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Waddington TracyTherapist's Corner...Celebrating Life through Memories

     As I think about this time of year, it always seems to send such a powerful yet subtle message to my mind, my spirit, and my heart. As the seasons change, I am reminded by just how powerful memories can come and go, big and small ones.
     I am choosing to write this article not as just a Mental Health Therapist, but as a human being who is captured by and gets lost in those memories that are truly made to celebrate what is right about our world and life as we know it!
     I am writing this article in dedication of my beloved maternal Grandparents; Don and Mary who have, along with my Mother, taught me how to hold fast to working to see the glass as half full, versus half empty, and embracing life for what is truly important and so worth celebrating; EACH OTHER!
    As a young child my mother took on a very important job of raising my sister and me as a single parent. One of the best gifts my Mother ever gave to me was having her mother and father help care for my sister and I while she was working to give us the best life ever.
     My Grandparents have always been one of my strongest mentors. They have inspired me, guided me, loved me, and like that of the Serenity Prayer; always worked to give us the wisdom to know the difference…  As a young child and into my adulthood, my Grandparents have always been my rock, that solid foundation of safety, compassion, hard work, determination, perseverance, lots and lots of love, devoting time to build what is most important which was time with Family creating memories, that have lasted a lifetime. They took so much time to create and invest in me to always work to do my best; they believed in me when I found it hard to believe in myself. They inspired me to follow my heart, to trust in God, and to work to create my own path, versus following the one that was often already made.
      My Grandfather has been deceased for nearly 13 years and there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him. I miss his tenderness and gentleness, I miss his smile and laughter, I miss being able to hold his hand and to talk with him, I miss hearing him tell me that he loves me and is proud of me, I miss his strength and his presence, I just miss him and know that I am working daily to continue to make him and my Grandmother proud. My Grandparents were pillars of our family. We celebrated time spent being together, laughing and talking, sharing about life; the good and the bad. They showed me how powerful their love was in how they never missed a beat to be there. They were my biggest cheerleaders, and my biggest fans!
     My Grandmother has been challenged with the disease of Alzheimer’s and yet she still clearly knows me. I love her hugs and her kisses, our holding of hands, sharing laughter and smiles; she, like my Grandfather, continues to bring me peace, contentment, safety, love, inspiration, determination, and hope! Their optimism to see what is most important in this life is the love we have from within our family. For many of us this can be challenging. Yet family can be different combinations such as our friends, co-workers, etc.
     However, what my Grandparents taught me with the legacy they paved is that TIME spent creating small but mighty memories in all that we work to do is what is important. I have come to realize in this life that no one can put a price on true meaningful happiness, for that is the richest blessing of them all! I believe that this is what has encompassed my heart and has enriched my spirit, and my soul. I am indebted to them for all of the small but mighty memories that they have given to me, and I am so incredibly blessed that I got them for Grandparents! I am truly wealthy beyond my means with what they have taught me, and continue to teach me, as I remember the celebration of life that they have always embraced and shared with everyone even in the dark and well lit times.
      Life, as many of us can attest, can send us many curve balls that can deeply hurt us. But it is looking at what we have around us, finding and looking for hope in the littlest of things, that can take us out of the dark and into the light! Challenge yourself to look around you and embrace those; rekindle the time in making and creating new memories. It is never too late to start. Where there is a will, there is always a way! 

Tracy Waddington, Therapist

JReisingerGuest Column...Joy

     'Tis the Season!! The Holiday's are likely to elicit one of two feelings by all, Fear or Love. By the time you are reading this issue's article, you are most likely resting lovingly or wrestling fearfully with the challenges of having a smooth and fulfilling Thanksgiving and Christmas season this year.
     We all have a choice in how we feel when we look back on the Thanksgiving experiences we just had AND, in how we feel about looking forward to the Christmas Holiday experience we imagine we will have this month. 
     As we discussed last month in our articles of Gratitude, you learned in many instances that taking time to recognize the things you are grateful for can lead to a deeper understanding of the things in your life that bring you happiness. Once you begin to focus on the things in life you are grateful for, you find you more consistently bring happiness into your own daily life.
     Did you know that joy grows out of faith, hope and love? Yes, it is our elated response to feelings of happiness and pleasure from our gratefulness at giving and watching others receive from our giving. So, as you can see, when you choose to focus on the things in your life you are grateful for, you likely will feel happiness and JOY and experience more love.
     If you find yourself grumbling about and feeling bitter about how your Thanksgiving experience was with your family or your friends or how awful the people around you were, you may find that what you are really experiencing is a reflection of your own fear. That fear is likely brought on by your thinking that you did not meet your own expectations for delivering a "perfect" meal or, feeling guilty that you chose to spend time with friends or family that you really didn't want to be with or, wishing you had been more kind to those who hosted a family event.
     One way to move from fear to love and find yourself enjoying the rest of this Holiday season is by inviting JOY into your life.  You can start by hosting festivities and what a better time than between now and the New Year. Some examples are simple celebrations with your kids or significant other. This can be something as simple as sharing a cup of hot chocolate with your child after school or setting aside 20 minutes an evening with your spouse where just the two of you spend time celebrating the things you love about each other. Or, you can go much simpler and focus on toasting moments of happiness as you
go through your day.   
     Dance, jump for joy, smile at each person you pass by. Remember that life is not meant to be endured; it is meant to be enJOYed.

 Joni Reisinger, Guest Columnist

HainAFrom Our EAP...Managing Holiday Stress

     Although it's easy to envision a marvelous, relaxed holiday season full of pageantry, positivity, and perfect pies, this is not what the splendor of the season always delivers. For many, this time of year is the most stressful.
     If you feel stressed out by the thought of holiday chores, obligations, and the clan dropping in for a spell--or if this year's circumstances make the holiday season difficult for whatever reason-- start preparations now to manage your holiday stress.
     Holiday Myth Busters -- Along with good tidings come high expectations based on the commercialization of the holiday season, past childhood memories we may long to duplicate, and the expectations of others.
     If family members count on your "holiday magic" to make every year special--the cooking, cleaning, baking, decorating, and gift-wrapping--you face a bigger challenge letting go or finding balance.
     To cope better with expectations, demands, and added pressure during the holidays, we'll look at decisions, priorities, rest, planning, navigating conflicts and taking care of yourself. Check out our next newsletter for more in-depth looks at how these areas can improve your holiday coping skills!

Anna Hain, EAP Coordinator

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