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A New Year

A new year can bring up many different emotions. For some, it can be a fresh perspective, new resolutions, and goals. For others, the new year can also evoke sadness and frustration because the ending of a year is a reminder of unmet goals and desires.

Where ever you might be on the spectrum of emotions this new year, respect and honor it. Be present with the emotion, acknowledge it. Whatever it may be, it is real, it is present, and it will pass. Take a deep breath. Cultivate the practice of being present and mindful.

If you find it difficult to be present due to an entanglement of thoughts, you may find this exercise helpful, it takes about 8 mins.

Leaves on a Stream mindfulness exercise

The “Growth Mindset”

Calling all parents! There has been some research that shows children who have the perspective of a “growth mindset” vs. “fixed intelligence” do better in school and in life.

See article here by Carol S. Dweck.

She also references relationships in her article. What if we approached our partner, spouse, co-workers, or friends with the “growth mindset”? How could our relationships change or moreover — move from existing to thriving? It has been shown that a “growth mindset” can affect the “quality and longevity” of relationships (see pg 41.)

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Everyday we are faced with events – ripe for our interpretation.

From the moment we wake to our first hello to a fellow human – we take in information. Our brains work at lightening speed to process meaning to help inform our next step, next word, feelings and behaviors.

Objectivity is rarely a lone ingredient in this process. We all have unique beginnings and environments from which we developed. As a result, we process all these daily events through our individual lens, for better or for worse.

What if we slowed down our day and played it in slow motion? What if we challenged our interpretations and self statements? Could we inject just a little more analysis, logic, and objectivity and alter the narrative that may lead us toward emotional health and freedom?

There is definite power in the stories we tell ourselves.

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8

The Ultimate Reframe – Christmas

The surfer couple on this season’s Amazing Race has captivated me. Their positivity and ability to reframe setbacks is inspiring. In one challenge, Bethany Hamilton, the wife of the pair, had to solve a puzzle and with one arm. It proved to be physically challenging. I watched as she simply decided to take her shoes off and use her feet and successfully completed the challenge. That truly required mental reframing. Her story is a testament to her faith.

“Reframing” refers to any conscious shift in a person’s mental perspective. (It is often used in therapy to help a client form a new and more accurate way of looking at a narrative in their lives. It can result in reduced anxiety and improved mood)

As Christians, Christmas is truly the ultimate reframe.

From one perspective, a little baby boy is born to low income teenagers in a dirty manger. Yet the bible tells us that God so loved the world, He sent His one and only Son to earth so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.)

One narrative can be a small detail in history, and the other can alter the universe and transform lives, like Bethany’s.

Merry Christmas everyone!

What lies underneath

I recently heard a yoga teacher say: “The practice of yoga is knowing your body and your unconscious habits. In knowing yourself, you welcome opportunity for changes.”

In other words, knowing yourself and your unconscious habits allows you to identify patterns that may not be helpful in your life. It opens the door for opportunity to make changes. In yoga, knowing your poor posture allows you to strengthen those muscles you need to walk around the world with more flexibility and confidence.

There is a parallel with one’s emotional and spiritual life.

Knowing yourself, your thought processes, core beliefs, and emotions can offer an opportunity for lasting change.

In our fast paced society with smartphones and twitter feeds, it can be difficult to slow down enough to understand and know yourself better. As a Christian, it takes discipline and trust to slow down, look inward and then upward towards the vertical. When we look to God and spend time listening, we can enter His rest. It is here that we can allow the word of God to do its work. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

One simple way to slow down and be open to this process is journaling. It could be a traditional notebook or even your smartphone. There are apps out there to help you!

Journaling can be an invaluable way to know yourself by processing your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings and how they affect your everyday life and major life decisions. You can start out by stating what mood you’re in and chart what thought, person or event triggered it. Ask yourself questions like: When have you felt this way before? Never? Often? As an adult or a child? What thought is attached to this feeling? Is the thought rational or irrational? How can you rewrite that inaccurate recurring thought to make it more rational or accurate? How then does it feel? How does this all relate and connect with your spiritual life? What might God be saying to you in truth and love? After all, He knows all our thoughts before they come to be.

What if I told you, that one hour a week to slow down and process holds the possibility to change the course of your life?

“Great events, we often find, on little things depend, and from very small beginnings, have oft a mighty end.” -From “The Power of the Littles” Anonymous

Independence Day

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When I think of July 4th, I think of the reason behind all our bbqs and fireworks – one word – Freedom.

Often freedom can be associated with many things, today however I am thinking of forgiveness.

They may seem like an unlikely pair: freedom and forgiveness.

At the same time, often freedom follows forgiveness. Forgiveness is not reconciliation, sometimes it includes it sometimes it does not. Forgiveness is not just forgetting or condoning hurtful behavior.

Forgiveness is a decision or a choice to give up the right for revenge, negative thoughts, and resentment toward the offender in order to experience freedom and foster healing and inner peace. It is not a “have to” or a “must,” it is a choice of the will.
Forgiveness is a process and it takes time. If there is abuse involved, reconciliation may not be possible. In the end, the choice to forgive is a choice to be free.

Here’s to a time filled with peace that flows from a forgiving heart and soul.

*as a trained facilitator of Prepare and Enrich, some of these thoughts come from Prepare and Enrich material.

Self-Care Sunday

Its hard to really know its Sunday. You walk into your local grocery or hardware store and its bustling with activity.

Taking rest acknowledges that we can’t do it all on our own. Resting acknowledges our bodies, minds, and souls need refreshment. Deep trust allows deep rest.

In the Bay Area, I find the common question to be: how can we “maximize” this day off from the typical 5/6 day work week?
It is hard, we want to get the groceries done, the chores need attending to (all valuable things by the way!) – otherwise when will they ever get done? And for some, work on the weekends is a necessity. And so- how can we find moments of refreshment and self-care on Sundays and throughout our week? What helps you rest in the stress of life?

Maybe some of these ideas resonate with you:

1) Taking three deep breaths at designated times of the day. Notice what you are feeling? What might that feeling be telling you —
What do you need to do OR not do in the next hour?

2) Take inventory:
Prioritize your chores. What’s truly necessary and what’s just part of your anxious need to check off the “to do” list? Ask yourself, if you didn’t have to do these things what would you be doing instead?
Make a list of those “I’d rather be doing items” and negotiate: maybe do two chores and care for yourself by doing one item of self care.

3) Self care suggestions: take a bath, prayer, journal, yoga, have coffee/tea with a safe friend, paint, bake, cook, exercise, go for a walk at the beach or in the park, play with your dog, read,contemplate the beauty of a hydrangea blossom …
the list goes on!

Here’s to a satisfying self care Sunday!

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Summer R&R

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Summer is here.

Things are a little slower paced in the summer, even here in the innovative fast paced Bay Area. People walk a little slower, they take a little more time to respond to your emails. What a gift to really slow down, contemplate, and understand what you are feeling in the moment.

Often we can go through a day feeling a dozen emotions and not realizing that they played a significant role in our interactions, decisions, and relationships.

Here’s to wishing this summer slow down allows you to honor all those emotions that reside within and are able to “see time beyond the moment, and others beyond yourself”.