Executive and LeadershipMentor CoachingLife and Transition CoachingGet your Workbook

Spiritual Environment

Celebrating Life and Love

by Donna Steinhorn on April 5, 2013

I was writing a blog on perfectionism, and then my mother died.

It’s not like it was unexpected. She’d been ailing and deteriorating since she broke her first hip in October. But mom was a miracle woman by her own declaration. She had survived so much: the Nazi’s and concentration camp, losing all her family, the communists, starting all over yet again in the US with no family of her own. Caring for dad through his heart attacks and Alzheimer’s. And so many bouts with illness of her own. But through it all she maintained her sense of humor.

As we sat in her living room after the funeral, the parts of her I did not know — those that belonged to other people — unfolded for me. I heard story after story about her kindness. How she always gave advice and how they learned to take it unquestioningly in the face of both her determination and it’s impact on their lives. How kind she was. And most of all how wise she was.

I learned how she’d seen patterns in concentration camp that allowed her time after time to miraculously escape “selection.” How she gave and gave, and refused to take. How she didn’t judge people. And how much she loved me, and the rest of her family. And story after story. Funny ones, inspiring ones. A view of her that I had not had. As we went through her photo albums, there were photos I had not seen in decades. I regret not having asked her more stories about them. I regret not writing down more stories. And the names of people. But of course, I thought we had more time. We always think that. But other than those regrets, I have none. We always said what we needed to say in the moment. And in the last few months in particular, I always let her know how much I loved her, even when I was exasperated with her.

Mom died in my arms.

I had been told by a few friends who had been down this path, that to have your parent die in your arms was an amazing experience. One described it as “radiant.” I admit I was skeptical, yet in the last hours of her life I didn’t want to leave her side. So I held her. And it was incredible and beautiful…the true meaning of Awesome. I will carry that with me all the rest of the days of my life.

She’s only been gone a few days. But already I find myself channeling her. Finding words come out of my mouth that were her words. Hearing her in my head. She was a remarkable woman; I am learning that more and more.

My son gave her eulogy and his message to the mourners, and to all of us really, was to love each other. To really know each other. To be grateful for the people we have in our lives.

This morning as I prepare to go back to her house for another day of mourning, I am really celebrating life. Celebrating my mom. And celebrating love. I welcome you to join me.

Surviving the Holidays

by Donna Steinhorn on November 18, 2011

stress elf

For all the holiday cheer this time of year, I find that for many of my clients the holidays are particularly stressful.  It’s a combination of overly busy schedules, family obligations, financial strain from gift-giving requirements, and often a reaction to too much food, too much joviality, and the endless stream of holiday requests and marketing.

Over the years, a few time-worn strategies to dealing with it all have emerged.

  1. Have reasonable expectations.  The media would have us believe that everyone’s holidays are right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, when in truth, they may be more like National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation.  Go with the flow instead of expecting perfection.
  2. Don’t say yes, when you want to say no.   Sounds simple, but over and over again people accept invitations out of a sense of obligation rather than a real desire.  It’s perfectly acceptable to say “Thank you so much, I’m afraid it’s not possible,” even if your alternate plans are Chinese take-out in front of The Big Bang Theory.
  3. Don’t overspend.  Another obvious strategy, and yet one often overlooked.  Set a budget for how much you’ll spend on gifts and stick too it.  Shop in advance so you’re not desparately looking for a gift at the last minute.  Make a list and use the internet to price shop.  Then call your local store before you head in to avoid disappointment with the item you’re hunting for isn’t available.
  4. Don’t leave things for the last minute.  That includes shopping, gift-wrapping, RSVPing, finding the right dress to wear for New Year’s Eve, or sending out holiday cards or letters.  (Consider a Christmas email and save both time and money!)
  5. Eat healthy despite the overabundance that surrounds you.  Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean you need to down a quart of heart-clogging eggnog (one cup won’t hurt), or Christmas cookies, or a dozen fried potato latkes.   Indulge wisely.  However, don’t even think about starting a diet this time of year.  That’s what January is for. 😉
  6. Get enough rest.  The holidays generally take us out of our routine, whether it’s because of the abundance of events, guests or travel.  This may be the time of year to indulge in naps!
  7. Give back.  During the holidays, find a way to give back to the community, whether that’s donating to a food bank, visiting some elderly people, or volunteering some time to a worthy cause.  Don’t over-commit, but do find a way to show love and gratitude.

{ 0 comments }