TRADITIONS – the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
CUSTOMS – a usage or practice common to many or to a particular place or class or habitual with an individual OR long-established practice considered as unwritten law
It’s hard not to think about traditions this time of year. From Thanksgiving straight through the New Year the season is brimming over with traditions and customs. Whether they are unique to a family, culture or faith, they’re there, large and small.
Even if you don’t think you have them, you have them.
If there’s something you do annually, like coloring eggs on Good Friday, going to a pumpkin patch every fall, or putting up holiday decorations on Black Friday, you have a tradition.
Some of them may be ones passed down from family members over the years, while others may have been created or adapted from another source.
It doesn’t have to be annually, or even tied to a holiday. It could be something you do monthly, or even daily that has become part of who you are.
For example, my Son and I had a little ritual every night before bed when he was little. After reading a book, I would tuck him in and say, ”Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams” and give him an Eskimo kiss. And, although he’s older, when he’s home from college, I still make sure I give him a kiss on his head and say, ”Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams, Eskimo, Eskimo” Saying Eskimo, Eskimo replaces the Eskimo kisses.
Funny thing is, my Son looks for this. It has become part of who we are. Hopefully when he has children of his own he will carry this tradition on.
Traditions/customs are the threads that weave the fabric of the family together. No matter how small or simple they may seem, they matter. At their root is the history of who we are.
Back in May I took a retirement planning class. It was
informative and overwhelming at the same time. Fortunately part of the price
included two very detailed workbooks, which have come in handy as I unravel all
the details taught.
In addition, they offered
two free consultations with the
planner who taught the class. It was those consultations that turned out to be
even more beneficial than the class.
The planner was a wealth of information beyond retirement
planning. He became the source of
inspiration I needed to believe my
dream of turning writing into my retirement plan was and is valid and possible.
To have someone who
spends their days with their head in the
world of investments and numbers believe that something creative was a tangible prospect for my future blew my mind. On the numbers side of things,
he did have me write a business plan and included that in the retirement plan
we discussed at my second appointment.
was the wealth of resources he
passed on beyond that that became the spark
I needed to ignite my plan for the
Last month I met an old
friend for dinner. This is something we had tried to do for years, but between
raising kids, and caring for our aging Mom’s, time just got away from us. BUT, with both of us now having our children back at college for their sophomore
year we knew we had to make it happen.
OR, it may never happen.
Once seated at our table,
my first words to her were “How are you
doing since the girls went back to school?”
Without any hesitation
she stated sophomore year has been
tougher than freshman year. I agreed, confessing I was downright depressed
the first week or two.
I hate to say it,
but it was refreshing to find out it wasn’t just me feeling this way.
Freshman year I had many texts, emails, and even a
somewhat regular Sunday afternoon call from my Son. Plus, I had a few runs to the college to aid with
roommate issues and moving. And, bring things he discovered he needed for the
This year however
has been drastically different.
Which is good for my Son.
It means he’s becoming more independent,
self-confident and self-reliant.
For me however, it has been beyond challenging.
The feeling of not being needed was
overwhelming at times.
Before I let it get the
best of me though, I knew I had to put
my energy into something positive. I needed to be proactive and not dwell on
With an endless list of unfinished projects
staring me down, I set my sights on
those, and created a plan of attack based on the time I had till my Son’s
first visit home for Fall Break.
During our thirties we
might start to see some grays and faint wrinkles, but overall we generally feel
Even our forties aren’t
that bad. Might start to feel the start of some achy arthritic joints, and see
more grays and wrinkles, but overall we’re still feeling pretty peppy.
Then the fifties hit and things really start to change, at least for me they did. Maybe not right away, but by my mid-fifties I could feel myself slowing down.
Part of the slowing down
process is certainly tied to Hashimotos, an autoimmune disorder involving
chronic inflammation of the thyroid. Over time, the ability of the thyroid
gland to produce thyroid hormones often becomes impaired and leads to a gradual
decline in function and eventually an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism).
I was diagnosed with
Hashimotos in 2010 at the age of 49 after a bout with pneumonia that went
sepsis and wrecked havoc with my entire body.
Medication was not and
still is not an option because my thyroid levels remain within normal range.
Even after having half my thyroid removed last fall because of a suspicious
The nodule was benign Thank
God, so the threat of cancer was removed from the equation. Amen to that!
With meds out of the
question, I knew I had to find other methods to combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
The key symptoms being fatigue, weight gain and brain fog.
I discovered doctors were
not very helpful when it came to advice in this area and found out quickly I
was on my own.
Coincidently around the
same time, I caught an interview with Gina Lee Nolin, of Baywatch fame, where
she discussed her personal health struggles that went undiagnosed until she
found Dr. Alan Christianson, a naturopathic medical doctor for Integrative
Health in Scottsdale. His book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease”
became my saving grace.
After reading Dr.
Christianson’s book, I started to play with diet changes and adding
supplements. In doing so, I was able to thwart off some of the fatigue, weight
gain and some brain fog.
The key thing was going
gluten and dairy free. Plus avoiding soy and fluoride, which can interfere with
the function of the thyroid. I also added ginkgo biloba and ashwaghanda, but my
endocrinologist recommended I stop the ashwaghanda because it can skew thyroid function
Over the years I have faired pretty well with this issue, but honestly I think I was too busy raising my Son and helping to care for my aging Mom to completely feel the impact. Or, should I say take the time to notice.
It’s only the past year
or two, as I hit my late fifties and my Son is off at college that I’ve truly
noticed how much I’m slowing down. My energy levels just aren’t what they used
to be. Some of it’s age, but I know part of it is my thyroid.
As the month of August
unfolded the reality that my Son heads back to college to start his
Sophomore year in 25 days hit me hard. I had that same pit in my stomach as I experienced all of last summer as his
Freshman year crept closer with each passing day.
It’s just me and my Son
at home, so facing a truly empty nest
for the first time in 18 1/2 years was beyond
a challenge for me to say the least.
I had my ups and downs over the course of his
Freshman year, but by the time he came home for the Summer I felt I had conquered a lot of those
To feel that sadness in my gut popping up again
confirmed that I still have work to do,
which I’m quite sure will be the topic of future posts.
With my annual exodus to the beach to recharge my soul now behind me, I’m working hard at carrying the calm that comes from the sea air and surf with me as I face each day in the real world.
As I told a co-worker “I’m trying hard to hang onto my vacation
This is something I tell myself I’m going to do every year,
but a month or two into the real world
post vacation I’m working my way back into the “when is my next day off mind-set.”
I don’t mean the weekend;
I mean an actual vacation day, a day
with no real schedule, a day to play.
Like a day off is the cure all for the every day
stresses we all endure. Granted it
helps, but there has to be a way to find
peace throughout every day, not just on a vacation day. Especially when
they’re so few and far between.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s you can’t force things into being. Sometimes you just have to be, and let things fall into place as they were meant to be.
If there’s one thing I’ve
learned over the years, it’s you can’t
force things into being. Sometimes you just have to be, and let things fall into place as they were
meant to be.
You also have to learn to
“trust” that everything is as it’s suppose to be and the
universe will let you know when it’s time to make a move. As my Mother would
say “God’s time is not our time. Be
I have learned however
this is easier said than done. It’s
human nature to want to find an answer or resolve a dilemma as quickly as
possible. It is not that simple to “just
There have been periods
in my life when I truly lived this
though. Sort of working at something I wanted to change, or resolve, but allowing things to flow, not forcing
anything. And no freaking out when things seemed to stall.
I have also had times when my frustration with my
situation had my mind constantly spinning on ways to force change or find a resolve. All this did was bring on more frustration and anguish.
And, even polarization. I was so consumed by finding an answer just achieving day-to-day
tasks was daunting.
To be honest, just going with the flow can be very
challenging, especially when you
want change or an answer so bad you can taste it.
When I look back over the roads I’ve traveled thus far, I realize the times when I did just go with the flow, my life was more pleasant and actually more productive. Being fluid and flexible, even bending when necessary is what brought results.
At this time though, I find myself somewhere in
between these two.
This June marks forty years since my high school graduation. In all honesty had a few of my classmates not decided to arrange a forty year class reunion I probably would not have given it another thought.
it, what with all the hormonal changes going on in a teenagers body, and the
fact that teens are becoming more self-aware, high school has to rank high in the “most challenging times” of a
person’s life. Even for the popular, over-achieving set.
I know for me it most certainly was.
As a transfer from a small, private Catholic
school the transition to public
school in ninth grade was not very easy.
I was quite comfortable with my tight-knit small group, but once I got into the
large machine that was public school all
my insecurities resurfaced.
Being new we all stood
out, which is most definitely something you don’t want when dealing with a lack of self-confidence and being self-conscious of everything about
I felt like a square peck in a round hole. If not for my Catholic school buddies and a few new
friends I made, I’m not sure I would have made it through not just ninth grade,
but all of high school.
Self-Image – one’s conception of oneself or of one’s role the way you think about yourself and your abilities or appearance
One of the key things I’ve discovered since my Son went off to college is the fact that my self-image is very much tied to being a Mom.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this. Being a parent is at the same time one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs anyone can take on.
As a parent you’re responsible for molding a little human.
For me I prayed every day I was making the right decisions in guiding my Son on
the right path to become a competent and compassionate human being, capable of
standing on his own two feet.
I put my heart and soul into being a Mom, working tirelessly day and
night never looking for anything more than a hug or an “I love you.”
My life revolved around my Son’s needs. I took a back seat.
Who I was before having my Son became a distant image in the rear view mirror of my life.
BUT, what happens to me when my position
as Mom is downsized because my Son went off to college?