Happy New Year 2019!!!

Thank you! Thank you for being a part of my community.  We work hard to bring you useful and entertaining material, but it would all be for naught if you didn’t take the time to read it. So, again, thank you, thank you, thank you.
What’s my message to you for 2019? Would you like me to have a message, or are you tired of messages? Maybe you’d prefer a couple of jokes, or a reliable cure for hiccups (the reason there are so many is that none of them is reliable), or my recipe for red beans and rice, which, honestly, is to die for. I learned it when I was in medical school at Tulane in New Orleans. Mmmmm, makes me hungry just to think about it. Or maybe you’d like another photo of our new puppy, Max, now 75 pounds, only 7 months old.
But no, I am going to send you a message. I can provide all those other options in future newsletters if you’ll write to me and tell me which you want (drhallowell@gmail.com). My message for 2019 is one I am sure you have already guessed. It is terrible that I am so predictable. The sun rises, the sun sets. Taxes are due April 14. You set off fireworks on the Fourth of July. And Ned’s message? Love, love, love.
Okay, so I say connect. Because you can’t love everyone. By the way, if you are one of those people who doesn’t know how to love, I have a guaranteed way for you to learn. This method is foolproof and will work on anyone, any age.  Get a dog. But coming back to love and connection, these are the absolute proven keys to everything that matters most in life. This is a solid fact. Health, longevity, happiness, it all comes back to love and connection (and a dog, or a cat if you must).
What do I mean by a connection? Anything you feel joined to, part of, desirous of, close to, emotionally attached to, moved by, motivated by, inspired by. Anything that gives meaning or joy to your life. A piece of music, a work of art, a football team, a meadow, the restaurant where you met the woman or man you love, the street where you found that 20-dollar bill when you really needed it, the boss who gave you a break when you really needed it, your grandmother, fudge, a funeral when it’s done right, New York at Christmas time, Cape Cod in the summer, oysters on the half shell, red beans and rice made by me, your children, the nap you take after Thanksgiving dinner, the tears you cry on someone’s shoulder, the person whose shoulder you cry on, the person who shows you how to forgive, the person who betrayed you asking for forgiveness, the light at the end of the tunnel, the single red geranium in a clay pot on the kitchen table there to greet me in the cottage I rented all by myself one summer week, heavy rain in the middle of the night when you’re in bed, any child looking up at you with trust, people over 40 who have not become cynical, my wife Sue, Tabasco, the memory of my cousin Lyn who died way too young, the sound of waves crashing onto the shore at Harding’s Beach where Lyn loved to walk, honeysuckles in Chatham, boiled lobster, my best friend Peter, playing squash, delivering babies, a straw hat with a red band, hoopla wherever it happens like at the Puerto Rican restaurant we ate at the other night, the Messiah, Fenway Park, snow before it becomes a problem, polite and humble people, the works of Samuel Johnson, every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, pasta, feta cheese, taramasalata, church music, Christ Church Cambridge, the memory of our dog, Ziggy, the fact that hope still does spring eternal, the works of Dav Pilkey, the Lincoln Memorial, and that we are all connected, you, and I, and all the rest of us, now and forever.
Happy 2019!
Blessings upon all of you!
Ned

Give the Gift of Love!

As December 25th approaches, I can’t help but reflect on warm memories from holidays long gone, and encourage you to reach out to those around you regardless of whether or not they celebrate Christmas. It’s a time when everyone can give love!

Listen to S3 Mini Episode 15 and join  me as I reminisce about my favorite holiday and what the season is about. I hope you’ll be inspired to give the greatest gift, which is the gift of connection, the gift of LOVE. 

Wishing you a wonderful, safe and happy holiday filled with love and joy.

All I Want for Christmas. . .

Was it my two front teeth?

What do you want this time of year?  Do you still have your two front teeth?  I am lucky enough, at the  age of 69, still to have mine.  They stand there like mini enamel tombstones, ready to sparkle my smile or bite into an ear of corn. I am grateful to have my reliable chompers.

What do I really want for Christmas?  What do you want?  For Chanukah or whichever holiday you celebrate?  I bet what you want is what every adult wants: peace, love, harmony.  Paid bills.  Good health.  Boundless joy everywhere we look.

We have a new dog, since our beloved Ziggy died six months ago.  Our new dog, Max, embodies boundless joy.  He’s a rescue dog, picked up off of a dirt road in Alabama.  They told us he was just about dead when they found him. They described him as a starving puppy with cuts on his paws and ears, and emaciated.  Must have weighed 10 pounds if that.  They fed him and treated his wounds and transported him up to Massachusetts where he went to a foster home for a while to get healthy.  That’s when we met him.

He was about six weeks old then and weighed about 25 pounds. Fortunately, he had filled out from the emaciated pup on death’s door and had become the beginning of the full-blown personality we know today.

Today? Max, Maximus, Maximillion weighs around 70 pounds, looks for all the world like Scooby Doo, and is all legs and paws and mouth and 100% heart.

Meet Max

Meet MaxHe’s a beautiful, big, brown loping dog who bounds into a room like a crashing wave.  If there’s a gate across the doorway, which we put up when he was smaller, now he simply leaps over it.  Once in the room he jumps into whosever lap he sees first and immediately starts to lick that person. Or he’ll take the person’s arm into his mouth, not to bite, but to massage the arm with his large, white teeth.

His size and smooth brown coat makes me think he might be part Great Dane or Dobermann or maybe a bit of Boxer.  We’re going to send in a dog DNA test to find out for sure.  Who knows what that will bring back!  Maybe a trace of Chihuahua just to mess us up.

This boy is a true beauty.  But he is still just a puppy, growing and quite out of control, despite our attempts with obedience classes and such.  He loves to chew…everything.  His favorites are shoes, hats, scarves, pillows, blankets, doormats, boxes, wallets, credit cards, and whatever he can snatch off of the kitchen counter.  We love it, of course, when he will agree to chew one of the many chew toys we’ve bought for him.

Boundless Joy

But his greatest, most unavoidable quality is indeed his boundless joy.  Max bounds.  Boundlessly.  Everywhere he goes, he bounds.  Tail wagging, big brown eyes looking up ready to engage, paw ready to lift to shake, You can see the energy Max exudes in this video.

Max makes his rounds of our four story (including basement) house, until sleeping at night in our son Jack’s room. Jack, his official owner, picked him out, along with our other son Tucker.  Sue, my wife, cautioned them against a big dog, to no avail, and now, although she calls Max such a bad dog when he chews her favorite shoe, she loves him as much as all of us do.  It is impossible not to love Max, as bad as he can be.

Boundless joy delivered by a being who destroys your favorite shoe, poops in middle of your living room floor, jumps up onto your guest’s lap, and wolfs down your dinner from the very plate you were about to eat it off of.  Isn’t this the secret to finding the best in life?

That’s what I want for Christmas.  Even more than my two front teeth, I want Max.  Max.  Maximus.  And all that Max brings with him.

May your holidays be filled with Maxes of your own.  Thank the Lord for Max and whoever bent over on that dirt road in Alabama to pick up that half dead pup who’s come to bring us joy.

ADHD? How to Uncover Your Own Learning Style.

Do you have difficulty learning?  Learn how to “Uncover Your Learning Style,” with Dr. Hallowell and Jessica McCabe. In this episode, they  discuss what helped them learn.  Dr. Hallowell  used flashcards to get him through medical school. Jessica learns better when she walks around while she’s reading. Do you know how you learn best?

In this special episode sponsored by Landmark College, Dr. Hallowell and the How to ADHD creator talk about the importance of listening to yourself to discover your unique learning style, and how that knowledge can help you achieve success in high school, college and beyond.  LISTEN NOW!

Fear of Feedback

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

Q: We have a very sensitive engineer who is key to our startup. My partner and I have to be very careful how we phrase anything regarding his work. I’m not even talking about constructive criticism; it may just be something said in passing. We try very hard not to say anything that may be misconstrued, but you just never know what is going to be misinterpreted. How do you suggest dealing with this employee?

For many, fear of feedback (including compliments) is a problem. The most common reason for someone to be this sensitive is that in their past they were severely and frequently criticized, so even the mildest suggestion is painful. They may express this fear of feedback in several self-sabotaging ways: denial, procrastination, rigidity, avoidance, jealousy, brooding etc. It’s extremely self-limiting burden to bear, personally and professionally. Any slight suggestion is interpreted as failure or rejection. An extreme fear of feedback is a condition called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) and improved only with medication.

Your employee’s sensitivity to feedback may require some outside coaching or some clinical help, but here are things you can do:

1) Increase trust. Schedule a short coffee break with him a couple times a week to talk about his interests or how the startup is moving along. Point out general areas of improvement that are needed within your startup (marketing, beta testing, quality control etc.) and share the remedial steps that others had to take.

2) Get his perspective on ways to make the company better, and how to implement those improvements. Let him know you appreciate the perspective sharing. This is a good way to model how positively feedback can be received and put to work.

3) Gradually, I would point out a change that he needs to make in order to make the company better and possibly to incentivize him. Use numbers and benchmarks. Avoid making any direct attacks on his performance; keep it more “big picture.” Break it down the change into do-able steps with opportunities for regular updates.

4) Verbally reinforce any progress made toward change.

If that fails, coaching is a good next step. As a coach, I would help him identify the emotion behind his reaction, and help him re-frame the criticism to loosen the grip of the negative association. Next, I would help him approach the needed change by breaking down the task to small, satisfying and manageable chunks. In my experience, this results in decreasing the fear of feedback, and in most cases, creating a healthier attitude around feedback.

If the fear of feedback prevents you from advancing in your career and in your relationships, let’s have a talk. Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com