A Post-Thanksgiving Message: Stop. Eating. Now!

We give ourselves the day ‘Off’ from watching every calorie. One day of eating whatever you want, especially when the holiday is dedicated to gobbling all your favorite foods. What’s the harm?

None, except that who can stop at ONE DAY? What about those delicious leftovers? What about cooking your college student son’s favorites? What about those leftovers? Did I say that already?

The Monday after Thanksgiving is where I draw the line, or try to anyway. Back to recording food in my online journal, back to weighing myself (ouch!), back to the work of eating right to lose weight.

But, there are benefits to the work! Back to feeling more energetic! Back to feeling more comfortable in my jeans! Back to feeling proud because I’m doing something good for myself that has long term benefits!

I totally enjoyed the culinary delights of Thanksgiving and look forward to doing the same for Christmas. I know deep down that the enjoyment is more intense because those days are the exception, not the rule. If food indulgence is the norm then there are no treats! How boring would that be?

Here’s Janice Taylor, Our Lady of Weight Loss, sharing her thoughts on how to get back on the weight loss wagon fast!

On This Beautiful Thanksgiving Day ~ Thank You!

Courtesy of trixiegirl31 via Flickr


There is so much to be thankful for. Today , we at Explore What’s Next wish to express our deep gratitude to You.

In reviewing the statistics for this blog it was a big kick to see that last month we had close to 10,000 page views with a bounce rate under 1%! In blogging lingo that is the equivalent to finding the Golden Ticket in a whole mountain of Willy Wonka Chocolate Bars! You may be quiet but you are here! Not only do you knock on Explore What’s Next’s door, you come in, stay a while, even have a cup of coffee. That is so cool!

Where ever you are, whatever you have planned for the day, thank you for participating in our blog. By being here and reading this you are a key element to its happy existence. You complete the circle. I am not lying!

Without you, what’s the point? Our purpose here is to have a conversation, to exchange ideas, to recognize ourselves in each other, to provide a guide, to assure, to help, to inform, to spark Aha! moments for us all and hopefully have some fun along the way!

We care for you and want to know what’s on your mind! Are our articles helpful or miss the mark? Please let us hear from you! Our favorite is when you write a comment, when you add a new spin, new information, your unique point of view or even just say ‘Hi’.

Where ever you are in the world, on this lovely Thanksgiving Day, we say ‘Hi!’ to you and thank you! 

10 Tips for Surviving the Family Holiday When Your Family Is Nuts!


1) Be honest with yourself! Once you’re honest with yourself and can say, “Yes, as much as I love them, my family is messed up,” you can begin to make plans to cope.

2) Ask yourself what you really want. You may be surprised by the answer. You may even decide what you want is to be with your family, warts and all. Once being with them is a choice instead of a gun-to-your-head obligation maybe you can relax.

3) Give yourself permission to have an escape route. If you want to try having dinner with the family make plans to go somewhere you can breathe easier for dessert. In extreme cases it’s a good idea to have a Plan B (i.e. leaving for good or asking the guest to leave your house) just in case.

Is asking a guest to leave rude?

“One has to do something to protect oneself if people are acting in a deregulated or unreasonable way.” ~Dr Smaller

So there you have it. Dr. Smaller and I agree. Take care of yourself first.

4) Don’t rely on alcohol to ease the pain. You do not want to be dis-inhibited when there is even one person in the room who can hit your buttons with an emotional taser.

5) See the humor wherever and whenever you can. It’s OK to roll your eyes as much as you want with your eyes closed.

6) Use the buddy system. Have a confidant close by or on speed dial; a friend, cousin, sister or niece who ‘gets it’. She may need your help to get through as much as you need hers.

7) Resist the urge to confront those who hurt you in the past. Now is not the time no matter how provoked you are. Trust me.

8) Having said that, if you are directly disrespected, or abused in any way, think ‘strategic retreat’.  This is like a time-out for grown ups. You could quietly, firmly say, “Please don’t speak to me that way,” excuse yourself and leave. Take the dog for a walk, go to a cafe for a decaf latte, listen to soothing music on your iPod, feed the ducks in the park and have a good cry. Give yourself 10-30 minutes to find your balance then rejoin the group. If the abuse persists go to Plan B (see above).

9) Breathe. 

10) Take responsibility for your own happiness. This is what the three ghosts taught Scrooge. No one was going to save him, not Marley, not his sister or his sweet fiancee, not even Tiny Tim. He had to do it himself.

Why do so many of us dread the holiday family gathering? Joyce Wadler, writer for the New York Times, tackled this question in Duck! It’s the Holidays. She put together a bunch of stories from the field, an oral history of holiday family horror stories. But before we get to the fun stuff, let’s hear from an expert:

Mark Smaller, who heads the public information committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association, said he believes that holidays can provoke “temporary regressions,” in which parents, adult children and siblings, once reunited, revert to decades-old patterns of behavior.

“The worst I’ve heard is when a parent says to an adult child, ‘See, when you come you spoil the whole holiday,’ ” Dr. Smaller said. “These kinds of remarks actually keep me and people like me in business.”

That’s the worst he’s ever heard? I’d like to meet Dr. Smaller; he sounds like a shrink with a sense of humor, my kind of guy. But I think he’s also trying to be nice. Temporary regression suggests that the people involved were “-gressed” to begin with. Or at least evolved. We can’t always count on that. However, if we’ve worked hard to grow up despite dysfunction in the family, holiday gatherings can be like a bad trip in Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine.

Above all things remember: Take care of yourself!

Trying to Lower Anxiety? There’s an App for That!

Courtesy of syphlix via Flickr


One day I was in my office all wound up about something… probably a bunch of somethings. I needed to get away somehow but all I had was ten minutes before my next appointment. Turning to my iPhone I opened an app called Relaxed Ambience. Basically a sound machine, it allows you to choose from a lovely array of agreeable sounds from wind chimes to whale song, waves on a beach to the crackling of a camp fire. I chose Spring Garden, with song birds, leaves rustling in the breeze a bit of wind chime. I put on the timer mode to wake me up gently in ten minutes, reclined on my comfy couch (yes, therapists use their couches to actually have a little lie down sometimes) and closed my eyes.

Ten minutes later I ‘woke up’ totally refreshed. I am not kidding. This little app made a big difference in my day.

Which made me think of other applications I’ve collected that help keep my brain on an even keel. Maybe you could use them over the Thanksgiving Holiday!

Here are my favorites. Most have a free version (for Blackberry, iPhones or Droids) and one you can purchase with all the extra bells and whistles:

1. Relaxing Ambience. Check it out!

2. Insight Timer. This is a great tool for all kinds of tasks. I found it when I was looking for something that would help me keep track of time when I was doing yoga or meditating. You have your choice of Tibetan bells chimes and you can set alarms for beginning, middle and the end of practice.

3. Pandora. The incredible radio machine. You can choose the genre of music you feel like listening to and let Pandora find it for you. I have an older car so I bought an adapter that goes in the cassette tape slot that allows me to plug in my iPhone so I can hear it over my car speakers. My current favorite channel is Classic Broadway Show Tunes!

4. My Thoughts. Inspirational quotes, affirmations, encouragement pure and simple. When you have trouble coming up with those positive thoughts all by yourself.

5. My Calm Beat. Someone actually made an app to help you breathe!

Do you have any favorite apps? Angry Birds perhaps?


Make A Wish and Say It Out Loud!

Courtesy Rob J Brooks via Flickr

Guest blogger Adreinne Grace believes we should let the world know what our dreams are…

Here you sit, with your big smile and your birthday cake full of brightly lit candles!

“Blow them out, and make a wish, but don’t tell anyone or it won’t come true!”

So say your parents, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who are circled around you and your beautiful cake. As if you would forget. With so many believers it just HAS to be real, we tell ourselves. Keeping a wish secret to protect it is an ancient folk belief.

I beg to differ. I don’t agree that wishes are fragile, wimpy little whispers of possibility. Instead, I see them as powerful expressions of your deepest desires. They need your enthusiasm and the support of your friends and indeed the whole universe, to blossom and grow into the reality you crave. What could be more fulfilling than helping a friend realize her fondest wish? That’s why the Make A Wish Foundation can’t work with just kids concentrating on their silent wishes. Instead they build teams to fulfill everything from meeting Conan O’Brien to going to Fashion Week! Season tickets to the Seahawks! And everything in between.

Don’t hide your wishes away in the dark,and only “hope” that they will come true. Dream big! Celebrate them! Out loud! With your friends and family and with people who don’t even know that they are your friends yet! Grow big, powerful, fruitful, joyful wishes for the life you dream of. When you tell your wishes, you enroll your whole network in those big dreams, and release them into the world where we can all help to nurture them into full-blown reality.

Make that wish! Take a big, big breath, blow out all those candles and let us and the world know what you want in your life!

Adrienne Rothstein Grace offers securities, investment advise, and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. 300 Corporate Parkway, Suite 216N Amherst, NY 14226; 716-852-1321 CRN201305-148299

The views expressed here are those of Adrienne Rothstein Grace. Ms. Grace’s views are not necessarily those of MML Investors Services,LLC or its affiliated companies.








Investing in Therapy

“I have [a] good friend who borrowed against his house to pay for a therapist. Unless you were walking in his shoes you might think that was stupid, but it saved his life and changed his career. It ended up being one of the best investments he ever made.”

~Carl Richards, Author of “The Behavior Gap:

Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money,”

Meet Anxiety Girl!

My friend, Amy Jo Lauber, founder of Lauber Financial Planning, posted this cartoon on Facebook and I had to share. Amy Jo wrote,

“Don’t be this girl! Most things we fear never happen!” 

So true! How many of us identify with Anxiety Girl? Show of hands? Guys too? Mine’s up, that’s for sure.

I’ve been looking for the origin of Anxiety Girl. I think it’s an FB thing. In the meantime I discovered this cool blog, The Adventures of Anxiety Girl. It looks like fun, informative and understanding of what it’s like to have anxiety. The post on Anxiety Humor really caught my eye. Another friend on Facebook has an Anxiety Girl T-Shirt! Jealous!

The Bright & Dark Magic of Returning to Standard Time

Photo courtesy of magic robots via Flickr


My living room has a nice bank of windows that faces South-East. We call this room the ‘Morning Room’, in a mix of sincere irony. It’s a great room to catch the morning sun plus we like the way “I will take my coffee in the Morning Room, Beetes!” always sounds on Masterpiece BBC productions. Why should one room in the house be designated the ‘Living Room,’ anyway? Aren’t all rooms in the house living rooms? Who decided that that particular public room of the house where family and friends gather when they aren’t watching television (rare, let’s face it) be called the ‘Living Room’? And what ever happened to ‘parlors’, anyway?

But I digress…

Today we get an extra hour snapped onto the day. What you do with that hour is nobody’s business but your own. Linger under the covers? Get up and rake leaves? Read more of this month’s book club selection? Write a blog post? The idea of an extra hour to do with as you will is as yummy as indulging in an extra brownie that magically has no calories!

Until the end of the day when the daylight dims too early. Then I get a bit grumpy. I take the waning of daylight in the winter very personally.

My friends in the Southern Hemisphere remind me that when I post something about the seasons to remember that our fall is their spring, our winter, their summer. Just like that drinking song says, “It’s always five o’clock somewhere,” it does make me feel good to remember that on this Earth, the sun’s benevalent rays are always shining somewhere!

On a more practical level, because I do not own a condo in Florida, this fall I am actively working on Seasonal Affective Disorder busters by:

1. Stepping up my exercise. I am a lazy exerciser. As much as I advocate it with everyone I see in my practice, the fall is an easy time to lapse. This year I decided I need a coach to help me keep my game on. So after doing some research, I engaged a personal trainer. It’s about the cost of an alcohol-free dinner for two at TGI Fridays, not cheap but not prohibitive either. I just had one session so far and I will let you know how it goes. For now I am excited!

2. Making play dates with old friends. Being busy, busy, busy, I have a bad habit of neglecting my friends, people I hold dear.  Thankfully, they forgive me when I finally call them up and ask for a visit. Coffee at Starbucks, lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant, a long walk in the park, or window shopping. I like one-on-one time or small groups so much more than a big party. Looking forward to seeing them, even if we can’t arrange a date until 2012, works just as well to keep my spirits flowing.

3. Remembering what is Good. How easy is it to commiserate that the world is going to hell in a hand basket? And how depressing? It takes effort to remember that we have roofs over our heads, and nice roofs at that. I have a shower that delivers hot water without having to cart it in and warm it up on a wood fire. There is food that not only nourishes me, it delights my taste buds. There are people in the world who love me. And if I listen very closely, and slow down long enough, I can hear the soft, kind voice of Spirit.

I just need to remember all this when the shadows grow long at four this afternoon!

Mom with Chronic Illness Wants to Do The Right Thing

A few weeks ago I received an email from a mom with chronic illness looking for some advice. Our email conversation made me so happy, with her permission, I share it with you here:

Dear Dr. Aletta

I have loved reading the different articles on the web site and thanks for being my friend on FB. I do have a question that has been bothering me for weeks now and I have not read anything about this and I am too embarrassed to talk to anyone about this difficult decision. Our son is one of the star athletes on the football field. We live in a very small town-close knit community. I was [diagnosed] with neurosarcoidosis when he was 12… He is now 18 and this is his Senior year of High School. This Thursday Night…Senior Boys escort their Mothers on to the football field and get introduced to the crowd. I have missed many games because of the illness and I have gone from being in a wheelchair to walking with a walker. My problem is this: I am so afraid that my son is embarrassed. I can walk with my walker but I do stumble much of the time… Should I just bow out on Thursday Night and tell him I am just not up for it or do I go and hope everything turns out ok?

Torn Up about this…


Dear Torn Up Mom,

Thank you for your question. I do have a few suggestions, I hope they are helpful. If you have the strength, if it won’t make you very ill, I hope you can participate. I am concerned that if you bow out you would feel even worse than if you took part in the tradition. What if you asked to be one of the first to go on the field, allow yourself to be taken out in the wheelchair (your son helping you, of course), then once out there, stand up leaning on your son’s arm. If you believe this is something you can do, talk with your son about the idea. I have an 18 year old son, too, and I believe if I were in the same position I would share my dilemma with him. At that age they are developed enough to feel empathy. Maybe you are underestimating your son. Maybe instead of being embarrassed, he would be proud.

Warmest wishes always, Dr. Aletta


Dear Dr. Aletta

Thank you so much for your response. I will take your suggestions to heart and Z— and I will have a talk tonight. Everyone tells me that he is not ashamed of me being in the shape I am in these days. I have some very dear friends at the high school and they have been emailing me to see if I need anything special for Thursday night. I know what I need to do.

Thanks again for taking the time to give me your input. You don’t know what it means to me.

A few days later…

Thank you so much for steering me in the right direction…I took your advice and I did attend Senior Night for the football team. I was really worried and nervous and I took your advice and suggestions and everything worked out perfectly.

Thank you again for helping this Mom make the right decision.


Can you relate to this Mom’s story? Tell us your’s in the comments!!!

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