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As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

  • Patti Hatton

Q/A How To Motivate Yourself

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Q: How do you motivate yourself to do something you love to do, or have always wanted to do? I have a new sewing machine that has been sitting in the box for years. What is the best way to begin?

A: To motivate yourself to accomplish a task, you need to break it down into small, measurable goals. Using your example of the sewing machine, let’s dissect this. Start by scheduling 2-3 times a week to address your desire to sew. As a suggestion, on M, W, F from 4 to 4:30 pm, you devote 30 minutes to setting up the sewing machine. On Monday, you take it out of the box. On Wednesday, you accomplish the first part of the instructions to make the machine function, etc. Do not go past the 30 minutes allocated. On a scale from 1-10, rate yourself on how you feel before the 30-minute ritual begins. Repeat this process after the 30 minutes is completed. For example, it is 3:45 pm and you begin to focus on your goal to sew. Are you dreading this? If so, you might rate your feelings as a 2. At 4p.m. you begin to unpack the machine. By 4:30, you have unpacked the box and you stop. Now, rate yourself again. Using the same 1 to 10 scale, you might rank as a 7. Why? Before you began, you had not accomplished anything. You just felt like a big project was in front of you that you might not know how to tackle. But after the 30 minutes when you have successfully completed the task, you feel good. You accomplished the one goal you set for yourself that day. When a behavior produces positive emotions, we are more likely to continue with the thing that caused the good feeling, because we know there will be a high return on our investment. Small, measurable, and specific goals are the most likely to be completed because they are predictable and manageable. With any project you start, begin by breaking the entire scope of the idea into bite sized pieces. Write these down. When you see that your big goal is nothing more than a bunch of smaller goals, it does not feel so overwhelming. It is the staggering feeling of a huge project that keeps us from moving forward. If you rank yourself low on several occasions after your allotted 30-minute scheduled time, you should re-evaluate how important the goal is to you. You might dream of making a beautiful dress, but the time you will need to invest is not worth the trade-off. This will help you evaluate how important your goal really is. We all dream big, but that does not mean every dream is to become reality. It is fine to let a goal go. Donate the machine to someone that might not otherwise have this chance. You will have done a good thing. When you do what you love, time flies. But when every minute feels like an hour, you may not be experiencing something you love. Find your passion, and you will be motivated to persevere.

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC

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