Holiday Healing In Unexpected Ways

Holiday Healing In Unexpected Ways The Real Cougar Woman

Given the unprecedented destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the continued sacrifices of our military, the escalation of international strife, the threatened fiscal cliff and the personal storms most people face, it has been difficult enough to negotiate daily life – much less, think about the holidays.

Do We Really Need The Holidays Now?

Yes. We need the holidays because if we can look past the details and avoid getting trapped in expectations, holidays hold great healing potential. In ways we hardly expect, they provide many of the ingredients recognized as essential to the stages of healing and recovery after traumatic events.

Physical and Psychological Safety

We know that in the aftermath of trauma and disaster, people are most comforted and stabilized by familiar networks of support. The Holidays provide this.

  • In the case of survivors of Hurricane Sandy, we know that families embraced each other and gathered together earlier than expected and may stay together longer than planned. For them, as well as for other familiar networks be they a military unit, a medical staff, evacuees at a shelter or a few students far from home, a Thanksgiving dinner has the potential to stop the clock, take them off task and offer physical and emotional sustenance.
  • No matter how many hours they have worked, cried or served together, to stop and gather with the mutual goal of celebrating and giving thanks reduces the isolation and alienation inherent in the challenges they face. The shared experience adds to their cohesion and the sense of being held together. When the festivity ends – the benefits and memories do not.
  • Food plays a major role in holidays. As such it is as emotionally healing as it is physically gratifying. Emotionally charged events, be they wonderful or traumatic, are remembered and encoded in the senses – the body remembers. As such, food is evocative of powerful memories. While it may seem small, the long awaited fragrance and taste of stuffing, pie, or turkey can re-awaken a memory and provide a restorative feeling of home, family, country that no words can provide.

Remembering and Mourning

While holidays stir treasured memories and invite new ones, they can also be reminders of years of unhappiness, the devastation of loss or the absence of a loved one. As such they offer painful but important possibilities.

  • It is very understandable that on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, many people report being “thankful but not happy.”
  • While everyone grieves in their own way and their own time, it is worth considering that holidays often unexpectedly evoke many different feelings.
  • You may be moved by the laughter of your children even as you mourn a parent you greatly miss. You may treasure the friends and family who have gathered to help you re-build after the storm; but feel bruised by the loss of the family home. Owning and enabling a mix of feeling is empowering.
  • An important gift that families and friends can offer each other at the holidays is to bear witness. The freedom to share pain in a way that is understood and contained by the compassion of others makes it easier to bear.
  • While families and friends may face considerable hardship and loss together, it is often only at the holidays (when everyone is sitting in the same place at the same time) that there is the opportunity for all family members to “ weigh in” on their version of what happened, the impact, the joy, the regret, the memory.
  • Children need to be included in the discussions of family experiences. The situations and the family stories need to be explained in a way that makes sense for their age. These family stories can be edited and expanded as children develop, as the years pass. There is always another holiday.
  • Because holidays make room for family narratives, they reduce the intergenerational legacy of unspoken pain.

Connection in Time

One of the impacts of natural disaster and traumatic events is to disrupt the continuity of time. Traumatic events freeze us in time. The past feels lost and the future feels impossible. The story of the life we knew has stopped.

  • Holidays reinstate order. They arrive no matter what has happened. They intrude with a reminder of past, an invitation to look beyond pain in the present, and the promise of a future.
  • A dramatic example of this was the famous Christmas Truce during WWI when in the midst of war on a Christmas Eve, in an unplanned display of humanity,the shooting stopped and was replaced by the exchange of Christmas Carols between enemy armies.

If holidays can offer a physical and psychological respite, a community of mutual sharing, a revival of treasured memories, a place for grieving, a time for a family narrative and a reconnection to our own story – they will help us heal.

Holidays won’t end all pain and suffering but they can help us restore what we need- to look forward with hope.

Sexual Dysfunction and Diabetes

By Dr. Jennifer Landa

Sexual Dysfuction and Diabetes by Dr. Jennifer Landa For The Real Cougar WomanSexual dysfunction in female diabetics has only received attention within the last decade.. Nearly 40 percent of diabetic women experience some type of sexual dysfunction affecting both their desire and performance.

Unlike a man with diabetes, sexual dysfunction in diabetic females is most commonly linked to body image, depression and anxiety. In some cases, it may be attributed to more serious complications of the disease such as vascular damage, neuropathy or infections. Diabetic women who have experienced, or are also experiencing menopause, may be dealing with a dual challenge when it comes to overcoming sexual dysfunction.

Mind over Mattress

Studies have observed that women affected by diabetes have a low self-esteem and poor body image in comparison to women not affected by diabetes. This may be linked to depression and anxiety – which affects 60 percent of diabetic patients – and can literally tank your libido. Women who must wear a pump or check their blood sugar before sex may become self-conscious, reducing the likelihood that they will initiate or engage in sex. Traditional stressors that affect any woman in the bedroom – such as weight management – pile onto the reasons diabetic women experience sexual dysfunction.

The root cause of female sexual dysfunction in these cases can often be addressed with lifestyle changes and a trusted partner. A balanced diet and routine exercise are proven methods for controlling weight and improving mood.  Don’t be afraid to talk openly with your doctor about your sexual distress – some cases may be more severe and require a change in medication or additional counseling.  Don’t forget that communicating with your sexual partner can be a very effective way to alleviate the fears hindering your sexual function.

The Prescription

The most effective way to avoid sexual dysfunction related to diabetes is to properly manage the disease. Making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle and carefully monitoring your blood glucose levels will decrease your risk of neuropathy, infections and circulatory issues. You will also be among the fortunate women affected by diabetes that enjoy higher energy levels and less anxiety because they practice good diabetes management. In some cases, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be useful – adequate amounts of progesterone, testosterone and growth hormone play a role in the delicate regulation of blood glucose levels.

Women who experience vaginal dryness as part of their diabetes-related sexual dysfunction may be dealing with a hormonal imbalance. Low estrogen levels can occur in diabetic women and is a likely culprit in women who are also experiencing menopause. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a solution that may be explored to correct this issue. If the dryness is related exclusively to diabetes, over-the-counter lubrications are also an effective choice.

There are answers, so do your research and find a doctor you trust.  Together you will find ways to rekindle the sparks of passion.

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.

Combat Cougar Makeover Rocked Maine

by Linda Franklin – The Real Cougar Woman

Makeover maine grouip shot

The Combat Cougars in Maine are beyond fabulous.  Last Saturday it was so much fun to watch these beautiful women - presently serving, vets and military spouses, get the royal treatment compliments of  Impulse Salon in Auburn, Maine. The owner, Jennifer Foster-Kritzer, a vet herself, pulled out all the stops providing new hair styles, color, cuts, manicures, makeup and Reiki healings.




But wait it gets better. Jackie Ward, from the NBC affiliate in Portland came to film a segment for the evening news.  From the moment Jackie arrived she felt the strong positive energy of the group. She not only knew, but could feel, the importance of The Shining Service message – –Appreciation and Support for our women in the military. 

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Michelle Obama’s Extreme Makeover

by Linda Franklin The Real Cougar Woman 

 Extreme makeoverMichelle Obama will be filming a segment for Extreme Makeover Home Edition in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  She will join the Makeover crew as they build a two-story boarding house and resource centre for destitute female veterans. It's called the Steps and Stages Jubillee House.  This effort is linked to the 'Joining Forces' initiative that she began with Dr. Jill Biden in the Spring.

Barbara Marshall, a 15-year Navy veteran who runs the non-profit shelter which provides transitional and permanent homes, has been recruiting local construction workers and volunteers over the past week.

Marshall, a former chaplain, has accommodated hundreds of women since opening the complex a little over a year ago – unsurprising given that the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.

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Combat Cougars Love Their Harleys

Combat cougar on a Harley 

Combat Cougar, Bethanie Mazzaro paid a visit to L-A Harley Davidson in Lewiston, Maine yesterday,  getting ready for our Combat Cougar Makeover Mission on August 13th.

Isn't this the perfect picture – cougars and hogs.  Love it. 

The Real Cougar Woman Supports Saudi Women’s Right To Drive

Drive free or die The Real Cougar Woman supports Saudi women who want to drive by themselves. 

They have decided to revive the movement of 1990 in which women drove in protest of the law banning women to drive.  Now they are jumping behind the wheel en masse because "{we} think that society is ready to welcome us.".  They are right.

These women organized after watching female U.S. soldiers stationed in their country drive around town solo. That's how change happen - women inspiring women.

twitter page dedicated to this movement has already been created.  Show your support.