Speaker, Trainer, Troubadour, Author

Kim Ratz

Helping people create more harmony
in their own life, and in
their relationships with others ...

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Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to You!

As we begin one of the most anticipated and celebrated holidays of the year, remember it's also the cause of some high stress and misery. Reading this morning's paper I was reminded of the grief in so many hearts because of the mass shootings that have become so pervasive in our society that so glorifies violence through our media choices ... I was also reminded that there are more heart attacks in December, more serious mistakes made at office parties, the global economy is still rough, and that the American Psychological Assoc. found in a survey that one of five Americans worry that the holidays will affect their health adversely.

I like to understand human behavior and the things that influence our choices, so I read more about this study. It seems that stress triggers the production of cortisol, which increases blood pressure and adrenaline output. Cortisol leaves a residue that takes up to two hours to dissolve, leaving us more likely to overreact to the next stressor, and perhaps say or do something that hurts other people too - the very stuff that regrets are made of. Harvard Business Review estimated that we receive over 650 advertising messages a day. Each year the advertising ratchets up from the previous year - spend more, buy earlier, hurry, Hurry HURRY!!! Media portray images and expectations about the holidays being all about joy and perfection, and there are all the parties and gatherings to attend ...

December holidays have always been about how to lighten up this darkest time of year with traditions, spending time with family and friends, and contemplating the wonders of the world. I'd like to share with you some of the things that help me keep my stress levels down, and enjoy the traditions, companionship and wonder of the Christmas season:

Remember the reason for the season.
This requires no shopping, travel, or dress code. You don't have to worry one iota that the recipient of your attention will not like your gift. For believers, this is truly the light in the darkness, the warm fire on a cold, dark night, the best friend you could ever ask for. Use the Christmas opportunity to celebrate the gifts of peace, love and joy that God gives us. Be sure that you take a least a moment to contemplate the miracle of the Christmas story, and ask yourself what that means to you.

It's about relationships.
Intimate connections have been proven to help our mental and physical health, whether a soldier returning from combat or a survivor of a deadly disease. We are NOT going to find what we really need to be happy and healthy at the mall. We're going to find it in our heart, and with each other. We all long to be appreciated for who we are. Give your family and friends a BIG hug and send the very clear message that they have MUCH value to you!

Put some "Gratitude" in your attitude!
Cancel out the "I don't have enough" or "I don't have "____" by focusing on what you ARE grateful for in your life. Volunteers who work with someone less fortunate report feeling more grateful for their own situation in life - they know it could be worse. Helping others releases endorphins into the bloodstream - a natural pain killer. Marathon runners release endorphins too, except when helping others the endorphins last longer and can actually relieve symptoms from chronic diseases like arthritis. I recently read that being with someone you love for just five minutes creates a chemical shift in your body that is linked to a higher functioning immune system and better health. Contrast this positive influence with being with someone who is negative or you don't like - you know that will likely create negative emotional energy. Focus on ways to create positive energy with people - you'll get what you seek.

Be good to yourself.
We've all got our "junk in the trunk" - no one is perfect. Stop criticizing yourself, or comparing yourself to anyone else. YOU are special and unique! Christmas is for you too. Take care of yourself, and make good choices you won't regret later - get enough rest, exercise, and eat and drink in moderation.

Be realistic.
Many people get disappointed, or even depressed, because they hold unrealistic expectations about the holidays. Be realistic about your budget and time, and what you expect from others. Honor your traditions. You don't have to buy the perfect gift, and the schedule in your head will require adjustments as you encounter other "realities." You will be pressed and stressed with even more decisions during the hectic and busy month of December, in both your personal and professional roles and goals. Should you go to that party? Buy this or that? Say this, or do that with this person? What's the key here? Trust your intuition - it's usually right.

See Christmas through the eyes of a child.
Just because you've grown up doesn't mean you need to totally let go of your "inner child." Relive the wonder, magic and joy we experienced when we were kids by seeing the world again through a child's eyes. After all, our Christmas is about the birth of a baby ...

Here are some quotes from others about the upcoming holidays - I hope "yule" enjoy them ...

  • Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. - author unknown, attributed to a 7 year-old named Bobby

  • Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. - Norman Vincent Peale

  • The shepherds were terror-stricken, but the angel said, "Do not be afraid. I have good news for you: there is a great joy coming to the whole people. Today in the city of David a deliverer has been born to you - the Messiah, the Lord. And this is your sign: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." All at once there was with the angel a great company of the heavenly host, singing the praises of God. - Luke 2:10-13

  • Christmas is a time when you get homesick, even when you're home. - Carol Nelson

  • Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. - Mary Ellen Chase

  • I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come around, as a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable time. The only time I know if, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. - Charles Dickens

  • Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children they are all 30 feet tall. - Washington Irving

  • It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. - W.T. Ellis

  • Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! - Hamilton Wright Mabie

  • In the old days it was not called the "holiday season." The Christians called it "Christmas" and went to church; the Jews called it "Hanukkah" and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hanukkah!" or (to the aethists) "Look out for the wall!" - Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping: A Survivors Guide"

  • I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month. - Harlan Miller

  • There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake on Christmas morning and not be a child. - Erma Bombeck, "If I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression"

  • And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
    stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
    It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
    It came without packages, boxes or bags.
    And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
    Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
    What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?
    What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more? - Dr. Seuss

  • People can't concentrate properly on blowing other people to pieces if their minds are poisoned by thoughts suitable to the twenty-fifth of December. - Ogden Nash

I conclude the 2012 e-Newz series with these thoughts that warm my heart, and which I hope will warm yours too:

reminds me I'm THANKFUL for many blessings, including the chance to know you ...

reminds me of a LOVING GOD, and my goal to create PEACE on earth and goodwill among all people by learning to LOVE others more, and the JOY that a little baby can bring (read: baby Jesus, AND children and grandchildren ... :)

reminds me of the HOPE we have to make even better choices in the year ahead ...

You make me feel warm, merry & bright, and I pray this holiday season fills you with - -


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"the Speaker who Sings"

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