+

How do YOU keep your boundaries strong

“Good fences make good neighbors”-Robert Frost

Boundaries Defined

What exactly is a boundary, when it comes to relationships?  Simply put, a boundary is a limit or space between you and the other person; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends.  Think of it as a fence in your backyard. You are the gate keeper and get to decide who you let in and who you keep out, who you let into the whole back yard, or who you let just inside the gate. You may still be keeping a distance, but you are giving them a chance to prove their trustworthiness both physically and emotionally. The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take good care of you.

Healthy boundaries do not always come naturally or easily. We learn to “be” in all kinds of relationships by modeling. In other words, by watching how others handle relationships. In early childhood, it is our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters, and who ever else we were around on a regular basis. As we grow into adolescents, we rely less on parents and more on our friends to help us define ourselves and our boundaries or limits in relationships. If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, then chances are you have not learned how to set a boundary or even really know what it is. Learning to set our own healthy boundaries is an exercise in personal freedom. It means getting to know ourselves and increasing our awareness of where we stand and what we stand for. It means letting go of the unhealthy people in our lives so that we can grow into the healthy person that we were meant to be.

59998a0f-b5e4-44c1-9cd1-1c73161b4eac-stocksy_txp2fb5890fdrq100_small_131961

Here are a few tips to help you get started establishing boundaries with your partner in your relationship:

  • Communicate your thoughts with one another. Be honest, but respectful when sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner. It’s totally normal and okay to need time to gather your thoughts and feelings, but don’t use that approach to avoid the conversation.
  • Never assume or guess your partner’s feelings. Making assumptions can create a lot of misunderstandings in a relationship. You may feel like you know your partner very well that you feel you’re entitled to assume what they want or need without asking them, but it is always your best bet to ask rather than assume.
  • Follow through on what you say. Setting boundaries and not executing them lets the other person think they have an excuse to continue to overstep your boundaries. You shouldn’t make any exceptions to your own boundaries without careful consideration because you may soon find yourself on compromising things that aren’t acceptable to you.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. Instead of immediately blaming your partner for the situation or how you’re feeling, take a step back and think about the choices you’ve made in the relationship and see if they may have contributed to the situation. Both partners should be doing this!
  • Know when it’s time to move on. You can only share how you desire to be treated in the relationship, and you can’t be responsible for your partner’s feelings or communication. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and fairness. If your partner can’t respect your boundaries, then it may be time to end the relationship.

Setting and establishing healthy boundaries is a skill, and it takes time! Remember, healthy boundaries don’t come easy, but if you trust your instincts, be open, and practice with your partner, the relationship will only get stronger over time.

Advertisements
+

Be kind to unkind people. They need it most

“Be kind to unkind people. They need it most”. Ashleigh Brillian

This quote is often reiterated by many people, but extremely difficult to follow through.  Hate often spreads like wild fire, and leaves a bitter mark on innocent hearts.  But I believe that kindness brightens our world. It can change perspectives, turn a dire situation around and bring hope to mankind.

Often, when we turn on the television or flip today’s newspaper, we come across unsettling headlines, followed by disheartening news. While there are several things that are well beyond our control and reach, be assured that we can still bring light into the darkest of corners.

Kindness starts within us. When we exude happiness and kindness, we are reinforcing LOVE.  I am inspired by love. Love encompasses empathy, compassion and kindness. We are all brilliant, unique individuals who are capable of giving love and kindness to each other. When I look for something encouraging, I always go back to the times I have been showered with kindness when I needed it most. These are the things that keep me going.

Kindness renews my spirit. It is often difficult to show kindness to those who has spewed hate towards our direction. It may be even tempting to be trapped in the vicious cycle of hate. But what makes love rise beneath it all? That is kindness. As Ashleigh Brilliant had so eloquently put it so, unkind people need love and kindness the most.

download (8)

Where can I apply this in my life?
I believe we can all use, and give, a little more kindness. I believe it can be done anywhere in our lives. At the store, on the roads, at home, at work, in any and every situation. Even if you don’t think you have anything to gain from being kind, do it anyway, for the cost is negligible.

If we take the time to think about it, we have an unlimited well of kindness within ourselves. We can be kind to anyone, and not have any less to give to the next person. Yes, we can get tired of it. Yes, we can get bored with it. Yes, it can hurt if we expect something in return. But we still have more to give, if we so choose.

It’s our choices of how we react, or ignore, that can make a difference in their lives.
I challenge you to try to change how you would react to one person this week. maybe let me know how it went. I’d love to hear how it goes. I bet that the person it makes the greatest impact on will be you!

Enjoy your day! and thanks for reading.

+

Putting your heart in everything you do

For life to be great, don’t we need to set goals and commit ourselves to fulfilling them? Our goals might pertain to our personal life– becoming a better spouse, parent, sibling, or self. Our goals could also pertain to our future, career, or health. All things considered, putting your heart and soul into things is a LOT OF WORK! So much of what we read, watch and view these days; is telling everyone to slow down, find balance, and get priorities straight. Yet, for careers to flourish and for families to be happy we seem to need to put our heart and soul into everything we do!

I believe that whatever it is you decide to do, you should do it with all your heart.

With passion we can create amazing things, offer true value, help others, be happy, productive and successful.

Without it, we have average results, aren’t focused on our current activity, lose motivation, aren’t confident and don’t really believe in what we do

According to Emberton, the secret to finding your passion is to create something new. He argues that people are instantly passionate about projects, businesses or services that they start from scratch.

“When you create something new, you’re inventing something to be passionate about,” he explains. “Whether you design novelty cushions, or write Batman stories, or start a Twitter account dedicated to fact-checking politicians.”

However, success is key to finding one’s true passion, he warns. “If your new Twitter account only has five followers after a year, you probably won’t be too passionate about it,” he says. “If you had 5m, you’d have quit your job. You must find success to fuel your passion.

careers-loveyourjob-hardeep.jpg

+

Otsukaresama, a thoughtful way of appreciating someone’s effort

Otsukaresama is a unique expression to show thoughts on empathy and appreciating someone’s effort . It is a powerful phrase that communicates appreciation, and cultivates the empathy, as an attempt for interpersonal emotion regulation.The spirit of thoughtfulness is what has been reflected in Otsukaresama, a phrase that the Japanese typically use to praise each other for a job well done. The Japanese often
use it to greet each other during or at the end of the workday, or after someone finishes a particularly noteworthy task . It is a sign of acknowledgement of an
effort. Otsukaresama fits as a unique and meaningful expression that balances our thought to someone without being intrusive to other’s privacy.
Otsukaresama is one of the most difficult Japanese words to translate, as it is also one of the examples that language is strongly related to culture. Literally, the word Otsukare means “fatigue”.

True, otsukaresama  is uttered millions of times each day across Japan regardless of whether the speaker truly believes that their coworker put in any real effort. But there are times when you just want to say, “Hey, guy, you worked hard today, buddy. I appreciate that, friend,” without feeling all weird and awkward about it. Otsukaresama lets you do just that in a way that no English phrase really could, and it’s a phrase that many returnees feel quite lost without.

11-Useful-Formal-Phrases-to-Say-Thank-You-in-Japanese-e1447084848278

Otsukaresama is a simple statement of acceptance. At the end of the day, it is a signal that acknowledges that one is part of the rhythms of the day. It is a way to communicate appreciation and to cultivate a feeling of being socially accepted. Otsukaresama is a powerful phrase that could be useful to promote empathy. How can we communicate empathy?

Empathy is the process of bringing a quality of presence, non-judgmental compassion and curiosity to both our listening and our speaking. Through empathy, we are able to open our hearts and to hear the deep meaning, pain, yearning and fears underlying people’s expressions. By empathically expressing ourselves, we can share our deepest yearnings, fears, and pains, put forth a vision of what we want, make requests, and thereby build connection and trust across differences.

In daily my interactions with clients and families at work and home, I make sure I communicate with empathy. By communicating with empathy, I mean not only listening for and understanding a patient’s experiences, concerns, and perspective but also communicating this understanding with my intention to help.

I start with mindfulness. I sustain eye contact, sit eye to eye, and give the person my undivided attention, listening to their words and nonverbal behavior—without judgment.

 

 

+

Remember, what looks weak is strong, Bamboo lessons

As Bruce Lee said, “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

Like all other plants and trees, the Chinese bamboo tree requires nurturing through water, fertile soil, and also with enough sunshine to ensure that it will grow.

If you try to plant a bamboo tree and you make sure you give it enough water, the right soil, and also enough exposure to sunlight, you will NEVER see any visible growth in the first year.

And if you continue to nurture the bamboo tree, after the second year, nothing will grow above the ground. And if you choose to continue on for the third and fourth year, you will see nothing too.

And finally in the fifth year – behold, a miracle! We experience growth. And what growth it is! The Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet in just six weeks!

7 Lessons that Bamboo Can Teach Us:
1.  Remember, what looks weak is strong. The body of even the largest bamboo is small compared to the much larger trees in the forest. But bamboo can endure very cold winters and extremely hot summers. Often, they are the only “trees” left standing in the aftermath of a strong storm. Bamboo teachs us that size does not matter.
2.  Bend but don’t break. One of the most impressive things about the bamboo is its flexibility; it sways in the wind. This gently swaying serves as a symbol of humility. The foundation of the bamboo is solid, yet it moves harmoniously with the wind…never fighting against it. Even the strongest wind will, eventually, tire itself out but the bamboo remains, standing tall and still. A bend-but-don’t break attitude is one of the secrets for successful and happy living.
3.  Be strongly rooted yet flexible. Bamboo is remarkably flexible. This flexibility is due, in lage part, to the bamboo’s complex root structure which is said to make the ground around it very stable; not only for the bamboo but for all of the trees and plants in the forest. Roots are important, not only for the simple bamboo, but for frogs and humans, as well. It is difficult today, with our busy world and information over-load, to stay connected to what is important, but without the firm base of a good root, or support system (family,friends, and community), no one wil stay strong for long.
4.  Slow down your busy mind.  Life can be chaotic, often making it difficult “to see  the signal for the noise.” Living in this kind of environment, day-after-day, can wear us down. We need to step back and calm ourselves; to steady ourselves from the blustry world around us. Like the bamboo, in a calm environment, we can thrive and grow strong.
5.  Be always ready.  The great Aikido master, Kensho Furuya, tells us, “The warrior, like bamboo, is ever ready for action.” Through practice and training we can develop, in our own way, a state of being ever ready. For some, it’s reading uplifting passages. For others, it’s prayer or meditation.  By strengthening our innerselves, we learn we are capable of taking on any and all challenges that life may bring our way….just like the bamboo.
6.   Smile, laugh, and play. The Chinese character for smile or laugh is 笑う. At the top of this character are two small symbols for bamboo (). It is said that bamboo has a strong connection with laughter. Perhaps this is because the sound bamboo leaves make in wind is reminiscenceimages (18).jpg of laughter. Too, bamboo has a connection with playfulness. It it often used to make traditional Japanese kites; bamboo is strong, durable, and lightweight…perfect for flying high in the breeze. The Japanese and the Chinese know instinctively that laughing, smiling, and playing are good for the mind, body, and soul. Now, modern science is giving us factual evidence that “Laughter truly is the best medicine.”
7.  Commit yourself to growth and renewal. Bamboo are among the world’s fastest growing plants.And bamboo are plentiful. They can be found in many different places and climates. We, too, are like bamboo and capable of amazing growth…no matter who we are or where we live. How fast we grow is not what’s important. What matters is the fact that we keep moving forward.

While we indeed reap what we sow, we don’t usually reap when we sow.  As Renaissance author and father of deductive reasoning Sir Francis Bacon put it, “In all negotiations of difficulties, a man may not look to sow and reap at once; but must prepare business, and so ripen it by degrees.” “Ripening it by degrees” means that leaders must keep doing the right things in the delay between sowing and reaping knowing that “above ground results” will eventually come, even if it takes until the fourth spring.

Nelson Mandela was an avid gardener in prison.  He had decades to ponder the relationship between gardening and the larger, leadership struggle in which he was engaged.  In his biography The Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela reflected,

In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the result.  Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed” (p. 490).

+

Broken, Fixed, Appreciated, Beautiful

Art and repair merged in fifteenth-century Japan when a shogun sent a prized tea bowl back to China to be repaired. When it came back mended with ugly metal staples, the shogun was so displeased that craftspeople jumped at the chance to find a better way to repair it and other broken ceramics. Because Japanese art values the marks of use or wear on objects, damaged bowls or vases are not simply discarded. Instead, an object’s repair highlights its beauty and value.

So developed the ancient art of kintsugi, the Japanese word for “gold joinery,” a process of repairing ceramics with a lacquer mixed with precious metal, usually gold. The method caught on. Some artists were even accused of purposely breaking precious items so they could be repaired with kintsugi. Museums across the world feature these ancient items repaired with lines of gold. Beauty grows out of brokenness and makes the damage vanish. The life of the object continues.

There is a well known story about Kintsugi.  A man was traveling to visit friends in Japan. While en route, some pots broke and he threw them in a bin.

When he departed he was given a gift by those he visited. He looked, and saw it was the bowls he had brought to give them, the shattered pieces put together to make something even more beautiful than the bowls they had been originally.

And the man who gave them to him said, “Now, these are even better than when you bought them”

It is said a vessel fixed by Kintsugi will be more beautiful, more precious, than before it was broken.” [http://sarahbessey.com]

The philosophy behind it is to value the brokenness and repair as part of the object’s history, rather than seeing it as something to disguise.  In contrast to Western philosophy which strives for perfection and looks to hide brokenness, Kintsugi acknowledges the brokenness, and then pieces it back together into something beautiful.

It strikes me that God is the master of Kintsugi.

abf0ada1ccb9f3d86e2e391e6573cafb.jpg

He knows our brokenness, yet he doesn’t reject us or discard us.  Where we see a heap of broken pieces, he sees potential and the possibility of creating something beautiful and new.

He doesn’t want us to hide our brokenness.  He wants to heal us in such a way that, while the cracks and scars are still visible, they are not something ugly or shameful.  They are part of the beauty.

God takes our broken pieces and puts them back together in a way that displays his glory, because it is in the cracks and in the scars that we see evidence of healing and God’s power to restore.

Is there something in your past that you believe is holding you back from God doing a marvelous work in your life? What if you were to give God all the broken pieces and let Him use those very things to pave a path to reach others with the glorious news of Jesus Christ?

Each of us, with all of our triumphs and failures, joys and heartbreaks, scars and all, have been given an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Do not underestimate what God can do with a life solely surrendered to Him. Give God all the broken pieces for who knows if you are where you are today “for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

+

For every single woman reading this; you are NOT leftover.

I came across an article about ‘China’s leftover women’. These are women over the age of 27 that are not married.

In 2007, the China Women’s Federation, coined the phrase ‘Sheng Nu’ for all Chinese women who were not married by the ripe old age of 27!

Yes, 27!

Translated, Sheng Nu means ‘Leftover Women.’

 

The article resonated with me because I meet with many women in different parts of the world have experienced; that feeling that you haven’t quite made it unless you’re married, no matter how successful you are. What I found saddest about the article was the fact that the parents did not help the issue but instead added to the pressure. Parents that make their daughters feel like failures just because they are not married appear to have no idea the negative effect that it has on their self-esteem.

 

After reading that article, I felt the need to encourage women everywhere that may feel like so-called ‘leftovers’.

I want every single woman reading this to understand one thing; you are NOT leftover. You are loved, precious and special to the God that made you, and don’t need a husband to validate you. I had to learn this the really hard way, after chasing after relationships that were never God’s plan for my life, just so that I could be married before I hit 30! You see, when you do that, you miss out on God’s best for your life. You end up settling, and you cause yourself unnecessary heartache. It’s just not worth it.

cropped-dkpf6p_w4aaxr50

Instead of seeing yourself as ‘leftover’, see yourself as independent, strong-willed, someone that knows what she wants and refuses to settle. Instead of seeing yourself as ‘not beautiful enough’ (as one woman sadly called her daughter), see yourself as someone that has so much more to offer than just beauty. After all, beauty fades, but a woman who fears The Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30). Instead of thinking that God has forgotten you, remember that He said in His word, ‘can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!’ (Isaiah 49:15). God has not forgotten you. He is preparing you, and working all things together for your good. Instead of seeing yourself as a commodity waiting for someone to come and pick you off the shelf, see yourself as a pearl of inestimable value, fit only for the one God has ordained especially for that purpose.

 

+

M&Ms come in a variety of colors

8CCB0205-2154-4602-A257-8D7CC9DF747F

M&M’s are melt-resistant, ready to eat chocolate candies  that were created during the Second World War to be included in soldier’s rations, they took off in popularity, and when they came home from war, they wanted their M&M’s!

Thanks to Mars & Murrie and the market demand that was created by veterans, M&M’s ended up being the #1 candy in the United States in 1956 (read the entire History Channel origin story of the M&M brand).

Things about M&Ms:

1 – M&Ms are marked with an “m”

Well, guess what? You have a life purpose to be on this world. Life is meant to be experienced. You’re here to have fun and explore and above all to do the will of God. It’s society and convention that drill into you that you have to find a career, settle down, have passion and drive. We’re taught it’s the only way to succeed.

we are all on this world for a purpose and focus. We’re marked for a higher calling:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on God and His calling for our lives.

2 – M&Ms come in a variety of colors

God has created each of us unique in many ways too. Although we are all called to ministry, we each are uniquely gifted, have different backgrounds, different personalities, etc.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”   1Corinthians 12:4-6

Think about it, we vary in our colors too: Some are RED – they are red hot and bold, competitive. Some are BLUE – calm, dependable, solid. Some are YELLOW – friendly, positive, creative, encouraging. Some are GREEN – analytical, organized, practical, decisive. Some are ORANGE – assertive, outgoing, assertive. Some are BROWN – warm, inviting, trustworthy, wholesome.

God has His way of blending our background, personality, & spiritual gifts into unique, individual ministers for His Kingdom!

+

When Others Judge, It’s Really About How You Judge Yourself

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO is one of the most influential entrepreneurs of the world. He says people who get criticized are the one who make ‘waves’. If you are not getting criticized, it means you are not doing enough to make waves and influencing people. Never get worried about the criticism, and let others talk behind your back as it ultimately shows you are doing something different in your life. According to him if you cannot tolerate the critics, you should not do anything interesting. That is very interesting because every day we are all faced with people who rush out to judge us

Whenever I come in contact with highly judgmental people I do my best to put myself in their shoes and understand why they behave the way they do and why they feel the need to point the finger at those around them.

You see, I really believe that underneath it all we are all good, kind and loving beings but because of the many challenges that life sends our way and because of the many struggles that we all face, some of us become bitter and resentful. When that happens, we begin to project our own pain and suffering in the form of blame, judgment, and criticism onto the world around us.

How to Deal with People Judging You:

  • Ask yourself: If you are being judged, why? Typically people feel the need to judge others if they are feeling threatened. So if someone in your office is judging you, it’s more likely that they are jealous of your work. The way they cope with this is by putting you down so they can feel better about themselves. Don’t engage in this because neither judging others nor being jealous of someone else feels good. The best and fastest way to stop this irrational cycle is to disengage.

Focus on the Road, Not the Wall. Many racing experts consider Mario Andretti to be the most successful and versatile racing driver of all-time. During his career, Andretti won the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Formula One World Championship and the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. He is one of only two drivers in history to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship, and NASCAR.

During an interview with SUCCESS magazine, Andretti was asked for his number one tip for success in race car driving.

download (3)

He said, “Don’t look at the wall. Your car goes where your eyes go.”When young drivers are starting to race, this is one of the most critical lessons that they learn. When you’re driving at 200 mph you need to focus on the road in front of you. If you look at the wall, then you’ll end up hitting it.

The same could be said for your life, your work, and dealing with critics.Criticism and negativity from other people is like a wall. And if you focus on it, then you’ll run right into it. You’ll get blocked by negative emotions, anger, and self-doubt. Your mind will go where your attention is focused. Criticism and negativity don’t prevent you from reaching the finish line, but they can certainly distract you from it.

  • Embrace a compassionate attitude. When people are feeling down, unhappy, lost and disconnected from themselves and the world around them, that’s when they begin to project their own darkness onto the people they interact with, that’s when they start judging the world around them. It’s when we are unhappy with ourselves that we begin to judge, blame and criticize those around us.

Treat everyone with respect, love, and compassion, including those who judge and criticize you harshly, not necessarily because they deserve it but because you do. Appreciate the contrast and silently thank them for the many lessons they are teaching you.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear from you what you feel judged about and what you can do to release this negative cycle.

+

Depression: God Is Not Silent When We Suffer

In High School I struggled with anxiety and depression for  a number of years. One of my biggest obstacles to managing the illness was simply accepting the fact that I could not conquer, squelch or obliterate it. To make it go away forever. That was always my foremost desire.

The one this that helped me during years was my journey to deepen my relationship with Christ.  Every day was a struggle. Every morning I went to the Lord, and every morning I threw myself at His feet, begging Him to help me.

And every day, He did. In this journey I read the Bible and within the pages of the Bible, I found friends.

My friends from the Bible were Jeremiah, Elijah and David:

“O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived” Jeremiah 20:7
“It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life” 1 Kings 19:4
“I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me?’” Psalm 42:9-10

This men had experienced some depression, darkness and even frustration with people and even with God. I have learnt that God isn’t angered by honest words – He deems them holy. The ultimate Friend we find in our pain is Jesus himself. He wept. And on the cross, He experienced separation from God in its fullness. Our Savior knows what it means to suffer.

depression-810x425

The Bible says that Jesus “bore our griefs” on the cross (Isaiah 53:4 NAS). He feels our pain as strongly as we do and will carry it for us. Give your hurt to Him. Then resolve not to dwell on it again.

God has given Himself for our journey – our weaknesses – a grace sufficient for every part of life that feels like a thorn. If God said He will be with us … I think He means it. Depression, anxiety, or other similar challenges is not a sign of God’s absents, it’s just the toils of this life, but we have one greater in us than in the world, working toward our advantage, good things (pleasure).

Talk to God openly and honestly. Admit to God or the Supreme Being of your belief that you need help going forward. It’s not a weakness to admit that you’re feeling broken or don’t have the motivation to keep going. Your angels, spirit guides, ancestors, and soul family are forever at your side, waiting for you to ask for their help. They never abandoned you. These souls are helping you with gentle words of encouragement and bringing people into your life. You think it’s a coincidence that suddenly you’re meeting others who are depressed or that someone offers to help you.

Whether the depression, anxiety, or other challenges come and go, “Fight the good fight” by not giving up or giving in to any perspective contrary to what Christ has already fulfilled and given you … a full inheritance of life and a deep love from the Father that will never cast you away (John 6:37; 10:10; 16:27).

What do you think about “Fighting the good fight?” Let us know here

+

Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere

 

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” — Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck, one of my favorite authors, wrote “I’ve al-ways worried a lot, and frankly I’m good at it. I worry about introducing a group of people and going blank when I get to my mother. I worry about a shortage of ball bearings. I worry about the world ending at midnight and getting only three hours of a 12-hour cold capsule. I worry about getting in the Guinness Book of World Records under “pregnancy” world’s oldest recorded birth. I worry about what the dog thinks when he sees me getting out of the shower. I worry that my daughter will marry an Eskimo and set me adrift on an ice-berg when I can no longer feed myself. I worry about sales-ladies following me into the fitting room, oil slicks, and Carol Channing going bald. And I worry about scientists discovering someday that lettuce has been fattening all along.”

worry_lg.png

You know her list tops mine. We’re living in what the American Psychological Association has labeled the “Age of Anxiety.” The American Academy of Physicians has reported that at least two-thirds of all patients who occupy hospital beds are there because of stress-related illness.

While it is natural to be concerned about our well being, we often tend to heighten the anxiety to an unreasonable level. The high levels of worry sap our emotional energy, send our anxiety levels soaring and interfere with our productivity, affecting our daily lives.

Worry is like a rocking armchair. It is always moving but it never takes one anywhere. Very often we believe that we can take care of our problems. Yet sometimes, despite all our effort, we are unable to bring about suitable solutions. We worry about our future, focusing on “what ifs ” and worst-case scenarios in our minds.

Some things to remember about worry and anxiety:

  • Sometimes anxiety can help you to recognize when things really matter to you (like the butterflies before a first date or job interview). When you feel anxious just ask yourself what your worries can teach you or show you about yourself or the situation.
  • EAT CHOCOLATE. While sweets can cause you to have a sugar high and crash, researchers have found that a little chocolate can be beneficial for worriers. According to a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, dark chocolate can help calm your nerves.
  •  The sooner we recognize and accept that we don’t have control over certain circumstances in our lives, the sooner we can recognize and accept that worrying about those things will not influence the outcome either. Sometimes all you really can do is let it go (cue the Disney Frozen soundtrack…)
  • ENGAGE IN FOREST THERAPY. Walking in the woods and listening to the sounds of nature can reduce stress. Called shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bath” in Japanese, the practice lowers stress hormone levels compared with walking in an urban area.
  • WRITE DOWN YOUR WORRIES. Getting your emotions down on paper sounds like it could fuel anxieties, but according to a University of Chicago study published in the journal Science, the activity has the opposite effect. Students who were prone to test anxiety were asked to write about their fears before an exam; those who journaled improved their test scores by nearly one grade point.
  • Pray. Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

So when you find yourself sitting in the rocking chair of worry, remember that you have the choice to remain there or to go out in to the world.  Dear friend, sometimes the hardest part is putting your feet on solid ground, standing up, and seeing life from a different perspective.  You can do it.  Slowly get up out of that rocking chair.  Even if you have to turn on the Frozen soundtrack and belt out “Let It Go” to make that first step.

 

+

Let’s take a walk in the woods

Let’s take a walk in the woods.

With no specific destination in mind, we will wander, observe and immerse ourselves in nature. Allow our senses to guide us.

When was the last time you walked into the woods with no plans? No final destination? Without a species to ID, hill to climb, or lookout to conquer?

What is forest bathing?

Sloww-Forest-Bathing-1024x576.jpg

Forest bathing does not require a swimsuit, an actual bath or even water.

It does require you to bathe, metaphorically speaking, in nature, with all your senses open.

Research shows that time in the forest is deeply restorative for your mind, body, and brain.  In Japan, doctors prescribe a type of forest therapy called Shinrin Yoku or forest bathing, which translates to ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’.  It offers an approach to reducing stress in our challenging urban life by connecting us to the rhythms and processes of nature. The outcome of the session left us alert and calm.Forest bathers, when compared to their urban counterparts, exhibit lower blood pressure, heart rate, and concentrations of the stress-hormone salivary cortisol, according to a 2010 study spanning 24 Japanese forests, the Washinton Post reports. Other studies have found a correlation between forest bathing and an increase in white blood cells and other immune-system indicators.

I have questions for you:

  • Are you so busy you have forgotten what it feels like to be at ease?
  • When was the last time you felt like yourself- not frazzled or rushed?
  • Do you ever wish life would just stop for a day so you can catch your breath?
  • But when you do have a day off you fill it with distractions that don’t meet your deeper needs?
  • Have you ever tried seated meditation only to quit because it was so painful? Yet you know you need something to calm your mind and body.