By KRS Edstrom



Dear KRS,
Every year around Thanksgiving, conflicts seem to break out in our family and we are pulled apart rather than drawn together during the holiday season. Who will go where for the holidays? Who will do the cooking? What about Grandma . . . and so on. We are all grown and a few of us have our own families, but we don’t act very adult during this time. By now I realize that the timing of these conflicts each year is not a coincidence. A few of my friends have mentioned that the same thing happens in their families. This year with our nation drawing together after September 11th, our disagreements seem all the more petty. Can you help us resurrect this holiday season before it’s too late?
Family Conflicts
During the Holidays

Dear Family,
Holidays can tend to set up a sense of expectation that echoes our childhood fantasies and sugar plum fairy dreams. Store window displays, street decorations and laughing Santas everywhere deluge us with visions of holiday perfection and how it is “supposed” to be. A part of us still longs for the way it was, or the way it should have been and never was. Instead, unmet dreams along with extra responsibilities and bills to be paid collide with unmet dreams of others around us and . . . the stage is set for conflict. Our old childhood buttons are sensitized and easily pushed by others. Over time, the habit of holiday unhappiness sets in and it can be a challenging cycle to break unless some consciousness of the big picture is attained.

 One way to experience a more accurate “big picture” is to simply declare it. Make a sign for yourself that says, “I give myself permission to be happy around the holidays.” Feel free to decorate your sign and spend time on it, like a childhood coloring assignment. Post your sign in a prominent place and let the message of the sign sink in, down to all of your frustrated, hurt or unfulfilled subselves (inner selves from days gone by, such as your angry teen or your five-year-old). Your subselves will be relieved to hear this simple message; relieved to realize that happiness is an option; relieved to know you can break the cycle of past holiday emotional states starting right now.

Another exercise that works well for many is to focus on those things for which you are truly thankful. If gratitude is resistant, don’t force it and most importantly, don’t feel guilty that you are unable to induce it at this time. On the other hand, if this gratitude exercise sounds like it might be helpful, make a list of those things for which you are thankful. Sound corny? Try it anyway. You’ll be surprised at how your list will begin to shift your attention from unmet needs and old story lines. Elaborate on any or all of the items on your list. You may find yourself writing a novel.

When you are generating positive energy and thoughts, it is likely to spread to those around you, even more powerfully than negative energy and thoughts.
Enjoy the holidays!

Dear KRS,
I have been going to a gym and participating in low-impact aerobics at least five times per week. I have lost 25 pounds and many inches. My question is, I have not lost any weight for about 3 months. What can I do to jump-start my fitness program and lose about ten pounds?
Ms. Plateau

Dear Ms. Plateau,
 This is a very important question. Plateaus are perhaps the biggest program killers around because people don’t understand them. They get impatient, discouraged, then often throw in the gym towel and pull out the cookies. So it’s critical that you recognize your plateaus and be ready and willing to “ride them out. ”

If the plateau is long enough, such as yours, you can jump-start it by changing your routine a bit. Alternate your workout to include other types of exercise, such as swimming, hill hikes, or equipment like the treadmill. You can rotate several exercises in the same workout, such as three different aerobic machines. It’s called crosstraining, helps make your workouts interesting, and can give a big nudge to a plateau.

Every success story has plateaus. Learn not to react negatively to them. They are actually part of your success, believe it or not. Expect them and try not to react negatively to them. I always tell my clients that plateaus help “set” the success you’ve already established. The longer you maintain loss, the more it is yours.

Dear KRS,
I’ve just been laid off from my job of five years and am feeling pretty depressed. Any suggestions?
Out of Work

Dear Out of Work,
First of all, DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Often the worst part about being laid off is the feeling of rejection, of not feeling “good enough. ” This can make it difficult to find the courage to look for another job. Realize that businesses must make decisions for reasons often unrelated to the employee in question. Unfortunately, they aren’t always educated in how to effectively communicate with employees when letting them go. Next, update your resume, make specific goals on your new job hunt (how many calls per day you will make, etc.), and consider that it may be for the better that this happened. Perhaps you were meant to express yourself differently in work. Change is uncomfortable for most people, but it can be exciting if you open yourself to the experience. Rather than thinking “I’m doomed,” think “Anything is possible!”

KRS Edstrom, M.S., is an auth-or, lecturer and columnist. She is available for private sessions (by phone or in person) and seminars on meditation, motivation, stress, pain, weight loss and other personal growth issues. Her books and audios offer solutions for healthful, conscious living. For free soothing guided meditations and more, please visit KRS’ “Serenity and Meditation Corner” at  For more info call (323) 851-8623 or e-mail:   

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