It’s Sunday – Do THIS Today!

calendar

We can look at Sunday two different ways. It’s either the end of the weekend and you’re already planning your upcoming week or you’re still enjoying your weekend and haven’t yet thought about the week ahead. Either way, think about doing THIS sometime today.

Real quick, think about something that makes you happy. Don’t think about whether or not you can do it; don’t think about the logistics of it. Just real quick…what makes you happy?

What are the first few things that you thought of?

Pick one of these and, sometime in the upcoming week, do something to support whatever it is. It can be as small as talking to a friend or as big as taking a vacation. It can be whatever makes you happy. Many times, it’s the act of just doing anything at all that makes us happy.  It’s the feeling we get when we’re planning a vacation; just the process is exciting.

If it’s a smaller, easier goal like meeting up with a friend, going for a walk, or reading that book you’ve wanted to get to, that’s great. It’s still important to take it seriously and make sure you get it done! Many times, we just assume that it will get done during the week so we don’t make a plan for it and we don’t make it a priority. I don’t know about you, but I always have things like this that just don’t get done and it rolls over from week to week on my list of “wanna’ do”.

Sometimes we’re not able to achieve our big goals, but we can do something similar to it, something that makes us happy. For instance, if your dream was to take an exotic vacation and you’re not able to do that because of time or money, can you think of something similar that would make you happy THIS week? Maybe read a book about your desired location, listen to some music that is central to your theme, or visit a local park and just enjoy the nature that’s available to you. Maybe you can put together a plan to reach your ultimate goal. The point is that you’re always able to accomplish something that is relative to your happiness. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small; the point is that you’re doing something.

Life is too short to just get through it taking care of what you have to do. It should also be about what you want to do. What are some things you can do? If you enjoy nature, take a walk, go to a park, or take some pictures. If you enjoy cooking or baking, try out a new restaurant or make that recipe you’ve been wanting to try. If you enjoy exercise or fitness, make it a point to schedule a workout or yoga session, meditate, or do something similar that you enjoy. We have a tendency to put these things off, just assume they’ll get done, or think we just don’t have the time. Make the time, make an appointment with yourself. Pick a day and time between right now and next Sunday night. Write it down, put it in your phone, do whatever you need to do to make sure it happens. Make this time count. Your happiness is as important to your well-being as your to-do list is. Treat it like it’s important and schedule it in.

Make the time, make a plan, and be happy!

 

Sexual Assault is Everybody’s Problem

The More Things Change…

We all know how this ends. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This can be applied to so many things going on in our world today. For now, I’m going to focus on the issue brought to the forefront by Harvey Weinstein. The subject of these latest headlines, the sexual assault and harassment of women, particularly by powerful men, remains a problem for us all.

I say a problem for all of us because this is not and should not be a “woman’s problem”. This is a human problem and affects women, men, young children and the elderly. It needs to be addressed by every single one of us. I’m saddened by the fact that this problem still needs to be addressed and the behavior still enabled by some. As evidenced in the news these days, it appears that we’ve made little progress on a number of issues. Continue reading “Sexual Assault is Everybody’s Problem”

Fall Recipe!

apples

One of my very favorite things to do this time of year is to bake! The smells of fall and the chill in the air make me go searching for my favorite recipes that include apples or pumpkin. One of my very favorites includes apples and butterscotch. How can you go wrong?

If you go apple-picking this weekend (or to the grocery store), be sure to give this recipe a try!

Butterscotch Apple Squares

  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 small apples, pared & chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 (6-oz.) pkg. butterscotch chips
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
  • flaked coconut (approx. 1 1/3 cups), as desired
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, as desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 (325 for glass dish). In a 13×9 dish, melt the margarine in the oven. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over melted margarine and top with the apples.

In a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt the chips with the sweetened condensed milk. Pour the butterscotch mixture evenly over the apples. Top with coconut and nuts (as desired); press down firmly.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and chill thoroughly. Refrigerate leftovers.

Super easy and really, really good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Fall!

fall

Get those fall decorations out! It’s that time of year again.

It’s time to slow down a little bit. I know there are still sports, school activities, and other commitments but, for some reason, the fact that it’s now fall just makes me take a deep breath and feel like I can slow down. Summer always makes me feel like I have to do as much as possible to take advantage of the season (can you tell I live in the Midwest?). Fall brings a sense of calmness with it.

Fall just makes me stop, take a deep breath, and embrace the end of summer. We have to enjoy this time before the onslaught of winter takes hold. These next couple of months are glorious! There are no expectations, just the simple enjoyment of weather, beautiful colors, fall sweaters and boots to wear, and fun activities like apple-picking. I can even turn my oven back on and start baking all things pumpkin!

Whatever you choose to do with these next couple of months, enjoy!

Happy First Day of Fall!

National Suicide Prevention Week

national_suicide_lifeline

It seems as if it was just a couple of months ago that I wrote an article about this; it’s been a year. It made me think about how much has changed over the past year…and how much hasn’t. In fact, I woke up early this morning and, for some reason, started thinking about a loss that I experienced several years ago now. I don’t know why; it wasn’t an anniversary or birthday or any of the normal things that would bring this up. Of course it made me sad thinking about it but, as I was thinking about everything, I also realized that it did more than that. It changed me. It changed who I was when it happened. I’m no longer the person that I used to be prior to my loss. I experienced such strong emotions and feelings that it really threw me for a long time. I honestly think it changed me as a person. I’m a bit more heavy-hearted than I used to be. I am a bit more hesitant in allowing my heart and emotions to be dealt another blow. At the time it happened,  I thought about it, agonized over it, cried about it, got angry about it. I did all the things that grieving people should do, but it certainly didn’t feel normal to me and I didn’t go back to the person that I used to be. And that’s the point.

Each one of us is unique and we each have our own minds and emotions. No two are alike so we really cannot understand what someone else is going through. We also change, so we need to adapt. Sometimes life is just too hard to manage on our own. Sometimes we need help. This is absolutely no different than needing help getting around when you have a broken leg. We have a problem and we need help. It’s really as simple as that.

All of us experience highs and lows. All of us have good things happen and bad things happen to us. It’s life and we have to deal with it. We need to each deal with it the right way FOR US. That’s the thing; there is no right and no wrong in treating illness. Everybody has to learn what works best for them in order to live their best life. It’s not fair for any one of us to judge anybody else by what they do to survive. We are not in their shoes; we do not know what’s going on in their life. What we can do, however, is encourage each other to be the best person that they are capable of being and to support each other in that goal.

This isn’t a technical article with statistics and facts and figures. There are (thankfully) plenty of sites to find that information and I will provide a few of them below. Suffice it to say there are a LOT of us that suffer from some type of mental health issue. It can be an independent diagnosis, it can be due to another illness, it can be temporary or long-term, and it can be mild, severe or anywhere in-between! Like any other illness, there are treatments designed to fit your specific circumstances.

Things can become overwhelming. Sometimes we need help to get us through. The most important things that we can do for each other are to learn about it, talk about it, and be there for each other. Awareness is key. Knowing the risk factors and being able to recognize them could help prevent the more than 40,000 deaths every year by suicide. Sometimes we’re capable of asking for or seeking the help that we need. Sometimes we’re not and we need somebody to do it for us. Be that person.

Learn to recognize these signs or symptoms:  (from National Institute of Mental Health)

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will
What can you do to help someone at risk?
  1. Ask:“Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals  if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
  2. Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
  3. Be there:Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase  suicidal thoughts.
  4. Help them connect:Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
  5. Stay Connected:Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown  the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.

The bottom line is that we have to be there for each other, look out for each other, and take care of each other. That’s how it’s supposed to work. We all need help sometimes. I’d like to think we do this on a regular basis, but it’s particularly valuable when we need an extra hand to get through a difficult time.

I found this great post with some ideas on how we can do this here: (highly recommended read!) http://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/health-fitness/small-things-help-someone-struggling-depression/

I’m fortunate to have people in my life that are supportive and do some of these things for me. I can say first-hand that it makes a significant difference on days that are more difficult. I hope that they know how much I appreciate them. It doesn’t take much effort to send a text or give somebody a quick call, but it can have a huge impact on their life. I try to do some of these same things for them, as well, just to let them know that I’m thinking of them and that I care about them. Please take a few minutes out of your day to reach out to somebody that needs it. Everybody wants and deserves to feel supported and cared for.