Family Relationships

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

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wrap up of Lucy Adam's Virtual Book Tour

If you missed our Virtual Book Tour yesterday, scroll down to read about Lucy Adams and her book, "If Mama Don't Laugh It Ain't Funny." Below are some of Lucy's answers to our readers' questions:
Open old book, studio shot

Were you always funny or did you cultivate your sense of humor? I admire your skill and, although I see the humor in stuff, I don't seem to be able to convey it to others.

I think a good sense of humor runs in my family. My best memories of my great-grandmother and grandmother are of them laughing, and mostly at themselves; my mother, likewise. I learned from them to note the details in life, to find humor even in unlikely places, and how to tell a story. So, I owe them for my gift of humor . . . and for many wonderful memories.

With raising a family, writing and working, how do you ever find any time for yourself?

How do I find time for myself? Funny you should ask that. I just finished writing an article (for a parenting magazine) about moms making time to pursue their own interests.

Writing is my THING, my personal interest, and I tend to squeeze it in where ever I can. I always have a pen and paper with me, I've been known to take out a pen light in a movie theater and jot down an idea that suddenly comes to me. I wrote an entire story one time in a fitting room, sans children of course, in the women's department of Macy's.

I don't watch television, don't carry on long conversations over the phone, try not to get bogged down in e-mails, don't spend long hours on facebook. I find those things steal my time.

But most of all, I guess I've made time for myself to write because it is very important to me.

You say you have 4 children and seem to be pretty intuitive - any insights about birth order?

Aaah, birth order. Well, first of all, I suppose I should confess that there are two babies of my family. And, no, they are not twins. My oldest three children are boys and my youngest is a girl, the natural baby of the family. My youngest boy is the baby of the boys. It really complicates things.

One of the stories in If Mama Don't Laugh capitalizes on the whole birth order idea, when I refer to my children as Say Some Evil (the go-getter oldest), See Some Evil (the observant, quiet middle boy), Do Some Evil (the attention grabbing youngest boy).

You're able to look at your life and find the humor in it - I've never been able to do that. I wonder if that's in the DNA or I can learn to see the world through a softer lens. What do you think, Lucy?

I think all the little annoyances of the day - trying to get four kids to six different activities while also getting myself to my own obligation, dinner burned, no milk for breakfast, an unexpected meeting at work, car battery dies -while on the surface very managable, start to pile up until my jaw is clenched and my heart is racing and all I want to do is go back home and get back in bed. I think everyone has days like this, weeks like this, or even lives like this.

But in the big scheme of things, these little annoynaces are barely blips on the radar. And it's important to keep them in perspective. I don't want my life to boil down to one frenetic day after another, without happiness or joy. I don't want my children to remember me as a stressed out shrew who only said, "Hurry up." When they see my face in their mind's eye, I hope they picture me smiling and laughing.

I believe it is a personal decision to find the meaning, the lessons, the laughter in the very chaos of life. If I can't do that, then I have nothing but chaos, and I cannot live that way.

I loved If Mama. Living in the south and having a gaggle of kids may help, but there was so much I could relate to. The title of your new book makes me wonder what it's about.

My upcoming book, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, due out late spring 2010, is about life's embarrassing, uncomfortable moments, both mine and those of other people. The first chapter highlights some of my own flubs and foibles, then I go on in subsequent chapters to share about my husband and children, my extended family, my friends, and finally observations of total strangers.

The book and title were inspired by an actual incident in which I walked out of the bathroom and down the hallway at work, past several coworkers, with my skirt tucked into my panties. I dedicated Tuck Your skirt to the author of a scathing letter in regard to one of my columns published in the newspaper. Her letter and my response are both included in the introduction.

Thanks, Lucy! We all appreciate your honest, thoughtful and funny responses.

Wow, everyone asked such great questions. This has been a wonderful Virtual Book Tour stop. Please go out and purchase your very own copy of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. Ask your local bookstore to order it for you, or order it on-line at all major bookstores - Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, Books-a-Million, etc. Hint: It makes a great Christmas gift! And please keep your eye out for Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run in the Spring of 2010.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Virtual Book Tour: "If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny"

Today we are delighted to welcome Lucy Adams to our blog’s Virtual Book Tour. Lucy is the author of “If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny.” Her first book celebrates family and the struggle to balance life while maintaining a sound mind and body. Readers get lost in her stories of family antics which somehow always seem to explore and further her own personal growth through insight and a healthy portion of humor. Now see for yourself:

Nourishing Relationships: What inspired you to write this book?

Lucy Adams: So many things inspired me to write If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. My husband stayed after me about doing it. Readers of my weekly newspaper column frequently asked me when I planned to write a book.

The turning point came when a publisher called and asked if I was interested in writing a how-to book on parenting. Wow! I was flattered. But when I finally got my puffed up ego to sit down and be quiet, the reasonable, logical side of me said that it was dangerous territory to tread. After all, my own children aren't fully cooked. I've yet to see the end product of my own parenting. Who am I to tell someone else how to do it? I had to call the publisher and decline the invitation. While on the phone, however, with newfound confidence clutched in my sweaty palms, I pitched the idea for If Mama. He liked it.

If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny was also inspired by my need to prove that life is more than a collection of chaos book-ended by rare moments of calm. Every moment counts. Every minute of every day has a purpose. I have found that by learning to live in the little moments, I open myself to the biggest lessons and the best rewards. And, of course, humor. The smallest sliver of a second contains a complete journey. So much more happens between loads of laundry than wiping noses, folding shirts, and scrubbing the kitchen floor. In fact, most of life happens at the same time that I’m driving carpool, cleaning toilets, and scorching spaghetti.

N R: How did you decide on the title, "If Mama Don't Laugh, it Aint Funny"?

L A: My husband actually inadvertently coined the title. One evening at dinner, several years ago, one of my sons asked my husband to pass the rolls. Instead of passing the plate, the man tossed a roll to the child who bobbled it. Buttery bread left a long grease streak down the front of my child.

I was irritated at the poor display of table manners and at the challenge of getting butter stains out of navy blue pants. My husband could see it on my face, so he said, “Uh oh, y’all. Mama isn’t laughing. If Mama doesn’t laugh, it isn’t funny.”

The title (and ghastly grammar) evolved from there.

N R:
Do you have a favorite story from the book?

L A: My favorite story is "I Hope I'm Getting Smaller." It tells of a brief but poignant interaction with my then 4 year-old daughter. She questioned me about loving "bad guys" and what God would want us to do. We shared an amazing moment when I had a revelation about my relationship with my daughter, as well as about how she and I both understand God. It was such a profound experience; tears fill my eyes every time I read that story.

Another of my favorites is about Noah, the three legged pig. But that story is best consumed a little bit at a time, so I won’t go into detail here.

N R:
Did all of the stories in If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny really happen?

L A: All the stories but one are true. There is a clue embedded in the book. Can you find it? Do you know which story isn’t true?

N R: How do your family and friends feel about their lives being published?

L A: I have to admit, there’ve been a couple of pieces I published that sent my husband over the edge. He has actually given me a list of things I can’t print about him in the newspaper. For example, I can never write that he “squealed like a school girl.”

And every now and then my parents will question something I put in print. My parents are very thrifty and I once used a metaphor of gnomes burying their gold under toadstools to describe my mom and dad. There was no end to the grief they caught for that. I’m fortunate that they have a good sense of humor.

My friends laughingly say things like, “Uh oh, you’re not going to put that in the paper are you?”

But my children seem to go out of their way to supply me with topics. I even find myself lecturing them on not doing brainless things just to see if I’ll write about them.

Unfortunately, we usually don’t realize how entertaining the chaos is until the crisis du jour has passed. In the moment, I’m like every person – I’m surviving. I hope that in all the minutes that come between racing time to the grave, ha, ha, I’m teaching my children to laugh at themselves and take life’s ups and downs lightly.

N R:
What is your favorite thing about being an author?

L A:
Let’s see. Perhaps that total strangers write me and e-mail me to say they love If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny and that they’ve put it in the basket of reading materials in their bathrooms. On a home tour last Christmas, one man actually walked me into his bathroom to point out my book, which he keeps on the back of his commode.

Making people laugh; making an emotional connection.

I also enjoy the idea that something of my creation with my name on it is recorded in perpetuity in the Library of Congress. I'm a permanent, though tiny, piece of the fabric of America. It's a record of my existence and my contribution. Hmmm. That sounds so silly and neurotic when I say it out loud.

N R:
How did you get started writing?

L A:
My original plan, when I was 5, was to be an artist and live in my parents’ garage and take care of them in their old age. Despite my father nursing that ambition, I ended up being a writer and living down the rod from my parents. An arrangement that pleases my mother very much, since she and my dad haven’t decided to get old yet.

My high school friends would tell you that they always knew I would be a writer. My college friends would tell you they were all surprised. My husband says I’m not the same woman he married; that it’s like my alien inside took over.

I always wanted to write. I sort of gave up on it, though, after high school, seeking to do more practical things with my education and my life. It wasn’t until I was 34, with four children ages 6 and under and a husband who said we needed extra income, that I got up the courage to act on it.

I typed up sample columns and went to my local newspaper and asked if I could write for them. Then I called back the editor again, and again, and again, until he said, “Yes, if you’ll quit bothering me. I’ve got work to do.”

Now, in my 40’s, going a day without writing is like going a day without oxygen.

N R: Do you have any advice for other people who would like to get into writing?

L A: It’s NEVER too late to start. But, if you’re serious about it, you have to truly commit to seizing every moment. Working full-time and managing a family can pose barriers to a writing career.

I write in every sliver of time I can find. I try keep a notebook and a pen with me at all times, everywhere I go. Ideas suddenly come to me and I have to write them down or I’ll never remember them. Sometimes I don’t have my notebook handy when I get inspired on aisle 9 of the grocery store. I’ve written entire stories on the back of my grocery list. I’ve also been known to scribble notes on the backs of soup labels, on napkins, and flattened straw wrappers. Sometimes I dictate to my 14 year-old son when ideas come to me while I’m driving (deciphering his handwriting, however, is whole other challenge in and of itself). I jot things down while in waiting rooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms. I have lots of scraps of paper stashed here, there, and everywhere with various notes. Often, writing a story is like piecing a puzzle together, literally.

The first step, however, is just starting. Commit to writing a certain number of words a day. My number is 250. It’s manageable. You’ll find that once you start, it’s very, very hard to stop. I know I do. I’ve burned countless meals because I couldn’t put my pen down.

N R: What's in the future for Lucy Adams - another book?

L A:
My second book of humor, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, chronicling embarrassing moments in life, is due out in late spring 2010.

I also continue to blog at, to write freelance articles, and to publish my syndicated humor column.

N R: If your readers only got one thing from If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny, what would you want that to be?

L A:
That life is short, without a lot of big moments outside of marriage proposals, weddings, and children’s births. So it’s important to live it all in the everyday small moments. That’s where the marrow of our existence is. Fill those moments with laughter, and appreciate the lessons they hold.

Thanks, Lucy, for a delightful interview. Now, Readers, it's your turn. Ask Lucy questions, share your thoughts, you can even show us how funny you are. Just click on 'Comments' at the bottom of this post and follow the prompts.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Optimistic Women have Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Need a reason to look on the bright side? In a recent study of women 50 years and older, the participants were asked to answer a standard questionnaire that measured optimistic tendencies based on responses to statements like "In uncertain times, I expect the worst." Those scoring highest in optimism on this scale were more likely to be alive eight years later, while those with the lowest, most pessimistic scores were more likely to have died from any cause, including heart disease. Apparently pessimism may be as bad as having high blood pressure, a well-known heart risk factor when it comes to cardiovascular health.young woman painting a red heart on the wall That's not such a surprise, says the lead researcher, considering that optimistic people - more hopeful overall - probably have a larger support network, watch what they eat, exercise more and see the doctor regularly. They may cope better with stress, a risk factor that has been associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and early death in previous studies.

The study reveals interesting findings. Now the resarch team plans to replicate them and find out why this association is happening. And study whether a change in attitude can lower the risk of heart problems.

So what do you think - are you generally optimistic or pessimistic? And, if your attitude is more often negative, what can you do to modify it?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tears Strengthen Personal Relationships

A Tel Aviv University evolutionary biologist says that tears have emotional benefits and can strengthen interpersonal relationships. Crying is known to be a symptom of physical pain or stress. New analysis by Dr. Oren Hasson shows that tears still signal physiological distress, but they also bring people closer together.
Close-up of woman's eye with teardrops
He investigated the use of tears in different emotional and social circumstances. He concluded that tears are used to elicit mercy, sympathy and assistance from others. Emotional tears also signal appeasement, attachment and grief. By blurring vision, tears signal feelings of vulnerability and love.

Dr. Hasson, a marriage therapist, uses his conclusions in his clinic. "It is important to legitimize emotional tears in relationships. Too often, women who cry feel ashamed, silly or weak, when in reality they are simply connected with their feelings......"

The next time your defenses are down and you're moved to tears, check it out yourself. What is it you're expressing - a cry for help or an effort to bond? Don't hide the fact that you're connected to your feelings because, according to this new theroy, that's a good thing!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Spending Time in Nature makes you Nicer

Research findings indicate that those who feel a strong connection to nature have a more caring attitude toward others.USA, Washington, mature man and woman walking on footpath
Participants in the study were asked to rate the importance of life goals. Those exposed to scenes in nature placed a higher value on connectedness and community as well as a lower value on ideals that were more self-oriented.

So why would immersion in nature instill feelings of selflessness? According to the researchers, it allows you to follow your interests and gives you an enhanced sense of personal autonomy. Feeling more relaxed, you may experience a decrease in your stress level.

If being at one with nature makes you feel better, it makes sense that it could lead to your being more emotionally available to others.

As Sandwiched Boomers are you facing daily pressures with parents growing older and children growing up? Try your own experiment. See how a walk in the park or a hike in the hills impacts you and your relationships. And let us know the results.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

A Woman's Nation: A Continuing Conversation

Although this is the last day we're focusing on 'A Woman's Nation', the conversation must continue. Exerpts of this post are from the Huffington Post article written by Chai Feldblum and Katie Corrigan, co-directors of Workplace Flexibility 2010. An initiative of Georgetown University Law Center, this project advocates for family friendly work policies and legislation.

It's important to look more closely at how workforce trends are impacting our family lives. Over two thirds of American families don't have someone at home who handles the household responsibilities. With both parents working, many struggle to succeed at work while meeting the demands of family, and often feel they fail to achieve either very well.Family going for a walk with dog
This issue impacts Sandwiched Boomers who are faced with the challenges of caring for a family in flux, whether it's growing children, aging parents or both. But the struggle to balance work and home is often seen as a problem that each employee or family must face alone.

The continuing conversation needs to include movement toward workplace flexibility that meets the needs of both employers and families. This approach supports individuals' control over the scheduling of their work hours and includes options such as condensed workweeks and telecommuting. Study results indicate that flexibility increases productivity by keeping workers healthier and happier as well as cuts employer costs by reducing turnover.

President Obama spoke this week about the incredible juggling act working women go through every day. And how to best support working parents is one of Michelle Obama's priorities. She is particularly concerned about policies providing sick leave, increased maternity leave and flexible work arrangements.

Let's hope that the buzz around the Shriver Report results in a national conversation about how to shift the infrastructure of the workplace to meet the realities facing families today. And we can start right here, right now.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Woman's Nation: What Do Women Today Want?

So who is today's woman and what does she want? As one of our readers commented, it's certainly not like in the old days when Dad brought home the bacon and Mom fried it. The Shriver Report looks at how women’s changing roles are affecting all aspects of their lives, with concerns like how does she define power and success.
Vintage image of women dressed up for follies sitting together holding dolls
With more men forced to stay home due to unemployment, women are now driving the economy. It’s a transformational moment, with working women now the norm. For the first time, mothers have become the primary breadwinners in nearly half of American families.

Both women and men are struggling to adjust to these changes, with conversation and compromises at every turn. If the wife makes more money, does that become an issue in the relationship? If she's always tired from working and taking care of the home, what about the marriage?

There's no one way to respond to this evolving family dynamic. Some women today are still tough on themselves and feel guilty about the work/family pull. Others no longer want to do it all - being superwoman and an expert at multi-tasking is getting old. Husbands are stepping up to the plate in record numbers. And some stay-at-home dads, who take their job very seriously, don't want to be told what to do.

More conversations are going on around the kitchen table. And it looks as if learning to negotiate, so it's a win/win for both, is becoming an art form. Want to weigh in? Click on 'comments' at the bottom righthand corner of this post and follow the prompts. Write about the compromises you and your partner are making. You can sign in as anonymous - it's easy and we'd love to hear from you!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Woman's Nation: Who Wears the Pants?

One question in the Shriver Report, when husbands weighed in, was who wears the pants? Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's husband is now a full-time Dad. He talked about the shifting landscape of their marriage and changes in his sense of himself. Unlike fathers in the past, who 'took a back seat,' he sometimes tells his wife to 'stay out of my lane.' His sentiments were echoed by other dads - whereas they and the kids are a team when mom is at work, she still expects to be in charge when she's home.
Father Setting the Dining Table with Family
Questions the group of men answered often revolved around roles: Are both women and men having identity crises? Who is really in charge?

All of the men agreed that, in this crazy economy, redefinig roles has become the norm. Their emotional responses to expectations depend on how they grew up - in a traditional home where mom stayed home and dad worked or by a single working mom. It seems as if several of the men want to be the kind of dad they didn't have.

There was also concensus about the struggles that go along with these evolving dynamics. At times some aren't sure what their wives want or what the family needs from them. These new arrangements require a lot more emotional presence and awareness. Some still look to their wives for permission on a variety of issues, but less so as they're more in charge.

It looks like the male ego may be shrinking. In general, the men wanted to support their wives, be more hands-on with the children, understand eldercare problems. They're receptive to negotiating the family rules over the kitchen table. One dad summed it up - 'My daughters will enjoy a better reality, although we're not quite there yet.' In fact, many of the men seem to be learning that, once an identity shift is made, this new lifestyle can be very gratifying.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Woman's Nation: Weeklong Reporting

On the Today Show, Maria Shriver said that the impetus for the Woman's Nation report came from the 2008 California Women's Conference, attended by over 25,000 women. For years participants have been discussing how difficult it is to balance work and home life and how these problems have not been reflected in the media.
Female office worker holding paperwork and using phone, mouth open
Yesterday one of our readers commented: "....women have been struggling with these issues for years and years." But now this dilemma could have legs as it's no longer just a woman's issue but an American economic issue.

A major point in the Shriver report is that women feel isolated even though they're out of the home and in the workplace. They feel stretched and constantly under pressure, still mainly responsible for the household responsibilities including child and possibly elder care. On CNN 360, Arianna Huffington, Suzie Orman and Faye Wattleton discussed what keeps working women feeling stressed: guilt about not having the time to parent well, fear of asking for a raise (women earn only 78 cents on the dollar compared to men), sleep deprivation because of too much to do, frustration about having to make hard choices between family and job goals.

So what has to give in order for the American Mom to have more balance in her life? Some say that all institutions - from the family to business, from schools to the government - have to adapt to the changing needs of the American family. Others recommend that collectively, as a society, we set more progressive, realistic and flexible goals so women can be successful at work and at home. For sure, if we value families that are making it work and highlight companies that are family friendly we'll begin to foster changes to meet the dynamic needs of today's family.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

A Woman's Nation

Yesterday First Lady of California, Maria Shriver, spoke about 'A Woman's Nation' on Meet the Press. According to this new report, close to 50% of women - compared to less than 30% in 1950 - are in the work force and 2/3 of mothers are breadwinners or co-breadwinners. With this growing dynamic in our society, the question at round tables and kitchen tables becomes: how do we relieve the stress on families?
Maria Shriver's 2008 Women's Conference
This is the quintessential Sandwich Generation issue. As you well know, women have been struggling for years, trying to balance the needs of children growing up and parents growing older with the demands of the job.

The Shriver report, supported by the Center for American Progress, sheds light on this subject and puts the challenges that families face front and center. Apparently the battle of the sexes may be officially over. It's time to renegotiate the rules of the household with regards to childcare and eldercare. And a lot of men are already onboard.

As a Sandwiched Boomer, what do you think women need in order to be successful in the workplace and at home? Let us know your thoughts - just click on 'Comments' at the bottom of this post and follow the prompts - you can even sign in as Anonymous.

This conversation will be going on all week, on NBC, Facebook and Twitter and we'll be following it. Tune in tomorrow to stay informed.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

NBCAM and Surviving Breast Cancer

All this week we have been focused on October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Soon the month will be over and done - just as breast cancer can be diagnosed, treated and cured. Between 2 and 3 million American women living today have survived breast cancer and are thriving. Here is our final tip this week, for them:

Take credit for the challenge you have faced and the changes you are making. Recognize and accept that you have faced many difficulties in your process of healing. Give yourself credit for the hard work you have completed to get to this point in your recovery. You have learned about yourself and made changes in the way you think, feel, act and react to yourself, others and the situation around you.

We celebrate with you! The different pink ribbons we have highlighted this week reflect the unity in diversity of women who are surviving breast cancer - and the men who love them. Today's pink ribbon is by Gordon Smith and can be found on Carol Sutton's site,

For more tips on how to successfully face a crisis in your life, click on the post title above. It takes you to our article, How to Turn a Crisis into a Challenge, on our website,

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

NBCAM and Dealing with Breast Cancer

As women move through the steps of coping with breast cancer and its treatments, many find that staying informed and involved in the process gives them a sense of power and resiliency. Here are some more tips to help you take charge of your life.

Redirect yourself toward active goal setting. When a serious illness strikes, you may feel like your life is completely out of control. To regain a sense of direction, reflect on what priorities are important to you and then set a goal within your reach. Identify your strengths and build on them as you plan how to achieve your objectives. Journaling may be helpful as you consider strategies and options. Initiate your plan in small steps and review your progress regularly.

Make something positive come out of the situation. Women who are able to find some positive meaning in such a negative situation often experience growth as well as a greater sense of control and feelings of confidence and optimism. Think about how you can use the unique perspective you have gained to make the rest of your life richer and more meaningful.

When you feel like it is almost too much to get started making a change, reflect on how inertia can hamper your efforts to cope. Click on the post title above to take you to our website and the article, "Sandwiched Boomers: 7 Tips on Fighting Inertia." They will help give you just the push you need to begin.

Today's pink ribbon is by Rachel Meinz and can be found on Carol Sutton's site,

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NBCAM and Coping with Breast Cancer

During October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are especially focused on early detection and improving the management of breast cancer, should it be diagnosed. Today's coping tips can help you support yourself - emotionally and physically - through the difficult process of dealing with breast cancer and its treatments.

Enjoy the support you receive from others. Your family and friends can provide a network of support for you. You may also want to join a breast cancer support group, either in person or on-line. Support is helpful in several ways - it gives you someone to listen to you when you need to express yourself, someone to give you information and feedback, someone to help you with practical matters such as an errand that needs to be done. Support will be there for you if you look for it. It may feel awkward at first to ask for help, but you'll find friends want to do what they can for you.

Take care of yourself. Pamper yourself - you deserve it! Set aside time for beginning or continuing an exercise program that includes aerobics, flexibility and strengthening exercises. Enjoy eating a more healthful diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Schedule relaxation time to decrease the stresses in your life. Learn visualization techniques. Think about what you really like to do and do it. Of course this is easier to say than it may be to do, but stick with your decision to make time for yourself. You can make it happen.

Click on today's post title to take you to an article on our website - Top 10 Self-fullness Tips for Sandwiched Women. After all, David Letterman is not the only one who can make top 10 lists. Remember, it's not selfish to take care of yourself.

Today's pink ribbon is by Lou Carter; you can find more of her Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign designs on her website,

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NBCAM and Living with Breast Cancer

As breast cancer survivors have learned, coping with any serious illness can take a toll on you - emotionally as well as physically. This week, we'll be giving you some tips each day on how to manage your recovery so that you can move forward with your life. We begin today with acknowledging where you are coming from.

Accept your changing emotions as normal and give yourself permission to express them. After a brush with cancer, it is normal to feel many different emotions such as anger, fear, worry, anxiety, depression, stress or loss of control. It's OK to express these to people you trust and acknowledge them to yourself. Only then can you begin to cope with them.

Recognize the changes in your body. You may feel that your body has betrayed you, leaving you feeling vulnerable and with a loss of innocence about your own invincibility. You will need to grieve this loss. In addition, you may be experiencing side effects of the treatment such as fatigue, stiffness, lymphedema, weight gain, as well as menopausal symptoms. Once you clarify for yourself how your body is reacting, you can address each of the symptoms in your efforts to alleviate them.

Tomorrow we'll look at more ways to take care of yourself if you ever need to deal with a diagnosis of cancer and treatment options. For tips about how to develop better communication with a loved one when serious illness intrudes, click on the post title above to take you to an article on our website,, Boomer Couples: Deepening Your Conversations about Serious Illness.

Today's pink ribbon is by Vanessa Rumaz and can be found on Carol Sutton's site, All week, we'll be featuring different pink ribbons created by talented women and men to increase public awareness about breast cancer and encourage research on this disease.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

NBCAM - National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For the past 25 years, October has been designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, blogs will be "going pink," stores will be selling everything from mixmasters to ipods in pink, you'll see this pink ribbon everywhere. What does this really mean to you?

If you are over 40, it means that you should be having regular screening mammograms. While mammography is the best available screening tool to date, no test is always 100% accurate. So it's wise to also perform your own monthly breast self-exams and see your physician for an annual breast exam. You may also want to consult a physician about your risk factors for breast cancer and additional diagnostic steps to take such as MRI.

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer facing American women today. But, with mammography and physical exams leading to early detection, most breast cancers can be successfully treated. There are between 2 and 3 million American women living today who have survived breast cancer. So don't let anything get in the way of becoming aware and taking care of yourself. And visit the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website, for more information.

To read one woman's story about her experiences with breast cancer, click on the post title. It will take you to our website,, and one of our early newsletters. Feel free to look around and read other archived newsletters that relate to you. Then sign up to receive your own copy of our free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, sent directly to you. And tune in all week for tips to help you cope with a serious illness like breast cancer.

Today's pink ribbon clip art is copyrighted by Bobbie Peachey, at

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Empty Nest: A Chance to Reinvent Yourself

One reader sums it up: "I am a full believer that the better way to avoid the problems of empty nest is balance. Your entire life cannot be the kids. Throughout the child rearing days a portion of your time and mind should go to continuing to build the relationship with your spouse. Another important portion of your time and mind should go to nurturing yourself. Doing what you love to do. When the kids are gone you have more time to dedicate to both of these. There is always a sense of loss, but there is something there to fill the void."

Practice letting go. Try to visualize one door closing and another door opening. Relax into feeling more calm and carefree. Let yourself get excited by the possibility of exploring what you want to do with the free time that is now available to you.

Decide to write regularly in a journal. Think about what's happening in your life right now and you'll see that there's no right or wrong way to feel. Accept that you, too, are on a more independent path now. By identifying and dealing with what is going on for you emotionally, you'll learn to take greater control over this process of change. Couple walking near the pier
Recognize that you now have full license to put energy into reinventing yourself. The lid has been lifted off the box – embrace new options that you may not have imagined possible. Continue to move away from center stage regarding your kids and move toward your own deferred plans and goals. It's the best time to enjoy the chance to fulfill your dreams.

Some think that putting yourself first is selfish, no matter what the stage of life. But that's not what the experts say. So click on the title of this post for tips on what we call self-fullness. And keep us posted on your progress!

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Empty Nest and the Sandwich Generation

For those of you in the Sandwich Generation, there are lots of circumstances that lead to an empty nest - your growing children moving to college, moving away to take a job or moving into marriage or a committed life with a partner. And any of these situations may require major role shifts for all the family.

Watch the video below about a transition that unfortunately resulted in problems for everyone. But if you read the August blog posts we suggest, you'll see that that there are solutions.

Accept your ambivalence about the empty nest. Discuss your situation with friends who care about what you're going through. You'll discover that you have a lot in common and that they feel the same about their own experiences. That can be validating and comforting. Practice letting go. Try to visualize one door closing and another door opening.

Clicking on the title of this post will take you to and an article about what you can learn from President Obama's Mother-in-law. Then, at the top lefthand corner of that article, you'll see "Return to Home Page." Click on that and then on Newsletter Library and Nourishing Relationships for more tips about adapting to other role changes.

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Tips for Adjusting to the Empty Nest

"My only child is in her first year of college and, even though I've always worked and she's been 'on her own' for years now, I really miss her. I can hardly wait for parents' weekend." This is a commment from one of our readers who read yesterday's post about the empty nest.

Do you associate the empty nest primarily with children leaving for college? For some parents, the greatest feelings of loss occur when their adult children get married. The changes during this transition can be dramatic and traumatic as the young couple moves on to create their own independent family unit.

Prepare for a greater sense of separation. As you find your adult children distancing more over time, realize that this is natural and normal. They have their own lives now and so do you. The details and activities you share may be less frequent but can be just as meaningful.
Thinkstock Single Image Set

Understand that you are still needed, although not in the same way. Letting go of your parenting responsibilities means letting go of the particular family roles you've played so far. Breathe deeply and appreciate this opportunity to create different relationships within your family.

Learn more abut adjusting to these changes by clicking on the title of this post. That will take you to and an article about how to Play your New Role as Mother-in-law.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Is There Really an Empty Nest Syndrome?

There's a lot of controversy about whether or not the empty nest is, in fact, a syndrome. But for sure it's one of many life transitions that can be difficult to navigate.

Some parents are ambivalent and struggle with letting go emotionally. Even when your kids readily move into their independent lives away from home, you may still be concerned about how they're managing. The popular term, helicopter parents, is widely used in the mainstream media.
Father talking with his son
Do you rush in to protect, no matter how inconsequential the situation? Or sometimes feel like a helicopter hovering overhead, rarely out of reach, whether there's a distress signal or not? If this sounds familiar, your growing children may be missing out on the chance to learn from their own mistakes.

Yesterday we heard from one reader who has a practical and pragmatic attitude: "I have always worked and will continue to do so when my last kid leaves for college next fall. I have four gone now and when each one left home I felt some guilt about not having been around enough. But like so many families, that's what we had to do."

For Fern, it's now six months since her son left home and she's still struggling emotionally: For 12 years I raised him as a single mother and was always available. I didn’t care that my life revolved around him. Now he just wants to be with his friends and I’m left out. I know he should be on his own, but I don’t have anyone else and I feel so alone."

So there are different sides to the empty nest story. Click on the title of this post to read about how to lay low as helicopter parents. And if Fern's challenges sound at all like yours, log in the rest of the week for tips about managing the challenges of the empty nest.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Baby Boomers and the Empty Nest

Now that autumn is here and your college-aged kids have moved out, you may be feeling unsettled, even melancholy. This can be a complicated time of transition for some families - but not all.

For some parents 'no kids at home' represents a fresh start. Here's what Mira had to say after her youngest child went away to college: "This is the only time I've been completely free since my daughter was born. I spent months after she went away to college just relaxing and doing whatever I wanted, until I got bored. And now I've enrolled in graduate school - I'm going to pursue my passion for learning and an MBA."

So let's figure out what it is that you're really thinking about - how they'll get along in school or how you'll adjust to the empty nest?

All week we'll be focusing on this timely topic and we want to hear from you. If your kids are away at school, what are the unexpected feelings you are dealing with? And, if this transition is behind you, what words of wisdom can you share with all of us?

Settle into the subject by clicking on the title of this post. That will take you to and an article about How to Love your Kidults by Letting Go.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Our Staycation

The two of us spent part of our staycation designing a new blog to Nourish your Relationships and a new website for Her Mentor Center. We will unveil it soon, so look for news in the next few weeks about our new "baby." And soon we'll also be updating our newsletter, Stepping Stones, so be sure to sign up for your free copy today. Simply click on the title post and it will link you to our registration page.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Staycation Moonsets

Ever since we bought our first grandson the classic children's book, Guess How Much I Love You, a week after he was born, the moon has been a symbol unifying our three young grandsons, who live two thousand miles away, and us. We used to read to them, tucked snugly on our laps, about how the mother hare loved her baby, "all the way to the moon and back," and spread our arms as wide as we could showing how much we loved them.

As they grew older, we would excitedly spot the moon together on our trips to their home and theirs to ours. We talked about how we were all seeing the same moon, even when we were thousands of miles apart. I began shooting photos of the moon, especially moonsets over the Pacific. I liked the way the moon would light up one section of the ocean at night.

Sometimes one of the boys would call us and declare, "I saw our friend the moon tonight!" The feeling of togetherness would envelope us as our smiles stretched across our faces as it did across the country. In the "wee small hours of the morning" I would get up and take pictures that I could send them, along with a poem I wrote about our unbreakable connection to them.

I think my favorite pictures of the moonset are the ones I took in the west as the sun was rising in the east. They remind me of the timeless link between night and day, the circle of life, the eternal bonds between us and our loved ones. And, of course, our three young grandsons.

To read more posts about connecting with your grandchildren, click on the title above. It will take you to a group of posts here at NourishingRelationships about our Virtual Book Tour with Sally Wendkos Olds and her book, Super Granny.

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