Reflections from Uganda

two-giraffes-at-sunset-copy.jpgI just returned from two weeks in Uganda. I was there with Azmera, an organization that puts on retreats for women who serve overseas. One theme that kept rising again and again was the belief that negative thoughts of oneself needed to be removed by God. If the negative patterns/thoughts remained even after fervent prayer, God was choosing not to heal.

Our negative thoughts/beliefs/patterns are usually the result of neural pathways we have developed over the course of our lives. The antidote is not miraculous healing, although that is totally possible, I have yet to see it happen. It would be like getting a diagnosis of obesity due to unhealthy habits and praying to God to remove the extra weight. Each day the weight remains seems to be the message you are not going to be “healed” of your obesity. It is wise to seek God’s help but you must also do some of the heavy lifting, in this case perhaps literally through increased exercise, also by changing your eating habits to meet the nutritional needs of your body but not indulging in all the wants (unhealthy food, too much food, the wrong kind of food for your body…).

I am an advocate of taking control of our thoughts through awareness and intentionally changing the way we think. I know this approach works because I have changed my own neural pathways. I’m not perfect at it and at times slip back into old patterns. I have also experienced the freedom when I make wiser choices around my thoughts. I sometimes feel less-than or inferior to others. If I let those thoughts take hold and go unchecked I can spiral into depression and believing I am useless compared to others. This is not true! It’s a lie! I have value and worth on this planet. I’m not the expert in all things and there are many who are more effective in the very same work I do but that’s ok. There’s plenty of room for all of us. The way I communicate, the understandings I have connect with some people and that’s good enough. I don’t need to be the end all. If one person is affected positively by my blog posts, books, sessions, etc., I am content. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake.

I want to encourage you to remember, we don’t change by praying or even just imaging ourselves as more healthy. We change because we do the hard work of living intentionally, understanding why we do what we do, sharing our story with others who compassionately love us where we are at, and taking the conscious steps necessary to create new and healthy neural pathways. God wants us to invite Him into the process, but I believe He wants us to do our part.

Categories: Acceptance, awareness, Depression, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, neural pathways, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tips From The Journey Forward Workbook: Neural Pathways

cover againTo get to this blog, you may have turned on your computer or picked up your phone, took the steps to get onto Facebook and perused people’s posts. You did most of this, if not all, without really thinking about what you were doing. That’s an example of a neural pathway. Neural pathways are these cool connections in your brain that get developed over time as you are exposed more and more to a stimulus and response. They can be for knowledge, like cat is spelled C-A-T or ‘gato’ is the Spanish word for cat. They can be for behaviors, like when you criticize me I get defensive.

It takes a lot of repetition for a neural pathway to become like a default setting: something you do without needing to consciously think about it. It’s a lot like cutting a new path in the rainforest. It takes a long time and a lot of work for a path to be well worn and easy to find. Anytime you want to change a behavior or learn something new, you will have to be very intentional about it for awhile. We get frustrated when we are trying to change because we keep doing the old unwanted behavior. Be gentle with yourself. Remember it takes time to cut a new path in the rainforest. 🙂

To learn more, check out the Journey Forward Workbook. Another option is the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon on my website: Journey Forward for Life. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button.

Categories: Growth, Journey Forward Workbook, neural pathways, Self-Help | Leave a comment

Tips From The Journey Forward Workbook: Community

cover againSome of us like to live in solitude. It’s easier. Unfortunately easier isn’t always best.  I know this all too well. I have a strong pull toward independence and isolation. I prefer to do things alone and keep to myself. Sadly, this is also a primary reason I got involved in an affair about nine years ago. There wasn’t just one reason for the choices I made, but isolation from true community was one of them. Ironically, I was around more people than I am now but they only knew the surface parts of me. The parts I was comfortable sharing. The parts that got involved in an affair were not being revealed to others…bad choices are conceived in darkness.

Today, I know it’s critical that I share the deepest darkest parts of me with people who are my cheerleaders and advisors. These are people in my Inner Circle. I know my Inner Circle people well and they know me. I can trust them with anything. Some people are in the Middle Zone. I am getting to know them and determining whether or not they are Inner Circle people. Some are in the Periphery. It’s the safest place for me to keep them because they are either too distant for me to deeply connect with or they have proven themselves untrustworthy.

How about you? Who are the people in your circles? If you don’t have any Inner Circle friends, consider taking steps to change that. Healthy community is crucial for our growth!

To learn more, check out the Journey Forward Workbook. Another option is the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon on my website. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button.

Categories: Journey Forward Workbook, Relationships, Self-Help | 2 Comments

Tips From The Journey Forward Workbook: Community

Some of us like to live in solitude. It’s easier. Unfortunately easier isn’t always best.  I know this all too well. I have a strong pull toward independence and isolation. I prefer to do things alone and keep to myself. Sadly, this is also a primary reason I got involved in an affair about nine years ago. There wasn’t just one reason for the choices I made, but isolation from true community was one of them. Ironically, I was around more people than I am now but they only knew the surface parts of me. The parts I was comfortable sharing. The parts that got involved in an affair were not being revealed to others…bad choices are conceived in darkness.

Today, I know it’s critical that I share the deepest darkest parts of me with people who are my cheerleaders and advisors. These are people in my Inner Circle. I know my Inner Circle people well and they know me. I can trust them with anything. Some people are in the Middle Zone. I am getting to know them and determining whether or not they are Inner Circle people. Some are in the Periphery. It’s the safest place for me to keep them because they are either too distant for me to deeply connect with or they have proven themselves untrustworthy.

How about you? Who are the people in your circles? If you don’t have any Inner Circle friends, consider taking steps to change that. Healthy community is crucial for our growth!

To learn more, check out the Journey Forward Workbook. Another option is the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon on my website: Journey Forward for Life. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button.

Categories: Journey Forward Workbook, Relationships, Self-Help | Leave a comment

Tips From The Journey Forward Workbook: Self Care

cover againSelf care is a critical practice most of us long to enact but few of us have the time…at least that’s what we say. Reality is, you actually don’t have the time not to use self care. Without self care, you sabotage and run yourself into the ground. Self care is something you do that restores you physically, mentally and spiritually. Not all self care activities address all areas of need, but some do. Not to be missed are the basics like adequate rest, nourishing food, basic hygiene, shelter, clothing and exercise. Once those are met, it’s important to add in at least a few minutes a day of additional self care. Think through activities that you enjoy, that relax you, that fill you up. Write them down and keep a running list. That way, when you’re not sure what to do you can look at what you have already discovered.

To learn more, check out the Journey Forward Workbook. Another option is the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button.

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Categories: awareness, Journey Forward Workbook, Self-Help | Leave a comment

Tips From The Journey Forward Workbook: Codependency & Boundaries

cover againCodependency and boundaries go together like exhaustion and sleep. Essentially, boundaries are the antidote to codependency. Codependency has many nuances but in a nutshell it is thinking for others. If you are codependent it could be that you think you know what others want from you and function in a way to get their approval. It may be that you rescue, save or solve for others, believing it’s out of the kindness of your heart, but deep down it’s your way of gaining a sense of purpose or validation. Most people, if not all, have some codependent traits.

When it comes to boundaries, the most obvious is your skin. You are responsible for everything from the outermost layer of your skin, in. Our skin literally separates us from others. You are not responsible for others, unless they are incapable of caring for themselves, for instance, your three year old child but not your 30 year old! Boundaries also clarify what you like and don’t like. You develop a clear sense of who you are. This clear understanding is not based on what others want from you (or what you think they might want from you) but on what you want or think or agree with or…

Use your Awareness skills to notice when you are being codependent and begin to define where you begin and end.

To learn more, check out the Journey Forward Workbook. Another option is the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon on my website: Journey Forward for Life. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button.

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Categories: Boundaries, co-dependency, Journey Forward Workbook, Self-Help | Leave a comment

Tips From The Journey Forward Workbook: Processing Thoughts & Emotions

When we are willing to take the time to process through our emotions and thoughts, we give ourselves a gift. It’s the gift of time before reacting. So often we react instantaneously without slowing down and thinking through what’s going on within ourselves. The very first step in processing thoughts and emotions is from Tip #1: Awareness. You have to know what you are feeling and thinking in order to process them.

The process is fairly basic. Identify your thoughts and emotions. Understand how they are connected. Put your thoughts through the fact-checker filter. If it’s not based on fact and is a created story, it’s generally best to let go of the thought. If the thought is based in truth and reality, allow yourself to feel the accompanying emotion for a time. Find out where you have some responsibility or power regarding the situation and take appropriate action (keep it healthy, legal and wise!). If there’s not much you can do, enact self care (again, keep it healthy, legal and wise!).

To learn more, check out the Journey Forward Workbook. Another option is the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon on my website: Journey Forward for Life. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button.

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Categories: Journey Forward Workbook, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Self-Help | Leave a comment

Tips From The Journey Forward Workbook: Awareness

Awareness is the foundation to any change you want to make. Focusing your attention on your mind and body will help you become aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it. When you understand what you are doing, saying, not doing, or not saying, you have a much better chance at actually changing.

Awareness involves giving attention to what you are thinking, emotions you are feeling and body sensations you are experiencing, without judgment. As you notice a thought, let’s say it’s anger, your role is not to judge the anger or tell yourself you shouldn’t be angry.  If you feel tension in your lower back, stay away from reprimanding yourself for not exercising. If you are thinking your boss is an idiot, stay away from shaming yourself. At the awareness phase, it’s all about noticing, just noticing. Awareness without judgment. In the change process, there’s a place for deciding what you want to do about your thought, emotion or body sensation, but it’s not in the awareness phase.

Begin taking time each day simply to notice yourself. Notice your thoughts, emotions and body sensations without judgement. For some, writing these observations down is helpful, for others it’s not. Do what works for you. The most important piece is that you notice and grow in your awareness of yourself.

I’m super excited (emotion) about a new video series I have created (thought). I am aware of a bubbly feeling in my body (body sensation).  It’s the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon on my website: Journey Forward for Life. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button

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Categories: awareness, Journey Forward Workbook, Self-Help | Leave a comment

Detach From The Outcome

That was my theme of learning for 2018. As I look back over the year, that concept popped up repeatedly and in completely different arenas. I can’t say I was always successful at detaching from how things turned out, but I made progress.

Detaching from the outcome does not mean I emotionally detach from my life or shut down from feeling what I am experiencing. It does not mean I don’t care if what I do is any good. I do care about what I am doing and how well I am doing it. I put effort into my work. I just don’t stress out about the results.

This is a fine line to walk, being conscientious but not concerned. It’s easy to slip onto one side or the other, careless or anxious. When I am fully in the detached place, I feel freedom from the pressures of other’s expectations, even my own perfectionism (which is unattainable). In that freedom, I have more energy and creativity.

I am curious about two things. 1) As you look back over 2018, what themes of learning rise for you? 2) How are you doing with detaching from the outcome?

Categories: Acceptance, co-dependency, Growth, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: | Leave a comment

Living In The Moment

When we can’t see what’s ahead

This is not an unusual topic for me to write about. It tends to come up when I’m confronted with a new development in my daughter’s journey. Living in the moment is a way to live all the time but seems to be challenged when her health takes a dive as it did a few weeks ago. After learning her lung functions dropped significantly, she eventually heard the plan. Five days of rATG in Duke Hospital (done), then four weeks of a once a week infusion of Rituxan (a chemo drug that wipes out b-cells, the part of her immune system that is attacking her lungs). After that she will receive another bronchoscopy to determine if the rejection has been stalled. If not, she will do Photopheresis (kind of like dialysis) three days a week for a few months.

This week she and I travelled to Duke for her first infusion of Rituxan. Our hope is for her infusions to be moved to Colorado to avoid the cost of traveling back and forth every week. If it wasn’t around the holidays we might consider just staying there for the month. For Anna, this means a medical leave from her job and moving back to Colorado for now. She really enjoys her job and loves living independently in Phoenix so this is a tough transition for her. She’s not sure when she will be able to return to work. We don’t even know yet if her second Rituxan treatment next week will be at Duke or in Colorado. It’s a lot of “what do I do?” for Anna (and a bit of that for me as I figure out if I’ll be in NC next week or CO).

Ever been there? You know that place where some decisions need to be made but you don’t have all the information you need yet? For instance, Anna needed to give the rental office of her apartment 60 days notice to get out of her lease. She was planning on staying where she is and a new roommate was going to join her (her current roommate just moved out). Because of the unpredictable state she is in she had to tell the new roommate she couldn’t commit to a lease, so the new roommate is not going to be joining Anna. This is totally understandable. That decision had to be made but it was a tough one because if all goes well, Anna may only need the four weeks of Rituxan and then be stable for awhile, maybe even a year which would mean she could stay in Phoenix with the new roommate in the same apartment. So simple, yet too many unknowns to commit to that.

Her decision has been to end her lease, so she has until February 13. The good news is this gives her some time so she doesn’t have to move completely to Colorado, just for a few weeks while she deals with the Rituxan treatments. She doesn’t have the stamina to totally care for herself and work, so being in CO where she has four parents and two siblings to help her out is incredibly relieving. She is dealing with decisions a step at a time. Her decisions have to made on the knowledge she has in the moment, like giving up her lease and her roommate.

This can be a frustrating situation for all of us, right? When you have to make a decision but you don’t have all the information the future holds in the present. That’s just how it is. Part of our journey as humans on this earth is learning to accept those limitations and make the best decision we can in the moment with the knowledge we have at the time. When the future becomes the present and we beat ourselves up with, “If I had known what would happen, I would have made a different decision” we are being cruel to ourselves. The point is, we can’t know the future. Have compassion on yourself and do what you can with the knowledge you have in the moment. 🙂

 

Categories: Acceptance, Anna the lemon, Growth, Self-Help | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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