Saying No is Uncomfortable but Necessary

I sit this morning in the coffee shop welcoming just a few more minutes of lingered time before I leave to conquer my day…. caffeinated. Today, I chose the largest size of coffee because well, it’s just that kind of day.

This morning began early with a phone call. This phone call presented me with the opportunity to be anxious or to trust. I am continuing to learn to trust.

Last night, I experienced the tug of war within myself. It is so easy to slip back into anxiety. There is something oddly comforting about anxiety because it has been a familiar companion much of my life. It is a battle within to  tell myself I am not doing anxiety, that I am surrendering it all to God to trust Him. 

When anxiety wants to strike, I remember all the times God has protected me and walked with me through this journey. I listen to music, I pray, and I breathe calmly. I cling to the belief that my God is greater than anxiety. 

Still, saying “no” to anxiety is uncomfortable. It should be freeing, but it is a struggle of retraining my mind to think and respond differently. I am making progress, but it is a journey. It is uncomfortable but necessary.

Growth is painful but exciting. One breath at a time.

Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. In one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs Oh My Soul… there’s a place where fear has to face the God you know.  I find that encouraging.

God is greater than anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety, what encourages you?

I’m a Mess…

“I’m a mess.”

She uttered those words as though something was wrong with her. I looked at the woman standing beside me and reassured her that in someway or another, we are all a mess.

Everyone is fighting a battle of some sort.

There is a song by Citizen Way called When I’m With You….  
These are the things that I need to pray cause I can’t find peace any other way. I’m a mess underneath and I’m just too scared to show it. Everything’s not fine and I’m not okay.. 

The song goes on to say that when he is with Christ, then his real person can break through .

This song has been a huge source of comfort for me. The truth is, we are all fighting our own battles. 

The other night while playing games, my son was beating his dad and me in an intense game of Spot It. He was laughing and then said, “I need a day to feel okay and today ain’t that day.” Granted, this was in the context of losing his winning streak, but his quote has been on my mind a lot.

A lot of days, we don’t always feel okay. Whether it is worry, stress, illness, or anything that threatens to steal our joy, we certainly have a lot of reasons to not feel okay.

Thankfully, God’s love and peace and joy in our life is not dependent upon our circumstances. It takes trust to say, Okay, God, I don’t feel okay, this doesn’t feel okay, but I am going to trust You

This is where I am.. learning day by day, moment by moment, to let go of my desire to control and try to fix everything and just be okay with not being okay and trusting God instead of allowing worry and anxiety to take over in my mind.

It is a work in progress. I am a work in progress.

We are all fighting battles of some sort. We all have days when don’t feel okay. We all have days when we feel like a mess.

Trust God. Be kind to others. Listen to them for you may be the person God uses to shine some joy in his/her life. And, likewise, there are people God places in our paths to brighten our days when we don’t feel okay.

A Sense of Control

Control. Positive or negative? It all depends.

Webster dictionary defines control as the power to influence or direct people’s behaviors or the course of events.

Perfectionism and control freak closely mirror one another. When I want everything to be perfect, then I am trying to control the situation. Perfectionism, control, performance…Huge creators of anxiety for me.

Here’s what I am learning…So little is truly within my control. This realization has been freeing.

I cannot control the weather. I cannot control the actions and reactions of other people. I cannot control decisions made by the higher ups in my organization or my husband’s company. I cannot control car issues. You get the picture.

What is within my control? I can choose the way I react to challenges and difficult people. I can make choices that impact my health. I can learn to say “no” sometimes. I can choose to put God first every single day.

During my first counseling session, my counselor told me that anxiety and depression are often closely connected. I went to him for help with anxiety. I certainly was not depressed. 

Well, in the weeks that followed that session as I dealt with the busyness of the Christmas season at work and home, I began to consider that maybe I was feeling depressed. 

Depression to me feels like a sense of loss of control of everything around me. During the holidays, I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. 

With the dawning of a new year, I find that I am reflective in what I hope for this new year. In these reflections, I am acknowledging areas I have control over and those I do not. This certainly helps me with the pressures and expectations I place on myself.

A few examples…

Discovering that coffee makes me jittery and adds to my feelings of anxiety, means that I can choose to drink green tea instead.

Desiring more time with my family means I can set boundaries at work to help with time management.

Situations of conflict and tension… I can pray before I react in anger or another unhealthy emotion.

I am learning to discern between letting go of what I cannot control and feeling empowered to make choices in what I can control.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

31 Days of Gratitude: Settle 

I generally wake up early. By early, I mean before 5 a.m. Mornings are my quiet time, my creative time, my “me” time, and my devotional time.

Typically, my mind is racing through out the day of a million things that I need to do at work and home. My to do list grows faster than I can tackle it. My free time is so very limited so I sleep less so I can have this precious morning time.

The other morning, I read my devotional readings and the Bible. I had quiet time with God. I was running late that morning. I remember my son asking, “Mom, do you know how late it is?”

Yup, one of those mornings. I took him to school and headed towards work, an hour commute to mentally prepare for my day. My mind was racing unable to be calmed by the music playing on my radio.

As I drove and work became closer, I remember knowing that I needed to calm my thoughts before I approached my busy day. I grappled for the words of my devotional readings. I couldn’t remember them.

The overwhelmed, sleep deprived mind of mine was blank. Nothing. How could such powerful words I had read only hours earlier be gone already?

Immediately, I began to cry out to God as tears pooled in my eyes. 

I needed His Word. 

Settle.

That one simple word washed over my soul like the refreshing coolness of a mountain stream.

The words of my morning Scripture…

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strength, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:8-10

Settle. I love words. Some words have multiple meanings. Settle is one of those words. Yes, it can mean to end an argument or to make a decision, but it also means to quiet or to come to rest.

We often tell children to settle down. We desire for their noise and activity level to come down a few notches.

That is exactly what my mind needed to do. It needed to be quieted. It needed to come to rest in Him.

Settle… come to rest…in His tender embrace.

My mind did settle. The day was crazy, but I held onto that gift of a simple word.

Settle. 

The Problem with a Little….

I love chocolate. Repeat. I love chocolate. Most ladies I know do, too. I work in a dementia unit, and nothing seems to light up a room (besides puppies and babies) like chocolate. Chocolate is that feel good, comfort food.

Friday morning, I decided to make a quick stop before work for some chocolate. It was a long, stressful week, and in my mind, I deserved chocolate, something I have been trying to avoid due to stomach issues. I can tolerate small amounts like chocolate chips in trail mix, but when I start eating a lot, then I experience stomach pain and acne.

The problem with a little chocolate is I want more. I look for ways I can add chocolate to this or that. And when I start eating chocolate, it breaks my resolve to want to eat other things I know I should not…things not necessarily bad but things that aggravate my sensitive stomach.

So, I  must use my self-control and indulge in a little. I like the brand name…”Enjoy Life”…life is meant  to be enjoyed. So, I will enjoy my chocolate, relax, and enjoy a laid back Saturday. To tie in my themed posts on stress lately, I am taking a day today to decompress, take a deep breath, and relax. Writing at the coffee shop, movies with my son, and a little chocolate. How do you like to spend a laid back Saturday?

chocolate

Stress, Waiting, the Gut, and Skin…the Connection

It’s been two weeks since I have really been paying attention to my body and really listening to how I feel after I eat. I have been following the low reactivity chart of foods from Lyn-Genet Recitas The Plan. I plan to follow her 3 day cleanse, but I haven’t had a chance to set aside time to prepare food. The other side to this is the social aspect. In order to commit to a strict eating plan, even if only for 3 days, I can’t have any social commitments that include food. When food wasn’t a huge issue for me, I took for granted the social connection food has.

I have been eating a lot of chicken, flaxseed flatbread, Orgain smoothies, chia seed pudding, salads, broccoli, nuts, and I have found that chocolate in small quantities does not seem to aggravate me. What does seem to aggravate me is stress.

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Last week, I had another outbreak of skin issues. I blamed it on excessive chocolate and coffee a couple of times. Maybe. But, maybe it was stress. Or a combination. I believe the skin reflects the condition of my gut, and my gut is strongly influenced negatively by stress. Situations in my life right now are requiring me to wait and trust. This comes with stress.

A dear friend of mine told me I am a worrier….I don’t normally consider myself a worrier, but I realized as I was talking something through with her, I was fretting over details beyond my control. This is worry. Wake-up call for me, a much needed one. Today in my morning devotion, it spoke of waiting as being an active act of worship, not a passive thing. During waiting I have to realize that some things are out of my control. I must pray. I must trust. I must believe that His will for my life is always best. I must accept His timeline, and my timeline often do not align.

Less worry=less stress=less acne…..so I wait in trust and thanksgiving in my clearer skin. It helps to refrain from chocolate (excessive amounts). And, to use my favorite skin care combination. St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin mixed with avocado oil or olive oil and then applied  to the face does wonders.

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Waiting has lessons. Less worry, more faith.

stress verse

Stress…Learning to Live with It

I spent Friday morning at a CEU event about caregivers…taking care of ourselves as professional caregivers. The speaker LeAnn Thieman made some humorous yet sad comparisons….she said, we’d never dream of telling our patients that they couldn’t eat all day except maybe some vending machine junk at 2 pm but we do it to ourselves all the time! And, we are suffering because of it.

She shared a lot of helpful advice about caring for ourselves and taking time for ourselves.

My take-aways to tackle stress. Her suggestions and some of my own:

1. Sleep…aim for 7-8 hours a night

2. Eat healthy for my body and listen to my gut

3. Exercise…again listen to my body. Sometimes, running aggravates my body more than it helps so I walk instead. Aim for 4 days a week…3 15-minute spurts of exercise a day count!

4. Don’t be so serious…Laugh…my son is my comic relief! Last night at a family get together, we laughed so hard over old family photos. It felt so good to laugh.

5. Forgive others. Forgive myself.

6. Be positive. Think positive. Visualize. (At bedtime, I fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves on my sound machine with the visualization of myself sitting on the condo balcony like I did on vacation. Total peace.).

7. Breathe. Deeply.

8. Take daily time for quiet time and prayer.

9. Plan….a little pre-planning goes a long ways.

10. Invest in positive relationships that build you up

Stress is a natural part of life, but how we chose to handle it can make or break us. When I allow stress to overtake my life, my sleep suffers, my GI issues go crazy, my acne breaks out, and I become ill. It is then that I know I need to step back, reevaluate my situation, and get my life back in balance.

What helps you with stress?

Be still