled more than a little when someone spontaneously hugs me, especially if it is someone I have just met or someone I do not know very well. Occasionally, someone will ask if it would be ok to hug me. I generally agree although there have been times when I have just declined with a simple “No, I’m good”. Actually it was one time and he was a pre-plan funeral salesman. It was just wierd.
Despite my reluctance to hug willy-nilly, there have been a number of studies that have shown that hugging has potential benefits – physically and emotionally. Newborns, are known to thrive when the they are hugged, compared to those who are deprived of such physical interaction. The same theory must also be popular with seniors. I am pretty sure one of the prerequisites for working in a nursing home is the ability to pass around hugs like hard candies – which is another story of mine altogether.
I honestly do admire people who are capable of giving out spontaneous hugs to anyone in their immediate vicinity. I had a brother-in-law who gave the best bear hugs. He was an amazing man with a big heart and a total joie de vivre. Unfortunately, he died in a vehicle accident many years ago. The likes of Paul are few and far between. My kids are all good and natural huggers but they are all a little cautious about who they hug. My grandchildren hug anybody, their friends are huggers, it is somewhat of a ‘thing’ with the lot of them.
Happy ‘International Day of Hugs’! It is only one day of the year, make the most of it. Hug your mother, your friend, your sister, or your dog. Hug a stranger – but like not me. I’m good🤗
Tonight I watched the news with my husband. I generally avoid watching our news as it tends to focus on politicians, social issues that are never resolved and news that never happened. Our newscasters once interviewed a golfer who did not get hit by lightning during a storm. That was special. We also heard of Regina’s connection to the Concord that crashed years ago. Fyi – there was no connection. That was the story. 🙄
One of our news segments tonight was looking back at the top five news stories in Saskatchewan in 2019. I do not know who chose these stories but for what it is worth, here we go.
1. Fighting the federal carbon tax. For the record, our premier argues against anything the federal government proposes. Personally, if the carbon tax cost us anything this past year, it was not noticeable and we got a rebate of about $750.00 on our taxes last year to cover it. We spent it on a new patio set.
2. Federal Election. It was painful to watch but ultimately hardly newsworthy.
3. Saskatchewan farmers terrible season. I don’t remember a year when that one did not make the top five news stories for the year.
4. Regina Bypass Opens. Government spends billions to solve a problem that could have been solved with a couple of traffic lights – but it would not have been nearly as impressive. 🤷
5. Mac the Moose from Moose Jaw received a new rack to regain his title as tallest moose in the world after a moose sculpture from Norway took him down.
Personally, I would not have rated all, or probably any, of these stories as top newsmakers in 2019. Regardless, I do think these choices reveal something. In Saskatchewan we are blessed. We see news from around the globe – news of devastating floods, fires, famine and violence and it is unimaginable to us .
In Saskatchewan, we have social issues and there are personal tragedies that affect families and communities, but as a whole, we live in relative peace and security. That should be noted this year and every year – noted and appreciated.
I grew up in a French Catholic home. Religion was a part of our lives every day but even more so at Christmas. For weeks before Christmas, we were put into super drive preparing for the big day. We scrubbed our home from top to bottom, cooked and baked, shopped and wrapped, we prepared for our school Christmas concert (which centred around the Nativity story in those day), we decorated our home and of course we attended choir practice and church services six ways to Sunday. My older, married sisters would arrive with husbands and children and gifts.
By the big day, we were ready for the MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS🎁🎄🎆
And then, my mother would crash and burn. The exhaustion and the stress of weeks of preparation, topped off with a couple of hours at midnight mass, would finally get the best of her. By noon, Mother would be in full meltdown, babies would start to cry, men would start to drink, sisters would start to fight. No Christmas miracles in our home, just bitter disappointment and the obligatory Christmas pictures to prove that we had the happiest of times🙄. By supper, we had all thrown in the towel and spent the evening working at jigsaw puzzles and playing cards.
Once I had my own family, I pretty much carried on the same tradition with a few extra perks thrown in. Christmas in our home was never done until someone had the flu or a case of pneumonia. The epitome had to be the year Danny puked on the Christmas tree. That was a classic. The year my Dad died days before Christmas was memorable. I was almost ready to give up on the MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS by 2003. That was the year our precious Genie was born. We left the hospital at 3:30pm on Christmas Eve with love and joy in our hearts. We were so close. We got home to find that my Mother had decided to place a box of chocolates under the Christmas tree, inspite of our asking her repeatedly not to do that, inspite of our moving them sixteen times. She had no idea our dog would eat them. Good grief! What dog wouldn’t eat them? Really hard to hold onto the Christmas spirit, when you are sitting in the vet’s office on Christmas Eve. 🤦
My family grew up, in spite of our annual Christmas debacles. They all have children of their own and their own Christmas stories to tell. For many years we have been going to my daughter’s for Christmas. I have powered through shopping for gifts and food, while my husband kept a running total of the cost. I went to Christmas concerts, which always seem to be held on December 17th 😢. My daughter would bake and clean. We were always ready for a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE that never quite made it. There was tears, disappointment, arguments, melt downs, way to much noise and just downright unChristmassy behaviour – but we kept powering through and I kept doing my damnedest to aim for a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.
This year my sons are with their in-laws, my husband is at work, my daughter is at her home with her family and we are not there because she has shut me out of her life and banned me from seeing my grandchildren. My father and mother are both gone. I am alone for Christmas Day. I went into this season with no expectations or hope of making this the year of the CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.
Honestly, I am having the best Christmas ever. My sister and her husband were here for an overnight visit a few days ago. We sent out for pizza and had wine. So nice. My sons are coming with their families on the weekend. I have done a bit of baking – some good, some not so much, but whatever. It was Christmassy. Genie’s stepfather dropped her off for a quick visit on the 23rd. She brought us some gifts she had made for us. There were a lot of tears but it was all good. I cooked a ham last night, destroyed the scalloped potatoes but the broccoli was great. After supper, we opened presents. We cried over Genie’s. They were so special. She painted us a picture and wrote a book for Grandpa, telling him how much he meant to her. She gave me a sparkling elephant pin. Today I made myself Pillsbury cinnamon buns for breakfast. I have a turkey in the oven for when Dan gets home from work. I am relaxing by my new fireplace, ready to start doing a jigsaw puzzle. I am happy, at peace, and full of love and good wishes for my family – all of my family. I feel really good. This is is the year of my CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.
The thing is, you can’t make miracles happen. You can’t force them or fake them. Miracles just happen when you let them🕊️
Having spent a good part of my life dealing with stress, I have had ample time figuring out what works, and what does not work for me. These are some of my favourite stress relievers.
1. Nature. There is nothing as calming and perfect as nature for dealing with stress. In Saskatchewan, it is too frigid for a good portion of the year to get warm and fuzzy in the great outdoors. During these times I get my nature fix by going through pictures of nature – mine, those on social media, or even via Google Earth. I also tend to give my houseplants a little more TLC in the winter, just to spend time around something living and green.
2. Positive Affirmations. I keep a journal where I write out positive affirmations every morning. At night, I make a point of sending some special thoughts to any particular challenges I have coming up the next day. Both exercises tend to give me a feeling of control and a positive focus.
3. Deal With It. If I feel myself getting stressed over something I try to deal with it asap. I make the worst call of the day, deal with the most difficult file, go through the most challenging task as early as possible in the day. Once that is over, the rest of the day is easy. I try to tackle any stressful situation in the same manner. I hate personal or medical appointments. Last summer I was seriously behind in that department so I booked up the early days of my summer holiday. In three days I saw my doctor, dentist and optometrist, I got my hair cut, my nails done and my eyebrows trimmed, finally as an added bonus I took my dog to the vet to get her checkup and shots. The rest of my holiday was my best ever!
4. Own The Stress. When I start feeling stressed out, I try to find ways to make myself feel better and relieve my stress. I take a walk, do breathing exercises and meditation, practice yoga, or take a bath. I work on getting plenty of rest and make sure I am getting a healthy diet – particularly cutting back on salt, sugar, and caffeine.
5. Stretch My Safety Zone. I got this bit of advice from an article I read years ago. It said, (I am paraphrasing) “You will always feel discomfort when you are expanding your safety zone, but if you keep retracting back into your safety zone to avoid the discomfort, you will ultimately end up curled up in your bed watching your life go by. If you ignore the discomfort and keep pushing your limits, your safety zone will expand and your life with it.” Great advice! I welcome that feeling of discomfort now as I recognize it as a good sign.
6. Tidy Up. Clutter and mess does nothing to calm my frayed nerves. When I am stressed, I love to get neat and organized, whether I am at home or at work. The activity helps burn off nervous energy and having a clean and orderly space just makes me feel better.
7. Mental Exercise. There is a scientific reasoning behind this – if you are particularly stressed (emotional) you can calm yourself by focusing on a mental exercise. I use this one if I am waiting for a meeting, appointment or stuck in traffic. It works like a charm
These methods of stress relief work for me. I hope if you are stressed out, you will try them. And I hope that you will share any methods that work well for you!
Everyone suffers from stress in their lifetime, some more than others. I tend to be one of those others. As a result of being easily stressed, I have tried a number of methods for dealing with my stress and I have taken note of how others tend to deal with theirs. These are some of the worst methods for dealing with stress that I have discovered over the years.
1. Self medicate. Whether it is alcohol, illegal drugs or over the counter medication, it is not a solution and will inevitably create more stress for you in the long run. 🍺
2. Blame others. First it will add bitterness, anger and resentment to your stress. Second it will deprive you of finding and using effective methods to deal with your stress. It does not matter why you are stressed. It does not matter if someone else caused your stress. Once you are stressed, that stress is yours, you need to own it and you need to deal with it. 😤
3. Avoid your stress. (Or the things that are causing you stress). That ugly file on your desk – quit trying to bury it, financial problems – quit trying to pretend they don’t exist, relationship problems – quit waiting for your partner to deal with them. Your stress will not go away by hiding from the problems that are causing it.🙃
4. Using counterproductive measures. Stressed out because you have financial issues? – skipping work won’t help, binge shopping won’t help, wasting your money in a bar or casino won’t help. Stressed out over failing grades? – skipping school won’t help, avoiding your homework won’t help. Stressed out because you have a nagging cough ? – smoking won’t help. 🙄
5. Banishing toxic people from yourlife. (Unless we are talking about a seriously manipulative, hurtful person who is a danger to you and your well-being). For your friend or your mother or your co-worker who has annoyed you, or had a disagreement with you, or inadvertently hurt your feelings – no! Talk to them, compromise with them, consider what it means to have them in your life before you kick them to the curb. If this is your go to method, you are going to cause yourself stress by losing loved ones, having to avoid loved ones and causing difficult situations with people who love you and your banished friends and family. 😢
6. Take your stress out on others. Stress is not an excuse to mistreat others – ever. Mistreating others will not make you feel any better. It certainly will not make them feel any better. Just don’t do it. 🤯
7. Give up. Never give up. Stress sucks. Stress makes life so much harder and more miserable than it needs to be. There are many healthy, effective methods of dealing with stress. You will find ones that work for you as long as you keep looking! 👍
I hope if you having been struggling with stress, that this post helps you avoid some pitfalls in looking for relief. In my next post, I will note some of the best ways that I have found for dealing with my stress💖.
Every morning, I start my day by writing out a page of positive affirmations. I begin each new year with a new notebook and a new set of affirmations that I have chosen during the month of December. This December I have decided to choose affirmations that inspire peace.
2020 is the beginning of a new decade and it is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. In July, I am going to retire. I have decided that for such an auspicious year I wanted to focus on one specific topic. Right now, peace is a topic that I feel is worth my attention.
There seems to be so much chaos in life these days. In my life, there is conflict at work and within my family. There is so much noise in my home and neighbourhood. My husband loves noise. He loves television – especially controversial talk shows, or dramatic reality shows or violent sports casts – generally programs that I find cringe worthy. 🤦 We live near a heavy traffic road, a rail line and in the path of our airport (most people in Regina do). There are constant horns and sirens and the like. In the summer, there is a household nearby that thrives on loud drunken arguments. There are a number of dogs in our neighbourhood and one little troublemaker who always has to instigate a barking contest.
These days there seems to be so much chaos in the world in general. There are so many radical politicians with so many extreme followers, so many devastating natural disasters – floods and earthquakes and forest fires and the lot. There are so many man-made environment disasters. There are so many protesters and counter-protesters, so many screamers and so few listeners. There are so many with so little and so few with so much. It all gets to be overwhelming at times.
Fortunately, there are openings for the peace we need to heal our world. There are those moments in nature when we can experience peace. There are those people who are so peaceful and calm that it is contagious. There are babies to cuddle and puppies to pet. There are opportunities to indulge in relaxing pastimes. There are politicians and world leaders who do work together for a better stronger world. There are people working to clean our oceans and air and reclaim our contaminated lands. There is hope.
In 2020 I will start every day by focusing on peace. It may only make a difference in my mind or my life but hopefully it will, in some small way, spread to others. Hopefully, it will in some small way, help to calm the destructive chaos. 🕊️
There are a lot of posts on social media these days about the power of happiness. Happiness is today’s key to prosperity, health, love – all that is to be strived for in this life. I have nothing against happiness. Being happy is pleasant, but personally I am a huge fan of peace, above all else.
I love silence. There is nothing as soothing and spiritual and beautiful as silence. Peace exists in silence.
I love the infinite depth of peace, that feeling of absolute immortality.
I love the security of peace. I cherish opportunities to spend peaceful, happy, quality time with loved ones.
I love the kindness of peace. I love those moments that touch your heart with sweetness.
I love the simplicity of peace. I love how easy it is to focus and think and create when there is peace.
I love the strength and power of peace. I love the ability to rise above all challenges to the place where everything is natural and stress free.