Grace Michaelson

When Christianity Becomes the Problem

Apr
20

As you have seen on my blog many times, I am a strong follower of the Christian God.  I believe He created me, loves me, sent His Son to die for me, and lives to have personal relationships with us.  Why He does all this blows my mind when I consider how unimportant I am in the grand scheme of the world we live in.  However, He does and I am continually amazed.

Having said that, I don’t know how to feel about the American Christian Church.  I think we’re airing our crap in a way that is breaking God’s heart.  Even “our crap” is not in line with Scripture:

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

John 8:3-11, “As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.  “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”  They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.  Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”  “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Mark 2:17, “When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Unfortunately, the American Church has become a group of Pharisees that feel like they can pass judgement on other people’s issues and not worry about their own sin.  Why do I say that?  I say that because of the many people I have met who have been pushed away from the church because we choose strict adherence to a set of rules we have created, not God.  Where is love?  Where is grace?  Where is truth tempered with the knowledge that we’ve all made a mess of our lives, so who are we to pass judgement?

You may be saying to me as you read, well you’re passing judgement.  Your passing judgement on the Christian Church.  No I’m not.  The truth is I know that I’ve done this very same thing more times that I want to admit.  I’ve passed judgement on other’s personal problems, I have gossiped, I have slandered.  It all breaks my heart.  Who am I? who is the Christian Church? Why do we feel the need to categorize sin? Why must we ostracize the very people God has sent us to go into the world and bring into the church?  We’re giving God, our God, a very bad name.

So what is the answer?  Because I know that truth is important and it needs to be spoken.  Sometimes truth does not feel good to say.  Just like this blog post is so difficult for me to write.  I think we need to go back to where are identity is supposed to be.  Is our identity Judge, Jury, and Executioner?  Or is our identity to be Jesus’ Disciples.  As Jesus Disciples, what is the path to take?  What did Jesus do?  He walked with sinners.  He talked to sinners.  Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.  The women at the well was an adulterer, James and John had tempers, Peter had a big mouth.  Did Jesus show any signs of passing judgement or putting on a holier than thou attitude because we haven’t sinned “as bad” as the rest.

What about God the Father?  What does he do?  He puts a prostitute, a foreigner, an adulterer into the lineage of Jesus.  What?! How can this be?  He was and is showing us by example that His Grace trumps.  Does that mean we only show mercy and never speak truth?  No.  However, when truth must be spoken, it must be spoken in grace and love.  You can speak truth if you really know the person.  You can’t speak the truth if your walk with God isn’t in the right path.  You can speak truth if your heart is to help the person.  You can’t speak the truth if in your heart all you want to do is rub their nose in the dirt.

I know that the basic truth is that most Christians mean well.  They’re not out to be brutes or Pharisees.  The mistakes we make come out of a heart that wants to please God.  However, it is still a truth that meaning well is not good enough.  We have to do our best to also do well.  The way we do well is balance our lives like God has done, in-between grace and truth.  It is hard.  However, it is the right thing to do.

In closing I’m going to share again a favorite quote of mine.  Theadore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Are you joining us in the arena?  Or are you just a critic?

Obsessions? Or gods?

Apr
17

I’ve been thinking a lot about obsessions lately.  For instance, my son has autism, and because of that he obsessives over topics all the time.  What if we start obsessing over things, though, and don’t have an excuse like autism?  I think obsessions are a fact of being part of this world.  Sometimes people struggle more than others, putting them into a class that has a label, like “Autism Spectrum Disorder”, but sometimes we’re just normal and have strong interests we think about all the time.

I’m not trying to belittle illnesses that have obsessions.  My daughter struggles with OCD.  Many people like to claim this for themselves because they’re anal or a perfectionist.  However, true OCD is a fear that is beyond anyone’s true understanding unless you have it.  Your obsessions become things you fear.  Then there’s the son with obsessions because of his ASD.  I’m not trying to belittle that, either. Believe me, I’ve been at that place where I have heard about everything there is to know about one of my son’s obsessions and he’s still talking!

What I’m thinking about are the little things in life that grab our attention until our focus is off of what it should be– such as God, mindfulness, and others.  For example, I have been dealing with asthma.  Unfortunately, this time it came with chest pain.  By the third day of chest pain, that was all I could think of.  Praying, being in the moment (mindfulness), and other people were the last thing I was thinking of.  I’m disappointed in myself for this.  If I continually allow things to distract me from what is important, I’m no use at all.

So, can obsessions become little gods in our lives that take our focus off the important?  I believe so.  I think the Bible even talks about this:

Luke 16:1-13, “Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’

“The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

“So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’

“‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’

“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

This passage is predominately talking about serving God instead of serving money.  However, it says:

Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

So could that mean God is telling us our focus should not be on our worldly resources, dare I say struggles?  Our focus needs to be on others and on God.

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Could we exchange “money” for something we think about all the time and that replaces those things most important.  Anyway, this is what I’ve been thinking about lately.  What would you say?

 

Relax. Let God.

Jul
06

This week has been one of those weeks where my emotions have decided to pick up their signs and take to the pick-it line.  I feel drained and frustrated with trying to figure out exactly why I feel so anxious and emotional.  Added to that, after months of really not feeling sick at all, my body has decided to take a hiatus at the funny farm, because none of my doctor’s precious labs that he loves oh so much can explain why I feel oh so sick.

So, am I insane?  Even more of a personal question, have I somehow gone off the radar spiritually?  Am I angry at someone/God?  Am I angry at my situation?  Have I given into depression?  Have I sinned and God is punishing me?  These are all honest thoughts that go through all sincere Christian’s minds when bad things or bad days happen, or just when our emotions decide to go on a rampage.

I have tried to put a substantial concrete reason to why I feel so crappy right now.  I’ve finally realized today, though, that there is no logical reason for it that I can fix.  Sometimes crappy things just happen.  Not because of anything we’ve said, or done, or are going to do.  Not because of anything we can control.  They are just there.  There because, I believe, Satan wants to see if we’re going to give up, curse God, and die! Or are we going to stop trying so much and start trusting God for His answer.  They sound a little similar, just that the “curse God” part is switched for “trust God” and we don’t have to die… at least not yet.

I have to admit, I’m still trying to figure this out.  How do you “try less”.  These emotions are so strong!  How do I fight them?  How do I control them?  It’s so tough when they make me so crabby!  I keep trying to find answers to why I feel this way so that maybe then I can make them go away.  Yet, I realized today that’s not the answer.  The answer is being OK with feeling the feelings.  It’s OK that I feel anxious.  The Bible does say be anxious for nothing, yes.  But, what it means is, when you feel anxious, give it to God.  Don’t fight the anxiety, trying not to feel it.  Just acknowledge it’s presence and then tell God about it.  Then God’s peace comes.  Sometimes you gotta do it over and over and over again throughout the day if you’ve got anxiety like I do.

I know that the hardest thing to fight is the idea of looking dumb.  The symptoms of anxiety can really make you feel dumb and look dumb sometimes.  I hate it when anxiety crops up and the most inopportune time.  I want to look smart and with-it, clever and genuine.  Not fearful and dismayed!  The best thing to do is try less.  Be honest.  Be sincere.  It’s OK to be a little nervous when trying new things.

What if your emotion is not anxiety?  Is it anger? Shame? Fear? Frustration at not being perfect? What is your challenging emotion? Grief?  All these feelings are what America has labeled negative, but what I would like to encourage you to learn to see at positive and OK to feel and accept in yourself as you give them to God a little at a time.  True they can overwhelm you if you ruminate in them, but if you’re feeling them to then pass them onto God, you’re going to be OK.  Don’t squash them down to try and hide them.  God already sees.  Don’t try to control them, they will get too big.  Just try less and give them to God.  Relax.  Let God.

Balance and the Baby’s Cry

Apr
13

Family comes first, right?  So when your baby wants in your bed at 2 am that’s where he should be!  Or if your baby won’t sleep through the night, you should be up every 3 hours rocking her to sleep, because, hubby has to be at work in the morning and you don’t, and it’s cruel to make baby cry herself to sleep.  At least that’s what your tired brain is reasoning, but is that really the truth?

How do we as “The Mom” balance everyday parenting and marriage with our own needs?  Most of us end up sacrificing ourselves so much that we completely lose our identity.  Does this look familiar?

A typical mom's promise to her child at 2 AM.

A typical mom’s promise to her child at 2 AM.

Yes, this is all too familiar too us Mom’s who have given up all that make us who we are for the sake of our families.  We laugh at the memes about living in our p.j.’s and being unshowered, yet does it really feel good to live our lives to that level of sacrifice?

I know that I am on the other side of babies and you’re probably saying to me, “Well, it’s easy for you to say, your baby is 14 years old and not kicking you in your bed at night anymore.”  Yes, but my baby is trying to push me to the limit every time she turns around and my 17 year old wants to take my car and doesn’t understand why I can’t cancel my appointment so that he and his girlfriend can go on a date with my car!  So, all mom’s, in all stages, are in the same boat.  We’re all asked by our families to make unnecessary sacrifices, and the question is, why do we allow that to happen? What can we do to regain our identities in the middle of the chaos of raising a family and blessing our husbands?

I’d like to give you a few clues that I have been given to help you realize a little sanity in the midst of raising your babies/teens/spoiling grandchildren.  What ever stage of parenting you’re at, you should never have to forsake your own sanity and identity for that of your families needs.  God never once says in His Word “Take up your cross  and lose yourself for your family.”  He says instead, “Take up your cross and follow ME”.  What Chrisitanity was revolutionary for in the age the early years of the church, was the fact that it taught that God loves everyone, men, women, & children.

We’re ALL important, slave or free, rich or poor, men or women, to God and He does not want ANYONE to be sacrificed and marginalized.  We are created to live a life following God’s Will.  God’s will doesn’t involve losing our identity.  It involves God creating a New Identity (Christ’s Identity) in us, and if we’re so busy with our family that we’re marginalized and forgotten and sacrificed, how can God do that work in us?

I know that that sounds hocus-pocus.  In practice, how does one actually keep from losing oneself?

A couple of ways:

1.  Keep to your own backyard.  Keep in mind the idea that we are all tending an emotional backyard.  Each of us has our own negative and positive emotions (flowers and weeds).  If someone comes up to you and throws a negative emotion at you, it’s not your job to weed their backyard.  Don’t take it upon yourself to own their negative emotion.  It’s not your weed.  Keep to your backyard.

2.  Children are resilient.  They don’t need to be in your bed.  They can cry themselves to sleep.  They can even be locked into their rooms if they have to be.  Don’t worry, a fire is not going to burn them alive while you train them to stay in their room.  That is just a “weed” keeping you from teaching your child responsibility for their weeds.  You do not want to be responsible for being that parent who sends your child to therapy as an adult because they don’t know how to take care of their own backyard.

3.  You are a beautiful person.  You deserve respect from your husband, your kids, from other people.  Own it.  Demand it.  Demand it of yourself.  Get out of the jammies.  Take a shower.  Brush your teeth.  Even if you have a bad night.  Do it.  Feel good about yourself.  If the teen is being giving you a “Teen ‘Tude” and not giving your respect  take the car keys or the phone.  Get their attention.  You deserve this you Beautiful Queen, you!  You are the Bride of Christ, after all.  Again, remember who’s backyard you want to play in and that you’re wanting to train your kids to stay in their own backyard, as well.  No crossing into your backyard.

4.  One last thing, and this is so important.  Make sure God wants you to do it.  You are put here on Earth not to be Soccer Mom, not to be the Ultimate Housewife, not to be the Supreme Working Mom.  You are put here on Earth to do God’s will and follow Him!  If God didn’t tell you to sign your kid up for soccer, then you better not be doing it, even if it is your kid’s dream to be an Olympian!  And if God told you to start writing a blog about Zebra’s in a Horse-filled world, then you better do that, even if it doesn’t make sense.  God’s will trumps family priorities.  It’s so easy to think you’re supposed to be doing something because you’re a mom.  If you’re walking with God daily, hourly, by the minute, He’s going to tell you what you’re really supposed to be doing.

Go and get your life back… The life God really has for you!

 

Moderation, Stress, and Busyness!

Apr
11

What are the first three most important rules of staying healthy when you struggle with a chronic illness? 1. Moderate, 2. Moderate, 3. Moderate.  Stress and Busyness are killer symptom-activators for chronic illness.  If you want to stay healthy, you have got to moderate.  Do I sound like I’m preaching a sermon?  Well, I’m not preaching at you, I’m preaching to myself.  That’s right, I’m the worst when it comes to moderating.

Stress is my middle name.  No, actually, it’s Réne, but it seems like it’s “Stress” because every time I turn around I have something stressful knocking on my front door.  Recently it has been mold growing in my oldest son’s room.  We had to get a Mold Remediating Company to come to our house… blah, blah, blah! Yeah, it was a headache of stressful proportions.  I have lived my life surviving one thing after the other with the mentality of closing my eyes and stating to myself “This too shall pass… this too shall pass… this too shall pass…”  It definitely passed, but it was always replaced by that next stressful thing.

Obviously I have had it wrong this whole time because my symptoms have been totally out of control.  Sticking my head in the sand like an ostrich definitely isn’t the answer, is it?  So what’s the answer, if life is full of stressful and unhealthy busyness that we can’t control?  What can we do to not just survive life, but actually learn to master our life and even enjoy life despite our stress and busyness?  The answer is moderate.

So what is moderation?  The definition of moderation is:  the avoidance of excess or extreme’s in one’s behavior.  The action of making something less extreme.  The Thesaurus says: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-command, self-discipline, temperance, leniency, and fairness.

Basically, what we’re looking to do in our lives is to avoid excess.  If we can control the busyness instead of the busyness controlling us.  When things get stressful, as they will inevitably become, it’s important to take that step back and ask ourselves what we have stopped doing in our disciplines that we need to get back to.  Are we going to bed at a descent time? Avoid extreme bedtimes.  Are we drinking a moderate amount of water?  Not too much, not too little.  Are we exercising moderately based on our physical ability?  Again, avoiding extremes.

Sometimes even our disciplines feel like too much when life stresses us out.  So sometimes we need to take a further step back and ask ourselves what we need to do.  Last week I was at the point where I was so stressed out I was at my max.  So I canceled everything.  I needed a week for a checkpoint to figure out what had gone wrong.  I called my doctor.  I spent some time rejuvenating spiritually, emotionally, physically.  It was a mini self-imposed vacation.

Sometimes you’ve got to do that for yourself when things have gone too far.  You just can’t force yourself through forever.  Nobody has a “get up an go button” that works forever.  Invariably it breaks and it should break.  Instead of forcing yourself through the stress, you need to find a different way to handle life’s stress.  I have found that that different way is the first three rules of staying healthy… moderation.  See if it works for you.

Bloom Where You’re Planted? or Christ-Mimicker?

Mar
25

I here a lot of people talk about the idea of feeling free now that people have learned to be themselves.  Heck, I have even fallen into that, at times.  The idea of freedom in no longer dancing with societies games of cat and mouse is appealing. Waltzing around the big pink elephants in the room, such as our agendas and hidden struggles that we don’t want anyone to know about for fear of getting caught or outed in the middle of society, can be very time-consuming and for some people anxiety-inducing.  No one, these days, wants their deepest, darkest secrets found out and spread all over town by the town-gossip, so we suffer in desperate silence hoping some compassionate soul will come up to us and help us find away to free ourselves to live openly as our true selves, right?  At least that’s how the movies depict it.  That’s not the truth of society.

This morning I was thinking about this subject.  I have tried to live free from societies nuances and games of cat and mouse.  All that has done for me has created a lonely life where people back out of my life, uncomfortable with all the honesty.  This has led me to believe that I am simply not a people person and I don’t do well with human interaction.  I have become very black and white and cynical about today’s society as a result of this hurt, but lately I have realized that the problem may not be societies problem alone, that I may be causing just as much of the problem with my black and white thinking.

I have made no apologies on this blog in regards to my Christian Faith.  Lately, God has been leading me to passage after passage in regards to loving people, especially loving Christian believers.  So how does one like me, a black and white thinker who keeps alienating people by her honesty, learn to integrate into society and love my fellow humans?  This has been a quandary to me for some time because I don’t exactly know how to maneuver around in the subtle grays that society is comfortable living in.  While people are enamored by my genuine writing style, when confronted with the genuine, black-and-white person that I truly am, most people can’t take it.

So, what is the answer to following my faith and loving humans, but still being “true to myself”?  I believe it is being a Christ-Mimicker.  I don’t believe that once you are a Christian you have the right to continue trying to live “free to be yourself”.  As much as I want to live my whole life as I want to, my life is now Christ’s.  I am to live it as Christ would have lived it.  So, what am I to be like?  I do so hate the WWJD movement.  It is a cliché that really dumbs down what we are to truly be in Christ.  So please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that we’re supposed to go around wearing WWJD plastic bracelets and preach on the street corners and make a total annoyance of ourselves.  What I’m trying to say is, mimic what Christ did while on Earth.  1) He found time to be with His Father every day, 2) He did what His Father told him to do every moment of every day.  That means he was in-tuned to the Father’s will. He tapped into His Power, 3) He socialized with the unwanted, the needy, the “sinners”.  He didn’t preach at them, he was among them.  He loved them. 4) He didn’t demand others to accept Him as Himself or therefore he snubbed them, but He was also comfortable with others going the other way if they couldn’t accept Him for Who He was.  He didn’t own other’s feelings, He let them have their own thoughts and feelings, and that was OK. 5) The most important:  He stood up for the Truth.  There comes a time when gray is not OK.  When black and white wins out.  When Truth must stand firm.  That is why it’s so important to always be in-tuned to the Father and no when and where those times are and when it’s OK to be gray and when it is time to stand up for truth.

Stick-with-it-ness! (How to hang in there in a new lifestyle change)

Jan
09

First off, let me point out how much easier it is to make a bad habit than it is to make a good habit.  Our brains are hardwired to do the easier thing.  Some call it “sin nature” (that’s me and my faith), some call it laziness, whatever your choice for calling it, it’s just plain easier to make a bad habit.  To make a good habit is much, much harder.  My blog is about trying to empower you to make the choice to make those good choices to get you on a better path, whether you struggle with Depression, Anxiety, and Fibromyalgia like I do, or you just want to start fresh this New Year.

Today I want to give you some information about making a new habit.  First off, I just want to teach you a little about your brain.  Your brain, to dumb it down a whole lot, is kind of like a ball of play dough.  As you give it thought processes, it’s like you are drawing lines in the play dough.  The more you think about one thing, the deeper you draw the line.  Let’s take Chronic pain for instance.  If you go to the doctor you are drawing a line in your brain’s “dough”.  If you talk about your pain with your friends, deeper goes that line.  If you get up in the morning and take a moment to scan your body for pain spots, deeper goes that line.  Do you see how it goes?  But what is the best thing about play dough?  If you mess up what can you do?  Squeeze it together and start over.  Well, obviously we can squeeze our brain together and start over, but there is something our brain is and that is called Neuroplastic.  The Neuroplasticity of the brain allows it to “heal” the neurons we form that have “taught” it that it will “never get better” and teach it a good habit, such as “I can have a good life despite my pain.” Please understand that I am not saying that someone who has chronic pain is not in pain.  Pain is very real and is not “all in your head” like many doctor’s will tell you.  What I’m saying is, that if you allow yourself to form good mental, physical, and spiritual habits, your brain will heal to the point that you can have a happy life despite your chronic pain. Please watch this video below.  It’s a simplified explanation that explains fully what Neuroplasticity is.  Again, this doesn’t solve your chronic disease, what it does is give you a chance to live a good life despite it.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/tJ93qXXYRpU” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

OK, so now that we’ve gotten through the intellectual portion of why we want to form a good habit, let’s talk about why it’s so hard to keep a good habit and some things we can try to keep our good habits going.  First of all, you need to know that it takes 21 days to form and stick to a good habit.  So, if you give up on day 19, you’re selling yourself short.  A good way to try to keep a habit forming is to have a calendar in your possession, and I’m not talking about a iThingy.  I’m talking about something you can touch, feel, and use a pen or pencil on to scratch off the days.  Choose the good habit your wanting to perform and check off the days.  You will find that after you reach the hump on the 21 days it will slowly get easier and easier to be consistent on doing that which you are trying to do.

So, I just gave you the first key:  Use a calendar to mark off the days on your habit.  That way you can see the success you’re making and not stress on the failure.

Here’s your second tip:  Don’t give yourself 20 habits to form in one 21 day span.  Choose 1.  The one I’m working on this 21 period is organizing my house.  Not just organizing my house, but keeping it organized.  I have people harping on me to exercise, and do my relaxation, and all this other stuff.  I am doing those things, but my primary concentration is on my house, and if the other things fall away, I’m not beating myself up.  One. habit. at. a. time.  This is called moderation.  It’s OK to acknowledge you have 20 things to change, but don’t ruminate over them.  You get to list them once, then put them away in a deep dark place where you don’t get to pick them up again until after you feel you are comfortably handling the habit you have just formed.  Twenty-one days is the minimum needed for a habit to form, for you it may be two months.  Be kind to yourself.  Take it easy.  Simplify yourself and don’t stress.

So the second key for today is:  Moderation

Finally, Be kind to yourself on a Difficult Day, or a Plan B day.  We all have Plan B days.  Those are the days when your illness, or your work, or whatever your “issue” that brought you to my website is driving you the most crazy.  I recommend to everyone to make themselves a Difficult Day Box.  I got this idea from Mayo Clinic when I was there for treatment.  They have their patients make a Difficult Day Box because inside it you put things to encourage you.  Like your favorite quotes, a letter from your favorite person that encouraged you, a $5 gift card to your favorite coffee shop, or whatever you can think of that will help you get through that day.  On that day, do half of what you do on a regular day.  The point is, do something.  Don’t give up.  Don’t stop.  If you give up and give yourself the right to sit on the couch or lay in bed all day, you’ll feel like crap and you’ll give up on your habit.  A give-up day like I just described is a start-over for the entire habit, but a “Plan B” day is just a step back, not a failed habit.  Remember, kindness to yourself is the best attitude.

Final key:  Handle your Plan B days by still doing half of what you normally do.

Now, after you’ve mastered your new habit, and you feel you’re stable and good to go, go ahead and add a habit, but remember the same rules apply.  Don’t be surprised if the first habit take a hit.  Just remember, you did it the first time!  You already have one success under your belt.  You can do it again with two habits.  Simplify, Moderate, and be kind to yourself on “Plan B” days.  You can do this thing!

Here are some good habits I recommend for people dealing with chronic illnesses:

  1. Grow Spiritually
  2. Relaxation Techniques/Diaphragmatic Breathing
  3. Exercise, starting from 5 minutes a day working up to the recommendation your doctor has given you.  Only exercise if your doctor has given you a go ahead.
  4. Good Hygiene
  5. Good Sleep Hygiene
  6. Drinking 1/2 your weight in water.  If you want to drink something else, fine, but don’t include it in your water intake.
  7. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Counseling
  8. Talk to your doctor about medication interactions
  9. Avoid refined sugar
  10. Avoid Caffeine/Alcohol/Nicotine
  11. Find yourself a “Quiet Room” to retreat to on a “Plan B” day
  12. Make a “Difficult Day Box”

Buggy, No Bug Backs!

Jan
06

Do your kids play the Buggy Game?  This is where they see a Volkswagen Bug they slug you in the arm and say “Buggy!”?  Yes, well, I thought I would be smart and start slugging them back when they did this.  Well, guess what?  Now there’s “No Bug Backs”, apparently.  What really gets me is that I never see the Bug they slug me for until well after the slug.  Sometimes I never see the Bug.  Yet, my kids alway notice these damn Bugs all over town!  How do they do this?  I don’t know.

The point  is that I am obviously not mindful enough to notice the Bugs that tootle around town.  I’m so busy rushing to this appointment, or that dinner, or off to go visit that friend.  My mind is rushing through my day, or busy reflecting on that conversation.  I may be ruminating over the finger I got from the freak in the car I passed four cars back who was going so slow there was no way he had anywhere important he had to go.  Right?  Then bam! “Buggy, No Bug Backs!”

My friend and I were visiting this afternoon and I got two calls in like twenty minute from a gal from a doctor’s office because my son and I were having back-to-back eye doctor appointments at the same office.  She hadn’t noticed that we were in the same family and it was the same phone number she was dialing and the same name she was going to talk to.  Again, that mindfulness thing.  My friend and I had a good laugh over the matter, but I began to think about how much our culture doesn’t practice mindfulness.

We are a listen-to-respond, rush-to-get-there, work-a-holic, technology-hungry, socially-crippled society.  I honestly don’t think any of us could handle more than 24 hours without our phones or iThingy.  We cling to them more than we cling to human touch.  Mindfulness is a forgotten art.  To sit and actually listen to someone without already formulating your response while someone is still talking is a forgotten art.  Sitting and inspecting a raison – just because you want to – an art for the grandparent who has Alzheimer’s.  Maybe it’s time to learn from those who have Alzheimer’s.  There was an article on CNN that just sunk into my brain because it showed people posed with their phones around tables or in their beds, but the photographer had taken away their phones.  It shows how disconnected and unmindful we as a society have become.  You can find CNN’s article here.

I’m not an anti-technology person.  I personally own a iPhone, iPad, and an iMac. Each of my kids have their own iPhones because I want to be able to track them with “Find my iPhone” if they break curfew. lol.  Technology has it’s place and is a wonderful asset.  What I am saying, though, is that mindfulness is also a great and wonderful long-lost asset and should be taken seriously.  People who can see the Bug tootling down the street instead of fuming because the stupid kid gave them the finger for getting around them have it made.  People who can notice the family groups and save themselves an extra phone call are ahead of the game.  People who are polite enough to listen all the way through your thought before starting to formulate their response are awesome.

One way to start becoming more mindful is to become a little more old fashioned.  Instead of using your visa/debit card for everything, start using cash.  You’ll notice you’ll have a better handle of your budget.  There is just something about the touch and feel of cash leaving your wallet that makes you spend less.  My friend just told me another way I can be mindful.  I’m always forgetting appointments or being late because I forgot I was supposed to be someplace because I didn’t put it into my iThingy’s.  So he suggested that I go old fashioned.  He told me to buy myself a Day-Timer.  He said there is something about carrying a calendar around and writing it down by hand that helps you to keep your appointments.  I think I’ll try it.  Something about feeling and touching that helps take ownership.  Mindfulness.  Bringing things into the plain of the senses.

Those Unhappy New Year’s Resolutions!

Jan
01

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New Year’s feels like a fresh start. I know how you feel. A new lease on life. A new chance to start over. You’ve turned the page over and covered up the scribbled up page of 2015 and now you have this nice clean page labeled “2016” and suddenly you have this surge of energy and the first thing that pops into your head is all the things you want to change from that scribbled up page called “2015”. Oh, no, no, no, Girl… that’s the mistake you made from all the other scribbled up pages called 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012… Well, you get the picture. Those unhappy New Year’s resolutions cannot be the first thing you write on this beautiful new year you have in front of you. Take a deep diaphragmatic breath and step back from the page and let’s think about what would be the best thing to write first.

Hmmm… Let’s talk first about what a new year’s resolution is not. It’s not a new start. It’s not a new beginning. It’s not a new thought. If it were a new start, you wouldn’t have started those same resolutions last year.

A start denotes the idea that it was never tried before. It denotes the idea that you have been empowered. It denotes the idea that you are not trapped in a circular idea of insanity. There is a saying that goes like this: The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again expecting a different result.” Here’s a new definition for a new year’s resolution: Doing the same new year’s resolution over and over again expecting a different result.

A new beginning sounds like it’s the same as a fresh start, but I see it as more than a start. It goes on longer than just the start. It gives you the assurance that the start will continue. The beginning is something deep in your heart that says, “This is permanent. This is final. This is forever.” Let’s face it. We all make new year’s resolutions with the intent to break them. Then we feel miserable. Cross, scribble, or rip them off our year’s once beautifully white page and then our year’s page is tainted and not white anymore. Wouldn’t you rather put things on your page that is permanent and healthy? Something that will truly give you a healthy new beginning?

Finally, a new year’s resolution is not a new thought. This one is the most obvious. This year’s resolutions are the exact resolutions you made least year, aren’t they? And the one’s you made the year before? So obviously you need to come up with a way to empower yourself to do these things without making them resolutions. They are obviously things you want, or you wouldn’t make them fruitless wishes that never come true.

Now that we’ve burned up those unhappy resolutions before we ever made them, let’s look at our still happy beautiful year and think about what we’re going to write on our still beautiful clean sheet. Because obviously we need to start writing on it. We need to write down memories, both happy and sad, we need to write down feelings, both the “bad” ones and the “good” ones, we need to write down the thoughts, the confusing ones, the intelligent ones, the stupid ones, and the everyday ones, and we need to write down so much more. It’s so, so important, though, to start the year out writing down some strong words:

Here’s a few I thoughts for you:

I am a beautiful person

Whoever thinks differently, is missing out on a very special gift

The mirror misses all the greatest things about me

My soul/spirit needs to eat healthier than my body does

You get the picture, see if you can think of somethings to add to your 2016 page. Forget those unhappy resolutions. Be kind to yourself. Love life. Be joyful. Walk away from the toxic. Cling to what is good. Happy New Years!!

Philippians 4:8, 9B (NLT) “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

 

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Thankless Job

Sep
10

Today I was at the local hospital picking up something at the pharmacy. An older gentlemen named Burt was there to open the door for me. I said, “Hi, Burt, how are you?” Then I stopped and waited for his answer. He became very confused and asked me, “Who are you?”

I realized that he was used to people not saying his name and just calling out a speedy “Thank you,” if that, or maybe a “Hi” as they sped off to their appointment in the building. He was anonymous. To have someone acknowledge his name, ask him a personal question, and wait for the answer was abnormal. Of course, I’m pretty abnormal anyway, so that doesn’t bother me.

This post has come out of that experience. I realized that that meant a lot to him when I left. He patted me on the back as he opened the door for me and he told me in a gentle voice, “You go and have a really nice day.” I’m asking myself how many people have thankless jobs like Burt? They open the doors for people invisibly, or park people’s cars invisibly, or check people in to the hospital or doctor’s visits invisibly. They have name tags, but their names are never acknowledged. They are invisible, but invaluable.

Take the street sweeper: what would happen if they stopped cleaning our streets? Yet, instead of waving, many of us curse them. What would happen if people stopped repairing the roads? Yet we curse road work every day for being inconvenient. How about the next time you inch by the road workers you give them a smile and a wave? Or what about the fast food worker? We’d never get our Big Mac with Extra Fries if some invisible worker wasn’t flipping burgers behind the counter. What about the person wearing the name tag sitting in front of you checking you into your next doctor’s appointment? What if you had to check yourself in with an automated system instead of seeing her smiling face? What is her name anyway?

What would happen if you read the front desk lady/man’s name tag at your next appointment and said, “Hi, _____, my name is _____, I’m here to see _______. How are you?” Then wait for their response. I guarantee you will get either suspicion or shock the first time, but if you continue (if you’re a regular) they will begin to look forward to seeing you because you are a spot of kindness in their lives. It’s time for us to be aware of people around us and start listening to hear them instead of listening to respond to them.

True kindness and acknowledgment of people’s presence seems to be the thing of the past these days. Yet, couldn’t it make a return? This post is for all of you who feel your job is invisible and unimportant. Just think what would happen if you weren’t there? The office, street, sidewalk, electricity, sewer, or whatever you are doing, would be an absolute mess right now! You are important! I acknowledge your name and your importance today. How are you? I hope you go and have a really nice day.