Believe this

I was reading something this morning, and as usual there was a portion of the text which had me thinking about something different, and so off I went to my dear friend Google, and ended up at the picture above.

Of late, difficult situations seem to abound – and not just for me!
There are so many things going wrong and so many tragedies around here, and not just through losing people to Covid.

People are changing, as things are changing. Their hearts and attitudes are changing – and not always for the better. And it can be really hard to see/experience.
I keep thinking of the saying/concept : You are only responsible for YOU – your choices, your attitude! You can’t take responsibility for them, or allow them to affect you!
And yet, when it happens in ‘close proximity’, it can be tough to remember that – to not take things personally or be hurt by what is said or done.
Especially when you have a soft heart!

And so it becomes one of those things in life where I think that maybe we should train our brains and then operate from a place of ‘what we know, not what we feel’. So we’re still allowed to feel (because bottling up emotions is never good for anyone!), but we can’t allow those feelings to affect our lives in a way that stops us in our tracks, or prevents us from being the person we were created to be. Well, that’s what I think for me anyway πŸ˜›

I have grown into ( and I am still growing) and become the woman I am for a reason. Maybe even for such a time as this.
I know who I am – and in the words of a dear friend : it works for me!
Who I am is not only of benefit to some in so many ways (even though it irritates others a lot πŸ˜› ), but it is also of great benefit to me, because in times of great loss and fear, I still have peace and joy, and am able to continue on with encouraging and assisting others.

It is NOT EASY to be in difficult situations.
But today’s exercise for my brain training is to CHOOSE to continue to believe that somewhere in these difficult situations there truly is something of value – and to recognise all that I have that is valuable to be grateful for!

Gone Looking! πŸ˜‰

referring time…

I have referred, more than once, to posts written by Wic, at Letters To Pogue.

It’s not just because sometimes I find them amusing (and he shares some good music every now and then), or because they are well written (and for the large part, well researched) but also because most of the time I find them to be incredibly thought provoking. And I guess I am a girl who likes to think – especially if it sometimes means being able to avoid doing the dishes πŸ˜›

Now… I have to say… unfortunately there are times where doing the dishes becomes a ‘priority’. And usually it’s because I open the cupboard and there isn’t a single plate to use – only to discover, after washing and packing away, that half the dishes are still missing… and can usually be found in my teenage daughters bedroom! FORK! No, I am not swearing… just reiterating that I also usually find where all my forks have gone too! πŸ˜›
Anyway…
So dishes become a ‘priority’ – but not one by choice, more out of necessity. Which I guess turns them into a commitment/responsibility?
Please stay with me here… the point is coming – like the full fork drawer πŸ˜›

Wic offers up a ‘Monday Musing’ post which is always worth checking out πŸ˜‰ Yesterday’s post was definitely worth ME reading. (Might be helpful to the rest of the world out there too.)

I am pretty sure it was a personal dig at me πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜› Have you ever done that? Identified so much with something that you stop and go, ”hey, should I be offended? I’m sure they mean me!” I am laughing here, because it’s ridiculous! But is it? Here’s the thing – sometimes we identify with something so much because it was exactly what we needed to ‘hear’… and perhaps there are changes we need to make. And some are more drastic than others – and not so pleasant. In this case (and maybe I missed the point – or maybe it is just different for me – or maybe my mind is still processing and avoiding dishes πŸ˜› ) it was very much an ‘adjust your thought pattern and watch what you say and how you say it’ moment.

I am not particularly fond of the word ‘priority’. It’s defined as ‘the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important than others’. It’s no wonder so many people get offended by it!

And it’s no wonder we are often made to feel guilty and ashamed of what we have ‘chosen’ to do with our time.

By the same token, perhaps we also need to practice a little more understanding and compassion with others regarding theirs?

Not everyone who says to us, ”Sorry, I can’t, I just don’t have time”, is trying to tell us that we have no importance in their lives.
Personally? I would prefer that they keep their job, or give their attention to their children/husband, or spend some time refilling their soul.
It doesn’t mean that I am not important to them, or that I have ‘less value’ in their life. It just means that they have other commitments and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled.

Time is also the one thing we can never get back once it has gone. And I was reminded that I personally need to remember to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ when someone shares a piece of theirs with me. So a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my own ‘personal musings’- sorry, Wic πŸ˜‰

So those are just my thoughts on that… and in closing, I found this, which was very appropriate πŸ˜›

And in case you are wondering… I have TWO dogs πŸ˜›

my 4 ways to manage my stress

The stress management list is endless. And I find it to be yet another one of those lists with copious access to tools and ways, but they don’t all work – well, not for me, anyway.
The ones that help me may not necessarily help you. Why? Once again, it’s that necessity to acknowledge that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT!

The 4 ways I am going to list here are things that work FOR ME. You’ve probably heard them before, but here’s a refresher anyway πŸ˜‰
And if you’ve never tried them, then it might be worth doing so πŸ˜‰
It works the same as it does with my kids πŸ˜› I always say : ”Don’t tell me you can’t do it, or don’t like it, if you’ve never tried it.” πŸ˜‰

You know the saying, ”Dance like no one is watching”? Well, I take it one step further, and I also laugh like everyone is watching me dance πŸ˜›
I’m not a great dancer. The last time I did ‘official dancing’ was when I went into high school, and I was still taking ballet lessons. I am still sort of able to co-ordinate though, and so if you teach me a dance, I can usually manage it. But there are just some moves my body can’t do. I’ve had to accept that… which is frustrating for my dancing daughter who finds it all ‘so easy’. I think she sometimes forgets I am not 16 anymore πŸ˜›
But even as I am getting older, I have found that in moments of severe stress, if a lively dance number (yes, ‘the kids of today’ have awful taste in lyrics, but there’s normally a great beat πŸ˜‰ ) busting a move (without busting my back πŸ˜› ) usually reduces that stress almost instantly πŸ˜‰
The problem doesn’t go away, but after a couple of songs, I am definitely in a happier place and better able to tackle it.

Fresh air and sunshine can be tough when you don’t see the sun all that much. And I guess that with all the pollution in the air these days, ‘fresh’ air is a little less likely. But I think you know what I mean.
Here’s what I have found : when I am feeling severely stressed, sometimes ‘stepping away’, even just for a few minutes, can be very beneficial. Except that for me, I need to be aware of ‘where’ I am stepping to. Closing myself in my bedroom with the curtains drawn just brings on more negative emotions, and pretty much only serves to increase my stress levels.
So while some of us may like the idea of a good old door slam (I have a teenage daughter – just a tip real quick : she hasn’t slammed the door since the time I told her ‘next time you do that I am taking it off its hinges and you won’t have a bedroom door’- and showed her the screwdriver I have to prove that I could πŸ˜› ) closing ourselves off completely, without sufficient air and light, can cause more problems than our initial intention of reducing our stress.

A few years ago, I watched an incredible short video, to motivate students in order to be able to ‘have the best for their future’. It was really fantastic, and there were plenty things in there that I found beneficial. But there was one part that had me shaking my head. He advocated for pulling all-nighters, claiming that ‘if you want it bad enough, you will sacrifice sleep for it’. My reply, in my head, was this : what’s the point of getting it if you won’t be able to enjoy it, or it ends up making you physically ill? Because THAT’S ME!
Extensive medical research shows that as adults, we should be getting 7 – 9 hours sleep a night. I wish this was possible, every night. Realistically, it isn’t. However….
Something I AM VERY disciplined on is my bedtime (much to most people’s horror πŸ˜› ) … and ensuring that I get at least 7 hours sleep a night.
I know myself, and I do not respond well to ‘lack of sleep’. Not. At. All.
But I also know many people, personally, who manage to function quite successfully on just 4 hours a night.
We need to make sure that we get enough sleep – the amount that is right for US – and make a conscious effort to make it happen! Because being well-rested definitely helps when stress comes along.
As does having moments when we unplug! Achieving the ‘unplugging for a day’ thing is really difficult in today’s world. But it also depends on your definition of ‘unplugging’. For me? It means this :
Not ignoring messages, but responding with something like, ”Can we talk tomorrow, please? I just really need today to focus on some other things. I’m fine, promise! I’ll message you in the morning.”
Staying off social media – and if there is something I really need to look up, then that is all I will go and do. Even though there is a lot of inspirational and motivational encouragement that awaits me there, it is too easy to get caught up in all the ‘other stuff’, and so I choose to just try and avoid it completely.
Choosing what I do with my time on that day – there are some commitments and responsibilities that cannot be adjusted, and so I have to fulfill those obligations. But for the rest of the time? Do my soul and mind need extra attention? Then I’ll read something to feed them good things, and help them grow. Am I feeling like I am on a soul/mind overload? Well then, mindless whatever on Netflix will do.
Getting enough sleep and unplugging are both doable – you just need to find what works for you, and the ways to make it happen.

What makes you amazing? When stress rears its ugly head, I find that one of the first things I feel is ‘out of control’. This could be because it usually happens when I actually am – when something has happened, and I have no control over it. When I am in a situation where I want to be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem, but in order for that to happen, the other person (or the situation) needs to take part and be involved in some way (or change).
And one of my stress responses is to ‘feel failure‘, and pretty much ‘run myself down’- begin to feel inadequate and unworthy and incapable.
It really helps me to ‘take a moment’. (And if there is a mirror nearby, I use it. And my kids will be heard saying, ”Mom’s talking to herself again”! πŸ˜› )
Many times, I am NOT feeling it. But I do it, and say it, anyway. Three things. Just three things about me that are ‘good’. Not necessarily applicable to the situation – but three positive qualities, nevertheless.
To be honest, some days it’s so difficult that by the time I have named them, the stressful situation has actually been forgotten πŸ˜›
Again, this little thing that I do doesn’t change the situation – whatever is ‘stressing me out’ doesn’t magically disappear. But it does serve to remind me that I still have worth – I still have strength and positive attributes – yes, this will slow me down, but I’m still okay. I have to say that this one is my absolute favourite – it has benefitted me the last few years in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.
I’ll say it again – I don’t always FEEL it when I say it. And it is VERY far from easy, especially when I am stressed. But the more I have been doing it, and saying it, the more I am reaping the benefits of it πŸ˜‰

There are other techniques I have discovered over the years that also help me. But these are by far my top four. So, in short :

And just for fun, I’ll share a little statement I saw on Facebook recently, which made me laugh out loud.

”Don’t forget to drink water and get sun. You’re basically a house plant, with complicated emotions.” πŸ˜›

effort to grow

Last night I was reminded of the lesson of the butterfly. I had read the story many years ago, but somehow it had got lost in the back of my mind somewhere. It was a story written by Paulo Coelho :

A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.
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The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.
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The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shrivelled wings, incapable of flight.
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What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.
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Sometimes, a little extra effort is precisely what prepares us for the next obstacle to be faced. Anyone who refuses to make that effort, or gets the wrong sort of help, is left unprepared to fight the next battle and never manages to fly off to their destiny.
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(Adapted from a story sent in by Sonaira D’Avila)

In life, we are so often presented with situations and circumstances that restrict us. The things that we face sometimes require great physical and mental effort on our parts to break free from those restrictions, and it’s exhausting!

I know that for me, sometimes those things come as a result of my own choices, based on a particular set of circumstances. Those times I have bruised shins from kicking myself πŸ˜›

Other times, they seem to come out of nowhere!

There was a time that I looked at the struggle, conceded defeat and wallowed in my misery, asking myself over and over, “Why me?”. I never learnt anything, and it affected who I was as a person in a negative way. Admittedly, it was easier to be miserable about it because then I didn’t have to own anything. Ownership requires great responsibility, and I had enough responsibilities as far as I was concerned!

An attitude adjustment was needed, but denial was so much more comfortable. And soon the heart of the problem, became a problem with my heart.

I can’t pin point an exact moment when my attitude shifted. But I can tell you that I am very glad it did, in fact, shift. Heads rolled….well, mine did πŸ˜›

It wasn’t just a case of making better choices despite the circumstances, it was having a whole new attitude with regards to the things that seemed to hit me out of nowhere!
The activation of positive changes in my life happened when I started to view each struggle as a ‘learning curve’. When things happened (as they so often do) I was more inclined to pause and reflect – behaving like a raging bull (or cow, since I am female πŸ˜› ) always had such negative results!

Viewing the obstacles in a different light inspired growth within me (I’ve also grown on the outside, but that’s just because I’m getting older, and I like food πŸ˜› )

I won’t lie. Growth and change hurts a lot of the time. (Ask my jeans πŸ˜› ) The lessons can sometimes be painful. It’s NOT the easy way out and doesn’t happen overnight. But as with the butterfly, with the extra time and effort, we can not only get over the hurdle, but gain wisdom for the next hurdle that’s going to come our way – and it will!

In the growing, I have learnt that the important things of life WILL come to me
…and that they’re not things at all!

I’ve become more compassionate – more understanding towards those around me. I’ve become a little wiser (and not just because I am getting older πŸ˜‰ ) and I am more inclined to think things through in an effort to eliminate hurting others.
My thought patterns have changed and I no longer want to know ‘why me’ – these days it’s more like ‘why NOT me?’- because I realise that ‘this thing’ has happened to inspire growth within me. Somewhere there is a lesson I need to learn. Somewhere there is a piece of my heart that needs changing.

For me, at the stage of life that I find myself in, the most important thing of all is that all the pain, and misery, and growing, makes me empathetic to so many situations that other people find themselves in. And people matter. Parts of my story help others.

And that is the key to the essence of me. πŸ˜‰

But here’s a shocking little piece of info for you : I don’t always get it right! There are moments where I fail miserably to do some or all of the above. But that is the only failure. Because I try again.

There are times where the negative emotions resurface, and I need to forgive myself for that, and remind myself of how far I have come. I need to remember that there is a bigger picture – pick up my backpack and push through the thorny brush on my journey. I need to stop being so hard on myself and give myself a break – growing pains aren’t easy. Not sure who said it, but I think about it often πŸ˜‰ : If life was meant to be easy it wouldn’t have started with something called labor!

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