It’s Time To Change

It’s been a while. I’m not sure why. Mostly, I just never felt like writing. I would think about you, desire to reach out, but not have anything novel to say. But, life is always changing and even a similar topic has unique nuances based on the situation in the present. We are in a new phase of our life with COVID. For the first time in 14 months, I walked into the grocery store without my mask on. I had been out of town and out of the loop for a bit and didn’t realize the regulations in my town had changed to no longer requiring masks. I have been fully vaccinated and the sign said I didn’t have to wear a mask; I was free to go without one. I did not feel good about that. It was a challenge to tell myself it was ok. I felt anxiety about it. Would I be safe? The store was nearly empty at 7 am on Memorial Day so it really wasn’t a big deal. It’s interesting how we get used to things being a certain way and when that way is changed, we don’t like it, we feel uncomfortable.

I remember tears rising when most of the produce in the grocery store was gone in March 2020. I remember the anxiety that built over our rapidly changing accessibility to freedom, groceries, and toilet paper! We had to adapt to our new way of functioning and many of us did. Now, it’s time to shift to a new place. We are adaptable; it’s called neuroplasticity. It means that our brains are capable of changing long-held beliefs and patterns. We like to say, “This is just how I am” when confronted with the idea of change. Reality is you are saying, “This is how I want to stay. I don’t want to change.”

I wonder what you are confronting today that may require some willingness to change? Is it a relationship, a job, or perhaps a circumstance? Consider the neuroplasticity of your brain. Perhaps it’s time to allow it to happen. It’s not an easy process but it can be done. If you need a resource for this check out my workbook, the Journey Forward Workbook: Daily Steps to Achieve Emotional Balance and Healthier Relationships

Categories: Acceptance, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Neuroplasticity | 2 Comments

Savor The Season

This holiday season is different in so many ways. We are being asked to limit our interactions with one another to avoid putting more pressure on our already taxed health care workers. So what do the holidays look like in this case? For me, it means decorating the house as usual and having more time at home to enjoy it. Taking time to savor the lights, the colors, the smells and the meaning of this season. It’s pondering the love of God and the gift He gave us through His son. It’s remembering that we are called to love one another. God’s gift through Jesus is a reminder to keep our judgments of others in check, to look at our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions, and put them through the filter of: is it loving? I’m not perfect at this, but I do try to live it out.

Perhaps you do not share the same beliefs as I do. What does this time of year mean to you? I’m assuming it’s something positive, in which case, ponder it. Reflect it to those around you, even if ‘those’ are limited to just a few people. Put up your decorations as usual or maybe for the first time. Sometimes even just a simple strand of white lights can brighten up our long nights. Maybe bake gingerbread cookies and notice how the fragrance lifts your spirits. Take in a slow deep breath and soak in the sights and scents around you. Exhale and notice your body relaxing, even just a little bit.

Maybe you have nothing. You can’t bake cookies, you can’t or don’t want to put up decorations. Look outside at the night sky, soak in the beauty of the stars or moon. Notice the changes of the seasons (if you have seasons!) or just notice what you see around you. Listen to the sounds. Simply notice…breathe…relax.

Savor the moments. Let them restore you.

Categories: Acceptance, awareness, holidays, self care | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving in the Midst of the Pandemic

For those of you who read my blog regularly I have no explanation for why I haven’t written a post in a long while. I just didn’t feel like it. That’s all. Some days…or months! are like that. We are all doing well, including Anna.

Thanksgiving in the US is tomorrow. Normally my family has a large gathering. This year it is not happening. I know this is the case for many others. Our plans have changed in order to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We are also trying to be mindful of the impact this pandemic is having on many medical facilities. Given all that, what can we do to honor the reality of the changes this year while still celebrating the holiday?

I think it’s helpful to be aware of what you are feeling and why. This is not new to anyone who reads this blog. I frequently write about the importance of awareness: knowing what you are thinking as well as what you feel physically and emotionally. Stuffing our feelings inside does not taste nearly as good as the stuffing we shove inside a turkey! It might make the moment easier but in the long run you are setting yourself up for some kind of unhealthy leakage or explosion. I know this first hand 😉

So start by honoring your true experience but not letting it dominate you. You notice what you are thinking and feeling. You find the parts of your thinking that are based on made up stories or predictions i.e., “We’ll never have another family gathering!”, “Thanksgiving is ruined forever!”, “This pandemic is never going to end!” Those predictions could come true but we don’t know for certain. All we know right now is it is safest to limit our gatherings, our usual Thanksgiving traditions will need to be altered, and we are living in the midst of a pandemic. Keep your thoughts reigned in to what is true. The truth is painful enough for us. We certainly don’t do ourselves any good by adding the emotionally crushing predictions.

Next, consider what you are grateful for. When the pilgrims celebrated their first harvest celebration, they had already endured tremendous hardship, illness, and loss. Sometimes the less we have, the more grateful we can become. The little things begin to take on more meaning. Many of us have a roof over our head, food to eat, and technology that allows face to face communication. We can step back and be grateful for those. We can look around us, at nature, the sky, sun, moon and starts and marvel at their beauty. Take a moment, breathe as deeply and slowly as you can, and soak in the beauty…the gratefulness. Let this moment bathe you and nourish your soul. Carry it with you and share it with others.

Categories: Acceptance, awareness, COVID-19, emotions, Growth, holidays, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery | Tags: | 4 Comments

You Always Have A Choice

Some might disagree with my title. That’s OK. I believe no matter what is happening to or around us, we can choose how we will respond. As we enter into a Presidential election here in the States, it’s easy to allow other’s words or actions dictate our words and actions. You have more power than that.

I like to start with breathing. Slow your breathing down. Let your exhale be longer than your inhale for a few breath cycles. Begin to notice what you are feeling emotionally and physically. Notice your thoughts. Allow the situation to just “be” without having to judge the situation or act on it. Just pause, breathe, and notice.

After a few minutes, consider if there is any action you still want to take. Standing up for something you believe in is healthy but not if it is meant to be intentionally hurtful to another. That’s retaliation. I generally don’t think retaliation comes from a centered, grounded place inside. I think of it as a reactionary way to hurt another because you believe they hurt you. If it’s retaliatory, go back through the breathing, non-judgmental, non-reactive, just be with it place. Give it some time. Perhaps you will change your mind and find a healthier step you choose to take.

Categories: Acceptance, awareness, emotions, Growth, integration, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, Relationships | 1 Comment

Empathy vs Sympathy

This video, by Brene Brown is a quick and creative guide to how you can best show up for a friend in need. Click here and check it out!

Categories: Self-Help | 2 Comments

Breathe

Pause for just a moment to take a breath. Make it as deep and slow as you can without feeling pressure to go beyond what you are capable of. Notice what it feels like to breathe, the sensation of breath coming in. Notice your body expanding as you inhale. Now exhale everything out and notice what that feels like for you physically.

Take another deep slow breath, noticing what that’s like. As you exhale allow your shoulders to relax. Notice other areas of your body that are tense and imagine letting the tension go with your exhale.

Take one more breath in and out repeating the steps above. Take this moment with you as you go about your day. Repeat as necessary 🙂

Categories: awareness, Growth, Healing, Recovery, self care | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A Feeling Is Not Necessarily Reality

Our feelings about situations or relationships can be misleading yet we often base our understanding of reality on a feeling we have. Shift your thinking to the data. Does it prove your feeling is right or does the data offer up a shadow of doubt? If you feel your friend doesn’t like you ask yourself why. What tells you your friend doesn’t like you? Is it because she hasn’t called in awhile? Do you know why she hasn’t called? Probably not. You are likely starting to build a case for your feeling but it’s based on assumptions and skewed data in an unwise attempt to prove your theory. Be very careful how you read into information. Step back and take on a neutral stance. Then sort through the data. Also, it helps to contact those involved, in this case the friend, and ask. We have a tendency to create stories without checking our facts.

Categories: awareness, Growth, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, Self-Help | Leave a comment

Peace

For some it seems elusive. I find it at times and at others lose it. It seems peace is connected to a choice we make about how we look at our circumstances. When Anna was waiting for her first transplant I struggled to find peace. I didn’t like not living at home and being away from all things familiar including people. I didn’t like the unpredictable nature of the transplant world, every day wondering if it would be the day we got the call for available lungs. I didn’t have a lot of peace.

By Anna’s second transplant I learned a few things. The main difference was being at peace with whatever was happening. I learned to find contentment in the space of the unpredictable and unfamiliar. Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament of the Bible, spoke of learning to be content in the midst of hardships. His were a lot more intense than mine but the concept of finding peace in any and every situation is accessible to all of us.

It is a choice to breathe and relax. To look for glimmers of sunshine in the midst of dark circumstances or simply be at peace right where you are. Life is filled with discomfort. Acknowledge yours, give space to grieve, be angry or sad. Then take a few slow breaths and remind yourself you can get through this a breath at a time. You can choose to hang on to icky emotions or let them go (for now, they will likely come back but you’ll deal with them when they show up again). You can choose to do something that fills your soul in the midst of the challenge (as simple as looking at a flower, the sky, a color you like, remembering a pleasant time or place). You can even follow the gentle prompt of my online yoga friend, Yoga with Adriene, turn the corners of your mouth up.

I understand it can be hard to find peace, but I also know it’s possible. Choose peace 🙂

Categories: Self-Help | Leave a comment

Anna Update

I can’t remember when I last posted about Anna so I figured it’s time to write about her. She and her sweet dog are here in Colorado living with me and my husband. She is doing better now than she has in a long time. Her recovery from this second lung transplant was harder than her last but the upside is she didn’t get cancer this time (let’s hope it stays that way!). So far, she is rejection and infection free. She is gaining weight and has not used her gj-tube (a port on her abdomen to put formula into her stomach) in a few months. That alone is a good sign.

She just started taking Trikafta, the new breakthrough medication for cystic fibrosis. The hope is it will correct what cf screws up which should mean fewer sinus, digestive, and pancreatic issues for Anna. It won’t do too much for her lungs since they have the dna of the donor and don’t have cf but it should help her body to be overall healthier which should translate into a longer life. We hope so!

Although Anna is still living at home (rarely the goal of an almost 29 year old!), she is getting closer to one day being on her own again. Being physically able to work enough to support herself is a challenge right now. She continues to teach English online and has added a new venture. She is now a Pampered Chef consultant! Needless to say, I am beginning to acquire a bunch of kitchen products. 😉 Anna is, too! It warms my heart to see her enthusiasm for the products and for her customers. Since everything is being done online anyone can participate. If you’re interested in hosting a party or buying products to make cooking more enjoyable, contact Anna through her Pampered Chef Site.

For me, it feels relaxing to be on this side of her second transplant journey. We are home, there’s more predictability (not that any of us really know what’s going to happen but I think you know what I mean), and I’m not living in the is-she-going-to-make-it space. COVID hasn’t posed as big of an issue as you might think. It does make it more difficult for Anna to work but she is figuring out things she can do that minimize her contact with people. We are well-versed in virus-fighting protocols and doing our best to keep viruses and bacteria out of our home. So far, we’re all doing well. I hope you are, too!

Categories: Anna the lemon | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Thoughts Keeping You Awake?

Having trouble sleeping? Are thoughts running around your mind and keeping you awake? One technique I find helpful is reciting verses in my mind. Perhaps you don’t read the Bible but you know some positive statements. You could recite those. You’ll need to put reins on your mind to keep it focused on reciting which helps you stop thinking about the things that are keeping you from sleeping. Before long you will just drift off to sleep. If you wake up during the night, just do the same thing again.

The more air time you give to thoughts that keep you from sleeping, the worse it gets. We train ourselves to ruminate by doing it again and again. Notice it, stop and switch to reciting. Try it tonight and see what happens.

Categories: awareness, Recovery, Self-Help | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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