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SHOUT Out that Bad Mood!

December 15, 2015

There’s nothing like the holidays to show us just how human we are. I, myself, just realized we are only a few weeks from that special morning of ritual, family, and lots of shiny objects under the tree! Now I gotta go get those shiny objects! I have to admit that this time does bring me both lots of joy and lots of stress, which can lead to bad moods. Now, I know I’m not alone in this, and the last thing any of us need (or our family and friends!) is a lack of joy. Especially with all the sad and scary news we are hearing daily, what we need to do is really focus on the power that this season of gratitude and spirit has to lift up all of our spirits and shift our focus to all the wonder we live with daily.

So here’s what I do to kick my bad mood to the curb! Try my SHOUT recipe for yourself and let’s get the cheer on!

S is for SILLY! Get Silly! Drop everything you are doing and stomp out that stress immediately. One of the easiest and fastest ways for me to do this is with my daughter, Nia. She just loves to be silly and forget the world we’re in and trade it in for a world of imagination! We love to take silly pictures together!!

H is for HAVEHave Your Pity Party! Have you heard this before? “I don’t have enough time, energy or money for this!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Shout it out to whomever will listen, stay in your jammies and eat ice cream for a while and wallow. Then, shake it off and get going! It really isn’t normal for us to not acknowledge when things don’t feel right and just keep pushing. It’s actually very healthy for our body, mind and soul to consciously choose to sit with how we feel for while before we move forward. Wallow on, but not for too long!

O is for OUT! Get out of your head and your body! This is one of those Tony Robbins strategies I just love and truly believe in. He tells us that in order to change how we feel and get the results we want to experience, we must CHANGE OUR STATE. One of the best ways to do that is to get up and get out! Sometimes I change my state with a hot and/or cold shower or bath, and many times all it takes is a speedy walk in nature.

U is for UNDERSTAND! Understand that it really isn’t that bad! This is about perspective. Our emotions and added stress tend to put us on that elevator that drops us down to the darkness. With some understanding we take that elevator back up to the light and see that we really got it good. This too shall pass.

T is for TRUST…Your Trusted Advisors! Sometimes, nothing works better for me than picking up the phone and calling one of my best buddies to dish to! I feel blessed that I’ve got many trusted advisors in my corner– both family and friends who listen to my silly rants and let me get it all off my chest so I can go get silly! So go shout it out and forget it!

I can honestly say that by using one or all of these simple steps (that may not seem so simple in the moment!), that I can regulate my mood fairly quickly and not let those shady thoughts linger and interfere with what’s really important.

Can one of these work for you? What strategies can help keep that bad mood at bay this busy holiday season?

Would love to hear your shares!

Happy Holidays,

Monique

Do you remember September?

September 2, 2015

season-change-11
I read this today on my daily calendar:
“When we were children, just the word SEPTEMBER meant the end of summer…school…being scheduled…things would change. 
September taught us that life is change. This is a good lesson to learn and relearn.”
I couldn’t agree more! How about you? In fact, for me, September signifies a change in season. It’s one of Mother Nature’s ways of signaling to us that change is coming and we must adjust, yet again.
 
If you read my last blog about easing into back-to-school season with mind, body & soul awareness, then you may have avoided some of the tension surrounding that rush. I heeded my own advice, and it felt pretty good, actually. Back-to-school went off without a hitch. But now that we are a few weeks in, and September is here, do feel differently? Are your kids (and you!) already feeling the pressure? Have mind, body & soul awareness been kicked out the window?
Let me be honest…I’m huffing and puffing a bit, my shoulders are way tight, and I’m feeling the “Mommy” pressure build up BIG TIME! Why? On one end, it’s so easy to put on the Wonder Woman cape and want to “kill it” as a Mom and get it all done with ease. On the other end, I want to lock my self in my room, soak in the tub with a glass of wine, and forget it’s September! Feel me?
The Mommy Guilt creeps in when I realize that my kids’ stress is mounting as well. Their schedules (and mine!) are jam packed again, they’re feeling like they can’t get it all done, and, well, I want to fix it! I know you get me!
So, I just know you’re dying to find out how I’m fixing this, right? Here’s my answer…
I’M NOT!
 
That’s right. No fixing going on here. In fact, I’m using this time to teach a life leadership skill that my kids (and yours too!) really need to learn now— RESILIENCY. It’s about understanding that things won’t always feel perfect, or even right, and we must persist, mistakes, faults and all. In fact, it’s in those moments that we have to keep our eye on the prize.What’s your prize? What’s their prize? If you haven’t defined what that is for this school year, now’s the time to define that vision together with your kids.
It just so happens that a few weeks ago I found a sheet of paper where my 16-year-old son had written down his 5 goals. I had to do a double take! I asked him if I could read them, and he said to me, “Mom, I read an article that said that the people who are most successful write down their goals.” I was floored, and so proud. See, he gets it. Yes, he’s stressed, he has so much to do in every moment of every day, but, ultimately, he’s got his eyes on the prize. If all I do is help to model resiliency for him, then I’ve done my job. Oh, and by the way, I also model being human!
My daughter (who’s 10) on the other hand, is missing summer tremendously and keeps reminiscing. I’m letting her hold on a bit longer. After all, her fantasies keep her energized, and I love her unique energy! Her prize is to have some down time before she goes to bed each night, so resiliency for her means getting things done by 9 pm (however she chooses to do so), so she’s got at least 30 minutes to chill. I can live with that, and I’ll watch her flow through it until it feels right.
As for me (and my hubby — a rock star Dad, who I’m sure feels equally frazzled!), I may just lock myself in my room for that soak! If that’s all I do, then, indeed, I’m giving my mind, body, and soul some much needed attention and rejuvenation it needs.
Has September brought you some change? How are you handling it? Do mind, body and soul practices help take the edge off?
 
I’d love to hear your comments!
 
It’s your life. Lead it well.
 
Namaste,
Monique
While I’m on vacation, please enjoy this post from June 2009. As my children are just coming back from a few weeks in Boston (with my husband’s family), creating lots of amazing memories, and as we get ready to travel to Montana (with my family) to create even more, I thought you’d also like to think about those memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime and want to go back “home” to.
Enjoy!


Finding Home-

It’s always fun to spend time in the Boston, MA area, where my husband grew up. More specifically, he was raised in Malden, where his parents still reside. Even though Boston is not my home, it “feels like home” if you know what I mean. In fact, when I travelled there with my husband (my boyfriend at the time) for the first time in 1994 it was meeting his parents and extended family that sealed the deal for me. Family was everything for them. We still joke that one of the similarities between our families (mine: Cuban; his: Irish/Italian) is that we all are so family oriented (and love to dance!). We both love spending time with our family members.

It wasn’t until our trip this June 2009 that I really got to thinking how going home was a way of “plugging in” for my husband—recharging his battery, especially since we don’t visit as often as we used to. The things we do when we are in Boston are things that for him are essential to charging his spiritual energy. It goes something like this…

  1. Arrive at Logan and be greeted by Mom and Dad.
  2. Tune into the local stations for “the best music ever”.
  3. Come home to homemade chicken wings, meatballs and sausage in “gravy”, and homemade pizza (among many other delicious goodies).
  4. Sit out on the deck with the lighted palm tree decoration and drink a few cold ones (usually Sam Adams) and talk about “the days” while taking in the cool air.
  5. NEXT DAY…the itch begins…we must go to Nahant (40 Steps) to see, hear and touch the ocean. This is the place where my husband’s dreams were born—his love for the ocean, what’s underneath the ocean, and scuba diving.
  6. Having a Maine lobster or “lobsta” roll.

You get the idea. The list continues for us…a check-off of sorts of things to do (whale watching, seeing old friends, a Sox or Pats game, etc.) before we head back home. This time, however, I noticed how truly important these activities are to my husband, as small as they may seem.  It’s almost like he’s on a mission—quiet, yet excited; eager, yet meditative, until he’s filled his cup. These are things “of the soul” that keep him charged so he can go back to his “adult life home” in Miami and get back to living. During our trips, I know not to say “no” or ask “why”—it’s clear that it is something he truly needs, an hourglass that continually empties and needs to be filled again.

And isn’t it the same for us all? I compared my husband’s experience to my own and I do believe that there are times in our lives that we all must reconnect and fill our souls so that we can continue on our journeys. For me, since I live in my home town, it’s more about connecting with those things about my life’s experiences that were meaningful to me and helped to make me who I am today, like spending quality time at least once a year with my middle school girlfriends, eating my favorite childhood meal or dessert  when I feel I need “soul food” (arroz con pollo and arroz con leche—yum!), listening to music that reminds me of the “old times” especially the music my mom played, driving through my grandparent’s old neighborhood (Little Havana), etc.

So why not plug in when we need it? We all need to recharge at different times, perhaps when we are feeling a bit disconnected, unfulfilled, or when things just seem a bit mundane. What is it about these experiences that recharge us? It seems to me that the feelings we are trying to reconnect with are those of love, belonging, familiarity, comfort and excitement. So when you need a dose of these feelings, here are at least 10 ways you can recharge your soul:

  1.  Take a trip! If it’s been a while since you’ve visited your home town, why not take a few days and make that trip. Or, if taking a trip is not a possibility, how about picking up the phone and having a nice conversation with a loved one? If you live in your home town, why don’t you take the time to visit with a relative you hardly ever speak with or see? Web cams provide another great way to connect with those you love and/or miss.
  2. Girls/Boys Night Out! Same concept here, but with your childhood or close friends. Even if it’s for a few hours, schedule a dinner or cocktail with one or more of your close friends you don’t get to see too often. Reminisce and catch up. Have a few laughs!
  3. Have some soul food! Gosh… there is nothing like some good soul food! If you can’t actually make it out to that favorite restaurant or to your mom’s house where she can whip up your favorite dish, how about making it yourself or ordering out? It’s the feeling of eating the special dish that you’re after, so eat up and leave the guilt at the door.
  4. Visit that favorite place. For my husband that place was Nahant. What is it for you? Can’t visit? How about find a photo, frame it and hang it up in your home or office?
  5. Rent a movie. We all have that favorite flick that get’s us going. For me, it’s either Grease or Footloose. I have very distinct memories of reenacting these movies in front of my living room wall-to-floor mirror! What movie makes your energy soar?
  6. Turn up the dial! Does music lift your spirits like it does for me? What songs from your childhood/youth do the same for you? Find them and play them.
  7. Scrap. Photos have a way of instantly creating that connection once again. If you’re anything like me, you probably have many boxes stored and filled with photos from childhood and up. Why not sort through them, pick a few favorites that recreate those feelings you crave and create a scrap book? It also feels good to create photo albums or scrap books for others.
  8. Blog. There’s no better way to reconnect these days than through the internet. If you have not yet connected with those dear friends or relatives on Facebook, you can always use a blogging tool, like Blogger or WordPress to create a personal blog to keep you connected with your family and friends. You can share photos and keep everyone up-to-date on your life’s happenings.
  9. Take up a hobby. This doesn’t have to be too time consuming; a simple game can do the trick. What board game did you play with your relatives or friends that made you smile? How long has it been since you played it? Dust it off and get going. Or, was there something you truly enjoyed doing that you wouldn’t mind doing again, like playing an instrument, or taking a dance class. I’m all for finding some time to do those activities that create excitement and purpose for me. What are they for you?
  10. Journal or write a letter. Writing can be a soothing and healing process for many. When our lives are too hectic and we long to create or connect with something more meaningful, jotting down our thoughts, remembering experiences that put smiles on our faces, listing those things we are grateful for today, or writing a letter to someone who we miss dearly or appreciate can send our energy right back up again. Purchase a simple, beautiful journal—one that calls out to you—and give it a try.

Remembering the past doesn’t always mean living in it. It’s important to make that distinction as I’m a believer in living in the moment. This brings to mind Daughtry’s song “Home” where he says… “I’m going home, to a place where I belong, where your love has always been enough for me.” Going home means different things to different people. For some it is literal and for others, a cup of coffee, a song, or a conversation can create that feeling that will put us back in balance and provide us with some needed energy to keep moving forward in our lives with a sense of meaning and with a smile on our faces.

What creates that feeling of home for you? Add to my list! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

All my love to our family and friends in Boston who always make us feel at home!

With gratitude,

Monique

I love sharing the knowledge that I’m able to receive through the various programs and events that I attend. Perhaps these nuggets of wisdom will spark something within you?
 
Miguel “Mike” Fernandez is one of the most successful men I’ve personally met. You can certainly define his success by his many titles, businesses (existing and sold), and even perhaps by his billions. These are all certainly measures of success, especially for a Cuban-born boy of hard-working, modest parents. However, I prefer to value his success by his story—one of determination and persistence; vision and execution, and mostly, passion for his family and doing great good in the world. Perhaps I was even more moved by it because just like my mother (and other relatives), he came to U.S. during the “Pedro Pan” movement, where children came to start a life away from their parents, due to the turmoil in Cuba. In fact, he came the same year and at the same age as my mom. Heck, they were probably in a few photos together! 
 
Mike is the founder of MBF Healthcare Partners (a private equity firm), and (especially) locally, known for founding CarePlus Health Plans and Simply Healthcare Plans; his acquisition of Navarro Discount Pharmacies, and his deep involvement with Niklaus Children’s Hospital (formerly Miami Children’s Hospital).
 
The purpose of his talk on campus was to share his new book, Humbled by the Journey: Life Lessons for My Family…And Yours, which he claims he reluctantly wrote due to the urgings of others. Although I have not yet read it (I will!), I can see why his family and other close business partners wanted him to write it. Just like most of us, he’s got a really great story—one which undoubtedly will inspire others who want to achieve great success while living a meaningful life of impact. He almost died at a young age when his parachute didn’t open, and he’s battled multiple diseases. At the foundation of the book, however, is his journey on the Camino de Santiago, a path known to be taken by those on a spiritual quest. In 2014 alone, 237,886 people made the pilgrimage across Spain. It’s 500 miles in length and can take 30-40 days to complete. Most people don’t finish it. Mike did finish it, and had a wonderful reason to— to raise millions for (then) Miami Children’s Hospital.
 
It is said that people’s lives change forever after this pilgrimage. Things become really simple. In fact, he doesn’t like to plan ahead, but lives by a “7 day plan” as he calls it. Mike shared, “Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come. There is only right now.” He feels the greater purpose of our lives—all our lives— is to give in every moment, as he helped others to do through this “camino” and campaign. 
 
And as a very accomplished business man, he offered the following recipe for success, called “SUPER“:
  • S – Sacrifice. We won’t make it very far without sacrificing (time, money, hard work, etc.). He shared how he was accepted into one of the finest schools in NYC because he was Hispanic, but his father didn’t allow him to accept the scholarship, or “free ride”. Instead, he worked to pay for half of his tuition, and his father paid for the balance.
  • U – Urgency. You have to move fast and want it. Once you know that you want it badly and believe in it, don’t let it go. Fight every day for it. 
  • P – Passion. Life is too short to invest your time and energy into something that doesn’t fulfill you or help you to learn and grow. Look for the passion!
  • E – Execute.  Ideas are only ideas until you bring them to life. 
  • R – Results.  Bottom line…you need a bottom-line! How will your success be defined? What results are you seeking?
Where can you give more today? In this moment? 
 
How will you choose to live your life in this very moment?
 
How can you apply his SUPER model to achieve greater success in your work and life?
 
It’s your life. Lead it well.
 
Monique

 

It’s Okay to be the Boss (of your kids!)

 

As you’ve most likely read before in one of my previous blogs, not only am I a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, but I really try to live true to my strengths daily. My #1 strength is Learner, which for me means that I LOVE learning on my own and from others. And, in particular, I love to deepen my knowledge about leadership, wellbeing, and personal and professional development in general.
Today I had the opportunity to learn from a wonderful leader in our community, and a friend, who I have the pleasure of engaging with on a regular basis. Janet Altman, marketing partner at Kaufman Rossin, is a member of The Commonwealth Institute (of Miami) Forum of executive women that I have the pleasure of facilitating each month. She took us through a one-hour version of It’s Okay To Be The Boss, based on the book by Bruce Tulgan. It was enlightening, and practical, and I can’t wait to put some of these great strategies into action. 
 
But, if you’ve been following me for a bit, you know that I love to take what I learn in my professional life and apply it to my personal life; in particular with my children. I am a firm believer that we can instill leadership principals into our children at a young age, and help them to lead conscious, reflective lives. 
 

I’m sharing this with you today for two reasons:

  1. For those of you who are parents and want to give these tips a try, and 
  2. For those of you who also believe, like I do, that we can empower our young people early on to see themselves as leaders and take personal responsibility for their success and wellbeing. 
Whether you’re a parent or not, I guarantee you’ll have many chances to help our awesome young ones out there (our future leaders, by the way!)
 

Here’s what I’m trying out immediately (or trying to do a better job!):

  1. Manage Every Day.
    I believe in teaching my children to be independent as much as possible, but my husband and I are “in charge” of our children. Every day is an opportunity to check in and be in the know. Even a 5- minute check-in shows we care and are “here” to support and help guide. We may even catch things early that will need some intervention.
  2. Talk Like a Performance Coach.
    I am a coach, but sometimes as coaches we don’t tell others what needs to be done, we encourage those conclusions/outcomes by asking great questions. Well, as parents, it’s our job to do both. Sometimes our kids need us to just listen and ask questions, but other times, it truly is necessary for us to show them how things need to happen. We have to be teachers too.
  3. (Manage) One Person at a Time.
    This one made me laugh, because I can hear my son, almost daily, say, “Mom, why are you saying ‘both of you’ when I didn’t do anything wrong?” Well, he’s got a point! Sometimes I have the habit of saying, “Both of you (my 2 kids) need to stop doing X, Y, Z” when I really am only speaking to one of them. Ever done this before? I can see how this could be frustrating to either my son or daughter who perhaps was not doing anything wrong in that instance. Stay away from “both of you” or “all of you”.
  4. Make Accountability a Process Not a Slogan.
    Just a few nights ago (at 10 pm!!) my son needed to print his homework, when he realized that we have no printing paper. He says, “Mom, why don’t you have paper? Now I can’t print my homework!” Well, that didn’t sit too well with me. I’m thinking to myself, “Yes, I know I’m his mom, but I can’t be in charge of everything and remember everyone’s needs!” Feel me?? So, now, I’m realizing I need to be more clear with kids, in general, about those things that they must be responsible for. From this point on, I’m going to expect that my son keep his own stack of paper and advise us of when he’s almost out so we can purchase more. What are you holding your children accountable for?
  5. Do More for Some People and Less for Others.
    Do you feel you need to be fair all the time with your kids? If you buy something for one, then you feel you have to purchase something for another? My daughter recently asked for chores. I was so excited! She wants to earn some cash so she can both save and shop. Of course I complied! The question, however, crossed my mind, “What if my son gets upset that I’m giving my daughter an allowance?” Well, here’s my answer… he’ll get an allowance when he has chores! Pure and simple. Do you agree?
There are more comparisons I can make, based on these general management axioms, but these were the most applicable for me this month. Teaching our kids (or young people in general) some of these lessons will definitely help them once they go off into what we call “the real world!” Knowing that my son is just a few years away from college, these “lessons” become opportunities to model for him how to better understand what he may encounter in college and in work environments, without taking things personally. I see this as uber valuable (for him/them) and easier on this “leader mom” too!
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
It’s your life, lead it well.
Monique
 
This month in particular it seems I’m having conversations with individuals who are experiencing one tough situation after another without much air to breathe in-between. Been there? I have. When you’re the observer, it’s difficult to find the right words that will provide comfort, and oftentimes all we can do is listen and “be there”.
I can recall times like these for myself and I can say that I’m never truly looking for answers from others, just an empathetic ear, and maybe a few good hugs! Hopefully, each of us has a few individuals in our lives who can provide this kind of support as we work things out and move forward.
As the receiver of such difficult times, though, how can we help ourselves? When you’re smack in the middle of it, it can feel like the earth is going to rise and swallow you up, or a tidal wave is approaching to sweep you away. I know… tough visual, but the feelings are real. Perhaps there is fear. Perhaps there is exhaustion. Perhaps there is loneliness. Perhaps there is anger.
A few of the individuals I’ve spoken with this month have commented:
  • “You can’t give up when life gets tough.”
  • “I have to shift my energy from fear to excitement.”
  • “I have to complain about this and now let it go.”
I love hearing comments like this because they all SHIFT UP —away from the yucky feelings and thoughts and up toward hope!
Hope is a quality of spirituality! Yes, we can look to our spirituality to get us past the pain and into the light. Other qualities of spirituality include: 
  • Trust and knowing (in a power outside of you to make things better)
  • Joy and gratitude (look at what’s good despite the bad)
  • Connection (those hugs and listening ears help!)
  • Giving (helping others even when we can’t help ourselves)
What would you add to this list? 
 
What spiritual qualities or characteristics have helped you during tough times?
One of my favorite spiritual principals is: You either grow or die! It sounds horrible, I know, but it’s so true. I feel that we live each day to grow; to undergo experiences—both good and bad— to help us evolve into better human beings. If we are not evolving, we are not living, and if we are not living, well we are ________! Fill in the blank! Let’s get busy living!
I hope this short blog will get you to thinking about what spiritual principals you lean on during those not so great times that challenge you.
I’ll close by sharing this message I read this week by Karen Berg. I love it because it helps us understand that there is always more than meets the eye, and that when we experience anything, there is a purpose behind it — spirituality at it’s best.
For me, certainty means one thing. I know that the things that happen in my life – however difficult they may be – are part of 
a grander plan: a Hand that is pushing me in a direction, whether or not I acknowledge it, whether or not I want to go there. 
We are put in this world with an assigned spiritual role, and we will get knocked around by the universe until we wake up to 
it. 
 
I know a person who got shot and nearly died, had heart disease and nearly died, got cancer and nearly died. But he is still here, which means there is still something he still needs to do in this life. He keeps getting slammed and getting saved because he has a spiritual role in this world, some spiritual work that he has yet to complete. 
For me, certainty is knowing that the cosmos is always pushing us to reveal our potential and to become who we need to be.
 
 
When that difficulty strikes, WHO WILL YOU BE?
It’s a juicy question! Have fun pondering it.
Namaste,
Monique

Life Well LED Community,

This week I’m so thrilled to feature a guest blog by Speaker, Author and Conversation Catalyst Anne E. Denny.

I had the privilege of meeting Anne at Michael Hyatt’s Platform Conference a few months ago, and I was moved by Anne’s passion and her very important work. It’s personal for me, and perhaps it is for you as well.

You see, when my grandmother, Amelia, fell ill many years ago, I saw my mother’s life change before my eyes. It was a blessing that she didn’t work and was able to manage my grandmother’s care, but I saw it take a toll on her. For 7 months until my grandmother’s unfortunate passing, she had to put her life on hold, figure everything out, and make difficult decisions that she often did not know were right or wrong; good or bad. It was extremely stressful and emotional.

At some point in our lives (and many of you have been there, or are there now), we may have to care for a loved one. Anne helps us to be proactive, make those difficult conversations easier, and mostly, prepare us for all the potential experiences that can drain us of our time, energy, and resources if we are not prepared.

I know you’ll appreciate Anne’s work as much as I do.

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique


January is a “can-do” month. Fueled by our New Year’s resolutions , we feel empowered to achieve numerous goals. While some may be noble and virtuous, such as volunteering for a good cause, many are self-improvement focused: weight loss, increased exercise, financial success, and more.

Are any of your goals this year focused on your family’s peace and emotional future? Specifically, have you ever considered the potential impact on your family if you have any major unexpected changes to your health?

Recently, a dear friend and business colleague called to ask for my assistance. Dave’s wife had just been diagnosed with melanoma. An appointment at the Mayo Clinic was days away. Both his wife and he wanted to make sure her preferences for care were clearly defined. In the event a treatment decision was required—and she was unable to communicate her wishes—Dave wanted to be sure he was honoring her choices.

Dave’s family Summer 2014

Today I received an email from another friend telling me she was being discharged from the hospital after a radical hysterectomy. The words “stage IV” cancer took my breath away. This is her second journey with cancer.

None of us knows what might befall us. Life happens—but denial is not an effective strategy. Proactive preparation for future healthcare decisions can protect your family’s peace, sparing those you love from arguing over your care.

Answering three key questions will open the door to important end-of-life conversations with your loved ones.


Who will speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself?

If you are unable to make or communicate your treatment and care preferences, who will make the decisions on your behalf? Choose your healthcare agents wisely. Your agents are the people you select to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot communicate your wishes.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.29.08 AM

All too often, healthcare agents are chosen by tradition. A husband assumes his wife will be prepared to make the healthcare decisions that honor his wishes. A widower assumes his eldest son will lead his siblings to consensus regarding the best treatment option for his care.

But what if a spouse is unwilling to let go of her beloved husband of 60 years, disregarding clear evidence that death is imminent? Or, what if the passive character of the chosen healthcare agent is overrun by the emotional dynamics between siblings, spiraling the family into bitter disputes?

 

Tip #1: Choose your healthcare agents wisely.

By understanding the responsibilities of your healthcare agent and the critical traits of an effective healthcare agent, you can choose your decision-maker(s) wisely.


How will your loved ones know what choices to make?

Assuming your loved ones will know what to do is a common, and often disastrous, mistake many people make. Even if your spouse or adult child knows you well, imagine the emotional stress they might experience if a doctor asked them to quickly make a life-or-death decision regarding your healthcare treatment. In a crisis, we are not clear thinkers. Emotions are amplified. Family dynamics are on steroids.

Tip #2: Write a healthcare directive to put your treatment preferences in writing.

A variety of tools and resources are available to help you write an effective healthcare directive that includes:

  • Clear treatment guidelines for your care,
  • Statements of values and beliefs that will support decision-makers, and
  • Expressed needs for emotional and spiritual care.

Will your loved ones be prepared to honor your wishes?

The emergency room is the worst possible place for your family to consider for the first time what your wishes are for end-of-life healthcare. In the absence of your written, clearly stated treatment preferences, disagreement over your care is not only possible—it is highly probably. Sibling battles can rage as each individual argues for what he or she believes is the best choice for Mom or Dad.

Family conflict is one of the primary reasons patients languish in Intensive Care for weeks. Loved ones who are unwilling to let go advocate for more and more treatment—hoping for a miracle—in spite of clinical evidence that the patient is actively dying.

Tip #3: Have a family meeting to share your wishes.

Openly discussing your end-of-life preferences with all of the impacted loved ones is incredibly helpful. Everyone can hear the same message. Questions can be answered. The chosen healthcare agent(s) can be identified so everyone knows who will be the ultimate decision-maker(s). Having the support and guidance of a trained facilitator, such as a social worker, therapist, or nurse, is worthy of consideration.

Together, you and your family can prepare for a future medical emergency. Choose your healthcare agents wisely. Clearly document your wishes. Have a family meeting to communicate your wishes. You—and those you love—can have peace of mind.


About the author:

UntitledSpeaker, author and blogger Anne Elizabeth Denny educates, inspires and equips families to share meaningful conversations about end-of-life healthcare choices. Anne graduated from the University of Notre Dame. She has served as a business consultant in the healthcare industry since 1995. Anne’s professional and personal experiences inspired her to write her book My Voice, My Choice: A Practical Guide to Writing a Meaningful Healthcare Directive, create her blog, and develop healthcare directive software for healthcare delivery systems. Most of all, Anne loves to share motivational presentations to make end-of-life healthcare planning approachable for everyone.