Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Bit of Humor

We are planning a marriage enrichment retreat (for real). I have been working on the curriculum. It occurred to me that I may be working from a man's perspective, so I asked my wife Yvonne for a list of suggested classes for men. The following is her submission:

Class 1
How To Fill Up The Ice Cube Trays -- Step by Step, with Slide Presentation.

Class 2
The Toilet Paper Roll -- Does It Change Itself?
Round Table Discussion.

Class 3
Is It Possible To Urinate Using The Technique Of Lifting The Seat and Avoiding The Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub?
Group Practice.

Class 4
Fundamental Differences Between The Laundry Hamper and The Floor.
Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.

Class 5
Dinner Dishes -- Can They Levitate and Fly Into The Kitchen Sink?
Examples on Video.

Class 6
Loss Of Identity -- Losing The Remote To Your Significant Other.
Help Line Support and Support Groups.

Class 7
Learning How To Find Things -- Starting With Looking In The Right Places And Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming.
Open Forum.

Class 8
Health Watch -- Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful To Your Health.
Graphics and Audio Tapes.

Class 9
Real Men Ask For Directions When Lost.
Real Life Testimonials.

Class 10
Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks?
Driving Simulations.

Class 11
Learning to Live -- Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife.
Online Classes and role-playing.

Class 12
How to be the Ideal Shopping Companion.
Relaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques.

Class 13
How to Fight Cerebral Atrophy -- Remembering Birthdays, Anniversaries and Other Important Dates and Calling When You're Going To Be Late.
Cerebral Shock Therapy Sessions and Full Lobotomies Offered.

Class 14
The Stove/Oven -- What It Is and How It Is Used.
Live Demonstration.

Upon completion of any of the above courses, diplomas will be issued to the survivors.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Power Up Your Brain

Want a fun and easy way to power up your brain? Have a chat over coffee, tea, or even warm milk. The key here is the chat, not your choice of beverage. Even if they’re brief, occasional bouts of social interaction can help sharpen your wits.

Whether you engage in conversation with a friend, a family member, or the guy behind you in the express line, keep talking. In a recent study of young adults, a mere 10 minutes of face-to-face conversation about a social issue was enough to boost working memory and mental processing speeds. Chitchat was as good as a crossword puzzle, in terms of brain benefits. In fact, the more people socialize, the better their brainpower -- regardless of age.

Conversation requires us to pay attention, remember what was said, deduce the other person’s meaning, and come up with appropriate responses -- some pretty serious mental gymnastics. And when it comes to mental muscle, it’s use it or lose it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Remedy For Depression

A 1988 article in Psychology Today reported on an experiment involving 1700 women under stress. The women participated in various projects that involved helping other people. Within 30 days, 85 percent of the women reported that they had been relieved of stress symptoms that included "stress-related disorders such as headaches, voice loss and even pain accompanying lupus and multiple sclerosis."

I suspect many people could save thousands of dollars on antidepressants if they would just take time to serve others. The best way to get beyond our pain is to get outside of it. I discovered this in my own journey through a particular dark time. I decided to serve others even though I was in great emotional pain. This had a remarkable positive effect on my emotional state.

When we refocus our attention on the needs of others when we ourselves are in turmoil, it allows the burden of our circumstance to be removed from us. The more one focuses on their own problem the more likely you are to become depressed.

Isaiah understood a principle that is still valid today. If you find yourself depressed because of a circumstance in your life, take Isaiah's advice-begin to praise the Lord in spite of the circumstances you see. Then you will see the spirit of heaviness begin to be lifted.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How To Keep Your Family Together

It's never too late to take the right steps to keep your family together when they're being pulled in so many directions at once.

Family Rituals

Family rituals give the family something to count on. This further contributes to a happy, solid home life. Family rituals are also a way not to lose each other in the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Set aside certain times during the week or weekend when your family will definitely come together as a family — no excuses. It could be having pizza Friday night followed by a big game night. Kids might gripe now and then when the family ritual interferes with going to the mall with a friend, but deep down they love the family together times.

Play Time (together!)

Parents who play with and joke with their children while sharing their thoughts and feelings end up having children who are more friendly, generous, and loving. Remember to promote loving feelings in your children — not just through words, but through your actions and through your willingness to enjoy your children.

A Closed Door

When it’s time to be together, leave the outside world outside your home. This is a tough exercise in this stressful world, but it’s important not to always be multitasking as a parent.

Put down your cell phone and don’t check e-mails while you’re supposedly spending quality time with the kids.

You can even take this one step further. Try to take a certain amount of time each day and just focus on being a parent. Shut the rest of it out. Don’t think about homeowner’s taxes, the fact that the new water heater is on the fritz, or that your contractor is still camped out in the kitchen.

During your alone time with your children try to shut out everything, but them. The rest will be waiting for you so why dilute the time you have as a parent? The kids always know when your focus is really elsewhere. Don’t be there without really being present.When it comes to relationships, you have to be intentional. You have to be proactive. Your family is being pulled in a thousand directions at once; it’s up to you to make sure things stay together.

The good news is that your kids will respond to your efforts to make a great family — even if they don’t know how to react at first. Stick with it. You have what it takes to be a great family.

[Research by John Tesh]

10 Signs It's Time To Quit Your Job

"I like what I do. I just don't like where I work." Sound familiar?

From unbearable co-workers to depressing work environments, there things that can make even the best job a living hell. Here are some signs it's time to look for a new job.

Sign No. 1: Your co-workers are annoying.
Obnoxious people can invade your work life. Let's face it, not everyone gets along perfectly. But you need to have some sort of harmonious relationship with fellow employees to get the job done. How are you supposed to get any work done when these guys keep getting in the way? They are distracting and impede productivity. Most offices have a Gossip, that one person who has the "scoop" all the time and is not afraid to share it. Misery loves company, and finds it often in the Whiner, who isn't afraid to complain and bellyache. And everyone has the Neighbor whose noisy distractions include his cellular ringtone, speakerphone and radio.

Sign No. 2: The environment is toxic.
Everyone experiences job highs and lows, but discontent could also be a sign of a chronically depressing work environment or even a company in peril. A bad work environment is reflective of the culture of an entire business. Do you work in a less-than-nurturing atmosphere? Is morale constantly low? Have you been complaining for two solid years? It could be an organizational problem that applying feng shui to your cube just won't fix.

Sign No. 3: You're mentally exhausted by the end of the day.
Stress can cause low morale, decreased productivity and apathy towards work. Plus, it can spill into your personal life and even have a negative effect on your health. Today there are fewer people who are taking on more and more work. American workers experience burnout at an alarming rate. According to CareerBuilder, 68 percent of workers feel burnout at work, and 45 percent said their workloads are too heavy. Yes, we all have to pick up some slack and "take one for the team" from time to time. But if there's no end in sight, do yourself and your health a favor and dust off your résumé.

Sign No. 4: Your boss is a nightmare.
Even though this person is your boss, it doesn't give him license to do anything he wants. If you have a lousy boss, even the best job in the world can make life a living hell. Your relationship with your supervisor plays a big role in your overall professional happiness and success. Fighting to have your boss removed or waiting for your boss to change or get fired are rarely successful tactics. If you are working for someone who is always absent, unavailable, self-absorbed or untrustworthy, it's time to look for a better supervisor and a better opportunity.

Sign No. 5: You're watching the clock ... every 10 minutes.
Though you might not like to work, it's even worse when you are bored while you're there. One can only watch so many videos on YouTube or bid on unneeded things on eBay. If you aren't feeling challenged, that's a sign that you need additional responsibilities or a change roles. And be warned, if you don't have any responsibility or find yourself with nothing to do, management might be trying to phase you out and you might be in danger of losing your job.

Sign No. 6: You get no respect.
Does any of this sound familiar? Your ideas aren't taken seriously; there are no opportunities for advancement; the boss ignores you; co-workers alienate you; you're discouraged from improving skills with a course or seminar; you're passed over for a promotion -- again; or you're excluded from key projects and strategizing sessions. So why are you still giving this organization your time, energy and great ideas?

Sign No. 7: Your co-workers act like animals.
They live for themselves and only themselves. They irritate you. They offend you. They have no manners or ethics. And you work with them all. There's the Office Thief who steals your ideas. The Shirker arrives late, leaves early and disappears whenever work is near. The Buck-passer unloads her work onto everyone else and blames others for her mistakes. The Procrastinator delays things until the last possible minute, slowing you down by not having the information you need to meet your deadlines. The Interrupter stops by your cubicle 10 times a day to chat about her latest boyfriend despite your ringing telephone and pressing deadlines. And don't forget the infamous Elevator Person who rides up only one floor instead of taking the stairs.

Sign No. 8: Nobody communicates.
Although we live in a world of e-mail, cell phones, instant messages, Blackberries, WiFi and, yes, even face-to-face conversation, there can still be a complete lack of communication. Whether it's a co-worker who's not returning your voice mail or the CEO not conveying a company's goals and accomplishments, the breakdown of communication can be frustrating and detrimental to your job. It can cost you an account, make you to miss a deadline, cause you to lose a client, and even get you fired.

Sign No. 9: You're not valued.
Forty-three percent of workers do not feel appreciated, and one-fourth of workers feel that they are just a "number" within their organization. You need to realize that you deserve credit for your successes. Recognition is important, and good companies implement programs to let employees know they are valued. Is your company doing anything to reward your efforts? Do you ever receive bonuses, perks or positive feedback? If your boss has never heard of positive reinforcement verbal or otherwise, find a company that will value your talents.

Sign No. 10: You feel stifled.
What kind of quality of life do you have? Is your 40-hour week turning into a 24/7 grind? While salary may seem like the end all and be all, your quality of life determines your overall happiness. How much time you spend on the job, working conditions, supervisors and subordinates can positively and negatively impact your job outlook. If you dread the time you spent at work, it should be a clear indicator that it's time to break free. A job shouldn't stifle you creatively, mentally or physically.

Bottom line: Considering what you don't like about your current situation should give you insight into what you are seeking in future endeavors. If you know what your priorities and preferences are and actively seek them, work can be an enjoyable experience.

If, however, you've answered yes to more than four of these signs, then you might want to get started on a new job search.


Monday, August 04, 2008

How To Keep Girls From Going Wild

[By Dave Parks -- Birmingham News]

Good parenting skills can keep early-maturing girls from going wild with their behavior, according to a study led by a UAB psychologist and released today.

The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, focused on problems often encountered when puberty arrives early for young girls. Experts have long known that early female maturation is linked to problems such as delinquency, violence, drug abuse and eating disorders.

Much of the trouble occurs when overly mature young girls are attracted to older boys, and vice versa. What experts haven't known for sure is whether anything can done about the problem.

The study concluded that it is important that parents, especially a mother, stay connected to a girl by knowing her friends and activities, being supportive and affectionate and having frank discussions about tough topics like sex and fighting. And parents must set limits.

The study was conducted with 330 fifth-grade girls and their parents from Birmingham, Los Angeles and Houston. One-fourth of these girls had matured early, meaning they started their periods a year before the average age of girls in the study, which was 11 years old.

Do I Really Love My Partner?

According to psychologist Dr. Petra Boynton from University College in London, if the answer to the question “Do I really love my mate?” isn’t a whole-hearted YES, don’t panic. Most people will answer “Yes, but . . .”

And it’s what follows that "but" that determines whether or not your relationship is solid. If you answer something like “Yes, but I need more space,” or “Yes, but I hardly ever see him”—you’ve pinpointed your problem and you can work on fixing it.

If, on the other hand, your answer is “Yes, but she’s always criticizing me,” or “Yes, but he’s always looking at other women,” you’re talking about problems that are not so contained. The two of you probably need to get help from a counselor to get things sorted out.

And if you answer no? If you’re talking about someone you’re dating, you might need to move on. If you’re talking about your spouse, go straight to a counselor — call for an appointment today — and get this sorted out!

The Relationship Clinic