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Archive for the ‘Quality of LIfe’ Category

When you let little irritations become a big issue, best rethink how to deal with them.

Some years ago a woman came to me because of her mother-in-law. She and her husband had been married for four years and had two small babies. The problem was that when her mother-in-law came for a visit, she would go through her daughter-in-law’s dresser drawers and medicine cabinet.

When the woman talked with her husband about what to do, he had shrugged and said his mom was just nosy and because his wife had nothing to hide, what did it matter?

Instead of confronting the mother-in-law head on, the wife had a lock put on her bedroom door. When the mother-in-law came over on Sundays, as she often did, the wife would simply lock the door.

Recently this daughter-in-law contacted me to help her deal with one of her teenaged daughters. During the session I asked, “Whatever happened with you and your mother-in-law, who used to rummage through your drawers?” The woman was surprised I remembered. I said her story was a bit unusual. She laughed, shrugged, and said everything was fine. Over the years her mother- in-law turned out to be a big help to the family, and as far as she knew, she had stopped going through the woman’s dresser drawers. In fact, she hadn’t used the lock in years.

Several hours later I got a telephone call from a friend who had a question. Apparently his friend is ready to give up a job he likes because of the engineer in the next cubicle. It seems that this engineer has a rather tumultuous relationship with his wife and argues on and off with her throughout the day. This same engineer kicks his wastecan rhythmically all day long. His fights and repetitive tapping are so irritating that my friend’s friend is seriously thinking about throwing in the towel.

My friend wanted to know if I had any solutions besides talking to the man, who was impossible to talk to, and going to his boss, who would think the problem petty.

I said I thought the friend had gotten himself sensitized to the man’s noises and he was attending to them instead of ignoring them. What he could do was to decide to focus on his work and learn to ignore the man in the next cubicle. It would take about six weeks of determined concentration, but it was possible.

Another option was for him to buy a white noise machine or humming fan which would help dull the racket. A third option would be to get earbuds and start listening to music as he worked.

My friend thanked me for the advice and said he’d pass it on.

The session with the woman followed by my friend’s telephone call got me to thinking. There are so many nuisance problems that come into our lives. Instead of making a big deal out of a problem and rushing to confront someone, often an adjustment in our own behavior would solve the problem.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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When you are unable to get a good night’s sleep there is more than one solution to help overcome this issue.
How did you sleep last night?

One of the most frustrating problems that many people face is how to get a good night’s sleep. Some people can’t seem to fall asleep, while others fall asleep quickly but wake up two or three hours later and can’t get back to sleep.

If you don’t have a thyroid problem, sleep apnea, epilepsy, or a substance abuse problem, and if you’re not on any medication that disrupts sleep, you may be suffering from stress-induced insomnia.

Bill has been having trouble sleeping since he learned six months ago that his company is considering relocating. Because his wife has a good position with her company and his children are involved in their schools, he’s not sure what he’ll do if the company moves.

Bill can go to sleep, but several hours later he’s wide awake. He has, with some success, tackled the problem. When he wakes up, he doesn’t let his mind think of anything. Instead he concentrates on his breathing, slowly breathing in and out. By focusing on his breathing, Bill can sometimes fall back to sleep. If sleep alludes him, he gets up and reads. Around 5 AM he goes back to bed and finds that he can catch a few more hours of sleep before the alarm sounds. By having such a plan, Bill keeps his stress about not sleeping under control.

Sandy also has trouble sleeping. She, like Bill, is able to fall asleep. But a short time later she’s awake reviewing her upcoming divorce and thinking about how her husband left her for his secretary. No matter what she does, she can’t sleep. Sandy’s problem calls for a trip to her doctor to see if an antidepressant medication would help.

Marie thinks her insomnia is due to having too much to do. She works a full-time job and has three children under age seven. She rarely falls in bed before midnight, and then she’s so tired she can’t get to sleep. For Marie I’ve suggested not doing any chores after 10 PM. No matter what. By 11 she’s in bed with a magazine and cup of hot milk and by 11:30 she turns off the light. This routine is starting to pay off; Marie is reporting less trouble getting to sleep.

Additional ideas for getting a better night’s sleep:

-Exercise daily if possible. Some people who have sleep problems find it more helpful to exercise before evening sets in.

-Get up about the same time each morning. Even if you’re dragging from no sleep the night before, stay on schedule.

-Stay away from caffeine after lunch and alcohol after dinner. Caffeine interferes with getting to sleep and alcohol interferes with staying asleep.

-Avoid naps. This only throws your sleep pattern off further.

-Keep your room cool and covers light. When people get too warm, they wake up.

-Try a white-noise machine or a fan. Both help muffle barking dogs and late night honking horns.

-If you’re one of those people who always eats before going to bed, try a bowl of cereal, a glass of skim milk, toast with peanut butter or another carbohydrate.

-Never start a project like working on your tax returns or rearranging a closet an hour before bed.

-Don’t begin discussing important life issues like money, moving, or remoldeling before bedtime. Save these talks for the daylight hours.

-Develop a routine — a bath, a bowl of cereal, brushing and flossing teeth, prayers, a half-hour with your favorite book, and lights out.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Women frequently complain to their husbands and children about how much they do around the house vs. how much everyone else does. In turn, husbands and children defend by pointing out that they vacuum, do dishes, grocery shop, pay bills, and even scrub the floor.

So why does Mom keep complaining?

The reason so many women complain about all they do is that every home has numerous hidden chores that never make it onto someone’s chore list. But still, they must be done.

Here is a list of hidden chores. Next to each one write the initial of the person or people who most often do the task.

  1. Sorts through the mail and recycles all the junk mail.
  2. Periodically straightens the linen closet.
  3. Makes rags out of old clothing, cutting buttons off and tearing the clothes into
    rag size.
  4. Disposes of bad food, moldy cheese and rotten fruit from the refrigerator.
  5. Keeps the ice trays filled.
  6. Refills the toilet-paper holder.
  7. Picks up trash in the yard.
  8. Stops to pull a few big weeds that have sprung up among the shrubs.
  9. Replaces the light bulbs.
  10. Writes “light bulbs” and “dish detergent” on a shopping list.
  11. Stops by the grocery store for milk or bread.
  12. Bags up unused clothing and sees that it is passed on to the appropriate relative or organization.
  13. Collects and gives away old hangers that have accumulated.
  14. Sorts through old magazines and sees that they are recycled properly.
  15. Organizes the family games and puzzles and DVDs.
  16. Puts the photos in albums or boxes.
  17. Runs to the post office for stamps.
  18. Goes to the pet shop for fish filters, a dog chain or cat food.
  19. Waters and repots the house plants.
  20. Makes a run to the recycling center.
  21. Takes the family pet to the veterinarian and groomer.
  22. Picks up the dry cleaning.
  23. Sharpens the pencils around the house.
  24. Replaces empty tissue boxes in various rooms.
  25. Periodically sorts through the paper and plastic bags and telephone books and disposes of extras.
  26. Sorts and stores out-of-season clothes.
  27. Wipes smudges and heel marks off the doors.
  28. Sets up appointments with repair people and various contractors.
  29. Plants spring flowers and fall bulbs.
  30. Washes out the wastepaper baskets and trash cans.

If one of you has initialed more than your fair share, pass some of these chores on. When everyone shares household duties, family members appreciate each other more.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Three weeks ago Beth’s cousin telephoned to say she was coming through St. Louis and thought it would be fun to spend the weekend with Beth. Since the call, Beth has transformed a tiny junk room into a guest bedroom. She has painted and wallpapered the room and bought a bed, curtains, bedspread, and lamp. She has hung several pictures. She has washed the windows and blinds throughout the house, cleaned the kitchen cabinets inside and out, hung a new mirror in the bathroom, bought new dish towels and had all the rugs in the house cleaned. She has also put in several new rose­bushes and planted four flats of impatiens. Beth has three children and works full time.

Beth’s husband thinks she is being ridiculous. After all, the cousin will only be there for the weekend. Beth says she wants everything to look nice and, besides, she enjoys making things look pleasant.

A friend’s son graduated from college last year. Before the graduation party, she mortared the cracks in the foundation of the house and painted the front door. She bought hanging plants, and strung Chinese lanterns around the backyard. Three weeks before the party she decided to put in a brick patio. The day before the party she was still leveling some of the bricks. The party was great, but she was so tired she could hardly stay awake for it.

I must confess, the day of our son Paul’s graduation party, I went into one of the bathrooms to do a final check. I was already dressed for the party, and I saw a streak on the glass shower door. Without thinking, I grabbed a wash cloth, slipped off my heels, stepped into the shower, and wiped off the streak. All of a sudden I said to myself, “Get out of the shower, Doris. Stop cleaning.”

Why do people, mainly women, go to such extremes when they are having a party or out of town guests, or when their grown children come to visit?

One reason is that the anticipation of someone coming for a visit gives one energy — energy to do those extra cleaning and repairing and renovation chores.

Another reason is that many women’s self-esteem is tied up with how nice their house looks. Therefore they work hard to make everything right, so they will feel good about themselves.

A woman is also concerned about how others will view her home. If others see it clean and well manicured, they will respect her more, she thinks.

The way I see it, running around frantically a few weeks or a few hours before guests are to arrive is no different than going to the gym and working out like mad to lose weight before swimsuit season. Working out gives one energy. And a clean house like a firm body gives one self-esteem and respect.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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Reminiscing about a day a few years back:

“Bye, Mom,” I heard my daughter yell as she went out the front door.

“Have a good day,” I sleepily heard myself reply.

A few minutes later I felt my husband sitting on the side of the bed. “It’s 7 o’clock. Time to get up. There’s coffee made.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled. As I lay in bed, I thought, “what will I write my column on today? Thanksgiving is coming. Maybe something on Thanksgiving. I remember one of my favorite columns – one I wrote at Thanksgiving time some years ago. I designed a test and invited the reader to figure out if he or she was a turkey.”

I put my feet on the floor and walked to the window. A lot of leaves were hanging tight on the oak trees, I thought. “I wonder if they will be able to hang on until January?”

It looked cold outside. I felt warm in my robe that I have had for a million years.

I went into the bathroom and got out a new tube of toothpaste. The water ran from the faucet as I swished and brushed.

I went downstairs and fixed the cat a piece of banana and poured myself a cup of coffee. I swung open the refrigerator and grabbed an orange.

As I ate my orange, I flipped through the newspaper. Outside I saw a squirrel jump from one big tree to another. I poured myself a second cup of coffee.

The telephone rang. It was my mother. Did I know what the boys wanted for Christmas? We chatted for a few minutes. She filled me in on what she and my dad had done the past weekend. I then went back to reading. The phone rang again. It was a friend calling. She kidded me about sleeping late. As we talked, I filled up the dishwasher and straightened the kitchen. I opened the freezer and pulled out a chicken for dinner. Chicken and dumplings tonight.

On days I write, I follow a little rule. I must be seated in front of the computer screen by 8:30 A.M. It was getting close to 8:30 and I still hadn’t figured out my Thanksgiving column.

I decided to throw a load of clothes in the washing machine. Then I made the bed. I started to put away a new pair of earrings that were laying on the dresser. On second thought, I put them on. I decided that they looked great with my pajamas.

I had to pass my daughter’s room to get to my office and the waiting computer. I found myself in her room, making her bed. She’ll be surprised, I thought. I smiled when I saw that she had put a light over her hermit crabs so they would stay warm.

I had an idea. I left her room and opened up the laptop.

I started… Things to be thankful for: hot coffee, toothpaste, animals, trees, the telephone, children, family, friends, food in the refrigerator, freedom.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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One morning I was on my way to the computer to write my first column since vacation when I heard my husband singing in the shower. I sat quietly in the hall, sipped my coffee, and listened. He’d sing, then he’d whistle some of the melody, and then he’d sing a few more lines. It was pretty wonderful. He has a nice voice. But what brought a smile to my heart was how happy and content he was.

As I went to get myself that second cup of coffee, I glanced at our bookcases, which I had dusted and straightened the day before. Then I moseyed into the closet to admire my organizational and cleaning abilities.

By the time I clicked on the computer and the little cursor was jumping in front of me, I had changed my idea for the column. “I’ll write on anger another time,” I thought. “Today I’ll write on pausing, pausing to note the little things in life that so often get brushed over and rushed by.”

One wall of my office is cork board. It is convenient for hanging story ideas, school calendars, jokes, funny and philosophical cards people have sent me, and family pictures I can’t bear to put away.

In one section on the wall I have all of my daughter’s school pictures. I love to look at the way she has changed and grown from year to year. First there are the big smiles of pre-kindergarten and early grade school. Then there are the years of shyness and tentativeness in front of the camera. And then a more mature face and a big friendly smile.

Looking around this room, there are so many pleasures. My coffee mug made by a St. Louis potter. The shape, the feel, the coloring, the handle – it’s so right. I’ve been drinking coffee from it for years.

One of my favorite cards on the wall shows a large green and orange fish swimming in the water. A white rabbit dressed in a purple dress is hanging for dear life on the back of the fish. Above the picture is written, “Life can be a slippery fish.” How often that picture has helped me put things in perspective.

I have a globe on a stand in my office. It was a gift from a dear friend. Years ago the two of us were shopping in a stationery store when we came across some globes. I shared with her that when I was in grade school I would have given anything to own a globe. That Christmas my attentive friend surprised me with one. I like to spin it. I like the feel of it. Last week I used it to check out the spelling of Caribbean.

There’s an electric pencil sharpener on my desk. When I use it I become a little girl fascinated at how it can sharpen a pencil.

A handmade doll sits on one of the chairs. Her name is Emily. My friend Jeanine made her for me. Emily has on a blue and white dress with tiny white buttons. I never had a doll when I was a little girl. Maybe that’s why Emily has won such a place in my heart.

Hanging on the wall is a list of things I wanted to accomplish this past year. Unlike other years when I have checked off only half my list, this year I’ve already checked almost every item. Perhaps I was kinder to myself when I made out the list the first week in January. I didn’t give myself so many tasks to accomplish.

Other items in my office have special meaning for me: A carved bird, a small statue of a little girl, photos of flowers, a picture of one son in his football jersey, another son in his bathing suit.

Pause for a few minutes today. Listen. Look. Take note. Appreciate.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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When My mother-in-law got to be in her seventies, her eyesight started failing. As the years went by, it became impossible for her to read or see television or even make out the faces of those around her. Whenever we had a celebration of some type and I’d invite her to come and be a part of it, she would ask how many people were going to be at the house.

Because she could barely see, it was hard for her to sit at our dining room table with 10 or 12 other people talking and laughing and figure out what was going on.

She didn’t complain much about her failing eyesight, but I knew it was devastating. She started listening to the radio more and more. She rarely turned on the television. She stopped buying the newspaper and magazines. When she needed to pay her bills, my husband or I would sit down with her and put our finger on the checks where she should sign her name. We got her a microwave oven and glued fuzzy velcro on some of the buttons so she could heat up a cup of coffee.

She still kept a few violets on the window sill, although I doubt if she could really see them. She also would go to the window with a plant and hold it up to the light to try to see it.

The most touching moments I remember were when our daughter would go to visit her, which was several times a week. She would give Anna Mary a hug, ask, “How’s my sweet little girl?” and then take her to the window where perhaps she could make out her face.

Not long ago, I had an experience that reminded me of my mother-in-law. A friend, whose mother was in her late eighties called and asked if I would talk with her mother. The mother was losing her eyesight and was feeling depressed. I said I would try to help.

The daughter sat in the waiting room while I talked to the mother about losing her sight and how her world was changing.

As we were talking, this woman suddenly said, “I don’t know if it’s the light in this room, but I can sort of make out your face.” And then she said, “Do you think my daughter could come in here and sit where you are sitting? Maybe I could see her.”

I immediately went to the waiting room and got my friend. She sat down in the chair I had been sitting in, and her mother tried to see her face. The mother had her daughter shift the chair one way and then another. Sadly, no matter how she strained to see, she could not see her daughter.

I’m sharing these stories today so you will take the time to look at your children and grandchildren.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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