Thursday, January 31, 2008

Don't sweat the small stuff

A few years ago I attended a one-day course in Microsoft Outlook, learning how to use the email application in a better and more efficient way.

The teacher talked us through task lists, calendars and inbox management and she drilled into us the four golden rules – Do it, Delete it, Delay it or Delegate it. And I should point out there that delay means choose a date when you’re going to do it not just leave it in your inbox forever and ever.

Since that day, the company hosting the course has unfailingly furnished me with its monthly newsletter. But instead of being packed with tech talk and boring bits as you might expect, it actually contains some surprising pearls of wisdom.

So when this month’s issue landed in my inbox yesterday, an item about cutting down on the anxiety in our lives caught my eye. And, courtesy of Priority Management International, I’m sharing it with you today. You might find something in here that strikes a chord.


If you ask any senior citizen for their advice on an issue they will invariably tell you not to worry so much. Indeed, many will tell you that they wish they had taken more risks during their lifetime because most of what they feared never actually came to pass. Whether it be an argument with your partner, child or work colleague, a mistake you have made, an opportunity missed or a bad cold, chances are, that six months from now you simply aren’t going to care. It will have faded into distant memory – just one more irrelevant detail in your life.
So here are five profound pieces of wisdom that you should take to heart in order to not let the little things take over your life.

1. Take Ownership
You and you alone are responsible for your feelings and emotions. However much you might think otherwise, no-one else is to blame for how you feel and no-one else but yourself can stop you from feeling stressed. So take ownership for your moods and stop the blame game today!

2. Don’t Escalate
External events, both trivial and traumatic cannot of themselves make you stressed – it is how you think and react to the event that causes you stress. Stop escalating every event that happens to a level it doesn’t warrant.

3. Alter Your Attitude
You really can, as William James discovered, “alter your life by altering your attitude”. You can choose how to feel just like you can choose how to behave. Start today to be more positive about the life you lead.

4. Control Your Mind
Don’t be a “stinkin’ thinkin'” kind of person. Stinking thinkers cannot control their thoughts and exaggerate the seriousness of every situation. They think themselves into feelings that things are falling apart, are dreadful, terrible and then start to make foolish and unrealistic demands of themselves and the people around them.

5. Be Objective
You will be much less vulnerable to feeling stressed if you take on the “don’t sweat the small stuff – it’s all small stuff” mantra. Remember that stress is always subjective, your emotional reaction to an outside event.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Health and Fitness 08

For many of you 'regular readers' you know that in February 07 Belinda Dell and I decided to get serious with our fitness level. As we approach February 08 I'm happy to report that we, and now along with many others who have joined us, are still on track and going strong.

We will again start to update you regularly and let you know how we are going. You will also need to keep an eye on our Facebook Group and the videos I love so much because I might, just might be considering taking you into the gym with me (to join our Facebook Group go to and then search the family room). I have found that so many of us get 'stuck' on the couch, watching those darn infomercials and forget that we actually have to get up, put on our joggers (running shoes) and get moving. Through sharing my routine with a few friends and just a few very simple things I am doing somehow I think I've managed to de-mystify the dreaded exercise routine and make it do-able for everyone. I just need you to promise not to laugh at my outfit - don't worry I ditched the late 90's thong number with the spandex.....what a disaster that was!!!!!

So today, January 28, 2008 allow me to be that voice of encouragement once more that would say, "come on people let's move, let's make a difference in our own lives and the lives of those depending on us!" You won't regret making a change, I can tell you that I feel so much better today than I did January 2007 (prior to getting serious) and I know January 2009 is going to be amazing as I continue to build Health and Fitness into my life.

Let's get moving!


Friday, January 25, 2008

Chicken Surprise!

Here's a new kind of post for everyone. Sam Cosatto sent the below email to me recently and I thought it was going to be a yummy recipe for the blog. To my surprise it was something that made me giggle. A clean little bit of laughter that you can share with your children, your spouse or your grandparents.


A couple goes for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and orders the "Chicken Surprise." The waiter brings the meal, served in a lidded cast iron pot.

Just as the wife is about to serve herself, the lid of the pot rises slightly and she briefly sees two beady little eyes looking around before the lid slams back down.

"Good grief, did you see that?" she asks her husband. He hasn't, so she asks him to look in the pot. He reaches for it and again the lid rises, and he sees two little eyes looking around before it slams down.

Rather perturbed, he calls the waiter over, explains what is happening, and demands an explanation.

"Please sir," says the waiter, "what you order?" The husband replies, "Chicken Surprise."

You're going to love this..................

"Ah! So sorry," says the waiter, "I bring you Peeking Duck!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Drugs, Drugs and more Drugs! When is enough ~ enough?

Today I’m going to revisit an article that I wrote and posted on our blogspot on November 28, 2007. The article was titled ‘The War on Drugs’ and I encourage you to pull it up and have a read (simply visit our blogspot and check out November archives).

I am again reminded of this vicious War and all out attack on our children, young adults and older, by the recent death of actor Heath Ledger. Drugs are changing our world and we must encourage open conversations in our homes and through our extended relationships about the danger of drugs and the affect they ARE and CAN have in all of our lives.

The harsh and sad reality is that drugs are made available to all of us. Not only are they found on the school ground, the street, in the work environment but they are in our own homes in the form of prescription medication ~ a new way to use, that is rapidly growing (again I urge you to read our article called ‘The War on Drugs’ for more information about prescription drug use).

The average age of regular drug usage is lowing daily. According to a report I heard recently only 50% of parents talk to their children about illegal drugs and only 30% talk to them about prescription drugs. This problem is real and none of us are exempt. Our children are being exposed earlier and we as parents and in some cased grandparents or care-givers aren’t talking about it enough which is causing our children to be ill equipped to handle the pressure and influences they face on a daily basis. We MUST keep the lines of communication open.

We need to stand up taller, speak louder and know that our voice matters both on the macro side of this WAR and the micro (in our homes). Talk to your children, show them examples of what drug use CAN and WILL do to them. Don’t be afraid to show them the reality that may lie behind the first hit of anything. Lives are hanging in the balance.

Heath Ledger a 28-year old young man and father is gone. I believe he will be remembered as a great actor and all that he brought to the world of entertainment, however louder than his acting ability will be the fact that his early death was caused by ‘suspected drug use’.

Let’s not put up with anymore ‘useless’ deaths, let’s not run the risk with our children anymore. When was the last time you talked to your children, whatever ever their age, about drugs? Do it today and keep them safe.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Something for the Girls.......

Hi Friends,

I’m broaching one of those subjects that we “all know about” (like self breast examination) and are mostly slack at doing. What am I talking about today....... The Pelvic Floor Exercise!!!!!! I know everyone is squirming now as they read on.

I first learnt about pelvic floor exercises as an RN. As I studied to be a midwife the importance of the Pelvic Floor became more apparent. My complete revelation however, occurred after having had three vaginal deliveries. Do I have any friends out there….?!!

So friends in the interest of your pelvic floors and in an effort to assist you move towards dry undies, the ability to cough or laugh without fear plus the dreaded unexpected sneeze and of course the best part ~ better sex I shall share some much needed info with you.

What is it all about?
The pelvic floor is like a hammock stretching from your tail bone to your pubic bone.. The pelvic floor muscles play an important role in bladder and bowel control and sexual sensation. Pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by, pregnancy and childbirth, chronic constipation, regular heavy lifting, menopause, being overweight and unfit.

What you can do:
It is important not to hold your breath, squeeze your buttocks or thighs or push down when doing these exercises.

The muscles you wish to tighten are the same ones you use when you want to stop passing wind or if you were to stop your flow of urine mid-stream (not recommended).

1. Tightening and drawing in around the anus, the vagina and the urethra all at once, lifting them UP inside. Try and hold this contraction strongly as you count to five then release and relax. You should have a definite feeling of 'letting go'.
2. Repeat ('squeeze and lift') and relax. It is important to rest for about 10 seconds in between each contraction. If you find it easy to hold for a count of five, try to hold for longer - up to ten seconds.
3. Repeat this as many times as you are able up to a maximum of 8-10 squeezes.
4. Now do five to ten short, fast, but
5. Strong contractions.
6. Do this whole exercise routine at least 4-5 times every day.

Remind yourself to do your exercises by associating them with a common task like washing your hands. I have a friend who has a couple of yellow spots stuck around the house, she does her exercises when she sees the spot. Go for it girls, you will thank me in days, weeks, months and especially in years to come.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Life Beyond Yourself

Hello to everyone. I find myself writing this with a smile on my face because I am sitting in the Toyota Dealership. I have just dropped my car off for a service and I wondered what I was going to do for the 1.5 hour wait (if there was no one to talk to....I love talking). Much to my surprise not only is there hot coffee and tea, muffins, bottled water and juice on hand but Internet access! Who would have thought that local car dealerships would provide so much ~ a strong bid for our business I guess and today Toyota is tops for me. I'm able to accomplish multiple tasks while sitting waiting for my car.

If you haven't already read Sam's recent post 'What's Good for You' I encourage you to do so. The post is all about 'acts of kindness' and how being kind and doing things for others can benefit our health. This is something I've been thinking about lately not so much from a health perspective but through the lives of our children. I am convinced that one way to keep our children out of harms way (whatever their ages) and away from some of the things that are available to them and seem appealing, is through being involved in something beyond themselves. Being part of something that not only occupies time but thought life as well, is a valuable part of all of our lives. You know what is said about idleness.

I think (and remember this is MY thinking) that as parents, we can get busy and sadly our children are the one's who pay the price. During these 'busy' times children will find things to connect to/with and before long we're asking how they got involved in that, or why they have changed. Sadly I've had conversations with many parents about how they can't get their teenager off the computer or out of their bedroom. Parents tell me that conversations have turned to grunting when passing in the hallway rather than the meaningful conversations, they once shared, covering the things that matter in their world.

It is our responsibility to help our children find things that will ignite something within them. Helping them live a life beyond themselves is a valuable life lesson that will help propel them into the future. When your thoughts are consumed by bigger and greater things and ways that you can make a difference or be involved, the world looks so different and so much more inviting. There is a need within each one of us to belong to something and to find our own significance.

Our children are learning about things earlier than we did, and in some cases they are experiencing things earlier as well. Whether that's right or wrong it's happening and we need to help them navigate this delicate season of their lives.

Today my 6.5 year old headed off to school with $10.00 of his own pocket money to give to a mission's project the school is involved in. He has displayed and shared his thoughts towards helping the poor many times and today he put action to his words. It is now Philip and my responsiblity to help him carve out a way that he can make a difference in this area. He obviously has a soft heart towards people and we need to put tools in his hand that will help him develop this amazing area of his life. This is an example of a young boy living a life beyond himself and we need to let him know that he can make a difference, we need to encourage him to dream, we need to let him try.

I want to encourage you to listen to your children, really listen and find out what makes them tick. Everyone has a dream and that dream is unique to each individual ~ don't expect all your children to share the same dream. Help your children see their dream become a reality and again remember it doesn't matter what age your children are. This year I will be celebrating my 38th birthday and my parents continue to help me carve out my dream. They listen to me, they discuss things with me, they share their ideas with me and I'm so thankful for that. So, if you have a 6.5 year old like me or your baby is 14, 18, 19 ,20 or 38 help them navigate the waters of life.

Finally I would like to ask if you would share your thoughts on how you can or how you have helped your children live lives beyond themselves. Where you have seen success? What are some great ideas you can share with thefamilyroom community?


Monday, January 14, 2008

What's Good For You

Well here we are over two weeks into 2008. Christmas and New Year are quickly fading into all of our memories and we starting to make tracks in 08.

As we journey through this year I thought it would be a good idea to share about something that studies have proven to be good for all of us! We all want health and wellness so here is a little something that WILL help you and guess what? It's super simple and it doesn't have to cost a cent!!!!

According to many studies "doing good" is good for you. It has been shown that people who volunteer, live longer and are healthier. I think it's similar to that old saying, "laughter is one of the best medicines." Like laughter a helping hand can bring health and wellbeing, to anyone who chooses to extend themselves.

According to one author who studied thousands of "do gooders" other benefits include increased optimism and energy, decreased feelings of loneliness and depression, better weight control, a greater sense of relaxation and improved sleep. Who doesn't want all of that in life?

The beginning of the year seems like a perfect time to volunteer or perform random acts of kindness on those we love and those we don't even know. Be creative and involve your family and friends. A perfect way to keep children (whatever the age) safe and out of trouble or anything else is to set their eyes on something beyond themselves (watch for an upcoming article from Susan on this ~ it's a good one!).

A few ideas on how to help:

Cook a meal for a neighbor (maybe they have a busy week).
Rake someone’s yard and rid them of unwanted leaves
Shovel Snow from a driveway
Clean up the back yard/pool area
Clean out and organize someone’s garage
Pay for a meal at a café
Pay the toll for the person behind you
Baby-sit for someone and give a much needed break
Do someone's laundry (remind them we've all seen dirty undies....)
Clean a car
Invite someone over for dinner ~ you never know where loneliness lives.

I am putting the challenge out to my familyroom buddies so get ready for them to share what they’ve done. Let's spread a little kindness. The opportunities are ENDLESS!

FYI....we will be putting this out to our Facebook Group so jump on and share your stories of kindness with us and let’s encourage each other. Also, share your stories here.

Take care and together let's make a huge difference in this world.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Summer Apples

Have you ever found yourself traveling through life and in a moment you are thrown back in time due to a smell, song on the radio, or just a feeling in the air?

Well friends let me share my today with you.

After a busy holiday season, I have finally had a day to myself to reflect and project. We are over one week into the new year, and today was my day to consider the days, weeks and months ahead of me. There are changes in the wind for us (as a family), risks to be taken, advances to be made, and with all of this comes a certain level of uncertainty. I know all of you reading know exactly what I’m talking about. I spent much of my morning on and off the phone with my mother, passing things by her, talking my way through the waters that I’m navigating. I am so blessed to have a mother who simply listens (endlessly....poor woman), she gives me suggestions, and shares bits and pieces from her journey, allowing me to extract what I want and need from her story. Words from wiser, well traveled people are almost like an anti virus serum that can protect us from contracting unnecessary situations as we travel through life.

Moving youngest daughter and I needed to do some much needed unpacking of our ‘holiday car’ ~ you know the drill, candy canes stuck to the carpet, dirt, grim and mud everywhere, the odd dried up MacDonald’s fry in between the seats, spilled Starbucks in the cup, fun, fun. As we headed to the garage I walked straight into and old familiar smell, that as I said threw me straight back to my childhood years. It was the smell of Summer Apples, that came every year when the fruit truck arrived in our community. The smell of those apples saturated us, and it’s a smell I associate with my younger years.

I remember the excitement, knowing that the fruit truck was soon to arrive at our neighbors house (the same house every year). The day it would arrive, we would pile into the car, the windows down (no air conditioning then), the radio was on, and away we went in search of the best fruit in town. There were peaches, pears, cherries, apricots and the plums.....yummo. Strangely enough the apple was the smell that permeated the air.

So, today some 30 years later, I have found myself considering the year/s ahead. Uncertainty filled my mind, moments of fear tried to creep in, concern definitely found a home, and as I walked toward the job at hand, within a millisecond I was thrown back to a place in time where everything stood still. I could see my mother negotiating her purchases, I could hear the voices of my childhood friends, I could see the strange old fruit man standing on the truck yelling out prices, and I could taste the sweetness of the peaches that were on sample for all to try. In that millisecond every thought I had exercised today was brought back into perspective for me. I felt safe and secure in the knowledge that no matter what lies ahead, it will be okay, the days will turn into weeks, the weeks into years and we will remain standing.

I pray that in my home and through my children’s childhood there are familiar smells, sounds and feelings that in 30 more years will bring the same feeling I have felt today. It is our today’s that make the difference in tomorrow and beyond. Be wise, be happy and love lots!

Susan xo

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Belated Happy New Year!

Hello again and Happy New Year to everyone from all of us at thefamilyroom!!!!! We have all missed communicating with you but trust you had a lovely Christmas and New Year. I know a few of you were bummed that we ‘stopped production’ during the holidays but hey everyone needs a break to simply hang with family and friends (maybe we’ll do it differently next year). We’re glad you missed us!!

I don’t know about you but I’m finding it hard to believe that the holidays are over and we are now into 2008 - I’m still at New Year’s Eve singing that Prince song, “Tonight I’m going to party like it’s 1999!!!!”

Honestly where are the years going? I don’t remember time flying like this when I was younger. Isn’t it funny that as a child, time almost felt like it stood still (at times) and if it moved you were able to catch it because you had so much energy. Now, as an adult, I find that time is flying at the speed of light and I no longer have that incredible energy to run after it and possibly even beat it. Thank goodness for thefamilyroom tips, ideas, lists and plans, if I didn’t have them I think I may simply fall off the edge of the world.

We had the best time in 2007 refining thefamilyroom and journeying with all of you.

The Blog:
Through our stats we know that many of you are reading the blog but haven’t crossed the line and started commenting and that’s okay, we love that you are ‘with’ us. Keep reading and keep sharing with your friends. To those of you who are commenting (katie lady, ohwise1, thewinner, Denise, justme, kg, Sahra, catherine jayne...just to name a few) thank you!!! It’s nice to hear some of your thoughts and your encouragement – keep them coming and keep sharing your stories

Our Facebook Group is now up and running and we will continue with that starting this week. It is a stack of fun so make sure you jump on and invite some friends. We really want to build a strong group and a place where we can share thoughts, ideas and other bits about building our families and our communities. It’s a great communication tool and SO easy so join us there.

New in 08:
2008 will see a number of new familyroom initiatives which are all really exciting – we will keep you posted and up to date on everything so don’t’ll all be the first to know!!

The first thing - Since thefamilyroom started I have been asked by a number of ‘guys’ how we will include the boys/men in thefamilyroom community, they love what we are doing and have done thus far however they seem to want a little more. That being said, this isn’t just for the boys/men so girls get ready.

Within the next 60 days (hopefully earlier, we’ll keep you posted) we will be launching a very new blog that will challenge the mind, encourage the soul, cause you to think in different ways and will take you to new places. It’s going to be great so let the boys/men know and watch this space friends!

I think I will stop for now. We really, really love what we are doing, we love family and community and we love that you are part of this community so stay with us, buckle up your seatbelt, put the little one’s in the car seat and together let’s continue driving on this road toward more.

As always, remember that the world looks better through smiling eyes and know that you aren’t alone, we’re doing this together.

Keep it simple but keep it real,

Susan J. Sohn

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