Sunday, December 29, 2019

Where Will You Go?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Are you ready for 2020? It will arrive whether you are ready or not. But something to consider is where you want to be by 2021.

Knowing where you want to be, physically, mentally, emotionally, geographically, financially, relationship-wise, will help you choose the path forward. Do you want to be stronger, thinner,  more fit? Then you can make decisions that lead you to that.

Do you want to learn a new skill or subject matter? Make plans for that, take small steps at a time to learn. Education is available for nearly everything. Want to go to school? To take courses on-line? Take workshops on certain subjects. Join a group of people who are taking the same path to learning. Much of the ways to learn something new are low cost or free!

Are your emotions getting in your way of moving forward? Depression or Anxiety can be reduced with counselling and/or medication. Low energy can be physical symptom of both Anxiety and Depression. Extremes of either can respond to medication and get you on an even keel.. 

Is where you live supportive of your well-being, Are you happier in an urban area or a small town area. Or do you just love to travel, but don't for whatever reasons. Changing location can stimulate you to find ways to move you toward more satisfaction.

Is it money that tethers you to where you are? Do you think you can't do anything to change your income? I know it can seem impossible to have more income. But you may find that certain of your choices keep you stuck. Take a good hard look at what you spend money on. There may be some ways to cut back or to make a little more. Even small changes in spending and earning can add up in the long run.

Relationships are complicated, yet they play an important role in our well-being. Are there people in your life that treat you disrespectfully? These are people you need to let go of, unless you confront them and they change that behavior. You deserve to be treated with respect, even kindness. Often our family members are manipulative or abusive. Learn to stand up for yourself. There are thousands of books that help you deal with other people. Or you can see a counselor for help with that. 

So much is within your control, yet we think we are helpless to change our lives. Everything you think, feel, and believe are within your control, No one can make you think, feel, or believe anything. That is your personal power. Yes, we tend to give others that power. But is our choice. 

I think in the next few weeks I'll talk more about how to get to what you want for your life.

For now, take a good look at what you want, and at choices you are currently making that get in the way.

Happy New Year!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

It's Up to You

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

I confess that I hadn't done a blog post for this day until last night. I'd been wondering what to write. I watched an episode of Father Brown on PBS. It was built around a radio show called "It's Up to You". That got me to thinking.

So much of what we experience in our lives is up to us. Maybe not the event itself, but how we feel about it when we experience it, and how we continue to keep it in our memory and recall the feelings when we think about it.

There is a TV add that says "Christmas is what you make it." They were hoping to sell you something that was intended to make your Christmas memorable. But is isn't the thing that matters. It is how you perceive it. 

That is an important message for me. I have trouble with the days leading up to the holiday. I really dislike the rush to get lots done by a certain day/time. I get overwhelmed and exhausted to the point that I'm unwell, and not liking Christmas at all!

And - it is up to Me! I do that to myself! I make decisions to do this and that to get ready for guests and celebrations. I think I should make everything right and good. I should get just the right gift for everyone. I should get the house spotless and festively decorated. I should get cards in the mail soon enough for them to arrive before Christmas. I should fix meals for guests that they will love. And on and on. 

That is called "shoulding on myself." That is my choice. I can't blame anyone but myself. And since I've been disabled it weighs even more heavily, because everything is even harder for me to do. It wears me out sooner. It makes me ill.

Of course, preparation for a holiday isn't the only decision that are up to me [you]. Everything we do is a decision, everything - thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions.. And it is helpful that we acknowledge that. for that is our personal power.

And when we are aware of our personal power we can use it to make our lives better, more honest, more accountable. It can keep us grounded in reality. 

I know most of us think we have no control of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and reactions. But we really do. We can change our thoughts, which determine our feelings. We can change our beliefs when we learn more. And our reactions are a product of all of the above.

When I worked with inmates in the prisons, one of the things I taught was just that, the personal power to experience life as it comes and as we choose it. I gave the example of two inmates who get visits on visiting day from their spouse. Both learn that their spouse is pregnant. One inmate is overjoyed. It's his first child and was excited about becoming a father. The second inmate was stunned and angry. He'd wanted children too. 

What was the difference? The first inmate had only been incarcerated for a couple of months. The second inmate had been incarcerated for more than a year.  There was no way he was the father of the child.

Now the inmates would say that of course the second inmate would be angry. His wife was pregnant by another man. But what if he'd been wanting to be a father so much and loved his wife so much that he was willing to be the father of a child that was the result of a one-night -stand. He loved his wife enough to forgiver her and to celebrate a future with her and the child.

It is up to you what you think, feel, and believe. And it is up to you how you respond.

And it is up to me to slow down and stop worrying about having everything just so.

What about you? What do you need to change in the moment? Are you willing to consider that you have this personal power? Are you willing to confront situations where you might want to change what you think, feel or believe in order to have a better life and a more peaceful holiday? Or any day, for that matter. 

The next time you find yourself getting upset, stressed, anxious, etc., try using your personal power to have a better outcome.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

What Are YOU waiting for?

Have you ever thought about how much of your life is spent waiting?

Waiting: noun; the act of staying in one place while expecting something to occur.

"According to a Timex survey, Americans wait on average of 20 minutes a day for the bus or train, 32 minutes whenever they visit a doctor and 28 minutes waiting in security lines whenever they travel. Americans wait 21 minutes for a significant other to get ready to go out. 

 Most Americans spend 13 hours annually waiting on hold for customer service, reports Time. The average American commuter spends 38 hours each year waiting in traffic, according to the Atlantic. Big city commuters average more than 50 hours waiting in traffic annually. Americans annually spend 37 billion hours waiting in line, according to the New York Times." []

Wow. That's a lot of time waiting. So, what kind of waiter are you? Do you get anxious and frustrated? Pace? Get angry, even enraged? Do you clench your fists or your jaw? Does your body get tight, tense? 

Lots of us do. And it adds to our stress and leaves us vulnerable to overload with more stimuli.

What do you wait for? Beyond those kinds of waiting noted in the quotation above, what else do you wait for? I was thinking of this as I waited for a phone call I was expecting. I thought of other times I find myself waiting. I wait for doctor feedback from my lab tests. I wait in line shopping. I wait for someone to pull out of a parking space close to the place I'm going. [I often am not up to walking far.]  I wait for water to boil, food to cook, laundry to finish in the washer and dryer. I wait for the postal carrier. 

I wait for ideas to come. All too often I wait to remember the right word. I wait for the office to warm up in the winter. I wait for purchases to be shipped and delivered to my house. I wait for vacation or for my birthday. I wait for family visits. I wait for websites to open, programs to load.

And most of the time I'm a calm waiter. I use wait time to think of solutions to problems, or I list things to do, or I imagine what other people are thinking or doing. I'm a people watcher and waiting is the perfect time for that. 

Often, when I know I might be waiting, I take a book and read while I wait. And I keep recorded books in my car so I can listen when I'm driving and waiting.

I learned long ago that life is too short to make myself stressed out. I know that being frustrated and angry is the result of expectations that things "should" be a certain way, and when they aren't I don't have to stress out about it. I just check my expectations and accept that everything doesn't have to go the way I prefer. I check what values are fueling my expectations and ask myself, "How important is it? Is it worth me being so tense and stressed?" Usually the answer is no.

Expectation does not have to cause problems for me, does not have to harm my health and well-being. There are wants and there are needs. I create stress when I tell myself some thing is a need when in reality it is a want. 

How many of the things you think you need could you live without? Because needs are about survival. Wants are about thriving. Most of us have everything we need and much of what we want. Why stress over thinking we won't survive if we don't have what we want?

I guess at my age, 77 years, I get a better perspective of what one needs to survive. All else is wanting a bit more [or in many cases a lot more].

So as you celebrate the upcoming holidays, I hope you will see the difference. And I hope the New Year brings you more than survival

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Help! I'm Sinking!

I've dealt with depression most of my life. The last few years I've also been dealing with Seasonal Affect Disorder [SAD] as well. So, this time of year I struggle extra hard.

SAD is the response of my brain chemicals to the loss of daylight. So when the weather begins to be gray and cold and the days get shorter, I get more depressed. And I live in Central Ohio, where we have a lot of gray days in winter.

It feels like I'm sinking into depression, which can be kind of scary. Even though I take my medications for clinical depression, the depression creeps up on me. It is almost like drowning.

There are many people who are afflicted with depression, especially this time of year. I'm sharing my story in the hope that you might learn how to help someone you know struggling with it.

Depression doesn't manifest itself the same way for everyone, one reason it is hard to identify. I'll tell you how it manifests with me.

An early sign for me is that I start thinking negatively. Basically I'm a positive person. I can see positives in most any situation. But when I find myself thinking negatively for more than a day, I can usually identify the depression creeping in.

Another sign is a disruption in my sleep pattern over a week's time. I want to sleep a lot or have interrupted sleep at night.

When I'm easily overwhelmed by life in general, I know I'm dealing with depression. Everything feels like it is just too much to deal with. I find myself unable to keep up with things. I have trouble making simple decisions, like what do I want to eat or to wear. I just want to sleep to avoid it.

I don't want to be around people, especially extroverted people. I feel like they are taking energy from me that I don't have to give.

I have a lower tolerance for people or situations that want something from me. Usually, I'm happy helping folks any way I can. Depression takes that away and I feel "used" by people who want something from me.

Basically I am miserable and have no energy to do anything about it on my own. So, what helps?
There are things I can do to bring me up AND I don't seem to have what it takes to do them. Here is how someone can encourage and support me.

Finding someone who cares for you enough to help really makes a difference. But you have to be honest with them and tell them you are depressed and that you need their support to keep you on track for pulling out of the depths.

The very things that make you better are things you don't feel like doing. This is why it is very helpful to have someone to confide in and to keep you accountable.

  1. Exercise 15 or 20 minutes a day that increases your heart rate. This helps get more oxygen to your brain and produces endorphins that raise your mood.
  2. Talk to someone every day. Not necessarily about depression but staying connected to others helps keep you stable.
  3. Spend as much time as possible in daylight, especially sunlight. This provides natural vitamin D. And the sunlight helps raise your mood. This is the core of SAD prevention.
  4. Make a list of three small goals for each day. When you are deeply depressed it is hard to think of what to do. So having it written down makes it easier in the morning to get started. The goals can be as basic as "get out of bed" to "clean the kitchen counter." Keep it simple and doable.
  5. Do something for someone else. When you are doing for others your focus is off of yourself. And doing for others also increases endorphins that raise your mood.
  6. Avoid mood altering drugs, like alcohol and caffeine. They destabilize your mood and can lead to an emotional crash.
Sounds like a lot. But most of them can be combined to do all together. Give your support system permission to ask you about what you've done or remind you to work on the things that help you feel better.

                                                    Image by M W from Pixabay 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Do You Have a Pet Peeve?

                                            Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

The dictionary defines "pet peeve" asa frequent subject of complaint. Everyone has something that bugs them, even if they don't complain out loud.

One of my pet peeves us people responding to "thank you" by saying "no problem." It just sounds like they are too important to be thanked, or they minimize your gratitude. I probably wouldn't have asked them or expected them to do something that I thought would be a problem for them. For me it is off-putting. Whereas "you're welcome" is welcoming me, not pushing me away. Silly, maybe. Most pet peeves are. But nonetheless. it bugs me.

Another pet pet peeve is drivers who don't use their turn signal until they have stopped to make the turn. If they use their turn signal sooner it gives me a chance to change lanes before they stop traffic. Assuming, of course, there are multiple lanes.

And it drives me up the wall when people talk over others in a discussion. I want to hear what others have to say so I can decide what I think. When more than one person talks at once, I can't hear what both are saying. And when someone talks over me. I know I'm not being heard. It is better when each person finishes their thought before another thought gets expressed.

What are your pet peeves? Are there certain kinds of people that bug you, certain behaviors, certain events? How much do they bother you - a lot, a little? Do you voice your complaints about them? Or do you just let them slide?

Some folks take their pet peeves to the max. They turn them into attacks or arguements. For me, most of the time they aren't worth mentioning, let alone getting upset about them. How about you?

Truly negative people really bother me. They can see nothing but negativity. They have a complaint about everything. They try to argue about everything that you say. And they are always like Negative Nellies. I don't like being around them and when I have to be I just tell myself that I don't have to see everything with the dark lens like them and shut them out. And when possible, I leave their pressence.

Sometimes I'll ask a question, like "What DO you like about that?" If they have nothing positive to say, I just drop the conversation. Avoiding negativity is a healthy self-care act.

How about you? How do you deal with negative people?

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Do You Worry?

Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

                “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”                                   - Corrie Ten Boom, Clippings from My Notebook

It is easy to find something to worry about, even in the best of times, if you are a chronic worrier. And these days there are many unknowns that can fuel worry. Worry is most fueled by concerns about what might happen. And it thrives on fear and anxiety. 

What does worry do for you? It doesn't relieve fear and anxiety. The only thing helpful to do, if you worry, is to use it to motivate you to address the concerns. Ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that could happen?" And then, "What can I do to prevent that or minimize the effects?" Create a plan.

If your worrying doesn't lead to action on your part, it is a pointless activity. Usually what helps most is to address the way you think about the concern. Explore how you can change it. If you truly can't do anything to change it happening, the only thing that will help is to change the way you think of it. Control your thoughts to make you more proactive rather than reactive, you will overcome the worry.

“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”
- “No amount of regretting can change the past, and no amount of worrying can change the future.” Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Where Would You Go?

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? If there were no limits - not money or time or physical ability - where would you go?

Do you have any travel dreams? Have you thought of places you'd like to see but don't think you could ever go there?

I love to travel, but I have lots of limitations. I don't have the financial means for many trips in the world. I don't have the physical stamina or ability for some places. I'm getting too old for some. I don't know how to do a lot of things I'd need to know for some travels.But the reality is, if I wanted to go someplace badly enough, I'd find a way.

So dreams aren't enough on their own. You have to have passion. Your desire must be strong enough to propel you through all your "limits."

This is true of any passionate desire, dream, goal. You have to want it badly enough to do whatever it takes to reach that goal. So, you'd better have a good goal.

What makes a goal achievable? There are several criteria that help you succeed.

  • It must be something you really want badly enough to risk getting outside your comfort zone.
  • It must be possible for someone to reach. It has to be within the the laws of nature. You can't change some things, like gravity and your date of birth.
  • It must be compatible with your value system. If it isn't, you would eventually  regret it.
  • It needs to be time-ended so you can track your progress.
Of course, there is no guarantee you will achieve it, however. So, it might  be a good idea to have  plan B.

But I encourage you to go for it. Don't end up regretting not even trying to do what you dream of.

                                           Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

We Sure Talk Funny

Have you ever thought about some of the things Americans say? It is no wonder our language is so hard to learn.

When you go to the bathroom, do you always take a bath? What about public bathrooms?Hmm. Maybe you go to the rest room, instead, where you lie down and take a nap!

How about "Making a meatloaf is a piece of cake"? Talk about confusing! Are we talking about the entree or the desert?

Winning first prize was a walk in the park. A walking contest? What?

Can you imagine trying to learn English as a second language? American idioms are very confusing for foreign students.

I once tutored foreign students in college and they struggled to keep up. One student told me it took at least an hour to read each page of his text book!

And in Spanish class we learned that "Don't by a cat for a hare," the the equivalent of our "Don't buy a pig in a poke."

So, yeah, we talk funny. What are some you use?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

What to Do when You Feel Depressed

Image by Holger Langmaier from Pixabay 
There are still people who believe depression is a weakness. It is especially hard for very independent people to acknowledge to themselves that they may need to have help to feel better. For that matter,they may not even believe they have a right to feel better.

No one deserves to be depressed, clinically depressed that is. Basically, clinical depression is feeling depressed for two or  more weeks of feeling depressed or experiencing other expression symptoms.

And it is definitely not  a weakness to ask for help. It actually takes personal strength to reach out for help. And the reality of depression is that it is quite treatable. But that means you can't do it alone.

First you need to accept that you need to reach out to someone to ask for specific responses. You can simply tell someone you know, "I've not been feeling great lately. I'd like to touch base with you more often because I enjoy talking or spending time with you." Talking so someone every day, not necessarily the same person, or even not talking about your depression, helps to prevent depression. Try including someone in your other activities  throughout the week.

Second, exercise 30 minutes daily, not necessarily all at one time. Do something aerobically in ten minutes three times a day will get the brain energized with oxygen and adrenaline.

Third, eliminate ( or at least reduce) mood altering chemicals, including alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals. The reason is that, while raising your mood for a short period, it is followed by crashing mood when it wears off. This roller-coaster of chemicals in the brain does more damage that you may think.

Fourth, get at least 45 minutes of sunshine daily. Even just exposure to direct daylight can help add Vitamin D, which fights depression. Sometimes a "light box" is recomended in areas tha hav3 less sunshine.

Fifth, do something for someone else. It not only takes your mind off your own problems, acts of kindness have been shown to stimulate serotonin. Serotonin is a feel-good chemical.

If your depression gets worse and is affecting your daily activity, talk to your doctor, who may prescribe an antidepressant. And you may consider seeing a mental health professional to support your therapy.

Happiness Quote by Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Begin Again

Sometimes starting over seems just overwhelming. We may not have the emotional energy to even try to begin again. But there are things that can make it a bit easier. Check out the link below.

There are myriad ways we may need/want to start over. I've had a lot of "starting over" experience. Even beyond my early memory there were the experiences of starting over.

I was born during WWII, so my dad was absent from us and we moved several times, ending up with my mother's parents. My mom worked in an airplane factory and my grandparents cared for me and my brother.

Then, when the war ended, my dad came home. He was a stranger to me. And my grandparents moved into their own home. That's a lot of major changes for a toddler. Maybe that is why it has been easier for me to adjust to changes.

When I was in Junior High School we moved from the only home I knew to another city. It was in the middle of the school year and I had to start over in a new school. I was behind several of the classes in the new school and struggled to catch up. I never caught up with Latin class, but the teacher gave me a passing grade if I promised to take it again the next year.

By that summer we moved yet again, this time to a different state. This really meant starting over in may ways. Not only did I have to start over with Latin, I had to adjust to a rural school after always having been in city schools. I had to make new friends. And it was a different culture. The school was very small and I was an "outsider" in that small community. But with the help of family and new  friends, I succeeded.

Very soon I was to go off to college, yet another unknown experience for me. I was only seventeen and the youngest in most of my classes. I'd never shared a room with anyone before, so dorm life was a big difference. I have always loved school, so that part was great. But I wasn't much for social activities. I had a boyfriend back home and intended to marry him when I finished my first year of college.

That was another kind of starting over.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Down In the Dumps?

When we feel down, sad, depressed, we tend to see everything through a negative lens. Maybe you are so down you can't think of anything positive, anything you like.

I've suffered from depression many times through the years. And one thing that has helped is to have a list of things I like. But you need to make the list before you get too deeply down. Keep the list handy. And when you are down, use the list to get you feeling more positive.

And you can go over the list occasionally to add to it and to remind your brain what it is like when you think positively.

Your list probably won't be like mine - or anyone else's, for that matter. But here is today's list for me:

  • Holding a baby
  • The smell of summer rain
  • The smell of freshly mowed grass
  • Violets growing and blooming in my yard
  • Belly laughs
  • A child's laughter
  • Watching the river flowing
  • Walking a beach
  • The sound and smell of the ocean
  • How my house smells when it has just been cleaned
  • The touch of silk and of fleece or flannel
  • The sweet taste of tree/vine ripened fruit
  • The warm comfort of a loved-one's hug
  • The softness of a baby's face
  • A cold drink on a hot day
  • The feel of satisfaction when I finish a challenging task
  • Blowing soap bubbles in freezing air
  • Giving gifts to someone I care about
  • Seeing smiles of people on the street
  • Listening to the 1812 Overture
  • Finding a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that has alluded me
  • Chocolate
  • Soaking in a hot tub
  • Waking up from a restful sleep
I won't list all the foods I like, 'cause I like a lot of them. But if you have difficulty deciding what to eat when you are down, maybe you need to make a list of foods you like so you can choose from that list. 

For me, food can sometimes be my downfall when I'm depressed. I tend to want carbs, especially ice cream and chocolate anything. I don't recommend that for more than a day. It would just make you feel worse in the long run.

So work on your list, so you will have it the next time you are feeling down in the dumps.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Grrrrr. I got it wrong again!

Is this what happens to you? You try hard to do something, you spend time and energy on it, and then when you think you've solved the problem you find out is doesn't work. You failed.

Sometimes you might even throw up you hands and say, "Never again. I'm tired of failing. I just can't do anything right."

Right here is where you need to take a deep breath and get real with yourself. Listen to what you are telling yourself.

"I can't do anything right." 

"I'm a failure. I just keep failing over and over and it's just not worth even trying."

Well, if whatever you are trying to do is important to you, a goal perhaps, then it IS worth trying again. Nothing is as important to success as failure. 

If you tell yourself you are a failure and can't do anything right, then that is what you will become. Because we are what we believe.

Maybe you just don't have the guts to fail. But keep trying. Don't quit. Don't give up on what is important to you.

Confront those downing thoughts. If you couldn't do ANYthing right, you would be dead right now, because you have to have done some things right to survive!

So look at what outcome you want and how important that is for you. And keep trying. Someone has said, "If you think you can or you think you can't, you are right."

No guts, no glory. Be courageous enough to keep trying.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Once Upon A Dime

A dime went much farther when I was young. When I was a kid you could buy candy for a penny, a dime would get you a phone-call, and postcards cost a penny to mail. A nice cold Coke could be had for a nickle.

Of course, back then we didn't have a lot of money, so any of the above would be a treat. I remember that in the summer my mom would buy a pint of ice cream that we divided four ways. Now I could eat the whole pint!

Five-and-dime stores actually had things that cost a nickle or dime. My grandfather would take me downtown for an outing. We rode the bus and always stopped at the five-and-dime for a hot fudge sundae at the lunch counter.

Bread was delivered and was about $0.15. Milk was delivered,too, at about $0.20 a quart. And it came in glass bottles. The cream was at the top and you had to shake it to get it mixed. When the weather got really cold the milk would start to freeze and the cream would push the lids out of the bottle.

We could get 10 pounds of potatoes at the store for just over $0.40. We ate a lot of potatoes. Our favorite way to fix them was fried in lard with onions. But we fixed them mashed as well. I don't remember eating baked potatoes when I was a kid.

For a while we got margarine that came with a packet of yellow powder to make it look like butter. I enjoyed stirring it in. We used it on toast, on PB&J sandwiches, and to cook with.

My mom would fix liver and onions and told me it was steak so I'd eat it. I never had steak, so I didn't know the difference. Liver was really cheap then.

We had a little garden in the back of our lot where we grew tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. My mom fixed stuffed peppers with ground beef, onions, and rice in them. We also had to grape arbors. One had white grapes and one had purple grapes. They were wonderful. My mom made jelly and juice from them. As kids we'd just eat some we pulled off the vines.

In those days we left the doors and windows open when we were at home. I don't remember ever being afraid of someone coming in who shouldn't be there.  We were taught to respect other people's property. We weren't allowed to cut through other people's yards without permission. All the mom's on the street would look out for all the kids, reprimand them if needed.

We weren't allowed to play in the street, even though there wasn't much traffic. We did build dams in the rain gutters along the curbs when it rained.  And most of us were trained to go home and inside when the street lights came on.

Looking back, times seemed simpler then. But if I stop to consider some of the things that were happening in the neighbor's homes, I realize the same problems existed for the adults, even if it was simpler for the kids. In one home the mom had advanced diabetes and her legs were all black and swullen. In another home a child a bit younger than me had a disease that made him swell up with fluids in his body. In another home there was a "child" who was very mentally retarded. She didn't walk, couldn't talk, and had to wear diapers, even though she was at least in her teens. In one home the dad was an alcoholic who gambled away his paychecks and depriving his family.

So the "good old days" were only good when viewed from certain perspectives.

We just need to remember that we really don't know what all is going on in someone's life and shouldn't judge them.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mind Your Mind

Your mind is a powerful thing. You use it for good or for ill. Do you pay attention to what you are thinking? You'd be surprised how much you thoughts create your actions.

Listen to what you tell yourself. Do you find yourself thinking, "I can't do this" or "that will never work"?  Have you heard the quote, "If you think you can, or you think you can't, you are right."

Pay attention. And decide to have better thoughts. Imagine yourself succeeding. See it in your mind's eye. And the chances that you will succeed increase.

"I never get anything right," "I fail at everything I try." These kinds of thoughts doom your chances of succeeding.

I strongly believe in Affirmations. Repeating positive phrases over and over throughout the day can actually change you outlook. Try it for a week or so and watch what happens.

And watch this video to get started.

from the Greater Good website

Sunday, September 22, 2019

What Do You Regret?

Regrets can weigh you down or motivate you to do something. Which works for you?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Do You Have Enough?

Enough is defined as "as much or as many that is required." So do you have enough? What is enough for you? Do you think about it? What is enough.

What do you think you don't have enough of? Time? Money? Freedom? Love? List what you feel like you need more of? And what does that not having enough prevent you from doing/having?

Do you have an inner critic that tells you that YOU aren't enough? Are there people in your life who tell you that you aren't ________ enough?

Does believing you haven't enough leave you anxious or depressed or bereft? Maybe it would help for you to examine how much of something is required. Maybe your expectations are unrealistic.

Watch this video to help you decide.

Sunday, September 8, 2019


How grateful are you? Are you aware of how often, or how seldom, you say "Thank You"?

"Thank you," is probably the first phrase most of us learn as toddlers. And as we grow it often becomes habitual. If you say it habitually, without a sense of gratitude, how grateful are you really? And if we realize we seldom say it, are you seldom aware of your lack of gratitude?

In the hustle and bustle of daily living we may lose touch with what we are actually feeling. We get busy, busy, and don't even see what we have to be grateful for. Or we just assume that others will understand that we are grateful. We think "They should be grateful that I did/said/gave that for them."

But isn't that kind of flat? Wouldn't our world be better if people acknowledged each other in a direct way? And wouldn't you like to know when people are indeed thankful for what you do?

While thinking about how often or seldom you say thank you, spoken or written, also notice who you thank. Do you thank only friends, or family, or people in charge? 

One time during the season of Lent I decided to thank someone different every day, especially those to whom don't usually express my thanks.  I realized that I often am not really present to those around me. I kind of rush through life from one task to another, not noticing all the things others  do for me. I thanked folks in person and in cards or on the phone. The reactions were splendid. The people that I thanked smiled and felt positive from hearing that brief little phrase, "Thank you."

I thanked the people who cleaned our church. I thanked people who had been teachers in my life, academic teachers and personal growth teachers. I had an English teacher in high school who was very encouraging.Yes, it had been years ago, but I was still grateful. I thanked first responders in our neighborhood, took them a plate of cookies. I thanked people who help open doors for me, even though they were strangers. I thanked people who picked up litter and put it in the trash container. I thanked people who did something nice for others, even though I didn't know them. 

If course to make your thanks most meaningful it is important to add what it is you are grateful for when you express your gratitude. If you are thankful for something specific, say what it is. Or say "Thank you for all you do" where that is more appropriate. You don't have to say what it is when it is terribly obvious, like opening the door for you. Or you can say "Thank you for your help." [For more ways to say "Thanks" check out]

It might help your world be more positive and supportive when you begin to give thanks more often. Give it a try. Start noticing what others do and say that you can approve of and express your gratitude. And notice how people respond. Maybe you can start a trend!

And thank you for reading this and for making the world better one kind act at a time.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Are You a Worrier?

What do you worry about? There are always things you could worry about. Some folks are experts at creating worries, of things to fear. And it can become a habit to worry all the time.

However, it is exhausting. Why not let go of the things your can't change and change the things you can. How do you know the difference?

Most worries are self-made. We worry about what "might" happen, about the "what-if's" we create in our mind. What if people don't like me. What if I'm not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, etc.?

These thoughts can keep you from doing or being who you are, the real you. Some spend so much energy worrying that they make choices based on the "what-if's". If you are one of these folks you won't be your real self, or even know your real self.

Your inner critic can keep you from trying new things. And when that is the case you can end up with regrets that take over your life. When you function with accumulated regret you end up with all your gifts inside.

Everyone has gifts, or talents, things that you could do well. But that inner critic can convince you that you aren't good enough, you aren't deserving, you will fail if you try. And if you fail, you give greater weight to the belief that you can never succeed. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Listen to your self-talk. What does your inner critic tell you that gets in the way of being your most alive and actualized self? What is your relationship with worry? What might you regret later that you chose not to do because of focusing on the what-ifs?

Confront the what-ifs. Explore them. What if people don't like you? What could you do about that? What's the worst thing that could happen if they didn't like you? How would you handle that? How important is it that people like you in this situation? This is not constructive worrying.

Constructive worrying is only when it is within our control and empowers us to act. For instance, "I worry that I won't have enough money to pay for the rent.." This is within your control. You can do without something else to pay the rent. Or you can arrange with the landlord to pay half now and half later. Or you can move to something cheaper. While you may not like those choices, you at least have choices.

On the other hand, if you are worried that your landlord won't like you, no matter when you pay, there is really no way to change someone else's preferences. Can you see the difference? 

What are the "what if's" that hold you back from being your best, realistic self?

>What if I'm not good enough?
>What if I'm not ready?
>What if I am not attractive?
>What if I don't know what to say/do?

Can you turn those worries into more useful concerns? Can you just wonder instead of worry? "I wonder if I'm good enough?" Then explore what is needed for you to be good enough and realistically examine what you can do to be "good enough."


Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Price of Nice

Did you grow up being told you must be nice. Was it ingrained into your behavior to be nice to everyone all the time? 

For many this is the case, even to the point of developing the "disease to please."  People- pleasing becomes a way of life. You feel compelled to put others' needs first, over any of your own needs.

Are you the person who can never say "no" to any request? Do you try endlessly to have everyone's' approval? Do you always want to make everyone else happy?

At some point the price of being nice is too high. People may manipulate or exploit your willingness to please. You avoid conflict or confrontation or the anger of others. Relationships become a burden and your own emotional needs don't get met. This can be deadly to relationships.

Your deep fear of negative emotions sustain your need to be nice. The more you identify with being nice without being real, you become filled with nagging doubts, insecurities, and lingering fears. Anxiety becomes a constant for you. 

Unless you do something to stop this cycle of pleasing others at the cost of yourself, you will eventually "hit the proverbial wall." You will exhaust your emotional energy and may feel like giving up altogether.

The content of this post comes from a book called The Disease to Please, Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome, by Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D

You may be spending your energy "shoulding" on yourself, living by what you have absorbed that you "should" do. You may think you must always be nice and always put others before you.

If this is the case, I recommend you check Braiker's book noted above. You'll find the 21-day action plan for curing the disease to please.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

World Weary? You Are Not Alone.

All around us are images of needs, of suffering, of people shouting hate. It is on our televisions, our radios, or internet. Many of us are overwhelmed by it all and we become burned out, numb. We are experiencing something called "compassion fatigue". 

Absorbing all this info about suffering and feeling compassion for those who are suffering can be quite overwhelming. And they are replayed over and over. How many times did you watch an airplane crash into the tower of the World Trade Center?

We are deluged with images of tragedy and suffering from all over the world. Mass tragedies presented with sights and sounds , repeated over and over. Images of war, of catastrophes, natural disasters, mass shootings. And the constant barrage of hate-speech growing louder and louder adds to the emotional impact of so much pain and suffering we are exposed to. We often develop psychic numbing that allows us to  no longer feel compassion.

When we feel too much, we shut down and don't' feel anything. Then we do nothing in response to the suffering. We feel powerless over the situations that we witness. Often we just turn our backs to the world, become callous.

The remedy begins with accepting that we can't change the world, you can only change one person's world by doing what you can for that one person or one event. Letting go of that need to fix everything is the beginning. Sounds simple, but it is very difficult for those who want (must?) to change everything or everyone. Letting go and accepting that, on your own, you can't is the hard part

Practice doing something, some simple small thing, to address a situation that breaks your heart, something that makes your heart ache. Practice what you care about. 

Do little things for the people and causes around that may seem insignificant. If we each do a lot of the small things, they add up to big things. Enlist the help of others to do small things with you. People are better together, stronger.

Sometimes it takes only being present for someone who is suffering. Let them know that you care about them and you are there for them. You may want to end hunger, so volunteer to work at a food pantry or soup kitchen. Your being there is felt by those who come for food.

Or perhaps there is a cause you feel strongly about but know you can't do on your own. One of my caring projects is to do for the needy American Indians on reservations. In the fall I ask my friends to donate money so I can have back packs and school supplies for the neediest children on a reservation in South Dakota. With the help of friends I'm able to order back packs with school supplies from a wholesale company and have them delivered  directly to a person on the rez. They are always very grateful. In the winter I do the same to send items needed by the most needy elderly there. Together we are stronger.

Empathy in action is saying something; it's being there for someone; it's tangible expressions of love; it's committed for however long help is needed.

Silence in the face of suffering, however is deadly.

[Much of the content of this particular post is from the book Finding the Lost Art of Empathy by Tracy Wild.