Thanksgiving: when you’re feeling anything but happy

Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving. More Americans will make it a priority to be with their family & friends tomorrow than any other holiday (yes, even Christmas!). The day before Thanksgiving can be filled with anxiety that has nothing to do with baking or traveling. There’s a type of anxiety that is present for those who have seen heartbreaking changes since last year’s gathering. Death. Job Loss. Divorce. Diagnosis. These are just a few examples of what has happened to too many families over the past year. Individuals and families have been rocked to the core. Things don’t look or feel like they did a year ago. People are holding their breath and hoping for the best for tomorrow.

Thanksgiving can sting more than any other holiday because the focus seems to be pretty much all about family. The message society gives is one of showing up at Thanksgiving as a happy, happy family. To prove this point, what is the greeting that is said at Thanksgiving? HAPPY THANKSGIVING! But we know that for so many, tomorrow does not evoke happy feelings. For several, sadness or anxiety seems more appropriate than “happy”.

If you or your family are struggling on Thanksgiving eve, remember that you aren’t alone. Remember to take it one hour, one moment at a time. Take deep breaths. Hold a hot beverage in your hands all.day.long if that’s soothing. Go for a walk. Leave the party early if you need to. Do whatever will help you. Thanksgiving is about family but remember this: you are a branch in the family tree! You need to stay healthy so that you can bear fruit, too. You matter just as much as anyone else.

Instead of wishing you a “Happy Thanksgiving”, my hope is that you are able to find little & big things to be grateful for in the midst of the sad. Don’t deny your sad. But don’t miss seeing the good, too. With this perspective, show up tomorrow in the best way that you know how while also taking good care of you.

Lots of love,

– R.

What do you want your funeral to be like?

Do you ever think about what you’d like your funeral to be like? Do you tend to think about death or avoid the thought? I think that it’s hard for any of us to fathom being here one day and gone the next.

I’ve given some thought to my funeral. Sometimes, I think that there doesn’t need to be a funeral for me (how can 1-2 hours sum up a persons life? it never can). But then I remember that the funeral is more for the grieving than the deceased. It can be a helpful tool in the grief process. So I don’t want to deny people from that.

While I don’t have my funeral program nailed down, I do know that I want the song Temporary Home by Carrie Underwood played at my funeral. This song is significant to me both because of my career and my faith.  Besides this detail, I’m not sure what else I’d include at my funeral. I tend to picture my funeral being a Friday evening candle light service. And only close family at the graveside the next day.

I’d hope that the funeral message would  include a charge to go out and live your life more fully. Give more to others. Give of your time. Give of your finances. Let your heart break for the broken. Be a blessing. Your time is short. Love well. Love like you haven’t yet to this point in your life. Basically, whenever my time comes, I hope it will serve as a reminder that this life is SO short. And in the end, nothing else matters but loving well.

While I recognize that thinking about death is not pleasant , we can find some good in doing so. Hopefully,  this can help to spur us on to live out our remaining days more fully.

Have you thought of what you’d like your funeral to look like? Or what you’d hope that others would say about you?  If you haven’t, I encourage you to write this down. Then let that be the mission of your life. Starting today, live the kind of life that you’d want others to be inspired by at your funeral. Live and love well.

Here’s Carrie Underwood’s song that means so much to me:

How to get yourself out of a funk

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Saturday was a bad day for me. While we rarely fight, Derek and I had an argument first thing in the morning. Even though we resolved the insignificant conflict, I remained in a funk for the rest of the day. I’m not at all blaming my husband for this. It was a gloomy rainy day – I could blame the rain! But that wouldn’t be accurate either. It seemed to be everything and nothing that caused my mood to majorly drop. The entire day was a struggle. Sunday was better. Much better.  Here’s what seemed to help me our of a temporary major funk, I’m hoping it can help if you or a loved one find yourself in such a state:

  1. Journal. Writing out your thoughts and feelings can do wonders. It’s like a free therapy session! Also, as a social worker, I understand the importance of being able to identify when significant mood changes first began. Often, clients comes to their first appointment with no timeframe of when they started to go downhill. Writing in a journal can help you to process and cope as well as have a record should you need professional support.
  2. Exercise. For me, this was a walk in the pouring rain with my dog. I walked fast. I enjoyed seeing how much my dog was loving walking (despite the rain). I noticed ducks on the river not at all phased by rain. I may have felt gloomy on the inside but it was encouraging to see animals enjoying the rain. And the change of scenery + exercise was good for my mood as well.
  3. Read. I picked up a book that I had hoped to finish before baby arrived (and I didn’t!) and read a few pages. It was helpful to “escape” in a good book. To put aside feeling glum for several minutes.
  4. Get a break. For all of the above to happen, I needed a break from caretaking. My husband and I traded off caretaking for our daughter though out the day. I haven’t left her for more than 1 hour but if the funk continued into the next day, I may have had to get in the car and go somewhere for a couple of hours to see if that helped.
  5. Sleep. During my funk, I wanted to go and hide under the covers but I refused to go there. Sleep is necessary for survival but can work against us if we use it to escape. My advice would be to anyone in a funk to try and use sleep to recharge your batteries and not to as a way of hiding from the world. Also, remember that tomorrow’s a new day. Even if you don’t sleep great, things often seem better the next morning.

The above list if fairly biased re: what has been helpful for ME when experiencing low mood or being in a funk. I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list. Remember that just because you’re in a significant funk today doesn’t mean that it will be just as bad tomorrow. It could be MUCH better. Take good care of yourself. And if the funk lasts for 6 weeks or you experience any thoughts of suicide (no matter how fleeting), seek professional help. Funks can come and go. They can be very short lived. Or they can last awhile and turn into clinical depression. Taking good care of yourself as soon as you notice mood changes can sometimes turn what could have been ugly into a short lived episode. In your experience, what’s been helpful for you?

5 Worst Country Songs of 2015

Being off on mat leave, I listen to a local country station all day long. I’m a big country music fan but I have to say that the top 20 country songs of late are rather disappointing. Here are my thoughts on the worst country music songs playing on the radio this summer (in no particular order):

  1. “Cheap Seats” by Dallas Smith. This tune is super catchy and of course as a Canadian, I love that Dallas is a Canuck. But despite how catchy this song is, it reminds me of all the times that I bought the cheap seats to save money and regretted that decision later. He writes in the song, “we were making out throughout the whole encore”. Aww, how cute, right? Um, not so much. Not when you are the one sitting next to that couple!
  2. Don’t It” by Billy Currington.  This song is even catchier than Cheap Seats. Oh it’s groovy. The only problem is the lyrics. The song starts out with, “baby, don’t say no so quick.” As it goes on, it makes me feel uncomfortable for the girl that he’s trying to persuade. I wanna tell her to get outta there quick! Reminds me of the Christmas date rape song, “Baby it’s cold outside.” Gives me the creeps.
  3. “Young and Crazy” by Frankie Ballard. Gotta roll my eyes with the message in this song. Basically its saying to be an idiot and make bad choices now so you’re wise for your grandkids. Hmm. Yes, there’s lots of wisdom in that thinking (sarcasm).
  4.  “Love Me Like You Mean It” by Kelsea Ballerini. Can someone tell me how this song ended up on the country music charts? How in the world is this a country song? Every time it comes on I think that someone has changed the station.
  5. “Buy Me a Boat” by Chris Janson. Of course money can buy you a boat. And a truck to pull it. But you also said that money can’t buy you happiness. So which is it Chris?

In the last year or so, I’ve noticed that country music seems to be less about storytelling and more about creating a pop music drinking tune. Please, please bring back the good writing. Lyrics used to be the strength of country music. Stop the madness, please stop selling out!

What about you? Do you agree or disagree with my list above? What would be the worst country songs of 2015 for you?

P.S. I do enjoy the song “Cheap Seats” – just not the memory of being next to people who weren’t really there for the concert. There seems to be more of that in the cheap seats (those there to get trashed, make-out, etc). Aint that the truth? Ha! 🙂

Time saving tips

Who doesn’t like to save time? We live in such a fast-paced world; a little time saved here and there can really add up. Most importantly, taking some short-cuts can reduce daily stress levels. Here are a few of my time saving tips:

1. Fill up at the gas station before work instead of after work. If I do this before work, there are no lines. I go straight to a pump!  After work — I always have to wait and it can be stressful trying to find a line when drivers are all over the place.

2. Do your grocery shopping on a week night. This only works if it’s after 6pm (I guess a lot of people grab groceries after work before heading home?). Saturdays are the WORST to grocery shop. Everyone leaves their grocery shopping til Saturday it seems. Friday nights are surprisingly empty. Who wants to grocery shop on a Friday night?! Well, if you want to beat the crowds it can be a date night activity 🙂

3. Cook two meals at one time. If you know that tonight’s dinner is going to require spending a lot of time @ the stove top see if there’s another meal that you can prep while tonight’s dinner is cooking. This could look like tonight’s dinner +: prepping veggies for tomorrow’s salad, baking something in the oven (while food is cooking on the stove top), having a crockpot meal put together so all you have to do is plug it in in the morning.

Have you tried any of these before?  Do you have some of your own time saving tips? I’d LOVE to hear them!

Best Country CD of 2013: Hunter Hayes Encore

I was standing in Target with several cd’s in my hands. I wanted to leave the store with only one. The country cd’s ranged from Keith Urban’s latest cd, Brad Paisley’s greatest hits and Darius Ruckers newest cd which has some gems (Wagon Wheel, Radio). Then, to my surprise, I was also weighing Hunter Hayes Encore cd with the rest. I quickly realized that his cd included 5 radio hits that I knew and really liked. In addition to the 5 hits, there were also 12 songs I haven’t heard yet. Seeming like the biggest bang for my buck, I shocked my husband and myself when I left the store with Hunter Hayes Encore.

ImageOn our drive home from the in-laws, we put in Encore. I first played his radio hits (Storm Warning, Wanted, Somebody’s Heartbreak, I want Crazy, Everybody’s got Somebody but Me). Then we listened to the whole cd twice. My husband’s two favourite songs from this album aren’t even radio hits.

Prior to this purchase, I already had an appreciation for Hunter Hayes’ voice. When I first learned how young he was I couldn’t believe it as his voice does not give his age away. Other than the vocals, musically; this album is impressive. There were times where musically, we commented that it sounded like old Switchfoot or Jason Mraz or Keith Urban.

I would recommend Hunter Hayes Encore for someone who:

a) wants to get their money’s worth

b) has enjoyed any of his radio hits

c) has an appreciation for good music no matter the age of the musician

d) is looking for a cd that will lift their spirit. You can’t help but be in a good mood listening to his cd!

I have no regrets purchasing Encore over the other wonderful country cd options from 2013. I expect to enjoy Hunter’s Hayes cd for a long time.