Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quotes for the Week: Halloween


Black and gold,
Black and gold,
Nothing in between.
When the world turns black and gold,
Then it's Halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

100 Ways to Reduce Stres by Spectrum Associates

Wiggle your toes.
Set priorities in your life.
Avoid negative people.
Use time wisely
Always make copies of important papers.
Anticipate your needs.
Ask for help with the jobs you dislike.
Break large tasks into bites size portions.
Look at problems as challenges.
Repair anything that doesn't work properly (or get someone else to do it).
Look at challenges differently/
Unclutter your life.
Be prepared for rain.
Tickle a baby.
Pet a friendly dog/cat.
Don't know all the answers.
Avoid relying on chemical aids.
Avoid tight-fitting clothes.
Get up fifteen minutes earlier.
Prepare for the morning the night before.
Set appointments ahead.
Don't rely on your memory.  Write it down.
Practice preventive maintenance.
Make duplicate keys.
Say no more often.
Look for the silver lining.
Say something nice to someone.
Teach a kid to fly a kite.
Walk in the rain.
Schedule play time into every day.
Take a bubble bath.
Be aware of the decisions you make.
Believe in yourself.
Ask a friend for a hug.
Develop your sense of humor.
Have goals for yourself.
Learn to whistle a tune.
Listen to a symphony.
Look up at the stars.
Practice breathing slowly.
Read a poem.
Say hello to a stranger.
Stop saying negative things to yourself.
Do a new thing.
Read a story curled up in bed.
Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better day; think today is a better day.
Visualize yourself winning.
Watch a ballet.
Stop a bad habit.
Buy yourself a flower.
Take time to smell the roses.
Find support from others.
Ask someone to be your vent-partner.
Work at being cheerful and optimistic.
Put safety first.
Do everything in moderation.
Pay attention to your appearance.
Always have a plan.
Be responsible for your feelings.
Become a better listener.
Feed the birds.
Hum a jingle.
Learn a new doodle.
Look at a work of art.
Maintain your weight.
Plant a tree.
Stretch your limits a little each day.
Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Learn to meet your own needs.
Memorize a joke.
Practice grace under pressure.
Go fishing or learn to fish.
Stand up and stretch.
Know your limitations and let other know them, too.
Tell someone to have a good day in Pig Latin.
Throw a paper airplane.
Exercise every day.
Learn the words to a new song.
Get to work early.
Clean out one closet.
Play patty cake with a toddler.
Go on a picnic.
Take a different route to work.
Leave work early (with permission).
Put air freshener in your car.
Watch a movie and eat popcorn.
Write a note to a faraway friend.
Go to a ballgame and scream.
cook a meal and eat it by candlelight.
Freely praise other people.
Get enough sleep.
Have a support network of people, places and things.
Keep a journal.
Practice a monster smile.
Quit trying to "fix" other people.
Recognize the importance of unconditional love.
Remember that stress is an attitude.
Remember you always have options.
Take less and listen more.
Relax.  Take each day at a time.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Addendum: Tips for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

You're alone for the first time in years.  It's scary.  You hear creaks in the house at 2:00 a.m.  You worry that someday you'll fall down the stairs and there won't be anyone around to call 911.  I've experienced those same fears and I have two suggestions for dealing with them.
1, Have an alarm system installed.  We never had one.  My husband didn't feel it was necessary.  It was one of the first things I did after he died.  It made me feel much more secure and is worth the monthly fee.
2. Get a Life Alert button or similar system so that if you fall, you can push the little button and someone will respond immediately.  (You do have to wear the button, which my children remind me I often neglect to do.)  Some systems work only in your house and the immediate vicinity; I believe others can be taken with you when you are away as well.  Again, you'll feel much more secure.  Check on Amazon for information.

Take care, Thelma

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Quote for the Week

Always know in your heart that you are far bigger than anything that can happen to you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tip #11 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

Life is sad when you've just lost a loved one.  The world seems bleak and gray.  But you can try to find something each day to make you smile.  Not a big thing, just something small like a rose bush bursting into bloom, a smile from someone passing by, a sitcom that makes you chuckle, an email from a friend, a sunrise, a sunset.  At the end of the day I tally all the things that brought me a bit of cheer.  If you do that, you begin to look for things that light a spark of joy.  Try it.

That's the last of my 11 tips, but know what?  I think I have a few more, so in the next week or weeks I'll add an addendum.  Take care.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Quote for the Week in Memory of My Husband

Thursday, October 16 will be the ninth anniversary of my husband's death.  In some ways it seems like yesterday; in others it seems forever.
On the last Valentine he gave me was a quote from First Corinthians:

Love bears all things,
Believes all things,
Hopes all things,
Endures all things. 
Love never fails.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Books of September

In one of Daniel Silva's older books Israeli spy/art restorer must thwart a plot to kill the Pope.  Why is an Israeli doing this?  Why not?  A really good thriller. It gets an A.

Historical novel about the powerful D'Este sisters and their friendship with Leonardo Da Vinci.  Never felt I got to know the characters, although I did find the parts about Leonardo's painting of The Last Supper interesting.  B or B-

Very short book, consisting of three essays.  The first two, on hot air ballooning did not hold my interest but the third, on grief, was amazing.  I've read many books about grief but never anything as true as this one.  Skip the first two parts.  The third gets an A.

A family court judge visits a young man with leukemia, with far-reaching consequences.  This wasn't as good as some of his other books, a bit too predictable, but I enjoyed it.  A-

I was cleaning out my bookshelf and came upon this book.  I don't remember when, where or why I bought it, and I know I never read it, but it appeared at just the right time for me.  Having spent a couple of months in pain this summer and as a teenager having suffered third degree burns, I found this books to be a poignant description of the author's experience of illness and pain.  This is a book I will keep.  A+

This book alternates between two people with "five days left."  One is dealing with Huntington's chorea, the other with giving up a foster child he's come to love.  Those two don't seem to balance each other out.  This is a first novel and reads like one.  We get to know the characters but don't really feel for them, at least I didn't.  B+

I read a lot this month, didn't I?  Not sure how I managed to fit all these books in, but two were short.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tip # 10 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

Here is a tip for everyone, widowed or not.  Take the time to write a legacy letter to your loved ones.  I am so passionate about legacy letters that this summer I took a course to be certified as a legacy letter facilitator. 

Legacy letters used to be called ethical wills. I'm glad people have begun to refer to them as legacy letters.  The term "ethical will" sounds off-putting to me.

What is a legacy letter?  It's not a legal document.  Unlike your legal will, which bequeaths your tangible property to your heirs, an ethical will is a personal document that leaves your wisdom, your values, your hopes for the future.  It's a way, not only to leave a legacy but also to leave future generations a glimpse of you.  We all want to be remembered, but it's almost scary how quickly we vanish from memory.  When I took the ethical will course, we were asked how many of us could name our great grandparents.  Only one person could name them all and that was because she was interested in learning her family history.  Most, including me, couldn't name more than one.  In just a couple of generations we have faded from memory.

Ethical wills have been around for thousands of years.  The first ethical will, an oral one, is credited to the patriarch Jacob who, on his deathbed, gave his sons blessings... or curses  (Don't emulate Jacob if you write an ethical will).

What I've written so far sounds like a legacy letter is something you leave after you've passed away.  But people have written legacy letters to newborns, to family members celebrating a milestone, to friends.  One woman told me she'd like to write to her unborn grandchild.  Lovely. 

There's no rule about who, when, or why you write a legacy letter.  The only suggestion is that you open your heart.

Take care, and come back next week for Tip#11.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quote for the Week

On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement there is a memorial service to remember all our loved ones.  This poem is my favorite part of the service:

IN THE RISING of the sun, and in its going down, we remember them. 
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them. 
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them. 
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them. 
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them. 
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them. 
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them. 
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them. 
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them. 
So long as they live, we, too, shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

How Long is Long Enough?

In a provocative article in The Atlantic, bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel announces 75 is long enough.  He says that’s an appropriate age to die.  The title of the article, “Why I Hope to Die at 75” is a bit misleading though.  Emanuel doesn’t plan to blow out the candles on his 75th birthday cake, go into the bedroom and swallow a bottle of pills.  Rather, at 75 he will quit doing anything to prolong his life and let nature take its course.  He will forgo any kind of treatment, even preventative.  He will no longer take flu shots or colonoscopies (I’m with him on that one.) no longer take antibiotics if he has an infection.  And of course such treatments as chemo if he should develop cancer or bypass surgery for a heart attack are out of the question.  I suppose if he stepped on a rusty nail, he would refuse a tetanus shot.  He will no longer visit doctors for check-ups or routine tests.  If ill, he will accept palliative care to lessen pain but nothing else.


Why?  Well, he says by 75 he will have lived a full life, accomplished his greatest achievements, had an opportunity to see his children and grandchildren and presumably done everything he wants to do.  That includes climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, which he did last year.  He suggests that after 75 all we have to look forward to is decline…physically, mentally, emotionally.  Cancer, heart disease, dementia—one of these will be on the horizon.  We will be a drain on family members, take up hospital space.  With dementia, we will even lose our selves.  When we’re finally gone, our children will remember us as old and decrepit, not young and vigorous as we once were.


Emanuel’s father, near 75, was a mega-achiever and now is content to be a mentor to younger people (Is that so bad?).  Slowing down doesn’t seem to bother Dad, but Ezekiel finds it infinitely sad.  If you’re no longer accomplishing much other than completing the daily crossword puzzle, who would want to go on?  Apparently Emanuel never heard of Grandma Moses.


Important note:  Ezekiel is 57.  At that age, 75 does sound ancient.  How will he feel at 74?  Will he still believe there are no more peaks to climb, even metaphorically?  Of course we don’t know.


As one who has passed what he considers the end-stage age of 75, I still feel pretty lively even though I’m walking more slowly and my waistline has expanded and I forget where I put my keys more often than I used to.  I think there is still joy to be found in living. Yes, I fear disease and dementia, especially the latter.  I remember being profoundly shaken by the book Still Alice, in which the main character decides to commit suicide when her dementia worsens to the point where she doesn’t want to live…and then, when that time comes, has forgotten how she planned to do it.


When I suffered severe pain this spring from a pinched sciatic nerve, I wondered if life was worth living.  But I’m better now and more optimistic.  I don’t intend to quit taking flu shots or seeing my doctors…but I do sort of hope to slip away peacefully some night...in the future...in my sleep.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tip #9 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

How quickly the year passes.  It's almost holiday time again and for those of us who are widowed, especially recently, the holidays can be the hardest time of all.  Thanksgiving was my family's favorite holiday.  Ralph always cooked the turkey (I admit I've never cooked a turkey in my life and have no desire to learn how).  He also made the dressing, two kinds--one "normal" dressing, one with jalapenos--he was a chili lover.  I made everything else.  Kids were home.  We shared family jokes and made plans for the Annual Christmas Day Movie (a tradition, along with Chinese food in many Jewish homes). 

And then comes December, awash with holidays, and often even harder for widows/widowers to deal with.  Who will give you that special present, pull you under the mistletoe for a quick kiss, watch the flickering of Chanukah candles, decorate a Christmas tree?  It's a lonely time without a spouse to share it with.
So what can you do to alleviate at least some of the loneliness?  Maybe during Thanksgiving dinner you can each share a memory of your loved one.  After all, your children, if you have them, miss him/her, too.  Or if family isn't around, invite some other widowed people to share the holiday.  Or start a new holiday tradition, just your own.  One of my widowed friends had an open house the year after her husband died so she'd have company to cheer her--she said it worked.
Until my phone system gave out, I kept my husband's voice on the answering machine.  For practical reasons, of course.  It's safer to have a man answer the phone.  But I also kept his message because I like hearing his voice, and every New Year's at midnight I'd call our number so I could share the beginning of a new year with him.  Silly, maybe, but it made me less lonely.

Any more suggestions?

Stop by next week for Tip #10 (and remember, there are 11.  I also added an addendum when I thought of something new).  Take care.

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