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What to Do for Peaceful Holidays. Strategies for Getting Happy.

Here are the some methods for getting happy over holidays. This is not all there is. It is a place to start.

 1. Gratitude makes holidays happy. My contention is that being grateful for people, places, and things in your life is a requirement for happy holidays.

2. Find satisfaction somewhere. Often we find immediate gratification in food, drink, or buying. Yet, none of us are really satisfied by those things.  Find what makes you happy now, something that supports you in maintaining happiness.  It may be writing, or communicating with friends who satisfy your heart. People can support you in enriching your life.  Maybe evaluating your life is what you want to do at this time of year. You may be thinking: But what about maintaining the friends who expect me to go out with them, eat or drink with them, smooze with them, buy for them.  What can I do to keep up with all that? You know the answer.

3. Relax. When you relax in one area of your life, you can relax in other areas. Vice versa: when you’re uptight in one area, you’re stressed everywhere. You choose. Relaxing helps you be present to whatever it is you do.  Even a little rest goes a long way. That way your mind is not running all over the place. After relaxing, your mind doesn’t insist that your body run all over the city. If you still need to, then your body will be more ready after relaxing.

4. Sidestep too much temptation. Know what you can handle and what you can’t. If I know there are cookies in the house, you will likely be hungry for them. So remove temptation if you know it is too much for you. That goes for drinking, eating, or doing too much. If you have a problem all year with these things, get professional help.

5. Follow your heart. Start now deciding what you will and won’t do. Remember that stress adds pounds. Give up what doe not work for you. If you love doing something, remember that you want to do it. Otherwise it could devolve into a stressful “job.”

6. Meditate.

7. Delegate.

8. Practice Extreme Self-Care, as author Cheryl Richardson would say. During the holidays, routines change.  Plan now to see to it that you, and your loved ones for whom you’re responsible, don’t get off course. If you or your relative is on nighttime medicine, take the medicine to parties and set an alarm, so you remember.  Most psychotropic medicines are taken in the morning, but there might be other night time medicines. Be vigilant with your health. Don’t let routines be forgotten.  Try not to go to bed late, two nights in a row.  Make a list of what you have let slide in the past, so you find strategies to support yourself and your loved one this year.  Pay attention to your needs.  You could be so distracted that you forget to notice when a cold is starting.  Just make a pact with yourself and let your subconscious support you.  You can tell your mind to wake up at a certain time.  Try it. 

. Get support for you from a friend, or professional, depending on what it is.

10. Barter. Ask a friend who likes to decorate to do your tree and do an exchange. Maybe you’ll clean for her. at another time. Go to a coach who will support you through the season. Consult your inner wisdom and consider what brings you magic.  What makes your heart sing?  Make a list and do what you can and no more. Give up obligation if it is killing your spirit. Know what tires you out. Do what works for you.

11. Give support. Enjoyment comes from simple pleasures, not things as much. You may want to donate money to charities, and/or work at a local charity.  Spread your talents.

12. Connect more deeply.  While doing what enriches your soul, do what encourages connection. Inquire into another’s life and acknowledge their successes.  Just being in the same space with people does not mean connection.

13. Create the magic. Everyone has different interests and talents that can be used during this time. For example, my husband Ed sings and we’re both good with words, so we create funny lyrics to old holiday songs just for our enjoyment. We sing together, though my singing voice is horrid. You can talk to family members about what makes each one happy. If someone likes to cook so you may trade recipes and cook together. You might read poetry to each other. You might find little ways to make each other happy. You can do thoughtful things all year long. This is a good time to practice new acts of kindness.

Holidays can bring magic. Winter holidays all represent sacredness. Hanukkah celebrates the Festival of Lights. Winter Solstice marks nature’s promise for the return of light on the darkest day.  The Christian tradition’s is all about the Son Light born into the world. The symbolic meaning is that our light, our sacredness, yours and ours is reborn.

That’s what I want to leave you with. You ARE the light. The holiday that you celebrate can increase your realization of the light within. Whatever you do, and whatever you celebrate, do it in JOY.




Part Two: Possible Hassles; Assessing Your Situation

In Part One of these three parts about Holidays, Hassles, and Getting Happy, I asserted that if you can be upbeat all during the holidays, then I salute you. I don’t want anyone to get triggered by these things I am citing here. Most of us find occasional stress, so by naming challenges, you can actually dissipate most of them. It is when we are unaware that makes challenges seem bigger. Knowing what bothers you and knowing you’re not alone, can lower the stress, giving you a chance to circumnavigate the issues. After mentioning some things that get in the way of the holiday season being sane and happy, I’ll be covering some solutions and specific ways to bypass the obstacles. Then, you have a better chance to enjoy the season.

Here are some possible obstacles to holiday happiness:
1. People overload
You’ll likely be with every age person: teens who don’t want to be with family, adults who have different political or religious views, etc. There may be people too many people. Or, it may be people you don’t want to be with.

The holidays are extra difficult for many of us. On the radio a few years back, I heard that 90% of people do not like some aspect of the holidays. One reason people gave was they didn’t want to be with people they don’t like.

With mental illness during the holidays, depending on the type and severity, things can be far more stressful for them, as it can be for you, as a friend, or family member. Realizing that the sufferer gets agitated or upset at holidays does tend to affect you.

Conversely, the opposite of people overload is some people suffer from loneliness during the holidays. That’s another version of the belief that things should be different.

A corollary to loneliness is memories of so called “better” holidays or more ideal holidays that one thinks others are having. Remember your creativity can change that.

2. Doing too much
Life is already very full, then December brings obligations, if you accept them as such. Shopping, mailing, baking, decorating, and partying are some examples. All of these can be wonderful. All of it in a limited amount of time can be stressful.

Even if you don’t have a mentally ill person in your life, someone in your family may not be able to handle a lot of the holiday and you may be wishing she or he could. Notice if your expectations are causing tension.

Another complication is denial. We deny that we, and others, have trouble doing it all. Sometimes people think that their loved one should do things better, or more. Then disappointment reigns. Or, the targeted one may have self-judgment and possibly might take it out on you.

3. Spending money you don’t have
Lots of people go in debt. Children’s toys cost more now then ever. Ditto for adult gifts. Marketing makes expectations higher. When its all over after holidays how are you left? Are you enriched? Or did you spend on wasteful things? What does it do to people to get all sorts of things and those things don’t satisfy for more than three days. The whole process can leave children and adults depressed. It can disconnect us. Parents are rushing around and not connecting with children. Giving instead of being. Are you deeper in your spiritual life? Are you connected to your inner light? Being with loved ones enhances your life and theirs. Often it makes us, and our planet, ill to shop just to shop. I hear horror stories at the gym. People are resentful for all they have to buy, how much things cost and how little they have to show for their money. We’re suffering from what we’ve created. Children actually can get crabby from too many gifts. They get overwhelmed from too much. Look at what is important to you for the holidays. Only you know that. I can’t tell you what that is. Are we buying the product or the way it makes us feel? Parents are often manipulated by the children who are manipulated by the advertisers working for the corporations. And much of what your paying for is the cost of the advertising that had you think you had to buy it in the first place.

4. Less sunlight can affect you.                                                                                                           Given the outer darkness in the northern hemisphere, we’re all a little ‘thrown off’ our game at this time. Depression tends to affect more people during the winter. If you have a friend or family member who suffers, they may seem more problematic to you. They may be doing all they can to keep it going, in whatever capacity they can. Or, if you are a sufferer, life may feel more tense trying to live up to some ideal.

December includes the darkest days of the year, other than January. The shorter daylight leads up to this years solstice on December 21, 2016, though it can vary between Dec 21 – 23. An extreme time of year, it’s a turning point when days get slightly, imperceptibly longer each day. All through ancient times, people recognized the darkest day as a sacred time. They celebrated the coming longer days. The solstice is on the far edge of the most imbalance between day and night. The very thing that people crave, the light, has been staying a slightly shorter time since the summer solstice. We know that in Northern Hemisphere the earth will turn more to the sun each day after solstice. For many of us, that is a big deal. For those living in the northern climates, we look forward to the warmer days. Dark days can be challenging. Cold days can be a struggle, too. It takes courage to take care of yourself, so you’re not affected by that extreme time of year.

The question is: Are you doing all your doing because you love it? Or, are you doing it because you’ll look bad if you don’t? It’s fine to do everything, if you truly enjoy it all.

The next segment is about Getting Happy. I will list strategies to deal with December holidays. Until then, enjoy!

Part One: You’re Not Alone
Most of us have more to do over the holidays than any time of year. If you’re one who loves everything about the holidays, you are among the super lucky. I’m happy for you.

For many of us, there is some, hopefully not all, of that activity that is unwanted. Too often it’s not needed either. In another article, I’ll explore that.

This is not about bah-humbug. It’s about finding what works for you. Each of us is different, with a particular set of values, expectations, and desires that can change at various times for assorted reasons.

If you are one of those feeling a wee bit pushed-pulled, or out-of-sorts, you are not alone. And if you are a woman, you tend to have a bigger role in the work of continuing traditions. That can cause tension which causes a domino effect.

If you feel stressed, imagine how it might be for those that suffer any kind of mental illness. As an author, I advocate for the mentally ill and their families. My expertise comes from being a family member of mentally ill parents. My depressed father became even more serious, more rigid, and more emotionally distant around the holidays. My manic-depressive, schizophrenic mother’s behavior was always more rageful, unpredictable, and bizarre at holiday time. Intensity of symptoms are common this time of year.

At an early age, I knew that winter holidays could be a serious escalation of hell. More on that can be found in my book: Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents.

The purpose of this series of articles is to contribute to holiday peace on earth. Knowing the dark side, I continually strive to make holidays meaningful and enjoyable. Decades ago, I created Rising to The Occasion, a business for creating personalized, joyful celebrations. Also, as a coach, I help people deal with their relationships. You have a relationship to holidays too, even if you do not participate.

Understanding the word ‘holiday’ means ‘holy day,’ I take into account the fact that in December, there are many dozens of different religious and ethnic holy days that need peace in their households, too. So I am writing to everyone who struggles at all this time of year.

Whether or not you, or someone you know, struggles with holidays, this article is for you, especially if you feel a twinge of discontent around winter holidays. These special times can have a fabulous function in our lives. They can be memorable for all the right reasons. And that takes real intention and preparation.

The holiday expectations can be a setup for an emotional drain to a downright disaster. No matter what winter holiday you celebrate, you’ve been sold a particular type of holiday. Whatever you’ve been taught, that celebration is the only ‘right’ one. Right? Depending on your religion, culture or family background, you’ve been taught how it’s supposed to look. And some of you have been taught one tradition at home, and a different one at school.

Many don’t experience what they would like to feel. They can’t “get in the spirit” whether before or during the holidays. And afterwards, many of you wonder why all that work, and all those gifts, produced a feeling of emptiness. For some people, holidays sap their energy, and for some, they are possibly worse off than if there were no holidays.

First thing to do is to notice if there is something missing for you in the current way you celebrate. What lit you up in the past may not do it for you now. See if there is anything you might want to update or uplift about how you honor this time of year. Ask yourself: “What might stir up more joy this season? What can light up my life during the holidays and beyond?”

From your individual perspective, you can be considering how the holidays are for you, and you may be noticing how it is for others in your life. If you have to deal with others over the holidays, it is critical that you prepare for the possible difficult person in your midst. The usual holiday challenges for all of us are harder for the mentally ill. It’s even harder if that difficult person is you.

Think of the song: It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. It can be. Rarely can you count on that. And, it can be the most stressful time of the year. You don’t want to sing that song of stress. It’s as if walking up steep steps everyday, and then holidays come with each step looking like a mountain. That’s how holidays affect some people with physical, as well as emotional challenges. There are people who cannot handle change in routine, so holidays pose a problem. Some of those people work with the public and you have to maneuver around their moods. Do you react negatively, or do you give sufferers some space?

No matter where you are on the stress continuum, remember others could be feeling the same, or worse. In the next article, I will describe obstacles to holiday happiness that you may relate to. Once identified, you can see more clearly what to do about them. Later, I’ll be listing ways to create a peaceful season and a joyful celebration that fits for you.

Despite the fact that people are talking more freely about mental illness as a disease like cancer or heart disease, the stigma is still there. It is hard enough to live with it, but when you have to hide it, everything is worse.


Like cancer, mental illness can kill you. Just notice all those besides Robin Williams who have died from suicide, or drug overdose. Usually, the source of drug overdose is some form of severe mental illness.


Since mental illness is unspoken and unexamined by most, the general public does not know the facts about it. Most of us secretly think mental illness has no effect on us, so why should we care. Often people describe with annoyance the symptoms of family members or acquaintances. They do not know they are complaining about the same symptoms as those with some form of mental illness. It would serve us all to educate ourselves on the topic. Knowing the symptoms could add understanding to those who are suffering, giving them a break. It could also lessen the annoyance of the observers. Once the probable source is known, we can attempt to understand the person, instead of judging them.


The numbers of sufferers are likely higher than you would think. “About 2.4% of people around the world have had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to the first comprehensive international figures on the topic. The United States has the highest lifetime rate of bipolar disorder at 4.4%.”


Another way of understanding the number, instead of percentages is the following. According to NIMH, The National Institute of Mental health: “In 2012, there were an estimated 9.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. with SMI (Serious Mental Illness) in the past year. This represented 4.1 percent of all U.S. adults.”


Since there are many people younger than 18 with serious mental illness, that number of 9.6 million is lower than the total number. And that number is just in the US. Think about the world.


If we can be compassionate with Robin Williams, can we be equally compassionate with those in our family or in our neighborhood? Can be compassionate with those in our workplace and in our world?


How do I know about mental illness? I was born to parents with severe mental illness. Witnessing the effects throughout my childhood, it was up front and personal. And in recent years, I have taken supplements to control Seasonal Affective Disorder.


Approximately, there are 95.6% of us who do not suffer with severe mental illness. We cannot know what it is like for those with neurological disorders. We do not even come close to experiencing the kind of pain that the 4.4% feel.


Besides those who suffer severely, there is a larger percentage of the population that suffers some milder form of mental illness. Then add in another percent of us with mentally ill family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. That counts for huge numbers of people. On top of that, count in the unknown numbers of undiagnosed people with neurological disorders.  Is anyone immune to the effects of mental illness in their life?


With all these numbers, it would behoove us rally in the streets for this disease to be addressed more rigorously. More attention to neurological disease is needed in the medical field. As voters, will we demand our elected officials to allocate resources to mental health? Mental health levies often fail because voters don’t see how this issue affects them. In the process of saving a pittance, we lose valuable people. It is not simply through death that we lose people. We lose them through the suffering that kills their spirit when alive. We see it took away a beloved celebrity. Yet, we are blind to the unimaginable, extreme agony Robin Williams endured. He suffered along with 9.6 million adults living just in the US.


Obviously, people who need help are not getting it. What will we do with this knowledge? Who will speak for them? Who will defend them from the ignorant people who blame the victim?


Even with the mental health facilities we do have, we as taxpayers can demand that the mental health departments support those that need it most. The leading research psychiatrist on schizophrenia, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey decries the trend that ignores those with the most painful symptoms. “Torrey has been a fierce opponent of the influence of Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis. He has also argued that psychiatry should focus only on severe mental illness, conceived as neurological disorders, rather than other mental issues that he viewed as non-medical.”


We all have a responsibility to be aware. This is our world. Until all people have access to effective mental health care, we will continue to lose valuable people to this disease through everyday suicides, through mass murders, through personal vitality, and individual productivity.


Help begins with each one of us. It would be in our national best interest to have compassion for all those suffering mental illness. Can we agree to start there?


We can never replace Robin Williams, or any loved one lost to this disease.  Robin Williams represented joy to us, and he could not have it for himself. Now we can learn from this very public loss and bring understanding and possible action into our lives.  Let us add our voice into a cause that turns silent indifference to genuine support. Since we are interrelated, any positive action for mental health goes a long way  for the welfare of all citizens.



By now the world knows that Robin Williams suffered bi-polar disease, formerly called manic-depression. Mental illness is a neurological disorder. The disease takes a terrible toll on the sufferers, and on those around them. For those of us who do not have it, we cannot grasp fully what it is like.

 For decades, I have known that this actor, and many other celebrities, suffer from bi-polar or other mental illnesses. Whenever I saw him in a movie or in an interview, I marveled at how he could carry on so courageously while he felt so terrible inside. At the same time, I wished that Robin Williams, and all others with mental illness could get adequate help. While he likely was not suffering every minute, he demonstrated many times when he was obsessively funny, even when it was unnecessary. I witnessed the mask of smiles when they were driven by pain.

 So beloved, Robin Williams’ untimely death has deeply grieved the nation. A gift to the world, he used his talent tirelessly and generously for the benefit of others. Meanwhile, he was battling internal challenges much of the time.

 In the midst of national sadness, will we collectively forget about the disease that killed him? Or will we inquire into what can be done to help others that face the same challenges?

If Robin Williams’ desperate cry for freedom from his pain sets off a national dialogue about bi-polar disorder and other neurological problems, his death will make a difference.  He represents millions of people whose neurological diseases plague people throughout the world.

Obviously, if a rich and famous person can suffer so much without proper help, think how difficult it is for the millions of not-so-rich-and-famous to get through life.  Part of the reason that this disease is under-funded and under-valued is that we do not have the collective will to even deal with mental illness.

Each of us needs to be honest with ourselves to see where we are stuck in this mindset that the problem of mental illness is in other people, on the streets, in homeless shelters.  We think the problem is always away from us.  Besides, we think the problem of mental illness cannot be here in front of us, not in our family, not in our neighborhood. We do not see it, or hear it. And if we do see or hear it, we blame the one who suffers. “They should do better.”  “They are losers.” “They are stupid or lazy,” we think to ourselves. “They” are not like us, we want to think. Yet, “they” are us. “They” are us with a brain disorder that they cannot control. And they very often cannot get adequate medical help, as someone with heart disease would expect. Too often sufferers blame themselves for their disorder.

As a society, we have a stigma attached to mental illness. Let’s be honest, it is considered shameful. This stigma remains even though many celebrities have shared their struggles, like Catherine Zeta Jones, Jim Carrey, Carrie Fisher, Patty Duke, Drew Carey, Dick Clark, and hundreds of others.  We do not know what more they would be capable of if they did not have to deal with a neurological disorder.  It is amazing what some people manage to do despite the struggle.

To continue, go to:


It is stunning to realize how many presidents, philosophers, singers, sports figures, artists, authors, actors, musicians, and people from every profession have suffered major depression. When we are aware of how some people managed to do great things while they felt terrible about themselves and life itself, we have respect and awe rather than distain.


It would appear that their depression did not stop these productive people. That is very clear.


This site reveals the names people who had major depression:

The Wikipedia list is very small compared to the totality of famous people with depression. It gives you a sampling. When you think of all the people in the world with depression and what they go through to dealing with life, it is amazing that anyone can succeed.


The first name on this list, President John Adams, is one that most people would not have guessed. Can you imagine leading a new country while dealing with depression? We know that Abraham Lincoln suffered depression as well. His wife with a gambling addiction likely had depression, too. Life with one’s own depression is challenging enough.


In the last decade I have experienced the challenge myself in the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Feeling unhappy during December, January, and February, I find myself uninterested in my former winter delights. Holidays, such as Christmas, New Years or Valentines, have no excitement for me. It all feels like a terrible burden, a dreaded time. Before these symptoms, every year I would decorate the house, host and attend large and small parties, celebrate mine and others’ birthdays, etc. That all stopped abruptly about ten years ago.


After that first depressed December, I realized I had to do something. Starting right away, I took health supplements through the winter. If I did not, I’d be sitting numb all day for 3 months a year, miserably going through some of the motions, but mostly not caring about anything. Even with supplements I am not as upbeat in the winter as I used to be. Yet, I am able to keep up a busy schedule and enjoy what I choose to do. Supplements allow me to stay present in the moment; I no longer wish winter would go away.


Depression, at least from my experience in the form of SAD, is a parasite that eats me alive with only a shell of me left. That first winter experiencing  SAD, I dragged through my day fighting against inner resistance to everything there was to do. Activities I once loved were replaced with a dark blob that swallowed me in its black hole.


Yet the winter experience gives me a window into how it likely was for others in the past, long before effective supplements and before anti-depressants. While there are different expressions of depression, such as excessive anger, fear or sadness, all of those expressions make life more difficult. The fact that so many suffered in silence before antidepressants showed up on the market in 1988, shows how courageous they were just to get up in the morning. Many depressed people got up, kept moving, and contributed to humanity despite feeling unhappy themselves. Truly, I do not know how they did it.


If you have not experienced depression, you may not understand how it feels. As challenging as it is, SAD has actually made me a better coach because I know from the inside what some of my friends, family and clients are going through with depression. I actually use the suggestions I have given others.


On the Wikipedia list, one wonders what must it have felt like to star in a movie with depression, acting happy and romantic, the opposite of what Audrey Hepburn could have felt while experiencing depression. What it took to do that is astounding.


While famous people are no more courageous than the not-so-famous, they have a public story that we know. Many of them have contributed to all of us. It is astonishing what they accomplished, despite the moment-to-moment uphill climb that they endured personally. Since in the past depression was even more of an unmentionable stigma than now, people blamed themselves for their feelings, making them feel even worse.


Just like the contemporary famous and the not-so-famous, depressed people now have to monitor themselves. That is because for most people, medication or supplements do not work equally well through all the years. As one’s body changes, the needs change for the amount or the kind of anti-depressant changes.


Many famous people in the past never got diagnosed because they, like the rest of society, were too depressed to seek help. So the numbers were probably staggering if anyone could have counted them all.  Today, many people do not seek help for many reasons.


There are numerous books on the journey of depression. Some are written about or by famous depressed people. Many books are written by psychologists  for those suffering with depression. My book Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents on depression, bi-polar and schizophrenia sufferers was written from my experience as a family member with a few behind-closed-doors insights. You can order your copy at Amazon or Kindle 


Ultimately it takes quite an enormous effort to keep moving forward in the backward feeling one gets from depression. I have the deepest respect for anyone who daily deals with depression. Sufferers born over thirty years ago got through with little or no help. Some in the last century were given shock treatment that did not work for everyone and caused memory problems often.


In the past, alcohol and opium were the drugs of choice to get through the day. How sufferers achieved anything is astounding.


Depression is an illness that is not easily identified. Even when it is identified, non-sufferers often wrongly assume that depressed people are lazy malcontents. The truth is many are and were truly heroic despite their human tendency to be more unhappy, angry or fearful than the average non-sufferer.


Obviously, some depressed people accomplish great things such as steering a country, painting portraits, creating memorable music, all in the face of a steep mountainous climb. Depressed people need our support, not our hostility.

For some of us, painful memories stick like glue. These memories impact us so hugely that they crowd out the happy ones. It can appear that there were no positive experiences that we had as a child.


 If that is the case for you, it is healthier to challenge that thinking. If you think there were no happy memories at home, look for the ones outside the home. 


Somewhere, somehow, you were nurtured as a child. It may have been a relative or neighbor. It can seem like an affront to the painful memories to recall any good ones, but keep looking for the warm moments. Even if both parents were monsters, they had some good qualities, no matter how minuscule. Make it OK to invite the pleasant memories to surface.  You can still keep the unhappy ones. Since you survived long enough to read this blog, you were sheltered, clothed, fed and schooled. Therefore, you were nurtured, however poorly it was done. 


While not here to tell you to shut off the bad memories and get all positive, I’m here to say there was painful and pleasant in every life. It is realistic to look at both. If you cannot look at the bad memories and want to see everything wonderful in your past, go for it, as long as you do not openly oppose anyone else’s experience. Despite the awful memories, if you cannot look at the good memories and see only the hurtful ones, you may be doing yourself, and others, a disservice.  


Also, it is easy to forget that it is universally true that no one has all easy, pleasant experiences.  So to expect that we should, is unrealistic.  

To start you off with remembering the pleasant …

Remember a time when you laughed as a child.

Remember a time when you played with a ball.

Remember a time when you proudly wore nice clothing.

Remember a time when you happily conversed with a new friend.

Remember a time when someone did something kind to you.  

Remember a time when you won at a game.


These may seem simple. You may want to discount these small joys. Yet, these memories can dispel the myth that your childhood was all bad. The more you dwell on the happy times, the more you will find balance, no matter how terrible your childhood. To remember the positive does not discount the pain. It is about refocusing your view and recognizing the whole picture. Your foundation does not have to be totally one dimension. Allow yourself the simple pleasure of enjoying the pleasant memories.


For me, I recall bouncing balls against the side of the house. At a young age, it was a delight to catch it and do it again and again. Even chasing after a missed ball was fun. Later, I played baseball, starting at age six with a hard ball. My older brother, the boys in neighborhood and I teamed up every summer to play ball near our home. Holding my own as a girl in that competing world was thrilling. No amount of pain by getting hit with a fast hard ball, ever slowed my enthusiasm. Even though I could hardly stand upright due to respiratory challenges, I ran to bases as needed. That fun was part of what developed my determination and perseverance to get through the rest of my life. Life has its rewards.


How about you? What do you remember?

Soon my Breaking Through Concrete Workbook will be published. The purpose of the book is to support people in uncovering the origins of present behaviors and beliefs. Sometimes it helps to know the origins, if you see any need to change either painful beliefs or behaviors.

This book is one filled with self-examination questions that can be used alone or in a small group. The questions are related to time segments of your youth. They include: Preschool Years, Elementary School Years and Teen Years. These segments lead you through your earliest memories all the way to the doorstep of your early adulthood.

To give you a sample, here is one question from Preschool Years.

Which parent nurtured you in a way you responded to the most? What is one memory about being nurtured by that parent? What difference, if any, did that memory have on your life?

Here is an example of exploring and using these two questions.

My answer is that my father was more nurturing than my mother, which was no contest, given how harsh my mother was. Though my father was distant and aloof, I was sure that he cared about me.

My earliest memory was the time he found me sleeping on the couch one night when I was about five. As he picked me up, I awoke to my father carrying me through the hall and tenderly putting me in my bed. Pretending I was still sleeping for fear he would stop carrying me, I did not want to blow my cover that I had awakened. I’ll never forget how pleased I was to realize I was important to him in that moment. It buoyed me up and it was my secret memory that got me through tough times. Though I did not have verbal encouragement about my value, I knew he loved me. There was more evidence I collected later about my father’s kindness. He did not have to say he loved me and I had learned not to expect it.

So how was it for you?  How would you answer these questions?  Leave me your answer and how you are affected today by a loving or nurturing parent.

Playshop Series

My, as yet, unpublished Breaking Through Concrete Workbook is the basis of a four-part course that I call the Playshop Series.  My friend Brenda, who attended my first Book Signing, suggested that I do a series of workshops based on my published book.  When I told Brenda that I had written a Workbook, she said that was more proof I could go ahead with a course.  Promising to be a participant, she  requested I create something immediately.

Already, the Breaking Through Concrete Workbook included the human experience, not merely mine. By leading a four part course, I would test out my workbook.

This course is called a Playshop to evoke some lightness, playfulness and creativity. Self-expression is needed to balance with the often heavily laden memories. Creative play takes the form of journaling, drawing, collaging, montaging, singing and dancing. In the sessions, creative expression takes the form of writing, drawing and sharing to capture what personal answers emerged for the participants from the questions in my workbook. Participants are encouraged to continue other modalities of creativity, expanding on what came up from the Playshop.

One participant wrote this to me:

“For me, your workshop hit the spot … so much that I could use more time and work in this direction. I’m just thrilled you did THIS Playshop the way you did. Your visualizations and group sharing/support were MUCH more effective for me than conventional therapy.” ~ Marilyn

Since last Saturday turned out to be a snow day, the Playshop will continue next Saturday. This extra week in between gives participants time to create more connections with their creative self.

This is the information I sent out to a group of people before it started:

Breaking Through to the Inner Child PLAYSHOP Series

What is the one thing in your life that is not as satisfactory as you’d like? Is it in the area of Relationships? Finances? Health? Self-Expression? Recreation? Career? Environment? Why has it eluded you? Could it be due to something unsettled from your past? Come to a Playshop Series in a group setting with nurturing, creativity and lightness all around you to get a new perspective.

This Playshop grew out of my book Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents. It is not necessary to read the book to take this course.

Playshop Purpose

To notice how you have broken through the concrete in your life.

To see yourself as the star protagonist in your life using fresh ways of looking.

To forgive your past.

To embrace the best in yourself.

To own your gifts, no matter how they came about.

To identify the Monkey Mind Monsters and take your power back.

To shift your point of reference to life. (Mine was: “Life is a struggle”).


Who: Powerful Players. Those who want to uncover hidden, denied, or wounded,

parts of self. And those who want to reclaim, own and express your gifts.

What: 4 Playshop Sessions

When: Saturdays: January 12, 19, 26 and February 2

Why: Expanded JOY, Greater FREEDOM.

Where: At a Cincinnati location. Possibly in the future, I may offer this as a Teleclass.  People from around the country have expressed a desire for this course.

My book: Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents is on Kindle and Amazon. On Kindle you can access it on this site:

My Kindle book allows you to lend it to others for two weeks at a time.

Also, the Amazon site is:

With both of these sites, you will find excerpts. You may have to scroll down since some of the first pages are blank. Please share these sites with people who are dealing with mental illness or know someone who is. Thank you.