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A Sacred Pause

A Sacred Pause

Holidays are an extra-busy time of year. We have rituals, memories, and expectations associated with whatever holidays we celebrate. Too often, that can set us up for stress, disappointment, anxiety, or depression.

At its core, though, a holiday is a "holy day" - a time dedicated and set apart. It is an opportunity to create a sacred pause, and to appreciate and celebrate all that is most important to us.

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When No Means Yes

When No Means Yes

Many folks these days have a case of the terrible "toos".

Too busy. Too many. Too much.

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Five Self-care Strategies during Grief - After the Election and Beyond

Five Self-care Strategies during Grief - After the Election and Beyond

This past week has been especially hard on our country. Whether or not you were happy with the results of the election, I think that we can all agree that it has been a time of great emotional turbulence.

For many, it is a time of grief. Indeed, internet searches on the topic "stages of grief" have gone up exponentially in the last few days, as you can see from this graph:

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Four Healthcare Myths that Make You Sick

Four Healthcare Myths that Make You Sick

As I shared in a recent post, the U.S. healthcare system continues to have a lot of room for improvement. Despite being quite expensive, it does not keep its citizens as healthy as the systems in other industrialized countries.

The debate for how to improve the healthcare system continues. Meanwhile, those of us who are served by this system are wise to understand its strengths and weaknesses so that we can be proactive about getting what we need.

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How to be Well-Aligned

How to be Well-Aligned

If you've ever had a car with an alignment problem, you know that it can make for a bumpy ride.If not addressed, the misalignment will also cause unnecessary wear and tear on your tires.

Our life journeys also go smoother if we are in alignment. Misalignment between the big questions in our lives can provoke stress, and the unnecessary wear and tear that it brings.

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How to Wait on Purpose

How to Wait on Purpose

We live in an impatient culture, known for promoting ease and nearly instant access to what we want - whether that be food, information, transportation or hot water. Even though many of us might say that patience is a virtue, we may roll our eyes (at least internally) at the prospect of having to wait in line for anything.

Right now, those of us that celebrate Christmas are in the midst of a countdown of days until that holiday arrives. Many of us are also waiting for the dawn of a new year and all the possibilities that will bring.

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Self-Care Lessons from my Cats

Self-Care Lessons from my Cats

Last week I shared some self-care reminders that I've picked up from my dog, Princess. So, this week, I thought I'd give my cats some credit too.

There are those who firmly identify themselves as "dog-people" or "cat-people", but my family lives in an mixed household. This has provided me with an equal opportunity to appreciate the distinctions in my pets' approaches to life, and to notice some of the particular habits that serve them well. Here are a few self-care tips from Samantha and Angel that I have found helpful:

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Be Your Own Referee

Be Your Own Referee

If you've ever spent any time watching sports, you'll see that most of them have something important in common. These competitions all have a set of rules, and they have at least one official — a judge, umpire, or referee — that is charged with enforcing the rules and making judgement calls on plays as they occur.

These officials have a tremendous responsibility and considerable power. Their calls can have huge consequences for the players and teams, and their judgements are alternately criticized or cheered from moment to moment. It is difficult, but necessary work and it requires clear vision, good judgement, decisiveness, and above all, an unwavering confidence in one's own leadership.

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Are You Due For A Tune-Up?

Are You Due For A Tune-Up?

Yesterday, my husband took our car in for a tune-up and oil change. This happens periodically, of course, and I notice that the frequency is somewhat predictable. We have a number of triggers that let us know when it is time for "car care".

If you're a car owner you know what I'm talking about. Your car maintenance schedule is kept on track by a set of rules related to events in the life of your vehicle, such as the number of miles or months between recommended oil changes. In accordance with these rules, there are reminders:

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Living Out Loud

Living Out Loud

This time of year, folks in our part of the world are mesmerized by college basketball. To admit that one does not share this passion is something akin to heresy. In all honesty, though, that is the case for me. I realize that I am risking my credibility to acknowledge this fact (particularly as a UNC grad), but even though I don't really follow the game, I do understand the appeal.

There is something else that I have been following closely, though. There is another drama that is unfolding this month in North Carolina, and I have been enthusiastically watching and cheering from the sidelines as I hope for a big "win" for a cause that is dear to me.

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Balance

Balance

"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact.And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act." ~ Dr. Seuss

At Christmas last year, I received a wonderful gift that had been on my "wish-list" for some time. It was a balance board. If you haven't ever seen or tried one out, it is a simple device, but not as easy to master as one might think. It is a short, rectangular board with a non-slip surface on top. On the bottom are strips of wood that create a groove which fits onto a round cylinder that is placed below it. Imagine a plank laid on top of a barrel.

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Pruning

Last week, as the weather became unseasonably warm, I found myself in a conversation with some plant-loving friends. Was it too late to prune? When was the best time? The answer, by a knowledgeable master gardener, was not simple – in short, "it depends."

As my friend shared some of his knowledge about appropriate pruning of different plant species, I was reminded about my experiences watching people pruning trees in northeastern Brazil.

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Ownership

Ownership

It's December and at our house that means that we're celebrating the Advent and Christmas season. Our daughters, Kristin and Kyra, have been very persistent about urging us to get all of our decorations up. Every evening since Thanksgiving, they asked us when we could get started. Finally, the lights are up, our tree is decorated, and we've brought out the candles, towels, and tablecloths that bear those familiar hues of red and green.

If you looked at the usual state of my daughters' bedroom, you might be surprised that they have been paying such attention to creating this "holiday feeling". They aren't normally so tuned in to their surroundings! These rituals and the feelings that they produce obviously mean something special to them.

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Living Treasures

Living Treasures

Today was Science Spectacular Day at my daughters' elementary school and I had the privilege of volunteering at one of the presentations. Two scientists from NC State University did a great job involving third graders in explorations about the properties of soil. As the students at my table sifted through a sample of the dark, rich-looking material, they exclaimed over their findings: rocks, twigs, leaves, roots, pine needles. I couldn't help but notice, though, that their biggest excitement was reserved for the living treasures that they encountered – worms, ants, beetles, and "roly-polys".

As I watched their enthusiasm, I was taken back to memories of the school garden project that I created while I was a volunteer service worker in a semi-arid region of Brazil. Although I had dabbled in gardening for years, I didn't really realize how much I loved it until I shared that joy with the middle and high school students who were a part of the project. It was hard work, but the harshness of the landscape, and the challenges we faced seemed to make the beauty of the garden all the more vivid and precious.

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Sand Castles

Sand Castles

This weekend, our family enjoyed a visit to the beach with my parents. It was a short trip, but the weather was glorious, and we packed some of our favorite beach activities into the time that we had together.

We spent a good bit of the day on Saturday engaged in a big sandcastle project. My younger daughter, Kyra, got us started, and before long we were all engaged in some aspect of its construction. As we worked, it was evident that we were all cognizant that, sooner or later, the tide would rise and our work would be undone. Nonetheless, we undertook the project with great gusto. As we worked, I couldn't help but notice where each of us chose to apply our energies.

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