Get Happy!

Tough week in New England last week.  Tragedy, more tragedy, heroes, spirit, amazing people, justice and now hopefully answers to our questions.  Stress levels way up for everyone.  So today I thought I would share with you some happiness.

Being happy may just be the single most important thing you can do for your health, making it just as important as diet and physical activity. If you aren’t feeling like yourself lately, not to worry. Knowing that times are stressful and the unexpected often occurs, here are ways to help you get back to happiness almost instantly.

Today’s blog is a reprint from the following original article.

Thank you FitSugar.

  1. Play a game (not on your phone): Get your family together, invite some friends over, and have a game night. Not only will you be surrounded by good company, friendly competition usually guarantees a good time and a good laugh.
  2. Smile: When in doubt, smile! Not only is it contagious, smiling helps relieve stress, boost your mood, and release endorphins.
  3. Go for a walk: If something isn’t going well at work or home, step outside and take a walk. It doesn’t have to be long, but a quick stroll will help you get fresh air and clear your mind.
  4. Call a friend: Don’t text, dial! Calling a close friend is a great way to talk over your worries and get advice from someone you trust.
  5. Try something new: Stop your rut by switching things up. Try a new gym class, restaurant, or take a new route to work in the morning.
  6. Unplug: Flying shouldn’t be the only time you unplug. Calm your mind by turning off your tech and escaping social media for a minute or two.
  7. Sing (out loud!): We give you permission to sing in the shower, car, anywhere. We promise you’ll feel better — with or without a record deal.
  8. Volunteer: Nothing beats the feeling of helping others. Make a difference and meet a few friends in the process by checking out VolunteerMatch.
  9. Make a gratitude list: It’s often easy to focus on the negative or those things you don’t have. Quickly boost your mood by jotting down the things you are grateful for, both big and small.
  10. Eat up: Start cooking those fava beans, they make you happy! Since this bean contains high concentrations of an amino acid known as L-dopa (dopamine), it will boost your mood and decrease depression.
  11. Practice yoga: Even the celebrities know there are several health benefits of yoga. See for yourself by watching this 10-minute yoga series for happiness or finding a studio to begin your own practice.
  12. Take time off: Maybe you just need a break. Rather than planning a vacation, take the time to adventure around your local neighborhood. Visiting new spots may be just what you need to reset and appreciate what’s around you.
  13. Take charge: Go for it! Instead of getting bogged downed by the big picture, take a small step in the right direction, now. Just knowing that you’re heading in the direction of your dreams will make you happy.
  14. Have fun in the kitchen: Even if you’re not a cook, take your mind off things by exploring new ingredients or trying a new recipe. If you don’t know where to start, browse our healthy recipes.
  15. Meditate: Meditation is a great way to unwind and strengthen the relationship between your mind and body. These tips will help you start a meditation practice, without costing a dime.
  16. Give a compliment: Kick-start a smile with another person and a few genuine words.
  17. De-clutter: For a clean slate, get organized. Getting rid of the clutter and rearranging your space will make it feel new. It is also a great starting point to move forward with future projects.
  18. Stay in the moment: Rather than trying to micromanage the future or worrying about the past, live in the moment and just be.
  19. Rest up: If you’re having a hard time getting your mind off things, reset with a power nap. A short break will give your mind and body a rest and will help you approach things differently when you wake.
  20. Know it’s going to be OK: Just remember, it’s always going to be OK.

Hey, Where’s my Salad?

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  In some cases, I may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations and location of the refrigerators.

As she does everyday, Hope makes herself a very nutritious lunch at home and brings it to work.  This morning, she was especially excited because she had a really nice piece of sockeye salmon, left over from the grill last evening,  to add to her salad.  Yes, this was going to be a very special lunch day.  Amping it up for sure.  Look at how beautiful this salad is:


That looks yummy!

So Hope makes the bed, gets the kids off to school and heads into the office.  Traffic is pretty bad today, and Hope is wondering if her delicious salad will stay cold enough to make it to the office.  Given that she is in New England in January, really nothing to worry about, but hey with a salad like that, who needs the risk.

She parks the car, gets the salad and begins her 1/4 mile walk to the office.  She takes her briefcase and her salad out of the back seat, closes and locks the door and heads for the elevator.

Once she enters the office, Hope heads straight for the refrigerators where many other employees keep their respective delicious lunches and other items, such as beer, actually mostly beer.  Now, if you have ever waited for your luggage at the airport, you know that many pieces of luggage look just like yours.  I have picked up the wrong bag many times, just to put it back on the carousel.  When you travel, you learn to put something distinguishing on your bag so that you can tell it apart from all other look a likes.  This phenomenon has not yet happened with lunch bags, glass bowls or brown paper bags, so sometimes it is difficult to know if you have the right lunch.  And of course, all of the refrigerators look the same as well.


Hope had a decent morning, the usual ups and downs.  Internal meetings, client calls, some whining, some complaining but overall not bad.  She is cranking out a few e-mails, hears her stomach rumbling a bit, checks her computer and alas, it is 12:00PM, or in this case, yummy salad time.

Hope walks over to the refrigerator to find her salad but she cannot find it.  She says to herself, “Hey, where is my salad?”  She looks in the other refrigerators as well (maybe I put it in a different place than I do everyday), but alas to no avail.  That delicious, yummy, sockeye salmon salad is missing.  Panic ensues…..

10 minutes earlier, Todd went over to that same refrigerator and took what he thought was his lunch.  He was having a very busy day and needed to eat his lunch quickly.  He walks over to the vending machine, pops some money in it and gets a nice cold bottle of water.  Moving fast, he heads quickly back to his desk.  He only has about 5 minutes to eat, so he is a bit rushed.  He opens the container, peers down and is just delighted to see this delicious sockeye salmon salad in front of him.  His wife packed his lunch today so he was unaware of the contents.  What a pleasant surprise!  This looks yummy.  He takes the first bite, rolls his eyes a bit because it is so delicious and proceeds to finish this culinary delight.  He pulls a sticky off the pad and writes – Buy wife flowers on way home.

Hope heads back to her desk and she is pissed.  “Where is my salad?”  Given that, she goes into action and compiles the following e-mail to her co-workers:

Subject Line – I Am Calling the Police!

“Hey, someone took my salad.  Do you know who did?  It was a good-looking salad. Put it on the top shelf this morning. Now it’s gone. Did you make an honest mistake and grab the wrong one? – maybe. Does that mean I should take your salad as retribution? – not according to my Mom. Pardon the interruption – but I’m really quite hungry.”

Working in his cubicle, Todd sees the e-mail and hears the buzz from his co-workers as this becomes big news and goes viral quickly.  All of a sudden, one of Todd’s co-workers asks, “Hey Todd, did you just finish a salad?”  Another co-worker posts the news on Twitter and Facebook and all hell breaks loose.  What is going on here, Todd thinks?  “Can I hide the fact that I ate Hope’s salad or should I just fess up now?  Geez, I have some data requests to fulfill and a damn salad is now dominating my life.  The salad was really good, but was it worth this.  No way!”

Todd was about to get back to his data requests and just move on, when one of his favorite co-workers says, “Hey Todd, why is your face all red?”.  He can feel the heat in his cheeks.  He is on fire right now.  And his co-worker knows the tell tale signs of guilt so evident on his rosy red face.  “Todd, you ate Hope’s salad, didn’t you?”  He bowed his head in shame and screamed “I did it, I did it.  After lunch I called my wife to thank her for the delicious salad and she said, “What salad?  I packed you a PBJ today.”

Having been caught red faced, Todd takes the long trip down the hall to Hope’s office.  She is now going through her desk drawers looking for her salad as desperation has set in. She notices Todd in the doorway, picks her head up slowly, acknowledging his presence.  Todd is standing there with the empty bowl in his hand and exclaims, “I am so sorry Hope.  I ate your delicious salad today.  What can I do to make it up to you?”

And then Hope woke up from her culinary nightmare. 🙂


While You Were Asleep…..

We know how tough the economy is right now, with unemployment rates being high, the cost of goods and services escalating; when did a martini start to cost $15 or $12 for a glass of wine, $8 for a beer or a gallon of gas at $3.69.  These costs go up $0.25 here, $0.50 there until one day you look at your bill and say “Holy shitake mushrooms Batman, I just paid $12 for a glass of wine!” WTF?  Then of course there is my annual favorite, the fact that natural gas is always in short supply every winter in New England.  Every year winter comes and every year there is a shortage?  Hmm, is there something going on here.

You betcha!  (What ever happened to that Tina Fey look alike anyway?) We are bombarded by the government and the media that there really is no inflation, that productivity improvements have kept costs down, that technology keeps making items more and more affordable.  Well here are the headlines for you.  We have been squeezed by the ever growing gap between real wages, defined as the income of an individual after taking into effect the impact of inflation on purchasing power.

Here is what has happened to real wages in the US over the last 10 years.  A 39.8% increase but lagging well behind the increase in expenses as you will see below:

Look at the increased costs of Energy, Medical Care and College Tuition and Fees.  Energy cost increases have been just staggering and are likely to get much worse over the next few years.  Medical costs, up 60% over the time period, but once we build in the reduction in coverage, the increases in deductibles, the co-pays and the amount covered by procedure, the impact on your wallet is far greater than what is represented in the graphic.  And how about education costs.  If you have kids, you know the pain here and every year it goes up, never down.  Right there with the increase in energy.

So here is the problem; quality of life.  With all of these costs continuing to escalate, regardless of how great a budget manager you are, as the allocation of the pie continues to shift to these necessary expenses, the remaining funds for that vacation, savings account, new car, clothing of just enjoying the little pleasures in life goes down, resulting in more stress in finding ways to increase income/cut costs, less frequently going out with friends and family and overall less fun.  And this chart does not even include the increase in federal and state taxes, property taxes and all of the other consumption taxes that we pay.

These trends are very well established and continuing.  For many Americas they have already passed the breaking point and for many others the breaking point is on the horizon.  “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.”  Princess Leia

“There has been a great disturbance in the force.” Obi Wan Kenobi

How do we stop this madness?


Life and Being a Daddy

Today‘s blog will be about my daughters and provide some insight into the challenges of fatherhood and the responsibilities of parenting.  It is a personal story that illustrates the joy and challenges of family, regardless of the love, support, guidance and environment that you provide.  As a father of three wonderful and beautiful daughters, and as a person/father that likes to “fix” any and all negative situations for them, I have been both amazed and humbled over the past couple of years by the challenges of teenage daughters and the rapidly changing technology enabled social world that can either be an incredible enabler of social success or a huge detriment.

Early in their lives I was a firm believer that they were “Born This Way” (A small Lady Gaga reference for the music lovers out there); that their respective constitutions were developed in the womb.   This of course is true; as we see them develop we can trace back many of their behaviors to when they were children.  Were they happy, pensive, calm, emotional; did they sleep well, did they enjoy other children, were they introverted or extroverted, did they walk early or later, did they speak early or later.  As parents, we remember many of these traits, especially as we see our children grow into young adults.  We can recognize many of their basic traits today and are easily reminded of their childhood.  However, until recently, I did not truly understand the impact of the family environment, the interactive between siblings and parents and how it can impact or influence a child’s behavior, attitude or personality.  Not that I fully understand this now, but my perspective has been radically altered.

I have an older daughter that is a junior in college and twin daughters that are high school sophomores.  Two of them are very much like me in their thoughts, perspectives, approach to life, stubbornness, attitude and opinions.  They are very strong willed and once they overcome their initial fears of a new situation, adapt and thrive.  My other daughter is wired differently; she is very sensitive, emotional, insecure and has a high level of anxiety. This coupled with being a twin, a teenage girl, being socially uncomfortable and lacking the belief and confidence in herself has unfortunately resulted in a current situation of depression and anxiety that precludes her from being the great person that she is.

I am learning as we go along but it is extremely difficult at times.  My constitution is one that, regardless of the situation, I get up to tackle it everyday and work as hard as possible to improve it.  My expectation is that if that is the way I do it, that is how it should be done (Pretty old school I guess).  Until recently I did not understand just how debilitating depression and anxiety can be.  Right now my wonderful daughter is struggling so much that she cannot take on the basic challenges of life.  She is unable to go to school; she interprets discussions as arguments; she is challenged to help herself; she must rest a good portion of the day as her anxiety is exhausting her.  She has become more secretive, at times her behavior is compulsive, she avoids any type of conflict and right now everyday is like walking on egg shells.  She is desperately seeking joy but right now it is not to be found.

When we reflect on the current situation it is now easy to understand when things began to change.  She is an excellent student, a strong athlete, creative, fun, witty and a pleasure to be with.  A couple of years ago, we started to see some changes in her behavior.  Individually they did not stand out, but upon reflection, collectively they were all a huge cry for help.  She stopped playing sports because she convinced herself that she only made teams because her twin sister did (Her sister is athletically gifted), she wanted to distance herself from her twin and establish her own life, no longer being compared.  She took it upon herself to apply to private school, to take the tests, complete the applications, interview and was accepted to one of the best private schools in New England.  Unfortunately because of her health situation, she was unable to attend. She became very focused on her older sister and did whatever she could to get as close to her as possible.  In hindsight, this was an indication of her own lack of confidence and her desire to bring joy to others, thinking that it would bring her joy.

She has a support network that is committed to helping her overcome these obstacles.  Depression is a disease that sucks the life out of people. I did not understand this but I do now.   I have learned that there is no easy answer and that it will take time to hopefully resolve so that she can live the great life she is supposed to lead.  As a father, it is just heartbreaking to see your daughter struggle with anything. As a fixer, all I want to do is fix it and I cannot.  I have tried many different approaches that in my logical mind should work.  But they did not.  Why, because their is nothing logical or rational about this.  We all believe in her; right now all we can do is love her more than ever, support her in every way possible, really listen to what she is saying and help her take small baby steps everyday on the road of life.

We are all here for you.  There will be a day very soon when you will say to me, “Daddy, I am very proud of myself and who I am.” I cannot wait for that day to come 🙂  Today will be a better day.  With all my love, support and understanding………

Thanks for listening.