4 Steps to a Happy Holiday Season

by Judy Davis - The Direction Diva on November 20, 2014



With Thanksgiving exactly a week away I guess the holidays are officially upon us. I am actually trying to understand where this entire year went but that’s a blog for another time. Today we are going to talk about what you can do to make the most out of the next couple of months. So here we go ….



4 Steps to a Happy Holiday Season

Step 1: Realize that our society has officially lost their mind

If you question whether or not this is true, just walk down the isles of your local super store late on Halloween day. Gone are the discount candy displays (they are actually WAY in the back in the farthest right hand corner), and in their place the Christmas elves magically descended and threw up tinsel everywhere.

We have supersized our expectations and put so much pressure on the holiday season that I fear we will never again be able to sit with a cup of cocoa on Christmas Eve to relax and just take it all in. We are spending more and enjoying less. We are running in circles and missing out on the magic.

This makes no sense to me and it’s time we stopped this nonsense and regain our sanity. Let’s take our lives back and get back to basics. The holidays are about time with family away from school and the office. It’s about creating memories and sharing stories. And it’s about celebrating together.

Trust me the long-standing family traditions (many of which get lost in our quest for perfection) mean more than any perfectly decorated tree or latest must have gadget.

Step 2: Remember the holiday season is what you make of it

As military families the holidays are often seen as a time to make up for missed special events and sometimes we strive for perfection “in case” the worst happens and we don’t get the chance again. We tend to spend a bit more on that perfect gift, we justify an expense because well they weren’t here last year. We place so much emphasis on the gifts and the hoopla that we forget what the season is all about.

Putting this kind of pressure on ourselves is only making things more stressful. Holiday happiness comes from so many different places and experiences and there isn’t one “right” way to celebrate. So take a moment and sit down with your family and discuss what is important to each of you. You may be surprised that the key to your child’s holiday memories has nothing to do with what’s under that sparkly wrapping paper.

Step 3: Allow yourself some space and be flexible

So often we use a specific criteria to determine the success or failure of a particular event. This the mindset where the perfect holiday is  achieved ONLY if every box on the long checklist has been successfully marked complete. This strategy while it may seem productive is the kiss of death when it comes to holiday happiness.

Take the time to allow the entire season to unfold. Let spontaneity rule and plan if you must but let your plans be flexible. Your children will thank you!

Step 4: Let go of the expectations

Decorations, cooking, entertainment and gifts. These are only a few things that cross our minds on when we think about the perfect holiday. What if this year you just let go of any expectation at all and just took it all in. Expectations can lead us to disappointment when what we think is going to happen doesn’t. How many times have we purchased a gift or planned a celebration only to be disappointed when the reaction of our loved ones doesn’t meet up with what we thought would happen? Letting go of expectations is key to happiness so much so that I chat about it in Right Side Up . So this holiday season let go and live in the moment.

These are some steps my family takes to really make the most of the holidays. That and a few of the topics I’ve shared in these past holiday posts. How do you balance it all? Share your secrets in the comments below!

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7 Tell Tale Signs Your Military Teen is at Risk for Suicide

Post image for 7 Tell Tale Signs Your Military Teen is at Risk for Suicide

by Judy Davis - The Direction Diva on November 12, 2014

My phone rings again. Another mother with a child in crisis.

This time a head on collision with a tree. Thankfully the young man is alive and getting the help he needs. Many times that isn’t the case. Many times we are too late, and their pain had been too much for them to bear.

Since sharing our families story about our son’s battle with depression, PTSD and his subsequent suicide attempt in 2012 (learn more at LivingThruCrisis) these types of phone calls and emails are becoming more frequent.

Is it the times? Is it the environment? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that we as parents need to arm ourselves with everything we can. We need to know what to look for and how to get help.

So over the next few months I will be writing a series of blog posts with tools, information and tips that will empower us to be able to help our military children before it’s to late. We will learn what to look for, how to take action, how to deal with it ourselves and finally how to navigate the challenges of getting our children the care they need which can be a challenge when it comes to behavioral health issues.

Today I will tackle the question I am asked most often by fellow parents.

How do I know if my child is in distress?

Because every child is different, the broad answer is this: If you notice a sudden change, don’t dismiss it as “typical teen” behavior and begin to ask direct and specific questions with calm concern and then LISTEN to your child’s responses. Seeing the early warning signs and getting treatment is key in to saving lives and getting your child the help they need.

7 Tell Tale Signs Your Military Teen at Risk for Suicide

  1. They have angry outbursts or intense frustration especially to common everyday happenings
  2. An increased sensitivity to daily life (crying over the little things, super sensitive to things you say)
  3. Are they always on the defensive
  4. Have they lost interest in activities, foods and friends they normally enjoy
  5. Has there been a general apathy to life
  6. Is there a change in their ability to relate to others or have they begun to isolate themselves
  7. Are there physical changes in their appearance? (ie have they begun to wear long sleeves or articles of clothing that are more concealing? It could be that they are covering cuts, scars, bruises and other signs of self-injury – which is often an effort to feel better/or feel something)

These 7 things either on their own or cumulatively can be warning signs of a much bigger problem and I encourage you to act on the side of caution. If at any time you feel you child is at risk of harming themselves, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If it isn’t an emergent situation, I recommend that you begin with their primary care physician.

Please don’t wait, don’t dismiss and don’t judge.
Probe when your child answers “I’m Fine”.
Don’t Yell, Nag or Give Advice…

Just Ask, Ask and then Ask Again.

Your child needs you to work with them to find the support they need. Their life may depend on it. I know my son’s did.



Judy along with her son Geoffrey are available to speak to your group or organization and will not only share their story but provide valuable tips parents and leaders can use when faced with teen suicide ideation, depression, and addiction. For programs and additional information visit http://livethrucrisis.com

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On Veterans Day A Simple Haircut Gives Back To Our Vets In A Meaningful Way

November 8, 2014

November 11th is a day in which we honor our veterans for all they have done and continue to do for our country. Historically it began as a time to celebrate the temporary cease-fire  between the Allied nations and Germany in WWI on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918, is […]

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Military Life: 4 Unusual Tips To Keep You Sane During Your Next PCS

November 3, 2014

Last week I shared how technology saved my sanity more than once during our recent PCS. I also shared that this PCS was so different from any of our other moves because the short notice prevented us from being able to schedule movers AND meet my soldiers report date. At first it seemed like an impossible […]

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