Holiday Traditions: Blessed or Stressed?

Remember the opening lines of Fiddler on the Roof?  Tevya singing, “TRADITION!  TRADITION!”

Traditions serve such a valuable service to our cultures and our families.  They provide something to depend on when other things in life may be shaky.  The repetition of them somehow reassures us that there are some things that will never change, when so much seems to be changing at an alarming rate of speed.

This past year while creating my online course, Millionaire Marriage Club, (http://nancylandrum.com/the-clubI’ve had to dive into the scary waters of technology.  I’ve learned procedures and programs that I never in a million years expected to need to know—or be able to conquer!

When I’m overwhelmed, I fall back on simple traditions, like watering the potted plants, picking a bouquet of roses, trimming an overgrown bush, feeding the chickens.  Although simple and homey, these, too, are valuable traditions that ground and settle me.

I’ve found, however, that it’s important for me to evaluate traditions to make sure they are serving my desire for a more peaceful life, especially around the holidays.  Will attending a local musical extravaganza enhance my holiday experience, or exhaust me?  Is making seven or eight batches of Gingies something that gives me joy? Or causes me extra stress?  Is decorating the house with lights something that gives me pleasure? Or am I doing it because it’s expected?

Some of these questions come up for me due to my age.  I am more choosey about my activities and output of energy these days.  But I was much younger when I first made the decision—a courageous decision for me—to only do what gave me joy and avoid doing anything that created resentment or exhaustion. 

That decision forever altered my experience of the holidays.  I now just enjoy them…participate in whatever I choose, and choose to not participate when it won’t harvest more joy.

Is it time to evaluate some of your traditions?  To keep the ones that are truly important to you or your family but discard the ones that only add more stress to your holiday?

This week’s free download may help you look at the traditions that give you energy and joy vs those that may need to be downsized or eliminated.  If you are feeling courageous, take a peek!

Free Download: Blessed or Stressed?

Holiday Traditions: Taste…Yum!

One of my family’s favorite Christmas traditions was begun when my father-in-law was a student at Gerard College for Boys in Philadelphia, PA.  It was a live-in school for boys from 9-17 who were orphaned.  He hated being separated from his older brothers who were too old to be accepted to this institution, but in later years realized that he benefited from the great education he received there.

The first several years after marrying his son, Jim Gavitte, I heard stories about “Gingies.”  Gingies were a huge gingerbread cookie that was served with all the milk they could drink every Sunday evening.  They were meant to keep the boys “regular.” (smile) The boys loved them, and Pop talked about them often.

One year I was wondering what to get him for his birthday.  I decided to make a variety of cookies that could be kept in their freezer for him to snack on anytime he wanted.  I opened my old Betty Crocker Cookbook (a wedding gift) and found “Gingies from Gerard College in Philadelphia PA!” 

You guessed it! I made Pop a huge batch and promised that whenever he ran out to just let me know and I’d bake more.  I kept him supplied in Gingies for the rest of his life.

In addition, Gingies became a big part of our family’s holiday tradition.  Isn’t it amazing how a particular taste or recipe can become so embedded in our memory that a certain occasion just doesn’t work unless that food is included?

A few years ago when I asked my son, Peter, what he wanted for Christmas, all he wanted was plenty of  Gingies.

So this week I went to Smart & Final, a discount grocery store, to buy molasses by the gallon plus brown sugar, shortening, flour and spices in quantities that are cost-effective for the number of Gingies I make every year.

Food traditions are part of what makes a great holiday for many of us.  It’s like that certain food reassures us that life is good, some things are unchangeable, and that taste brings back many memories of family and friends that give us a sense of ongoing security.

Next week I’ll bring up the question of traditions that may need to be changed…or at least adjusted…in order to give you and your family a more relaxed, peaceful holiday!

Meanwhile, If your mouth is watering for yummy gingerbread spices, you can download my recipe and tips about making Gingies (or multiple batches of any holiday recipe!)

Holiday Traditions Free Download: Gingies Recipe

Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #6

Radical Gratitude Challenge #6 – Ultimate Gratitude

Perhaps nothing leaves us feeling more helpless and vulnerable than watching a child suffer.  Whether it’s from illness, or injury, or from crazy, bad choices that kid is making, we are cut to the core.

My elder son, Steve, began sliding down the sleep, slippery slope of drug addiction when he was fifteen.  Poor grades.  Being expelled.  Arrested for fencing stolen property.  Counselors. Court appointed therapists. Being awakened at 2 a.m. (when I thought Steve was asleep in his room) and told to come bail him out of jail.  Cash missing.  Blame heaped on myself and by others for being a “bad” parent.  The nightmare seemed unending.

Although I wouldn’t wish this story on anyone, some of you have experienced this.  We could exchange horror stories.  If enough time has gone by, maybe we could even laugh together about the dreams surrendered…the lessons learned.

I’m not sure I was very grateful during those years.  I think it may have been all I could do to just hang on for the wild ride.  

Eventually Steve was hospitalized with congestive heart failure due to 15 years of “speed” and anything else he could get his hands on.  At first he was not expected to live through the night.  He lived. He came home to stay with us.  For two and one half years, I cared for a person still thinking crazy druggie thoughts.  I knew every day could be his last.  What good could come out of this, dear God?

And then a miracle.  He accepted that he was dying.  He decided the only way he could die with self-respect, was to die “clean.”  He quit everything.  Cold turkey.  And the Steve I once knew as kind and sweet returned to me.  We had almost four months of regaining the loving we had lost in the chaos before he died.  We each let go of things we couldn’t control and couldn’t change.  We surrendered judgment of ourselves and each other.

Without my recognizing it at the time, Steve was one of my most profound teachers. It may seem a small gift in exchange for his life, but my gift from Steve was a lifetime of lessons that are briefly shared in my book, Pungent Boundaries.   I learned what I had to do to disconnect from codependent behaviors.  I learned how to take care of myself, rather than always running to take care of him.  I learned a level of humility that was painful, and infinitely valuable as I coach others in similar circumstances.

Is there something so painful happening to you right now that you can barely breathe?  Does gratitude seem impossible to conjure up?  Is the tunnel so dark that even the thought of possible light ahead seems unrealistic?  This is when Gratitude can begin to work its magic in your soul.  Even just saying the words, while pounding a pillow, can open up space inside for a miracle…if not in the circumstances, then in you.  If you are blessed with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, or if you are not, I invite you to join me as I set aside that day to practice gratitude.  You can say, “Thank you, even though I hate this, thank you.”  I’ll say it with you… and send you my love as you stretch beyond what seems possible.

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Get Your Free Ultimate Gratitude Handout

Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #5

Radical Gratitude Challenge #5 – The Harvest of Gratitude

My first husband died when I was twenty-three years old.  We had two baby boys.  I was not very thankful.  It took about five years to pull out of the pit of depression and readjust my life around this new reality.

I wanted to remarry.  I didn’t want to be alone forever.  I heard a special speaker talk about being thankful for what we have even before it arrives…especially before it arrives!  So I made myself a lacy nightie and hung it in the closet, waiting for that special Someone who would be my lover and partner in life.

Years went by.  I occasionally thought of giving that nightie to the GoodWill with other items no longer of use to me.  But I just couldn’t let go of the dream. 

I met Jim.  We fell in love.  That magical night came when I told Jim the story of my Belief Nightie and wore it for him.

The perfect dream became a nightmare of conflict.  I speak a lot of this in other places, but it’s enough to say that I thought, at times, I’d made a terrible mistake.  Whenever I could, I summoned up the grit to be grateful for whatever good might come out of our pain.

We eventually found the help we needed.  We learned and practiced new communication skills.  We resolved our conflicts.  Our love returned.  And then we really FELT THANKFUL!

A few years later Jim suggested that we begin teaching classes to other couples who needed to know what we had learned.  How to Stay Married & Love It! was born!

And the rest, as is said, is history.  The dream of my childhood to have a happy, loving marriage was fulfilled.  The dreams of speaking and writing books to help others have happy, loving marriages has been, and is still being fulfilled.  

What circumstance are you experiencing right now that seems impossible for which to be thankful?  What really stinks about your marriage, your family, your health, your finances?  What if an amazing chapter is being written in your future that you can’t see right now?  Can you be grateful now, as an act of faith?  I believe you can…

Get Your Free Radical Gratitude Handout Week #5 Handout

Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #4

Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #4 – Where the Rubber Meets the Road!

It’s not hard to be grateful when something is going well.  This week while planning this challenge, many lost their homes to California wild fires.  I was grateful my son’s home in northern CA was spared.

He is a helicopter pilot.  I was especially grateful that he came home safely after finishing his all night shift rescuing people during 70 mph winds.

These are easy things for which to be thankful.  But can we stretch into gratitude for a home and all belongings burned in that fire? Or a child who has become drug addicted? Or a struggling marriage? Or a spouse who dies before his time? Or an illness that places harsh limits on your life?

This is where the rubber meets the road.

You may be asking, “What is the advantage to being thankful about hard, painful things?  Why should I?

Because gratitude opens the heart.  Being thankful for the hard stuff is the ultimate expression of faith.  You may not share my faith.  That’s no problem.  Whether you talk to your God, or the Universe, it hears you.  It responds to your open heart.

An open heart says, “I’m open to whatever good can come from this pain.  I’m open to see new opportunities brought to me by this disaster.  I’m open to learning new lessons that will benefit me in ways I can’t predict right now.  I’m open to a Wisdom that is beyond my limited vision.

And then you persevere.  You put one foot in front of the other. You ask for help.  You do your best to be grateful even while in pain, and waiting for the Grand Plan to reveal itself.  You find joy in small gifts…the companionship of a loyal animal, a neighbor who awkwardly expresses their sympathy, the hug of your spouse, a lost keepsake returned to you.

You may think, “Now she’s gone too far.  I don’t want to hear her preaching!”  This is not preaching.  It’s teaching a universal life lesson!  It’s expanding your consciousness of what may be possible!

Next week I’ll share a few of the hard, painful stuff for which I have been thankful, sometimes while pounding a pillow and screaming my pain…

Are you ready to try out this road with me?  To accept the challenge where the rubber meets the road?  I’d love to hear from you!

Get your FREE Download – Rubber Meeting the Road!

The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #3

Never Enough? or Abundance?

This is Week #3 of my Radical Gratitude Challenge.  We’re going to talk about how easy it is to think in terms of “never enough!”

He doesn’t love me enough!  She isn’t fun enough! We don’t go out enough!  There’s never enough money! There’s not enough time!  We don’t make love often enough!  Not enough…not enough…not enough…

Years ago, after our marriage was solid, but our finances were not, I found myself making out deposit slips while thinking, “This isn’t enough!”  That sentence became like a hamster wheel going ’round and ’round in my mind.

I knew enough about how our thoughts often create our reality, that, one day, when I consciously caught the unconscious refrain in my head, I decided to change my mantra.  Whenever I thought about our financial condition, and particularly when I was filling out a deposit slip, I began saying, “Thank you for this $300.  I so appreciate this $150!”  My goal was to become more aware of the abundance we enjoyed, with or without an overflowing bank account.

I splurged on a 79c package of sweet pea seeds and planted them along a 30 foot length of fence in our backyard.  Within weeks, the prolific vines were much taller than the fence and producing thousands of pink, purple, white, maroon, and lavender flowers…filling the air with their sweet scent.

What a perfect metaphor for abundance!  While I was thanking God for every little check that cleared the bank, I expressed gratitude for the rich color of our green grass, for the joyfulness of my dog playing fetch, for the solid screen of gorgeous color from the sweet peas.

It wasn’t long before I noticed that every month, each bill was paid on time. Slowly we were climbing out of the financial hole we’d been in.

There is ZERO doubt in my mind that the reason was because we began feeling grateful and rich, long before there was any evidence of prosperity in our bank account.

Download your free worksheet for attracting abundance with gratitude!

Financial stress is one of the top reasons cited for marital discord.  What if you, with or without your partner’s participation, began to practice gratitude?  What if you began to be open to seeing abundance in your lives, rather than lack. What happy surprises might find their way into  your open hearts?  Are you willing to apply this Radical Gratitude Challenge to your finances?  I dare you!  Please report in via the Facebook Page or comment below!

 

The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #2

The Art of Expressing Gratitude

This is Week #2 in my Radical Gratitude Challenge.  Last week I challenged you to express gratitude to your partner.  And, if necessary, work at it, dig around a little, but find things for which you can express appreciation face to face.  Thinking it in your head, doesn’t count.

But there’s an art to effectively expressing appreciation.  Throwing out a general, “Thanks for marrying me” doesn’t cut it.  In order to reach your partner’s heart, the words must describe a specific act, or habit, or character quality.

Like this: “This morning when you went out of your way to kiss me before leaving, I felt so loved!”  Or, “I saw how you handled the situation with our daughter.  You were so kind!”  Or, “Today I was thinking about how lucky I am that I can always count on you to come home after work each day.  Not every woman can say that!” Or, “Thank you for cleaning up after dinner last night.  That was a special gift to me!

My late husband Jim would sometimes put in a very long day.  He loved it when I met him at the front door with a hug, and said, “Thank you for working so hard for us today!”

If Jim saw me at my sewing machine, he would grin and say, “There you go! Making something cute again!”  And my heart would glow.

So in addition to being very intentional about expressing gratitude and appreciation this week, deliver the words about something specific in order to make the most impact in your relationship!

Download your free guide to the Art of Expressing Gratitude.

How’s it going?  Are you finding this Radical Gratitude Challenge a challenge?  Please share what has happened when you gave your partner a compliment. What happens inside of you?  What was your partner’s response?  Share with me on my Facebook Page or in the comments below!

The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #1

We are six weeks away from our Thanksgiving holiday.  These six weeks could change your life and your marriage forever!  But first a little history…

Every school play reenacts the first harvest celebration in 1621.  More than 200 years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a holiday. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the date by signing a bill in 1941. It declared Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year.

Most major religions encourage a spiritual practice of gratitude.  One of the first verses I learned from the Bible was, “In everything give thanks.” (Ephesians 5:20.)  I confess that there have been times when I’ve asked, “Everything, God?  Really? Everything?”

During a particularly challenging time in my life, I began practicing gratitude as a spiritual commitment.  Being thankful for everything really did transform my attitude, and eventually the circumstances.

When new challenges come, the habit of being thankful (sometimes through gritted teeth!) reminds me that I don’t yet know the end of the story.  Circumstances change.  And they’re more apt to change in my favor if I keep my heart open by practicing gratitude.  Fear and discontent close my heart and my circumstances to happy surprises.

In this post and in the next five weeks, I’m issuing a challenge.  Each week I’ll be challenging you to focus on one area of your life where it may be hard to be grateful.

Are you up for it?  What have you got to lose?

Since I am a relationship coach, my first challenge to you is to be grateful for your partnerDECIDE that you will spend the next week looking for qualities, actions, and gestures for which you can express gratitude…not just in your heart, but face to face!

Examples:  “Thank you for being so consistent about helping out with the kids’ bedtime.”  Or, “I appreciate that you let me know that you might be home late.”  Or, “I love that you are so conscientious about getting our bills paid on time.”

Now these may not fit.  But you get what I mean.  Work this! Dig if you have to!  But find things you appreciate about your spouse!

Because….whatever we focus on, increases.  When you only deliver complaints, pretty soon, all you see are things you want to change.  When you focus on things for which you can genuinely be thankful, the irritations shrink as they are more than balanced out by things that are good.

Are you ready to try Radical Gratitude?  I challenge you to say, “Thank you for…” or “I appreciate….”  or “I’m grateful for…” whenever your mind starts to dwell on a problem or dissatisfaction with your partner.  Each week I invite you to share what this Radical Gratitude Challenge has done for your heart and your relationship.  And I’ll share my experiences with you!  If you are accepting this challenge, leave a comment below.

Go Deeper with Radical Gratitude with this Free Download

Our Dirty, Ugly Secret…

“To others we look good.  We have good jobs.  Our children are reasonably well behaved.  We live in a decent neighborhood.  We even attend church regularly.  We are clean, hair styled, clothes presentable.  We look like–and have even been told–we are one of the lucky ones.

But we have a secret that is eating away at this perfect picture.  We fight.  We sometimes treat each other and our children with painful disrespect.  We feel disconnected, angry and unsure of what the future may hold for us.  We rarely have sex, and when we do, it can’t be called “making love.”

“We are each quietly desperate.  Wanting help but are too embarrassed to ask for it.  We’re dying inside, and don’t know how to treat this cancer that is eroding our lives.”

Could you have written this? Is this what is behind the face of your marriage?

At one time this description was true about my marriage to my late husband, Jim.  We hung on for years, trying to fix the dis-ease that was eroding our marriage and family.

Yet the last seventeen years of our life together was blissfully happy.  We treated each other with affection and respect.  The circumstances weren’t always perfect, but our ability to stay centered in our love for each other was amazingly, consistently fulfilling.

What made the difference? How did we move from our ugly secret to being passionate about sharing our great marriage with hundreds of other couples?

We learned new communication and conflict management skills…and we practiced them!  We practiced until they became as habitual as our old ways of reacting to each other.  We practiced until the air between us was full of our loving for each other.  We practiced until any little upset could be resolved in moments instead of days or weeks.

A great marriage is sometimes an accident of fate.  But most marriages require commitment to learning and then using simple, yet powerful communication skills… skills that are proven to work miracles in unhappy relationships.

We came out of our closet of ugly secrets into the light of a loving marriage! You can, too, by downloading and following:  10 Steps to End Our Dirty, Ugly Secret

 

 

#4: What is Your Marriage Bank Balance?!

If you were to assign a dollar value to your marriage, what would it be?  A Million bucks?  A comfortable, but not great one hundred thousand? Ten thousand, meaning your only a few months away from insolvency?  Or are you in the red…out of energy, out of love, struggling to pull together whatever you need from day to day?

Are you satisfied with just enough love in your account to get by?  Or do you want enough love in the account to draw on when life sends you an unexpected relationship challenge?  Or do you want to experience such richness in your marriage that you know you can resolve any issue and neither of you would do anything to jeopardize this precious relationship?

Whether you’re pulling out of marriage bankruptcy or just wanting more, the Millionaire Marriage Club can be your investment adviser!

The Club consists of three components:

  1. The COURSE is where you’ll learn the powerful skills that have enabled thousands of couples to go from bankruptcy to millionaire status in the value they assign to their marriage. There are eight modules (topics) with a total of nineteen approximately 30 minutes video lessons to watch online.
  2. The GAME is where you’ll track your new habits that earn Marriage Dollars to build up your Millionaire Marriage Bank Account. The Game includes good-natured competition and weekly prizes.
  3. SUPPORT will be lavishly given through our private Facebook Page, open only to members of the Club. You’ll exchange news of wins or setbacks with other couples in the club, as well as frequent personal encouragement from Nancy.

Be sure that I have your best email address so I can personally invite you to the FREE webinar where you’ll learn a skill that can eliminate misunderstandings, learn more about the MMC, and enroll in lifetime membership at a very cost-effective discount. 

Click link below to reserve your space at the FREE WEBINAR where you’ll learn a simple skill that can eliminate misunderstandings and learn about Millionaire Marriage Club!

Save my spot for the FREE WEBINAR: Communication That Works! Eliminating Misunderstandings