Tag Archives: change

SUBSTITUTES

IMG_1997.JPGLearning to live well is as simple as your ABCs. Let’s think holistically, shall we?

A is for ACKNOWLEDGE.

The very first step toward change is realizing that a change needs to be made. Insight. Awareness. Call it what you’d like, but it’s the very first step.

B is for BEING INTENTIONAL.

Nothing changes if it only goes as far as your thought process. [The counseling arena as a 5 point process to acknowledge the complexity of our thought lives in deciding to DO something with our lives.] And, lest we fool ourselves, it’s not up to anyone but us. Proactivity. Period.

C is for CHANGING OUT ONE THING FOR ANOTHER.

This is also known as replacement theory. You can try to delete, delete, delete, but there HAS to be something to take the place of that which you are deleting or else you feel depraved or default back into the comfort zone that you’ve known and become all to familiar with.

Whether it is your physical body, your thought life, your friend group, your spiritual life, it’s prudent to be intentional about making the wisest choices possible that are within your locus of control.

On a singular level, let’s take food. I love it. Period. But I have to A) Acknowledge where my vulnerabilities are [sugar], B) Be intentional about drawing boundaries that work for me, and C) Change out one thing for another.

Here’s an easy one. Substitute romaine lettuce leaves for bread. Yes, you can. Create a new mindset about what you usually do for your meals and replace it with a new, wiser choice.

Can you delete a number of things from your daily intake? One thing at a time? What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked? Whatever you decide, it has to be realistic and achievable.

Try this healthy swap. Eat clean in 2017. And if you need a little help getting started, visit Amazon for my Recipes Unveiled cookbook to get you started!

This is Hope Unveiled!

**The above meal has substituted romaine lettuce for bread, apple chips for potato chips, and a turkey burger for red meat.

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Why the Ball Drops on Your Intentions

Ever wonder why you have great intentions at the new year and THEN the ball drops? You just need to be a little “S.M.A.R.T” – er.

This formula will help you get on track in any area of your life as you contemplate changes for the new year

S. = Specific

Be specific with what you want during the new year. Most of the time, the ball drops because you are too general with your intentions.

If you want to find balance, then be specific with scheduling. “For an hour a day, I will use 15 minutes to workout, 15 minutes to have quality conversation with someone I love, 15 minutes to decompress after a stressful day, or 15 minutes to have quiet time.”

For weight loss, be specific: “I want to lose 10 pounds.”

M. = Measurable

What tool will you use to measure your progress? A planner? A scale? An iPad? An app?

A. = Achievable

Many times a goal isn’t reached because it’s too big. Start with what IS achievable.  If you have no exercise routine at all, then just start with scheduling time for what you DO have.

R. = Reward

Most S.M.A.R.T. models utilize this as the “realistic” component.  I will insert “REWARD” here as a means to positively reinforce a new behavior.  The best incentive is to reward yourself weekly for having met a goal for just that week. Mind you, not with unhealthy food if your goal is to eat better or lose weight!

T. = Time

Give yourself a timetable for reaching your goal.  If you don’t, it’s easy for the goal to be dropped as fast as the new year’s ball.

 

 

 

Why Not Being Athletic Doesn’t Matter Anymore

The irony of it all.

PAST

My father went to college on a football scholarship.  He majored in P.E., took a leave during World War II, and then returned to complete his degree and become an Army officer for life.

He and mom adopted me as a baby so, unfortunately, I didn’t have his gene pool.  But he was determined to trade the gene pool for a swimming pool, and we spent endless summer days with him trying to teach me to swim and dive. My skills in both still leave a lot to be desired.

As the years of childhood progressed, I was usually the last to be picked for the kickball team in P.E. class, hated anything to do with physical activity, and used a supposed heart murmur to keep me from intentional exercise during high school and college. As a college senior, I was praying I wouldn’t fail the freshman P.E. class due to having to run a mile and a half in a certain amount of time.  My only goal was to keep up with my roommate who used to run in high school.  I’m thankful I didn’t literally pass out or worse… I had had NO physical activity throughout my life until that very day.

While my husband was in dental school, my mother bought me the Jane Fonda workout video.  That was my first attempt at any cardio.

PRESENT

Today, I’ve progressed from Jane’s workout to cardio, strength, and other forms of physical activity.

Since I’m adopted and I have no medical history, I have made a decision to control all the variables that I CAN without knowing my genetic pool.  Of course, this includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.  Don’t think for a minute that your lifestyle choices – day in and day out – don’t have a cumulative effect on your overall health.  If nothing has happened yet, let these statements resonate from Gary Thomas’ book Every Body Matters:

“Fitness isn’t about avoiding disease; it’s about avoiding frailty” (p. 114).

“About 66 percent of adults in the United States are either obese or overweight, with abut one-third being obese” (p.120).

“The reality is, however, that exercise usually adds to our lives.  A Harvard alumni study, which tracked deaths among 17,000 men for more than two decades, suggests that “overall, each hour spent exercising adds about two hours to a person’s life expectancy” (p.165).

FUTURE

Here’s the reality:  I have no idea how many days have been ordained for me (Psalm 139:16). But God has created you and me with a WILL to choose how we each will be a steward of the ONLY body He has given us.

In addition, He has a plan and purpose that only YOU can fulfill.  That only I can fulfill.

It’s your mission.  It’s my mission.

How can you NOT take care of yourself to complete the tasks He has for you?  How can I NOT take care of myself to complete the tasks He has for me?

I’m now in a class with likeminded students as we encourage each other to fitness. Forget the P.E. class of old.  It doesn’t matter anymore.

The irony of it all.

If I can change, so can you. Today.

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

 

 

 

Anxious Living: “E” and “N” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

IMG_0039These beautiful roses were given to me yesterday by a new friend who picked them from her garden.  The mere sight of them makes me smile!

The two concepts discussed today for stress management are EVALUATE and “NOTICE.”

EVALUATE

Evaluate what? Hydration.  When your body is under stress, you produce more cortisol, a “cousin” to adrenaline, that is in excess supply. Cortisol is good for you only to a point when you are stressed.  During times of normal stress, this hormone helps you feel more efficient and productive.  If you are overstressed, however, this hormone works against you when you’ve got too much on your proverbial plate.

Neuroscience now postulates that during water during times of stress is beneficial in lowering your cortisol levels.  Whether under excess stress or not, drink.  Constantly.  And how much?  Let’s just say…. until things are “cleared” up, if you catch my drift. Furthermore, staying properly hydrated prevents a whole host of other health concerns.  Another benefit of drinking water is to “DRINK THIS, NOT EAT THAT” when you think you’re hungry.  Chances are, your body is screaming for water, not food.

How can you begin the process of habitually drinking more water?

NOTICE

Are you too busy to stop and pay attention to what’s going on in the moment?  Does it pass you by? Or do you pass it by? This could be anything of valuable, intangible importance:  people, pets or animals, music, sunsets, birds chirping, the sound of ocean waves?

Be mindful of daily “miracles” – those things you take for granted that lighten your spirit. These things make your “Mind Full” and help you stay present focused rather than future focused.  Our American culture works against this.  Go to Europe or another country.  Observe how they do life.  Meals are long, and fellowship equally so.  The aroma, sights, and sounds are absorbed and assimilated into everyday living.  God gave us senses to enjoy all that He has placed around us every single day.

How can you begin the process of habitually noticing what’s going on in your moments during the day?

Fill up on water and daily “miracles.”  When you do so, your gratitude for everyday occurrences will start to bloom.

Meanwhile, I’m taking time to “smell the roses” from my new friend.

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

 

Anxious Living: “I” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

IMG_3076

The “I” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. stands for individuality, just like this Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s one of a kind.  And so are you.

Things that stress you may or may not stress others.  In other words, stressors, to some degree, are individualist.  How you cope with these stressors is also unique.  Here are some questions to think about

  • When you think back to a challenging time, what personal traits strengths pulled   you through?
  • What kind of coping skills did you implement?
  • Have you ever thought about what your strengths are?

To get started, consider the following:

Take a strengths test.  Strengths Finder 2.0 is a quick online assessment (you will have to purchase the book to get a code inside the back cover).  Another excellent website with a variety of assessments is http://www.authentichappiness.com.  An array of assessments – in varying lengths – can confirm your strengths.

Why is knowing your strengths so important?  Because these assessments clearly identify your strengths so you can celebrate and utilize them as much as possible to buffer stress.  If you get in the habit of incorporating these strengths into your everyday life, it will be a natural tendency to employ them while a challenging stressor, acute or chronic, occurs.

Choose positive behaviors. Ever heard the phrase, “Don’t trouble your trouble?”  If you’re in the midst of an ongoing life “storm,” the LAST THING YOU NEED is to compound it with bad choices.  Some examples include:  overeating, shopping to extreme, alcohol, sex without boundaries, addictions of ANY KIND,  and the list continues.  If you are choosing any of these behaviors by default mode, STOP.  Get to the root of what’s really going on.  These behaviors are only a symptom of something deeper….

Start by choosing healthy behaviors to replace the bad ones.  Think of hobbies too! This is a lead in to my next suggestion:

Create a Top 10 List. In my book, Change Unveiled, I title this chapter “FUN,” but it’s really addressing healthy behaviors that are good for you that become your “go to” lifestyle choices to relieve stress.  Think creatively.  Here are some of mine:  reading, music, writing, sitting in the sun…..

If you’d like additional reading for self-discovery, I high recommend John Ortberg’s book entitled, The Me I Want To Be.

“LEAN IN” to who you are and go for it. Your strengths will keep you standing firm instead of crashing down during a time of stress.

This is Hope Unveiled!

*My book for women, entitled “Change Unveiled: Hope for Positive Choices,” is available on Amazon and Kindle.

 

 

 

Anxious Living: Burdened by Worry

What’s the difference between young adults and their parents?  For the former, they carry backpacks half their body weight, while those carried by the latter are invisible. Regardless of age, every person can carry too much.

Let’s make some distinctions.

First, fear can be a positive thing.  It signals our sympathetic nervous system that something is wrong.  It can motivate us to get our of harm’s way.

Fear can become a problem when it leads to anxiety and you are afraid of things that aren’t real, or when the feeling of fear is out of proportion to the real danger present.

Anxiety is more akin to worry, and can be aroused by a number of factors: medical conditions (lack of sleep or a blood sugar imbalance); role modeling from parents; trauma; lifestyle.

Another distinction is that fear can be looked at as imminent, while anxiety can be completely anticipatory.

From neurobiological and faith stances, here are life coaching tools for dealing with anxious worry:

NEUROSCIENCE

What triggers your worry? Write it down! Notice the situation, the people, the feelings.  Discuss with a life coach or professional.

Worry Box: write down what you’re worried about on a small sheet of paper.  Worry worry worry for 15 minutes.  That’s right.  Then when 15 minutes is up, put the “worry sheet” in the box and be done with it.  Your brain will naturally drift to another topic.

Before going to sleep at night, journal your specific worries with a pen and paper.  Don’t use your laptop, as blue light from devices interferes with sleep quality (cease usage at least 1.5 hours before going to bed).

FAITH

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” (Psalm 55:22).

Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost devotion for today states that God doesn’t lift our worrisome burdens because He wants to see if we will give it back to Him.

Why? He desires that you live intentionally and take responsibility for your faith journey.  And how you manage worry is also an integral part of your spiritual life.

Here is a formula I’ve developed based on Chambers’ devotion:

  1. Release
  2. Roll back
  3. Relish

Release the worry through prayer.  This is what “casting your burden” looks like.  It requires action on your part.

Roll back and hand over the worry to Him.  This is the implication of this verse.  When you do this, it leads to item #3….

Relish His presence.  You have now invited Him into the everyday details that weigh you down, visible or invisible.

Hand over the backpack of worry.  You were never meant to carry it.

 

**This blog post is not a substitute for anxiety disorders or phobias.  Please seek professional counseling. You don’t have to keep living under the burden of anxiety. You have options.

This is HopeUnveiled.

 

The Empty Nest: A Personal Reflection

I am almost seven months into this new phase of life, aptly called the “empty nest.”  Of course, I know this is the natural progression of things.  If so, then why has it been so difficult?

Life transitions – even good and natural ones – are still difficult to maneuver.  Routine answers take on a whole new meaning until you’re living through any kind of transition. This is true for a multitude of them:  children leaving home, the death of a loved one, caregiving aged parents, or even good transitions like marriage or graduation.

Why are these transitions difficult? First, in the season of time that any transition occurs – albeit expected or abrupt – it signifies a change from what “used to be” to a new reality or way of living.  Second, not only is it the transition itself, but also the things that go along with the new normal.  For example, the first day of being at home in the nest alone, I had a mini meltdown when I only had one load of wash. Why?  It signified that one of my daily routines had abruptly changed.  As the clothes in my college freshman son’s car gradually increased, the clothes in my laundry room had instantaneously decreased, a “negative correlation” of sorts.

And specifically what would I miss on a daily basis?  The soothing sound of running water from the upstairs shower, the tunes from the phone or iPod, the slamming of drawers and doors, or the thud of a gym bag thrown into the laundry room, just to mention a few. Oddly enough – and quite unexpectedly – it has made me miss the oldest bird to fly out of the nest even more than when he first left for college. But what do I miss the most? The bear hugs that start my day, the tendered smiles when I’m emotional (as the only female in the house, this comes quite often), the laughter, and even the tears. I miss every little twig that has built our nest over the last 22  1/2 years (but who’s counting??).

How appropriate that this scripture from Matthew 6: 25-27  takes on a whole new meaning for MY empty nest:

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life (NIV, emphasis mine)?”

So I constantly remind myself not to worry about the empty nest, a reminder that is twofold: First, the view from the perch of the home nest is limited; second, the reassurance  that God sees my sons and tends to the details of their daily lives  even though I no longer can. He’s more interested in the workings of their lives than I am, and He loves them even more than I do. It’s a divine concept that is hard for a “mama bird” to wrap her wings around.

My prayer is that each one will see Him working in their routines and their novelties while, at the same time, feeding them with daily food that allows them to grow strong into a healthy maturity that gives them courage to soar in the direction that God has ordained for each of them. They are stretching their wings in new ways. The home base nest – made strong and sturdy with sunny days of laughter and intertwined with life’s unexpected storms – has hopefully constructed a secure resting place to weather life’s novel or challenging experiences for wings learning to fly. More than anything, I want it to be a secure resting place filled with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Proverbs 24:3-4) that has become a soft place to land.

And the mama bird? Well, the Father watches over her too.  He sees the leftover food that I place on the nest’s table in hopes that it can be eaten before it spoils.  Or how I excitedly buy more food to prepare when I know the nest will be full, even for short, brief visits. He sees the creases in my freshly washed clothes in addition to those on my face if I’m worrying too much. Thankfully and so lovingly, no detail by Him is left unobserved – whether He watches as the wrinkles in clothes are smoothed by the warmth of the iron or, more importantly, the warmth of His Promises on my soul that, in turn, seem to lessen the visible creases on my face. He cares most that I’m clothed with inner peace. He keeps reminding me:  Are you not more valuable than the birds of the air?

It’s the season for me to grow in new ways and stretch my wings as well, just like the ones who have left the nest. And the calming part?  God lovingly watches and tends to all of it.