HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!
Well, Sunday, May 13th, is Mother's Day... most of us will run out to the store and pay $4.99 for a glittery card... I do it every year! However, when I thought to myself: Self, what would I want from my kids if I could have anything?... I replied: I would want a hand-written card or note telling me what I've done right... I want to know what I've done to make them smile and feel worthy!
Usually moms only get to hear what we have done wrong... and most of the time it's coming from our own thoughts! If you're considering buying a card for your mom... consider instead spending a few minutes sitting down and remembering all the things your moms did right... no matter what the current circumstances are... more than likely, she's always tried her best. Let her know by putting your thoughts on paper so she'll always have a reminder from you, not Hallmark, why you love her.
If you know someone who has anxiety or panic attacks, and you just don't get it... then thank the Lord!
Keep in mind that there are all levels of anxiety. There are those people who have the occasional visit from Anxiety; it's there, but it doesn't invade their every day activities. These folks usually feel off when an anxiety attack comes on ~ They are surprised when they can't take a deep breath? Who could blame them? It's then they realize that life has taken its toll!
Then there are those people who have frequent, and oftentimes unexpected visits from Anxiety. One minute you are going along and minding your own business, and the next minute ~ BOOM!!! Anxiety is breathing down your neck... it's stealing your oxygen so now you're having trouble breathing! You're not so much shocked as you are frustrated. Seriously, life is hard enough when you can be focused, efficient and effective. Having to concentrate that hard just to breathe and steady your heart beat is exhausting!
Then there are those people who have anxiety all the time! Yes, all the time! They never take a deep breath. They actually feel off when an anxiety attack retreats for a few moments, or even a few hours. This is when they happily proclaim with astonishment to anyone who will listen: OMG!!! I just actually took a deep breath! It was effortless! What the heck! Yay for me!! Thank you, God!! However, moments before they enter back into 'their everyday lives', their heart automatically knows and begins to race and breathing becomes a chore once again.
Anytime Anxiety sits its heavy butt on your back and makes it difficult to breath, whether it's once a month or every day, you need to stay hopeful that whatever is causing the stress will someday be gone. One day, anxiety will no longer overwhelm you and steal your joy and peace. It will not be able to disrupt your steady heartbeat and even breathing. The day will come where we take away Anxiety's frequent flyer miles!
Have faith that you will come out of this storm!
With love and a deep breath!
In my class, I had a student talk about how important it is to stay positive in our
discussion board and keep an open mind. I told him that he hit the nail on the head.
I explained my thoughts on the importance of keeping an open mind:
If you cannot keep an open mind,
then at least keep a closed mouth!
I've learned many things over the years, but the one lesson that helps keep a smile on my face and in my heart is this:
I can accept a slightly 'less than I hoped for' outcome simply by knowing that my efforts were 'more than enough'.
That way I end up feeling proud even if things don't turn out exactly the way I planned.
Time is one of those things that, when you haven't had it in a really long time, you're not sure what to do with it when you finally get some.
Sometimes gaining extra time actually makes you feel like you're at a loss for something else.
It's no more possible to teach a child (or an adult) who is throwing a temper-tantrum the strategies needed to calm down, than it is to teach a drowning person to swim.
Be proactive by watching for those things that trigger the tantrum. Then, when the child is in a 'safe place', you can teach those strategies that will keep them from 'going under'!
Even better, model how you control your own temper when you are ready to lose it. I've put myself in 'time out' more times than I'd like to count. :)
The other night, as I was driving home after a 10 hour work day, I really wanted to purchase a nice bottle of Cabernet so I could treat myself to a glass of wine when I finally arrived home. However, I knew we were low on milk so I needed to stop for a gallon so the kids could have their cereal in the morning. I simply didn't have the energy to make two separate stops. I thought to myself that it was seriously too bad that I couldn't find both items in one place!! But alas, I know that in Connecticut, I cannot buy wine at a corner market or gas station, no matter how hard I wish for it to be 'a thing' or how many times I pop in to 'give them another chance'. It reminded me of some common sense advice I had heard a long time ago:
You cannot go to the hardware store to buy a loaf of bread!
Do you optimistically walk into the hardware store looking for bread... even when you know darn well it’s not offered there? Do you find yourself angry with the owner of the store because he doesn't have what you need? Keep in mind that it's not his fault.... he never promised to sell you bread!
We have to stop expecting that the bread will someday miraculously appear at the hardware store. It's time to face the harsh reality that the reason we are not getting what we want from the 'corner market of life' is that we’re shopping at the wrong store. If the store doesn't carry what we need, it's OK. Don't take it personally. Just move along to the next place because what you're looking for could be waiting for you in abundance just inside the door!
Perhaps the furniture in your house is old and ugly. You just can't stand to look at it any longer. It's super comfortable though, and you've had it so long that you don't have the energy to redecorate. Finally, though, the pain of keeping things the same way becomes greater than the pain of changing them. So, you decide the old furniture has got to go… it's just bringing you down. You tell yourself that just because you are used to it, doesn't mean you should own it forever.
So, suddenly you open the doors and toss all that old furniture out on the lawn! There... you did it! All the ugliness is gone! Your space feels so much better already! It's clear and open! You feel proud of yourself, at least temporarily. Days go by and you become frustrated because you still do not have any place to sit because you have yet to replace the old furniture. This was not planned out very well!
You know that it's going to take so much time and effort to go find new furniture. At this point, you convince yourself that the easiest thing to do would be to just take at least one piece back in... Just for now. You open the door and grab that old, ugly, but comfortable chair and bring it back in through the doors.
You plunk down in the old, familiar chair and tell yourself that this was so much easier than going out and spending time, energy and money on new stuff. Naturally, before you know it, all of your ugly furniture is right back where it started from... in your space! We should have known that if we planned to refurnish a room that we would have to fill it up with 'better stuff' as soon as possible. This way we wouldn't go back to the ugly, yet comfy, stuff.
Understand that it's just like that when we work to banish the old, ugly thoughts in our heads. If we tell ourselves that we are going to get rid of these useless, negative thoughts, we have to make certain to be prepared to fill the empty space right away.
Let’s say for example that our head is constantly filled with thoughts of how truly lazy and unmotivated we are... it may not even be true, but that doesn’t matter. So, we tell ourselves that we have to stop allowing these ugly thoughts to take up space in our head. "OK, Self... that's it!!! You will no longer tell yourself that you are lazy and unmotivated. It doesn't do you a bit of good. Those thoughts will not enter my brain and those words will not cross my lips! I'm tossing those thoughts 'OUT ON THE LAWN'!! Good riddance!!!!" We then congratulate ourselves on a job well done.
A day or two goes by and our thought process doesn’t know what to do with itself. It’s too empty ‘in there’! Sadly, it’s easier to take those negative thoughts back in the door because we were not prepared with new thoughts. We must furnish our 'empty space' with positive thoughts and words right away. So, before I start telling myself what an unmotivated person I am, I will replace those thoughts with something better.
The key is to have a plan! What do we want our ‘new space' to look like going forward. We need to come up with a few solid goals. So, for example, our goal is to eat healthy and work out for stress and weight management. Now that we have a general goal, we can choose our new 'furniture':
> I am a motivated and goal oriented person!
> Each Saturday I sit and create a menu for the following week so I can get groceries on Sunday.
> Each Sunday I fill out a Weekly Plan sheet so I'm sure to get all the important stuff done.
> I'm motivated and driven to be the best person I can be each day... and these are the thoughts that will occupy my space!
So, if you plan to get rid of some old furniture anytime soon, make sure you have some new stuff to take its place so you won't drag the old stuff back in!
Here is just a quick suggestion before Christmas Eve Services (if you attend):
If you are sitting in the warmth of the church (because you go there early to get a seat), and you notice 'that family' getting out of their car in the parking lot and walking into church late, yet again. Don't judge them. Welcome them into the warmth of the church and understand that the effort it took them to get there was enormous.
Maybe you see that teen walk into church in a sweatshirt and shorts... don't judge him because he is not dressed 'appropriately'. Welcome him in without the sideways glances. Try to imagine the enormity of the effort it probably took to get this kid out the door of his home and in through the doors at the church. Realize that the strength necessary to make that happen is more than you'll ever understand (if you're lucky).
Welcome every person into church who wants to walk through those doors. Even find it in your heart to welcome those who may not yet know how much they need God in their lives.
Merry Christmas and love to all!!
So, I had to sign some paperwork for my car this past cold and rainy Tuesday. Kara Mecca, from Blasius Chevy, knows how tight my schedule is, so she agreed to meet me at the D&D closer to my house… talk about great customer service!! I bought a coffee, that I didn’t really want, and sat down with her to sign away.
On our way out, a man, who may have been homeless, asked us for a cigarette. Neither one of us smokes, so we said sorry… then I realized that I still had the unopened coffee in my hand. I offered it to him and you would have thought I was giving him a $100 bill! He thanked me multiple times! It felt great.
As I was driving away in my warm, dry car, I wished I could have done more. Then I realized that I had an extra umbrella in the car… as well as a protein bar. I turned my car around and went back to find him. I found him a few buildings away from the D&D trying to stay out of the rain. I pulled up and gave him my green Post University umbrella and the protein bar. Again, you would have thought I was giving him the world.
About 30 minutes later as I was driving to an appointment, I saw my green Post University umbrella walking up the street (about ½ mile from the D&D) with a much drier and happier man underneath it. I can almost promise you that I was happier than him about it!
The moral of the story is that we don’t have to take days of planning and have tons of resources in order to perform an act of kindness. We just need to keep our eyes open for the opportunity to share what we have already. It may seem small to us, but can mean the world to someone else! More than likely, the good deed will do just as much for us as it will for the person on the receiving end.
Today I will not focus on the things I don't like, what I don't have, what I haven't done, what I might lose, and what I can't afford ... today I will focus on all those people and things that I do love, all that I do have, all I've accomplished, what I've gained through my trials, and all the amazing things money can't buy!! Maybe I'll do it again tomorrow and again the next day too!!
So, I’ve recently figured out that my front door is wide open, the lock on my gate is broken and my Neighborhood Watch group has fallen asleep on the job; uninvited guests are running around my house like they own the place! OK… so, I’m speaking metaphorically… the front door to my house is always locked and I don’t even have a gate. Truth be told, there isn’t even a real person I’m trying to keep out. So, you must be wondering what locks and gates have to do with anything. Well, it’s a strategy I’ve used for keeping only well-meaning and productive thoughts in my head and the less-than-desirable thoughts out.
Back in the day, I would entertain all sorts of negative beliefs. I pretty much left my front door wide open. Sure… Come on in! Mi Casa, Su Casa! It was like every PG-13 movie when the parents go away and the unsuspecting teen has a party for a ‘few friends’. We know darn well that it’ll be a free-for-all sooner than later. That’s what happens when we don’t self-monitor our inner conversations and feelings. We end up entertaining all sorts of cruel thoughts. Once they have free reign in our head, it’s almost impossible to get rid of them.
Over the years I’ve learned to personify the negative thoughts. I began to see them as separate from myself. It’s so much easier to win a battle when you can ‘see’ what you are fighting. Once I was able to visualize that these attacks were coming from someone who was intruding on my peace, I realized that I no longer had to allow them the courtesy of space in my head. No more entertaining the unwanted guests! You know the saying: Party’s over folks… you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!
I realize that it’s hard for us to admit, but I’d wager that most of us have had negative internal conversations that no one else is even remotely aware of… unless, of course, you’re like me and you’re comfortable taking your comedy routine on the road (or on the page).
As I mentioned in my previous writings on depression, the negative thoughts in our heads can be dangerous and horribly mean! They say things to us that are completely false. They take our greatest fears and ‘perceived’ shortcomings and make them seem as if they are our reality! They pretty much ‘suck’! It is obvious by the abundance of memes available on this topic ~ that I’m in good company.
Keep in mind that these negative thoughts are not mutually exclusive to people with clinical depression. They can show up uninvited to anyone’s door just like those unwanted party guests. I consider myself a positive person. I am a glass half full type of gal. Keep in mind that just because you have negative thoughts running around in your head doesn’t mean you are negative. It simply means you have intruders!
I used to be well trained in spotting a negative intruder a mile away. OK… so maybe not a mile away, but at least 50 feet away. I had learned to spot the negative thought before it came anywhere near me. I learned to be ‘on the lookout’ for the mental and physical warning signs that told me that if I wasn’t careful, soon I’d be entertaining unwanted guests. I was so good at it that as soon as the negative thoughts came close to me, I’d feel ‘out of sync’ and I’d know it was time to protect myself by not only locking the front door, but also going a bit further to lock the gate that leads to the front door. I even made sure to have a good view of the street so that I’d spot these negative thoughts as they walked toward my house with their arrogant attitudes! That’s the trick ~ you need to see them coming. You need to be prepared and proactive!
Well, I will say that I believed that I had made it a pretty permanent habit to keep an eye on the comings and goings of the thoughts in my head. I should have seen the warning signs. I should have felt an unwanted presence tip-toeing its way back into my daily thoughts. But, sadly, I didn’t!
Apparently, I’d become careless and had let my guard down! It happens to the best of us. As time goes by, and we become comfortable with our surroundings, we forget that we need to lock the doors. Sometimes it takes a rude awakening to shake us up enough to bring back the ‘neighborhood watch’ mentality.
The other day I was at the gym when suddenly all hell broke loose both mentally and emotionally! Of course, on the outside, I just looked like a woman on the twisty Ab machine, but inside the battle of ‘me against them’ had commenced. The little negative voices in my head (we’ll call them Martha and Penelope) were having an all-out brawl to see which of them could break me first!
Honestly, if I look back now, I can admit that I’d heard them whispering for quite a long time. I guess I was too busy to pay attention to them. But today they did not speak in whispers and I had no choice. Today they were not trying to hide their judgment of me. They were going back and forth deciding my worth and my future! If I wasn’t careful, soon their opinion of me would be my dark new reality.
The first voice I heard was Martha as she yelled, “She’s wasting her time working out! Why does she even bother? It isn’t helping her at all.” Then Penelope chimed in and said, “You do know, don’t you, that she has actually gained weight over her 6 months of working out… look at her! What a pathetic mess!” Martha jumped back in to add two more cents, “For goodness sake, can she even see the girl on the treadmill in front of her. Now, that girl is obviously more dedicated to her work outs because she can actually wear shorts that are above her knee. LOL!!!” Of course, Penelope had to get the last word by saying, “She seriously just needs to go home and sit down with a bowl of popcorn and a glass (or two) of red wine because she’s hopeless! This just isn’t for her. She’ll just have to face the facts that it’s all downhill from here!” They went on for quite a while, but nothing else is appropriate to share right now.
So, there you have it!! BAM!!! They were back with a vengeance. Negative thoughts are pretty sneaky like that. They sneak in quietly through the back door. One minute you think you’re a champ at defending yourself against negativity, the next thing you know you’re knocked on your backside!
As I twisted back and forth on the Ab machine, I had a choice to make. It had to be now at this exact moment. This was nothing that I could wait to tackle later. I had to step up and fight them immediately. I had to find a way to stick up for myself and tell them they were wrong. But, they were so strong and it was almost impossible. I tried and tried, but they always had a snarky comeback! I was on the defensive, but if I wanted to beat them and send them away, I had to be on the offensive.
This is one time where fighting fire with fire wouldn’t work. Every time I defended myself against their words, they’d just throw more at me. It was a vicious cycle. They’d say something demeaning and I’d tell them they were wrong. That obviously wasn’t working. They had no conscience, and they were fighting for their existence. I had to find another way to get rid of them.
I decided that everything they said about me was either based on a past experience or something that hadn’t yet happened. That was their secret weapon. I had to fight them in the present. That was my secret weapon. I had to look at my own reality based on what I was doing in this moment. I had to be in the ‘present’. So, instead of defending myself against their words, I came up with my own. I shouted loudly at them (inside my head of course, because contrary to ‘their’ belief, I was NOT giving up on the gym or myself, so I had to hold it together). I allowed my inner voice to rise up and shout:
So, once again, the doors are locked. That’s awesome, right? I’m all set! Well, yes… in theory. However, it takes practice. You have to start small. You will begin by noticing how you feel throughout your day. Are you at peace in your own skin? If not, then it’s time to check the locks on the doors. Begin to pay attention to that which you allow to enter into your conscience mind. It’s great to evaluate which thoughts bring you joy and which thoughts bring you pain. Eventually, you’ll be able to fine-tune your ability to evaluate your thinking so you’ll be alert and proactive when even the weakest of whispering starts.
Keep in mind that the negative thoughts, your personal intruders, will always try their luck again. They want to catch you unaware! If the gate is not locked, they’ll smile as they walk (slow motion) up the sidewalk to your front door. What do they look like? What are their names? Keep in mind that they will not be all too happy when they realize that the door is locked. They can knock on the door all they want because you are not letting them into your happy place. Send them away! They will have to find lodging somewhere else! Only positive thoughts will unlock the doors!
With faith and belief,
Don't leave me alone with these thoughts in my head
They fill me with fear ~ they scare me to death
They darken my mind ~ they poison my soul
It's blackness I feel and I remain in this hole
The choice is not mine ~ the venom runs freely
My body is paralyzed as my mind is left reeling
I barricade myself and huddle in the dark
I know it's not me ~ the contrast's too stark
There can be no witness to this dark other side
It's momentary emptiness that I'll not let abide
I will ride out this storm ~ I know soon I'll be fine
As the venom runs its course and I walk this fine line.
I am usually pretty good about avoiding the passing of judgment on people or situations. It's not that I'm a wonderful and wise person; it’s more that I've learned the hard way what happens when I do pass judgment. Over the years Karma has found creative ways to teach me a lesson or two on that which I've mistakenly judged. I've also found that I hate, hate, hate to be wrong! It's worth it to keep my mouth shut... but it's just as important to keep my thoughts out of the shadow-world of judgment.
So, I try to be careful to make sure that I am not dressing my judgmental thoughts up in 'observational' clothing. For example, I might see two people in a deep conversation. The observation is that they are talking. The judgment comes in when I try to build a story around the 'why' or 'what' they might be discussing. Then I treat my 'story' as fact and start discussing it with others.
So, how can you tell the difference between making an observation and making a judgment? I believe it's all in how the thought makes you feel. You see, judgments will not only hurt others; they also hurt us! Last week I found myself thinking about a situation that has been dancing through my mind for a bit. At first I thought that these were merely observational thoughts. However, then I realized that these thoughts spiraled into other more negative thoughts! Those thoughts left me with a feeling of negativity and being a victim of circumstances... which I loathe! It's then that it hit me that I was not making an observation. I was passing judgment on a situation that was not only none of my business, but also had no actual effect on me.
I have learned to monitor my thoughts in relation to how they make me feel. If I find that my mind is wandering into a place where it doesn't belong, I make it turn around. It's not easy to pay attention to how your thoughts make you feel, but you'll get the hang of it with practice. It's sort of like the feeling you might get if you were walking home and it was getting late. The short cut you usually take, which seems harmless during the day, just feels wrong now that it's getting dark. It feels risky and maybe dangerous. So, you decide to go the long way around to avoid the shadows. That's what you do with negative judgments. Just don't go down that risky, dark path.
I know what you're thinking... judgmental thoughts are not dangerous. However, this is where I'd disagree. As I mentioned earlier, more times than not, we find that what we thought we 'knew' was indeed incorrect. Who wants to be seen as the person spreading false or harmful information? It ruins your character. Judgment takes up prime space in your brain that should be reserved for more important thoughts. Also, keep in mind that Karma has a way of putting you in a similar situation to the one that you found yourself judging not too long ago (I know this from experience!). Now, you'll learn the hard way what it's like to be in the other person's shoes. Dangerous? No! But harmful? Yes!
So, I guess the whole idea is to be careful when you find yourself looking into someone else's world. Are you simply observing and letting it go... or are you passing judgment and allowing those thoughts to take up residence in your daily thinking. Only spend your time on that which you can be certain will move you to a better place.
Cindy Gagne Teixeira
Just like you, I wear many hats. I'm a mom, a teacher, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer. I choose to laugh (and talk... and write) about my problems because crying takes too much time.