Family Relationships

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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

It's a common saying, but so true - time flies! Over the next few days, as you welcome the new year, will you be cleaning the slate or clearing your head in preparation for a fresh start in 2010? It's a time to assess the past year - what was good, what was hard and what you want to change. And as Sandwiched Boomers, relationships may be close to the top of your list.

As we all know, 2009 has been a difficult year. The financial crisis created losses on many levels - jobs, comfort, security, income, dreams. But there were many gifts as well, as families banded together and made important decisions about how to move forward despite the odds.Happy New Year with countdown numbers
This will be our last blog post of 2009, and we want to thank you for joining us on this journey - we are grateful for your commitment. As you prepare to usher in the new year, take a moment to think about what you need from us as you face the challenges of a family in flux. Whether you've been a quiet observer or more actively involved, we want you to know that this blog is for you. Click on the title above for an article about how to think positive in tough times. And spend some time reading other articles at that may be of interest. Our best to you in 2010!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions and an Exercise Plan

One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to commit to an exercise plan. Gym memberships inevitably increase the beginning of January. If you're like most people, you'll be eager to get started. But keeping it up is the biggest challenge. The following tips may help you stay on target:

Track your progress. Notice each small success you make toward reaching your long-term goal. Short-term objectives are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help you stay motivated. Instead of being focused on competing in a marathon, why don't you begin by jogging a couple of times a week.

Stick to your plan. Obsessing about the occasional slip won't help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can and take one day at a time. Be patient as you let a new activity, like exercising, become a habit. And before long, your new healthy routine will become second-nature.
Woman Jogging

Keep trying. If you run out of steam by mid-February, don't despair. Start all over again - set another goal to get your body in better shape. There's no reason you can't make a new resolution any time of the year.

Want more reading material to get you fired up? Click on the title above for an article about how to make your New Year's resolutions a reality.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Resolution to Take Care of Yourself

If your resolution is to take better care of yourself, make sure that you have a mindset to accomplish your goals. Resolutions to lose weight or quit smoking that are too ambitious can be difficult to achieve.

Be realistic. Strive for a goal that is reasonable and attainable. Instead of resolving to never again eat the fattening foods you love, avoid them more often than you do now. Choose practical solutions that you will be allow you to succeed.

Outline a specific plan. If you decide to stop smoking, how will you deal with the temptation to have one more cigarette? Some possibilities could include calling on a friend for help or participating in a pleasurable activity instead. Practice thinking positive and visualize a healthier body - consider that you will cough less, breathe easier and be able to exercise more.
Breaking the habit
Talk about it. Don't keep your new goal a secret. Tell family members who can be there to support you. Enroll in a smoking cessation program or join a group. Find a friend who shares your resolve and continue to motivate each other.

Reward yourself. This doesn't mean to eat a box of chocolates if your goal is to diet. Celebrate your success by treating yourself to an activity that doesn't contradict your resolution. If you've been sticking to your promise to eat better, perhaps your reward is a movie with a friend.

As 2009 comes to a close, you may be reflecting on how challenging the past year has been. Want to begin the new year on a firmer footing? Click on the title of this post to read an article on about how to inventory your assets.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Sandwiched Boomers and New Year's Resolutions

The idea of New Year's resolutions is not really new. In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of beginnings and endings, and was usually depicted with two heads facing in opposite directions. According to legend, one of his heads looked backwards into the old year and the other forwards into the new one. Over two thousand years ago, the Romans ended the year by reviewing the one before. They resolved to achieve more in the new year and pay homage to Janus, namesake of the month January.
Woman with loose jeans

As Sandwiched Boomers, what are you planning to add to your 'to do' list? New Year's resolutions are common practice and the majority of them fall into three categories: lose weight, start exercising and quit smoking. But even more common is the tendency to break them.

Research suggests that the long-term success rate is only about 20%. Chances are, at some time, you've been a part of this statistic. How can you stop the cycle of resolving to make change, but then not following through? Log on all week as we discuss strategies that can help you turn year-end ambitions into year-long lifestyle changes.

You can get a headstart by clicking on the title above. That will take you to and an article with tips about how to begin.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Enjoying Santa's List

Santa Claus Reading a List of Good Boys and Girls

This holiday season choose to focus on recognizing everything you are thankful for. We've done that in our article, 5 Steps to Gratitude Despite a Tough Economy - you can access it by clicking on the post title above.

We here at hope you enjoy the family time that his national holiday allows and we wish a very Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating today.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Listing Your Goals

Financial adviser and client

After you identify your strengths and the direction you want to take, begin to develop a concrete plan of action you can follow. Establish short-term objectives that will move you, step by step, toward the long-term goals you have set for yourself. Discover and create your personal vision for 2010 using your newly completed asset inventory.

Seated Woman Using Electronic Organizer

Think it is too late to start making lists and dramatic changes? Mary Anne Evans was a novelist in 19th century England but believed she need to take a male pen name to have her works taken seriously. Taking the nom de plume George Eliot, she published successful novels such as Middlemarch and Silas Mariner, among others. She wisely advised, "It is never too late to be what you might have been." So decide what you want to be and then make it happen. For more insight and tips about achieving the goals you set for yourself, click on the post title above. It connects you with our website, and our article, 8 Strategies to Turn Your New Year's Resolutions into Reality.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Listing Your Assets and Liabilities

Mature woman looking in mirror, smiling

Engage in an active process of getting to know your true self and what you want to do. Think about what you would see if you held up a mirror to your inner self. What nurtures your creative thinking? What stimulates your curiosity? What do you really value and care about? What are your dreams and passions? When you can honestly answer these questions for yourself, you can begin to identify what is your life purpose. Only then can you go about achieving it.

How would you like to share your "assets" with others? Your expertise can be directed to giving back to those in need, to the next generation, to the community, country, world. Begin to practice small acts of kindness – let the harried mother go ahead of you in the grocery line, give up the parking space to the elderly gentleman, smile at the sales clerk who looks like she’s having a bad day. At this stressful holiday time, your thoughtfulness and consideration can mean even more to those around you.

Just as you would calculate liabilities as well as assets when determining your financial net worth, you can look at the areas that you would like to enhance in your personal life. Even if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, this provides a focus for your actions toward self-improvement as the new decade begins. Let 2010 be the start of changes that you have been planning to make but never quite began.

If you would like some more tips about incorporating techniques for success into your daily life, click on the post title above and read, Cheer Captain Phillips and Train for Your Own Success on our website,

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Listing Your Strengths

woman sitting with her legs crossed on bed and writing in a journal

Keeping a journal will help you clarify your thoughts and feelings as you look at all aspects of your life. As you begin to make an inventory of your assets, include what you have done and the value you have created in the past - as student, family member, career associate, community volunteer, friend. Now think about what you are currently doing in your life that you feel proud about - the gift of time that you give as a Sandwiched Boomer to you growing children and aging parents as well as those around you.

Identify your strengths. What are some of your natural talents? These are the things that come so easily you often don't notice it. And how about the acquired skills you have used successfully? You may have worked hard to perfect them. Both your talents and your skills make up your abilities - your greatest personal strengths. Think about what they are and how you use them. These could encompass, among others, attributes as diverse as a love of learning, a sense of humor, loyalty, an appreciation of beauty, the ability to love and be loved. Recognize how you apply them in your life everyday.

Consider how others view you and your contributions. Who uses you as a role model and in what areas? Realize that all of your life experiences have led you to the wisdom you now possess. Honor this insight and find ways to share what you already know well with your own children – or, if they are already grown, mentor students learning to read, become a Big Sister, coach a soccer team at the youth center.

To read more tips about how to build your strengths and prepare to utilize them, click on the post title above to take you to our article, Captain Sullenberger: Heroes and Lessons Learned, on our website,

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Making Your Own List

Thoughts on Investing

Now that the year is ending and the '00 decade is coming to c close, pundits have been opining about all kinds of topics. You can find a list of the 10 films of 2009 most likely to be nominated for an Academy Award, the 20 most interesting books, or the 50 best songs of the decade. In addition to spending some of your spare time reading through these lists, how about taking some personal time this week to create your own list – of your 10 most important assets?

It may seem unusual for you, a member of the Sandwich Generation, to concentrate on yourself instead of on the needs of your growing children or aging parents. But take a deep breath, put your feet up for a moment and allow yourself to focus on and embrace your own development at this pivotal time.

Creating your asset inventory will give you a leg up on beginning the next decade from a position of power, but how do you begin? To help you, we've created a short list to help you focus on your assets - not the financial ones, which may still be down, but the personal strengths you own. Use this process to discover some of your hidden passions. Reflect on your answers or discuss them with a trusted friend as you create an expanded sense of yourself. Whether or not you're a Sandwiched Boomer, be sure to tune in all week for our tips to get you started.

If you've had trouble in the past taking the first step toward change, click on the post title above. It takes you to our website, where you'll find Sandwiched Boomers: 7 Tips on Fighting Inertia, with its suggestions for overcoming these hurdles.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Dr. Carol Orsborn Responds to Sandwiched Boomers

Our thanks to all you sandwiched boomers who tuned in yesterday to take part in our interview with Dr. Carol Orsborn. We had a spirited discussion about "The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul."

Clicking on the title of this post will take you to Amazon and you can learn more about "The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul." Our thanks to Carol for being so generous with her time. You can still read all of the responses, in full, through yesterday's "comments" link at the bottom of the post. Here's a sampling:

One reader asks: I agree with what you say about how sharing can make you feel less alone. I lost my job six months ago but I'm not talking. Where do I begin?

Carol's response: First of all, I emphathize with you and all the many of us who have gone through the "downsized" experience. In addition to whatever in-person resources your community may offer, many women 50+ are finding relief in being able to share their experiences online. There are a number of websites (check around) but I do a lot of my venting on a wide range of topics at You can come on the site anonymous or use your real name. In either case, I think you'll find it rewarding to discover what a relief it is to be able to speak your mind to like-minded women. (I think you'll find that you'll find yourself in some rich conversations--and it's free and easy to get started, 24/7. Good luck!)

Catherine wonders: You mention that you've never written such a personal book before. What have been the after effects of, as you say, "exposing" yourself?

Carol's answer: You ask about the effects of exposing myself in a memoir. Well, I braced myself for huge negative ramifications and then nothing bad happened. Of course, I did back way off my first draft that read more like "The Devil Wears Prada", overshadowing the spiritual heart of the book that was really the point--so I did edit back a lot. In fact, I edited out 100 pages! That said, a friend of mine did a memoir about her relationship with family members and doesn't speak to any of them any more--so you never know. My suggestion to all memorists is first write it for catharsis fearlessly, then upon rewrite, remove anything that doesn't advance the story and that is either vindictive or therapy.

Another reader reflects: I've heard from friends that journaling is helpful. I've made a few attempts but don't stay with it. Any hints?

Carol's thoughtful reply: I try to journal every day, especially when I'm working through an issue or feeling generally "off", and yes, it helps me a lot! In fact, my book grew out of my daily journals, as you know. How to keep at it? My first advice is to not overthink it. Assume nobody will ever read it and don't worry about spelling, grammar or even making sense. In fact, you might try capturing stream of consciousness: just write whatever's in your mind, i.e. jump from the fact that you're upset to that you need to buy toilet paper--again, without judgement. Eventually, if journaling is going to become "your thing", it will start surfacing deeper wisdom/self-knowledge and clarity. If it doesn't, just might not be your best tool. For me personally, I'm kind of "worded" out so I'm going to start doing a visual journal, where I draw abstract (or whatever) with colored pencils to capture my mood. I'll report back at some point if this worked!

Another reader is searching for direction: I just found out that my company has been bought out and after the holidays I won't have a job. Carol, what's your best tip about keeping up your spirits, especially at this time?

Carol reassures her: First, my condolences regarding finding out you're going to be unemployed--esp. difficult when through no fault of your own. Even if like most of us, you are tempted to take some level of responsibility...that's my first advice, don't take that on! Let yourself be sad/angry or anything other than turning against yourself. Secondly, that's a big question about how to keep your spirits up. I'd like to direct you to the four-part series I just completed for You'll see me and parts three and four on our home page, but if you start there, you will easily be led to parts one and two and can read the series in order. Best of luck!

Jan has an often asked question: A lot of women talk about the void - I can't remember the author's name but she writes for boomer women and coined the term. What do you mean by it?

Carol here: Hi Jan, I've been using the term "void" for twenty years--but don't take responsibility for coining it, as I'm pretty sure it's a literal translation of a Buddhist term. In any case, the way I use it is to describe that uncertain place between status quo's, where you are in transition but to you, it feels like you've fallen into utter darkness and hopelessness. In Christianity, they refer to this place as being akin to "the dark night of the soul." Almost every spiritual tradition has something similar.

Cassidy writes: this may be a silly question but how did your spirituality help you during the time you felt so low? i'm going through a divorce and i can't seem to find myself. cassidy

Carol shares an improtant lesson: Hi Cassidy, The point about spirituality is that we all believe in something. The philosopher William James says that believing things are going to be alright in the long run (i.e. that this is a loving universe) helps in the same way that the attitudes of two mountain climbers who have to jump a crevice will make a difference. Who will have the better chance of making it across? The one who thinks it's impossible or the one who thinks if he/she tries hard enough, she'll make it? People who are "spiritual" examine their beliefs and if they discover that they believe they're "on their own", take the leap of faith of believing there's a power greater than themselves that actively cares about them--even if it doesn't seem so at the time. The thing is, they call it an act of faith exactly because you don't know for certain...One final thought, I have found that the very impulse to pray--the willingness to give it a try--is what God responds to, not the choice or eloquence of the words or even the certainty of belief.

Carol's final words: It's the end of the day and I'm going to be signing off now. Thanks for all who checked this out--and especially those who posted comments. Thanks so much to Phyllis and Rosemary for hosting me. If you'd like to stay in the loop with my perspective/thoughts, I Tweet as Carol Orsborn; and of course, you are welcome to stay in touch with me and our community of women 50+ at

Well, that's it for now. If you want a break from holiday shopping, visit our website by clicking on the first link to the left of this post, "Her Mentor Center." You'll find lots of tips about the family in both the 'Newsletter Library' and 'Nourishing Relationships.' And you can sign up for our newsletter, Stepping Stones, by clicking on the second link marked "FREE Newsletter."

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Virtual Book Tour: Dr. Carol Orsborn Talks with Sandwiched Boomers

Today we are delighted to welcome Dr. Carol Orsborn, internationally-recognized author and senior strategist with Carol is the author of the recently published "The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul."

Carol began keeping a daily journal of her tumultuous journey through recessionary times, struggling to make sense of both personal and societal tribulation. Along the way, she found herself testing spiritual principles she’d been sharing over the course of the 15 books she’d authored, ultimately embracing both the despair and delight of what it means to be fully alive. "The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul" is the exuberant record of her vibrant, chaotic but always inspiring search for meaning…and a job:

Nourishing Relationships: Why did you write this book?

Susan Orsborn: I began the year that resulted in my book “The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul: A Boomer Woman’s Search for Meaning…and a Job” thinking that I had recklessly broken my very core. My own salvation began the moment I took up my pen every night after my long days at work to record my experiences. I instinctively knew I needed to do something to make sense of what was happening to me. While I’d written 15 books over the past 25 years, many of them inspirational and advice books, this was not a work I intended for publication. I literally wrote this book to save my soul—and it wasn’t until the year I set out to save my (downsized) soul was nearly over that I thought to share this with Patti Breitman, an old friend, and my former agent, wondering if there might be something in this for others. Outside of my own personal journals, I’d never written anything so exposed. Had I shown too much of myself? Her response excited and alarmed me. “This is a brave book” were her exact words.

N R: What do you want your readers to learn or take away from reading this book?

S O: Even successful people are not immune to undeserved hard knocks. However, whether we prosper or not ultimately has more to do with how we respond to the things that happen to us than the things, themselves. Through my own trials and tribulations, I learned that it is possible to be both downsized and spiritually healthy at the same time. Here are the ten key take-aways I learned during this year that I wanted to share with others:

1. All you can hope to control, however long you have and in whatever the circumstances, is whether you will bring your best or worst to bear.

2. There are times when all you can do is remember to breathe.

3. It is the willingness to engage in the struggle for what really matters that merits God’s intervention—not how deserving you think you are, nor whether you manage to emerge unwounded.

4. Because our futures are open and free, many influences contribute to how our lives will unfold over time. Ironically, your ability to hope becomes one of those factors, carrying just enough weight to make the difference.

5. Not everything that happens is a message. Sometimes a rat is only a rat.

6. Embrace the possibility that many things are bound to get in your way. Success comes not in spite of the things that happen to you but because you have grown large enough to embrace it all.

7. It is in the void that the status quo has the lightest hold on us. Released from the constructs of our everyday life, we have the least to lose. In the void, we are freest to make changes.

8. You don’t need an upbeat or even a brave attitude to make progress. You just need discipline, putting resumes out, making phone calls, following up leads and the like. This you can do happy or sad, anxious or full of faith.

9. It’s the economy that’s broken, not you.

10. When you give up the illusion of control, it’s true that you can’t always stop bad things from happening. But you can’t stop good things from happening, either.

N R: What research did you do to write this book?

S O: I have my doctorate in the history and critical theory of religion from Vanderbilt, which provided me with a solid foundation in terms of understanding the psychology, sociology and anthropology of what makes people grow and change spiritually, especially through crisis. (My areas of specialization are ritual studies, conversion theory and the transmission of beliefs from generation to generation.) Plus, I’ve written 15 books based on my studies of spiritual masters from multiple religions, eras and geographies: Sufi, Zen, Chassidic, The I Ching…you name it. That said, the only ultimate research I did was to use myself as a guinea pig, to see how my spiritual knowledge fared when personally put to the test. Short-term: not to well. Long-term: stronger than ever.

N R: Who was this book written for?

S O: Honestly, it was based on my own journals so you’d have to say it was written for myself. Only when I showed my journal to a friend in the publishing field did she tell me that this had value for others. The people who are responding to this book represent a surprising range of ages and circumstances, although ground zero are people 50 plus who have been downsized.

N R: What problem does this book solve for your reader?

S O: At a minimum, it will provide the knowledge that if they are in a similar position, they’re not alone. I’ve heard that my story is very validating.

N R: What has been the reaction to the book?

S O: Of all my books, this has received the most enthusiastic response. People tell me they sit down and read it in one sitting, and that when they put it down, they feel better about themselves, their prospects and life.

N R: What is your background/expertise in this field?

S O: In addition to my credentials in academia, I’m Senior Strategist with, the largest online community of smart, passionate women 50+. Because of the vulnerable, honest, optimistic dialogue engaged in by our members, I felt encouraged that if I were to share my story with others, it would be well-received…that I wasn’t some kind of loser, but rather, part of a larger movement, so to speak.

N R: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book or experience in writing it?

S O: The main reason I ended up in corporate life, in the first place, was that I had put my writing career behind me and I needed to find a new way to make a living. It’s not that I didn’t love being an author—I always feel most passionate about life when immersed in the writing process. But I felt that a new time was dawning for authors and readers, alike. The era of authority telling us how we ought to live our lives is definitively over. What we crave, rather, is personal experience, to touch it and feel it—not principles shared from the top down, but the raw, gritty stuff of the fully-lived life.

Thanks for your candor and insight, Carol. If you'd like more information about Carol, click on the title of this post - you'll also find lots of support and a fund of useful information at Now it's your turn, readers. Carol is available all day to answer your questions - just click on 'comments' at the bottom of this post and follow the prompts. And log on tomorrow - we'll be summarizing your questions and Carol's responses.

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This Holiday Season, Take Care of your Family AND Yourself

Try taking care of yourself during the holidays and you'll be pleasantly surprised as your stress level goes down. And even with a more relaxed frame of mind, everything will still fall into place. Be a role model and teach by example - slow down your pace and do something for yourself as you work hard to make the holidays special for your family.

If you feel ready to pass the baton to the younger generation, do it. Next year you can encourage and support your kidults as they preserve the old family traditions and create new holiday customs of their own. You'll see that cheering from the sidelines is good for everyone.
Family lighting menorah
In the midst of taking care of your family's needs during this hectic season, continue to pay attention to your own wellbeing. Arrange to plan ahead and, when they offer, accept help from others. And try to include fun and laughter in all that you do. During the holidays, while you may wish for peace on earth and peace in your family, don't overlook the importance of your own peace of mind.

If you click on the title of this post, you can read an article about how to celebrate the holidays with the gift of time.

Log on to the blog tomorrow, anytime, for our Virtual Book Tour – we'll be interviewing Dr. Carol Orsborn, senior strategist for, about her book, "The Year I Saved My (Downsized) Soul."

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Positive Thinking and Holiday Peace in the Family

Focus on the positives during holiday time and see how that can affect peace in the family. Why not start practicing some of the following tips right now, in preparation for what's to come? Then scroll down to the bottom righthand corner of this post and let us know what works for you.

Consider what you love about your family and let them know how grateful you are they're a part of your life. Be sure to point out their positive qualities and personal strengths rather than focusing on the negatives.

You don't have to be all things to all people all the time. If your favorite aunt doesn't get along with her ex-husband's new wife, don't invite them to dinner. It will make it easier for everyone to have an open mind and an accepting heart.

Put aside differences and avoid hot button issues. Sibling rivalry and unfinished family business are bound to surface. Despite how hard it may be, go for the higher ground and walk away from misunderstandings. But agree to finish the conversation at a later time.

Conversely, with a relationship that matters to you, bury the hatchet. If in the past you have stifled your feelings and then blown up later, don't let your emotions fester. Admit the part you play in the conflict, privately, and deal with it.
Family celebrating Kwanzaa
If there is tension in the room, take the focus away from the specific toward the abstract. For example, talk about the value of apologizing for some wrongdoing. Then encourage others to discuss how this kind of quality has enhanced their other personal relationships.

Practice letting go of childhood pain and longings when family members are not with you in person but in your memories. And realize that having feelings of gratitude and forgiveness are a gift you give yourself.

You can click on the title of this post to read an article that has more tips about how the gift of connection can reduce holiday stress.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Keeping Peace in the Family during the Holidays

Media images of the holidays are often exaggerated and, before you know it, you're trying to conform to unrealistic ideals. Combined with the added pressures and demands on your time, this can lead to emotional overload. Just remember that nothing is perfect.
Family at Christmas Dinner
Now that the holiday season is swiftly approaching, perhaps you're worried that your dysfunctional family dynamics will surface as soon as you get together. Do you think that your mother's inquisitive nature may scare off the first boyfriend your daughter's had in years? Or that your new son-in-law's parents will wonder why your 35 year old son has moved back home again? Following the common sense strategies we'll be sharing, over the next several days, will help you create a more serene holiday season for you and your family:

Realize that the anticipatory anxiety you are experiencing is common. Financial burdens around gift giving and extra chores when entertaining can make you feel apprehensive and stressed. Accept this as a normal reaction.

Make sure that you have realistic expectations and don't take everything personally. Some family members may be struggling with financial, business or marital issues that have nothing to do with you.

Clicking on the title of this post will take you to and more tips about how to handle holiday stress.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Take off your Mask and Take Care of You

Are you a Sandwiched Boomer facing the challenges of parents growing older and children growing up? If so, you're probably changing your mask throughout your busy day - and if not that, certainly your attitude and facial expression. But you can harmonize your feelings with the face you show the world.

Bring congruency into your life. Notice that when you feel one way and act another, you're out of sorts. Work on synchronicity – that is, making what you feel match what you do. Integrate your core values and personal ideals into how you view the world – and live them.
Woman with Facial Mask
It can be difficult to maintain a sense of optimism when circumstances are emotionally painful. But there are psychological pitfalls when you present a false self and mask your true identity. If your negative feelings stem from a void inside, examine what is missing in your life. It takes a lot of courage to exorcise you demons and the road to healing is long and hard. But you can hold yourself to a higher standard. Take off your mask and commit to feeling more positive about yourself.

How do you spend your free time away from all your responsibilities? A massage or facial may seem too extravagant in this tough economy. But taking a walk in the park or a hike in the hills with a friend can be a real energy booster - give it a try! And click on the title of this post for some tips on how to take better care of yourself.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Masks that Hide You fromYour Partner

As members of the Sandwich Generation facing the challenges of aging parents and growing children, there's often not enough time or energy left to attend to your love relationship. During such stressful periods, problems in your marriage can seem insurmountable. And perhaps it feels like a masquerade. As hard as it may be, take off your masks and try to understand what each other is feeling. Make a commitment to talk honestly about what's going on and what you can do to change the situation. Recreate balance so you can nurture this most important relationship - you won't regret it.

Accept the changes both of you are making. By redefining your relationship, you will begin to feel more connected. And as your relationship grows, you will both be able to go from being afraid of your future to feeling excited about what’s ahead.
Vinyl Ready Art - Silhouettes
Seek out the support you need, often. It can be difficult to do it alone. Spend time with friends who understand what you're going through or who have had similar circumstances. See a couples therapist or talk with family members whose opinions you respect and trust.

Scroll down to "Comments" on the lower righthand corner of this post and share your relationship tips with our readers. And click on the title of this post to learn more about Boomer Couples and Re-examining Your Relationship.

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The Masks We Wear as Our Kids Grow Up

You deserve the life you want. If you're having problems with changes, in your job, finances or family, take the time to evaluate the situation. Understanding and working through the impact is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
A comedy and tragedy mask
As members of The Sandwich Generation, just like these masks, sometimes you may not know whether to laugh or cry. Handling the responsibilities of a family in flux can be overwhelming - especially when you growing kids are working toward moving out. As they experiment with being more independent and on their own, there can be tension all around. And when communication stalls, you can feel frustrated, even angry.

If you're confused about what to do next, consider seeing a family therapist. The guidance of an expert can make a big difference and talking together can be helpful all around. As you begin to put unfinished business to rest, everyone will be free to express themselves more directly. Then you can decide what family problems to work on and begin to move forward, step by step.

Log on to and go to Nourishing Relationships on the Home Page, where you'll find tips on how to manage family issues. Or click on the title of this post to read an article about Loving Your Kidults by Letting Go.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Aging Parents and the Masks We Wear

As members of the Sandwich Generation with parents aging rapidly, the transition you're facing may be one of role reversal. Are you taking on more responsibility for your folks as they are less able to care for themselves? Try to take a step back and assess what's going on for you emotionally:

1. Look deep inside and be honest with yourself. You may be in denial about your parents' decline and how that is affecting you. Evaluate your emotional state of mind. If you've been quiet, withdrawn or holding back, are you hiding feelings of sadness? Or if you're frustrated or angry, are you worried about handling all that you have to do? Consider what part of all this may not be in your best interests.
Man holding giant comedy and tragedy masks
2. Stress can be a catalyst for negative behavior. Reduce the pressures you feel about your parents' situation by getting help from a geriatric care manager or other family members. Honor your body by paying attention to your exercise routine, what you eat, your sleeping habits and what gives you pleasure. Actually schedule some relaxation into your daily routine until it becomes second nature. Remember about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else in the airplane? If you don't take care of your own wellbeing, you won't be able to be there for your parents.

Let us hear from you about some of the issues you're facing with your aging parents. You can click on the title of this post to read an article about how to deal with your parents' tarnished golden years.

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The Masks We All Wear

As members of the Sandwich Generation, don't we all wear masks at one time or another, pretending that everything is OK? There are many reasons people may act out this charade. It's not uncommon to hide personal pain, because putting it on display for all to see can be embarrassing and even destabilize relationships. Yet studies show that using denial as an emotional defense and 'acting as if' everything is fine can actually shift your feelings in a more positive direction. And keeping a 'stiff upper lip' when you feel powerless may, in fact, result in your having more control over a difficult situation.
Young woman in masquerade laughing, close-up (B&W)
Yet underlying bad feelings don't just disappear when you hide them as a form of self-medication. The transitions we go through can be complicated. And perspective is valuable, no matter whether you're hit in the face with a crisis, giving up roles that have defined you in the past or making a slow adjustment to changes in your identity. Try to take a step back as you look at what's going on for you emotionally.

We'll be giving you tips all week about how to work through transitions you may be facing. Clicking on the title of this blog will take you to and an article about Turning a Crisis into a Challenge.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Focus on Gratitude During the Holidays - and All Year

Senior couple in domestic situation

Deciding to focus on giving thanks means a whole new mindset. As Albert Schweitzer put it, "To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude." When you follow these steps you can act on the gratitude you experience and live a rich life no matter what time of year or economic environment.

Positive psychology studies have shown that thinking about someone to whom you are grateful and conveying that gratitude increases your own well-being - you will feel less stress and depression and more happiness and pleasure in your lives and relationships. Expressions of gratitude give you a greater sense of purpose in life and more feelings of personal growth and sense of control. And you'll even get a better night's sleep! Not a bad thing for a Sandwiched Boomer, coping with the daily stresses of caring for aging parents and growing children.

Click on the post title above to give you some suggestions about unique gifts of yourself you can give your family this holiday season. You will be able to read our article, Celebrate the Holidays with the Gift of Time.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Increasing Your Gratitude

Loving Family Celebrating Special Occasion

During this holiday season, do you feel as though the emphasis on presents overshadows the real value of the gifts you give and receive? To be significant, a gift doesn't have to be an actual physical entity - it can be an expression of love, caring and thanks that is given from the heart. For Sandwiched Boomers, caring for aging parents and growing children, these can be the most meaningful gifts of all. When you decide to focus on the people and events in your life for which you are grateful, you will find yourself open to sharing your gratitude with those you love:

Re-live and savor each of these events. Spend time re-creating in your mind the happiness of the experience. You will feel your body becoming more relaxed, your emotions more positive and your thoughts more focused. The joys of life are not only in present activities but also in remembering pleasurable occasions.

Think about what you did to open yourself to these moments. Then decide to direct your actions to include more of these delights in your life. Recognizing your own personal power will strengthen your belief in yourself as well as your willingness to consider the part others play in your happiness.

Realize why this piece of good fortune came your way. It will help you identify the people you're grateful to have in your life. You can then thank them for playing a part in improving your world. Sharing your gratitude can be one of the richest gifts you can give this holiday season - or any day of the year.

We both are grateful to Line Brunet, a family coach, who hosted us last week on her weekly radio show, Family Focus, on Blog Talk Radio. To listen to the full interview, click on the post title above. You will be able to listen to our wide-raging discussion of The Sandwich Generation on your computer or download it to your mp3 player or itunes. If you have any follow-up questions for us about our tips for Sandwiched Boomers caring for a family-in-flux, we'd enjoy hearing from you.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Take the Steps to Recognize Gratitude

Stock Market Floor Traders Clapping

Expressing gratitude not only makes others feel better, it also benefits you and your mood. When you focus on what you are grateful for you gain a wide range of benefits. These include sounder sleep, enhanced self-esteem, increased levels of contentment and improved connections with the world around you. Not a bad outcome - especially for a Sandwiched Boomer caught in the midst of parents growing older and children growing up. According to Willie Nelson, "When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around."

You need to become aware yourself of what you are thankful for before you can begin to acknowledge the part others play. Here are some steps to help you get started:

Begin to consciously notice what brings you joy. Awareness is the first step toward creating change. Set aside time to participate in the process of experiencing and acknowledging your gratitude.

Count your blessings. Each evening, note three things that happened during the day for which you are thankful. Be specific as you describe what happened to you. It could be a loving conversation with your partner, a hug from your teenage son, a lunch date with your mother.

For many women, their friends are a great source of happiness. If you want to take a closer look at the importance of friendship, click on the post title above to read our article, Boomer Women and Friendship: The Gift You Give Yourself.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Is it Hard for You to Express Gratitude?

Thinkstock Single Image Set

You can type it out in a few keystrokes. It's just one short syllable. Why, then, is it so difficult to say thanks? We are often focused on ourselves - Galileo may have proved that the earth revolved around the sun but most of us secretly believe that the world itself revolves around us. It is sometimes hard to pull out of that orbit and become more aware of the contributions of others. And we all tend to take good things for granted. Humans instinctively pay more attention to threats to their safety than they do to situations of security and pleasure. We are less likely to notice supportive behaviors, so positive acts are often ignored.

Other times we think that, by recognizing family members for their generosity, they are less likely to notice what they could appreciate about us. But giving thanks is not a zero sum game. Actually, expressing gratitude leads to positive effects for both the sender and the receiver. But any change in behavior is difficult - and establishing life-long habits takes conscious repetitions. It may be hard to make the commitment to building this new skill, but it is well worth the effort.

We offer our own thanks to Barbara Friesner, generational coach, for hosting us on her radio show, Age Wise Living, on the Voice America Talk Radio Networklast week. To listen to the whole show, click on the title above. You can hear our discussion of Healing the Rifts in Family Relationships on your computer or download it to your mp3 player or itunes. And let us know if you have any questions or comments about our interview - it highlighted some major issues for those of you in the Sandwich Generation who are caring for aging parents.

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