Category Archives: Current Events

Thoughts about something that is supposedly newsworthy.

Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions

My younger daughter contributes to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Living pages on a regular basis. From time to time in 2012, I plan to post some of her articles. This one was especially noteworthy about keeping New Year’s resolutions.

By Bailey Shiffler

Special to the Star-Telegram

Early January is always filled with resolve, but by March, that resolve has often turned to regret.Follow our expert-driven 10 steps, and you are sure (or at least more likely) to have shed those extra pounds, quit smoking or written more thank-you notes by year’s end.

Here’s what the pros say you need to do to keep your New Year’s resolutions.

Set SMART goals.

1. Susan Steinbrecher, president and CEO of Steinbrecher & Associates leadership development company, says the most critical component of sticking to a resolution is setting it. She uses what goal experts call the SMART test, advising eager resolution makers to ask whether the pledge is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.”The first problem is that people make statements, not goals,” Steinbrecher says, adding that “I want to lose weight” is not a goal –“I want to lose 10 pounds by March” is.

Envision the end result.

2. Mike Armour, president of Dallas-based Strategic Leadership Development International, says setting a goal is the first step, and the second is envisioning what the end result will look like.”You should make a mental picture of yourself and make it as appealing as you can,” Armour suggests. That mental picture can range from a snapshot of yourself sporting a new beach body to an image of your newly organized pantry. Elliot Connie, a Keller-based licensed professional counselor, agreed that picturing an end result is crucial.”If your goal is to fight less with your spouse, you need to say to yourself, ‘I know my goal will be accomplished when x happens,'” he says. This is especially important for the more abstract goals, like “being happier” — defining what that happiness will look like is an important step to achieving it.

Create a timeline for your resolution.

3. Getting fit, organizing your home, spending more time with family, getting out of debt, taking more photos — it’s clear that the most common New Years resolutions are lifelong goals with no expiration date. That’s why it’s important to set a timeline or mile markers to help you stay focused.”You have to take it one bite at a time,” Steinbrecher says. “Set up a milestone or checkpoint then celebrate and re-evaluate when you get there.”If your goal, generally, is to get organized, promise yourself you’ll have your bedroom closet detailed by the end of January. On Feb. 1, celebrate your clean closet and set your next task — perhaps organizing the pantry.

Define your motivation and surround yourself with it.

4. No goal can be met without the proper motivation, and the tougher the task, the more motivation you will need. Take time to define why you want to lose that weight, take more photos or stay in closer contact with your family. Write down your reasons, and then give yourself regular reminders of them.”Surround yourself with motivation, purposefully,” Steinbrecher says. If the Victoria’s Secret swimsuit catalog inspires you to work out, tape a page to your bathroom mirror. Save a photo of your grandparents as your smartphone background if it helps you remember to call them.

Get your tools ready.

5. It’s easy to put off tasks when you don’t have the supplies at hand. Sit down and write out all of the tools that you will need to meet your goal, our experts advise. If weight loss is your resolution, know that you will need exercise equipment, workout DVDs or a gym membership, along with a pantry full of healthy food.If you want to take more pictures, be sure you have a camera and some photo-organization software for your computer. If you have the motivation and the tools, it will be tough(er) to justify procrastination.

Block out time.

6. “I don’t have enough time” serves as an excuse for putting off almost any goal, so it is important to cut off the age-old scapegoat immediately, the experts say. Determine how much time you will need to devote to your goal each week and schedule it — put it on your home and work calendar so you aren’t tempted to double-book.If organization is your goal, devote three hours each Saturday morning to the big projects and promise yourself that the 10 minutes before bedtime is for putting away the day’s clutter. Schedule morning workouts if your afternoons are booked, and block out commuting time for talking (hands-free, of course) on the phone with relatives.

Know your weaknesses.

7. Identifying your trip-up triggers is crucial to staying on task, Steinbrecher says.”You have to know what gets you off the wagon,” she advised. Does stress push you to smoke, or do you binge eat at lunch if you skip breakfast? Take a deep look at your behavior and identify what causes you to slip up — then find ways to prevent goal-blockers.Armour suggests subduing any cravings to cheat with a physical activity. Answer three o’clock sugar or cigarette cravings with a walk around the block or a jaunt up and down the office stairs — the physical exertion will help take your mind off the craving.

Identify your strengths.

8. Connie quoted a friend when he said that no human is perfect, but in the same tune, no human is perfectly imperfect. Chances are, there has been a stage in your life when you were achieving your current goal — identify the bright spots, and examine the behavior that surrounded them, he advises.Look at the last time you took a lot of photos, were super-organized or were getting along better with your family. Ask yourself what spurred that behavior, and try to emulate it.

Find a partner or support group.

9. “Commit to your goal with a friend, or find a support group,” Steinbrecher says. “It will help you with accountability.”Going at a goal alone is tough work; finding a support system makes it a lot easier. If none of your friends or family shares your resolution, look for a support group in your area or find a helpful online community. Connie warned against asking an uninterested friend or spouse to commit to a goal with you — if they aren’t dedicated or motivated, it’s not worth having a companion goal setter. Instead, voice your goals to your friends and tell them what changes they can expect to see as you complete your transformation. It’s better to have a support system than a partner.

Get help from pros.

10. “I think most of us believe we are a lot more capable of doing things on our own than our track records suggest,” Armour says.When it comes to achieving New Year’s resolutions, there are often professional options for help, whether it is hiring a personal trainer, a professional organizer, a therapist, enrolling in a sponsored diet program or using store-bought aids to help you quit smoking.Armour suggests setting a timetable — maybe a few weeks — for trying it on your own, and if the date expires with little results, it is time to seek help.

Read more here:

What is a Frenemy?

Apparently, we need to add the word “frenemy” to our ever-increasing modern dictionary. It describes a number of situations — someone who is a friend but also a rival. Someone who you hang out with but you don’t really like. Someone who you like to be around in some situations, but not in others (i.e. I like her when it’s just us girls but not when we’re around guys.)

When I was a kid, I remember my Mom saying “With friends like these, who needs enemies.” It’s an old English proverb that essentially applies when friends act like enemies. I guess today those friends would be frenemies.

I really don’t need any frenemy in my life. If I have a friend who treats me badly, well, I don’t have any friends who treat me badly because I don’t hang out with people who treat me badly.

On occasion I will realize that I have not been a good friend to a friend. When it hits me, my heart hurts. Maybe it’s not returning a phone call or not doing something I said I would do. I always try to make amends because good friends should be treasured.

I guess, technically, I’ve had some frenemies in my life, when I was younger, but not any more. I like to keep my energies focused on good things. And if I had a frenemy, I’d want to know what the problem was and try to fix it.

I just saw the movie “Something Borrowed.” It’s being described as a movie about frenemies. I’d say it’s more like “With friends like these, who needs enemies.”

Mother’s Day reflections

Mother’s Day made me think about my Mom. But missing her is something I do everyday. Most of the time, it’s not that bad, just wishing I could talk to her or share something funny with her, or ask her how to do something simple like get a stain out of a shirt or sewing advice or just to chat about the Royal Wedding. 

Sometimes, though, in a random moment, I will miss my mom so badly that my eyes burn and fill with tears, my stomach churns and I feel a momentary wave of physical pain. There’s usually a trigger that causes this emotion — a song, a flower blooming, a memory that pushes itself to the front of my brain. In these moments, I have to take a deep breath and squelch it, hold my breath, look away.  Most of the time I can wave it off. Sometimes I can’t, and there I am trying to maintain composure as tears streak down my cheeks. Thank God for sunglasses. Sometimes I can quickly fumble for them and get them on my face before anyone notices.

It’s been almost two years since she died and I still find myself with the nano-second thought, “I need to call Mom.” And then it hits me that she really did die.

But each day that passes I am better. I realize the wonderful things she taught me and how valuable those lessons are to me. While I will never have the talent she had for painting, sculpting, sewing and luring plants to grow, I do have at least a thimble full of her wisdom, and I can emulate her love and pass it on. Through her love and incredible energies, I am able to love my husband and our daughters with every ounce of my soul.

A few weeks ago, a neighbor who is a young mom of three children, showed me the new addition on their house. “Don’t mind the furniture and how everything is arranged,” she said. “My Mom is coming in a few weeks, and once she’s here she will show me how to arrange everything and get everything in the right place.”

Thankfully I had my sunglasses on my head, so I could quickly pull them over my eyes to squelch the tears. I remember when I relied on my mom for the same thing — to come into my house and perform the “Mom’s touch” thing she was so good at doing. Sometimes she’d just change how the pillows on the couch were arranged or re-do the mantle or re-pot my plants. She made drapes for my bedroom, helped me redo the kids’ rooms and showed me how “free-styling” worked. She would always say, “Now if you don’t like this, you can change it back when I leave.” Rarely did I change a thing. Her ability to make something out of nothing, to change the look and feel of a room, were amazing to me.

Late on the Sunday afternoon of Mother’s Day, after Oldest Daughter had left for Dallas, Sweet Husband and I took a long walk. As we were crossing the bridge over the dry creek and about to take on the hill up to our house, we ran into the young mom and her mom. The young mom was pushing her daughther in a stroller. The Mom was walking beside her grandson. 

We had met her before, and so as we chatted, I asked, “So did you help your daughter get the new family room all arranged?” She smiled. “It’s such a beautiful room.”

I then recounted how her daughter had told me how anxious she was for her Mom to come and work her magic on the room. I could see how much she enjoyed hearing this and knowing how much her daughter valued her traveling several hours to help her with her house.

When my mom would come work her magic inside my house, I would watch and learn. I studied her as she sewed and I learned so much about this now lost art. She taught me how some things are just trial and error. You do it wrong, you rip out the seam, then you sew it again right. She bought me my first hot glue gun, back when no one had a hot glue gun. I still have it. Is there such a thing as an antique hot glue gun?

There were many things Mom tried to teach me that just didn’t stick. Like folding fitted sheets. Mom could fold them like they had just come out of the package.

But Mom did teach me about hot to make a home more homey. I learned to sew and made my daughters award-winning Halloween costumes. And Mom would be so proud of me, even though I knew that my sewing abilities didn’t hold a candle to hers. She was proud that I had learned from her and that we had these things in common.

I guess what I miss most about Mom is how she made me feel, how she made a room feel, how she made our family feel. She had so much love and she gave it so well. I will spend the rest of my days aspiring to do that.

There’s an old saying: A mother holds her children’s hands for a while, their hearts forever. That about sums it up for me.

Oh Baby!

The Gerber baby…

Well it’s that time of the year when the Social Security Administration releases the top baby names for the year. Before I looked at the list, I said to myself: I bet Emily is on the list of girls. Yep. I was right.  Here are the names and my totally random comments.

1. Jacob (while I haven’t read the Twilight books, I’m supposing this name is even more popular due to this character.)
2. Ethan (I like Ethan Hawke.)
3. Michael (yawn)
4. Jayden (Will Smith’s son’s name. Cute.)
5. William (As in Prince William — please don’t call him Billy)
6. Alexander (If you are going to call him Alex, name him Alex?)
7. Noah (There are many Biblical names this year. Aside from the guy who built the Ark, the name Noah makes me think of the movie The Notebook, which makes me think of the cute actor who plays him, Ryan Gosling.)
8. Daniel (Do not call him Danny. Please.)
9. Aiden (I like this name. I liked the character named Aiden in Sex in the City. Carrie should have married him.)
10. Anthony (yawn)
1. Isabella (I think this is due to those vampire books again. It’s cute though.)
2. Sophia (Not one of my favorite names. It could be shortened to Sophie, which would just be wrong.)
3. Emma (Goodness this has been up there for a long time, ever since Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel, on Friends, named her baby Emma. I guess now there is a young star — maybe in the Harry Potter or those Vampire movies — named Emma. And maybe another popular, young actress.)
4. Olivia (My niece is named Olivia. A neighbor kid is named Olivia. It’s an elegant, vintage name that is now popular again. Just don’t call the child Libby. Please.)
5. Ava (I like this name a lot. It’s elegant.)
6. Emily (There may just be one too many girls named Emily these days.)
7. Abigail (This is a strong name but it would bother me if it was shortened to Abby.)
8. Madison (I like this name a lotbut I also see a lot of dogs named Madison.)
9. Chloe (Not there for me. One of my girls had a Cabbage Patch doll named Chloe.)
10. Mia (This is a newcomer to the list apparently. I like Mia brand shoes. The only other Mia I can think of is Mia Farrow.)

Something to celebrate!

In Texas, it’s a huge day for bars and restaurants. College kids are generally taking or finishing final exams on this day, so that age group celebrates the day with gusto. Also, I noticed in Time Magazine, a list of the Top 10 Drunkest Holidays in the US. While I’ve never seen such a list, it reminds me of the annual Top Party Schools list compiled each list. ED went to a school that often makes that list. YD went to a college that probably has never made the list, but it might in the coming years as it’s sports victories increase!

All that aside, here is Time’s list of the Top 10 Drunkest Holidays. Some of them are surprising.

1.      New Year’s Eve

2.      St. Patrick’s Day

3.      Thanksgiving Eve (this was surprising to me)

4.      Cinco De Mayo

5.      Purim (Jewish Mardi Gras, apparently)

6.      Derby Day (really?)

7.      Fourth of July

8.      Halloween

9.      Mardi Gras

10.   Super Bowl Sunday

Okay that’s my trivia for today.

For our Cinco De Mayo celebration, Sweet Husband and I are going to Austin to Whole Foods Market to buy goodies for the weekend. While there, I think I’ll  have some fish tacos to celebrate the event. But I always have fish tacos when I go to Whole Foods. They are a celebration in themselves.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!


May 5 is Cinco de Mayo!