Holidays Survival Kit

Some thoughts for navigating through stress

Have you ever felt o.k and had a song play on the radio and make you feel blue?  This can be especially true during the holidays.  You know, when they start playing THAT music two months before Christmas.  Not that they’re bad songs.  I’m not the Grinch.  BUT never underestimate the power of cues, especially during the holidays with all of the decorations and rituals.  The littlest reminders from the past can take us back there in a moment.  And it only takes one song or meal, or atmosphere to take us back down memory lane.  The problem is sometimes Memory Lane isn’t worth traveling down.


Everything is going to work out.

Just thought some of you might need to hear that right about now.

Especially if it FEELS like it’s not going to be.

Let’s face it, it seems as the years go by, there are more reasons to always be working through something, rather than resting.

Throughout the years you gain much, but there are also mounting losses.  For some, the holidays aren’t reason to celebrate what’s happening right now, they’re reminders of painful loss.

It’s not personal, that’s just the way life is. It rains on the just and the unjust.

People you once shared your holiday dinner table with are no longer here. Traditions die or just fade away. Family recipes are lost and let’s face it, nobody makes cookies like your Grandmother did.

But in the constant flow of movement and change, good things are happening, too. You may be another year older, but at least you’re still here. Loved ones pass on or move away, but new people come along too. Grandchildren. New Friends. Neighbors.

In your longing for the old days, don’t miss out on new days. Here are just a few thoughts on not just surviving the holidays, but savoring them. 

Have fun.  Enjoy the small pleasures in life. The best things in life may not be free, but the good things usually are. Go feed some pigeons in the park. Brew a pot of tea and share it with a friend. Sit by the fire and listen to its sounds. Reflect on the good times in your life. Count your blessings.

Stay positive.  Decide to be encouraged. Your mindset can make life on earth a heaven or hell. You’re responsible for your own thought life. Take every thought into captivity. Chances are if you haven’t been feeling well, you haven’t been thinking well. Is there an area of your thought life where you’ve let the weeds choke out your dreams? Beware of stinking thinking. Often, the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the conversation you have with yourself. As someone once said, “Nine out of ten worries heading your way are going to end up in the ditch.”

Celebrate.  But more importantly, choose to make your celebrations memorable. This one’s huge. It’s one thing to celebrate, it’s quite another thing to celebrate in a memorable way. Photographs help preserve celebrations, but often it’s doing something out of the ordinary that stands out in our memories. Break tradition. Have pizza and wings instead of Turkey. You get the idea. Take a hike and bring a picnic lunch. It’s up to you. Don’t let old ways of thinking keep you from going new places.

Innovate.  It’s so easy to tell yourself nothing is going to change. It’s so easy to just stay where you’re at and hunker down. But you’ll never win a new battle if you’re still worrying about how you lost the last one. Rather than doing something this season you’ll regret, decide right now to claim some new ground today! If it means pouring something down the sink, then by all means do it. As long as you keep repeating the same old patterns, nothing is going to change in your life.

Yes, the holidays can be tough. But you’re not alone, if you struggle this time of year. Why not connect with someone else who is going through a hard time? Maybe it means accepting an invitation from a family who’d like you to join them. Volunteer somewhere and serve if that’s what it takes. But whatever you do, don’t succumb to the idea your best days are gone and it’s all down hill from here. The minute you start focusing on the past, you lose the present and opportunities to focus on a brighter future.

Life is more than dwelling on the heartaches and hurts in your past. No matter how hard you try, some things in the past cannot be changed. But you can change right now and your future can change. It’s up to you. How would you like to feel one day, week, month or year from now? Chances are you want to feel better. If that’s the case you’ve got to start thinking better. What do you think?

Awaken The Giant Within

One powerful step to reclaim your race

You want to win.  Period.  Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.  The problem is winning doesn’t come easy.  But what if there was a simple strategy to help you take back huge realms of your life?


It’s called offense.  One of the reasons you may be struggling right now is because you’ve slipped into defensive mode and you’re not taking any new ground.  It happens to all of us at one time or another.

For example, when I was younger, my brother and I went to a Chuck E. Cheese grand opening.  They gave out FREE golden tokens for all of the games.  So we decided not to play any games.  Instead we went around all night collecting tokens.  You can probably guess what happened?  That’s right, we never went back!  For years we found the game tokens all throughout our bedrooms- in drawers, under our beds, in a corner on the floor….visible reminders of our missed opportunities!

We’re not alone!  8 out of 10 employees surveyed in the U.S said they could work harder on their job.  So we’re not talking about a rare virus, we’re talking about an epidemic.  People are underperforming.  Probably not just at work, but in every area of their lives.  We all signed up for full-throttle living, but somewhere along the way we let up.

Why does this happen?  Simple.  If you are afraid of losing, you go into defensive mode and forget all about offense.  Before you know it, you’re just trying to stay alive.  You enter survival mode and forget all about winning mode.

It’s true of people who consider going back to college.  People who think about pursuing their own business.  People who consider taking their marriage or parenting to the next level.  Whenever you pass up on opportunities to grow because it’s the safest thing to do, a part of your soul dies.  Period.

On the other side of the equation, the people who succeed aren’t always the most talented, but they are committed.  Every time you look at the best selling books in Walmart, you’re not looking at the greatest writers in the world, you’re looking at those who were most persistent!  Success equals persistent offense.  You can have the greatest product in the world but people aren’t going to beat a path to your door.  You have to keep taking continual steps in the right direction.

Instead of trying to keep the opponent out of your end zone, storm theirs.

Put a placard on your desk or change your screensaver.  Write something inspiring like: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”  Develop a ‘whatever it takes attitude’.  Find a person or two to cheer you on.  Join a group.  Phone a friend.

Today, take 5 minutes and ask yourself, “Is there an area of life where I’m just not putting forth the effort anymore?”  While your at it, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do today to get closer to achieving my goals?”

Whatever you do, start playing offense again.  Instead of trying to keep the opponent out of your end zone, storm theirs.  You don’t want to drink a cup of regrets at the end of your game, do you?

You and Me

The fine line between addiction and control

Do you ever feel addicted? Not just to drugs, but anything? It can be food, words of affirmation, the internet.  You’re not alone, and chances are you sometimes wonder what the line is between normal and addicted.  Lets talk.


You may have first noticed how much you like control, when you started establishing some rituals and routines.  Maybe you set your alarm clock for 6:00 a.m every day.  Maybe you run every other day.  You eat a light breakfast and read your bible and pray. Then you work on some kind of project until it’s time to go to work.  Sounds harmless, right?

Actually,  it still may be a good thing.  You probably feel 100 percent better.  You have more energy to spend with your kids. Things are happening at church.  You’re meeting new and interesting people.  You’ve steered clear of the ruts.  And you’ve tacked on some major hours to each day, right?

However, are you beginning to realize just how good it feels to accomplish something?  We all like control.  We can even get to the point where we enjoy walking into a darkened room and flicking the light switch ‘on’.  We like finishing the last few swigs of milk and filing the jug in the recycle container. Crazy, right?

If we’re completely honest with ourselves, it’s amazing how much joy we can get out of completing the smallest of tasks. Drug free. O.k, not including caffeine.

So what is the fine line between addiction and control?

Well, it’s probably different for everyone, otherwise it wouldn’t be fine.

Take cell phones for example. They’re great. Wonderful tools. Nothing will give you more joy than one that hums.  New updates only increase their hand in glove feel. However, what wonderful servants they make and terrible taskmasters.  We can all relate.  We’ve all binged and suffered for it.

But what is binging? Is it healthy to tell yourself, “You’re addicted!” or “You’re in control!”.   When it’s a question of addiction, you’re left to feel like the Schnauzer who gets caught red-handed.  There you are wolfing down your owners French Fries while she’s gone to the rest room. True? Maybe. But not healthy.

What if you discovered it’s a control issue.  For instance, if you keep telling yourself you have no control, chances are you’ll start believing it.  

Reality Check_

Lets just call this Iic: I’m in control, from here on out.

Iic keeps you in the realm of personal responsibility.  It’s not a free pass to be immoral. No.  It leaves you with the power to make the right choice for you and all other parties involved.

IA (I’m addicted) is a recipe for failure. Yes, it’s a good starting point on the road to recovery, but it gives you an excuse to be irresponsible. All of us are irresponsible from time to time. That’s not the issue. The issue arises when you use your own words to harm yourself.

You’re of no use to yourself or your loved ones until you change the stories you tell yourself.

How about you? Is negativity in your interior space keeping you from solving your problems. Maybe there’s something healthy going on inside and you can only see it as a problem. Wonders might happen if you recognize this attribute and begin to see it in others. You might just end up winning the Nobel Peace Prize after all. What’s the saying? If you can imagine it, you can do it. Put a man on the moon? Impossible. Put 1,000 songs in everyone’s pocket? Impossible. Turn out to be an authority in your field. Impossible. Maybe not!

Nobody or thing has more control over your past, present, and future more than you do! O.k, after God. It’s not your boss oppressing you, or your wife and friends, sometimes it’s you.  You can be real nice to a lot of other people but not very nice to yourself. You can be a good friend to others, but when’s the last time you were a friend to yourself?

Who’s going to be a better friend to you than you?  Unless you’re a Siamese twin, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with yourself from here on out. Why not be friendly to yourself? Like McDonald’s says: “You deserve a break today”, right?

We call ourselves overachievers, but the truth is we can be under encouragers.

Remember, Yic (You’re in control). Not anybody else. Not your boss. Not your husband or your wife.  What you do with that control is up to you. Can you become addicted? Absolutely. If you can’t stop being kind to yourself, you’re not in control any more.

Conversely, when you begin to realize just how much control you have, amazing things begin to happen. So, who determines the fine line between addiction and control? You and me, my friend. So why not be kind to yourself? Flick the switch!

Streams and Rivers

A lesson from the ocean

Have you ever noticed the tendency to eradicate all sources of pain from your life?


We spend lots of money trying to numb our nerve endings.

Sometimes people are the cause of the pain. Especially if you are an introverted leader. It’s easier to cut off incoming streams than to endure wisely. Oceans drink up every last drop of water they can get. They are not picky.

Transformation begins with a heart check. Dam up love from flowing through you to others and your heart soon dries up and dies. Open the floodgates and let it flow and the desert becomes a garden.

Why? The tributaries and river principle. Tributaries feed rivers and rivers feed oceans.

As a leader, you are not river, you are ocean.

You are able to water others, because you have been watered. Cut off the sources of your flow and you will dry up and disappear. Foolishness says do it- unfriend, stop calling, end the relationship. Wisdom asks ‘How much do you want to really help others?

Judges 1:27-36