It’s that time of a year again when we are brought back to reality after, if we’re very lucky, a leisurely and relaxing holiday break.I’m sure I’m not alone in finding it tough getting back into work mode – and I don’t have to worry about those extra pressures of back to school or college. But I remember them well.

So when a story comes along headed “Surviving the Reality Check” it seems perfectly timed to be our cover feature this month.It could cover the full gamut – school, work, financial pressures, the new world order a la Trump – but as it turns out, the writer, counsellor and author Frank Vilaasa, means it in the context of saving a relationship when that first flush has passed and we are suddenly confronted with the reality rather than the dream.

We’ve all been there and it works both ways of course. But all is not lost, says Frank, and he gives some down to earth advice with a nice touch of humour about how we can grow into a strong and enduring relationship. Frank is a new arrival in Perth so make him welcome.

And of course, February is the month of love with Valentines Day coming up soon. It might be mostly commercialised hype but it’s fun too – and old romantic that I am I look forward to some special endearment from my husband of many years. And he in return although he’d never admit it.

While our primary relationship means so much to us personally, the article makes the important point that a loving heart makes such a difference in the wider world as well. As Frank says, “we can always be more unconditional, less judgmental and more abundant” in our approach to others. In the context of the new US approach of “extreme vetting” and a blanket ban on all visitors, let alone immigrants, based solely on ethnicity and religion its importance is magnified. Others have drawn a parallel with the hate-filled 1930s in Germany and it’s a lesson we must never forget if we value civilised, tolerant, compassionate societies.

Closer to home we have more to inform and entertain us this month; Peter Dingle warns of the health risk in parabens and how pervasive they have become in “Avoiding Parabens”. You’re probably like me in scrutinising the labels on moisturizers and deodorants and the like but it’s of great concern to learn parabens are not always listed. “Fragrance-free” has always been a label I’ve valued. Olivier leJus explores the vital role of belief in “The Power of Placebo”, David Arenson shares his view that standing back from conflict is sometimes the only reasonable approach in “Creating Boundaries”, Jen Kaz offers some strategies for avoiding that common curse of chronic inflammation and our Japanese Superfoods writer Yoshiko Takeuchi shares her tips for minimising insulin storage in the body. She calls it the “fat storage hormone” and you might be pleasantly surprised about what you can eat and how often! Find out in “Eat Smart for Weight Control”.

Enjoy the month of love and see if we can spread goodwill and inclusiveness beyond our own boundaries.

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.