Happy Holidays From All of Us at Explore What’s Next!

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Christmas 2016: A “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Do-over

Yup, times have changed. What used to be considered a cute duet between a couple sharing a winter evening together has a wee bit of an uncomfortable feel these days. I heard about this new version on NPR and thought it was worth a share in case you haven’t heard it yet. Merry Christmas!

15 Tips to Survive Valentine’s Day

Courtesy Romel via Flickr

It’s Valentine’s Day and once again I find myself torn about what to write.

Do I write about romance and falling in love? About mature relationships and how to keep the fires burning? The joys of the single life? Or chuck the whole thing and admit that Valentine’s Day is annoying to 90% of the population. Well, 80% anyway. OK, I just made that statistic completely up.

But I think I’m right.

If you’re in the first stages of love those fireworks are still going strong. You don’t need a special designated holiday to celebrate. For the rest of us, I thought an assortment of articles, books and websites might bring a little something to everyone. Enjoy the collected love wisdom, beginning with the words of the immortal Mr. Oscar Wilde:

“To love oneself is the beginning

of a lifelong romance.”

Or, as Miss Rupaul would say it:

“If you don’t love yourself,

how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”


Valentine’s Day Love It Or Dread It?
That Loving Feeling Takes A Lot Of Work
The Happy Marriage Is the ‘Me’ Marriage
The Sustainable Marriage Quiz
To Fall In Love With Anyone Do This
The Power Of Two: Secrets to A Strong and Healthy Marriage
How To Be Happy Being Single On Valentine’s Day
5 Fun Things You Can Do If You’re Single on Valentine’s Day
Getting The Love You Want: A Guide For Couples
Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone
Our Marriage Do-Over
How Can You Tell If You’re Really In Love
Five Ways To Find Grounds For Marriage
How To Turn Loneliness Into Sweet Solitude
Enjoy Your Valentine’s Day By Lowering Expectations

Happy Holidays!


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Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season

and a New Year filled with

Peace, Love and Happiness!

Happy Thanksgiving!




Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! And if you are cooking, baking or grilling today, try not to stress!

Remember this quote that is attributed to everyone

from Escoffier to Julia Child.

And as we gather our loved ones together,

remember those who are far away 

and those who have passed on.

May we be filled with peace, love and gratitude. 

From all of us at Explore What’s Next


New Year Resolutions & Our Self-Esteem

Screenshot 2014-12-31 21.14.41Resolution |noun|  1. a firm decision to do or not do something.

I am not a big fan of the New Year’s Resolution. Because I failed at keeping mine year after year, leaving me feeling quite depleted, I finally figured out resolutions are best avoided. I have New Years Guidelines instead.

Not that resolutions are all bad. They can be friendly reminders to keep us on track when we need an external nudge, kind of like the kiddy bumpers at the bowling alley. But the truth is, for most of us, by the end of January our resolutions are piled up like a bunch of bill payment notices, nagging at us for what we haven’t done, not inspiring us to do what we can.

Did you ever wonder who that rare creature is who is capable of living up to their New Year’s Resolutions? God bless you if you are one of them, but I’m about to reveal your secret.

Back when I was in college I took an industrial psychology class. We studied what makes some people higher achievers than others; those people who set a goal for themselves and actually accomplish it.

You might think that high achievers set big, fat goals but they don’t. Research shows that the most successful people chose flexible, mid-level goals.  The bar they tend to choose requires a bit of a stretch, just outside their comfort zone,  but well within their grasp. 

That’s a life lesson for anyone who tends to feel like they are always coming up short, always a step behind, always failing at what they set out to achieve.

For example. Losing weight is a very popular New Year’s resolution. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up short on that one. After countless tries, I finally learned that if I made the misguided promise to journal every-single-thing-I ate-day-after-day-from-now-on-forever-and-ever, by the end of January I’d have already messed up. The resulting inevitable failure would only make me want to eat more.

On the other hand…If I tell myself, ‘Today I will keep a food journal!’, I believe I can achieve that. The chances for success go way up, boosting my self-esteem. If I don’t keep a journal for one day, it’s only a one day blip, not a for-all-eternity failure. That could mean the difference between a slightly bruised self-esteem versus one that is deeply wounded.

Here’s another thing: My list of possible resolutions is endless. Keep a food journal, meditate daily, hang out with friends more, ride my horse, Annie, more, exercise more, blah blah blah. All that is terrific, but it misses the point. Which is to be grateful and content now, right now. After all, who we are and what we have right now is pretty fricking awesome!

And if “happy” is too far a reach (achievable goals, right?) then “satisfied” will do. If you’re like me and tend to postpone satisfaction with myself until I’ve lost a few pounds or can afford a trip to Europe, let’s “resolve” to cut it out. Because doing so is not only sad, it’s judgmental. And who are we to judge?

By giving ourselves permission to be content just for today, to be grateful for what we have now, our self-esteem will smile because it feels nurtured, relaxed, strong and resilient.

Happy New Year!

Have an opinion? Of course you do! Please share it in a comment.

Our Warmest Christmas Wishes for You….


Peace of mind and heart,

Prosperity throughout the year,

Happiness that multiplies,

Health for you and yours,

Fun around every corner,

Energy to chase your dreams,

Time to rest and savor,


Joy to fill your holidays!

May all your Christmas wishes come true!

Inspired by d.m. dellinger

This Holiday Season Give Yourself A Break!

08HOUSEWORK-popupSometimes we stress ourselves out for no good reason! The holidays are filled with such “voluntary stress” opportunities. I don’t know about you but often my stress has to do with I think I “ought” to be doing for the holidays because of the standards others (a grandmother, mother or aunt, even so-called friends) have set up. Some of my “ought to-s” include:

1. Bake a ton of Christmas cookies, package them beautifully and give them away to neighbors and friends.

2. Find, purchase and wrap (beautifully) the perfect gift for everyone on my list before December 24, even if they live half a world away!

3. Decorate the house with Christmas cheer in every room! Is one tree enough?

4. Clean and scrub the house from top to bottom so that guests will not judge.

5. Lose ten pounds.

Ha! If even one of those five things happens it will be a Christmas miracle! Do you feel the same? Do you have your own list of ‘Shouldas’ that’s making you grumpy?

This year I am more of the mindset to just be honest with myself and brutally prioritize. You can do this, too. Ask yourself if you could only do one thing on the list, what would it be? So I took a deep breath and decided to focus on #2, revising it to read: “Find a good-enough gift that will make your loved one smile.” It doesn’t have to be the Best gift or the Perfect gift. For me the rest of the list is not essential for a happy holiday. In fact trying to squeeze in the rest in the next few days may take away form the holiday spirit.

The real trick here is not to care so much about the stuff that doesn’t get done. That’s not easy is it? But the truth is even the most sparkling floor does not replace the warm welcome of an open loving heart. A good guest won’t notice the dust bunnies in the corner and won’t care if they do notice them. A good friend will be just as happy with a little box of cookies after the New Year as a huge one before January 1st. I know I would! Wouldn’t you?

Life lived well is messy. Revel in it!

Photo via NYT Golden Cosmos

4 Ways to Deal with Grief During the Holidays

cold heartEditor’s Note: Here is a great post from EWN Associate and psychotherapist Nicole Newcomb.

The holidays can be particularly hard when we are in the midst of grief and loss. We feel like a part of our holiday, as well as our soul is missing. Whether we’re going through the holiday season without a loved one for the first time, or this is the second or third,  everything seems to remind us of the person we’ve lost and how much we loved them. If this is true for you, here are a few tips to help make the most of your holiday this year:

1. Set aside some time to cope. When we “stuff” our emotions and try to pretend they are not there, beware! They will resurface later at a less appropriate time, like in the middle of family dinner after a glass of wine or two! Pay special attention to how you are feeling throughout the day. Try setting aside a half hour in the morning of the holiday to give yourself permission to feel your emotions freely and take care of them. I suggest you write down how you are feeling or speak out loud to the person you miss (privately, so people don’t misunderstand and think you’ve lost your marbles! :-)). This is a healthy way to cope so that you don’t end up with too much “stuffing”.

2. Honor that person. Do not forget to show that person that you still care. Maybe you’d like to set a place at the table for the loved one, say a special prayer or express thought of gratitude about them. This suggestion only works if the rest of your family is on board. If you feel the family would not be responsive to this idea, honor the person in your own way, privately in your head. You could share their favorite piece of pie. Light a candle that is always present but only you know is the light of your loved one’s spirit and love. You could visit the gravesite and talk to them or go to a spot that held special meaning to you both. Leave a flower, a beautiful stone or note. This too will help you cope with your emotions.

 3. Make a new tradition. Your holidays will never be exactly the same as they were when your loved one was present. I mean, who or what could fill that persons spot? Nothing can, and if you expect it to, you will set yourself up for disappointment. But don’t let that happen. Create a new tradition! If your tradition was to start the day by going out to breakfast, make holiday pancakes at home instead! Create a new and fun tradition to look forward to every year. One that will bring some new holiday cheer!

4. Focus on the present. Please do not forget about today! After you have given time and honored your loved one, coped with your emotions and created a new tradition, don’t forget to enjoy it! Just simply observe your surroundings by asking yourself what you see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Breathe deeply, slowly. This will quickly and painlessly bring you back to the present. All you have is this moment, so don’t forget to be in it!

Take what you like of these ideas and make them your own! Do you have an idea that’s not here that may help? Your thoughts and observations enrich our community! Please share them in the comments section!

And if you feel the need for extra support right now you may always contact us. There is no reason to feel alone.

Photo courtesy of Irina Patrascu
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