Have a Happier, Less-Stressed Holiday

Red poinsettia

This time of year is often described as stressful. Ask a friend or neighbor how she’s doing during the month of December, and her response is likely to include the word “busy.” But the holidays are only as stressful and busy as we make them. Today, in case you feel you need it, I’d like to give you permission to relax.  Read more

7 Things I Learned from My First 7 Jobs

Still life painting with vases, flowers, and table card holder
Table No. 4, 2016. Oil on canvas, 16” x 20”, framed. Available for purchase.

About a year and a half ago, the hashtag #1st7jobs (or #firstsevenjobs) began making its way around Twitter as celebrities and others shared lists of their early work experiences.  The idea, I think, was to show that where you begin does not dictate where you end up, and it takes hard work and trial and error to build the career and life you want.  While there are certainly critics of that narrative, I found the hashtag to be an interesting exercise, and one worthy of further exploration than Twitter’s character limit would allow.

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Fostering Gratitude at Thanksgiving and Year-Round

Black and white painting of dishes and fruit on a table

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Its historical origins aside, for me, it’s a day spent with family, some of whom I don’t see as often as I’d like.  When I was a kid, the hosting duties rotated among my mom and her four siblings, and a crowd of 20-30 of my aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered together for a delicious potluck-style meal, followed by hours of card games, laughter, and enjoying each others’ company.  The gatherings have become smaller over the years and the format has changed a bit, but I still look forward to this holiday more than any other.

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Rethinking Regret

Black and white profile photo of the author sitting on a porch in Kauai
Photo by E.

This week, Hidden Brain, one of my favorite podcasts-slash-public-radio-programs, explored the topic of regret with a researcher and head of an academic “regret lab.”  The program discussed the various positive and negative consequences of regret.

I think I’ve reached a point in my life when I’m able to put most of my regrets to rest.  Yes, there are opportunities I missed, chances I wish I’d taken, different paths I could have chosen, and times I acted selfishly or treated others poorly.  The last category is, of course, the hardest to get over, because it’s regret combined with guilt.  But we can’t undo what we’ve done in the past, and at some point we have to forgive ourselves and commit to behaving better in the future, now that we know better.

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End-of-Life Lessons From My Dad

Photo of the author as a toddler, dressed for church, with her dad crouched next to her, steadying her as she walks
Dad and me, circa 1987

When I was a kid, my dad was what today we might call my lead parent.  My mom was involved in my life too, but she often worked 60 hours a week and sometimes had to travel for work.  My dad’s work day ended at 3:00, and he had a little more flexibility in terms of taking time off, so he was the one who picked me up from day care, took me to my first day of kindergarten, and attended school events.  I spent a good bit of time with him when I was young, and he taught me many of life’s essential early lessons.

I sometimes took my dad for granted in my adolescent years, as teens often do.  He went through some hard times and battled some demons, and I didn’t always understand or appreciate him.  When I was in 11th grade, and again during my first year of college, he was hospitalized with serious health issues.  These brushes with death transformed my dad and my relationship with him, and I’m especially grateful for the person he became and the times we spent together over the past 15 years.

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