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New Friends and Identity Activate as February Begins February 03 2018, 0 Comments



What's in a name? A rose is a rose but would Oscar be as much of a grouch if he was Oscar the Friendly? We invest so much in our names, their etymology, and sometimes derive personality from it. Is Beatrix as fun to be around as Sasha? Is Bruce as smart as Norm? We sometimes make assumptions about others based on their name. This can lead to personality traits that are either shy or very open. Are there baby names more commonly used for babies born in the summer than in the winter? That's something to think about while watching the snow.

It certainly has been winter lately. It's cold. We close in. This is a good time to challenge yourself to break out and make connections, to make new friends, to consider who we are no matter what our name. Here are three special days in February prompting us to do just that.

 February 11 - Make a Friend Day

Friendships matter. Whether five or eighty-five, we are social being and our survival depends upon our connection with others.

Spending time with friends improves our well being. It reinforces our place in the world and our sense of belonging and self worth. Isolation can result in poor physical and mental health. It’s not easy for everybody to make a new friend. Sometimes you just feel like a square peg in a round hole. So today's the day to find some square pegs like you.

We can start by going to new places, doing new things, and by not limiting opportunities by avoiding people who do not have the same life experiences or background as we do. When we step out of our comfort zone, we learn something new. That’s exciting. That's connecting. That’s what friends do.

 

February 13 - Get a Different Name Day

You'd be surprised at the people you know who have changed their names. Confucius: Kong Qiu, Catherine the Great: Sophie Frederike August von Anhalt-Zerbst in Stettin, Bob Dylan: Robert Zimmerman, to name a few.

Why are some people eager to change their names, while others would never consider it. It’s a matter of identity. People change their names for different reasons, such as religious conversion, transgender name changes, stage names for entertainers.  This article gives ten reasons why people have changed their names.

Countries change their names too, for political or nationalistic reasons, or to reflect ideologies of the government in power. The history of these three name changes is fascinating: ancient Constantinople changed to Istanbul,  Zaire became Democratic Republic of the Congo, Persia changed to Iran.

Fruits and vegetables also have name changes, usually for marketing reasons:  alligator pears are now called avocados, the Patagonian tooth fish is now the Chilean sea bass, prunes became dried plums, and the Chinese goose berry is now called kiwi.

 

February 16 - Do a Grouch a Favor Day

This is the day to do something nice for someone, and for ourselves.  That grouchy face you see would love and laugh and sing and dance. That usually takes two. Here are some ways to celebrate this day:

  • If you see someone who is grumpy, do something nice for them. A smile can lift the heart. 
  • If you know of someone who is having a difficult time, take them to dinner, eat lots of ice cream with Cointreau.
  • Sit and listen to them instead of forcing cheer on them, sit with them with their feelings and let them talk.

Fruits and vegetables change their names too...usually for marketing purposes: 

Avocado were once called alligator pears, the Patagonian tooth fish was renamed Chilean sea bass, Chinese goose berry became the kiwi, and prunes are now fashionably called dried plumbs.

 

Here are some funny new greeting cards ..... to celebrate those special February name days.

Until next time amigos.

Hasta luego.

Val

 

 

 


January Days, Connections & Puzzles January 18 2018, 0 Comments

 

January can be a tough month for many people...myself included. In the North, we are challenged with bad weather, trapped inside, lack of sunshine, feeling confined and isolated. This wet and cold can impact our mental health and well being.  To cope, we find ways of cheering ourselves up by connecting with others, staying warm, doing activities that make us feel happy. What better way to do this than to create special calendar days to get us out and active. Special theme days, in the second half of January, connect to the human condition: intimacy, friendship, emotions, opposites, and puzzles.


January 21 - National Hug Day
This warm day in January coaxes us to show our emotions. The mental and physical benefits of connecting with hugs are infinite. Do you know that animals love hugs, with each other and fellow humans.


January 23 - National Handwriting Day
This day encourages use to pick up a pen or pencil, a piece of paper, and a greeting card.

Writing with a pen positively affects the brain by increasing neural activity, it sharpens the brain and helps us to learn, and forces us to slow down and enjoy the moment. 

There are many reasons why the art of the handwritten letter enhances the lives of the sender and the receiver, such as creating memories, making us feel good, and sparking creativity, unplugging us from the screen.


January 24 - National Compliment Day

A compliment has a powerful effect, on both the receiver and the giver. It’s a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day. A genuine compliment tells the receiver that they matter, they are unique, and that the giver is sincere.  There's a scientific explanation why people perform better after receiving a compliment. We can enrich someone’s life by sending a special card with a special compliment. It'll make their day.

In his unique way, Mark Twain expressed his feelings about receiving a compliment:




January 25 - National Opposite Day
This is a day to have fun by saying and doing the opposite of what you want to say or mean to do. As comical as it might appear, this opposite activity can have a profound effect on our thinking. We are encouraged to be experimental, to break habits, to be brave. Cake for breakfast with chop sticks…that can’t be wrong!  

Puzzles typically necessitate trials and errors. We might find solutions to familiar frustrating questions by considering the the opposite answer. The solution might be just outside the box, or under it.  Consider the words of wisdom contained in this story.


 

January 27 - National Chocolate Cake Day
One day? One day only? For some of us, any day is chocolate cake day. Having a good day or a bad day: chocolate cake! Alone or in a crowd: chocolate cake. Hungry or not hungry: chocolate cake. Fork or fingers: chocolate cake. Having difficulty solving a puzzle: chocolate cake will help find the solution.  There are many recipes for chocolate cake. This one sounds delicious.

 


January 29 - National Puzzle Day
Puzzles stimulate the brain, keeping it active. When we work on a jigsaw puzzle, we use both sides of the brain and improve memory, cognitive function and problem-solving skills. Crossword puzzles increase our vocabulary and language skills. Solving puzzles significantly assists our brains in the production of dopamine and accelerates ingenuity. Here are some more benefits of solving puzzles, however big or small.


Spending time with a friend, working on a jigsaw puzzle, is a fun way to connect, having some chocolate cake, and a hug. What a great way to get rid of the winter blahhhhhhs.

Until next time.

Hasta lego,

Val