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Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Stress and Peace

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Peace is the only battle worth waging.

 ~Albert Camus~

 The holiday season ahead of us, including Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are meant to be times of peace and joy. Yet this is also a time of high stress for many people. It is also high season for depression and suicidal thoughts if not suicide itself. How did we get from a time of peace to a time of great stress?

In the first place, most people say “Happy Holidays” to each other without much thought to what the holidays mean. In an attempt not to offend anyone, we make our greetings so generic that they have lost most of their meaning. I think it is easy to lose sight of what we are celebrating.

We seem to be celebrating money. The focus is on sales, discounts and how much money you have available for the season. The success of the holiday season is measured in the bottom line for retailers. Personally, success is measured in whether we can find and afford the right gifts for everyone of importance.

So where does the stress come from. Many people spend more during this season than they can reasonably afford. In the back of their minds, they know a day of reckoning is coming with their next charge card bill.

This is also a time of year when we get together with others we do not often see. If you have lost someone important in your life, the idea of joy may seem distant as you remember the person you have lost whether through death, one of you having moved too far away to get together or through a conflict which has destroyed your relationship.

You might also not be on the best of terms with some of your relatives or people who used to be good friends, but whom you spend time with this season so as not to ruffle any feathers. They don’t bring you any joy either.

How can you get back to peace and joy in your life? First be grateful for what you have including whatever money you have, a good place to live and the people around you who bring you joy. Just because stores focus on sales does not mean you must too. If you can’t afford expensive gifts, think of what you can do for those you love to make them a little happier. Maybe just spending some special time with them would bring you both joy.

If you have strained relationships with some of the people you will see in the next few weeks, think about what you might have done to create part of the strain. Apologize for your part in the conflict. If you don’t know, a nice gift would be to tell him or her that you are troubled by the distance between you. Ask him or her to help you make a new start.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Rather than generic greetings, find out what holiday other people are celebrating.
  • Learn a little about their customs and what they mean.
  • Give the gift of yourself rather than things.
  • Thank those you can who bring joy to your life.
  • Apologize for offenses you might have committed and forgive others for theirs.
  • Use this season as a time to restore your troubled relationships.

 

 

Publication Frenzy

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Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. What’s happening in your little world?

Joe: Quite a bit. I am working on marketing my new book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life. I decided to republish my other books in paperback through Create Space. I have finished working on Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Journey which is now available again at Amazon. I plan to add my other three books, but for now am back to work on Commonsense Wisdom for Teens, which I put aside a while ago. Here is a little taste:

After writing my first book, Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, I realized that what I had to say was directed toward adults. I wondered what teens would make of it, and came to the conclusion that most of their concerns were different from those of adults.

I also wondered whether I really knew what their concerns were. I decided that the best way to find out for sure was to ask teens what concerned them and how they dealt with their concerns. I went in search of teens who were willing to talk with me about their concerns.

I found a number of teens who were willing to fill out a questionnaire and meet with me to talk about what they had written. This book is an account of that process. The teens who participated were all from Western New York, some from rural Genesee County and the others from urban Monroe County.

Since I asked them to share such personal information, I asked them all to choose a fictional name to use in this book. They are Punkman, Nikki, Amy, Ellie, Paige, Kapow, Miss Mimi, Chuck, Abe, Ronnie, Anna, Amy, Lynn, Sean, Julie, Darla, Allie, Chuck, Zoe and Kylie Thanks so much for your honesty and courage in sharing part of your lives.

As you read on, you will find stories about teens, based on those I have met over the years I have been in practice, comments of teens I interviewed and my reflections on their comments. You will also find practical suggestions for things you can try to help you with life. (Excerpt from my forthcoming book, Commonsense Wisdom for Teens)

Calliope: You have been busy. Make sure you come up for air from time to time and keep me posted.

Joe: Will do.

Ready for Thanksgiving

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Engine 999

Engine 999

Joe: Good evening Calliope.

Calliope: Good evening Joe. How is your writing going?

Joe: I haven’t been this busy in a long time.

Calliope: What are you up to now?

Joe: As you know, my new book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life is in full swing.  The book even has its own blog on WordPress now. I feature articles on stress and excerpts from the book. I decided to reissue my book, Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage which is now back in print. I also ran across an old manuscript of a book I was working on, Commonsense Wisdom for Teens. For some reason, that book never made it to publication, although I finished most of the work on it. I am reviewing the manuscript and with any luck will get it into print in the next few weeks. After coasting along for a while, I feel like I am now spending most of my energy writing and publishing. I have not been this excited about writing in some time. And so, back to work.

Learning to LAUGH

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Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon, Joe. What have you been up to?

Joe: Two things. I am waiting as patiently as I can for my supply of Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life books from CreateSpace. In the meantime, I have been reading about publicity and marketing for the book. For a little change of pace, I am also republishing the paperback version of Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage, now only available in eBook format. Hopefully I have finished that process and will have a proof soon.  I also ran across an article on the Internet about stress, laughter and art. Here is what it said and a little excerpt from my stress book.

*****

Art

Two women, an associate professor and an artist in England, developed a program incorporating humor and art as a way of coping with cancer. Here is what they are up to:

For a few seconds, the canvas remains blank. Then a thin line appears, followed by another, and slowly, a shape begins to form. Quiet music rises in the background and in the distance, the lull of waves swell to the surface. Blue paint splashes across the surface, tinged with the white churning of sea foam. A child laughs, a colorful beach ball appears. In a few minutes, an invisible hand has transformed the blank canvas into an idyllic beach. All from a TV screen in a patient waiting room.

The magic behind the living canvas is a product of the collaboration between Dr. Bonnie McGregor and local artist Catherine Mayer. McGregor is from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an affiliate associate professor at the UW Department of Health Services. Mayer founded the LAUGH foundation (Letting Art Unleash Great Happiness). The two started their collaboration a couple of years ago with the goal of using art as a psychological intervention for healing.

See the full article here.  

*****

Alternate Ways to Express Yourself

Moore also talked about trying new ways to communicate if your normal channels are blocked, which they might well be under severe stress. People often try to explain away their stress or make excuses for being stuck.

He suggests that you try ways of communicating and expressing yourself other than your normal language. These ways might include storytelling, symbolism, metaphor, art and music. It’s at least worth a try. Normal conversation might be inadequate for expressing how you think and feel under great stress. You might not have words for what is happening to you.

Taking an alternate approach does not work the same way for everyone. I once knew two artists who had periodic trouble with serious depression. One found that he could only paint when he was in a state of depression. He had learned to transform the stress of his depression into artistic expression. The other artist could only produce his art when depression left him. During periods of depression he had to find other outlets and resources. Spending time on the lake in his sailboat helped him as did counseling and medication.

(Excerpt from Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life)

cover of release your stress

Ready for Publication

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Sunset in Englewood

Sunset in Englewood

Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. What’s the news on your book.

Joe: I have been very busy. after my conversation with Mary Dougherty, I decided to self publish my book on BookSurge.I know it would involve all my resources so i braced myself. I located the upload page without any difficulty bud did not find any directions. With a little luck I found them and soon got a sense of what was required. I formatted my book as a paperback in 6″ by 9″ page dimensions. I converted my book into this format and uploaded it. With a few tries, I got it to the point where I was satisfied. I was then off to procure an ISBN and Library of Congress Control Number. Then I designed a cover and uploaded that too. I submitted the book and now am waiting to hear that BookSurge is ready to print it. I know I am.

Calliope: Great news. When do you expect it to be available?

Joe: I wish I knew. But I am ready to go at a moment’s notice and move into the world of marketing.

Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life

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Sunset in Englewood

Sunset in Englewood

Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good Afternoon Joe. How is your book coming?

.Joe: Very well thank you. I have received feedback from several of my readers and made corrections to the text based on their comments. I am also nearing the point where the manuscript is ready for publication.

Calliope: Great! I recall that you were not sure how to approach publication. Have you made a decision.

Joe: I have. I met with a woman who works with writers to prepare their work for publication. Based on the book I have already worked on, she felt that my best bet would be self publication through Create Space.

Calliope: What happened with the idea of finding an agent?

Joe: I worked hard to find one but got no positive responses. In reading about agents, I concluded that they are mainly interested in books with the potential of massive sales by people already famous.

Calliope: I see. Now what?

Joe: I am formatting my book for paperback publication through CreateSpace and will also list it as an eBook on Amazon. The process is proceeding nicely.

Calliope: Glad to hear it. Keep me posted.

Joe: I will. I forgot to tell you that I finally decided on a title, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life.

My Stress Is All On The Page

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Sunset in Englewood

Sunset in Englewood

Joe: Good afternoon, Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. I assume you have been hard at work on your book.

Joe: You are correct. First I have a new working title for it, Rest Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life. I have completed the manuscript and have received feedback from several trusted readers I have used for past books.

Calliope: Great. Now What?

Joe: I am exploring publication options. I found a couple agents who have represented books somewhat similar to mine. I will start by contacting them to see if they might be interested. I know agents are very busy and they have hundreds if not thousands of books to choose from. I don’t envy them their job. I have also come to appreciate the complexities of their work in the present publishing world.

Calliope: Good luck. Can you tell me a little more about the book?

Joe: Here is how I describe it in my query letter, “While many books on stress offer partial treatments or quick fixes, Rest Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life provides a more comprehensive approach.” Then I go on to detail the contents of the book.

Calliope: Sounds like you are on the right track.

Joe: I hope so. I would love to find an agent and get on with publishing it.  Talk with you later.

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