Ask the LifeQuake Doctor


Dear Dr. Toni:

I was laid off from my job last month and I am a single parent with two children. Christmas is coming and I feel like a failure because not only have I not been able to find another job but there is very little money I can spare for Christmas. What do I tell my kids? Christmas is a time for giving and I have very little to give them.

Distraught in Santa Monica

Dear Distraught:

I’m sure it is cold comfort to know that many people are in the same boat you’re in this Christmas but consider this: If Christmas is about giving, why not teach your children what the true spirit of giving is all about? I would recommend that you do some research and see where you and your kids could be allowed to come in and volunteer your time. Miracles get created when we become expansive. You don’t mention what your skills are or what you were doing professionally in your work but sometimes a door becomes closed like your last job, so that another can open. We cant’ see opportunity though if we collapse into fear. Stepping into an altruistic spirit and extending yourself to those less fortunate will expand your awareness and your gratitude for what you do have. In that expanded state, what I call divine coincidences can occur. Through volunteering your time, you may meet someone who provides a career opportunity or simply by feeling so good from giving your time, you attract a professional opening from another direction.

Studies have shown that humanitarianism not only lifts depression but it increases T cells. This of course strengthens the immune system. Well, can you think of any time of year when we could more use help to our immune system? Between the sugar consumption, the stress of traffic and trying to shop economically, it is no wonder that flues and colds proliferate. So, checkout the Los Angeles Mission, the Sunlight Mission that is in Santa Monica, volunteer services at hospitals that have pediatric wings and The Salvation Army. This is a great time of year to clean out closets and donate toys, clothes, and anything else that is accumulating dust and not being used. St. Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, The Red Cross all take donations. You can make this a fun project if you take your kids with you to make the donations. One of my clients was complaining about the accumulation of toys they had in the garage. I suggested he go through them with their four – year old son and let him be a part of the process. Initially, he rejected the idea, saying that his son wouldn’t part with even the things he wasn’t playing with anymore. I suggested that maybe he had underestimated him. As it turned out, not only did the boy give his dad a bunch of his toys, he wanted to go with him and meet the kids they were giving the stuff to!

Another way to create a few extra dollars for Christmas is a garage sale. One man’s trash is another man treasure! And you might find amazing buys by going to thrift stores and consignment shops for Christmas gifts yourself. While we are on the subject of gift giving, another creative idea might be for you to suggest to your children that they think of something they want that you can’t buy that is more like a service you could each do for one another. Then create a coupon book. For example, Mom will make your favorite meal, you can have 5 extra hours of television or computer game time. If you can’t afford to take the whole family to the movies anymore, rent a couple DVD’s and make gourmet popcorn with different seasonings tailored to each kids palate. I would definitely suggest renting “It’s A Wonderful Life” this year. Get out the board games and play together instead of sitting in front of your respective computers in separate rooms.

Teach your kids how to cook or bake holiday treats as gifts for friends. There is an opportunity for you to spend more time together during this time. A dear friend of mine lost her home in a divorce and she and her two kids had to share a two – bedroom apartment and she swears they grew much closer over the three years they were there.

I would offer to all of you my readers to challenge yourself to make this holiday season the one you remember having felt the greatest spirit running through your heart and out into the world! We have so much to be thankful for.

To submit questions for Ask the LifeQuake™ Doctor, contact Dr. Toni Galardi through (no period after the Dr). For those seeking private consultation, Dr. Toni can be reached at 310-712-2600, 619-819-6400 or through her website,