September 2019

Summer break is over!

  

Many of us take vacations d uring the summer or lead a quieter less stressed life.Back to school or returning back to work can bring up stress. We all have times in our lives when we just have too much stuff going on. There are always deadlines, work due dates and just too many priorities to juggle. And when everything is going wrong, the world is screaming for your attention and you just don’t have time – the last thing you need to hear is to “just breath”. I have just completed a book designed to release your pent-up stress. Here are a few of the book’s suggestions. 

When life is starting to become overwhelming say no to anything that is not important to you. Give yourself the permission to focus on what’s important. Getting the unessential responsibilities off your schedule will not only create extra time, it will also lighten the burden you’re feeling to keep up with it all.

I always thought asking for help was a sign I couldn’t do everything, and I didn’t want anyone thinking that so I kept quiet. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and most people around you actually love to be asked! It makes them feel useful and important. Asking for help to do the normal things such as cooking, shopping and regular every-day tasks can provide you with a much-needed break and reduce your stress.  

Are you like me, I get in bed and the thoughts of the day and worry about tomorrow fills my head. Try to relax in a dark quiet room with no electronics. The glowing light from a cell phone or tv in the bedroom place your mind in an active state. Practice deep breathing or guided imagery of a peaceful time. When it comes to self-care, it is absolutely essential that you get enough sleep. We need to get enough sleep. While we sleep our body and brain recharge and we are able to begin the next day fresh.  

Listening to your favorite musiccan do wonders to release your stress. Calm music will help you calm down and upbeat music will help you up your game. Pick music that won’t distract you such as instrumental music when you are trying to relax. Listen to your favorite music will help you become stress-free, boost your mood and keep you happy.

When I am stressed, I crave carbs such as ordering pizza or diving into a pint of ice cream. Taking the time to cook and eat nutritious and healthy food will boost your mood and not make you jittery as some un-healthy alternatives.  

Learn to take a 5-minute mini-breaksevery hour or so. Get up from your chair, walk outside and take a 5-minute break. The change of place, the change of physical posture and the movement will make it easier to start again when your break is over. You’ll also give your brain a chance to relax and process information, which is essential for your well-being and preventing burnout. 

Creating a new behaviorof writing a daily gratitude list really helpful to shift your focus and help you appreciate the situation. A few sentences is all you need.  Keeping a gratitude journal, allows you to look back on your previous entries whenever you need a little boost of happiness and motivation.

Beginning a yoga class is also a behavior that will give you physical and emotional benefits. If you can’t attend a class, do some yoga at home. Even ten minutes is better than nothing, and will recharge your batteries (and your mind).

Support-thoughts and affirmationsare thoughts you write down when you’re calm, that can support you when you are stressed and tired. For example, a gentle reminder of why you’re doing all this work, creating a short pep-talk, or a reminder of how wonderful you are is an amazing way of taking care of yourself. and being less stressed. 

Finally, begin to breathe correctly when stress builds up. Take a few minutes to breath in through your nose and out through your nose slowly  

These are just a few ideas from my book Tied in Knots. The bottom line is do something that helps reduce your stress, not add to it. Everyone is different and responds to stress and reducers differently. 

image1

August

Who is the real Mary Jane?

 Working on my latest book, people have been asking " just who is Mary Jane Cronin" Here is a little bit about me.

Born the tenth child of a couple who could not care for all of us resulted in the state of New Jersey removing us for safty reasons. My twin brother and I were raised in New Jersey, my twin brother and I were adopted at the age of eight months old to a loving family. Visits were made to the Jersey shores where I learned to build sand castles and later, was introduced to the boardwalks of Atlantic City and Wildwood. In my teens, my parents bought a diner and I learned all the roles including waitress, cook and dishwasher. While waitressing I found I liked talking to and helping people.

Music has always been a passion for me, and as I wrote the words to a poem and created a new song, I dreamed I would one day be famous. Instead of becoming a famous musician myself, I married one and we moved to Florida where we married and raised our four sons. It wasn’t until years later that my first book was born.

In 1998, my 16-year-old son, was murdered. Every emotion possible for a young mother to feel after the lose of her child was felt by me. With little support or knowledge of how to heal, I retreated within myself and became overprotective of my other children. My salvation was writing letters to heaven to my son. Meeting a woman who lost her own daughter, I printed out my letters and gave them to her in the hopes that she would find comfort in my words. She told me how much my words helped her and suggested I make it a book to share with others. November Mourning was born in 2008. Two years later in 2010 I created Writing Through your Grief for the families admitted to Suncoast Hospice as a way of thanking Suncoast Hospice for helping me publish November morning.  

As a licensed counselor working for Suncoast hospice for 10 years, I saw many caregivers become weary and ill themselves while trying to care for their loved ones. My desire for helping others was now focused on caregivers. Research and talking with many family members and professional caregivers, as well as having illness in my own family gave me the information and knowledge to help them. I wrote A Caregiver Connection and Growing Through Illness Together to help them with communication issues, health topics and self care. 

Unexpected Change was written to help others see life is not always predictable, but we can be better prepared for those changes. Techniques and solutions to help one who has lost someone they love, suddenly having our life altered when someone becomes ill or is diagnosed with a life-threatening situation, or facing a potential burnout when our job responsibilities change. 

My latest book, Tied in Knots 3 Steps to Releasing Stress is to help the more than 80% of Americans experiencing unmanaged stress. Creating a self care plan prior to needing it may include activities such as deep breathing, exercise, or changing some stressful behaviors. 

Since leaving Sun Coast Hospice in 2014, I opened a private practice and enjoy speaking at conferences, retreats, and workshops across the country, I teach others how to manage feelings and emotions resulting from grief, loss, change and stress. Since publishing November Mourning,, I've written articles on coping with grief which can be read at the Open to Hope website at http://www.opentohope.com. Be sure to visit my website at http://www.maryjanecronin.com and find me on Facebook and LinkedIn. 

image2

June

Father's Day

  

Sitting quietly this Father’s Day, my mind drifts back to the numerous memories of previous Father’s Day gone by. As many people say, I think that I had one of the best fathers around. When my family couldn’t care for me, he took me in and raised me as his own. For that simple act of unselfish love, I am forever grateful. 

My first memory of my dad was in a courthouse. On that day when I was around three or four my foster mother and father planned to adopt my twin brother and I. We would become a permanent part of the family. 

Sitting in that courtroom, I can remember it as if it were yesterday. With my little hand wrapped around his finger I hoped the man in the black robe would make the right decision. Before you laugh and think I mean wrapped around his finer meant he could be gently persuaded to give me my latest wish, I meant something entirely different. Even at that young age I knew this man would protect and love me forever. Holding onto that finger I felt safe. Safe that he would always protect me from my fears.

A second special memory was sitting at the kitchen table watching the squirrels out the picture window. He taught me how to put peanut butter on a cracker and lay them outside for them to eat. Together we would laugh at them scurrying to get them back to their home. While the squirrels ate their peanut butter filled crackers, we would make some peanut butter crackers for ourselves, but we add honey. 

Honey was not limited to crackers and peanut butter in our house. My dad always drink coffee with milk and sugar. Knowing I was too young for coffee he made me tea with cream and honey. My cup look just like his, and I felt so grown-up as we eat those crackers sipping our drinks and laughing together.

Leaving home and going on adventures of my own was bittersweet following high school. As I was about to board the bus, he called me over for one more hug and to give me something special. He gently placed a dime in my hand as whispered, if you ever want to come back home, just call, you are always welcome home. Such a simple gesture carried such a gigantic and wonderful meaning. No matter where I lived, he would always be a part of my life.

Moving over a thousand miles to live with my future husband, my wedding found my father, a WWII Army pilot, flying in a commercial plane. He arrived to give me away and I asked where was his luggage. He smiled and put his hand on his jacket pocket and said, “as a pilot, “I learned to travel light”. 

One night I had a feeling I needed to call him on the phone. When he didn’t answer, I got worried. I soon learned he was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. Calling his hospital room, he said yes, he had a heart attack but would be fine soon. He told me to stay with my husband and children and he would call when he was back home. We said we loved each other and I hung up the phone.

That was the last time I spoke to him before he died at that hospital. Driving from Florida to New Jersey with a carload of four boys was my husband’s gift to me. He knew of the special bond and my need to say my last Good-bye to my dad and tell him I loved him one more time. 

I feel his presence around me all the time and find pleasure looking to heaven and sharing stories and dreams. Today, I send a Happy Father’s Day to my dad and whisper softly, I love you. 

image3

May 2019

Missing all of our moms on Mother's Day

 

   

My friend and I were recently having breakfast and talk turned to the upcoming Mother’s Day.  Both of us have lost our mothers recently and a look of sadness and “I miss her” tears began to fill our eyes.  As my thoughts drifted back to my years as a child, when I scurried to make mom breakfast in bed and bring her flowers from the yard, I softly smiled. She pretended to be surprised and always ate my creations, whether they were tasty or not. Growing into a young woman, the gifts became more memorable of the connection between mother and daughter. A pin that included the birthstones of her children and a dress in her favorite color that she proudly wore to dinner that night.

I moved away from home in my twenties and unfortunately our visits and phone calls became less frequent as I got married, raised a family, and returned to work. When her health declined it was my brother, her first born who provided her care.  I was unaware of the time and effort being a caregiver involves and did not understand the emotional toll it was taking on him. Phone calls between us became even less frequent, and she would ramble on about her younger days and when I was little. I didn’t realize these were an early sign of dementia. I thought she was just “getting old”.

Kathryn shared that her mother’s days were just the opposite. She had lived her life as an independent business woman and only in later years did she moved back into her mother’s home to care for her.  Every family has skeletons and demons in their family.  For Kathryn, the demon was alcohol, and her mother’s life was filled with it.

She shared that the demons she had run from all her life, had now returned, as the alcohol escalated her mother’s dementia.  This happens because drugs and alcohol use kill brain cells at a faster rate than simply age alone. One study found that people who consumed excessive alcohol in midlife were three times more likely to have dementia by the time they turned 65.

The relationship rekindled and they shared many years together in her mother’s condo. The time came however, when her mother required more care than Kathryn could provide. She placed her mother in an assisted living care community and they both adjusted slowly to the change of care and responsibility. Slowly her mother’s dementia progressed to her needing skilled medical care until her passing.

One year recently, my brother asked me to come stay with my mother while he took a week off for his birthday.  Before my arrival, I though being a social butterfly all her life, she would also enjoy assisted living, but my brother, her Health Care Surrogate, insisted she remain in her home. Upon my arrival, I was very surprised. I had no idea how difficult it had been for him to care for her. She refused to bathe, was very forgetful, and asked the same questions over and over. She also accused me of taking anything she couldn’t find and saying “maybe I should just go home and leave” her alone.

Under my covers in bed, I silently cried. Where was the mother I remembered?  Thinking to myself, “Why did I stay away so long?” I lost so much time with her.

The silver lining of that visit, I came to understand, was that people with dementia do have moments of lucidness. She never lost sight of the fact I was her daughter and I learned to meet her where she was mentally. We shared wonderful stories about how she met my dad at a dance and all of her friends in school. Tears streamed down my cheek as she sang the songs she used to sing me to sleep as a baby.

Over coffee, Kathryn and I laughed, cried, and remembered our mothers with love. Thinking about our upcoming Mother’s Day, Kathryn said, “My one suggestion is to not watch television as much. Those Hallmark movies and commercials have me sniffling and missing her so much!

Offering hope to others who are without their moms this year, I agree to a point. Tears are important and so is grieving. Grieving is our body’s way of expressing our loss and admitting we were loved. Kathryn shared that when her mother was alive they would often go to the beach and have a picnic. This year she and her sister will plan a picnic, go to mom’s favorite spot and remember. Remember the good times, remember the “not so good” times, but most importantly, remember mom.

image4

June

Father's Day

 

Sitting quietly this Father’s Day, my mind drifts back to the numerous memories of previous Father’s Day gone by. As many people say, I think that I had one of the best fathers around. When my family couldn’t care for me, he took me in and raised me as his own. For that simple act of unselfish love, I am forever grateful. 

My first memory of my dad was in a courthouse. On that day when I was around three or four my foster mother and father planned to adopt my twin brother and I. We would become a permanent part of the family. 

Sitting in that courtroom, I can remember it as if it were yesterday. With my little hand wrapped around his finger I hoped the man in the black robe would make the right decision. Before you laugh and think I mean wrapped around his finer meant he could be gently persuaded to give me my latest wish, I meant something entirely different. Even at that young age I knew this man would protect and love me forever. Holding onto that finger I felt safe. Safe that he would always protect me from my fears.

A second special memory was sitting at the kitchen table watching the squirrels out the picture window. He taught me how to put peanut butter on a cracker and lay them outside for them to eat. Together we would laugh at them scurrying to get them back to their home. While the squirrels ate their peanut butter filled crackers, we would make some peanut butter crackers for ourselves, but we add honey. 

Honey was not limited to crackers and peanut butter in our house. My dad always drink coffee with milk and sugar. Knowing I was too young for coffee he made me tea with cream and honey. My cup look just like his, and I felt so grown-up as we eat those crackers sipping our drinks and laughing together.

Leaving home and going on adventures of my own was bittersweet following high school. As I was about to board the bus, he called me over for one more hug and to give me something special. He gently placed a dime in my hand as whispered, if you ever want to come back home, just call, you are always welcome home. Such a simple gesture carried such a gigantic and wonderful meaning. No matter where I lived, he would always be a part of my life.

Moving over a thousand miles to live with my future husband, my wedding found my father, a WWII Army pilot, flying in a commercial plane. He arrived to give me away and I asked where was his luggage. He smiled and put his hand on his jacket pocket and said, “as a pilot, “I learned to travel light”. 

One night I had a feeling I needed to call him on the phone. When he didn’t answer, I got worried. I soon learned he was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. Calling his hospital room, he said yes, he had a heart attack but would be fine soon. He told me to stay with my husband and children and he would call when he was back home. We said we loved each other and I hung up the phone.

That was the last time I spoke to him before he died at that hospital. Driving from Florida to New Jersey with a carload of four boys was my husband’s gift to me. He knew of the special bond and my need to say my last Good-bye to my dad and tell him I loved him one more time. 

I feel his presence around me all the time and find pleasure looking to heaven and sharing stories and dreams. Today, I send a Happy Father’s Day to my dad and whisper softly, I love you. 

image5

April 2019

Are you at a risk for job burnout?

  

Are you at a risk for job burnout?

The classic symptoms of job burn out include pessimism, lack of job satisfaction and higher absenteeism. Although you may not think you are on the verge of job burnout, you probably are one of the growing majority of Americans who report that their job causes them stress. Every job includes difficulties where the worker has to adjust to things, things they may not be happy about. 

This feeling of unhappiness, alone does not cause burnouts. Rather it is a worker’s lack of control over their job situation that leads to uncertainty, frustration, and ultimately burn out. Even minor factors beyond your control can be stressful including the many unexpected interruptions in the course of your day.


3 Steps to Reduce Job Stress. 

1 identify your symptoms of job stress. 

2 identify the sources of those job stress 

3 Develop new ways to respond to them


• Are you experiencing mental symptoms such as snapping at others, withdrawing from friends and co-workers or having difficulty with decision-making? Maybe you have physical symptoms to being over stressed. These may include headaches and dizziness, stomach aches, heart beat increases or a tightness in your neck, shoulders, and back. The final way stress can show itself is in an emotional symptom such as fear of rejection, anxiety, worry and self-doubt of your abilities. 


• Are you bored at work or annoyed, angry, drained or frustrated with responsibilities or co-workers? Setting goals to respond more effectively to your job stress by changing the external stressors such as telling your boss how you feel. Begin to take regular breaks and organize your time. Learn ways to reduce stress by beginning to turn off the job when you get home. You are not responsible for other people’s problems and in understanding what you really have control over and don’t may start you on the path to reducing your stress. 


•  Becoming more physically active in a way you enjoy will reduce stress. Relaxing exercise such as deep breathing and massages, eating properly, and getting sufficient sleep can all prime your body to handle stress more efficiently. 


• Sometimes, no matter what you do, the stress and potential for burnout exists. After making a genuine effort to modify your own thinking, behaviors and work conditions, you may find that your job is still dissatisfying to you. It may be that you and that job may not have the right fit. Ask yourself whether the price you are paying physically, mentally, and emotionally is worth the material benefits..

image6
image7

March 2019

Are you Lucky enough to be Irish?

  Mary-"I was wearing my new shoes today when I stepped in a HUGE cow pile of poo" 

Michael-"Well then, it's a LUCKY thing you were wearing shoes!" 

Mary-"Yea, Luck of the Irish"


What does "Luck of the Irish" really mean? Sounds like an easy question, but maybe it's not! Where did the saying originate? It is used around the world on a daily basis to wish people good luck during a toast, on greeting cards, text messages and social network status updates. It is one of the most popular Irish sayings, but is the luck good or bad luck? Some people, however, say it refers to the bad luck of the people of Ireland who have a history of sadness, famine and war? 


The term 'Luck of the Irish' originated in the USA and means bad luck and not good luck as most people think today. The Irish people were actually very unlucky as they had to leave their homeland in order to survive. In fact, on the night before a person emigrated, a party was held, a sort of 'funeral' wake. A wake is a traditional Irish custom when someone dies, and this wake was held as their family knew it was extremely unlikely, they would see their loved ones ever again.

Tennessee Williams said, "Luck is believing you're lucky." Having faith that you are a lucky person actually makes you more likely to notice opportunities and more likely to be in a positive position where opportunities can come to you.


Do you cross your fingers for luck? If you are the type of person who believes that the glass is half full, not half empty, then you're already practicing that positive thinking. Studies have shown that being optimistic can relieve stress and help you live longer.  


Visualize yourself being lucky. Visualization is a technique where you picture yourself accomplishing something you want, which helps you work out the steps to make that thing happen. When you can see yourself being lucky, being strong and being a winner, then you can work backward to see what you need to do to make that image real. 


Do you believe you can increase your luck by wearing a favorite pair of socks or t-shirt?  My husband always wore his “lucky” shirt when he went bowling with his team. In some unexplained way he believed that shirt helped him bowl better. 


There are several lucky symbols like four-leafed clovers, ladybugs, or pennies people believe will make them luckier. Sceptics would say this is superstitious nonsense, right? Not necessarily. Using lucky charms and having rituals can make you feel luckier, happier, and more optimistic. This positive attitude brings more luck into your life. It might be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but if it works, why not take advantage of it?


In gathering data about luck, one of the most extreme examples of considerable good fortune occurred one chilly Ithaca morning in November 2007, while two men were playing tennis.  During the second set, a man complained of feeling nauseated, the next thing he knew, he was lying motionless on the court.

Very shortly, an ambulance showed up,. Ithaca’s ambulances are dispatched from the other side of town, more than five miles away. How did this one arrive so quickly? By luck, just before he collapsed, ambulances had been dispatched to two separate auto accidents close to the tennis center. Since one of them involved no serious injuries, an ambulance was able to peel off and travel just a few hundred yards to this man. EMTs put electric paddles on his chest and rushed him to the local hospital. 

Doctors later told him that he’d suffered a cardiac arrest. Almost 90 percent of people who experience such episodes don’t survive, and the few who do are typically left with significant impairments. Four days after this happened,  he was discharged from the hospital, and two weeks later, was playing tennis again.  If that ambulance hadn’t happened to have been nearby, he probably would have died. Good Luck? 


Mike Edwards, formerly a cellist in the British pop band the Electric Light Orchestra, was driving on a rural road in England in 2010 when a 1,300-pound bale of hay rolled down a steep hillside and landed on his van, crushing him. He was a decent, peaceful man and a bale of hay took his life that day. Was it just bad luck? 


Whether you are Irish or not, how can you increase your luck chances? Believe there are opportunities in this world, to be successful in life. Once you have this belief, there is a higher chance that you will find the opportunities. People who are lucky are normally more aware of their surroundings and are always looking around for opportunities to make things happen. 

St Patrick’s day is celebrated worldwide and people who have to trace their ancestors back three generations or more still feel proud to wear green and celebrate the patron saint of Ireland's special day on the 17th March. Whatever the origins of the phase 'Luck of the Irish' was intended to mean, good or bad luck, the fact is the Irish are indeed a very fortunate race of people. They are proud, hardworking, funny, extremely patriotic people and are loved by nations all over the world. This may not be luck at all, but having a positive attitude of looking at a bad situation.

February 2019

Show Yourself some Self-Love for Valentine’s Day

 FEBRUARY 9, 2019  



With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, this fact, if single, thanks to all the hype surrounding the “most romantic day of the year” may find you feeling a bit down. While some may consider V-Day a day to plan the most romantic evening of the year for their significant other, many use that mid-February day instead to focus on self-love instead of romantic love.

Self-love or self-care is one of those things that may get put off when we get too busy with work, family, and “stuff”. Being willing to help others when ever asked is something we normally do, but, it’s important to stop and refocus on yourself as well.

If you’ve been too busy lately to dedicate some time to you, Not ever giving yourself self-love, you may start to feel like it’s taking a toll on your body and your health. Self-care doesn’t have to be complex, time consuming or expensive. Here are a few suggestions that may help you feel re-centered and loved.

  • Treating yourself can mean anything from taking yourself out for a fancy dinner, to spending some alone time listening to your favorite music with a cup of tea.  
  • Buy yourself flowers and chocolate. These are the top two gifts for Valentine’s Day, show yourself some love and buy some of your favorites.
  • Journal everything you’re feeling or thinking. Journal writing is something I encourage in my books. Does the day make you feel sad, happy, melancholy? Does the upcoming day remind you of days gone by? Writing how you feel, or emotional writing has been proven to help someone feel better.
  • Bake yourself a sweet treat such as chocolate chip cookies. Make extra to share with others.
  • Buy yourself that book you’ve been wanting or that piece of jewelry you stare at every time you pass the jewelry store.
  • Take a bubble bath at the end of the day and relax. Pour yourself a glass of wine, add some candles, and maybe that new book, and you’re bound to have a wonderful night.
  • Cook yourself your favorite meal, sit down and enjoy. No eating standing up or sitting on the couch with plate in hand. Don’t forget to add dessert.
  • Unplug yourself from all technology and social media. Listen to your favorite songs on the beach    

image8

January 2019

TAKE THE TIME TO UNWIND

  

Stress happens to all of us. Sometimes it's unavoidable and at times, it's unbearable. Taking time for yourself is a necessity and can help you to relax, renew, and rejuvenate.

Stress does not merely affect your body and mind; it can also affect you on a cellular level. It has been shown that long-term stress can lead to a wide range of illnesses—from headaches to stomach disorders to depression. What many people don’t realize is stress can also increase the risk of serious conditions like stroke and heart disease. 

Understanding the mind/stress/health connection can help you better manage stress and improve your health and well-being.

The Fight or Flight Response is a survival mechanism that is hardwired into our nervous systems. This automatic response is needed to allow us a quick reflex when there is imminent danger, such as swerving to avoid a car crash.

Stress can be caused by an actual event or a perceive threat. As our stress hormones rush into the bloodstream there is an increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. Other hormones can also suppress functions like digestion and the immune system, which is one of the reasons why chronic stress can leave you more vulnerable to illness.

That real or perceived danger mentioned above triggers the stress response, but so can work conflicts. Eighty percent of those surveyed reported feeling stressed at work. Although one bad day at work won't compromise your health, weeks or months of chronic stress can lessen your immune response and raise your risk for disease. 

There are two ways I find can reduce stress in your life. Change the situation or change the way you look at that situation. 

If you suffer from chronic stress and can't influence or change the situation, then you'll need to change your approach. Be willing to be flexible and remember that you have the ability to choose how you respond to stressors. Recognize when you don't have control, and let it go. Develop coping skills to use when you get anxious about situations that you cannot change. 

In my book Tied in Knots, 3 Steps to Reduce Stress, I show readers how to create a  vision for healthy living, wellness, and personal growth.  

Taking some time each day, even 10 or 15 minutes to relax, can improve your ability to handle life's stressors. Letting go of things in your life causing stress is obvious, but often difficult to do. Mediation, massage, listening to music or  exercising are excellent stress relievers. Although you can't avoid stress, with some practice you can minimize it by changing how you choose to respond to it. 

image9