"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow." ~ Helen Keller

Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing The Storm Out

I have been in a total funk lately...no question about it. I don't know if it is the crummy winter weather, the never ending laundry and dishes, or just a lack of interest in all things fun, but whatever it is or was, thank the Lord, it is over now.

Sometimes we just have to ride things out. Waiting can be really hard when you are miserable so I want to tell you another thing I did that helped me lift my mood. I wrote it out.

Writing can be a wonderful form of therapy. It is no secret that keeping a journal is a tried and true method for getting your thoughts and feelings on paper so you can sort them out. When you write things down in the middle of whatever cruddy thing you are going through, you can look back later, with a healthier perspective and gain a depth of understanding. Writing is a valuable tool.

Psychologists and counselors who treat trauma victims and people suffering from PTSD, depression, and anxiety, often encourage their clients to write out their feelings. This is especially effective for victims of traumatic events such as violent crime, war, or childhood abuse.

They have you write and write and write uncensored about the traumatizing event. They instruct you to write everything you feel, complete with curse words and whatever you feel you need to say to the person who hurt you or to yourself. They have you repeat this over and over and over until you are sick of it. Why? Because writing gets it out of your system. When you talk and especially write about the matter so much to the point where it just gets boring and tedious, then it loses the grip it has held you in.

If you have suffered a trauma or been through a difficult time, you know what I mean. The event becomes so all consuming that it has control over you and you can't seem to get past it. Writing about it, puts it in to perspective and allows you to accept it and let go of it. I am not saying you can write about it one time and poof, it is all better. You will know when it is better because it won't constantly have that hold on you anymore. You will be able to think or write about it without it upsetting you or making you anxious.

I really believe this is why things like email, blogs, and Facebook are so very popular. People want to communicate their feelings. Maybe not their deepest feelings to everyone on their Facebook list, but they just want and need to share their thoughts with someone.

I have been a writer for a long time so I personally know the value and the satisfaction that comes from not only therapeutic writing, but just from writing in general.

I've found it is especially helpful to write down the things we are thankful for. Gratitude is such a powerful force and counting your blessings is a sure fire way to pull you out of a funk. Just seeing listed on paper all the many, many good things you have in your life can turn your whole attitude around.

Writing letters to loved ones is great as well. Even though most of us do our "letter writing" in the form of email now, I can't express how much I enjoy both writing and receiving emails from trusted friends and dear family members. There is just something about writing that is very healing, cathartic, and positive.

Of course, as a writer myself, I am biased. I love to write and I enjoy it. Some people say, "but I don't know how to write," or "I'm a terrible speller." It doesn't matter...your writing can be just for your eyes only.

I encourage you to start small with a list of the things you have to be thankful for. From there, just start jotting things down, whether they make you happy, angry, sad, frustrated...write it out. Write about your dreams, your ideas, the places you would like to go and the things you would like to do.

You will feel better for it and you can come back especially to the positive stuff again and again when you need encouragement. Writing has helped to pull me out of a funk on many occasions. It is a way to share your pain, your frustration, or your joy, even if it is only with yourself. Hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great Monday, and God bless.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do It Anyway

Do It Anyway 

A speaker I really like talks about fear and how people get immobilized by things they are afraid of and begin to believe they "can't" do certain things. For example, "I'm afraid to fly, therefore, I can't get on a plane." "I'm afraid of being laughed at, thus I can not speak in front of people." Obviously, we all struggle with fears like these. 

Her advice..."...Well...why don't you just do it afraid?" Do it afraid? Step out of my comfort zone and do something I am afraid of? HOW?  Well, to borrow from NIKE, "Just DO It." 

I'm not saying that it's easy. It's not...not at all. The time when you least feel like doing something is probably when you need to do it the most. As hard as it may be, it can help you get unstuck and moving in the right direction.

Believe me, I know how paralyzing fear can be. But if you ever want to have the good life you dream of, you have to find the courage to face those fears. It can just be a tiny baby step. But it shows tremendous courage to "do it afraid..." whatever IT is. 

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the going ahead and doing what you need to do in spite of the fear. 

Sometimes the struggle becomes all consuming until you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel any more. At a time like that it feels reasonable to just give in and quit trying because you simply don't have the energy to deal with it any more.

That is when you most need to do something. 

Sometimes, the last thing I feel like doing is praying. But I go on ahead and do it, even if I feel like I 'm talking to a wall. Whether or not my prayers are heard or answered isn't based on how I feel. They can't be heard or answered unless I actually DO it. 

Sometimes we get so desperately stuck we need help to get out of it. Personally I HATE to ask for help. I would actually prefer a root canal to admitting that I can't get it together. I don't want people to know I can't do everything myself. As women, we are under such tremendous pressure to be super heroes, and you can keep that front up for a while, but it is not reality. Sometimes things can't be fixed on your own, so you just have to go on ahead and ask for help anyway. 

I've had to do it at times, and it is really, really hard...even from the people you love, and who love you the most. I would rather try to pull myself up by the bootstraps, but sometimes it just doesn't work. On those times when I have reached out for help, that is always when the tide began to turn and things got better.

When someone you love is struggling, you may not particularly feel like taking up the slack, or listening to their sob story, or letting them wallow in self pity. But if you love them, and that's what they need, you do it anyway. 

It definitely stinks that when you're depressed or sick or completely out of it, things still have to get done, but that's life. The clothes and dishes won't wash themselves, the car won't fill itself with gas...and you won't magically feel better unless you do something.

Even if you're exhausted and tired and thinking, “what's the point?” you have to do it anyway. You may not be physically or mentally able to do certain things. The point is you have to do something.

The something can be anything...anything that will move you in the right direction. It can be tiny.  As tiny as simply saying to a friend, “Hey, I really need to talk to someone.” Or forcing yourself to do the dishes even though you would rather have that root canal. Or writing a blog post even though you don't feel like you have anything worthwhile to say.

Whatever IT is for you, just do it. You will feel better for doing it, and it will get you moving toward something positive.

The hard truth is that even if you paint on a smile, you still may feel awful. The house may look like crap despite your best effort to clean it. Even if you write words meant to encourage, they still may come across as dark. Do it anyway. 

I have found this to be a powerful and profound truth in my own life, and I wouldn't write it if I didn't truly believe it.

This song and video says it more beautifully than I ever could...

This incredible song is based upon The Paradoxical Commandments by by Dr. Kent M. Keith.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When Hope Seems Gone

This is meant to be a place of encouragement. But what do you do when you are having trouble encouraging yourself? I'm sure we have all felt that way at times. No matter what you do, nothing seems to be the right choice. It starts to feel all wrong...even hopeless.

If you have ever really been down there, you know what I'm talking about. When you are down there, some times you feel like you will never get up and never get out. It may take longer than you would like, but you will. Even though it may not feel like it, there is always hope.

Life is full of seasons. Seasons of hope and change, and seasons of doubt and sorrow. That is the roller coaster ride of life. We all lose hope from time to time. We get discouraged. Not everyone's life gets a story book ending. Things don't work out the way we plan. We do something with the best of intentions, only to have it back fire and blow up in our face.

There's no getting around the truth...some times life really sucks. We can be on top of the world one minute and then fall into a deep dark hole the next. Some folks are more prone to struggle with these things, while others have built up a resilience to help them in times of discouragement.

That's what I've learned about discouragement, you have to build up your resiliency to find a way to cope. And it can be really hard. It can take a long time. But step by step, doing little things for yourself, you will begin to feel better. You may just have to ride it out.

The thing you can count on about life, though, is change. Everything changes, and we don't always like it, yet we have to adapt. But, over time, every thing does change...including feelings of hopelessness, discouragement, or losing your way.

When you just feel hope is gone, do whatever makes you feel the least bit better. Pray. Hug your kids. Pet your dog. Try to think of anything, just one thing, to be grateful for. Do something for someone else. These are not quick fixes, but they have been known to help. Keep doing these things, especially when you don't feel like it. That is when you need to do them the most.

I am generally a really UP beat kind of person with a positive attitude. But on those occasions when I do get down, sometimes I feel helpless...powerless to make myself feel better. And maybe that is not the point. Maybe I am not supposed to feel better. Sometimes we just have to feel whatever we are feeling, even though it sucks, until it works itself out.

When I get bummed I usually turn to music. Sometimes a song can articulate what you can not find the words to say. Some times you don't even know what you are feeling. A song can reach into that hurting place in your soul and give you a glimmer of hope. Find a song that speaks to you. Don't give up.

Here is a good one.

"Hope For The Hopeless"
by A Fine Frenzy


"stitch in your knitted brow
and you don't know how
you're gonna get it out
crushed under heavy chest
trying to catch your breath
but it always beats you by a step,
all right now

making the best of it
playing the cards you get
you're not alone in this

there's hope for the hopeless
hope for the hopeless
there's hope

cold in a summer breeze
yeah, you're shivering
on your bended knee
still, though your heart is sore
and the heavens pour
like a willow bending with the storm,
you'll make it

running against the wind
playing the cards you get
something is bound to give

there's hope for the hopeless
hope for the hopeless
there's hope

there's hope for the hopeless
hope for the hopeless
there's hope"

Hang in there..."You're not alone in this...There's hope...You'll make it."

God bless.