by Sandwiched Boomers
Are you alone and wondering how you'll be celebrating the holidays this year? Whether you're divorced or widowed, a single parent or the spouse of a deployed serviceperson, it most likely seemed easier when you had a partner to share in the planning. But now that you'll be the one creating the holiday mood, take advantage of the freedom you have to develop customs that are just right for you.
1. Recognize that it won't be easy. Perhaps you're feeling more vulnerable and out of sorts after everything that has happened. Accept your complex emotions and acknowledge that it may difficult for you to enjoy the holidays as much as before. You can relieve some of your inner stress when you don't expect too much of yourself.
2. Take the process one step at a time. Holidays are stressful and this year won't be any different so try not to get overwhelmed. Do what you can without putting extra pressure on yourself. Set aside some time to relax and enjoy what the season means to you.
3. Look for support. Friends can throw you a lifeline as you adjust to your new status and way of life. And your extended family will help fill in the gaps created by your missing partner. The more adults there are to provide loving support to your kids, the easier it will be for them.
4. Consider your finances. You may need to budget differently this year so consider how you can reduce holiday expenses. Perhaps you and your friends can agree to forgo the usual gift giving and instead exchange homemade treats or enjoy a potluck dinner together. With the continuing tough economy, it's likely they're also looking for ways to cut back on costs.
5. Create new rituals. Plan to do something different for the holidays this year. There's really not one perfect way to celebrate so change your usual routine and enjoy the excitement of new experiences. Perhaps arrange to get away from home - visit a friend, volunteer in your community, go for a hike, travel nearby.
6. Include others who are alone. You're not the only one whose celebration may be bittersweet this year. Share your holiday by Inviting a single friend or relative into your home or serving meals at a soup kitchen. When you're making your own holiday preparations, set aside some time for those outside your circle. You can donate toys and books to needy children, cookies to a homeless shelter, music to a nursing home.
Holidays may remind you of the joys and sorrows of past gatherings but try to stay focused in the present. Let go of your expectations and instead create celebrations that are meaningful to you now. You'll find your experience of these special days can create new memories to savor throughout the year.
© 2011, Her Mentor Center
Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are family relationship experts who have developed a 4-step model for change. If you are coping with acting-out teenagers, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law, we have the solutions that make family rifts disappear. Visit our website, HerMentorCenter.com to subscribe to Stepping Stones, a free ezine and our blog, www.NourishingRelationships.blogspot.com to receive practical tips and our free e-book, Courage and Lessons Learned.
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by Margie Warrell
"Courage is the first of all virtues as it is the only one which guarantees all others." Winston Churchill
Growing up in Australia, my only experience of Thanksgiving was through American television. Somehow it seemed a lot like our Christmas. . . except of course without Santa and warm sunshine. After a decade in the US, I have really come to love the Thanksgiving holiday. The idea that the last Thursday of November each year is put aside so that people can come together and share thanks for their blessings is, I believe, a very special and valuable tradition.
Of course Thanksgiving, and the festive holiday season it kicks off, can be a very stressful time for many people (way too many people in my mind!) The Martha Stewart-like images of happy families, dressed in the lastest holiday fashion, sitting around a decadently decorated table feasting joyfully on gourmet delights, create expectations that can never measure up to reality.
We get so busy-busy-busy ploughing through our long “To Do” lists all our hectic doing somehow hijacks who we are BEING. The result: we start feeling like something is missing from our lives. Instead of feeling gratitude for all that we have, many of us find ourselves focused on all that is missing. . . whether it be someone else to host Thanksgiving dinner, relatives who don’t drive us crazy, or the resources to recreate that glossy magazine cover in reality.
What expectations do you place on yourself, on others and on reality that keep you from experiencing the full quota of joy and gratitude you’d like to feel in the week ahead?
So my challenge to you this Thanksgiving holiday (and for those of you elsewhere around the globe, this festive season in general) is to take take a moment in your day, every day, to pause from all your doing, take a deep breath and consciously commit to letting go all your expectations about how it “should be”. In the space that opens up, you will be better able to graciously embrace the circumstances you find yourself in for all that they are, and for all that they aren’t. There is nothing that can shift your experience of stress as quickly as gratitude. That said, there are some other things you can do to create a more joy filled festive season.
Here are five strategies to help you ENJOY MORE, and STRESS LESS this holiday season:
1. Don’t “Should” On Yourself (or Let Others “Should” On You): Deciding upfront to let go of the idea that your holiday will ever be postcard-perfect will free you up to enjoy it for all that it is, and for all that it isn’t! Drop all the “shoulds” and unrealistic expectations that only create stress, conflict and resentment — “we should all get along,” “the table should be decorated Martha Stewart style”, “we should all have fun,” “everyone should come home for the holidays”, “we should all give thoughtful gifts” …. and the list goes on. It’s our attachment to how things should be that causes the bulk of our holiday stress and upsets. If you let go having to have things be a certain way, it allows you to enjoy things just as they are.
2. Create New Traditions (& Turf Out Old Tired Ones): Be careful that you aren’t being a slave to tradition. Sometimes, traditions outgrow themselves. Just because “that’s how we’ve always done it” doesn’t mean you still should. Start a new tradition or, just for this year, break with the old one. We are cooking beef tenderloin for Thanksgiving lunch this year. Not because we don’t like the turkey tradition, but just because it’s quicker and easier to prepare and that suits us better this year. No right or wrong about parting way with tradition… even if just for a year.
3. Think Outside the (Gift) Box: The best presents are never the most expensive but the most thoughtful. Give someone a voucher for a massage, breakfast in bed or a night out at the movies and drinks afterward. And of course, spend wisely – you aren’t being generous spending money on others if you can’t afford it.
4. Express Gratitude More Generously: Like a sweet treat, expressing gratitude or just paying a compliment has a have a way of immediately lifting others’ spirits by bringing a smile to their face. Just think about whose day you brighten by taking a moment to appreciate today. Pick up the phone, send them a card, flick them an email… it takes only a little time in your day to give it but it can make a profound difference to the person you give it to.
5. Lighten Up, Laugh (at Yourself first), and Have Fun!: Make sure that in between working your way through your to-do list you make time for fun. Don your playful hat and look for simple ways to have fun, at work and home. Hold silly contests like who has the most unfashionable holiday apparel. Play your golden oldies CDs at breakfast… or in the office (everyone has to bring in their own). Keep your ideas simple and focused on involving everyone and having a fun time.
Here’s to a Thanksgiving brimming with gratitude for all that you have, for all that you are and for all the people in your life.
Margie Warrell; thought leader in human potential, master life coach, international speaker, media contributor and best-selling author of Find Your Courage. Take the Courage Quiz, watch Margie’s TV interviews (TODAY show, Fox, CNBC) and sign up for her free LIVE BOLDLY! newsletter. Then order your personally autographed Amazon best-seller book Find Your Courage
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by April Benson
The “good life” comes from doing things, not from having them. And the seasonal holidays, despite the blizzard of buy-messages, are no exception. If you really look at your own experience, it will verify what research has demonstrated over and over: we get far more lasting pleasure and satisfaction from life experiences than we do from material possessions.
Don't fall for the commercialized version of happiness , the hype that's designed to get you to spend, spend, spend on stuff that you and the people you're buying for probably don't need and may not even use. Don't buy into the equation that what you spend has any relationship with how much you care. You can spend thousands on material gifts that prove worthless, and not a dime on an activity gift that turns out to be priceless.
Give the gift of your time. What can you do well? Teach it to someone on your list who'd like to acquire that skill. How can you help the people you love? What would someone on your list love to have done for them? Does someone need babysitting, pet sitting, computer, camera, or ipod assistance? Give a coupon, redeemable for a few hours of bulb planting or transplanting. What can you share with people who matter to you? Treat them to a meditation class or a museum talk or a ballgame or a beading workshop that you attend with them.
Instead of enriching merchants, enrich your own life and the lives of the people around you. Rather than buying things , do things for and with the people on your gift list—things that nurture their hearts, minds, bodies, or spirits. Introduce yourself and someone on your list to something that will expand both of your lives. "What Would Jesus Buy?", the hilarious and often thought-provoking documentary about overconsumption in during the end-of-year holidays, is a great choice. You could also sign the two of you up for a live performance, a talk, a class, a course, a retreat of some kind. You'll find it's actually an advance!
Find creative, imaginative ways to connect with family and friends. A young child's introduction to the wonders of the sky—a visit to the planetarium or an evening spent stargazing—will last incomparably longer than the newest electronic toy. A novel and carefully planned day or evening will be remembered far more fondly than a purchase wrapped in ribbons and bows, whether a hike to a beautiful vista with a picnic lunch you've prepared, or a sunset stroll followed by an outdoor concert, or some down time at home with a movie and popcorn and you. Anybody can buy a given material object; nobody else can offer an experience that you're part of.
Instead of opening presents, open to each other’s presence. Give the two incomparable gifts of speaking and listening. Take the time to truly share yourself in words, and take the equally important step of listening fully. Celebrate each other with genuine communication, the most intimate of gifts. Another way to do this is to write a letter or poem to someone and read it aloud to him or her; you might even include a photo of the two of you. Try a family vision-board activity. Have everyone cut out pictures from magazines that relate to a short- or long-term vision. Paste them on heavy cardboard and then talk about your visions together.
Create a tradition. Cook or bake together, or go together to a local tree or menorah lighting, or volunteer together in the service of your community. Invite someone to get up early and watch the sunrise with you. Adopt a child together, from an organization like Save the Children; write letters and send pictures along with the money you give.
These are all great ways to celebrate the upcoming holiday season without risking any financial hardship. Make your life rich without spending money. You will feel more secure and your loved ones will appreciate the meaningfulness of your unique gifts.
April Lane Benson, PhD., is a nationally known psychologist who specializes in the treatment of compulsive buying disorder. She has been in private practice in New York City for over 30 years.Dr. Benson is the founder of Stopping Overshopping, LLC, and creator of Stopping Overshopping, a comprehensive program to help eliminate compulsive buying.
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by Andrei Codrescu
One might begin by loving a person, an idea, or a substance, and end up becoming a slave to it. But, what happens when it involves someone else?
I had expected some monstrous creature with two heads and an ungainly body, but the person coming haltingly down was a picture of modesty and coyness, and not at all bad-looking. The naughty-librarian effect looked a bit studied, but not excessive.
I told myself not to lose sight of my purpose. I didn't shake her hand and I didn't sit down. I looked her straight in the eyes with what I hoped was cold indifference, and I said: "If you ever contact me again, I'm taking out a restraining order!"
The effect of my words was immediate. She crumpled to the floor like a rag doll and started crying. "I love you too much!" she kept repeating, between sobs.
"You don't even know me!" I shouted. I was exasperated, but not so much because of her crying, but because I could feel my resolve weakening. I can't stand to see women weep (something to do with my mother's bouts of despair in my childhood) and worse, I was beginning to find her attractive.
I ran out, slamming the door behind me. So what if, as she said, she "loved me too much"? What the hell did that mean? That was obsession, not love. Had I ever been guilty of such obsession? I didn't think so. I certainly never persisted after a person made it clear that there was no interest. Once or twice I might have gone past that particular clarity and made a fool of myself with a letter or a phone call. The embarrassment of being rejected again usually put a definitive damper on my ardor.
What is the fine line between love and obsession? Is obsession an excess of love? And is addiction an excessive obsession?
Ideas and alcohol are, at least for me, substitutes for women. But I have never become obsessed by a woman once she said no. The advantage of ideas and drink is that they never reject you.
Why wasn't Miss Marylou Arden more like myself in this regard? Why didn't she find a substitute, an addiction perhaps, or another writer? What kept her insisting that we were meant for each other? A lack of imagination? Some crazed mystical belief in twin-souls? (As her messages never tired of repeating.) Was she crazy enough to think that everything I wrote was for her? (As she also maintained.) Was she sick enough to kill herself or me?
I also wondered what made me so unassailable. What kind of priceless commodity was I that I had to threaten her if she came near me? Most men would have been flattered by the attentions of the physically fetching person I had just met. She was intelligent (of course! she read my books!), she was purposeful (and how!) and she professed to be a slave of love (an erotically charged possibility!).
Wasn't there a way to escape the associations with terror and death that our culture has so closely wrapped around the idea of obsessive love?
I called her landlady. I wanted to know why she had treated me so coldly when I came to visit. I also wanted to know what Marylou did every day. Did she work? Or did she lay in bed covered by my books, throwing moist kisses into the impregnable air?
The landlady wasn't stingy with her answers. She said that I was a cad for having abandoned my "lover" pregnant in her cold city thousands of miles away. And it was none of my business what she did every day, but if I really wanted to know I could try reading her fiction. The poor girl wrote without surcease.
That was the last straw. I asked the judge for a restraining order. They hauled her into court and warned her to stay away from me. She left town. The phone rings sometimes and when I pick it up, there is a rich, guilty, sad silence. I'm sure it's her. It's funny, but I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if I'd given in, if I didn't love myself so much.
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by Keri Brenner
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romantic decisions, selecting who to marry, divorce, choosing life partners, law of attraction, intuition and love, being single, liz smith, finding modern love, visualize a life partner, love, marriage, partners, romance, dating
by Michelle Casto
They sit around waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right to come knocking on their door, without doing much to prepare themselves for the special gift of love. If this sounds like you---- it is time to Get Smart!
We seem quite inept in choosing life partners. One only has to take a look at the current divorce rate to see that we have not developed effective decision making skills when selecting mates. This is not only due to a general lack of education on the subject, but also because of the lack of selection criteria and the habit of making premature romantic decisions. However, lives and families do not have to be broken. All that is needed is enough people making smarter decisions. Is this wishful thinking? Not really, because as we move towards the new age, more people want to make better decisions and live a higher quality life.
The societal pressures to have someone are pervasive. We are inundated with images and messages that life is just not complete until you find that someone special, which leads us to ponder what to do in the meantime?
Liz Smith once said, “Love is the outreach towards self completion.” As you are more able to love yourself and others, the more complete you will feel. If you want more love in your life, be more loving. Share more of yourself with the people already in your life. The law of attraction says that like attracts like, then it follows that love attracts love.
Why not improve your own life---- polish yourself so that you shine and sparkle?
I once read a card that said “The arithmetic of love is unique. Two halves do not make a whole. Two wholes make a whole.” In the meantime, you can be working on making yourself to become the best you can be. By working on your own issues and becoming the kind of person you seek, you set the stage for meeting that special someone. And when love comes into your life, you will then be ready and willing to experience it on a higher level.
It’s been said that love makes you blind and can often trick you into thinking that you really have love. All too often, the illusion of romantic love leads people down roads that turn out to be wrong turns or dead-ends. How can you spot the difference? By tuning into what your intuition is telling you.
Finding real love means learning from your past mistakes and requires that you develop an open mind and heart, patience, and a willingness to let go of worn out belief systems and limiting thought patterns. It also requires setting aside your ego, and letting your soul be your guide.
If you have been lead astray time and time again, you are most likely allowing your ego to make your love decisions. If you consistently rely on a lack of sense, clarity, and vision of what you desire, you will miss your mark every time. If you want to find real love, you must look at what needs to change (within you), visualize the kind of love you desire, and then consciously work on creating it.
Our way of living has evolved dramatically, yet our way of loving seems to be stuck in the romantic era. Many people still believe in the knight in shining arm concept of love, which is completely misleading to millions of people. If you too would like to find ultimate love, you must learn to love in a more modern, equal, and enlightened way.
Another key aspect in finding real love is an awareness of what you think about love. Do you perceive love as choice or chance? Do you believe that you deserve to have love? Or do you believe that love is only for the lucky ones? Indeed, you may need to clear some mental programming in order to find the kind of love you are seeking. There is a saying in the Unity church that “thoughts held in mind reproduce in their kind.” So just by thinking that you are worthy and deserving of real love can help bring it into your life. Thinking about love also involves knowing it when you see it, so developing your own definition will enable you to recognize love when it magically appears.
Romantics will not like reading this, but love is a practical matter. There are only a few people on this earth who will fall in love at first sight and live out the rest of their lives together as a couple. For the rest of us, we need something more to go on than pure destiny and hope. The Get Smart! approach is about learning to utilize your decision-making skills and to spot trouble ahead of time, long before you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship. Smart people know that giving yourself away too soon can deplete you of your ability to love in the highest way. Being smart means saving yourself for the right person and then experiencing the romance that develops naturally.
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by Nancy Merz Nordstrom
Another link between lifelong learning and community service is mentoring. It has been said that one generation’s philosophy becomes the common sense of the next. That being the case, helping younger generations is one of the more valuable roles older lifelong learners can play in our society.
Older adults who belong to lifelong learning institutes often work with college undergraduate and graduate students. They also reach out into the community to work with elementary and high school students as mentors.
Older learners many times initiate such programming, working together with community agencies and organizations. By matching older adults with schoolchildren, these two generations share activities and in the process many stereotypes are broken down.
Older adults benefit from this work in that they develop a greater sense of purpose and more self-esteem. Being so involved in the community also leads to more life satisfaction. At the same time, those being mentored learn more about getting older while increasing their own self-esteem, knowledge, skills, and motivation. And they also gain role models with incredibly valuable experience who can guide them into maturity.
Intergenerational programs also benefit the entire community. Participants pool resources and engage in creative problem solving to tackle social issues. Along the way, they find that respect for diversity and each other’s generational traditions has been growing.
Intergenerational community service work is so valuable to our society that The Center for Intergenerational Learning at Temple University seeks candidates to be trained to join its Intergenerational Training Experts Network (ITEN). The goal of the network will be to help build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to infuse intergenerational approaches into their programs and to engage more older adults in meaningful volunteer roles.
Mentoring can take place almost anywhere, in the home (children often listen to their grandparents more than their parents) in the workplace through in-house workshops run by experienced co-workers, and in the schools. There is a desperate need for school mentors in all grades. In fact, this type of mentoring has become very popular.
The role of a mentor is not to impose your thoughts and beliefs on the person you are mentoring. Instead, the goal is to get them to reveal their own thoughts and beliefs, using gentle encouragement throughout the process. Successful mentors point out the importance of developing the ability to listen while using appropriate questions to further aid the process. This ensures both the mentor and the mentoree are on the same wave length and that both will benefit from the exchange of ideas.
Mentors gain an infusion of vitality and energy from the youth they are mentoring, while the mentoree gains valuable perspective and knowledge about the larger world they may not have had the chance to explore yet. Successful mentors don’t try to impress, nor do they impose their own belief systems. Instead, they try to bring out the mentoree’s own innate sense of knowledge.
Respect the fact that they are unique individuals with as much right to their own beliefs as you are. Remember to listen to their concerns before attempting to share your wisdom. Recognize that successful mentoring takes time.
Make sure you ask yourself some important question prior to embarking on this adventure.
Why do you want to be a mentor?
What knowledge do you want to pass on?
Prepare an inventory of your skills, knowledge and your life experiences. Determine who would most benefit from your experience. When you have these answers, then you can begin to make a difference in someone’s life.
Intergenerational mentoring is truly one of the most valuable methods of community engagement. Mentoring helps combat family dysfunction, drug addition and abuse. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing you’ve helped the next generation. --- Nancy Nordstrom is the author of, “Learning Later, Living Greater. ”She also directs the Elderhostel Institute Network, North America's largest educational network for older adults. She offers counseling to new programs, and provides resources and facilitates communication among 400 lifelong learning programs across the U.S. and Canada.
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by Paul Wolf
Midlife Myth: Only the young fall madly in love.
You feel lightheaded, and light on your feet. Finally (after what feels like years of mostly lame dates!), you are talking to that person who seems to have an aura. As awkward as you feel, you want this precious moment to last.
Welcome to falling in love. Infatuation can come anytime, anyplace. It can occur suddenly or linger for months like a spell. It can be all-consuming or something far less extreme. And it doesn't matter how old you are.
We are destined to fall in and out of love throughout our lives, according to Jim McKenna, professor of biological anthropology at the University of Notre Dame.
While the phenomenon is not related to age, the power of the feeling can vary at different times in your life. The chances you will fall in love are also unrelated to your life situation, including a situation in which you already love someone else, says McKenna.
Some, like Dean Hamer, a biochemist with the National Institutes of Health, say that the tendency to fall in love peaks around 40, and ebbs somewhat after the reproductive years.
"The feeling of falling in love is related to reproduction, but only superficially," argues McKenna. "It is also connected to bonding as well. So, if you've passed the age of producing offspring, you can still feel the power of attraction." Reacting to that sparkle in the eye or contour of the body has nothing to do with mating, he says.
Still, it's easy to see falling in love as a pastime of the young, if only because they have a harder time hiding it. Midlife lovers are usually more capable of turning down the feeling and focusing on day-to-day responsibilities. The flames are just as hot; they're just not allowed to burn wild.
From the time we fall in love with our grade-school teacher to the time we foster a crush on a visiting nurse, we have big and small infatuations. Ultimately, this is quite cheerful news, McKenna believes. As we get older, there is always a source of freshness and ardor. The world sparkles again. Love affairs are always with us, even if they are played out only in our brains and emotions.
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Selecting and keeping a partner in love and romance is a little like choosing a political running mate; you want someone who balances the ticket. The differences of strengths between you and your mate bring new skills, ideas and talents to your team.
Here's your self-help ticket to creating a balanced relationship ticket:
1. Agree on the big stuff.
The Democrats and Republicans may talk about big tent philosophies, but they don't ignore their party platforms. "Sharing core values provides a foundation of mutual interest for a good relationship," says Kevin Gogin, a marriage, family and child counselor in San Francisco.
Core values include everything from religious orientation to views on child-raising and life philosophies.
Who's neat or messy has nothing to do with core values, explains Carol Kaplan, a marriage and family counselor in Monterey, Calif. It's like Felix and Oscar of Odd Couple fame. They get on each other's nerves, but they agree on underlying politics, morals and ethics.
2. Discuss issues together.
Specialization in a relationship is terrific. But it only works so long as you include your partner in decision-making.
3. Enjoy togetherness and separateness.
Couples with children know about specialization. He does the laundry; she watches the kids. But your differences may even affect leisure time. When your spouse has to attend a networking event with business associates on a Friday night, resist the temptation to tag along.
4. Throw guilt and resentment out the window.
Your partner cooks, cleans and does the dishes. You take out the trash. Before you feel guilty, look at the big picture. You also fix things around the house, oversee contractors and run the broken cars to the shop. Are you both happy with this arrangement? Talk about it.
If there is an imbalance, real or perceived, someone is going to feel resentful. Bring those feelings out in the open.
5. Don't try to change your partner.
It's a mistake, Gogin says, to assume you share values with your partner if they've never been expressed. It is also unwise to hold out hope for a miraculous change in your significant other. If he's a heavy drinker who stays out late, don't expect his behavior to change after you marry.
Negotiation is the alternative to change, says Kaplan. Your partner can learn to wash every dish he uses, even if deep down he'd rather let them pile up in the sink. That's called a concession, not a change.
In the end, you may appreciate those quirky personality differences. The neatnik may need to loosen up, and the slob may need to straighten up. If you form a well-balanced ticket, you will always have something to learn from each other.
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by Andrea Goeglein
How are you showing gratitude these days? You can say “thank you” in many simple ways that mean a lot. Consider any one of these 10 actions that take a little bit of time but don’t cost you an arm and a leg. The can be given for a job interview or just to show appreciation to someone:
1.Write a handwritten thank-you note.
2.Praise your colleague to his or her boss.
3.Give an unsolicited recommendation on LinkedIn.
4.Send a special card.
5.Write a poem.
6.Write new lyrics to a song, or write a song if you’re able.
7.Put together a photo album or a video clip.
8.Make a phone call.
9.Bake cookies, dog biscuits or some other delicacy.
10.Take time to go on a walk together and tell the individual how much you appreciate working with him or her.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that your recognition will be more successful if it’s customized to the recipient. In other words, don’t send fresh flowers to someone who’s allergic to vegetation.
For more great ideas, check out books by Bob Nelson, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees and Cindy Ventrice, Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works.
Also, Peak: How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley, the Founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality is a thought-provoking book, not only for recognition but also for showing how to overcome adversity.
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