Chapter 30: Choose Your Battles Wisely


Hello again! Today we are going to learn  how to choose our battles wisely. In other words, what are you willing to let go of in order to reduce your stress?

Step 1) Find some matches or a lighter and keep them handy until the end of this post.

Step 2) Get some paper and a pen.

For the past year or more, my husband and I have been picking up on subtle clues that something was going on inside his mother’s head. She began saying the strangest things, imagining someone or something was in her house, accusing me of taking her things, or putting my things in her house and on and on. Sometimes we’d go for long stretches where everything seemed quite normal. Then she became more possessive about her “things” and always ready to argue about one thing or another. On one occasion my husband asked to look at her check book and it became quite evident that she was becoming increasingly unable to manage her finances (having paid her health insurance premium four times in one month) or to keep track of scheduled appointments. So little by little we’ve been assisting her with many of her routine things and taking on more responsiblity for her care.

Before her mental status changed significantly, and two weeks after our daughter’s wedding, we went away for two nights. TWO NIGHTS for a much-needed get-away after months of planning a wedding and other business and catering activities. Our destination was just little over an hour away from our home. A few lovely days by a lake, good food and wine, fresh air and RELAXATION. When we arrived home, my mother-in-law was nowhere to be found. Her car was in the driveway and her purse in the kitchen. Something was terribly wrong! We searched inside and outside her home. We called her friends, and they hadn’t seen her. I said I’d call the hospitals and BINGO, she was in one, but because of all the HIPAA laws, we needed to be present at the hospital before they would release any information to us.
Sadly, when we arrived, what we witnessed was a once vibrant, fully capable and independent woman, now hallucinating about the “girl in her closet”, the “movie people” who built elaborate sets of clouds and snow with children falling from the snowy clouds in the sky just outside her hospital window. (It was June 18th – her 77th birthday) She said she saw an airplane that landed on the interstate highway and the trees were growing right before her eyes as the branches came in through the window. She was visibly angry with the hospital staff and was very distressed. She knew that she had called 911 because she was feeling shaky, and nauseous, but yet failed to call us. She forgot that she had a son and daughter in law! We were never notified that she had been admitted to the hospital!

Fast forward..she has been evaluated by two doctors. Her primary care physician and a specialist -twice. She has dementia of the Lewy Bodytype. Difficult to diagnose, even more difficult to live with. Taking away her driving privileges has been a nightmare! There is no reasoning, no rationalizing, no convincing her about anything that she sees as just the opposite. So we empathize. We validate. We change the subject. Outbursts of anger and rage are becoming more common. So there is that to deal with also. What does seem to work, is for my husband to take her to work at our restaurant a few days each week. She finds purpose there. She can cut vegetables for soup, peel potatoes, make burger patties, clean and do dishes. She enjoys it and it keeps her occupied. Then she complains all the way home about our employees. SHEESH!

Currently, she is able to tend to her household chores, take her bath, dress herself and make meals so we thought it best, and with her doctor’s consent, to maintain her in her own home environment. We live next door, separated by a barn and yard, so we are close by. The new medication (a daily patch) seems to be helping with cognition and hallucinating. To help her with daily orientation, I bought her a large digital clock that displays the day of the week, the month, the year and the time.  She still says crazy things and makes stuff up, and I still am accused of taking her pants and wearing them…but it’s tolerable. It’s been weeks since she saw a horse trotting down the street and she hasn’t ordered anything from TV infomercials!

I know that many of you also deal with an aging parent or two, and all the additional care giving and issues that come with growing old. Some of you may be care givers to a spouse, son or daughter and feel that all your energy and mental reserve is used up. That’s why this chapter is so important. It helps to really whittle away what is worth using your energy in battle and what is simply better to let go. Learning to choose your battles wisely will ultimately be your prescription for a less stressed life. My husband is much better at this than I am because I’m the type that will hang on the cross to make my point! But this, this new chapter of dementia and all its horrible phases, has made me rethink my priorities and my sanity. Simply put everything doesn’t have to be a battle. With patience and practice we can take one day and one moment at a time.

I have to remember this and practice this every day, because when you are living with and dealing with someone who no longer thinks or acts normally and makes up the craziest stuff, it can drive you insane. It’s possible to take your stress and frustration out on the ones that you are closest to. So proceed with caution and ask forgiveness when your emotions and temper get the best of you.

Okay, now you can get your pen and paper and move to..

Step 3) Make a list of your pet peeves. Write down the things that make you anxious, sad or angry. Write the names of the people who upset you and why. Summarize a situation at home, work, church or elsewhere that creates the urge to make you want to scream!

Step 4) Light it up! Yes, take your lists and set them on fire, safely of course! Smile as the tension goes up in flames, the anxiety turns to ashes. That’s your assignment for this week. BREATH IN – BREATH OUT. Now give yourself a big hug..and here’s one from me >      
B I G – H U G!

Blessings and Stress Less,



Chapters 28/29: Seek First to Understand- Become A Better Listener


Seek first to understand. I read chapter 28 to see where this week’s adventure was going to take us. Then I moved on to Chapter 29, “Become a Better Listener” and thought to myself (and because I’m the navigator and captain of this adventure) that chapter 29 should come before chapter 28. So let’s move on, then we’ll move back or forward…whatever!

But, before we jump ahead, I’m really going to go off course, but trust me, I have my reasons. Before we can Seek First to Understand, let’s go all the way back to chapter 12: Let Other’s be “Right” Most of the Time. What I have been able to capture from this chapter is that we need to become better managers of our egos and our dialogue. We can’t always be right, have our way, or have the last say. We learned that there is give and take and that others may have differing opinions and it’s okay to let them be “right”, most of the time. In other words, validating another person’s feelings, opinions and values will make them less defensive, create an open dialogue and become the glue that cements a relationship. An open dialogue and exchange of ideas requires becoming better listeners!

Now nod your head and say “capisco” (Italian for I understand) I bet you didn’t know that you would get a lesson in Italian today!

On to Chapter 29 and becoming a better listener. I will let our author speak now, so listen up!

Effective listening is more than simply avoiding the bad habit of interrupting others while they are speaking or finishing their sentences. (Chapter 7) It’s being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond.

- Richard Carlson

He continues to make the point that we often treat communication as if it were a race without time gaps between the conclusion of the sentence of the person speaking and the beginning of our own sentence. Often we are firing back our response before the other person has completed their thought. (GUILTY as charged Dr. Carlson!)

He then concludes…

Not only will becoming a better listener make you a more patient person, it will also enhance the quality of your relationships. Everyone loves to talk to someone who truly listens to what they are saying.

Now we are ready to “seek first to understand” or first, seek to understand.

Steven Covey, Steven Covey, ah yes! I remember reading his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” waaay back when I was a branch manager for a temporary employment agency. Obviously I wanted to be a highly effective business woman, but I’m terrible at sticking with something until it becomes a habit. (Thus my hobby blogging) In this chapter, Dr. Carlson takes his que from his mentor, Steven Covey, to emphasize using this shortcut to become a more content and more effective person.

So let’s practice this. First listen (chapter 29). Let the person with whom you are conversing finish their sentence and or thought (chapter 7). Now use this piece of information that they just shared with you and take a nanosecond to understand where they are coming from. Wait…wait. Okay, now it’s your turn.

One good technique that I learned from my days in sales, was to repeat back to the person what they had just said. Example: “So, Mr. Marsh, if I understand you correctly, the most important thing to you in doing business with a new vendor, is customer service?”

Like a parrot, paraphrasing is a simple technique that gets heads nodding and important issues (to the other person) validated! Also, if you haven’t understood correctly, then that creates an opportunity to correct any misinformation and so on, the dialogue continues.

Likewise, if you try to second guess a person, or assume that you know what they are going to say, or how they feel, then you have not sought first to understand.

To summarize this chapter, Dr. Carlson states:

Seeking first to understand isn’t about who’s right or wrong; it is a philosophy of effective communication. When you practice this method you’ll notice that the people you communicate with will feel listened to, heard, and understood (validate- my word). This will translate into better, more loving relationships.


I used the symbol for the “talking feather” this week (chp. 7) to emphasize the importance of letting others have their turn.


Today’s post was extra long, but it served as a review, a preview and a combination of the philosophy and techniques that we have been building on. Whew…We certainly have accomplished a lot with these two chapters! For this week I suggest seeking out the person with whom you have the greatest difficulty communicating with. Practice your listening skills, validating their point of view and opening up the lines of communication. My hope is that you thoughtfully consider their point of view, before your own, and create an atmosphere where you can speak without criticizing, blaming or impatiently waiting to spew out what you have to say. Practice the “parrot technique” of paraphrasing so that you truly understand their point of view. Take the time and invest the time in those you love! Seek first…to understand.

Stress Less,


Hello and welcome! If you are new to this blog site, or to The Don’t Sweat Adventure, please click here.
Once your curiosity is satisfied, and are ready to begin, then move to the first post on May 1st.

An InLinkz Link-up


Chapter 27: Imagine the People in Your Life…


I had problems fitting the whole title of this chapter on the title line, so here it is in full: Imagine the People in Your Life as Tiny Infants and as One-Hundred-Year-Old Adults.

As I read the title of this chapter with curiosity, I thought, “Now what does this have to do with stressing less, not sweating the small stuff, and living a life of peace and harmony?”


Our author, Richard Carlson, explains that he had used this technique for many years to help defuse the oh so human feelings of irritation toward other people. Perfect! I feel feelings of irritation ALL THE TIME! I’m confessing here that some people annoy me. . . really annoy and irritate me a lot of the time. They may not know it or maybe they do, as I’m not very good at hiding my inner emotions.

For this particular exercise, we are going to have to use our imaginations in a way we thought we never would. We will have to “remove” the irritating person as we know them presently, and shrink them down to tiny infants or imagine them as old people about to croak. (Sorry for my lack of sensitivity)

First he asks us to picture those people who truly irritate us, or make us feel angry, as infants. Tiny creatures with tiny features, all innocent and helpless. Little babies that cannot help but make mistakes. Visualizing those irritating people as babies, reminds us that we all were at one time, a little infant. Now fast forward and imagine that same person (or people) as being one hundred years old and in the last stages of their life. Looking into worn out eyes with a soft smile that suggests a bit of wisdom and the admission of mistakes made, we are once again reminded that each us will (hopefully) reach a ripe old age and will need the compassion of those whom we are now in their care.

From cradle to grave there will be many stages in our lives when we will need to provide or receive compassion. Our goal is to acquire perspective and more wisdom as we go through life and the use of this technique will help us to harbor less negativity toward others.

What I want to know is, “Isn’t there a strategy to get people to stop being so irritating and annoying and why do I have to do all the work?”

Practicing “Imagine the People in Your Life as Tiny Infants and as One-Hundred-Year-Old Adults” will definitely be a conscious effort for me. Irritation comes so quickly, that taking the time to envision babies and one hundred year old people will be a monumental undertaking for me. Most times it IS children and old people with whom I’m irritated, (only kiddig folks!) so I’m going to put all my energy in motion to master this particular strategy.

Perhaps someone is imaging me as a tiny infant or a one hundred year old person. Good grief!

The Butterfly Effect


Guess what it is? Read the title…



Set Aside Quiet Time, Every Day

CHAPTER 26: Set Aside Quiet Time, Every Day



This is a great chapter because I’ve got this one already accomplished! I do take time everyday to have my quiet time. On most days, I begin with a nice long walk between 7 and 7:45 a.m., and that is where I find peace and solitude. I use this time to pray, to think and to breath in the clean air. Breathing is important, and when I inhale a deep breath, I try to recognize the fragrance of the pine needles, new mown hay, ferns, moss, and yes even dirt. All these smells play a role in enjoying my time outdoors and assist in giving me a “scents” of peace. (Pun intended).

In this chapter, Richard Carlson, related his own personal experience about carving out time for himself. He was an early riser, unusually early, but found that 4:30 a.m. was the perfect time of day for him. As I read his words, I felt as though he was stressing this particular lesson so that his readers would understand just how important this time for yourself. In quiet and in solitude, this time is a healing balm for the psyche.

There are many different ways to carve out this time. Walking, taking a nice long bath, meditating, yoga, or just sitting still looking out a window are the tools that help reduce stress, possibly lower blood pressure and aid in preparing for the next part of your day. He even mentioned that having quiet time to work is also beneficial. Enjoying the quiet, if only for 10 minutes is a vital part of your life. I agree that for me this time each day is vital. Without it, I can tell the difference, and maybe those closest to me do also???

Recently I thought that I had a bad case of indigestion. It worsened throughout the evening and then pain set in. By 1:00 a.m., I was shaking my husband from his sleep and said it was time to go to the ER. MANY hours later, I had my appendix removed! The reason that I am sharing this is not for sympathy and get well wishes, (I’m quiet back to normal now) but as I was laid up in bed, on pain killers and sleeping around the clock, and as my family peaked in on me to bring cold beverages, medication and a lite meal, I felt a sense of losing my normalcy. My husband was walking the dogs every morning and afternoon. I was not able to meditate or pray. The work piling up on my desk had me worried that I would never catch up. I felt guilty for not having thanked God for the care that I received and the healing that was taking place. My mind and body were not functioning normally, and I had to remind myself that I would get back to my routines, but I also had to take it slowly, so as not to land back in the hospital! The effect from the anesthesia and the medication had my brain in a cloud and I didn’t like it one bit. This kind of down time was killing me, or was it healing me? Sometimes, God knows best, and maybe Barb did need to put the brakes on if only for a little while.

On about my 6th day after surgery, I ventured out to the back field with the dogs (who were most happy to have mommy back) and did a very ginger stroll about the filed. “Okay not so bad”, I thought, but when I looked up at the steep hill I would need to climb to get back to the house I was terrified. It wasn’t so bad going down, but looking at that incline now made me rethink if I was trying to do too much too soon. So I held my breath, gave myself a quick pep talk and took it one step at a time. “Breath girl breath”, I told myself. Amazingly, I reached the summit (feeling like I climbed Everest) and was still breathing! The next day I ventured back down the hill, around the field and into the woods. Each day I gained a little more strength until I was finally able to take the big hike that I’m accustomed to each morning. Holding my husband’s hand on that first hike, he looked into my eyes and said he was happy that I was back! I still have to be careful about how much weight I lift for the next few weeks, but, I think that vacuum is still waaay to heavy as is taking out the garbage. Some things take time….


The Butterfly Effect

Your assignment this week will be to set aside quiet time, every day. For some of you this will be a commitment, a change in routine and maybe a little scary. Like climbing a hill after surgery, you can do it! This is your time and the reward will be a rejuvenated self, ready to tackle Chapter 27!

Please let me know how you are doing with your quiet time or any chapter that you’ve been working on. I’d love to hear back from you!


Hello and welcome! If you are new to this blog site, or to The Don’t Sweat Adventure, please click here.
Once your curiosity is satisfied, and are ready to begin, then move to the first post on May 1st.

An InLinkz Link-up








Labor of Love



Erin & John McKay
June 7, 2014

My readers might think that I have been on a hiatus, but I assure you that I have not been on a vacation. I have been on a mission, a labor of love. I have been in labor three times. The birth of my son, the birth of my daughter, and more recently, the birth of my daughter’s wedding!

I have neglected the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Adventure and blogging in general, but I have incorporated many of the strategies to meet my goals of living a less stressed life.  I realize that even tho’ I’ve taken a considerable break, our author, Dr. Carlson, is whispering in my ear, “Don’t sweat the small stuff Barb, it’s going to be okay.”

Remember that chapter about the In Box? Well, not only was the In Box overflowing, but the Out Box was cranking away at lightning speed. What to do when everyone and everything demands your personal attention? You give yourself permission to step back and tackle the demands at hand in order of their priority. For me my top priority is family.

After my last post, I had 2 months…2 MONTHS to prepare for our daughter’s June wedding. As a caterer, we (no my husband) decided that we would cater the food. How is it a caterer cannot call another caterer? I’ll tell you why…EGO! I decided, by taking my own advice and following the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff strategies for a less stress, more enjoyable life, that I would not let his decision frazzle me too much. As long as he would take TOTAL control of the food preparation, cooking and staff, I would go with the flow. So with the catering taken care of I now faced the daunting task of turning an eighty year old country club pavilion, into a thing of beauty, not only for the reception, but for the ceremony as well!

From my youth I remember the pavilion as the center of many an outdoor community affair, but after decades of neglect it was showing wear and tear with just a glimpse of a more opulent time. So why did we select this venue you might be asking yourself. Well for several reasons. First and foremost was the location. One and a half miles from our home and two miles from our restaurant. With breathtaking, sweeping views of valley and mountains, a beautifully manicured golf course, and plenty of parking, the semi-outdoor building offered shelter (in case of bad weather), tons of room, clean bathrooms and was easily accessible for our out-of-town guests. Oh, and most importantly, we could cater there without having to use the country club’s caterer. Perfect!

If I had $10.00 per hour for every hour that I spent online looking for the appropriate theme, decorations, flowers, classy but disposable dinnerware, decorating ideas and so on, well, I’d have several hundred dollars…and my eyes would not still be bleeding from staring at the laptop.

What I finally came up with was to create an indoor garden within the cavernous structure, and because there were many birds flying and chirping about, I figured that they would blend right in with the theme. I called a local landscaper, Ed Kopec from Edwards Landscaping, who just happens to rent advertising billboard space on our restaurant property. With fingers crossed, I pitched a proposal to him that perhaps, and only if he were in agreement, that I would swap advertising rent for his landscaping services. Much to my amazement, and as I held my breath, he was more than happy to make the deal! We set a meeting date and met on a very chilly spring morning to survey the area. Ed thoughtfully brought his designer, who also just happen to have interior design experience and they carefully measured and discussed what they could do to create a “partition of greenery” to separate the “chapel” from the dance floor and dining areas. They would also landscape the area around where the entryway canopy would be erected. They told me the names of the flora and fauna that they would be using and asked if that was satisfactory to me. Satisfactory? Anything I thought, anything to turn this sows ear into a silk purse! My heart leapt with joy! Another turn of luck happened when the “powers that be” decided to paint the towering ceilings, build an attractive wall to hide the kitchen facility and give the place a sprucing up. Too bad the new shades didn’t arrive, but at least the old battered ones were removed.

Next, the florist. Heather was a doll. She quickly captured what my daughter and I were trying to create for the wedding. Lovely varieties of soft colored flowers and greenery in vases that I had made from wine bottles. (Don’t ask). I thought, if I can save a buck or two on vases, why not? My friend, another Ed, who owns a glass and tile business  quickly cut the necks from the bottles and voila!, the repurposed bottles were now country vases…at no charge! Heather arranged for an isle runner, designed and prepared large bouquets on pedestals to flank either side of the altar, boutonnieres for the groom, best man, ushers, fathers, and corsages for the mothers and grandmothers. My daughter’s and grand daughter’s bouquets looked like a creations from a Martha Stewart wedding magazine, and we couldn’t have been more pleased.

Other friends also chipped in. One provided lanterns with candles, so that saved me another buck or two. Another friend from childhood baked the cake for the ceremonial cutting and a groom’s cake as well. Two ladies from our catering staff made the fresh strawberry shortcakes for dessert. I had an all volunteer crew step in to help set up the afternoon prior to the event! They set the linens on the table, placed the candles, set the silverware and helped unload the rented crystal. With the seating in place, tables adorned with linens and candles, the bar areas set up like mini-pubs, the landscaping crew busy at work, and the chapel in place, the dream was now becoming a reality!


Gosh, I almost forgot the sound system! I called on the skills and resources of another good friend, John, a retired electrician, who lugged in and set up the sound system for the ceremony that included the keyboard piano, the microphones, amplifiers and monitors for the minister, judge, readers and guitarist! Wow, what an amazing feat. He also lugged it all out after the ceremony was over. God bless John.

I would like to step back and talk a bit more about the indoor garden. The afternoon before the wedding was D-day. Deliveries and set up. Ed’s crew showed up on time with four or five large dump trucks loaded with trees, shrubs, flowers, mulch, equipment and so much more. They patiently waited for the owner to arrive to begin instructing them on their individual duties. Ed was a tad late, and apologized that he was held up at another job. I said no worries, because it looked like they were also going to another site after completing our project. Ed said, “Oh, no. This is all for you!” My eyeballs instantaneously sprang with tears; tears of disbelief, joy and gratitude! The men unloaded tons of materials and went right to work. Mats were placed first, then the potted trees, roses, flowers and shrubs. Next, everything was watered, the mulch was mounded around each planting and decorative stone pavers were placed end to end to create the lovely garden path and partition. They did the same at the entryway, and now the magic for this long anticipated wedding was set!


With all the activity, details, and emotions, sometimes wedding days can become a blur, but not this one. It was the most joy-filled, beautiful, blessed day that I have ever witnessed. The florist finished her decorating at the pavilion, delivered our flowers to our home, and our stylist, Trisha, (a former employee) arrived to do our hair and makeup. Everything was on track. Months and hours of preparation and planning was now complete. Our catering staff was doing their thing, the bartenders and DJ were setting up, sound system and sound check completed, the bus to shuttle the guests was making its rounds from the hotels, and the men were suiting up, all handsome and happy. The bride, well the bride was a vision of beauty. I cannot say more.

My bother, an ordained Presbyterian minister and the groom’s father, a retired New York supreme court justice, co-officiated the service. Every reading, song and message carefully thought out and personal. Once the ceremony commenced, and as I looked around, I saw many tears of emotion as guests dabbed their eyes. “Damn, I thought, I forgot tissues!” Oh well…Don’t sweat the small stuff.

One last note. My deepest appreciation goes out to one very special lady who held my hand, or should I say we held each other’s throughout the whole process. My deepest gratitude to Cece from Irem Country Club for going above and beyond what her formal job title is. Without her diligent oversight, I couldn’t have pulled this off.

Kisses from AuntiesSo you see, sometimes it does take a village. It takes friends, family and associates with special talents, skills, resources and love. Lots of love.


Mother of the bride

Mother of the bride

It’s good to be back!


Next week we’ll resume the adventure and assess how far we’ve come!






Chapter 25: Smile at Strangers, Look into Their Eyes, and Say Hello!

Smile at strangers, look into their eyes, and say hello!

Hello stranger!

I can’t see you sitting here at my laptop, but in my mind’s eye you are the person walking towards me with much on her mind. You seem in a hurry and a little preoccupied but I will do my best to catch your eye, smile and say hello. Maybe I’ll say, “Nice day!” Maybe I’ll get a reaction, nod of the head, or not. I might hold the door for you, offer to help load the groceries into your car, offer you the seat next to mine, or allow you to enter or exit a building before I do. My friendly attempt, even though you don’t know me, is to give you validation as a person, my fellow human being.

Perhaps this makes you uncomfortable or you’re too shy to look back at me, but that’s okay. Maybe you’re not used to being noticed, or perhaps you are mistrusting or scared, but I’ll smile and give you the courtesy of a “hello”. 

What I’m guessing here in this chapter, is that greeting a total stranger and moving outside our comfort zone is part of the process of seeing our similarities with each and not our outward differences. Appearances can be deceiving and you “shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”, or so I’ve been told, so what’s the harm in a little twinkley eye contact and a warm hello?  

This is one of the shortest chapters in our continuing adventure, but there is a purpose behind everything. Sometimes we have to do the work to find out what it is.

So give this your best effort this week. Look a stranger in the eye, smile and say hello, or hi, or beautiful morning…That’s it. That’s the Adventure Assignment for this week and don’t forget “The Butterfly Effect”!

The reward should be a happier you. Happier inside and out!

Stress Less,



CHAPTER 24: Spend a Moment Every Day Thinking of Someone to Thank!

Spend a moment every day thinking of someone to thank. Sounds easy doesn’t it? We say thank you to the server at the restaurant and we even leave a tip to show our appreciation! We say thank you to the clerk that helps us find what we are looking for in the store, the person who services our car, and on it goes. But, as I read though this chapter, being thankful at the moment, is one thing, being grateful and having a heart of gratitude are two different things.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s sometimes hard to do Barbara! Someone scratched my car in the parking lot. A phone call made me late for an appointment! My kids have me running in all directions, my boss is a jerk and I didn’t get enough sleep last night!” Sometimes it’s easy to let the momentary irritations take center stage so that our feeling of gratitude go out the window. So how then do we get our mind and hearts centered on our sense of gratitude?

Our author asks that we  try to begin our day thinking of someone to thank, and when we do that, many people will come to mind. Those closest to us, who we may sometimes take for granted, and those who we encounter as we progress through our day. He suggests that thanking a “higher power”, or in my case, God, for the gift of life itself or for the beauty of nature brings a sense of peace.

As you go about your day and travel throughout the community, make a mental note of those who extend themselves in a helpful manner and then take the time to thank them!  Try to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts of gratitude.

Allow me to quote Richard Carlson. “What this exercise reminds me to do is to focus on the good in my life.” He continues, “It may seem like an awfully simple suggestion, but it really works! If you wake up in the morning with gratitude on your mind, it’s pretty difficult, in fact almost impossible, to feel anything but peace.”

I would like to add one more ingredient to his simple recipe. Try ending each day with a moment of gratitude. Instead of counting sheep, count your blessings. There have to be a few that come to mind. Some people keep a gratitude journal and some work their thoughts of gratitude into their prayers.

As we continue to journey on the Don’t Sweat Adventure, we are learning and practicing methods that will put us on a path to a less stressful existence; a path of peace of mind while putting chaos aside. We are learning to choose to think and react differently. We are “letting others have the glory”, realizing that ” life isn’t fair”, and asking ourselves “will this matter a year from now”. In our new toolbox we are replacing our negative thinking with thoughts that focus on gratitude for our blessings and for those people who add value to our lives with their kindness and willingness to help us when we need it.

Last weekend I attended a women’s retreat; part of a of the “Ladies of the Lake” rejuvenation weekends, that allows the attendees to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, while reconnecting with friends and spirituality. While there are scheduled activities to participate in, each person decides what she wants to engage in, and if the whole weekend is spent reading, writing, knitting, walking around the lake or resting on a bed, that’s okay too! An added bonus is that all our meals were prepared! We were pampered with manicures, pedicures, massages, and a “mocktail reception”. But most of us attend to further our spiritual journey and to learn how our existence, our struggles and achievements, our life experiences are a common thread that winds through each of us. It is a supportive, caring environment to nurture who we are and to appreciate what makes us special. Our theme this time was centered around the book, “The Cup of Our Life“, by author, Joyce Rupp. The retreat organizers had 25 totally different mugs created by a local potter to give to each lady, that represents how our lives are uniquely individual. We discussed the Empty Cup, The Cluttered Cup, The Cup of Boundaries, The Cup Filled, The Chipped Cup, and the Cup of Blessing as we closed out our weekend. The take away from this weekend for me was, that I discovered that I am still a work in progress; a beautiful soul seeking to become the best she can be. There are many who I will meet on my journey in this life, who will give something of themself that touches me in a positive and joyful way. . . and that is something to be grateful for!


Spend a moment every day in gratitude!



CHAPTER 23 ~ Experiment With Your Back Burner


Simmering on the back burner

Another tool in our Stress Less tool belt is learning the technique to “experiment with your back burner”. I will admit that I never heard of this particular method as a way to solve a problem, without really thinking about it that is. Reading further through this short chapter, I learned that you can almost “trick” your mind into finding resolution to a problem or situation, while keeping busy with something else. Ingenious! Our author’s analogy is to imagine a the back burner of a stove, with a pot of ingredients simmering away and getting tastier by the minute, while you are busy doing something else. “Often”, he states, “the less you interfere, the better the result.” If we imagine that our mind has a back burner, or a special compartment where we can keep our list of problems, facts, variables and solutions, and let them “simmer” a while, you will eventually (and with less stress) find the solution or conclusion to what’s bugging you.

I have found that some problems and issues cannot be resolved over night, especially if they involve others, like our children, parents, co-workers, etc. You get the idea. Sometime you just have to occupy or distract yourself with something else while the back burner of your brain does the work. You know that you will revisit the situation or whatever is troubling you, but for the moment you can give it a rest. I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “I’ll have to sleep on it.” Not only are they using the back burner, but they are avoiding making a decision in haste, that can be costly in more ways than one!

I have found this to be true for me when I am trying to recall something. A person’s name for instance. Sometimes I go through the alphabet letter by letter, (sometimes adding a vowel after the consonant) and if I can’t remember by the time I get to the letter “Z”, I say, “ah, screw it, it will come to me later.” and…it usually does. Recall can be tricky sometimes if we try too hard to remember. Words may fail us, faces perplex us, and the all too familiar will elude us, but only temporarily!

Using the back burner is not permission to procrastinate or to put off the inevitable. Dr. Carlson explains, “while you do want to put your problems on your back burner, you don’t want to turn the burner off. Instead, you want to gently hold the problem in your mind without actively analyzing it.”

Okay, I can do this and perhaps I have been doing this without conscientiously knowing what I was doing, or that there was such a technique! A simple method that will help solve problems and will greatly reduce the stress and effort in your life! Isn’t that why we are here and practicing the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff philosophy; to stress less and enjoy life more?

The Butterfly Effect


First, locate your back burner. Second, the next time an issue, problem or situation arrises that requires resolution or a decision, put the back burner to use. Third, let it simmer. Fourth, bring it off the back burner and ask yourself if you have figured it out. Last, report back here during this next week with a progress report. I am anxious to see if this technique has been useful and beneficial to you!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all you Irish (or Irish for today) and we’ll meet again right here next week!

Stress Less,


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Once your curiosity is satisfied, and are ready to begin, then move to the first post on May 1st.

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Chapter 22: “Life Isn’t an Emergency”


Winter never ends

Winter is a time to rest and restore, for Springtime will be here soon enough.

Life isn’t an emergency, but there are emergencies in life and we need to differenciate between the two. I’ve come to the realization that I’m not a blogger, at least not in the true sense of the word. I am a hobby-blogger and yes, I just made that up. I don’t blog daily and I don’t blog for money. If I did, I wouldn’t have a crumb to eat in the house. So what is a hobby-blogger? A hobby-blogger is a person who has spurts of  inspiration, but not a desire to do the necessary work of a professional blogger. A hobby-blogger likes to write and share information, comment on other blogs and in general blogs as the spirit moves her. Thus, my one month hiatus from blogging. As I look back at my 2 plus year history in blogging, I have seen an ebb and flow and I have watched the tide come and go…

Life isn’t an emergency and neither is my writing or blogging. I don’t approach it in that manner. I approach it as an enjoyable pastime not a job. So this particular chapter is apropo for me and the timing is perfect! Remember the “In Basket” from Chapter 6? (No, well go back and re- read it.) My in basket will always be full, but it’s my out basket that is more important to me. What am I taking out and sharing and what part of myself am I giving to others? That’s what is important, and more importantly, that is what’s rewarding!

Our author points out that “We take our own goals so seriously that we forget to have FUN along the way, and we forget to cut ourselves some slack.”


 adjective \ˈslak\

: not stretched or held in a tight position

: not busy : lacking the expected or desired activity

: doing something poorly because you are not putting enough care or effort into it.

I have my own deffinition: slack/verb.  CUTTING ONESELF A BREAK!

I’m not slacking off, but mearly allowing an adjustment in my approach to life and my priorities. I’ve taken myself off the clock and redefined my goals. I hope I’m not #3 in the above deffinition according to Webster.

Only 22 chapters into our adventure together and I realized that the urgency or emergency of weekly blogging, posting on Facebook and constant Twitter-ing was adding pressure to my days and creating a no fun atmosphere.

Me: “Dr. I’m so stressed. I spend hours online keeping up with all the social media. Then I have to rush through my mail, my  bookwork, housework, together time with my spouse and kids. I’ve lost track of my friends from church and I feel guilty and miserable about almost everything. I just feel that my life is out of control!”

Dr.: “So Barbara, why do you allow these things to take priority in your life?”

Me: Pause and sigh…”I, I don’t know. I thought that I was staying young, keeping up and increasing my skills.” I suppose that I think that it’s important to do it all.” “Am I wrong?” Sigh...

Dr.: “Are you?” (Damn Dr.’s, always turning their questions back to you to search for the answers!) “I guess I’m not wrong, but maybe just going in the wrong direction.” “For me that is.” “I shouldn’t compare myself to others, and then feel like a failure”. “A tired, stressed out failure…”

Dr.: “Precisely!”

Me: “That’s it?” “You are agreeing with me?” “You don’t have anyhing else to offer?”

Dr.: “Barbara, you have so clearly stated what’s wrong, and you have prescribed the solution to your problem.” “Life isn’t an emergency.” “Your life is how you make it.” “Create your emergencies, or create your joy.” “It’s up to you!”

Me: Sigh of relief…“I guess all I had to do was give myself permission to slack.” “Give myself permission to enjoy my hobby-blogging?”

Dr.: “Go for it, and make good memories along the way!”

Well, there you have it. Life isn’t an emergency after all…



I might be back next week, or maybe not. I might be banging on my congas or learning a new song to play. I might bake those fattening cookies, stay in my jammies or pull something else off my back burner. It’s my choice and it’s your’s too!



CHAPTER 21: Imagine Yourself at Your Own Funeral


Imagine yourself at your own funeral. YIKES! What a thought to start my day, and to return to the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Adventure blog! Tho’ I have to ponder that maybe beginning at the end is a good place to start. So close your eyes and picture yourself floating above your grave, or Urn, or your choice of venue for eternal rest, and take in the view. During your service, do you see your friends, family and co-workers gathered around, dressed in dark clothes, dark sunglasses, sniffing back running noses and wiping the tears away while holding each other for support? Good. You were a beloved person in their lives. Or, were you merely a blimp on the radar, not having really lived life; keeping to yourself and happily minding your own business while ignoring the opportunities around you to serve and make a difference?  Did you sweat over too many “small stuffs?” Did you just say “Bah Humbug?”

I am going to take a little poetic license here and assume my readers are of the mind that we transition from our human form on earth to our spirit form in heaven or other level of being. Our energy here in our mortal bodies transcends to yet a new beginning and hopefully, we take something valuable from our experiences here on earth and put them to better use in the hereafter! Like the angel, Clarence, in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, maybe we have to earn our wings???

Chapter 21 is a brief chapter that offers a grand look into the past and into the future. Dr. Carlson states that “Imagining yourself at your own funeral allows you to look back at your life while you still have the chance to make some important changes.” While we are probably squeamish about visualizing our own death, “the process of doing so will remind you of the kind of person you want to be and the priorities that are most important to you.”

You can open your eyes now. So there you have it. Short and sweet, or maybe not so sweet. What I want you to take away from this exercise is the fact that you still have the time, chance, and opportunity to make some important changes. Changes that will impact your health, your well-being, relationships, and your ability to adapt and change for the good! What changes are you willing to make so that you will be that dear departed, beloved soul?


Pillow poetry


Imagine yourself at your own funeral ~ Now write your obituary

PS: I totally flunked the last chapter, but I did manage to write some lovely thoughts on my Christmas cards! Happy New Year and see you next week…

Hello and welcome! If you are new to this blog site, or to The Don’t Sweat Adventure, please click here.
Once your curiosity is satisfied, and are ready to begin, then move to the first post on May 1st.

An InLinkz Link-up