Volume No. 16 Issue No. 11 November 2019  

  Change and healthy holidays
  Mark Stoller

     Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   Seasons and reasons. The winds of change. Nothing remains constant except change itself. There are a ton of clichés I could throw out here.
   My most recent “Aha!” moment was seeing myself left standing on the sidelines while watching my daughters reach for new heights — on their own.
   Presumably, I am suffering the bittersweet realization of how my daughters are growing from being “my little girls” to becoming amazing young women. As their independence increases, their need for me painfully declines in proportion.
   From the Netflix drama series, “Stranger Things,” a note one of the characters leaves to his daughter resonated with me during this time of self-realization.
   The character, Chief Hopper, wrote the following to his daughter El: “But I know you’re getting older. Growing. Changing. If I am being really honest, that is what scares me. I don’t want things to change. I want to turn back the clock and have things go back to the way they were. It’s naïve of me because it’s not the way life works. It’s moving — always moving whether you like it or not. Sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s sad, and sometimes it’s surprising and happy.”
   I found some helpful guidance from Austrian neurologist and psychologist, Viktor Frankl, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
   It is apparent I have my work cut out in letting go how things used to be and redefine how I grow along with my daughters.
   Speaking of family relations, the holiday season is about to kick off in earnest. There is no greater test of familial bonds than the Thanksgiving through New Year’s holiday season!
   This is the primary get-together time of the year. For some, it’s when they fondly rekindle memories of old and celebrate their traditions.
   For others, this is a time of obligation and the requirement to play nice with others –- mandatory fun, to coin a military phrase.
   In 1963, Andy Williams released the Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I believe everyone sincerely wants it to be wonderful. However, folks can get stretched to their emotional limits in unhealthy ways.
   In her article, Healthy Boundaries for the Holidays, Sharon Martin, a licensed clinical social worker, says, “For many, the holidays are all about giving and doing for others. This is a wonderful thing as long as it’s not at your own expense. Your wants and needs are valid and important. Speak up about how you want to spend the holidays, what gifts you want, or which social occasions you want to attend. Acting like a martyr only tends to cause resentments.”
   Martin continues with a list of suggestions for setting the right boundary based on your own needs:
  1. Say “no” without guilt;
  2. Say “yes” because you want to — not out of obligation or to please others;
  3. Let go of trying to control what other people eat, drink, wear, say or do;
  4. Be empowered to skip, go late, leave early or drive your own car to holiday parties;
  5. Express your feelings in an assertive and respectful way;
  6. Avoid passive-aggressive behavior;
  7. Spend time with supportive people;
  8. Take responsibility for your own happiness and don’t be a martyr;
  9. Don’t make excuses for yourself or anyone else;
  10. Ask for what you want or need.

   Friends come and go, but we begin and end life with our family. Set those healthy boundaries, which allow you to make fond memories together during this holiday season. I hope it can truly be the most wonderful time of your year.
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