4 Tools for Coping: How to Deal with Intense Emotions in a Healthy Manner

(Photo by  Alice Moore  on  Unsplash

(Photo by Alice Moore on Unsplash

My head was resting uncomfortably on the headrest of the car’s passenger seat. Classical music played quietly on the radio in the loud interior of a vehicle going 80 mph down the interstate. I was heading home from a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t bother putting on a podcast using the headphones which sat on the back seat. I was upset.

 

Following yet another long list of new diagnoses (is one disease not enough?) I’m faced with the long process of finding effective treatment. Which means encountering a long list of emotions.

 

I was never friendly with emotions until my medical issues started getting more intense. Now I’ve had enough practice to learn the secrets of coping. I want to share those secrets with you.

 

The first definition I found for the word ‘coping’ is:

“The top, typically sloping, course of a brick or stone wall.”

 

The second was this definition of coping as a verb:

“[To] deal effectively with something difficult.”

 

In its physical meaning, coping is a slope. A curve possessing two ends: one higher, one lower. A perfect analogy for the verb meaning of coping.

(Photo by  Katleen Vanacker  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by Katleen Vanacker on Unsplash)

 

I used to think of coping as merely surviving. Barely existing. Living one day just to get to the next. Now I identify coping with standing up against hard circumstances. Contentment during conflict. 

 

But coping encompasses both views.

 

On one end of the coping slope - the bottom - coping is just surviving. Living one moment to the next, focused on staying alive. Working, eating, sleeping.

 

On the other end - the top of the cope slope - coping is a form of thriving. Existing with peace and joy. Acknowledging difficult circumstances and transcending their challenges.

 

Coping isn’t just for those who face difficult life circumstances, coping is for everyone.

 

Coping determines how well a person manages life with all its variables. Coping can improve with practice, but it’s a long climb to the pinnacle of contentment.

To prepare for that climb, we must equip ourselves with the following tools:

  1. Foresight
  2. Escape
  3. Flexibility
  4. Reflection

 

Foresight

You must analyze your situation before mounting the cope slope. How damaged are your emotions? How unfamiliar is the current terrain of life? Will you need to pack a metaphorical fur coat?

 

The slope is a mountain needing preparation and experience to embark upon. If a person is dealing with a life altering situation, they may not be able to find the right climbing equipment by themselves. Sometimes, finding the right supplies means seeking professional help. There’s no shame in going to therapy.

 

Escape

(Photo by  Thibault Penin  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by Thibault Penin on Unsplash)

This is the fun part of coping. Hobbies! My hobby is art. Whether it’s writing, drawing, editing, or daydreaming, art brings me an escape. A way to occupy my mind instead of dwelling on scary circumstances.

 

Navigating the ledges of the cope slope can be terrifying. It’s hard to prevent getting dizzy and falling into the dark lowlands of anxiety.

 

Hobbies provide footholds on the ledge, enabling a person to continually climb the mountain.

 

Flexibility

(Photo by  David Hofmann  on  Unsplash )  PS - this Should be illegal! Yikes.

(Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash)  PS - this Should be illegal! Yikes.

The escape of art I just mentioned? Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes I’m too tired to create. So I watch Netflix. Or listen to a podcast. Or music. Other times, none of those things work. I must do something completely different. It’s important to adapt to the changing terrain, not try the same technique repeatedly when you’re stuck on one section of the cope slope.

 

Reflection

Upon reaching the top of the cope slope, looking back on your journey thus far is just as crucial as the foresight stage. There are different cope slopes for different phases of life. What worked well on the last climb may not work well on the present climb.

 

Whatever your life circumstances, coping is part of being human. Foresight, escape, flexibility, and reflection are essential in navigating the emotions of life.

 

The next time I’m sitting in the passenger seat, heading down the interstate to a doctor’s appointment, I’ll be sure to fill my thinking with art and daydreaming. After all, my coping will continue to improve with practice. So will yours.

 

-Brooklyn

Learning To Breathe

Breath is essential for life. We know this. 

 

Breath invites oxygen into our lungs. Our lungs introduce oxygen into the bloodstream. But what affects our lungs? Obviously, we all know that respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, COPD, even the common cold, affect our ability to breathe fully.

(Photo by  Eli DeFaria  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash)

 

But what about pain? Anxiety? Other emotions?

 

If you’re an avid reader like myself, you know that when the hero of the story takes a bullet in the leg or shoulder his breath “becomes ragged from pain.” When the heroine is anxiously awaiting word on the outcome of an accident, or when her man does or says something poignant, her “breath catches in her throat.”

 

None of us remembers learning how to breathe or needs to remind ourselves to breathe throughout the day. This is a God-given, automatic function of our bodies that is necessary for our survival. 

 

(Photo by  Valeriia Bugaiova  on  Unsplash )

And yet, because our breath can be affected by things like pain, sickness, and anxiety, it is important to pay attention to our breathing and learn to be intentional. To learn how to give our bodies support to do these automatic functions well. Even to take our lungs off auto-pilot once in a while.

 

One of the most important things I’ve learned through yoga classes is how to breathe. I wrote about it in a post about exercise a few months ago. You can check that out here: More Things We Don't Like To Talk About It was truly transformative! I know not everyone is able to do yoga, I’m not currently taking any yoga classes myself. I do miss it and will go again, but I’ve held on to the breathing techniques that I learned in class and I find that this is truly the most transformational aspect.

 

When you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, scared, or in pain, take some time to focus on your breathing. This video, 3 Breathing Techniques simply demonstrates three different techniques. Find the one that works for you. 

 

It takes time. It takes practice. I promise that if you invest that time in yourself you will see results.

 

In staff meeting earlier this week one of my employees, Gloria, was giving us an update on her 88-year-old mother who recently fell and cracked 5 ribs. Talk about pain while breathing! Thankfully they were only cracked, not broken, so there was no lung puncture. However, because she had to stay pretty still while they healed, the hospital gave her a Spirometer to keep her lungs active and avoid any fluid build-up. She was to use the Spirometer for 10 minutes a day. 

 

Well, ten minutes proved to be overwhelming for her, so Gloria asked the nurse if they could break it up throughout the day. The nurse responded, “Of course, just have her do it during the commercials while she watches TV!”

 

The next day they were watching TV together at home. At the first commercial break Gloria reminded her mom, “Time to do your breathing!” She did it faithfully for the first couple of commercial breaks then loudly announced “I’m done watching TV, turn that thing off!!” 😂

 

 

Sometimes it is difficult, even painful, to do the things that are good for us. I ask you to invest in yourself, observe your breathing, and learn how to make it better. Your mind and your body will thank you!

 

PS – my favorite band ever, Lifehouse, has a song titled “Breathing” and another great band, Switchfoot, has a song titled “Learning to Breathe.” Both of these bands have been instrumental in getting me through tough times. Coincidence?! Probably not. 😉 Listen here.

 

-Liz C.

 

Links:

Lifehouse – Breathing (Spotify)

Lifehouse – Storm (Youtube)

Switchfood – Learning to Breathe (Youtube)

 

3 ways to tame your anxiety

(Photo by  Lemuel Butler  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by Lemuel Butler on Unsplash)

Recently I've been going through my days with a low-level anxiety. I can't quite pinpoint what I'm feeling or why I'm feeling it. I've even taken a few moments to slow down, breathe, and consider what might be causing the anxiety. 

 

Sometimes, anxiety doesn't make sense.

 

Some of my supplements have caffeine in them. Perhaps the cumulative effect of all my caffeine sources are adding up to create this whirlwind of worry. Whatever's going on - I hate it! 

 

Do you ever cycle through anxious thoughts? Do you ever replay that tense conversation? Do you ever wish your mind would slow down and stop running in circles? What do we do with all these thoughts and anxious feelings? And how do we conquer a foe that hides so well in the camouflage of everyday life?

 

Let me give you 3 ways to tame you're worry.

 

1. Drink water.

Sometimes your body has strange ways of telling you what it needs. If you're dehydrated and drinking caffeinated beverages all day, anxiety might be one of your body's stellar communication techniques. Listen to your body. Less caffeine. More water.

 

2. Write down what's worrying you or consuming your thoughts.

There are times I'm worried about what I need to remember. If I just write down what I need to remember then my anxiety goes down. 

 

If you have trouble falling asleep because of swirling thoughts, keep a notepad and pen by your bed. When you have a thought or something important to remember, write it down. Once it's on paper it can be erased from the whiteboard in your mind. For me, I often feel like my mental white board is cluttered. That alone can push me into unwanted anxiety. Pull out your eraser by writing down what you need to get off your mental whiteboard.

 

3. Declare Scriptures over yourself out loud. 

  • If you're worried about a job interview...

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

 

  • If you're waiting on a call from your doctor with test results...

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! -Is. 26:3 NLT

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 NLT

 

  • If you don't know why you're anxious...

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2 NLT

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

 

Be sure to speak these verses out loud. There's something powerful about putting right words into your mouth and letting your own ears hear it. Your own voice needs to speak powerful truths over the fears and lies you've been tangled up in. Lead with your words. Your heart and feelings will eventually catch up. 

confianza

 

BONUS: If you've done all the above and you're still feeling that crazy, unsettled, heart-racy feeling, I recommend a supplement called CONFIANZA. It really works, and it's made up of natural herbs. You can find a distributer or simply buy it on Amazon to try it out. It's great for days when I accidentally over-caffeinate or I'm just stressed. This little supplement does a pretty darn good job settling me down within about 20 minutes.

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 5.46.00 PM.png

 

Have a beautiful, unstressed week!

 

Joyfully,

Rachel B.

Think Fast: Here's Why You Should Take a Break from Social Media

My finger hovered over the blue icon on my phone. A moral conflict played out in my mind. Like a child deciding whether she should steal from the cookie jar. Except the cookie jar is a cesspool of political humanity. Called “Twitter.” The hand doing the stealing is a single finger capable of scrolling, liking, and retweeting. I pressed the blue icon to open the app. Naughty.

 

(Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

“Fasting” social media is a thing many try to do, and few achieve. It seems posting something like “Hey guys, I’m taking a break from social media for a while. If you need me, text me” on Facebook is becoming more common. Typical. Overrated. Hipsters write it on their resumes.

 

But this healthy trend is worth it. Totally worth it.

 

Social media fasting is something I recommend. In fact, fast it permanently. I think they call that starving. 

 

Delete all apps. Block the domain names. Burn all your electronics…I only joke. All things in moderation.

 

As an ill person, I become distressed seeing my friends on social media living life to the fullest. Meanwhile, I’m stuck on the couch watching reruns of “The Office.” Sipping chicken broth. Soaking in tears of self-pity. I hadn’t realized how much social media was affecting my attitude. I focused more on what I was missing out on, than what I was “in” on. I want to change that.

 

(Photo by  William Iven  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by William Iven on Unsplash)

Following an inadvertent social media fast a couple of weeks ago (I was out of cell service and away from my computer) I realized how much my mood changed. The pressure of feeling like I needed to upload was still there. As well as the stress that accompanies a string of “dings” when my phone suddenly got service. Messages. So many messages. However, having an excuse not to answer was liberating.

 

Guess what? Social media can wait. People don’t have a right to your time, a right to expect you to message back as soon as they press “send.” You don’t owe people a picture of your dog, kids, or avocado toast. Conversely, you don’t have to get your kicks from how many likes you get on the video of your kids’ soccer kicks. 

 

So, for the last two weeks, I’ve continued my fast. With only a few rebellious clicks into Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, and my blog. The solace of not being bombarded with political and petty drama has allowed me to truly rest. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

(Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

 

I challenge you to take a break from social media too. It’s okay. Your life exists outside of the pictures you post. People aren’t going to get mad at you for not replying. That is, if they’re more mature than a pre-teen with a pizza face and violent mood swings. If they’re not, you can unfollow them. Or, *gasp* use the dreaded “block” button.

 

Liberate thyself. Be “naughty” by NOT pressing that Twitter icon. Live dangerously.

 

-Brooklyn S.

 

Do You Want To Get Well?

Last Christmas I was down and out on the couch with a nasty respiratory virus. My normal go to’s for treating illness did not work or even move the needle on my symptoms. What I thought would only be a day or so dragged on and on.

(Photo by  Yuris Alhumaydy )

(Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy)

 

Okay, not really...but it felt that way.

 

It all started with a small hacking cough that developed into an all-out war on my lungs and immune system. The small cough turned into fits that would last several minutes and make me convulse. I had to change my clothes after each fit because I would wet myself from the pressure. (True story.) I was not a happy camper. 

 

Let’s face it, when you don’t feel well, your mind and emotions are often fragile and jump to the worst case scenario. 

 

One evening my thoughts hit rock bottom. It started with thoughts of not getting better, and then jumped to not being able to get better. I even thought, "I wonder if this is it. Am I dying?” This caused me to think hard about my life.

 

What have I done?

What would I miss?

What would I do if I got better?

 

These thoughts both comforted and haunted me because there are things I would absolutely not change about my life, and things I had hoped to stick around for. 

 

This experience was one of the longest nights emotionally for me. But when the darkness seems overwhelming, that is when God speaks light into our dreary thoughts. He spoke into my mine. There was no audible voice or words, just a knowing, and a knowing that things had to change.  

 

I had a decision to make: Did I want to get well? This wasn’t the “well” of getting over the respiratory virus. It was the “well” of getting better from my overarching illness -- heavy metal toxicity. The answer was "yes of course," and I knew I needed to make changes in my lifestyle.

 

I was doing things to heal and detox, but I wasn’t “all in” with my healing program.

 

I was spending much of my time away from home and juggling a lot of stress. I committed to make changes. For me, this meant cutting out ALL unnecessary outside activities so I could be at home as much as possible. It meant mornings were set aside to exercise and complete therapies prescribed by my doctor. And mentally, I had to let go of what others thought of me for taking this time to heal. It was not easy to give up some of my life for a season. But the gain I am receiving now is worth it! 

 

I made that decision over six months ago, and I am finally starting to significantly improve. I keep reminding myself to keep on with my commitments and be encouraged with the progress I am experiencing.  

 

So what about you? We all have choices to make.

  • Do you want to get well?
  • Are you all in?
  • What's holding you back?

 

On the Journey,

Barb

Things We Don’t Like to Talk About

(Photo by  Chris Barbalis )

(Photo by Chris Barbalis)

In the past week, headlines have once again been focused on mental illness, depression, and shock, as the world reacts to the news of the passing of Kate Spade, followed 3 days later by Anthony Bourdain. For those of us that struggle through life on a daily basis, juggling bills and working too hard for not enough money, it reminds us that wealth and fame really don’t matter as much as we imagine they do. 

 

- “If I could just afford a maid, maybe I wouldn’t be so tired and I could actually be nice to my husband and kids…”

- “If I had enough money to try some alternative treatments that insurance doesn’t cover, or even to get a second/third opinion, maybe I’d find some relief…”

- “How much better/easier would my life be if I was making a lot of money - and a household name besides - with my endless stream of ideas and designs?!”

 

The tragedy of Kate & Anthony's deaths, leaving behind young children (ages 13 &11 respectively), shows us that wealth and fame do not make everything better.

 

Most of us have at least an abstract awareness of this truth, but it does not stop us from thinking that it would be different if WE were the ones with the money. WE would handle it better. WE would do good things with it. WE wouldn’t let it affect our relationships. 

 

But let’s forget about the money and fame for a few moments and talk about the deeper issues.

 

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Personality disorders.
  • Addiction. 
  • Suicide.

 

Growing up I was taught that my attitude and feelings were either good or bad. Good attitudes and feelings included cheerful obedience, cheerfully sharing with my siblings, instantly and gladly forgiving people when they hurt me, and more.

 

Bad attitudes and feelings included things like sadness, hurt feelings, anger, depression, lust (what does that even mean to a little girl?!), anxiety, worry, and more.

 

Seeing as I’ve suffered from depression since I was a young child, I have always thought that there was something wrong with me. Growing up, I learned that I had a bad attitude.

 

No matter how hard I tried, I could not reach and maintain the standard of constant cheer that was expected to be considered a good girl.

 

I’ve lost track of how many times I sunk down into deep lows, thinking that the world would be so much better off without me.

 

(Photo by  Asdrubal luna )

(Photo by Asdrubal luna)

I was in my mid-20’s when my father passed away. I was living on my own, working and supporting myself. I remember sitting in a routine physical and suddenly asking the doctor, “Is it normal to have times throughout the day when you can’t catch your breath?”

 

At that time I had a very caring, intuitive physician, and he began to ask gentle questions about my life. He knew I worked in an office and that trouble catching my breath had nothing to do with chasing kids or training for a marathon, as I was doing neither!

 

As he began to unearth the trauma of recently losing a parent, and my lifelong struggle with feelings of sadness, anxiety, inadequacy, and fear, he gently suggested that my brain chemistry might be unable to balance the enormity of my current circumstances, and that some medication - for a time - might help me find some balance and, quite literally, help me catch my breath.

 

I wasn’t really OK with medication but he didn’t really give me a choice. I tried it and gradually found that I could get through the days a little better. He also did some pulmonary function tests and confirmed that there was no breathing issue.

 

That was 13 years ago. Since then I have continued to wrestle with the fact that I am on medication for depression and anxiety. A year after I started it I asked him to wean me off because “it’s been long enough, I should be over it now.” (‘Cause, you know, it only takes a year to get over the loss of a parent.) Guess what. I wasn’t “over it.” Not that time, or the time after that. Or the time after THAT. 

 

The last time I came off medication was about 2-3 years ago. I weaned down to the lowest dose and things seemed fine. The following week I went off it completely - and proceeded to cry every day for the next 10 days. And nothing “happened” in those 10 days that deserved daily tears, it was just my natural self, unable to find emotional balance. Thinking every day about how much better off the world would be without me in it. How much easier it would be to end the physical, mental, and emotional pain that was my life.

 

Thanks to my best friend, after 10 days I was gently reminded that maybe the medicine was a good idea. So I remain on a low-ish dose of medication, and am able to find more emotional balance. I feel the good stuff AND the bad stuff. But along with medication, I also have learned how to strengthen my mind. Kind of like someone who has lost a limb and chooses to get stronger to regain some quality of life. 

 

There are functions of my brain chemistry that don’t do their job. Parts that are broken. Does this mean I am broken? In a way, yes, but not irreparably. I still have days when I sink down mentally, when I feel as though I am the entire cause of any issues with family or other relationships. When my brain tells me lies about my value in the world, and I begin to believe that it would all be so much better if I just wasn’t here.

 

I’ve learned that these days will always come. More importantly, I’ve begun to learn how to handle them without letting them break me. It’s a little like exercise. The more faithful we are at keeping our bodies strong, the better we can handle it when the day demands physical strength. 

 

The same is true with our minds. The better we get at catching the lies, and processing and filtering our emotions, the better we can make it through those days when it is all too much and we want to sink into oblivion. 

 

Negative emotions are not bad. They are symptoms. Hurt feelings mean something hurt us. It is our choice how we are going to respond. Anger usually indicates that we’ve experienced or witnessed injustice. It is our choice how we are going to respond. Depression, anxiety, and addiction are also indicators that something is wrong. It is up to us to have the courage to get to the root of it and deal with the true cause so that we can face another day. 

 

The world IS better with you in it.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or others, or of taking their own life, please get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) provides free, confidential support 24/7 for people in distress. You can also text TALK to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for help.

It Takes A Village (Don't Isolate Yourself)

I deal with multiple sclerosis and a few weeks ago it got really bad. 

 

Bad for a neurological disease looks like very weak limbs (legs for me), feeling uncertain that they will carry me around without collapsing, lack of feeling, but also weird nerve pain. It’s very scary to be 35 years old and not be sure if I’ll be able to walk on days when my legs are feeling this way!

 

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I felt myself begin to pull away from friends and community. I often don’t want to talk about what is happening in my body because verbalizing what I’m feeling can make it feel more scary and real, or at least that’s what I think in that moment.

 

That particular week my husband was traveling, and I was working and taking care of my kids at home. And not talking about what was happening in my body. And becoming more and more afraid.

 

You would think this was the first time this had happened or something. It was not. I’ve been down this road many times. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget the truth and begin to believe the lies in our head when we’re afraid. 

 

As Saturday rolled around and I was not improving at all, in fact getting worse, I felt panic began to rise within me. I began thinking about the possibilities of how bad it could get since I’ve had my legs become completely paralyzed within 72 hours before, and I was terrified of repeating that scenario. 

 

My heart started racing, my pulse was pounding, I felt lightheaded….and then my phone rang.

 

It was a sweet friend calling to see if she could come say hi. She also happens to have an auto-immune disease that has impacted her in tremendous ways, especially with her ability to walk. I knew that God sent her because he knew I felt so alone and was falling fast.

 

She had no idea what I was going through in that moment and I began crying as I shared with her what was happening. I was utterly honest and told her how scared I was feeling, that I was so afraid of the worst happening to me again and I had no idea how to stop it. She was so kind and comforting, assuring me that everything was going to be ok, no matter what happened.

 

(Photo by  Sam Manns )

(Photo by Sam Manns)

The very fear of verbalizing how I was feeling suddenly felt instead like relief as I shared my burden with her. I was only wondering why it had taken me so long to realize this.

 

What I learned is, it’s so easy to distance ourselves from others when we’re walking through hard places, whether it be physical or emotional, but I want you to know—it’s not worth it!

 

Don’t believe the lies telling you that others may not understand what you’re walking through just because they haven’t had the same experiences, or that they can’t be there for you and provide comfort. You never know who is going to show up and be just the person you need in that moment, bringing encouragement. 

 

I’m here to tell you as a fellow fighter that we need each other. We need others, period. Don’t fight alone because this fight is too big for us to battle on our own. We need community and support, and we need to lean on each other! 

 

Whatever you’re walking through right now, reach out. Don’t isolate yourself, instead lean in to your community! Let them come around you in a beautiful way to support and encourage you. I guarantee you will be glad you did. It truly takes a village! 

 

Let's Do This,

Elizabeth T.

Am I Still Beautiful?

(Photo by  Jay Dantinne )

(Photo by Jay Dantinne)

I L.O.V.E. how Facebook so kindly provides those "memories" for us. "Look at your post from 3 years ago! Don't you want to remind everyone what happened back then?" Sometimes it's actually fun. Sometimes they make me smile. 

 

Sometimes.

 

More often than not, something like this happens:

"Oh my gosh, I have aged SO MUCH in 6 years!! My eyes are so puffy now, and I've put on so much weight, oh wow. Look at how smooth my skin used to be, no wrinkles! Not like when I look in the mirror now. And my hair was beautiful blonde, smooth and shiny, unmarred by wiry streaks of white..."

 

And that began the despondent spiral that was on track to derail my whole day.

flush face emoji.png

 

I texted the photo to my friend and said, "Wow. I've aged a LOT in 6 years." followed by the wide-eyed emoji.

 

I'm working from home this morning and Kelli Pickler's morning show "Pickler & Ben" is on across the kitchen. I look up and see a close up of her adorable face. I do a double-take. Oh wow, Kelli has the same mouth wrinkle I do, and she's a few years younger than I am! She's so beautiful..." (wistful sigh)

 

And that's when it hit me. 

I'm so beautiful too. 

 

The weight that now shows on my face indicates that I am no longer on a medication that destroyed my digestive system and kept me under-weight and under-nourished for 5+ years. The wrinkles around my eyes and mouth demonstrate countless hours of laughter, love, and so much life lived. 

 

The past six years have held some of the most challenging days of my life. Days crippled by nerve pain, or lying on the bathroom floor with migraines & vomiting so bad I thought, This is it. This is the one that's going to kill me. Days crippled by fear of pain. Will I be able to make it through work today? What if I have to take more time off? I don't have any PTO left, what if I lose my job? How will I support myself? I'm all alone... 

 

Years of all kinds of attempts at treatment and pain management. Herbs. Meds. Diets. Cervical epidurals. Nerve blocks. Spinal procedure after spinal procedure. Will this ever get better? What if it doesn't? 

 

And yet, the past six years have also brought more joy, answered prayer, and dreams come true than I thought possible! 

 

I have fewer days that I am crippled by pain. I have a much better job and have seen incredible amounts of success and achievement that I no longer believed I was capable of.

 

It's so easy to compare. Compare ourselves to others, compare ourselves today with ourselves "back then." Yet, when we compare, we leave out big sections of important truth. Truth that helps right the despondency that can derail a day.


"When we compare, we leave out big sections of important truth."

CLICK TO TWEET


When I compare a photo of my face 6 years ago with my face in the mirror now, it is vastly different. Yes. This is true. But if I had to choose between the woman I am and the life I have today, or having that face back? I'd choose who I am today every time. 

 

Choosing truth over comparison,

Liz 

 

(Photo (Photo by Jay Dantinne on Unsplash)

Poison Or Fruit...You Choose

Over the past couple of months I have spent a lot of time in public places, specifically airports. It is draining!! (And not just because I'm an introvert.)

 

Photo by  Omar Prestwich  on  Unsplash

Complaining is apparently the commonly accepted small talk now. I have observed that people will complain about anything from the weather to the cable company, and everything in between, to people they don't even know!! Just overhearing these conversations sucks the life out of me. It's exhausting enough to deal with frequent travel but when everyone around you is complaining about stuff you didn't need or want to know, it's just draining.

 

It has, however, been a meaningful reminder of how powerful our words are. Powerful in ways we don't always take into account. Our words impact us, and those who hear them. Even the unintended hearers.

 

And guess what, we are in control of the words we speak!! We can choose to be encouraging or draining. We can choose to speak life, or to speak negativity.

 

So often we focus on how little control we have in life. Things are busy. Life is stressful. Health conditions make everything so much more difficult and often take away a sense of control in some areas of life. 

 

What a blessing it is to know that I am in control of the words I speak. I can bring life and encouragement to others, in spite of what my day may have held. Are there discouraging days? Absolutely. Are there legitimate things to complain about, or share? For sure!

 

But I can choose what to focus on, and what to share. Sometimes its even about HOW I share. I can share truth about difficult circumstances without giving in to negativity. I can share the good things that are happening in my life, even when there are also difficult things.

 

When you feel like everything is out of control, remember, your words are powerful and you are in control of that power!! Choose wisely.

 

One of the old kings of Israel, King Solomon, said it this way:

"Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit - you choose."
Proverbs 18:21


QUESTIONS:

  • What's a good word someone has spoken over you that effected your life positively?
  • What are some words you've spoken over someone that brought them life?

Leave a comment and let us know!

Take A Nap

Did I mention I'm a singer/songwriter? I love to do fun stuff with music. With all the sickness and fatigue in my life, I have learned the power of the nap. You could call me a professional napper. So one day, I decided to run with a funny idea by writing a parody song to Justin Beiber's "Love Yourself." It's called, "Take A Nap."

 

We all need rest. Sometimes we feel guilty for needing rest, especially as women. I honestly don't know why we feel so guilty about it sometimes. My hubs has zero guilt about it. But rest is a natural human need - especially for those of us struggling with health issues. I don't know about you, but when I don't get the rest I need, or I don't take the time to put "pauses" into my schedule, I get grumpy. My fuse gets shorter. It ain't good for my mental health...if you know what I mean. And it's not a good vibe in my home either. Even the dog runs away.

 

"Baby, you should go and take a nap!"

 

Let me set you free today: take a no-guilt nap. For the sanity of your family, don't be afraid to take some time for yourself. Rest your eyes. Rest your body. Let your mind have some quiet.

 

And when you need a good laugh - enjoy this silly video/parody about rest. I really didn't have to try that hard to get my hair like that...I'm just sayin'.

You are a human being, not a human doing.

 

How do you best like to rest? Leave a comment below.

 

Joyfully,

Rachel B.

My Almost OCD Life

When I was a kid I started having obsessive, repetitive thoughts. Looking back now, I believe it was the start of an issue with OCD. Instead...this is what happened. Enjoy the video!

Rachel shares her "almost" OCD story.

If you can't see it for some reason, you can find it HERE on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/97vqsMiZ9dw

 

I hope you found this short video insightful. Leave a comment and let me know if you've ever dealt with this kind of thing, and what you did to overcome it!

Joyfully,

Rachel B.