Monday, October 15, 2007

Edward Hallowell...prolific author

Checking my library account I discovered that I have an interlibrary loan book due...tomorrow! Yikes, I haven't read it yet. Skimming time. The funny thing is that some of the first words out of this author's mouth were a discourse on skimming and how prelevant it is in our information overload society. Whoops! Caught! He did become one of my favorite people, though, when he confessed that he CANNOT go into a bookstore without coming out with more books than he will actually read. A man after my own heart. Just the owning is pure joy.

In any case, this book (that I will end up paying a big fine for), is called "the childhood roots of adult happiness" (lower case choice was his). Subtitled: Five steps to help kids create and sustain lifelong joy. His theory is that the key to adult happiness is a connected childhood. He goes into detail on how to get that in a child's life. But skimming through the book I was pleased to see that we have gotten it pretty much right in the life's of our own children. A study showed that there were two factors that most protected children from negative outcomes. A feeling of connectness at home and a feeling of connectedness at school. Wow! If you home school what does that mean? Other important factors were: a parent's presence at key times during the day (morning, after school, dinner, bedtime); parents' high expectations for school performance (expecting them to graduate/post secondary); parents' engaging in activities with their children on a regular basis; absence of guns in the house; parental disapproval of the child engaging in sexual intercourse; not having easy access to cigarettes, alcohol, or marijuana; lack of prejudice at school; self-esteem; not working at a paid job twenty hours a week or more.

Hallowell's five step program to adult happiness consists of connection ... play.... practice... mastery... recognition - a repeating cycle. He briefly describes each of these steps and then in the last third of the book he gives practical suggestions for creating a connected childhood. My focus will be here in the next day or so as I try to glean as much as I can from this book.

Glancing through I see that he is VERY big on pets. Oh, no! Does that mean the dog stays?!! And what about one of the puppies, as the kids are hoping? We'll wait and see.

The mom and one of her puppies

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself

Can I really not have read a book since the end of August??!!!!! Maybe that's where my health problems are coming from :) I HAVE to read! I LIVE to read! And I HAVE read...just not books all the way through. Magazines, blogs, online articles have been my nutrition for the last few months. The summer months were bliss as I spent copious hours on the beach reading. Then fall hit. Copious hours are long gone. Free time is at a premium. Books in progress will be the topic of conversation here on the book blog.

The stack of books on my side table is about 12 inches high. The one I keep going back to (and just renewed) is "Worry" by Edward Hallowell. Worry does worry me, I have to admit. I can be a bit of a worry-wart, although I prefer to think of it as "being concerned". There IS a time and place for being concerned, or worrying. Some of us take it to extremes, though. Another great book I read awhile back was "When the Body Says No" by Gabor Mate. His theory is that stress can cause physical illness. Given my present physical problems I'm starting to wonder if what I considered to be my laid-back (albeit sometimes worrying) nature isn't so laid-back after all. Maybe when I THOUGHT that I wasn't bothered by something, I really was but suppressed it till finally my body said NO! Just a theory.

Back to "Worry". I can't seem to find the time to just sit down with this book and read it through. I read bits and pieces that are all so interesting I want to finish it. Finally, I flipped to the end - at least I can hear what he suggests we DO about all that worrying. From page 245: "Instead of letting worry bore into your brain, the next time worry strikes try immediately to put the sequence of EPR into motion: evaluate, plan, remediate. If you can make this a habit, you can control many worries quickly before they control you.

For example, let's say you experience a pain in your chest while walking upstairs one day. Instead of spending the next few hours worrying what it meant, and dodging the question, you could do as follows:

1. Evaluate: This was a kind of pain I don't remember having felt before. It was sharp, in the area of my heart. It passed when I paused for breath. I do not know what this means.

2. Plan: Since I do not know what this means and since I do fear it might be serious, I will seek expert advice.

3. Remediate: You call your physician right away."

This is actually a technique that I have learned to some extent in my years as a messy. One thing that caused a lot of worry and stress was "where are the keys?" Years ago I made a place for the keys and always put them there. No more worry. On my desk are two stacking filing units. There's a slot for every part of my life. All bits of paper and important information goes into its respective slot. Now when I get that "yikes, where did I put our passports for the trip (or whatever)" I can relax immediately because I know they are right where they should be. A place for everything, and everything in it's place. An old cliche, but a true and useful one.