Overwhelmed? 5 Easy Ways To Say No

Unless you are a toddler or a teenager, saying no doesn’t always come easy.  Whether it’s your boss piling your desk with tedious projects or your kids wanting you to host a last minute sleepover.  There are times you say yes when you want to say no.

If you actually look forward to hours of overtime or loud tweeners playing all night video games, sounds like you are all set.

But, If you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no, try these 5 easy ways.

Decline with grace. I really appreciate you thought of me for this assignment, but I will need to decline at this time. Maybe another time?

Compromise. A sleepover sounds like fun! But not tonight. Let’s look at the calendar and pick another date that will work better.  How about I take you kids out for ice-cream instead?

Advise an alternative.  I can’t give you a ride to work. Are you near a bus route?  Have you considered a taxi? Is there a car pool you can find? Do you know anyone who lives by you?

Stall. If you aren’t sure of what to do, buy yourself time. I can’t give you an answer this minute.  Let me think about it and I will get back to you.  How can I reach you, and when do you need my answer by?

Pass.  Just say no. Be nice, grateful, with the apology nothing more than a simple,

I’m sorry I can’t help you.

Skip the details of why you can’t do something.  It’s too much blah blah blah.

18969144739_e872b4904a_mPeople don’t have the time to hear the why, they’ve got to find someone to help solve their problem. And this time, that person is not going to be you.

After you say no, don’t fret about it. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or letting a friend down that we end up second guessing ourselves and feel guilty for saying no. Don’t feel guilty for wanting balance in your life.   Plus think of how your friend would feel if he found out you said yes even though your heart wasn’t in it.

A word to the wise on saying no; Don’t be too quick to decline an opportunity. Saying yes can be a strategic move and may open a door to a rewarding new adventure.

Give it a try.  Next time someone asks if you can do the coffee run or if you can host Thanksgiving dinner, say

sorry, I can’t help this time.

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Would My Dad Know Who I Am Now?

Father’s Day is a happy day for some, and a sad day for others.  And then there are those like me who are happy/sad.  My dad is gone, but I have a husband who is a wonderful father to my three boys. Now we celebrate the day spoiling him with presents, good food, ice cream, and miniature golf.

My father died when I was twenty.  I have spent more years living without him than with him.  The hardest part for me now is realizing he never got to know the grown up me.  He knew me as a child, his youngest daughter.  I was daddy’s little girl, but my heart aches when I remember how mean I was in my later teenage years.

He knew me when I was bratty and terribly moody.  I have one vivid memory of a sunday afternoon when he drove me back to nursing school. I don’t know what he said or did, but I clicked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and said something horrible to him.  Did he shush me, or lecture me about my behavior? No.  He just looked away and watched the numbers change on the elevator.

He died shortly after that. Why is it on Father’s Day I have to remember that stupid day?

If I had a magic bean that could grant me one day with my dad, would he know me when he saw me? Would he recognize my face, my voice? It’s been thirty-one years and I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed in so many ways.

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I would know him.  His deep brown eyes, his big, toothless smile.  He loved popcorn, country music, horseshoes, and staying up late to watch John Wayne and Kung-Fu movies.  He was most content reclining in his lawn chair in our backyard, smoking his lucky strikes while listening to the birds songs and the scratchy buzzing of the locusts.

I would know my father.  He is etched in my memory, cut into my heart. I’d recognize his voice, his walk, his whistling.  He’d smell of old spice and Wisk laundry detergent.

My tall, kind, patient, long-suffering, always there till he wasn’t, dad.

I think he would know me. I imagine him saying,

Sweetie, I saw it all.  Your career, your wedding.  I was there when your boys were babies – handsome kids. Will reminds me of myself when I was his age.  I saw them walk across the stage to get their diplomas.  I saw it all.  I’ve watched you all these years, and you have made me so proud. I love you.

Of course he would know me – he’s my dad. He would always know me.

I love you too dad. Miss you. XO

Me and my dad.
Me and my dad.

Originally published June 16, 2014

Secrets revealed: the surprising thing most patients dread

9 out of 10 patients would rather get a shot than step on a scale.

By far the thing most patients dread when going to their doctor’s office is getting weighed. Me included.

Unless you live in a cave as deep as Krubera, you already know –

we lead the world with the most obese individuals, 67% of adults are overweight, and nearly 30% of kids are either obese or overweight.

Yes, there’s an obesity epidemic going on around us and as much as we hate to admit it, the odds are we are part of it.

If you happen to be in the minority with a BMI of 24.9 or less, good job. Keep up the good work and tell me in the comments what has helped you keep your weight ideal.

No one likes to get weighed. But we need to do it. The problem is not going away on its own. We need accountability, education, and encouragement if we are ever going to make serious progress in becoming a healthier nation.

Our bodies weren’t meant to carry so much weight.  You wouldn’t drive your car around with 95 extra gallons of gas in your trunk just in case.  Why that would be a hazard, rob you of good gas mileage, and contribute to extra wear and tear.

The same applies to bodies.

Carrying too much weight is a major risk for heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and a host of other issues.

Don’t dread the scale.

You don’t have to feel guilty, get angry, or make excuses.

Why not acknowledge the problem and make a choice to do something about it?

Your weight didn’t get to where it is overnight, and it isn’t going away on its own.

Eat less. Move more. Repeat.

It has been and will always be the only thing that works.

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Out Of The Mouth Of Abe’s

Why is it that some people languish in suffering while others who have similar troubles thrive despite?

It amazes me how people with things like crippling arthritis, cancer, disfigurement, chronic pain, traumatic abuse or other terrible circumstances can adapt and cope despite the pain of their situation. They continue to believe that just to be alive is a grand thing.

Others groan about a hangnail and see life’s little inconveniences as monumental tsunamis. They make sure you know just how miserable they are and don’t you agree the world is a wretched place?

Yeah rain oh rain stop fallin'... I said the bridge washed out and I can't swim and my baby's on the other side..Slim Williamson
Yeah rain oh rain stop fallin’…
I said the bridge washed out and I can’t swim and my baby’s on the other side..Slim Williamson

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Yes, life is full of pain and suffering. It is also full of joy and hope.

Bad things happen. Life isn’t fair. And you have a choice of whether to accept that and rise above, or

you can cloak yourself in sackcloth and ashes and live in misery.

Yes, I do believe we can live and thrive in spite of an awful childhood, a debilitating disease, a loved one gone too soon, or any other tragedy that has crossed our path.

How??? You ask, How can I go on? How can I be happy? You have no idea what I’ve been through.  

You’re right. I have no idea what you have been through. But I can try to understand. I only know what I have suffered through, and I can share with you what I know to be true.

I know good triumphs over evil. I believe there is a God who loves us, despite what the world tells us.  I am sure we are never truly alone.  I can say broken hearts heal, and the pain lessens in time.  I am certain that no matter what, life is always worth living.

When you arise in the morning – let your first thought be what a glorious privilege it is to be alive.

To breathe, to think, to create, to hope, to love.

Be the person who carries on despite suffering.  There are many who stand by us, offering us their life and words as a comforting embrace and reminder.  Here is Abraham Lincoln’s heartfelt condolences to a friend.  They are just as timely today as they were in 1862. ALquotescover-JPG-18

No matter what you are going through, no matter what has happened – let me, like Abe, alleviate some of your suffering.

You are not alone. You are more resilient than you think. Life is what it is. Suffering is inevitable,

but misery is optional.

How To Tell The Difference Between a Summer Cold And Allergies

You know it when you feel it – a sudden onset sore throat. Where did that come from?! Fine one minute, and now a sore throat? You think maybe you imagined it so you swallow a few more times. Still there. Soon you notice your nose is getting stuffy, your ears feel plugged, and come to think of it – you are feeling run down. Oh no – a summer cold! Or is it?

Your average cold (viral rhinitis) and allergies (allergic rhinitis or hay fever) both have those awful symptoms of congestion, stuffy head, runny nose, sneezing, post nasal drip, and ticklish cough.

Generally the key in distinguishing whether your crappy symptoms are a cold verses allergies is the itch factor. “Allergies” will give you an itchy feeling of the throat, nose or eyes.

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The offender: a protein in pollen produced by grasses, plants, and trees. Other culprits include cat and dog saliva, dander, mold, and dust mites.

The allergic reaction is actually an inflammatory response by your mast cells and basophils. When triggered, these cells produce histamine, which causes the uncomfortable symptoms.  Over several hours, the histamine activates other inflammatory cells and this cycle repeats until the allergen is removed or the histamine release is blocked.

17493028699_d876a1b2d2_oTreatment:

  • Avoid trigger allergens: If you know what you are allergic to, do your best to avoid exposure. Pollen counts high? Wear a mask.  So what if you look like a doofus –  it beats sneezing and feeling miserable. Other things that might help: shower before bed and use air-conditioning.
  • Antihistamines: Most are now available over-the-counter. Talk to your friendly neighborhood pharmacist if you need help deciding which one to try.  Side effects are possible (sedation with some), and if you take prescription meds you need to talk to your primary care provider before adding on another med due to potential drug-drug interactions.
  • Prescription nasal sprays: If your allergies last a season or all year round, prescription sprays such as fluticasone or mometasone are a great treatment option.  They control symptoms and are less likely to cause serious side effects.
  • Allergy Shots: Certainly the underdog, allergy shots are something to be considered. If you want to get to the root of your allergy problem and have the patience to do allergy testing and immunotherapy, treat your allergies using this route.

Allergies are not just kid’s stuff.  Some allergies take years of exposure to finally develop, which explains why adults surprisingly become allergic when they never were before.

If that “cold” seems to be lingering, you are overly tired, and you can’t stand that itchy, watery nose, your problem just might be allergies.

As always, your healthcare provider is your best source of medical information for questions and concerns related to your health.

Super Simple Tips for a Healthy, Happy Life!

Nearly everyone has heard of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. He taught that disease had a natural cause (as opposed to a supernatural), and that clinical observation was an essential aspect of “do no harm” medical care.

Hippocrates teachings were revolutionary at the time (400 BC), and while he may be the father of modern medicine, he has legions of sons/brothers/daughters/cousins and such who continue to build on his ideas.

One Roman fellow, Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a huge fan of Hippo and translated Hippocrates and other Greek writings to Latin. Celsus wasn’t a physician – yet he had a major influence on medical thinking and is known as having coined,

accurate diagnosis must precede treatment

Aulus was a wise man – see below for a link to his most famous work, the De Medicina.  I like his simple tips for staying healthy and happy. You won’t need to buy organic ancient seeds drenched in glacier mineral water, no special supplements or aloe vera cranberry infused gluten free goat milk smoothies, just no fuss stuff. Sounds like exactly what I tell my patients!

Super Simple Tips For A Happy, Healthy Life

  • Make your home bright and cheery, keep it clean and free of clutter. 
  • Get regular and varied exercise – include long, brisk walks.
  • Do not overeat! (George Burns followed this rule: he attributed his longevity to his practice of eating only half of whatever was on his plate).
  • Start your meals with greens. Eat apples, dates, or other fresh fruit for dessert.

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  • Drink wine only in moderation. If you are indulging nightly, take a break.
  • Get massages whenever you can.
  • Get plenty of fresh air all year round. 
  • Treat your digestive tract kindly: don’t overdue it with fatty, fried, processed, or junk food in general. Stay hydrated! 
  • Make sleep a priority. 
  • Surrounded yourself with friends, loved ones, and never forgo a yearly vacation.

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Celsus (ca 25 BC—ca 50) was considered to be way ahead of his time in regards to his teachings on maintaining good health. Ironic he died so young. His suggestions are common sense and accepted practices. I will overlook his blood-letting instructions and vomit obsessions. After all, none of us are perfect.

If you want to know what Celsus had to say about such things as treating gangrenous mouth lesions, agglutinating wounds, or helping women who collapse speechless, consult his expansive De Medicina.

Cheers to good health!

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words!

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

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Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

awesome

Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

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Change: (part three) Action!

Action is a great word. It invokes feelings of anticipation, excitement, and a now we’re finally getting somewhere mindset.

The actors who take their places – The runner poised at the start line – The traveler boarding the plane –  and now you, ready for change.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz

Isn’t a relief to finally be doing something? The hardest part is done, here where you are, in action, is where you were meant to be.

You’ve thought about it, planned for it, and now you are living it.

Mixed with the excitement you have a bit of fear and if you’re like me, a lot of urgency.

Ready, set, action!

I found this video on slo-mo cat physics that struck me as a sort of analogy for this action phase. From the startled eyes to the landing on her feet – I loved it.

Change is really a growth process with periods of rapid development,  low dips, high points, and maintenance (which I’ll talk more about in part four).

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. Anatole France

I wish life/behavior changes were as easy as a free falling cat landing on its feet.  It just isn’t. That explains why people drop out of college, quit going to the gym, start smoking again, rack up debt, or go back to jail.

Lasting change requires motivation, a sensible plan with attainable goals, and persistence.

You want this, you’re set, now do it!  Don’t worry about later, tomorrow, next year. Keep focused on here, now.

Ready, set, action –  start the process of change.

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If you are working on changing a behavior or habit, listen to this NPR broadcast, Habits: How They Form and How To Break Them.

Need a recap? Go here to part one: why we resist. Be sure to come back next week for the final part four: maintenance.

Change (part two): Preparation

Bob Dylan said there’s nothing so stable as change.  Pre-Dylan philosopher Heraclitus put it this way:

The only thing that is constant is change.

Stable, constant.

Permanent, certain.

Whether you like it and seek it, or hate it and run from it: everything always changes.  Most change is out of our control. Consider the weather, someone else’s attitude, road conditions, home/car repairs, illness, accidents, and layoffs as some of the stuff in life we can’t change.

There is still a great portion of stuff we can.

In part one of this blog series on change I discussed why we resist change and challenged you to think about one area in yourself you’d like to change.  Go back and reread it if you need to.  You should have written down one thing. If your thing is “big” like these –

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break it down into smaller, more defined short term goals.

If your desired change is to “get healthy” (good choice!) what are the smaller steps that lead to good health? Write them down and circle one.

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Start with that. It’s good to have high aspirations, but don’t set the bar too high. Think of change as a muscle.  In order for muscle growth you have to begin with a weight you can actually lift. You add on as tolerated, allowing the muscle to adapt to grow. If you start out high and hard, you will likely get injured or give up.

What it is it that you want to do? Define it. Imagine it. Put it in writing. Organize it. Gather the knowledge you need, enlist help, start equipping yourself with the tools to help you be successful.

changeYou have now entered the action phase of change. I’ll talk more about action in part three.

Preparation is key to successful change. Know what you want, and educate yourself on how to get there. In between here and there establish clear, manageable steps.

Until we meet again for some action, here’s a little Dylan inspiration…

Gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools.

Remember. You got this.

Change (part one): Why We Resist

What makes us resist change? Why would we rather stick with a job we hate, stay in an abusive relationship, keep smoking despite illness, and endure unnecessary hardship rather than do something to make it better?

Why do we?

Is it fear of failure? Uncertainty of the unknown? Apathy?

It’s D. All of the above.

Change can be hard.  It can also be easy.  One thing is certain: change is inevitable.

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If you don’t like something in your life, change it.

If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

Let me give you an example.

I’ve had a chronic pain condition (burning mouth syndrome) for over three years. I am reluctant to blog about it because I don’t see the point in giving something so afflictive any more attention than it deserves.

I hate it. It can be all consuming and at times unbearable. Presently, I have exhausted all management therapies.  I’ve stopped googling it as I can’t bear to read other BMS sufferers lament about how poor their quality of life is.  It makes me feel hopeless.

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Somedays I do crawl up in a ball and go to sleep.  Sleep is sometimes the one thing I can do to escape the pain.

I can give in to hopelessness.

Or,

I can change the way I think.

I can redirect my attention to something else.  Take my focus off the problem and put it somewhere else.

I can do that.

Instead of putting a spotlight on the pain and allowing it to have control of how I live and what I do, I can put it in the background.

Accept, but not empower.

That has been the one thing that has helped me deal.

It has taken me 3 years to figure out I needed to change my thoughts.

What about you?

Is the problem the problem? Or could it be how you think about the problem?

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There are at least two views.

A rut or a grave?

Half empty or half full?

A mountain or a mole hill?

Lemons or lemonade?

A weed or a flower?

All changes, even the ones we crave can be sad. We leave behind something that was a part of us, our life. We knew it well. Kind of like an old shoe.

Remember, If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.

Is there something you need to change?  What’s stopping you?

Today, I only ask that you think about one area of yourself or your life that you need to change.  That’s the second step to change (contemplation).  Pre-contemplation is the first step – you already experienced that when you felt the nudge to read this post.

Think about how your life will be better after you make a change.

Whatever it is you need to change trust me when I say, you got this.

We all need change.

Jim Rohn, American Entrepreneur and motivational speaker said so well,

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Next week: Preparation