Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Educate Yourself

With the G20 meetings scheduled this week to focus on the global economic crisis, Sandwiched Boomer families continue to be hit by the recession and job losses. If these changes are hitting close to home, here are two tips to help you get started on building flexibility into your family:

Educate yourself about family finances. Get involved with the family budget as you seek out ways to reduce your expenses. Keep track of minor expenditures that can add up, like dinners out, entertainment and credit card interest rate costs. Think outside the box as you educate yourself on new possibilities open to you. They may involve dramatic changes like downsizing your home, selling some possessions or even giving up plans for early retirement.

Expect a husband who has lost his job to have an emotional reaction. It's normal to feel frustrated, tense, and anxious at this time. But look for signs of more serious emotional changes such as depression, anger, or feelings of worthlessness. Stress can lead to dysfunctional responses like excess drinking, gambling or acting out. Acknowledging the common effects of job loss will help you avoid conflicts over minor issues.

Click on the title above to take you to our website, where we offer you additional articles to help educate you and improve your coping skills. Look at past articles archived in the Nourishing Relationships section and the Newsletter Library section. You are welcome to sign up for our free newsletter, Stepping Stones, on the website. The link above takes you to our article, Seven Ways to Delay Gratification in a Troubled Economy, that gives you further tips.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Families in Financial Flux

As Leo Tolstoy put it in Anna Karenina, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." And what about other family traits? Are families who are flexible all flexible in the same way? And are rigid families each set in their own ways?

Today, families are being shaken up in record numbers as financial turmoil hits home. With all the job-related uncertainties facing them, families must be able to make changes in order to adjust to the current economic climate. They may even need to adapt to role reversals when a husband experiences a job loss. But how can they bend without breaking?

Even before the current recession, women have made up 46% of the workforce. This percentage will likely increase since men held 82% of the 2.5 million jobs that have already been lost since November. With more and more companies faltering and failing, the jobless rate continues to rise. As more men lose their jobs, the financial responsibilities of families are increasingly falling on the already burdened shoulders of women. When a woman becomes the sole breadwinner, the dynamics of the relationship change for everyone - husband/father, wife/mother and children. And as the family deals with the job loss, domestic stability may crumble and tensions climb. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can make adjustments at home that will help you all adapt to the turbulent changes in our society.

Tune in all this week as we give you some tips to help you combat the reorganization your family life may be facing as the economy continues to impact everyone. And click on the title above to take you to our website and an article, Five Ways Sandwiched Boomers Can Think Positive in Tough Times, with more suggestions to help you cope.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Helping the Teens Who Admire Rihanna

Rihanna's situation has been tried in the court of public opinion. And it doesn't seem as if anyone is in favor of her taking Chris back. It must be hard for her to be a public face in private pain. But she is dealing with a reality that all teenagers need to be informed about – that physical and emotional abuse are dangerous. Rihanna has the platform to demonstrate the benefits of making smart choices. And she can act in her own best interests, for herself and all the young fans who admire her and continue to watch her every move.

Help your troubled teenagers feel better about themselves. As they work through their self esteem and dependency issues, they will make better decisions about their relationships. And by accepting the person they are becoming, they will be less afraid of being alone and more excited about what’s ahead in their future.

Your attitudes and behavior are a daily example for your growing children. Clicking on the title of this post will take you to and an article about how to nourish yourself.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sandwiched Boomers and Support for their Teens

If you're a Sandwiched Boomer with concerns about your teen's relationship, what follows are ideas to talk about as you offer support:

Get the help you need now. Find an individual therapist or life coach who will guide you as you decide how to move forward. It's important to develop positive self-regard, confidence and the life skills for this. The therapy should focus on areas such as cognitive behavioral change, communication, anger management, stress reduction and control strategies. Stay in treatment as long as you need in order to figure out what to do.

Find perspective in order to grow. Whether you're hit in the face with a crisis, adjusting to changes in your identity or making a slow transition into the next chapter of your life, expect a cascade of feelings - anxiety, the desire to hold on, resentment, sadness, fear, eventually a sense of freedom. The emotional roller coaster ride is normal. If you have the fortitude to step back, take a deep breath and face the situation squarely, you can't help but grow from the challenges.

Click on the title above and read an article to learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from physical or emotional abuse.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Teens Helping Each Other

We heard from a reader about a website that supports teen action. Check out, to see a video that's a response by teenagers to the Rihanna/Chris Brown problem.

The media continues to be on top of this issue and a spokeswoman on TV earlier this week sent a clear message to young people - this is about you and you need to separate the issue from the celebrities - look at the bigger picture. Violence is not normal or acceptable and you have to take responsibility for yourself.

As members of the sandwich generation, you've got your hands full. But take the time to turn your kids on to the website. Watch the video with them. Oprah Winfrey and president Obama are both strong advocates for informing and educating our youth. Click on the title above to read an article about Winfrey's support of Obama.

If your growing children are going through a rough time, help them recognize the value of support from others. Talking to friends and family can clarify their needs as they work through their feelings. Listening to a second or third objective opinion will provide them with further insight, direction and encouragement.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One in Three Teens will be in an Abusive Relationship

Rihanna is young, talented, and at the top of the musical charts. She's also a potential example for our youth. But first she has to heal herself. Oprah Winfrey suggested that Rihanna give it some time and get counseling. What follows are ideas that she could take to heart for herself - and as a spokeswoman for all of the young women and men who look up to her.

Take a step back and take care of yourself. You deserve time alone. And the chance to be safe - physically and emotionally. This will help you see your situation from a different angle. Listening to your inner voice can provide comfort and reassurance as you recognize your basic character strengths. Focus on what's important, as you integrate core values and personal ideals into how you want to live your life.

Explore your negative emotions. When trust is broken, if you or your partner have made bad decisions, there can be a buildup of frustration, anger or disappointment, even despair as you make efforts to adapt to the new reality. It may become apparent how much you've changed and how far apart the two of you have grown. And you'll see what steps to take next, for your own good.

Studies indicate that 1 in 3 teens will be in an abusive relationship at some point, and 80% will continue to date that person. These statistics are staggering. As members of the sandwich generation, share your ideas about how to keep our teenagers informed and safe.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

How Rihanna can be a Positive Role Model for Teenagers

Are you a member of the sandwich generation with teenagers still living at home? If so, you may be helping them prepare emotionally to move out and be on their own. And in this day and age, with peer pressure and other distractions, that's not such an easy job.

Growing children today are caught in the crosshairs of modern media. Technology has become their babysitter – reality TV, nude photos on the Internet, bizarre videos on YouTube, seductive text messages. It's time for these young people to be exposed instead to role models who have the potential to inspire them to do the right thing. But instead of symbols of stability, they're finding other adolescents living through their own crises.

On the day of the Grammys, R&B singer Chris Brown allegedly beat up his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, after an altercation over text messages that Brown received from another woman. Pundits, bloggers and reporters are weighing in. Some support Rihanna and are intent on not blaming the victim. Others want her to face the situation head-on and take a strong stand.

This week we're focusing on how Rihanna can help herself - and all the young people who admire her. Clicking on the title above will take you to and an article about domestic violence.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Reaching Out as a Community

The nation seems to be coming together to demand an end to special interests that take advantage of the American people. Politicians who went along with the loopholes allowing for the AIG bonuses are rightly being questioned. And now news has surfaced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also planning large bonuses for their executives - even though the federal programs were run into the ground through problematic management decisions. Taxpayer revolts - modern day tea parties - remind us that the "little guys" are finally insisting on being heard.

Sandwiched Boomers and the rest of us practicing fiscal responsibility in our personal budgets can be the role models for government and corporate spending run amok. We can show our children how to come together for the common good and still protect our daily lives and future.

Think back to the weeks after Hurricane Katrina when the country was united in reaching out to help our neighbors in the Gulf region. The link to the title above takes you to an article on our website about American efforts then. What about recreating those days of national unity today as a guide for our children?

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Journey of the AIG Bonuses

All over the news these days is the disgust of the American people with the $165 million dollar bonuses AIG gave their own executives, as a "retention bonus." After originally accepting $150 billion in TARP money, paid for by the American taxpayer, AIG has been scheduled to receive another $30 billion. But now the government has been reacting to the anger of the people and demanding some restitution of the bonus money. Every day Sandwiched Boomers manage their budgets while caring for growing children and aging parents - why can't corporate executives and our elected officials be as responsible with our taxpayer money? You may be having discussions with your children about fiscal responsibility - especially in the current economy. Why not talk with them about some life lessons at the same time?

Take the long-range view of things. A certain action may seem like a good idea at the time, but have extremely negative consequences in the long-run. It's important to think about the logical longterm consequences of your behavior before you rush into any major decision.

Take pleasure in the process, not just in attaining the goal. All too often, the emphasis is on the prize at the end of the journey - money, success, recognition. But each of these can be fleeting - some of the AIG bonuses may be paid back or taxed very heavily - and not provide the great satisfaction we expect. When we instead focus on the process of working toward a goal itself, the journey can be exciting and fulfilling in a very meaningful way.

When you click on the title above, it will take you to one woman's story about the process and meaning of her journey to wellness after breast cancer.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Octomom Nadya Suleman Takes Two Babies Home

Again, media frenzy takes over as Nadya Suleman takes home two of her babies, Noah and Isaiah. Seeing the little ones with her vividly reminds us again of the importance of parenting. We set the standards by which our own children mature and take their place in society. We can share our values and ideals with them informally over family dinners or privately in one-on-one conversations. These are the kinds of lessons we want to teach our children:

Don't just take the easy way out, even when it is difficult to act in a socially responsible way. Practicing self-control when temptations arise creates greater self-esteem as well as decent behavior. Integrity is something that cannot be gained on demand.

Use tough love when necessary. You may have to practice saying no to yourself when you know that it is the right thing to do. Just like nourishing yourself properly doesn't mean a steady diet of sweets and dessert, love isn't only giving in to what is desired at the moment.

People hyped by the media are not always the infamous or those seeking their 15 minutes of fame. We've certainly had some heroes in the news as well, men and women who have been role models for the kind of behavior we want to encourage in our children - Captain Sully Sullenberger comes readily to mind. For a look at What Sandwiched Boomers Can Learn from Tim Russert, click on the title above to take you to the article on our website.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Creating Accountability

We all need role models to inspire us, but our culture seems to glorify the cowboy mentality of individuals acting in their own selfish interests. Celebrities' destructive behavior is condoned and mimicked. How can we get through to our children when the voices from the media are so loud? Don't throw in the towel. If you can plant the seeds, perhaps they will come to fruition when you least expect. Here are some ideas to talk about with your kids - maybe some even sound like the conversations your own parents had with you growing up:

Remember that the sun doesn't rise and set only on you. When you think solely about yourself, you deny the existence of other perspectives. Instead, consider the situation from the other person's viewpoint as well as your own. When your actions are harmful to them, weigh that effect in the balance.

Develop values that honor and respect your community. You belong to a larger network around you that is affected by what you do. Loyalty and social responsibility build connections that strengthen you as well as society. For many, spirituality and religiosity create a feeling of transcendence and purpose that helps maintain these bonds.

Click on the title above to read an article on our website about the heroes who serve our country in the armed services, How Observing Veterans Day Can Resonate for the Sandwich Generation. Tomorrow we'll look at more life lessons.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Examples for Our Children

It's never been easy to instill good values in our children and teenagers. And they seem to be floundering without role models of moral behavior in society. Studies indicate that over 75% of school kids report having cheated on exams. We tell them to take their lead from our personal actions. But how can we teach our children to be responsible citizens when so many around them are making news by being irresponsible and dishonest?

Politicians promise one thing while campaigning and then mysteriously forget these pledges after the election. Financial manager Bernard Madoff uses a Ponzi scheme to abscond with $65 billion from trusting foundations and individuals. Physicians for Anna Nicole Smith prescribe enough narcotics and pain medication to kill her. Caylee Anthony's mother turns her back on her toddler. Jim Cramer is chastised by Jon Stewart for reporting, without investigating, rosy reports he was given by CEO's over the past year.

So what can we tell our offspring about how to live and act responsibly? Tune in tomorrow for some ideas. And click on the title above to take you to our website and an article addressing reckless celebrity behavior, entitled What the Baby Boomers Can Teach Paris Hilton.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Nadya Suleman and New Possibilities

The situation may be changing for Nadya Suleman. Apparently her father is buying a house where she and her family will move. And she'll be getting help to raise her octuplets. Television's Dr. Phil McGraw said that Suleman will accept help from Angels in Waiting - a nonprofit volunteer group that offers childcare.

Public sentiment about the birth took a sharp turn when it was learned that all 14 of Suleman's children were conceived through in vitro fertilization, and that she is unemployed and single.

The road ahead will be difficult for Suleman and likely all of her children. There will be developmental, emotional, physical and financial needs that she will be hard pressed to meet. A final reminder of the potential consequences of a decision that is not well thought out:

If your bad feelings stem from a hunger inside that needs to be satisfied or a serious emotional problem, take the time to examine your own life. That will give you the chance to focus on greater personal awareness and your own emotional growth without jeopardizing the wellbeing of others.

This complex situation has sparked so much public attention. Everyone has been weighing in - why not you?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where Nadya Suleman Can Find Support

All Nadya Suleman ever wanted was to be a mom: "I longed for certain connections and attachments with another person that I really lacked, I believe, growing up.” She thinks that motherhood cured her depression. But child birth should not be used as a form of self- medication.

Knowledge is power. Use it to your advantage. Get information about ways to deal with how you're feeling - explore the Internet or the self-help section of bookstores. Think about the natural and logical consequences of the decisions you are making. Talk about how you are feeling with friends and family whose opinions you respect.

Support is a valuable tool - connect often. Accept the changes in your family, whatever they are, even if you feel caught in the crossfire. Find a class or workshop through your local university extension program or mental health center. Join an ongoing group or attend a weekend retreat to share concerns and gain new perspective.

You may be confused about what to do next. Don't be afraid to seek out a parenting coach or a family therapist. Although you may see yourself as a natural, this is a unique situation. Learning skills and techniques from experts can make a big difference and talking with someone outside of the family about your concerns and frustrations can be a lifesaver.

Sandwiched Boomers, where do you turn when you need some help?

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Suleman Preparing Octuplets to Leave Hospital

It seems as if the first of Nadya Suleman's octuplets will soon be discharged from the hospital. This is when she needs to hone her de-stressing skills. As Sandwiched Boomers, your plate must be full as well. Click on the title of this post to read an article on Nourishing the Sandwich that is You. And what follows are some tips that will help you cope:

Honor your body by understanding what makes you feel better, both physically and emotionally. Pay attention to your exercise routine, what you eat, your sleeping habits and what gives you pleasure. Reduce the situations that cause stress and increase the ones that make you feel more relaxed or alive.

Forgive others who are important to you for some past wrongdoing. Watch their reaction and see how that makes you feel. That doesn’t mean you have to totally forget about it. If you had a dysfunctional upbringing, try to understand the problems it is causing you now. Learn a lesson from the situation and move on, especially for your own good.

Practice what you know about resiliency. Recognize how your character strengths support what you do. Integrate your core values and personal ideals into how you view the world. Notice the effect your attitudes and behavior have on other people in your life. Release tension through laughter and watch yourself begin to bounce back.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What will Tomorrow Bring for the Suleman Family?

The risk of a pregnancy like Nadya Suleman's is not only to the mother but also for the babies. There are potential physical problems that will need to be carefully monitored over the coming years. There may be psychological issues to deal with as well. Even though Suleman loves being a mom, there are 14 children and only one of her. She can’t do it alone. It's not possible for her to take care of the emotional needs of that many growing children. The potential developmental delays and learning disabilities will require adjunctive therapies. And the long term costs will be significant. Meanwhile, the hospital bill alone will run well over two million dollars.

Nadya Suleman's second publicist quit this week, under growing concerns about her mental stability. While some people are empathic and relate to the challenges ahead of Nadya, others are alarmed at her attitude or worried about the children.

As Sandwiched Boomers, do these circumstances resonate for you in any way? Notice if you are in denial about your emotional state of mind. What are you doing that may not be in your best interests? And why? For example, if you're thinking about acting on an impulse, it could be a short term solution to help lift your spirits. And this could leave you with other longstanding problems for yourself and your family.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

What's the Story with Nadya Suleman?

You're Sandwiched Boomers with opinions that matter. Do you want to weigh in on the challenges that Nadya Suleman is facing? She's the 33 year old unemployed single mother who, last month, gave birth to octuplets conceived through in vitro fertilization.

Nadya grew up as an only child and had always dreamed of having a large family. Reporters, pundits and bloggers have called her irresponsible and selfish, as she already has six children under the age of seven at home. They say it takes more than love to care for eight babies, especially if you don't have a clear source of income or enough support to help raise them.

Suleman called her childhood dysfunctional and said she didn't have much control over her environment. But she's not alone. Almost everyone has some identity issues or feelings of powerlessness growing up.

This week we'll focus on tips that can help you take better care of your emotional self. If you want to read an article on about How to Turn a Crisis into a Challenge, click on the title above. And tune in tomorrow.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Rediscover Your Values and Lift Your Spirits

All week we've been writing about the impact of the economic crisis on the day-to-day lives of sandwiched boomers - and what you can do about it. Readers have repeatedly told us they're tired of turning on the radio or t.v. or picking up a paper and finding bad news. Is your financial situation wearing you down?

We're going to leave you with a new idea to think about. Spring is on the horizon, so how about planting a garden? It takes some person power but not a lot of money. It's low cost fun that the whole family can enjoy. Working together always teaches you something about others. And it's an excellent way to bond. You may even decide to grow your own vegetables to help feed the family. And a natural extension of that is cooking and eating together.

If life is hard right now, discover an interest that picks up your spirits. If gardening isn't your thing, pursue an inexpensive activity that will bring your family together. One of the most important gifts in times like these is getting back to basic values. Click on the title of this post to read an article about what we can all learn from Tim Russert about values. Why not spend some time rediscovering yours?

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Self Care and Finances

As boomers, sandwiched between kids growing up and parents growing older, you may already have your hands full. And in this economy, your everyday challenges are likely compounded by financial concerns. Click on the title above and read an article about how to manage common unhappiness on

Choose to live a healthier lifestyle. There is now no doubt that this financial crisis will be deep and go on for a long time. You may have already suffered a loss of faith, trust or confidence. But you can believe that you have control over your life - it's up to you.

Recognize how you deal with tension related to money. Financial pressure can lead to unhealthy activities like smoking and drinking. If these behaviors are causing problems for you, try to find healthier ways to manage your anxiety. There are 12-step and behavior modification programs that provide the guidance and support that you need.

The best antidote to stress is taking care of yourself. Fear and uncertainty can contribute to the failure of conventional wisdom in tough times. But the human spirit is resilient. You must have learned some lessons from these difficult circumstances. Think about them now and begin to put them to good use.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Resolve to Take Care of Yourself

As the economic turmoil continues around you, one stable element is your need to take care of yourself. It is up to you to set aside the time you need to reduce your stress. As a Sandwiched Boomer, impacted by the needs of aging parents as well as growing children, do you feel especially vulnerable to the strains and pressures of your family? Here are some suggestions for you.

Alleviate stress by the consistent practice of yoga or meditation. The first few times you try yoga, your body may be resistant and the postures may feel uncomfortable. Meditation can also be difficult at the beginning - having to sit still and to quiet your mind. However, if you decide to study yoga or meditation, and practice it regularly with the assistance of an experienced and compassionate instructor, you can produce results that go far beyond merely alleviating stress.

Maintain a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and moderate in fat. Research has shown that keeping track of what you eat, and why, is one of the most powerful tools in a weight change program. If you are significantly overweight, you have a greater risk of developing many diseases including high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer. Reaching and maintaining a healthier weight, or even losing a few pounds or preventing further weight gain, has considerable health benefits.

To get you started, click on the title above. It will lead you to our website and article, New Year's Resolutions for Sandwiched Boomers.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Staying Healthy in this Economy

As a private citizen, it’s difficult for you to influence government policy, but, even as a Sandwiched Boomer, you can have control over your own health. The average annual cost of health care in the United States is over 2 trillion dollars - a large drain on the economy. Almost 75% of health care dollars are spent treating chronic preventable illness. You have the power to make in-roads if you take your health into your own hands. This week we will give you some ways to start taking more personal responsibility. Here's one:

Participate in regular physical exercise that you enjoy and find engaging. The Centers for Disease Control recently released the '2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.' The guidelines, which recommend incorporating both aerobic activity and flexibility/strength training into your weekly routine, are a result of overwhelming evidence of the benefit of exercise in chronic disease prevention. Studies indicate that aerobic exercise brings more blood and oxygen to your brain cells. So you can improve your mood, control your weight and protect yourself against cognitive loss, all at once.

For more tips on how to take better care of yourself, click on the title above. It will take you to our website, and our article, How to Nourish the Sandwich that is You.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Recover from Financial Panic by Investing in Yourself

The financial crisis has affected many people and involved losses on many levels –jobs, income, money in the stock market, a certain comfort level, retirement funds, a sense of security, dreams for the future. And, inevitably, these feelings of loss are accompanied by a period of grieving. Ever since Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first identified the stages of mourning in her seminal book, “On Death and Dying,” bards, mental health experts and pundits have waxed philosophical about this process.

These stages are universal and can relate to any catastrophic personal loss. Kübler-Ross maintained that the steps do not necessarily come in any particular order, nor are all of them necessarily experienced by everyone. If you or your loved ones have lost money, trust or confidence, evaluate where you are in this process by the stages and comments below:

• Denial – “Others may be worried about money issues but this can’t be happening to me.”
• Anger – “Why me? I haven’t done anything to deserve this financial mess.”
• Bargaining – “I’ll do anything if you just help me secure my retirement account.”
• Depression – “I’m so discouraged, what’s the point in even trying to save?”
• Acceptance – “These problems are serious, so I might as well prepare for the long haul.”

Dr. Kubler-Ross describes the final stage of acceptance as generating the energy to reinvest in new objects. As you begin to recover from the economic upheaval, don’t you think you will be best served by investing in your own wellbeing?

Tune in all week as we give you some tips for taking care of yourself in this financial crisis. And to help you get started, click on the title above to take you to our article, Sandwiched Boomers: 7 Tips on Fighting Inertia.

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