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Quality of Life: Let your inner child out this holiday season

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Quality of LifeWhen I was eight years old, my aunt and uncle invited our family to their house to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” They had a color TV, and we didn’t. I still remember how excited I was on the evening that we went to their home. My aunt cooked a wonderful dinner and then we all crowded around their television to watch the show. When Dorothy landed in Oz, and the film changed from black and white to color, I was beside myself. It was so beautiful. Glinda, the good witch, wore the loveliest dress I had ever seen in my life and it even sparkled! And while the Wicked Witch of the West scared me nearly to death, I thought her green face was pretty cool. The whole experience of seeing that movie at their house that evening was one I have never forgotten.

I often think about how great it would be to continue to experience life with that kind of wonder and enthusiasm. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live every moment in color, instead of black and white?

I suppose I’m pondering this because we are approaching the holiday season and for the last several years, that kind of true joy, that deep-down, authentic, “touches you at the gut level” joy, has been missing from my holiday celebrations. In part, it is because grown-up obligations have supplanted the carefree life of youth, but I think it also has to do with a tendency to view life through gray-colored glasses.

So, here are some ideas for bringing joy back into your life during the holiday season.

Give a gift to yourself: What is it that you need most? Time? A break? A party? Make a commitment to do something nice for you and you alone. If this is hard for you, pretend you are doing it for someone else. Even if it just means being your own best friend and accepting yourself with less criticism and fewer unrealistic expectations. If you can bring tidings of comfort and joy to yourself, then you are well on your way to spreading joy to others.

Give a gift from the heart, not the wallet: You don’t have to purchase a gift for everyone — you can make something, or give of your time. Put together a packet of favorite family recipes, or give a homemade gift certificate for an invitation to your home to watch the big game, complete with snacks, dinner, beer, whatever. Most people appreciate a gift of spending time, rather than money. When you give away something of yourself, the space that is left will be filled with joy.

Allow yourself to feel joyful: Here’s a wild concept — give yourself permission to feel joy — to act like a kid — to try seeing the world with new eyes. The first step toward bringing joy into your life is actively hoping that you will feel it. Spend some time imagining what joy would feel like. Open yourself up to the idea of being happy. Start telling your brain about joy and it will begin to recognize it. Give yourself permission to stop thinking about your work and your obligations long enough to identify joy.

Nurture your creativity: When I was little, every Thanksgiving, Mom would find some kind of creative project for us to do. One year we made turkeys out of old Reader’s Digest magazines. We folded the pages, spray painted them brown, added a head, some feet and a few feathers – it was great. I was really proud of my turkey. While you may not feel inclined to do that, there are other creative outlets that you could pursue. Have you ever gone to Wine & Canvas, or a similar place where you can paint a picture in three hours flat? No talent required. They walk you through it, step by step. It is truly gratifying to see the finished product. Give yourself three hours of creativity this holiday season. Better yet, share the experience with a friend or family member.

Pay attention: Notice the colors of the flowers, the sky and the trees. Listen to the sounds of traffic, holiday songs, children playing, people laughing – think Silver Bells. Focus on what is around you with a view toward finding the beauty in it.

If you try some of these activities, not only will it brighten the lives of others, it will brighten yours as well.•

__________

Jonna Kane MacDougall, an Indianapolis attorney, is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former law school career services director. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or via email at whatsnextcoaching@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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