November 25, 2009

Inside this Newsletter:


Happy Thanksgiving !

Alan & I are just staying home and enjoying the long weekend to hang out together at the mountain house with the six cats. We arenít very traditional when it comes to holidays, although his daughter may stop by.  We are grateful, however, for many things in our lives -- especially each other.

My Wednesday night singing at the bar, The Drink, has ended because they sold the bar.  Itís closed for remodeling until January.  Iíve spoken to the new owner, so weíll see what happens.  It was fun while it lasted (7 weeks), and thanks to those of you who stopped by!

Looks like weíll have decent weather for the holiday, although I still have lots of snow here in the mountain house left over from that last storm 10 days ago.  See a photo below that Alan took during the last storm.


7 Tips for the Holidays

By Carolyn Bushong

Some people look forward to the holidays and others dread them.  The chances are that you are like thousands of others feeling the holiday pressures of too little time and too much work, too little money and too many demands, and too great a desire to please everyone because of too many family expectations.  The holidays can be a lot of fun and/or a lot of trouble.  No matter whether you dread this time of year or look forward to it, you can make your holidays better with some tips like Iíve shared with my Denver clients.

My client Mary, a single mom going through a divorce, always overbooks and tries to meet everyoneís expectations, but this holiday she doesnít have the energy or the time.  But that hasnít stopped her family and friends from  expecting her to what they want (after all, she always has).  But this year Mary as promised to put herself first and say no.

My client Joe no longer wants to spend the holidays with his family.  He says they all pretend that everything is fine while his mom whines, his dad doesnít talk, and his brother (whoís too old to still be living at home) sits there stoned, making excuses about why he doesnít work.  Iím helping Joe confront his family about his feelings, and spend time with them only if they agree to his new boundaries.  And if not, heíll do his own thing, and not feel guilty.

Cindy, on the other hand, feels sad that she might not be with her family this year.  She recently had a fight with her mom and theyíre not speaking.  Cindy believes the issue is not resolvable and refuses to give in to her mom.  But she especially feels bad for her two-year-old not getting to spend the holidays with her grandparents.  Iím helping Cindy find a way to make peace with her family in a way that allows them to have their differences Ė and still have a good holiday together.

  1. Donít do the ďshoulds.Ē  Donít spend the holidays just meeting obligations to others.  Balance what you want to do with what you feel you should do.  When friends or family tell you things you should do this holiday season, stop them.  Tell them that you wonít feel guilty for trying to enjoy yourself.  For instance, say, ďI know I should visit Aunt Matilda while Iím home, but Iíve decided not to this year and I donít want you trying to make me feel guilty.

  2. Set advance boundaries with family and friends.  ďIíll only be there for 2 hours mom, so donít get upset when I have to leave.Ē  ďIím going to have wine with dinner, so donít say anything when I do.Ē  After dinner, Joanie and I are going out, so know that I have plans for that evening.Ē  ďIf you do criticize my weight again, Iíll remind you to stop once, and if you donít, Iíll leave.Ē

  3. Lower your expectations.  We all have our fantasies of how we want the holiday to be, often forgetting how they turned out in the past, thinking that this time will be different.  You can still hope for the best, but you must prepare for the worse, i.e. your uncle getting drunk, your sister making a scene, a family member being rude to you, or whatever.  Weíre all from dysfunctional families.  Our mom, dad, or brother probably didnít express their love the way we wanted them to as we grew up, why would we think they will this year?

  4. Donít overbook Like Mary, learn to say no.  We often want to please everyone, even at our own expense.  If you try to do too much, you will resent it and probably end up exploding at the wrong people.  Think each situation through and only say yes to things that really sound like something you want to do.  And even then, donít try to fit in more than one thing at a time or youíll end up exhausted.

  5. Create intimacy Most of us wish we felt closer to the person sitting beside us at the holiday dinner.  You can be closer if you will be more real since authenticity creates intimacy.  Be open about yourself and ask them personal questions.  Ask a relative you would like to be closer to to take a walk or a trip to the store to have that private time. Stay up late once itís quiet and talk to someone you care about.  Write a long letter to a friend or relative that you havenít had time to see.

  6. Get involvedWhether itís getting involved with helping prepare the meal or getting involved with the soup kitchen for the poor, getting involved always makes you feel connected.  If you donít want to help cook, plan the music for that holiday.  Or, go sing holiday songs at the nearest old folks home.

  7. Take care of yourself Be sure that your happiness and comfort are the focus.  Imagine the holiday the way you want it, not having the drunken uncle over or a fun group outing instead of just football all day?  Special time with your dad?  A trip to the casinos?  Speak up about what you want.  And if your family doesnít agree, find a way to fit in some of your ďwantsĒ anyway.

Instead of falling in line and having the holidays the same way they are year after year, change it.  This year, prepare ahead following my 7 Tips, and you can orchestrate the holidays and have them just the way you want!

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Q & A: He Won't Talk About His Feelings


Question:  My boyfriend and I are having serious problems and he wonít talk to me about them.  He just sits there while I talk about my feelings.  He says he doesnít know what to say.  I need some pointers on what to do and what not to do.

Answer: You are probably doing what most women do, and that is keep talking even when he doesnít respond.  Conversations need to be two-way and if you keep talking, he doesnít have to.  Tell him you need to know how he feels and what he wants.  When he says he doesnít know, tell him he needs to figure it out and to get back to you when he has it figured out Ė then stay away from him (donít see him!) until he has an answer.  If you continue to be with him without him sharing his feelings, you let him off the hook.  When he calls, ask, ďAre you ready to discuss the problem yet?  If not, call me back when you are.Ē  If this doesnít work, ask him to meet you in a therapistís office.  If you let this go now, it will only get worse.  The relationship may end because heís not getting his needs met, and you didnít even know what they were.

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Clients and Readers Speak

ďIíve learned more today about relationships in 30 minutes with you than I learned up to this point in my whole life.Ē

~ Jeff, a 23-year-old client whose girlfriend brought him in

Dear Carolyn, If you were to write your book Ė Loving Him Without Losing You Ė and it was to be about one person, that could have been me.  Three months ago I couldnít bear the pain and then I found your book.  I had become emotionally dependent on my partner without knowing it.  Over the past three months, Iíve completed the eight steps in your book, and taken back control of my happiness and emotional responsibility.  From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for writing this book and sharing your experiences and hard work with others.  It proved to be a life saver for me. Literally.  I was at my lowest point and there were only two places to go.  Many, many thanks Carolyn.

~ Sincerely, Elizabeth in Illinois

Dear Carolyn, I just found your book at the library because I am an avid reader, but I donít buy many books.  And this is the smartest book Iíve read in years.  Iíve read every self-help relationship book there is in the market.  This is the smartest one.  In just 17 pages, youíve told us more than most of these books can tell you in 300 pages.  I really just wanted to call and say that Iím really enjoying the book and for you to keep up the good work.  Thank you again.

~ Kim in Tennessee

We all want more love, happiness, romance, respect, admiration, and sanity in our lives. But most of us just donít know how to get it. 

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About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for 10 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 25 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and she was named by McCall's as one of the "Top Passion Doctors" in the country. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 21 years.

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Phone Counseling is a great way to do therapy, especially for the really busy person who's constantly on the go, or the person who is shy or hesitant to talk about their problem, or when the weather is bad and you don't want to drive to a therapist's office. It just makes sense in this day and age to be able to call and discuss a problem and get advice on a situation with having to leave work and drive to my office.


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