5 Ways to Survive Your Next Family Gathering

Just in time for the upcoming holiday !

Like it or not, to grandmother’s house we go! Martha Beck has some sanity-saving strategies to pull you through not-so-silent nights and days with the family.

Photo: Thinkstock

In the Uncle Remus story of the tar baby, Brer Rabbit picks a fight with a lifelike doll made out of tar and turpentine. The tar baby is so gluey that when the rabbit punches it, his fists get hopelessly stuck. He tries to kick his way free, trapping his feet, then finishes off with an infuriated head butt that renders him utterly helpless.

I can’t think of a more fitting metaphor for family life in the 21st century. There’s nothing in the world as sticky as a dysfunctional family. You can put half your life’s savings into therapy—good therapy, effective therapy—and, 15 minutes into a holiday reunion, you still become hopelessly enmeshed in the same old crazy dynamics. Your assertiveness training goes out the window the minute your brother begins his traditional temper tantrum. A mere sigh from your grandmother triggers an attack of codependency so severe you end up giving her your house. For many people, family get-togethers require strategies for staying out of such sticky situations. Before you head over the river and through the woods, give some thought to the following suggestions.

Strategy #1: Give Up Hope

Most of us go home for the holidays thinking (along with comedienne Abby Sher), God, grant me the ability to change the things I cannot accept. Even if we don’t consciously realize it, we want our families to cease and desist from all the things that affect us like fingernails on a chalkboard. We don’t ask much—just socially appropriate behavior, dammit, and minimal reparations for the more damaging incidents in our past. Although come to think of it, things would certainly go better if our relatives would listen openly, communicate honestly, and agree with us on all significant issues. And possibly offer money.

The hope that our families will act perfectly—or even reasonably well—sets us up to whack the tar baby, to be incapacitated by the dysfunctions we’ll almost certainly encounter. Before you meet your relatives this season, take a few moments to sit quietly and acknowledge what you wish they were like. Then prepare to accept them even if they behave as they have always done in the past. At best you may be surprised to find that they actually are changing, that some of your wishes have come true. At worst you’ll feel regrettably detached from your kinfolk as you watch them play out their usual psychoses.

Strategy #2: Set Secure Boundaries

Given that your family members will probably go on being their same old selves, you need to decide how much contact with them you really want. Are there certain relatives you simply can’t tolerate? Are there others you can handle in group settings but not one-on-one? How much time and intimacy with your family is enough? How much is too much?

It’s crucial to answer these questions before, not during, a family gathering. Prior to the event, think through various boundary options until you come up with a scenario that makes you feel comfortable. Would you be more enthusiastic about a get-together if you planned to leave after no more than four hours? Or three? Two? One? Would you breathe easier if you rented a car so that you could get away without relying on relatives for transportation? Would it help to have a friend call you on your cell phone halfway through the evening, providing an excuse for a graceful exit?

Strategy #3: Lose Control

You’re in the middle of a holiday feast, enjoying your favorite pie and eggnog, when your mother leans over and whispers, “Honey, have you tried Weight Watchers?” Those six words may wither your very soul, challenging every ounce of self-acceptance you’ve gleaned from myriad self-help books, support groups, and several enlightened friends. You might feel desperate to make Mom recognize all the hard-won truths you’ve learned about the intrinsic value and beauty of your body. You’ll want to argue, to explain, to get right in there and force your mother to approve of your appearance. You are coming perilously close to whacking the tar baby.

Remember this: Any attempt you make to control other people actually puts you under their control. If you decide you can’t be happy until your mother finally understands you, her dysfunction will rule your life. You could spend the next 20 years trying to please her so much that she’d just have to accept you—and she still might not. Or you could hold her at gunpoint and threaten her into saying the words you want to hear, but you’ll never control her real thoughts and feelings. Never.

The only way you can avoid getting stuck in other people’s craziness is to follow codependency author Melody Beattie’s counterintuitive advice: “Unhook from their systems by refusing to try to control them.” Don’t violate your own code of values and ethics, but don’t waste energy trying to make other people violate theirs. If soul-searching has shown you that your mother’s opinions are wrong for you—as are your grandfather’s bigotry, your sister’s new religion, and your cousin’s alcoholism—hold that truth in your heart, whether or not your family members validate it. Feel what you feel, know what you know, and set your relatives free to do the same.

If you’ve been deeply wounded by your family, you can stop trying to control them by accepting full responsibility for your healing. I’m not suggesting you shoulder all the blame, but rather that you acknowledge that you and only you have the ability to respond to injury by seeking cures instead of furthering pain. Whatever the situation, accepting that you can control only your own thoughts and actions will help you mend more quickly and thoroughly.

Strategy #4: Become a Participant Observer

Some social scientists use a technique called participant observation, meaning that they join groups of people in order to watch and report on whatever those people do. Back when I was training to become a sociologist, I loved participant observation. People I might normally have avoided—criminals, fundamentalists, PTA presidents—became absolutely fascinating when I was participant-observing them. Almost any group activity is interesting when you’re planning to describe it later to someone who’s on your wavelength. Here are some approaches to help you become a participant observer of your own family.

Queen for a Day
This little game is based on the old TV show in which four women competed to see who had the most miserable life. The contestant judged most pathetic got, among other things, a washing machine in which to cleanse her tear-stained clothing. My version goes like this: Prior to a family function, arrange to meet with at least two friends—more, if possible—after the holidays. You’ll each tell the stories of your respective family get-togethers, then vote to see whose experience was most horrendous. That person will then be crowned queen, and the others will buy her lunch.

Comedy Club
In this exercise, you look to your family not for love and understanding but for comedy material. Watch closely. The more atrocious your family’s behavior is, the funnier it can be in the retelling. Watch stand-up comics to see the enormous fun they can have describing appalling marriages, ghastly parenting, or poisonous family secrets. When you’re back among friends, telling your own wild stories, you may find that you no longer suffer from your family’s brand of insanity; you’ve actually started to enjoy it.

Dysfunctional Family Bingo
This is one of my favorite games, though it involves considerable preparation. A few weeks before the holidays, gather with friends and provide each person with a bingo card, like the one on page 93, only blank. Each player fills in her bingo squares with dysfunctional phrases or actions that are likely to surface at her particular family party. For example, if you dread the inevitable “So when are you going to get married?” that question goes in one square of your bingo card. If your brother typically shows up crocked to the gills, put “Al is drunk” in another square, and so on.

Take your finished cards to your respective family gatherings. Whenever you observe something that appears on your bingo card, mark off that square. The first person to get bingo must sneak off to the nearest telephone, call the other players, and announce her victory. If no one has a full bingo, the person who has the largest number of filled-out squares wins the game. The winner shall be determined at the postholiday meeting, where she will be granted the ever gratifying free lunch.

Strategy #5: Debrief

Even if you don’t play any participant observation games, it’s crucial to follow up on family events by debriefing with someone you love. If your brother really “gets” you, call him after a family dinner you’ve both survived. If you don’t trust anyone who shares a shred of your DNA, report to a friend or therapist. Generally speaking, you can schedule a debriefing session for a few weeks after the holidays, when everybody’s schedule is back to normal. However, you should exchange phone calls with your debriefing partners within a day or so of the family encounter, just to reconnect with the outside world and head off any annoying little problems, such as ill-considered suicide.

All of these strategies, from relinquishing hope of transformation to mimicking your relatives in riotous conversations with your friends, are designed to help you love your family unconditionally, in whatever way works best for you. They help you greet the tar baby with genuine affection, then walk away clear and happy. And that, in the end, may be the best holiday present you’ll ever give to the people you cherish most.

Article by Martha Beck.

Source: Dealing with a Dysfunctional Family During the Holidays (oprah.com)

Hobbies of Successful People

(This is a dated article, but still gives one an idea of what successful people do to unwind)

Whether they’re hitting the campaign trail or overseeing multibillion-dollar empires, even the world’s hardest-working and wealthiest people need time out of the spotlight to recuperate from a long day of work. Click through for a glimpse at some of the hobbies of your favorite celebrities today.

Hillary Clinton — Mystery Novels

A May 2016 NYMag article revealed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton enjoys mystery novels, notably those written by female authors and including female protagonists. Talk about female empowerment. She and Bill also enjoy watching TV shows like “House of Cards,” “Madam Secretary” and “The Good Wife.”

Donald Trump — Golfing

It’s no secret that Clinton rival and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump loves golf. He’s frequently photographed golfing, he’s mentioned it on the campaign trail and, oh yeah, he actually owns golf courses around the world.

Warren Buffett — Bridge

Warren Buffett loves to play bridge. He discussed his hobby on CNN Money and said that more than 95 percent of his bridge games have taken place online over the last 15 years. But that doesn’t stop the billionaire from playing in-person. In 2007, he was filmed playing bridge with Bill Gates at an annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting.

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO has a net worth of $64.9 billion, which is a measure of assets versus liabilities, reported Forbes. Ranking No. 3 in the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in America, Buffett is a world-renowned investor known for his down-to-earth personality and money know-how.

Meryl Streep — Knitting

Famed actress Meryl Streep, known for films like “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Iron Lady” and “Mamma Mia!,” has simple tastes. She enjoys knitting, according to numerous interviews with the star. In a 2014 interview on “Blank on Blank,” a PBS series, the Academy Award-winning actress said she even once found an old knitting bag, which had an unfinished sweater for an ex-boyfriend.

However, knitting is not her only hobby. An interview with The Talks revealed Streep does most of her own cooking, though she had someone cook meals for her and her family when her children were younger.

The actress lives a rather frugal life, she told TheRecord.com in March 2015. “I live a very unspectacular life,” she said. “I love to sit on my chair in the living room and knit. Or I cook or read a book. I’m a very frugal person.”

Iggy Azalea — Horseback Riding

Rapper Iggy Azalea has been photographed over the years riding horseback, and she also revealed her hobby in a video she made for “On Air with Ryan Seacrest.” The singer even owns her own horse and was photographed riding it earlier this year.

Larry Ellison — Sailing

Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle, has a $49 billion fortune, according to Forbes. His hobby of choice is sailing — and he’s really good at it. In 2013, he and his team won the America’s Cup yacht race for the second time in a row.

“It’s funny, because I realized after losing twice that my personality wouldn’t allow me to quit while losing,” he told Business Insider in 2014. “And then after winning the America’s Cup, I discovered my personality doesn’t allow me to quit while winning.”

Arianna Huffington — Sleeping

Hobbies don’t have to be complex or extreme, as proven by Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington. In a December 2010 Ted Talk, she said, “I learned the hard way the value of sleep.” She fell asleep at her desk, she explained, and broke her chin. In her talk, she said that there is a culture of one-upmanship when it comes to how busy we can be and how little sleep we get.

Taylor Swift — Baking

Multi-Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Taylor Swift has done more in her young life than most people could dream of doing in a lifetime. But off-camera, she has a rather “normal” hobby: baking. On her Instagram, Swift likes to share pictures of her latest baked sweets, like her chai sugar cookies with cinnamon eggnog icing.

Richard Branson — Kitesurfing

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has been photographed on numerous occasions kitesurfing, such as when he’s at home on Necker Island, his private island in the Caribbean. The famed entrepreneur has a host of other interests such as swimming and flying hot air balloons.

Bill Wyman — Metal Detecting

Bill Wyman, former bassist of the Rolling Stones, must surely have one of the oddest hobbies out there: metal detecting. “Metal detecting is not just for anoraks or eccentrics; it’s probably the best and most enjoyable way of learning about our history,” said Wyman in a press release announcing the Bill Wyman Signature Detector.

Simon Cowell — Watching Cartoons

The famed reality TV judge takes enjoyment in simpler things, like cartoons. Simon Cowell told GQ magazine he watches cartoons each morning, like “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons.”

Vin Diesel — Dungeons & Dragons

Vin Diesel, the actor known for “The Fast and Furious” franchise, likes to play the tabletop, role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons in his spare time. On his 48th birthday, Diesel even celebrated with a cake designed as Dungeons & Dragons rule books.

Elon Musk — His Job

Justine Musk, ex-wife of Elon Musk, told the New York Times in 2015 that work is Elon’s hobby. But take a minute to look at what he does, and maybe it won’t be so difficult to understand why: Elon co-founded Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

Angelina Jolie — Collecting Daggers

Angelina Jolie’s hobby is collecting daggers. She told W Magazine in 2008 that her mom took her to buy her first daggers when she was 11 or 12.

Steve Wozniak — Segway Polo

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has an unusual hobby: Segway polo, which is exactly what it sounds like. He loves the sport so much he participated in the 2009 championships, reported Business Insider.

Mark Cuban — Basketball

Here’s another billionaire who turned his hobby into a job. Before buying the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, “Shark Tank” veteran Mark Cuban was a dedicated basketball fan. Nowadays, you can find the “Shark Tank” business mogul cheering — and shouting — on the court.

Oprah Winfrey — Taking a Bath

Oprah Winfrey, billionaire media proprietor and former talk show host, said that bathing is her hobby. On Oprah.com, she even blogged about a hand-carved onyx bathtub by stonecutters in Italy. She eventually got rid of the tub during a redesign of her bathroom.

Photo credit: JStone, Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women, JStone / Shutterstock, Flickr, Shutterstock

Article by Stella Osoba Oct 14, 2016

Michael Galvis contributed to the reporting for this article.

If you answer your phone and hear this recording, hang up immediately

a close up of a person holding a toothbrush: Spam Calls

© Provided by BGR Spam Calls

Spam calls are unbelievably annoying and, at times, seemingly incessant. Once your number makes it onto some sort of list, the deluge of robocalls and messages from scam artists can drive anyone mad.

While some spam calls are easy to screen, scam artists have grown increasingly clever when it comes to coercing you to pick up the phone. One trick they use is to call from a number that is either similar to yours or comes from the same area code. So, for instance, if you’re phone number is (555)-315-3852, you might see a spam call on your phone from (555)-315-3258.

Spam calls and recordings to ignore

If you get a call from a familiar-looking number, you’re more likely to believe it’s legitimate. It’s only human nature, after all. In these scenarios, however, there’s a strong chance the number itself is fake. Scam artists use this spoofing tactic to purposefully hide the actual number they’re calling from. That being the case, it’s inevitable that some spam calls will go through.

If you pick up the phone and you hear a recording on the other line, the FCC advises you to hang up immediately. If you’re prompted to respond to a question — even if the question is ‘Would you like to stop receiving these calls?’ — the FCC says to hang up and not answer.

The reasoning behind this guidance is two-fold. For one, if you answer “yes” or press a number on the keypad, it signals that there’s a real person on the other line. This incentivizes scammers to keep trying to scam you. It also increases the odds your number will be sold to others.

Second, the FCC a few years ago said that some scammers want users to say the word “Yes” so that they can record it and use it to authorize charges to a user’s credit card.

Other tips to stop robocalls and potential scams

According to the FCC, there are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid falling victim to a robocall or scammer:

  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords, or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.

How to silence spam calls on your iPhone

If you have an iPhone and want to stop robocalls, there is a solution. Simply go to Settings > Phone where you should then see a toggle for “Silence Unknown Callers.” If you turn this on, every call from an unknown number will go right to voicemail. The good news is that if it’s a legitimate call, the number will still show up on your list of recent calls.

Note that when the feature is turned on, the only calls that will go through are limited to numbers from your contacts, numbers that you’ve called previously, and numbers from Siri Suggestions.

Article by Yoni Heisler for BGR©

Source: If you answer your phone and hear this recording, hang up immediately (msn.com)

You’re Attracting Mice If You Never Do This With Your Car

With the winter swiftly approaching, you’re likely already worried about mice finding their way into your home. However, experts warn that your house isn’t the only place you should be protecting yourself from rodents. Since the underside of the engine compartment of your car is open, any creature can climb right up and make a home under the warmth of your hood. And while this could happen to anyone, there are some things you might be doing—or not doing—that could be attracting mice to your car. Read on to find out what experts say could be the cause of a mouse infestation in your car.

If you’re not driving your car, you could be attracting mice, experts warn.

There are a handful of reasons you may have a car sitting idle—you have a spare vehicle, you’re working on the car, or you just haven’t been driving as much during the pandemic. But the unfortunate truth is that your car quickly becomes the ideal spot for mice to call home if it never leaves the driveway.John Burkhauser, certified master technician and director of education at Bolt on Technology, says to discourage rodents from moving into the hood of your car and chewing on essential wires, which can lead to pricey repairs, you need to drive the vehicle regularly.

To deter mice, park your car in a well-lit area.

If you are going to leave your car sitting in one spot for a bit, experts suggest parking it in a well-lit area. Jordan Foster, pest management expert at Fantastic Pest Control, says rodents don’t like bright lights, so they’re likely to avoid your car if it’s near them.

He also notes that you should try to avoid parking in areas that attract mice themselves, like “unkempt gardens, deep shrubbery, piles of firewood, sewer lids, or trash cans full of garbage.” Parking in a well-sealed garage with the lights on is optimal, Fosters says.

Avoid keeping any food—whether for humans or pets—in or near your car.

You may have a few snacks in your car for the road, or you may park your car in a garage where you store extra pantry items—but whatever the reason, if you do so, you’re attracting mice. “It’s unnecessary to make it easier for mice to find food; they are exceptional at finding it,” warns Foster.

He says even something as minuscule as a forgotten ketchup packet from a fast-food run can lure mice to your car. Mice also love birdseed and dog food, which is often stored in the garage or outside, so try to keep it far away from the car, Foster says.

Place dryer sheets in and around your car if you’re not driving it for a while.

Some smells that we find enjoyable are ones that mice find repulsive (which may not be a huge surprise considering these creatures love garbage). That’s why Burkhauser says you should use scent-based products to repel mice. Pest Kill suggests dryer sheets since they’re cheap and easy to use—plus, while mice will hate the smell, you and your passengers will love it.

A passionate car owner explained to Hagerty Car Insurance that when he stores his car, he lays the sheets all over the interior, under the hood, in the trunk, on top of the tires, and in the exhaust pipe. When he’s ready to drive, he collects the dryer sheets and tosses them. “Not only will there be no mice, but the car will also smell like it just came out of the dryer. Works great for me!” he said.

Article for BestLife© by Allie Hogan. Photo by BestLife©

Source: You’re Attracting Mice If You Never Do This With Your Car, Experts Warn (msn.com)

5 Tips For Fishing In The Rain

by Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation

Rain, rain go away? Not so fast! But before you cast your line, you’ll want to read these tips for fishing in the rain to ensure you have a successful day!

Fishing in the rain can provide excellent opportunities to catch more fish. Of course, this will require a little planning in advance to have a productive day out on the water. There are a couple of factors that you should consider before you cast your line, such as getting to know the area, tides, Moon phases, water temperature, and of course, the weather. Light rain tends to discourage some anglers from hitting the water but it actually provides a great opportunity for catching fish. Check out these tips for fishing in the rain to ensure you have a successful day:

1.Wear Appropriate Clothing

When fishing in wet weather, wearing the right clothes is important. Quality waterproof gear makes the difference in being comfortable or miserable. If you stay warm and dry, you will be able to fish all day! Of all the tips for fishing in the rain, this one is key for maintaining a positive mindset.

2. Check The Tides

During storms, the tides are higher, and rainwater builds up onshore. Fish where there is water movement—near drains, inlets or spillways. The outflow will churn up bait and fish will be waiting to feed.

3. Fish Before The Storm

The most productive fishing will occur before a storm when the low barometric pressure sends fish into a feeding frenzy. That may slow down during the storm and pick up after it passes when the pressure begins rising again.

4. Use Colorful Fishing Lures

When selecting artificial baits, consider bright colors and tackle that makes noise, such as crankbaits or popping corks, to help fish find the bait. Rain muddies up the water, decreasing visibility and making it harder for fish to see baits.

5. Safety First

Practice safety first and check your local forecast before heading out to fish. While fishing in light rain is fine, it’s never smart to fish when lightning is present or dangerous surf conditions exist. Don’t head out into open water if lightning is in the forecast, and be sure you have a sturdy, safe shelter to go to if a storm strikes. Follow these simple fishing safety tips during your fishing trip.

When planning your fishing trip, consider the above tips as well as environmental factors, such as water temperature, tides, structure, location of bait, water movement, and times to fish. Be sure to check out the Farmers’ Almanac’s Best Days to fish!

Visit Takemefishing.org to learn the best times to fish, selecting the proper fishing gear, and the best places to go fishing and boating.

Here’s wishing you tight lines!

Contributed by freelance writer Alycia Downs

Source: 5 Tips for Fishing in the Rain – Farmers’ Almanac (farmersalmanac.com)