Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

Apr 222012
 

 

  1. View a negative situation as an opportunity to do good and create a positive outcome.
  2. Consider a critical remark from someone as nothing more than a challenge to improve yourself.
  3. Interpret a gloomy today as a prelude to a bright and sunny tomorrow.
  4. Decide that a setback is really a life-lesson or learning tool.
  5. Allow depressing feelings to surface so there is more room for you to experience positive attitudes and contemplate motivational thoughts.
  6. Seize the opportunity to educate someone who is preventing you from succeeding by helping them to understand how they will benefit from your ideas and plans.
  7. Choose to look on the bright side whenever possible.  After all, life is not a dress rehearsal.  Live each day of your life to the fullest! 

Perhaps it will be the neighbor that you are too busy to find time to stop and chat with.  Maybe it will be the Girl Scout who you avoided so that you would not have to buy a box of cookies.  The list is endless. The point is that each time you choose to take “the low road” in life, you place yourself at-risk for being treated that way by others.  Take time this week to consider how you could change your behavior to take “the high road” whenever possible.  Ask yourself the following questions:

 

  1. Have I considered the feelings of others when I am deciding how to behave?
  2. Have I made choices that I might later regret?
  3. Am I guilty of “taking the low road”?
  4. What can I do to behave in a more gracious manner with others?
  5. How can I help myself to “take the high road” whenever possible?

You might be interested in what I chose to do in the parking log.  I bit my tongue and said nothing to the woman about her comments. Although I did not have enough money to pay for both of us to leave the parking lot, I did give her what I could. As I drove off, I thought to myself, “This is just another example of how thankful I should be for the circumstances of my own life.”

Apr 212012
 

 

Here’s is another life lesson that I learned while lecturing to divorced parents.

 

          As you may recall, I often lecture to a mandatory parent education presented by the Los Angeles Superior Court. Recently, I was lecturing to a group that included many caustic individuals. One woman, in particular, was quite angry.  She was angry about having to be there. She was angry about the results of her most recent court hearing. Above all else, she was angry about the father of her child being given the right to make decisions about that child’s life. “What right does he have?” “He wasn’t interested in her before I left.” “He’s just interested in reducing his child support payment.” As she vented her anger, several of the parents around her decided to join in. After a few more questions were raised, she said to me, “Well, what do you have to say?”  She was thoroughly unhappy with my position that I was happy the other parent had become interested in his child, I hoped that his interest in her would continue, and that I felt it was in her child’s best interest for her to be supportive of the father’s interests in the child. I ended the discussion by saying that although it may not be true in all cases, I thought that it was important for people to focus on what was best for their children rather than what might make one of the adults in the matter feel better.

          As I collected the evaluation forms, I tabbed that woman’s sheet because I was particularly interested in her comments. As could be expected, she referred to me as being the “mother of the Brady Bunch” who lived in a fantasy world, etc., etc., etc.. She also took offense to my unstated position that most children would like their formerly uninvolved parents to become active in their lives. The remainder of the comments were very angry.

          After the presentation, I walked to my car in the long-since-empty parking lot. Actually, there was one other car in the lot.  On the hood of the car sat the woman who had been so angry with me. As I came closer to her, it was obvious that she had been crying. She told me that she did not read the sign as she entered the parking lot, she had only a few dollars with her, and did not have enough money to pay what she owed to the parking attendant.  Although she did not ask me for money, it was clear that she needed my help.  I paused for a moment.  Although there was no question that I would help her, I was quite tempted to ask her if she would like to reconsider the comments that she wrote on the form.

          The moral of the story should be clear: you just never know when you will need help from another person. More importantly, you will never know who will be the person from whom you require assistance. It might be the person you just cut-off on the freeway.  It could be the person with only one item to purchase that you refused to allow to step in front of you in the line at the market. Perhaps it will be the neighbor that you are too busy to find time to stop and chat with.  Maybe it will be the Girl Scout who you avoided so that you would not have to buy a box of cookies.  The list is endless. The point is that each time you choose to take “the low road” in life, you place yourself at-risk for being treated that way by others.  Take time this week to consider how you could change your behavior to take “the high road” whenever possible.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I considered the feelings of others when I am deciding how to behave?
  2. Have I made choices that I might later regret?
  3. Am I guilty of “taking the low road”?
  4. What can I do to behave in a more gracious manner with others?
  5. How can I help myself to “take the high road” whenever possible?

You might be interested in what I chose to do in the parking log.  I bit my tongue and said nothing to the woman about her comments. Although I did not have enough money to pay for both of us to leave the parking lot, I did give her what I could. As I drove off, I thought to myself, “This is just another example of how thankful I should be for the circumstances of my own life.”

Apr 212012
 

Stress Busting Holiday Planner

By Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

You don’t have time to read an entire book about holiday organization. You’re getting ready for Christmas, but you remember all the stress of Christmas Seasons Past? Relax! Follow this organizational strategy, and you will breeze through an enjoyable stress-free holiday season! Are you stressed about how to plan a party or event? No worries! I will outline how to prepare for a cookie baking holiday party. I have also outlined how to prepare for a Christmas Eve dinner with turkey as the main course. Let’s get started!

The Strategy for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

1. Identify major task areas.  A “task area” is a task, event, or activity that will require time and effort to organize.  Several common task areas are listed below.

2. Break down each task into components. Every task area can be broken down into components or “to do” items.  The components of the major task areas have also been identified below. Of course, any component can be broken down into manageable tasks.

3. Plan a time line for completing each task area.  Create a time line using a week-by-week format that includes the components for each task area.  A sample time line has been developed below in non-calendar format. 

Major Task Areas of Holiday Preparation: Christmas Cards or Email, Decorating, Gifts, Holiday Activities, Holiday Party, Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal, and Christmas Morning Preparation.

Components of Major Task Areas of Holiday Preparation

 CHRISTMAS CARDS OR EMAIL

1. Make adjustments (add new addresses and emails, delete incorrect addresses and emails) to your Christmas card address file. Decide upon the number of Christmas cards to purchase or how many e-cards you will send.

2. Shop for and purchase Christmas cards, or design your own card/letter for emailing.

3. Purchase Christmas stamps.

4. Address Christmas cards or set up an email template or signature.

5. Sign and write notes in Christmas cards. Write a personal note for each email using the email template as a backdrop and send the email.

6. Seal, stamp, and send Christmas cards that will be mailed.

7. Make changes to your Christmas card file as you learn of new addresses and have cards returned in the mail.

DECORATING

1. Purchase new items to compliment the decorations that you presently own on sale throughout the year.

2. Order catalog or on-line items that you purchase each year (e.g., decorations with the year marked on them).

3. Hang outside decorations.

4. Decorate the interior of your home.

5. Purchase or cut wood for the fireplace.

6. Purchase and decorate the Christmas tree.

7. Hang wreaths, boughs, and other living or recently cut items.

8. Hang stockings by the fireplace.

After the holiday:

9. Take down Christmas tree decorations.  Cut up or recycle the tree. Recycle other plant-based items.

10. Return interior decorations to storage bins and boxes. Place decorations for each room in separate containers. Label containers.

11. Dismantle and store exterior decorations.

 GIFTS

1. Make up a gift recipient list. Include a possible gift and alternative gift for each recipient.  Begin looking for sales that might include gift items. 

2. Begin making homemade items.

3. Review parenting magazines for “best toy” recommendations.

4. Get one roll of wrapping paper and gift tags for “from Santa” presents.

5. Organize gift exchange with extended family members and/or friends.

6. Make Christmas paper or gift tags using stencils, last year’s Christmas Cards or Email, and other festive ideas.

7. Wrap presents as they are purchased.

8. Purchase hostess gifts to take to parties which you will attend.

9. Mail presents to out of town recipients.

10. Write thank you notes.

 ACTIVITIES

1. Review a list of last year’s community-based holiday related activities. Contact event organizers to find out the date of the activity this year.  Decide upon activities that you would like to participate in.  Make notes on your calendar to remind yourself to look for the events (e.g., Breakfast with Santa).

2. Purchase tickets to Christmas related ballets, symphonies, sing-a-longs, and other musical events.

3. Begin looking for activities in community calendars for new and interesting events.  Contact event organizers for the dates of activities that you participate in annually (e.g., school Christmas play).

4. Make a list of holiday television programs that you and your family would like to watch. Begin scanning television listings for viewing times.

5. Have children prepare a “letter to Santa” and a wish list.

6. Purchase and use an advent calendar.

7. Order a festive bingo game for all the special children in your life from http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com .

8. Play Christmas music. Be sure to have music to play in your car. Record Christmas programs on television and the radio for early holiday merry making next year.

9. Take children for pictures with Santa or family Christmas photos.

10. Spend a family evening looking at Christmas decorations in your neighborhood.

11. Have children help you bake or decorate Christmas cookies.

12. Attend parties to which you have been invited.

13. Participate in family rituals that are related to Christmas.

HOLIDAY PARTY (and example for a cookie baking party)

1. Decide whether or not to have a holiday party.

2. Search on-line, in holiday books, and in back issues of magazines for unique theme ideas (e.g., a cookie baking party as described below).

3. Purchase non-holiday items (e.g., red candles for your table) that are available on sale.

4. Assemble a guest list.

5. Purchase, address, stamp, and mail party invitations. Be sure to describe the party theme (if there is one) and instructions of what to bring (if the invitee is responsible for bringing any item). 

If you are having a cookie baking party, include a note in the invitation that each invitee will be preparing a batch of cookies during the party, so everyone can learn how to make the cookie. The attendees will be responsible for bringing any unusual items (e.g., jam) or utensils (a mold) that are necessary to complete their recipe. All of the cookies will be divided at the end of the party, placed on plates, and taken home by the cooks.  I would suggest scheduling the party to begin in the late afternoon.  Then, you can easily add a prepare-ahead (i.e., stew) or bring-in dinner (i.e., pizza) that can be attended by spouses or partners.  Sugar cookies can be prepared before the party for children to decorate during the party.  Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that the attendees can assemble and decorate while their cookies are in the oven or have been prepared. 

6. Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below).

Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

 

 Invitee:                                   adults                          kids

Hill                                          1                                  1

Elder                                       1                                  2

Martinez                                  1

Young                                      1

Tubbs                                      1                                  1

Lee                                         1

Total                                       6                                  4

Spouses to attend dinner:  4

 7. Contact each person who will join you in order to learn what recipe he or she will be preparing.  Ask that the participants bring any special or unusual items for their recipes as well as a copy of the recipe for others to have.

8. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

9. Make a tentative plan for the order that the cookies will be baked in given the amount of oven and microwave space that you have.

10. Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that everyone will decorate.

11. Prepare sugar cookies for children to decorate.

12. Shop for the party.

Cookie Party Shopping Ingredients:

            Mulled apple cider to drink during party: apple cider, and mulling spices.

            Cooking ingredients and decorating ideas for ginger bread houses: flour, roll out sugar cookie dough (for kids), sugar, raisins, powdered sugar, food color (red & green), brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, coconut flakes, milk, Crisco, eggs, Eagle Brand condensed milk, butter, baking chocolate, vanilla, peppermints (red, green), almonds, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, miniature marshmallows, graham crackers, molasses, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, etc.).

            Decorating Ingredients for sugar cookies for kids:  sprinkles (red, green, blue), tubes of frosting, frosting (vanilla), chips (chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter), kisses, M&M’s, jelly beans, and candy canes.

          Containers: Christmas cookie containers, Christmas plastic wrap or cellophane paper to cover, ribbon to wrap up cookies.

         Drinks: soda, juices, red wine, white wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea.

         Snacks: cheeses, spreads, crackers, and chips/pretzels for kids.

         Utensils: paper plates, plastic silverware, plastic glasses, and napkins.

         Dinner: ingredients for stew, chili, or soup.  Alternatively, plan to bring in dinner (e.g., pizza, Chinese take-out food, etc.).

12. Clean all baking pans, mixing bowls, and cooking utensils that will be used by the cooks.

13. Clear counter space in the kitchen so each cook will have adequate room to work. Place an apron and a cleaning cloth in each cook’s workspace. 

14. Organize counter space or clear a table for the children work on. Set up decorating ingredients.

15. Arrange ingredient and cookware areas.

16. Set up a cooling area so the cookies can cool without being disturbed.

17. Use a crock pot to heat the mulled apple cider.

18. Place everything that is necessary for dinner in one place.  That includes plates, utensils, drinks, etc.

19. Organize a wrapping area with plates, cellophane paper, ribbons, and scissors.

20. Place snacks in bowls.

21. Turn on Christmas music.

22. Light fire in fireplace.

CHRISTMAS/CHRISTMAS EVE MEAL (Example: Christmas Eve dinner with roasted turkey as the main course)

1. Review menu from last year’s Christmas meal. Consider adjusting menu items, as well as the amount of food and drink items that are necessary for guests.

2. Purchase non-holiday items that are available (e.g., red candles for your table) on sale.

3. Arrange for extra help on Christmas Eve.

4. Prepare Christmas Eve party invitations.  Be sure to put an R.S.V.P. deadline.

5. Mail or email Christmas Eve party invitations.

6. Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below).

Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

Attending:                              adults                          kids

Smith                                      2                                  2

Jones                                      2                                  2

Young                                      2

Rush                                        2

Lee                                         1

Washington                            decline

Rodriguez                              2

Monroe                                  2                                4

Total                                    13                                8

7. Order meat items from butcher (e.g., turkey, stock, giblets, etc.).

8. Order bakery goods (e.g. dinner rolls, pies, etc.).

9. Order liquor (e.g., wine, champagne, and liquors).

10. Place an order for rental items (tables, chairs, napkins, tablecloths, tablecloth for child’s table, punch bowl, etc.). Mark the delivery date on your calendar. Make arrangements of where to leave items in case you are not home when they are delivered.

11. Clean carpets and area rugs.

12. Wash exterior windows.                   

13. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

14. Check non-rented table linens to make sure they are clean. Clean items as necessary.

15. Clean or polish floors.

16. Tune piano or other musical instruments.

17. Purchase special table items for children (e.g., a candy cane for each place setting).

18. Purchase Christmas potpourri.

19. Purchase batteries and charge all AV equipment for Christmas meal memories.  Check camera and video camera. 

20. Purchase a Christmas puzzle, Christmas video, and/or other Christmas related activity for the children to use after dinner.

21.  Compile shopping list for Christmas Eve/Day dinner:

 Christmas Eve Dinner Ingredients:     

 Christmas Mugs: Apple cider and mulling spices.

 Turkey:  turkey, giblets, and chicken broth.

 Stuffing: White bread, chicken broth, celery, onions, dried cranberries, butter, and spices.

 Gravy: Chicken broth, spices, and flour.

 Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes, butter, milk, and salt.

 Jell-O Salad: Lemon Jell-O, cranberry sauce, walnuts, celery, pineapple (crushed), and salad bowl lettuce (to place under the salad on plates).

Sweet Potatoes in Oranges: oranges, yams, brown sugar, milk, butter, miniature marshmallows, and candied cherries (marshmallows and cherries are for decorations).

Peas: Peas, butter, and spices.

Carrots: Carrots, butter, and spices.

Dinner Rolls

Condiments for Tables: crab apples, cranberry sauce, and mint jelly.

Drinks: Water, champagne, sparkling cider, soda, wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, and herb tea.

Desserts: Mince pie, homemade cookies, Yule log, and candy.

22. Purchase dry/canned/frozen products.

23. Purchase non-baked dessert items (e.g., candy).

24. Polish silver and other serving items.

25. Clean crystal and glass stemware.

26. Contact extra helpers a few days before the party to make sure they will be there on time. Prepare a check to have ready before the party.

27. Pick-up or arrange for delivery of all ordered items.

28. Purchase perishable items.

29. Prepare “make ahead” items (e.g., casseroles, stuffing, cookies, pies, etc.)

30. Fill salt & pepper shakers.

31. Grind coffee.

32. Complete party set-up (e.g., arrange tables, set up place settings, arrange flowers and centerpieces/candles, set up mulled cider table, set up a buffet and/or dessert table, set up a coffee/tea table).

33. Use the gingerbread house that was made at your cookie baking party as a centerpiece or decoration for the desert table.

34. Lay out all items necessary for stuffing and baking the turkey. Stuff turkey and place in the oven.

35. Place sodas, white wine, champagne, and other cooled drinks in tubs of ice adjacent to the party area.

36. Peel and mash potatoes.

37. Prepare other main course items.

39. Turn on Christmas music and lights.

40. Light fire in the fireplace.

41. Prepare mulled cider.

After the party:

42. Clean table linens.

43. Pack away centerpieces and other party decorations.

44. Stack rental items for pick-up. Be sure to count napkins and other rented linen items prior to pick-up.

45. Pack away silver, crystal, and other serving items.

46. Store Christmas candles and other items that can be re-used next year.

CHRISTMAS MORNING PREPARATION

1. Purchase batteries for Christmas morning memories.  Check camera and video camera. Charge and replace batteries as necessary.

2. Purchase coordinating Christmas pajamas to give to the children on Christmas Eve.

3. Purchase breakfast items to have on hand for Christmas morning.  Be sure to plan an easy-to-fix breakfast.

4. Have children leave a plate of cookies out for Santa before they go to bed.

5. Present children with special Christmas pajamas to wear in anticipation for Christmas morning.

6. Place gifts by the tree.

7. Jingle bells outside of children’s window or on roof so they hear Santa leaving.

SAMPLE TIME LINE

SEPTEMBER

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Make adjustments (add new addresses, delete incorrect addresses) to your Christmas card address file.

2. Decide upon the number of Christmas Cards or Email to purchase.

 Gifts:

1. Make up a gift recipient list. Include a possible gift and alternative gift for each recipient.  Begin looking for sales that might include gift items. 

2. Begin making homemade items.

OCTOBER

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Shop for and purchase Christmas cards or design an email template for holiday emails.

Decorating:

1. Purchase new items to compliment the decorations that you presently own.

2. Order catalog or on-line items that you purchase each year (e.g., decorations with the year marked on them).

Gifts:

1. Review parenting magazines for “best toy” recommendations.

2. Get one roll of wrapping paper and gift tags. for “from Santa” presents

3. Organize gift exchange with extended family members and/or friends.

 Activities:

1. Review a list of last year’s community-based holiday related activities. Contact event organizers to find out the date of the activity this year.  Decide upon activities that you would like to participate in.  Make notes on your calendar to remind yourself to look for the events (e.g., Breakfast with Santa).

 Holiday Party:

1. Decide whether or not to have a holiday party.

2. Search on-line, in holiday books, and in back issues of magazines for unique theme ideas (e.g., a cookie baking party as described below).

3. Purchase non-holiday items (e.g., red candles for your table) that are available on sale.

 Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Review menu from last year’s Christmas meal. Consider adjusting menu items, as well as the amount of food and drink items that are necessary for guests.

2. Purchase non-holiday items that are available (e.g., red candles for your table) on sale.

 NOVEMBER

 Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Purchase Christmas stamps.

2. Address Christmas cards.

3. Sign and write notes in Christmas cards or email. Use holiday email template to send personalized emails.

4. Seal, stamp, and send Christmas cards.

Decorating:

1. Hang outside decorations on Thanksgiving weekend.

2. Purchase or cut wood for the fireplace.

 Gifts:

1. Make Christmas paper or gift tags using stencils, last year’s Christmas Cards or Email, and other festive ideas.

2. Wrap presents as they are purchased.

 Activities:

1. Purchase tickets to Christmas related ballets, symphonies, sing-a-longs, and other musical events.

2. Have children prepare a “letter to Santa” and a wish list.

3. Begin looking for activities in community calendars for new and interesting events.  Contact event organizers for the dates of activities that you participate in annually (e.g., school Christmas play).

4. Make a list of holiday television programs that you and your family would like to watch. Begin scanning television listings for viewing times.

 Holiday Party:

1. Assemble a guest list.

2. Purchase, address, stamp, and mail party invitations. Be sure to describe the party theme (if there is one) and instructions of what to bring (if the invitee is responsible for bringing any item). 

If you are having a cookie baking party, explain that the invitee will be preparing a batch of cookies during the party. The attendees will be responsible for bringing any unusual items (e.g., jam) or utensils (a mold) that are necessary to complete their recipe. All of the cookies will be divided at the end of the party, placed on plates, and taken home by the cooks.  I would suggest having the party begin in the late afternoon.  Then, you can easily add a prepare-ahead (i.e., stew) or bring-in dinner (i.e., pizza) that can be attended by spouses or partners.  Sugar cookies can be prepared before the party for children to decorate during the party.  Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that the attendees can assemble and decorate while their cookies are in the oven or have been prepared. 

3. Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below).

Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

 

 Invitee:                                   adults                          kids

Hill                                          1                                  1

Elder                                       1                                  2

Martinez                                 1

Young                                     1

Tubbs                                     1                                  1

Lee                                         1

 

Total                                        6                                  4

Spouses to attend dinner:  4

 Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Arrange for people to help you on Christmas Eve.

2. Prepare Christmas Eve invitations.  Be sure to put an R.S.V.P. deadline.

3. Mail Christmas Eve invitations.

Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below)

            Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

 

 Attending:                              adults                          kids

Smith                                     2                                  2

Jones                                      2                                  2

Young                                     2

Rush                                       2

Lee                                         1

Washington                            decline

Rodriguez                              2

Monroe                                  2                                4

Total                                    22                                8

Christmas Morning Preparation:

1. Purchase batteries, film and videotape for Christmas morning memories.  Check camera and video camera. Charge and replace batteries as necessary.

 2. Purchase coordinating Christmas pajamas to give to the children on Christmas Eve.

DECEMBER

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Make changes to your Christmas card file as you learn of new addresses/emails and have cards returned in the mail.

 Decorating:

1. Decorate the interior of your home.

2. Purchase and decorate the Christmas tree.

3. Hang stockings by the fireplace.

4. Hang wreaths, boughs, and other living or recently cut items.

Gifts:

1. Purchase hostess gifts to take to parties which you will attend.

2. Mail presents to out of town recipients.

Activities:

1. Purchase and use an advent calendar.

2. Order a bingo game for all the special children in your life from http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com .

3. Play Christmas music. Have music to play in your car! Record Christmas programs on television and the radio for early holiday merry making next year.

4. Take children for pictures with Santa or family Christmas photos.

5. Spend a family evening looking at Christmas decorations in your neighborhood.

6. Have children help you bake or decorate Christmas cookies.

7. Attend parties to which you have been invited.

8. Participate in family rituals that are related to Christmas.

Holiday Party:

1. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

2. Contact each person who will join you in order to learn what recipe he or she will be preparing.  Ask that the participants bring any special or unusual items for their recipes as well as a copy of the recipe for others to have.

3. Make a tentative plan for the order that the cookies will be baked in given the amount of oven and microwave space that you have.

4. Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that everyone will decorate.

5. Prepare sugar cookies for children to decorate.

6. Shop for the party.

Cookie Party Shopping Ingredients:

            Mulled apple cider to drink during party: apple cider, and mulling spices.

            Cooking ingredients and decorating ideas for ginger bread houses: flour, roll out sugar cookie dough (for kids), sugar, raisins, powdered sugar, food color (red & green), brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, coconut flakes, milk, Crisco, eggs, Eagle Brand condensed milk, butter, baking chocolate, vanilla, peppermints (red, green), almonds, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, miniature marshmallows, graham crackers, molasses, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, etc.).

             Decorating Ingredients for sugar cookies for kids:  sprinkles (red, green, blue), tubes of frosting, frosting (vanilla), chips (chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter), kisses, M&M’s, jelly beans, and candy canes.

          Containers: Christmas cookie containers, Christmas plastic wrap or cellophane paper to cover, ribbon to wrap up cookies.

          Drinks: soda, juices, red wine, white wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea.

          Snacks: cheeses, spreads, crackers, and chips/pretzels for kids.

          Utensils: paper plates, plastic silverware, plastic glasses, and napkins.

Dinner: ingredients for stew, chili, or soup.  Alternatively, plan on a bring-in dinner (e.g., pizza, Chinese take-out food, etc.).

1. Clean all baking pans, mixing bowls, and cooking utensils that will be used by the cooks.

2. Clear counter space in the kitchen so each cook will have adequate room to work. Place an apron and a cleaning cloth in each cook’s workspace. 

3. Set-up counter space or clear a table for the children work on. Set up decorating ingredients.

4. Set-up ingredient and cookware areas.

5. Set-up a cooling area so the cookies can cool without being disturbed.

6. Set-up a beverage area for the mulled apple cider.

7. Place everything that is necessary to set-up for dinner in one place.  That would include plates, utensils, drinks, etc.

8. Set-up a wrapping area with plates, cellophane paper, ribbons, and scissors.

Set-up snacks.

9. Turn on Christmas music.

10. Light fire in the fireplace.

11. Warm mulled cider.

Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Place order with butcher (e.g., turkey, stock, etc.).

2. Place order with bakery (e.g. dinner rolls, pies, etc.).

3. Place order for liquor (e.g., wine, champagne, and liquors).

4. Place an order for rental items (tables, chairs, napkins, tablecloths, tablecloth for child’s table, punch bowl, etc.) Mark the delivery date on your calendar. Make arrangements of where to leave items in case you are not home when they are delivered.

5. Have carpets cleaned.

6. Have windows washed.                     

7. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

Check table linens to make sure they are clean. Clean items as necessary.

8. Arrange for floors to be polished.

9. Arrange for piano to be tuned.

10. Purchase special table items for children (e.g., a candy cane for each place setting).

11. Purchase Christmas potpourri.

12. Purchase batteries, film and videotape for Christmas meal memories.  Check camera and video camera. Charge and replace batteries as necessary.

13. Purchase a Christmas puzzle, Christmas video, and/or other Christmas related activity for the children to use after dinner.

14. Begin shopping for the meal.

Christmas Eve Dinner Ingredients:     

Christmas Mugs: Apple cider and mulling spices.

Turkey:  turkey, giblets, and chicken broth.

Stuffing: White bread, chicken broth, celery, onions, dried cranberries, butter, and spices.

Gravy: Chicken broth, spices, and flour.

Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes, butter, milk, and salt.

Jell-O Salad: Lemon Jell-O, cranberry sauce, walnuts, celery, pineapple (crushed), and salad bowl lettuce (to place under the salad on plates).

Sweet Potatoes in Oranges: oranges, yams, brown sugar, milk, butter, miniature marshmallows, and candied cherries (marshmallows and cherries are for decorations).

Peas: Peas, butter, and spices.

Carrots: Carrots, butter, and spices.

Dinner Rolls

Condiments for Tables: crab apples, cranberry sauce, and mint jelly.

Drinks: Water, champagne, sparkling cider, soda, wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, and herb tea.

Desserts: Mince pie, homemade cookies, Yule log, and candy.

15. Purchase dry/canned/frozen products.

16. Purchase non-baked dessert items (e.g., candy).

17. Polish silver and other serving items.

18. Clean crystal and glass stemware.

19. Double check with extra help a few days before the party to make sure they will be there on time. Prepare a check to have ready before the party.

20. Pick-up or arrange for delivery of all ordered items.

21. Purchase perishable items.

22. Prepare “make ahead” items (e.g., casseroles, stuffing, cookies, pies, etc.)

23. Shop for all perishable items.

24. Fill salt & pepper shakers.

25. Grind coffee.

26. Complete party set-up (e.g., arrange tables, set place settings, arrange flowers and centerpieces/candles, set up mulled cider table, set up a buffet and/or dessert table, set up a coffee/tea table).

27. Use the gingerbread house that was made at your cookie baking party as a centerpiece or decoration for a desert table.

28. Lay out all items necessary for stuffing and baking the turkey. Stuff turkey and place in the oven.

29. Place sodas, white wine, champagne, and other cooled drinks in tubs of ice adjacent to the party area.

30. Peel and mash potatoes.

31. Prepare other main course items

32. Turn on Christmas music and lights.

33. Light fire in the fireplace.

34. Prepare mulled cider.

35. Clean table linens.

36. Pack away centerpieces and other party decorations.

37. Stack rental items for pick-up. Be sure to count napkins and other rented linen items prior to pick-up.

Christmas Morning Preparation:

1. Purchase breakfast items to have on hand for Christmas morning.  Be sure to plan an easy-to-fix breakfast.

2. Have children leave a plate of cookies out for Santa before they go to bed.

3. Present children with special Christmas pajamas to wear in anticipation for Christmas morning.

4. Place gifts by the tree.

5. Jingle bells outside of children’s window or on roof so they hear Santa leaving.

January

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Make changes to your Christmas card file as you learn of new addresses and have cards returned in the mail.

 Decorating:

1. Take down Christmas tree decorations.  Cut up or recycle the tree. Recycle other plant-based items.

2. Put away interior decorations. Place decorations for each room in separate containers.

3. Dismantle and store exterior decorations.

Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Pack away silver, crystal, and other serving items.

2. Store Christmas candles and other items that can be re-used next year.

Gifts:

1. Write thank you notes.

© 1998 – 2010 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Apr 212012
 

Our first personal growth exercise stems from a question that was asked by our resident motivational guru from down under, John Ahern (Livin’ n’ Love’n Life in the Land of Aus…at http://www.jdi.net.au). John asked me “What tools keep you motivated and on top of this wonderful world?” I thought to myself, “What a great question!” All of us use various “tools” or strategies to maintain our motivation. This is particularly true in the face of obstacles or adversity. In addition to considering which “tools” help you to motivate yourself (e.g., a goal sheet or setting deadlines), I would like you to think about the “cornerstones” of your desire to be motivated. Why do you want to be motivated in the first place, and what do you want to be motivated about? Ask yourself the following questions: Our first personal growth exercise stems from a question that was asked by our resident motivational guru from down under, John Ahern (Livin’ n’ Love’n Life in the Land of Aus…at http://www.jdi.net.au ). John asked me “What tools keep you motivated and on top of this wonderful world?” I thought to myself, “What a great question!” All of us use various “tools” or strategies to maintain our motivation. This is particularly true in the face of obstacles or adversity. In addition to considering which “tools” help you to motivate yourself (e.g., a goal sheet or setting deadlines), I would like you to think about the “cornerstones” of your desire to be motivated. Why do you want to be motivated in the first place, and what do you want to be motivated about? Ask yourself the following questions:

Why do I want to be motivated?

Are there certain things that I need to be motivated to do, or am I seeking motivation in order to maintain a more positive outlook about life?

What areas of my life spur me on to be motivated and successful (e.g., my family)?

What tools do I use to help myself stay motivated?

By the way, you might be wondering how I answered those questions?

1. I need motivation in order to live a positive and successful life.

2. I need motivation to stay “on-track” with my career goals, and to keep a good perspective about what is really important.

3. I look at my children, think about how important my marriage is to me, and remember that I need to live in the present!

4. I constantly review and refine my goal list. I also think about how fortunate I am and remind myself that “life is good!”

How do you stay motivated? Please pass along your great ideas to me at susan@uncommoncourtesy.com . I’ll include them (and credit if you wish) in a future newsletter!

Here’s a recent empathy-building exercise:

The Shoes that you Choose

This edition of the Pinnacle Perspective was delayed a bit due to the overwhelming amount of email that I received concerning the recent personal growth article entitled: “Consider Your Unintentional Impact on Others.” The issue of having empathy for others has touched a nerve in many subscribers, and I received many emails that asked the basic question: “How can I become more empathic?” The first step toward having greater empathy for those around you is to understand why someone behaves or feels as they do.

Please allow me to issue a challenge to all of the subscribers of this ezine. I would like you to try a basic empathy-building exercise for at least five days. Then, spend a bit of time reflecting on how that experience might change your view of the world. What’s the exercise? I call it: the shoes that you choose. Here are the directions for the exercise:

  1. Each day I would like you to “try on” another person’s experience of life. The person might be a store clerk that you interact with frequently, your boss, a neighbor, your child, or anyone else that you interact with frequently.
  2. Observe that person for about 30 mintues.
  3. Try to put yourself in that person’s place. What is he thinking? What is she feeling? How is that person reacting to something that happens to him? What has that person’s day been like? What problems might this person have in her life? Why does that person experience the world in the manner that he or she appears to do so. How does his experiences shape his overall temprement and the way in which he interacts with you?
  4. Now, put your own shoes back on and think about the people who you observed.
  5. Did any of your observations surprise you? Can you understand why these people behave in the manner that they do after watching them “in action”? Do you feel differently about these people after having “tried on their shoes”?
  6. How will you alter your interactions with these people as a result of your observations of them?
  7. What did you discover about yourself and how you behave as a result of trying on each person’s shoes?

Next week, I’ll be discussing how and why you should respond to people in an empathic manner. I can’t wait to hear about all of the things that you learn from this exercise. Please email your comments to me at susan@uncommoncourtesy.com I’ll include them (and credit if you wish) on our new feedback page: http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/pge.htm

Apr 212012
 

I can’t deny that trick or treating, as well as the thanks and gratitude that embodies Thanksgiving are whole heartedly embraced in our home.  But this year I’m in need of a big dose of positive energy. Aren’t you? I’m a big Fa-La-La er from way back, but this year I’m feeling the need to get all out festive. I am READY to jump in and start celebrating the holiday season, but it’s too early to put up a tree! So, I have decided to celebrate the entire fall and winter holiday season as if it’s those merry weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am going to fill this time with family, friends, and positive action. I want to build up to things slowly and enjoy each moment rather than being thrown into it the day after Thanksgiving and totally exhausting myself during the few weeks thereafter.

 How will I achieve my goal? Here are my top 10 steps for enjoying this year’s fall and winter holiday season to the fullest:

1.       Play Some Holiday Tunes! People around me may roll their eyes, but I love Christmas music. Christmas carols, be they traditional music, funny songs, or new versions of old favorites put me in a good mood! I used to be sad when December 26th rolled around because all that “happy music” was gone. Then one year I thought to myself, “Who exactly is preventing me from listening to Christmas music any time that I choose?” I quickly concluded that the answer was: no one! I’ve even been known to listen to a Christmas Carol or two in July. Here’s a little secret: if you search the term “Christmas” on www.kost1035.com, you can listen to the station’s holiday mixes all year long. I’m sure there are a multitude of other ways that you can listen to holiday music,  but no matter how you do it you’ll feel more festive after you’ve sung a carol or two!

2.       Fix Up Those Much Loved Decorations! If you are like me, every year when I get out the copious amounts of decorations that I spew around the house between October 1st and December 31st, there are always a few items that are in need of repair. My good intentions tell me that I will find the time to mend, glue, dye or somehow fix those treasures from the past, but the holiday seasons rush by, and the repairs never seem to get done. This year, when I’m in the need of my 2 hour “I need to get festive” fix, I might just choose to rummage through the boxes and find something that needs a bit of TLC. Do you have any good tips for repairing holiday decorations? Send them to me at: susan@uncommoncourtesy.com. I will post them on one of UnCommon Courtesy’s sister sites, so others can learn from your experience. You didn’t know that UnCommon Courtesy had sister sites? There are so many bingo games on uncommoncourtesy.com that I decided to develop a series of sites that focus on particular themes. The sites are bingoforhalloween.com, bingoforchristmas.com, bingoforparties.com, http://www.bingofordiversity.com, bingoforlearning.com, bingoforchristians.com, and bingoforcatholics.com. The sites are just getting started. Eventually, they will include lots of information and products pertaining to each particular site’s theme. If you have any suggestions about what should be included on any of those sites, please email me at susan@uncommoncourtesy.com.

3.       Create An Amazing Family Treasure! Now, I’m not talking about something that can be created during an afternoon of crafting. I’m talking about putting together a true keepsake! Something that you have to learn how to do, work at, or obsessively focus on. A stained glass image? A crocheted blanket? A hand embroidered Christmas stocking? Whatever you choose to make, you will get that festive feeling each and every time you take a crack at it. Better yet, why not make a family project out of it? How about building a miniature model of the North Pole, paint it, decorate it, and really jazz it up with your family. The possibilities are endless. It will be a lasting treasure, and you will remember the fun that your family had building it together. What ideas do you have for creating a new family treasure? Email me your ideas or a picture of your creation at: susan@uncommoncourtesy.com, and I’ll share it with others on one of the UnCommon Courtesy sister sites.

4.       Reconnect With Long Lost Friends! Reconnecting with old friends on Facebook has been a real treat for me. What?  You aren’t on Facebook?? Just jump into that (and other social networking sites) too, if you want to feel festive this holiday season! I’ve always had a plethora of friends, but it is so hard to stay connected as you go through the changes we all experience in life. Then, add to it that I just naturally like to talk to people….my kids are always after me to stop chatting! One day I was chatting with a local business owner much to the dismay of my teenager. When we left the store, he said, “Mom, why don’t you get on Facebook? Then you could chat with everyone you know while you are working on the computer.” All my friends? All in one place?? All at one time??? I almost started salivating. Where do I sign up! Needless to say I’ve had so much fun finding and catching up with friends from all the different times and aspect of my life. It’s like old home week, and I know it will be a whole lot easier to feel festive because I can now share my life and talk about things with friends, family, and maybe even a few friends of friends as well. You can visit the UnCommon Courtesy page on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/uncommoncourtesy .

5.       Plan A Party That Makes The Most of Merriment! Don’t wait for an invitation to be extended your way. It’s hard to miss the feeling of festivity that goes along with planning and hosting a party. The reason for the gathering is insignificant. It could be a holiday party, a reunion of old friends, an afternoon card or book club, or just a get together with another family. Large or small it really doesn’t matter. It’s not the size of the party. It doesn’t require a budget-breaking outpouring of funds. It’s not the formality of the occasion. It’s the energy that goes into planning it. It’s the anticipation of the fun you will have during it. It’s the synergy of friends getting together. Pick a date and start planning that festive occasion. Email me your party ideas, party planning tips, or pictures of decorations that you have made for a special get together at susan@uncommoncourtesy.com. I’ll post  fascinating information and ideas on bingoforparties.com.

6.       Got Kids? If Not, Then Find Some! It’s a tried and true tradition to focus on your children during the holiday season, but that is not what this point references. Kids are so good at enjoying themselves and living in the moment. When was the last time you raced through the office or the mall like a kid runs through a theme park? The phrases “be responsible,” “work before play,” or “don’t wear yourself out” don’t even occur to children.  Kids don’t believe in having fun on a small scale. They always want to go all out in true hedonistic fashion!  Now, when you’re making plans, don’t think about just spending time with one child. Get a whole group of them together. The synergy created between children when they are enjoying themselves is fantastic!  So, spend time with your kids, your friends’ children, or just about any group of youngsters that you can round up. They will remind you what it’s like to have fun! Of course, this is a perfect time for a shameless plug: there dozens and dozens of holiday, party, and otherwise festive bingo games available at www.uncommoncourtesy.com!

7.       Get Trendy And Make Your Very Own “Green” Christmas Card! Christmas cards are wonderful things. I know. I used to send hundreds out each year. Sadly, I found that after my children were born, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to get those holiday cards in the mail. This year I’m going green. I’m going to make a wonderful card, and email it, post it, and otherwise distribute it to everyone.  Be creative! Take the time to incorporate a picture, clipart, a poem, or whatever strikes your fancy. Working on your card in small increments will give you that holiday fix in only a few minute’s time. The UnCommon Courtesy Christmas card can be seen at: http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/christmascard2010.htm. Send me your holiday card and I’ll post it on my bingoforchristmas.com website.

8.       Enlist Your Friends and Family in Creating a Group Holiday Story! The twists and turns taken by a group holiday story are just so darn fun. Never written one? It’s simple. Pick a holiday, or an event, that is far enough away on the calendar so there will be enough time to develop a fairly lengthy story. Next, decide whether the story will be created online or offline. If it is an story that will be written online, set up a page where people can post contributions to the story. The advantage to a story that is written online is that everyone can read the story as it unfolds, and each person who contributes can make multiple entries to the story. Also, each contributor can invite his or her friends to join in on the fun as well. It can get to be quite a production. If it’s an old fashion hand written story, then buy or make a book with lined pages. The book can be passed from one person to the next until the entire book is filled. After you have chosen the place where then story is written, then come up with rules and regulations for contributing to the story. This could include the main characters in the story, the setting for the story, the focus of the story, and/or the genre in which it is written. Decide how many words, lines, or paragraphs can be contributed by each participant at a time. Then, invite your friends to participate. Remind them that all contributions should be “G rated” or as I like to say: “something you could show to your grandmother.” It is a fun group activity, and you can never predict how the story will end. Please add your contribution to the UnCommon Courtesy Christmas Story at: http://www.bingoforchristmas.com/christmas-story/.

9.       Give Yourself an Early Present This Year: Start Taking Better Care of Yourself Today!  What does taking care of yourself have to do with being festive? Well, it’s not easy to kick off your shoes and have a good time, if you lack energy or feel unhealthy. Just about every person I know has a list of things that he or she intends to do someday in order to improve his or her health. Well, there is no time like the present. It’s time to get cracking on your list! Prioritize your list and start slowly working  through it one item at a time. Give up junk food. Exercise more. Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, or chemical laden sodas. Develop a more positive outlook. Choose to eat healthier. Get an extra hour of sleep each night. minimize drama in your day-to-day existence. The possibilities for your list are vast. It may take years to get through your list, but each time you check off an item you’ll feel healthier, as well as feeling better about yourself. Not only will you feel better, but you will be a better friend, spouse, and parent if you improve your health. It will be a present for everyone. Be sure to subscribe to my positive outlook and health blog at: http://www.bingoforlearning.com/healthblog/ while you are improving your health and lifestyle!

10.   Consider Giving a Different Kind of Gift This Year: Plan to Give The Gift of Yourself! It’s just too easy to run to the store, buy something on a shelf, and stick it in a bag. Worse: a few clicks of the mouse will result in a present chosen, purchased, wrapped, and sent in the mail. Think of doing something different this year. When you make your list of presents that will be given, make the choice to give of yourself. I love those coupon booklets that my kids have given me in the past. They are filled with things I often ask them to do, would like them to try, and even promises to do something “without whining.”  What part of yourself can you give to your friends and family this year? Will you make them a homemade batch of cookies? Could you put together a picnic lunch that will be shared with them at the park? Can you donate a bit of extra time to your child’s, or grandchild’s, classroom? Might you offer to babysit or provide transportation to someone in a time of need? Encourage your children to give of themselves this year as well. Homemade presents from children are popular with everyone I know. No matter what time or talents you may have, I’m betting that it won’t be hard to think of something special to give to each and every person on your list this year.

I’m off to enjoy a warm and wonderful holiday season. My belief that life is an adventure has led me to Seek THE Positive in everything that I do, and I plan to enjoy this holiday season to the fullest extent possible! I hope that you will join me in my adventure, and I wish you and your family the best holiday season ever!

Susan

Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

 

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

© 2010 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

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Apr 212012
 

Did you make your list on January 1st? I did! You may be one of those individuals, like myself, who makes or revises his or her list every month or quarter. What list am I talking about? That list of resolutions, goals, or good intentions that we hope to follow throughout our lives. Things about ourselves or our lives that we want to change. Many of us dutifully compile those lists, but most of us also almost immediately file them away in a place where we will not be forced to examine and measure our actions against them for some time.

Any therapist, coach, or motivational expert will sing the praises of goal charts, resolutions, life plans, or anything else that helps you stay on track to meet your goals. However, that list can be dangerous. It can even be hazardous to your health! How is that possible? If you make that list, place it in a drawer, and look at it months or even a year after you compose it, it can lead to high levels of stress, as well as feelings of disappointment and even despair. Consider how you would feel if you did not examine your well thought out list until one year later. The plans that you made would probably be unfulfilled. The goals that you set for yourself are unmet. You might have traveled far off the road toward your dreams. It is even possible that you may have forgotten to do something critical for your health and well-being (e.g., that physical you’ve already put off for several years).

Goals, and the lists on which you detail them, are only helpful if you remember what they are. It is essential that you review your list weekly. Better yet, post it somewhere that you will constantly see and be reminded of it. It is easy to veer off the road toward your Personal Pinnacle of Success* if you cannot remember the directions that you carefully mapped out to guide you toward success! It is also easy to become sidetracked when obstacles tumble into your path.

As with a goal, a resolution to do something will only remain meaningful if you remember why it was so important to you in the first place. For example, you may have resolved to work for yourself so that you can have more time with your family. It will be essential for you to keep that in mind during the times that you are struggling to establish yourself as an entrepreneur. Why? Because clearly it is easier to work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule and let someone else deal with all the headaches of running a business.

Goals and resolutions also need to be specific. For example, the goal of losing 5 pounds in a 30 day period is much more likely to be met than an amorphous goal stating, “I will be skinny by the end of the year.” Many people find themselves being able to meet small goals because they are specific and time-limited. However, they encounter difficulties when they set larger goals that have a greater impact on their lives. Why? Because the goals are not divided into small segments that say what you intend to achieve and have a definite end date for meeting the goal. You are much more likely to meet the goals for your professional and private life if they are broken down into manageable and obtainable segments.

Many people are able to meet goals in their professional lives, but fall short of obtaining them in their personal lives. The problem is similar to the desire to “become skinny” rather than lose 5 pounds each month. In business, it is routine to set sales quotas and an end date for completing projects. However, personal goals are often much more non-descript or amorphous. Goals that will improve the self, or one’s level of happiness, are often difficult to define. For many people, the list of things to improve in their personal lives may include becoming a better person, spouse, or parent. Unlike an objective sales quota that may be objectively defined by the volume of sales, becoming a better anything requires a careful consideration and description of what constitutes the positive characteristics of that certain something. For example, you can only begin to work on a concept such as character development after you have established a detailed list of what constitutes a good or strong character. More specifically, rather than having a resolution “to become a better person” during the next six months, I would encourage you to make a list of qualities that you aspire to obtain. That is, if you value the quality of compassion for others, then try to consistently look at the world through the eyes of those around you for one week. When you have achieved that goal, then set a new goal of behaving in that manner for a month. Another example might be instead of resolving to “be a better parent,” try to have more patience with your child in the coming week. As you internalize the new behavior, then extend the timeline for engaging in the behavior. It is important to remember that personal goals designed to change your behavior, and ultimately your character, take time to internalize and become second nature. Until they are, they must be consciously and conscientiously worked on.

Today is the day to pull your list out of the drawer. Then, display it in some prominent place where you will look at it daily. That list will help you stay focused, meet or exceed your goals, and ultimately help you to be happier in life!

 * Please refer to my article: The Personal Pinnacle of Success: Defining and Climbing the Mountain on Your Own Terms” at http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/personal1.htm.

Celebrate Life today and everyday!

Susan

Susan C Rempel, Ph.D.

Do you like this article? Reprint it (with the following attachment of course) on your site or in your ezine!!

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© 2007 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

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This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at WWW.UnCommonCourtesy.com!

More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Visit http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com today!

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Apr 212012
 

A few days ago it occurred to me that I was violating one of the key themes that I so often espouse to others! 

There I sat at my desk thinking I should work on one of my websites. Maybe, I should work on one of the two book projects I am developing. Then again, there were a bevy of emails I needed to respond to.  While I was at it, I should return several telephone messages. My desk was in its usual state of disarray.  My cup of coffee had long since gone cold. Then it hit me.  Actually, someone hit me!  One of my kids ran up to my desk, gave me a hug, suggested I take him on an errand, and all three of my cherubs were hoping to go out to lunch. I started to groan at the thought of losing an entire afternoon of work when a voice in my head shouted, “Priorities! What happened to your priorities?”

I don’t think I am wrong to assume that many of the people reading this article are like me: a “type-A” workaholic.  Of course, being a workaholic has its benefits: a good income, financial security, never experiencing a dull moment, etc.  Then there is the bad news: focusing exclusively on your job (or any other part of your life) leads to tunnel vision.

If you read my article: The Personal Pinnacle of Success”  (http://uncommoncourtesy.com/personal1.htm) you will remember that it is important to balance your priorities between five key areas of life: work, family, community, conduct of life, and personal satisfaction.  Additionally, you need to establish priorities and goals within each of these areas.  Developing tunnel vision in any area limits the amount of time that you have to spend in the other four areas.  It also prevents an abundance of other things.  It prevents you from participating in a wide range of activities that contribute to a satisfying life.  It also prevents you from experiencing the sense of peace that comes when you control your life rather than having others control it for you.  Further, it prevents you from engaging in meaningful relationships with those who are important to you. 

Your tunnel vision tends to become even more exaggerated when the various aspects of each area lack prioritization. My own situation was a fine example of what happens when work is not prioritized.  The same principle applies to the other areas as well.  Consider how overwhelmed you would feel if you tried to spend equal amounts of time volunteering at your local hospital, coaching your child’s little league team, organizing a school fund-raiser, working full time, as well as meeting the other responsibilities that you have to your work, family, and yourself! Most people who spread themselves too thin in community-related activities either drop out of the activities or feel guilty for not doing enough with each of them. Another example would be telling your spouse, “Honey, I’m here for you 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).”  That simply is not possible!  You need approximately 10 hours each day to sleep and care for yourself.  During the week, you spend at least 9 hours each day working, commuting, and/or running errands.  If you have children, they need, no they demand, a significant amount of your attention each day. You might even have the audacity to allocate a brief amount of time to yourself each day, so that you can read, exercise, meditate, watch television, or surf the Internet. A much more realistic statement you could make to your spouse is that you want to spend time each day focused exclusively on him or her, and dedicate most of your weekend time to your spouse and children.

As you can imagine, all of these thoughts flashed through my mind as I sat at my desk.  I then realized that it was a great day outside.  Heck, it was Saturday! My children needed my immediate attention much more than anything that I had to work on, and I needed a break. I was out of touch with anything that was not sitting on my desk.  What was the perfect solution? Two of my kids jumped in the car with me, we picked up my youngest child from dance class, and we took care of the errand as then had a nice lunch. I even spent time chatting with my husband after he returned home.  When I returned to my desk, I saw what needed to be completed immediately because I could think clearly. I had the break that I needed to see how to prioritize my workload. On that day work definitely needed to wait until after the “family time” that I needed. 

The point to my story is that merely establishing priorities for your life is not enough. You must also have a clear vision of how you are living your life. Ask yourself if what you are doing at this moment is in sync with the balance that you are seeking to achieve in your life? Is any particular responsibility or relationship demanding so much of your time and energy that you ignore other important aspects of your life? You must constantly monitor your actions within each area as well.  Are you feeling overwhelmed, burned-out, or angry about the amount of time that you focus on one of the key areas?  If the answer is “yes,” then consider it to be a symptom that you need to step back, examine your priorities, and shape your life accordingly.

Copyright © 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment: 

© 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

 

Apr 212012
 

Seek THE Positive!

I, Susan Rempel, have decided to seek THE Positive. It is my adventure to constantly improve my health and wellbeing. Won’t you join me?

What does it mean to seek THE positive?

“T” refers to your thoughts and mental health. Working to stay positive each and every day is a conscious choice that you make each moment of your life. Thinking positively and with great enthusiasm improves your mood. Learning to reduce and better manage stress impacts your mental and physical well being. Forming healthy relationships, and minimizing the drama that you choose to enter into, leads to a centered and balanced approach to life. Having a positive belief system not only boosts your enthusiasm during your search for the positive side of life,  but it also provides comfort when you are faced with life’s difficult moments. Being grateful for the life you have been given will help you to continue to seek THE positive each and every day. And, by the way, what have you done today that is “just for fun”? When you were a child, play and fun was something you not only sought, but you actively demanded. Ask yourself when was the last time you brought fun into your life.

“H” refers to your physical health and well being. Taking care of your body improves the quality and length of your life.  Eating well and correctly  supplementing your body will improve your health.   Exercise improves not only muscle strength and system function, but it improves your mood and how you feel about yourself. Resting your body and getting enough sleep is critical for so many reasons. Finding alternative and integrative options to maintain and improve your physical health and well being gives you choices that place you in control of your health!

“E” refers to Education, Evaluation and Execution.  This is the “action” part of THE and the most challenging as well. How do you know what to eat and how to supplement if you are not constantly educating yourself?  Are you filling your mind with positive thoughts and information? Are you critically analyzing what you learn? Don’t just take someone’s word for something if it is your health that is at stake. Take time to learn more about a subject. Hear what others have to say about the subject. Develop your own opinion and march forth on your quest for the positive health and well being that you seek to achieve. Are you processing how each relationship in your life impacts you? Evaluate how you can focus yourself and those around you on what is most positive each and every day. How you execute or choose, to think, behave, and act is perhaps the hardest part of the equation. You make choices that impact your physical and mental well being all day long.  What you put, or don’t put, into your body, how you choose to view a situation or relationship, and how you treat yourself impacts the quality and length of your life.

Life is a journey…. Seek THE positive each and every day!

 

I decided to devote a portion of this site, write articles, and develop a series of games to help me share what has worked for me and my optimism for the future with others. Enjoy! I’ll be releasing new games slowly over the next few months. If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

© 2010 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

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Apr 212012
 

The clock is ticking.

The days are flying by.

And all you can think is, “Do I have to do _____ again?”

You can fill in the blank. We all have things to do in life that are boring or unpleasant. Yet, we must do them. No matter what role you are in (e.g., employer, parent, spouse, friend, colleague, etc.) there are things that you must do in order to maintain or improve your relationships with others. Certain tasks or obligations, however, are more arduous than others.

The task of leading others is one of the most difficult of our lives. Being a good leader requires great skill. This is especially true when you must motivate people to do something that they do not want to do. You may not recognize all the areas of your life that require you to assume a position of leadership. You lead employees to perform well at their jobs. You lead your children toward internalizing a good value system and achieving their goals in life. You must sometimes lead your spouse or a friend to assist them in making good choices. You even lead yourself when you set and achieve goals for your own life. Actually, it is your ability to lead or motivate yourself that helps you complete mundane tasks (e.g., getting out of bed) throughout the day. No matter which of the five key areas of life* that you consider, each one requires that you somehow serve as an inspirational leader for others at one time or another.

Being a leader requires a significant amount of energy and ingenuity. Others constantly make demands on your time, attention, and resources. For most people, there are numerous occasions when they spend so much time and effort leading, directing, and inspiring others, they forget to save energy to spark the key player on the team: themselves. Has this happened to you? Are you the victim of what I refer to as “Listless Leadership”?

Listless Leadership occurs when you have drained your own resources or allowed them to be drained by others. There is nothing left for you to draw upon within yourself so that you can inspire those around you. You are tired, fatigued, uninterested, indifferent, and basically unexcited about completing the task at hand. You begin to question why you couldn’t delegate a task to someone else, why you are actually struggling to motivate someone else, or if anyone would notice if you don’t do something “just this once.” Actually, the answer to the last question is “no.” No one will notice if you fail to send a power packed fax, give an uplifting pep-talk, or engage in a meaningful discussion with them – just this once. However, if no one notices, just this once, then there is the tendency to continue to not complete an unpleasant or unpalatable task in the future. More importantly, since any good team adopts or emulates the energy level and spirit of its leader, your team may fall into the doldrums if you are uninspired yourself. Listless Leadership, therefore, can easily become a constant, contagious, and chronic problem.

Can you imagine the effect on a sales staff if the manager unconsciously communicates that it is acceptable to put off making contacts with potential clients until tomorrow? Will most children complete a difficult school assignment if they are left to motivate themselves to do so? How many community service projects would be completed if the organizers didn’t provide any direction and just left it up to the participants to complete a variety of tasks at their leisure? The answers are: disastrous, no, and very few. Suffice it to say that it is very serious and deleterious when any team captain suffers from Listless Leadership.

How do you assess whether you suffer from Listless Leadership? Ask yourself the following questions:

Are you often physically exhausted?

Do events at home and/or work leave you emotionally drained?

Are you able to recognize the achievements of people who look to you for leadership and guidance?

Do you feel that your own efforts or work have gone unrecognized by others?

Are you overly focused on one area of your life? Has accomplishing a particular goal become the core of your existence?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then follow this formula to take the first step transforming your pattern of Listless Leadership into the optimal style for leading others that I call “Luminary Leadership”:

If you are often physically exhausted, then you need Plentiful Periods of rest and self-care so you can improve how you function in all the important areas of life.

If you feel emotionally drained and empty, then take the time to replenish your Emotional Energy reserve. People who lack energy live uninspired lives and “just get by” from one day to the next. They are unable to experience emotions in the same way as those who allow for quiet time to center themselves.

If you cannot recognize the good qualities in those around you, then you should examine their conduct and deeds and shower them with Abundant Admiration.

If you feel your efforts or your work are unrecognized or unappreciated, then do not hesitate to tell the people who need to know about the Copious Contributions that you have made.

If you are overlyfocused on a project or a particular area in your life, then it is imperative for you to Expansively Examine the Events and Entities that Enrich your Existence!

What is so special about this combination of positive factors and actions? They will synergistically work together to increase your feeling of inner peace! That’s it my friends. The key to metamorphosing your unproductive pattern of Listless Leadership into the invaluable skills and characteristics of a Luminary Leader is maintaining a sense of inner peace. That inner peace is the foundation upon which your life is built. It is the fountain that replenishes you when your reserves are low. It is the spark within yourself that you will ultimately utilize to ignite others.

Does it seem odd that the key to motivating others is your sense of inner peace? It shouldn’t! Your sense of inner peace is like the keel on a ship. It helps you to remain balanced and steady in the midst of a storm. It gives you confidence that you can make full use of the prevailing winds without fear of capsizing. A strong sense of inner peace also fosters living your life in the present. If you are at peace with your present life, then your future successes will only enhance your sense of peace and feeling of personal satisfaction. It is those people who cannot live in the present who constantly search for things in the future that will make them happy or blame things in the past for their present discontent. They cannot lead others toward success because they cannot even lead themselves.

What does all that have to do with being motivated and motivating others? A sense of inner peace promotes a positive vision of life. That vision makes it possible for you to focus on the positive aspects of any situation and sustain a positive outlook toward life. It will also help you to see interesting possibilities and opportunities as they present themselves to you throughout your life which will expand your feeling of success. Viewing life in positive terms will prompt you to care for your physical and mental health. In fact, it is well documented that a positive outlook and attitude has amazingly beneficial effects on your health. If you are both healthy and at peace with yourself, you will be less likely to drive yourself unmercifully toward unrealistic goals. You will not perceive that other people “have it so much better” because of a particular achievement or possession. Improving your sense of inner peace will empower you to move toward your goals. They will also activate your ability to serve as a catalyst in any situation. You will become the spark that can ignite the fire in others. You will truly be a leader because you will lead others toward success by your own example.

The secret to motivating others is building a solid foundation in your own life. The basis for that foundation is your sense of inner peace and personal satisfaction. Upon that foundation you will build the framework of a diverse, interesting, and satisfying life. The foundation and framework then create an environment in which meaningful relationships at home, work, and in the community can develop and flourish. Being with you will become a pleasant, positive, and motivating experience for others. They will seek to emulate you and look to you for guidance. In that way, you will be a spark. That spark will ignite a chain of events that will improve your life and the lives of those around you. Make the decision today to begin to lay that foundation within yourself and become a spark to those around you. Choose to lead others with a dazzling spark of brilliance rather than with a dull and indifferent collection of directives!

* Please refer to Susan’s article: “The Personal Pinnacle of Success: Defining Success and Climbing the Mountain on Your Own Terms” at http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/personal1.htm.

Copyright © 1998-2011 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

© 1998 – 2011 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Get motivated with UnCommon Courtesy & Coaching! Motivational products and services for children, parents, and teachers that reinforce positive behavior, good manners, a positive outlook on life, and life success. Supplies for parents and teachers. Games, books, computer games, bingo cards, and toys. Visit us today at http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com

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Apr 212012
 

The beginning of a new year is a natural time to take a look at your life and make a list of goals. You might make a list of your top 10 goals for next year. People often set lofty goals for themselves. What is on your list of things to accomplish during the next year? Common goals include: eliminating debt, losing weight, going back to school, spending more time with your family and friends, or becoming more successful.

My suggestion? Turn your goals on their head! Let’s consider the goal of eliminating debt. Wow! If you have a mortgage, car loans, credit card debt, old student loans, etc., you will no doubt throw up your hands in a few weeks because it may take decades to accomplish your goal. However, can you resolve that today you will only spend the cash in your pocket or not spend more than a certain amount of money? Yes, you can! If you want to improve your health, is it likely that you can completely change your diet and stick to it. No, probably not. However, you could resolve that you will not eat any fast food today. Did you achieve your goal? How about tomorrow? Could you do that? Yes, you can! You can also sign up for and attend the first class toward that degree you never finished. That is much easier to carry out than trying to plan how you will complete all ten classes that are required to finish that degree. Is your goal to spend more time with your friends and family? Start by organizing a Facebook group of your nuclear and extended family members. Then post to it once a week. Of course, being successful is an amorphous goal. More than a decade ago I wrote my first article about being successful: “The Personal Pinnacle of Success: Defining Success and Climbing the Mountain on Your Own Terms”. What you define as “being successful” will change, change, and change again over the course of your life. Also, you may experience success in one area of your life, but feel you have neglected others. In my experience, even the most “successful” people feel that he or she needs to be more successful in one way or another. Again, instead of planning out your entire life, ask yourself what you can do today to make yourself feel more successful.

You can choose how to think, feel, and behave today. While you cannot control the actions of others, the economy, or a host of other things, you can make a difference for yourself today and each day. If you make a change, and continue that change for a few weeks, the change will become a habit. Then, decide to make another change. The progression of changes that you make in your life will be slow, but they are much more likely to be successful. What will you choose to change about you think, feel, or behave today? I’d love to hear not only about your choices, but your successes as well! As always, I challenge you to Seek THE Positive! Happy New Year!!

Susan

Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

 

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

© 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! More than 200 holiday, religious, educational, and diversity bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Games made to order for every occasion. Motivational articles and personal growth exercises too! Join Susan Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog: Seek THE Positive.

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