7 Things to Do Intentionally Every Day

Girl Looking Down RoadDo you remember learning the classic laws of thermodynamics, perhaps in seventh grade science class? The basic idea of the second law goes something like this: any system will seek equilibrium where the least amount of energy is expended.

Now I’m sure any of you physicist types will find glaring holes in my paraphrase of such foundational principles: my apologies to such greats as Newton and Kelvin. But the point applies to ALL systems. Left to itself everything becomes more disordered. Without putting energy from the outside into a system it is doomed to collapse.

YOU are that outside energy. Doing something on purpose makes the difference.

I don’t want my personal “system” to collapse! And I know it takes doing things on purpose to keep that from happening. So, for myself, here are some things I must do intentionally every day:

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Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

Wedding RingsFirst a disclaimer: I’m not sure there are ANY five steps that guarantee happiness in any area of life, let alone something as long-term and complicated as marriage. But I DO know that there are some things that can make or break the union of two people.

Four years ago today (as I write this) I married Al Tanksley, and I’m more in love now than on the day I said, “I do!” I know four years doesn’t seem like a long time to those who have been married fifty years or more, but I certainly treasure every moment. Yes, we have had challenges, but we have met them together. And I look forward to many more good years together.

Here are some steps to a happy marriage in our experience, and I hope will do the same in yours:

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Doctor, Doctor: Your Family of Origin

Three GenerationsYou can’t choose your parents. Or your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If your family of origin was reasonably healthy you probably don’t think much about how you choose to relate to them. You look forward to family gatherings, and keep in touch between times together.

There is always some tension as young people grow up and leave home, but healthy families celebrate such transitions. While still connected, junior develops a life of his or her own. And you’re at least somewhat proud of your parents and the legacy they left you.

But not all families are so healthy. It seems some significant measure of dysfunction is the norm in most families. Volumes have been written on the topic, and the mental health field has provided numerous careers devoted to helping those from unhealthy families learn to function better now.

Growing up in a home with alcohol, drug use, rage, criminal behavior, or violence leaves permanent marks on your soul.

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Married – and Lonely

Hope SpringsMy heart has been breaking. I’m sure it’s nothing new, but I’m hearing it a lot lately. Middle-aged and older women who are married – and desperately lonely.

It’s certainly not what any woman was looking for on her wedding day. She imagined having someone that would care about her, love her, cherish her “’til death do us part.”

And now for her, life has deteriorated into sharing a coffee pot and a bed (if that) with a stranger.

As a gynecologist I’ve heard these sad comments from women I’ve seen just in the past couple weeks:

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5 Tips For Growing Up

5 Tips For Growing Up

Growing up is a process. Have you ever grown up in some significant way when everything was easy?

Probably not.

There’s the cliché that says, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I don’t believe that’s always true. Sometimes trauma can stunt our growth: child abuse, rape, severe poverty, and others. There are probably many variables that determine how one responds: genetics, time, age, support, personality, and much more.

I DO know that the times when I’ve grown the most have definitely been some of the most difficult. That doesn’t mean to say I’ve grown from every problem! But if I hadn’t had real almost-overwhelming challenges at times I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Sometimes I feel like Einstein when a fire destroyed much of his work. Far from feeling devastated, he is reported to have said, “Now we can start over!”

So what can we do to turn a problem, a tragedy, a loss, a trauma into a growth experience? These tips can help make the difference in growing up.

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