Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Letters from the HeartSometimes it’s hard to come straight out and tell our friends how much we love and appreciate them. We might feel awkward expressing deep feelings, even to our nearest and dearest, because it is not a common practice. We might get choked up or embarrassed in the process, or we might fear we will embarrass them. Still, we all have those moments when we realize how fortunate we are to have the friends we have, and we may long to express our gratitude. Moreover, it may be of tremendous benefit to our friends to be at the receiving end of our appreciation. At times like these, writing a letter can help us say what we want to say without feeling self-conscious. Additionally, a letter gives your friend the space to really take in your expression of love and the gift of being able to return to it time and again.
As you sit down to write to your friend, take a moment to consider the qualities you most value in your friendship. It might be the fact that you always laugh when you talk or that you feel safe enough to confess your worst problems and always leave feeling better about everything. It might be the new ideas and experiences you’ve been exposed to throughout the course of your friendship. Whatever it is, really take the time to express to your friend their unique impact on your life. You don’t have to use big words or fancy metaphors; all you need to do is write from your heart and your friend will feel the love in the words.
Letters, which used to be somewhat common, are now rare. A handwritten letter makes a wonderful gift to be treasured always. You might simply send it or hand deliver it out of the blue. Whatever you choose, your letter will no doubt be received and treasured with a grateful heart.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
As children, we laugh hundreds of times each day, delighted by the newness of living. When we reach adulthood, however, we tend to not allow ourselves to let go in a good belly laugh. Inviting laughter back into our lives is simply a matter of making the conscious decision to laugh. Though most of us are incited to laugh only when exposed to humor or the unexpected, each of us is capable of laughing at will. A laugh that comes from the belly carries with it the same positive effects whether prompted by a funny joke or consciously willed into existence. When our laughter comes from the core of our being, it permeates every cell in our physical selves, beginning in the center and radiating outward, until we are not merely belly laughing but rather body laughing.
Laughter has been a part of the human mode of expression since before evolution granted us the art of speech. Through it, we connected with allies while demonstrating our connection with people we didn’t know. In the present, laughter allows us to enjoy positive shared experiences with strangers and loved ones alike. Yet solitary laughter carries with it its own slew of benefits. An energetic and enthusiastic bout of whole-body laughter exercises the muscles, the lungs, and the mind in equal measure, leaving us feeling relaxed and content. When we laugh heartily at life’s ridiculousness instead of responding irritably, our focus shifts. Anger, stress, guilt, and sadness no longer wield any influence over us, and we are empowered to make light of what we originally feared. Laughter also opens our hearts, letting love and light in, changing our perspective, and enabling us to fix our attention on what is positive in our lives.
It is easy to laugh when we feel good, but it is when the world appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives. Our laughter then resonates through our hearts, filling the empty spaces with pure, unadulterated joy. We regain our footing in the moment and remember that no sorrow is powerful enough to rob us of our inborn happiness. When we understand that uninhibited laughter is the food of the soul, nourishing us from within, we know instinctively that life is worthwhile.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Running Away Versus Moving Forward
There are times when change—moving to a new city or a new home, or changing careers—is the right thing at the right time. But there are also times when the urge for change is really just a desire to run away from problems that need to be faced rather than avoided. These are the kinds of problems that recur in our lives. For example, issues with coworkers that seem to arise at every job we take, or repeatedly getting into unhealthy relationships. A move might temporarily distract us, and even cure the problem for a time, simply by taking us out of the situation in which the problem fully manifested itself. However, the problem will eventually appear again in our new situation.
One way to make sure you aren’t running away from your problems is to notice whether you are moving towards something that is exciting in its own right, as opposed to something that is appealing only because it is not where you are now. For example, if you are leaving a city because you feel you can’t afford it, you could be reinforcing poverty consciousness, and you might find that you are unable to make ends meet in your new city as well. It would ultimately be less of an effort to stay where you are and look more deeply into your beliefs about money. You may discover that as you address these issues, you are able to make more money simply by changing your mindset. You may still decide to move, but it will be an act with a positive intention behind it and not an escape, which could make all the difference.
Any pain involved in facing our issues is well worth the effort in the end. When we face our problems instead of avoiding them, we free our energy and transform ourselves from people who run away into people who move enthusiastically forward.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Six Quick Fixes To Feel BetterThe signals our bodies use to tell us we need to cleanse ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally are multifaceted and often mirror symptoms we associate with illness. If we heed these signs, we not only feel better quickly but also stave off poor health before it can start. These quick fixes for common ailments can get you started.
1. Applying pressure to the acupressure point between the thumb and forefinger can release blockages causing pain, tension, and fatigue. You can relieve a headache naturally by squeezing for 20 seconds and releasing for 10 seconds, without letting go, four times.
2. Apple cider vinegar is a powerful purifying and detoxifying agent. Soaking for 20 minutes in a warm bath infused with two cups of apple cider vinegar pulls toxins from the body and can clear blocked energy.
3. The foods you eat can have a profound impact on your outlook and mood. Eating a small yet satisfying meal rich in complex carbohydrates can lift your spirit and help you let go of feelings of anger, irritability, and depression.
4. Anxiety and fear dissipate quickly when countered with conscious breathing because concentrating on the breath enables you to refocus your attention inward. You can ground yourself and regain your usual calm by taking a series of deep belly breaths as you visualize your feet growing roots that stretch miles down into the earth.
5. Though tuning out can seem counterproductive, a few minutes spent lost in daydreams or listening to soothing music can help you see your circumstances from a new angle when you feel frustrated.
6. If you feel ill health coming on, brew a wellness elixir. Simmer three sliced lemons, one teaspoon freshly grated ginger, one clove freshly minced garlic, and one quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper in five cups water until the lemons are soft and pale. Strain a portion into a mug and add honey by tablespoons until you can tolerate the taste. Drinking this potent mixture of antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal ingredients three times each day can ensure your symptoms never progress into a full-blown illness.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1b)
Mark Gungor is the author of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage
Great marriages take courage. Whether your marriage is good, bad, or just plain ugly, there is always hope to make it great. But great does not come easily. It takes courage.
When we think of courage, we generally think of a person diving into an icy pond to save a friend or the soldier on the frontlines a battle. Most of us don't think of courage when it comes to facing our everyday stuff such as our marriage or raising kids. But it takes great courage to build relational intimacy, which is the oxygen of a marriage. It takes an enormous amount of courage to say, "This marriage is in trouble and we need to do something about it." It is much easier to put your troubles on the back burner, engage in the rough-and-tumble of life, and hope things will sort of work themselves out. Running from problems is always easier than solving them. But courage is willing to put on the gloves and say, "Let's fight for this marriage."
It takes courage to work through all layers of "stuff" we haul around, from masks to defense mechanisms to the select relational cover-ups we’ve mastered over the years. It takes guts to face yourself, to say to your spouse, "This is me. I know I'm wrong and I'm not proud of it."
Great marriages take discipline. When you look at successful people, you will find one thing in every case: it takes discipline to become successful at anything. Failure, for the most part, is due to people letting things slide. There is a lack of discipline. In his book The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck writes, "Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasures of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with." Discipline is simply a commitment to get the pain out of the way first.
Here is a practical idea: Don't go to bed mad. It was the apostle Paul who wrote, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." (Ephesians 4:26) Decide in advance (a secret to being disciplined) that whenever you get into a spat, you will at least quash the negative emotions associated with the argument. And do it before you fall asleep (this will make for some long nights). You might not get the issue resolved, but you at least get past the hurt of disagreement.
Great marriages take endurance. Endurance refuses to cash in -- it pushes past quitting points. We live in a culture where we have come to expect things instantly. We like fast diets, overnight success, rapid fitness, and a 100-yard-dash to marital bliss. If we don't experience what we want in a reasonable amount of time -- say, in a day or two -- we think something is wrong. Those of us over 50 were once called the "now generation." We were pretty well-known for easily quitting things before the reward showed up -- jobs, educational paths, relationships, pretty much anything complex. Why? It couldn't be had, now. Sadly, the generations that follow expect no less.
Marriage is a marathon. Sprints and marathons are two distinct and different races. In a sprint, one of the most critical elements is the start. On the other hand, the start of a marathon is not important at all. It’s the endurance.
I never cease to be amazed at how many struggling couples point to the start as the reason for their struggles. "We were too young." "We've known each other for a long." "We didn't have enough money." They are convinced that the poor start is the reason for their troubles, but they are wrong. It is not the start that leads to a failed marriage, but the unwillingness to endure the race.
You don't do marathons quickly. You have to spread out your energy over time. Endurance is what empowers a couple over the long haul. It will enable you to push through all familiar conflict zones for the 10,000th time without quitting; you just keep going and going. Scripture urges, "Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.” (Hebrews 12:2) Study how He did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed -- that exhilarating finish in and with God -- he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. That's endurance. It makes marriages last.
Commit to a marathon in your marriage.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Eating Right to Feel Better
At its simplest, food is fuel. Though our preferences regarding taste and texture can vary widely, we all rely on the foods we eat for energy. Most people are aware that it is vital we consume a diverse assortment of foods if we aspire to maintain a state of physical well-being. However, the intimate connection between diet and our mental well-being is less understood. Just as the nutritional components in food power the body, so too do they power the mind. Some foods can impair cognitive functioning and sap our energy while others heighten our intellectual prowess and make us feel vigorous. What we eat and drink can have a powerful effect on our ability to focus, mental clarity, mood, and stress levels.
Food allergies, which don’t always manifest themselves in forms we recognize, can also play a significant role in the maintenance of mental health. Thus, for most of us, even a simple change in diet can have a profoundly positive impact on our lives. Taking the time to explore whether anxiety, muddled thoughts, or inexplicable tension can be linked to a food allergy or food sensitivity can empower you to treat your symptoms naturally. The benefits of a healthier, more personalized diet are often felt immediately. Sugar, saturated fats, wheat, and dairy products are frequently allergens and can stress the body. For people that are allergic, consuming them can cause imbalances in the physical self that have a negative effect on the body’s ability to nourish the brain. Water, fiber, nuts, unprocessed seeds, raw fruits and vegetables, and vegetable proteins, on the other hand, support physical and mental functioning by providing those nutrients we do need without additional subs! tances we don’t.
A balanced, natural diet can ease mood swings, panic attacks, anxiety, and mild depression. Intellectual clarity and agility is improved when the mind receives proper nourishment. Even those individuals who are blessed with the ability to consume almost any food can benefit from a healthier and simpler diet. Since the mental and physical selves are closely bound to one another, we must feed each the foods upon which they thrive.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Everyone has fears—it is a natural part of being human. Fear can protect us from harm by sending a rush of adrenaline to help us physically deal with potential danger. But there are times when fear may keep us from participating fully in life. Once we realize that fear is a state of mind, we can choose to face our fears, change our minds, and create the life we want to live.
Our minds are powerful tools to be used by our higher selves; like computers, storing and using data to make certain connections between thought and response. We have the ability to observe these and choose differently. No matter where the fear came from, we can create new connections by choosing new thoughts. When our souls and minds are in alignment, we create a new experience of reality. This journey requires many small steps, as well as patience and courage through the process. Here’s an example: You decide to overcome your fear of driving on the freeway. Your plan of action starts with examining your thoughts and finding a new way of seeing the situation. When you’re ready, you enlist a calm companion to support you as you take the first step of merging into the slow lane and using the first exit. Your heart may be racing, but your confidence will be boosted by the accomplishment. Repeat this until you are comfortable, with or without help, and then drive one exit further. When you are ready, you can try driving in the middle lane, for longer periods each time, until you find yourself going where you want to go. This gradual process is similar for conquering any fear, but if you find it overwhelming, you can always seek the help of a professional.
You may think that you are the only one with a particular fear, that nobody else could possibly be scared of ordinary things such as water, heights, public speaking, or flying. These types of fears are very common, and you can have great success overcoming them. Remember, it is not the absence of the fear but the courage to take action anyway that determines success. When we learn to face our fears, we learn to observe our thoughts and feelings but not be ruled by them. Instead we choose how to shape the lives we want.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Growing Your Own Food
Growing a garden of food at home is an experience anyone can enjoy. Even a hanging basket of rosemary or a cherry tomato plant in a pot on the windowsill can enhance your connection with the cycle of life. If you have space outdoors, the green and blooming colors of the edible delights you are growing will decorate any view while tempting you to enjoy the outdoors. The edible plants we nurture allow us to literally taste the fruits (or vegetables or herbs) of our labor while helping us more consciously participate in the circulating energy of nature.
Allow yourself to begin slowly and simply, so that you can learn to dance with nature’s intricate orchestrations. There are many experienced gardeners out there to assist you as you choose seeds or small plants to start your garden. As you learn to heed the seasons, soil, sun, frost, and shade, you become more than a mere spectator of life’s cycle. Instead, you step into the role of cocreator and enhance what you nurture. No matter how large or small the size of your garden, you can benefit from growing your own organic, fresh, and nutritious food while also reveling in the depth of flavor and texture that comes from plants that have been well-tended, nurtured, and loved. As we appreciate the food we’ve grown, we can recognize the care that farmers put into the produce most of us buy at the supermarket. With this new understanding, we can acknowledge the roles other living creatures fill as participants in cultivating the cycle of life. We may even learn to peacefully coexis! t with the animals and insects that share perhaps too great an interest in our garden.
When we grow our food, we participate more fully in nature’s cycles and form a closer bond with Mother Earth. Knowing how to grow your own food allows for a sense of freedom and pride that you can feed and provide for yourself, one of the most basic necessities. Gratitude may fill us as we marvel at the beauty of nature and the majesty of the universe that orchestrates such natural wonders. When we allow our appreciation of life to expand, we harvest so much more than food and the taste is that much sweeter.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Good friends enrich our lives in so many ways. Through a magical combination of similarities and differences, friends offer us the opportunity to know ourselves as we are and help us grow into who we want to be. Our similarities attract us to each other, comforting us with familiarity when we see ourselves in them. When we are drawn to those we admire, the same recognition is at work, unconsciously acknowledging that these people possess qualities that we ourselves possess. By acting as mirrors, friends help us define who we are by reflecting our selves back to us.
Friends also help us know ourselves through our differences. Differences allow us to see other options and make choices about who we want to be. Sometimes we are drawn to those who appear to be our opposites, and we learn to accept the parts of them we love and the parts of them that don’t resonate with us, thus allowing us a valuable learning experience. By expanding our understanding to include others’ experiences, friends help us accept others. By understanding when someone’s life differs from our own, we can learn about ourselves in contrast. There are times when we see in friends what we don’t like about ourselves. That mirror reflection may be hard to take, but a good friend helps us find ways we can change and supports us in that choice.
Part of the joy of friendship is the feeling that we are accepted just the way we are, with no need to change. It is a gift they give us, and one we can give back every day. Ultimately, we choose friends because they make us feel good about ourselves and life. Through tears and difficulties, friends help us find the laughter. When we find those special people who offer us that perfect combination of comfort and stimulus to grow, we are very fortunate. Friends, those wonderful companions that walk with us through life, help us define and refine who we are and who we choose to be every day.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Thanks to Sandi I am enjoying my procrastination time while completing this survey. :)
8 Things I'm looking forward to:
1. Camping at Fort Bragg
2. Halibut fishing (though I'm worried that if I actually get one I won't have the strength to land it!)
3. Talking to my sister who lives in Ireland
4. Organizing my office
5. Loading new music onto my ipod
6. Snuggling with hubby on a night when we aren't busy
7. Watching Alisha compete at her track meet
8 Things I did yesterday:
1. Cleaned the house
2. Did some work for my BNI chapter
3. Put new pics on my website
4. Danced in the kitchen
5. Made a great dinner
6. Went to church
7. Danced some more...even though I was laughed at
8. Watched the Apprentice in bed with hubby
8 Things I wish I could do:
1. Sky dive (thanks to Gita)
2. Speak in public without sweating buckets and being on the verge of puking
3. Find a better balance between work, family, friends and me time.
4. Visit my sister again in Ireland but with the family this time!
5. Run longer
6. Play softball this year
7. Garden every day
8. Hear from my parents more often
8 Shows I watch:
2. American Idol
3. Top Chef
4. Iron Chef
5. Wednesday's with Beth Moore (a great way to start a Wednesday!)
6. Amazing Race (still trying to talk Paul into being on that show with me)
7. Deadliest Catch
8. Dr. G Medical Examiner
8 Songs on my music player:
1. Made To Love-Tobymac
2. Waiting on the World to Change-John Mayer
3. Happy Day...not sure who sings it but I really like it when Ron Sanders sings it!
4. Banana Pancakes-Jack Johnson
5. Oxygen- Colbie Caillat
6. Girl You Know It's True-Milli Vanili (hehe)
7. Whip It-Devo
8. Super Freak-Rick James
8 Favorite warm weather activities:
2. Agate Hunting
4. Swimming with the kiddos
5. Bike Riding
6. BBQ with friends
7. Playing at the beach
8 Favorite Happy Things:
2. Snuggling in bed after a long day
3. Listening to good music
4. Fishing with hubby
5. Playing with kids yours or mine :)
6. Lazing around on the deck in the summer time
7. Hanging out with my friends
8. Girls game night...which is long overdue!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Pushing Away Emotions
Throughout our lives, we may experience emotions that disturb or distress us. Often, our first reaction is to push our feelings away. We may say, “I don’t want to think about that right now, I’ll think about it later” and we bury our emotions, deny the validity of our feelings, or distract ourselves with other concerns. But the diverse emotions you experience are neither good nor bad—they are simply a part being human. Choosing not to experience pain, anger, or other intense feelings could cause those feelings to become buried deep into your physical body. There, they may linger unresolved and unable to emerge, even as they affect the way you experience the world. Allowing yourself to experience all of your emotions rather than push the more painful ones away can help you come to terms with your feelings so you can experience them and then move on.
It is possible to bring forth the old feelings you have pushed aside and experience them in a safe and enriching way. It may sound silly to set aside time to feel your old wounds that you haven’t dealt with, but this can be a very beneficial healing experience. Find a safel place and pick a time when you can be alone. Make sure that you feel secure and comfortable in your surroundings. Bring to mind the circumstances that originally triggered the emotions you’ve been pushing away. You may need to revisit these circumstances by reading relevant entries in your journal or using visualization to relive your past. Once you have triggered your long-denied emotions, let yourself feel your feelings, and try not to judge your reactions. Cry or sound your emotions if you need to, and don’t block the flow of your feelings. Allow any thoughts that are connected to your emotions to surface. As you release the feelings you have pushed inside of you, you will find yourself healing from ! the experience associated with these emotions.
When you deal with your feelings directly, they can move through you rather than staying stopped up in your body as emotional blocks that can sometimes turn into disease. Acknowledging your emotions, instead of pushing them away, allows you to stay emotionally healthy and in touch with your feelings.
Monday, March 16, 2009
If you really knew me...
This is one of the exercises we did at CHALLENGE DAY with the Fortuna High School students. Challenge Day is an organization that travels to different high schools to help teens break down the barriers that society has built for them. Challenge Day has been seen on Oprah and will be visiting her show once a year for the next 5 years. Here is a link to the already aired show... Challenge Day on Oprah!
To get a clearer picture of the program you should follow the link because the words that you will read below are coming straight from my emotionally driven view and don't explain what Challenge Day actually is...I just explain what I felt.
This was a very powerful day and yet completely out of everyone's comfort zone, including mine. Two beautiful people Sela and Kakoa, demonstrated love and compassion to over 160 teens today and provided a safe space for them to let out any emotions that may be carrying. Many tears were shed throughout the day... many were mine, as old wounds were healed for me personally too.
As Sela and Kakoa explained, there is NEVER A BAD KID....EVER. There are only kids walking around with hurt, anger, fear, resentment, low-selfesteem, etc. Today we opened up and shared with each other these things. I saw these young adults find a sense of power, peace, and pride for themselves that wasn't there before. This program broke down walls of hate and jealousy that were years thick. I saw teens mend lost friendships, put past resentments behind them and boys apologize to girls whom they have previously disrespected. The amount of healing that took place in one school day was nothing less then a miracle to me. I am still in awe.
At the end of an emotional, yet freeing, day I sat back and watched the same teens that seemed to have a chip on their shoulder this morning give love and compassion to their fellow classmates through hugs and smiles. They have a bond now. They know that if they have a problem that they aren't alone anymore. They can turn to any one of these peers and they will be received with open hearts. They have experienced this journey together and each one of them has pledged to BE THE CHANGE from now on! Not one kid gets left out or left behind. For today there were no racial, cultural, or social barriers between these kids, they dropped the act, let others in and kept it real. And today is just the beginning! I feel like a proud mother of 160 high school students!
For more information about Challenge Day or how to bring a Challenge Day to your school...please visit www.challengeday.org don't forget to check out Oprah's site for clips on one school's beginning of a new change!
May you tell your children today, whatever age they are, that you love them dearly and that you are proud of them because they are perfect exactly the way they are!
All my love~
Friday, February 27, 2009
Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.
I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.
I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It's OK to stumble...I will get up. It's OK to fail...I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.
I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.
Today I will make a difference.Max Lucado
From On The Anvil
- As the new year begins, so does a new chapter in my life and business. My passion for pregnancy has led me to start what is now called With Child Doula Services where a family can find support during pregnancy and women can find information, a friendly face, an attentive ear and maybe even treat herself to a health-building massage.