Taking Thoughts Captive … or Herding Cats?

I was on a training call last night when the speaker, Stacey Hall, said she was going to tell us how to wake up in the morning. Instantly I perked up.

This is something I need to hear. I don’t know about you, but most days, I’d rather stay in my bed just a little bit longer than my schedule allows. And for me, it’s not because I’m tired … though there was a time when tired followed me all.day.long.

Not anymore. I am finally getting real rest.

For me, I don’t look forward to my day. At least M-F from 8-4:30….It’s actually not bad — I am blessed with a great job — it’s just not my passion and there are numerous other things that I’d rather be doing…. Like working on my golden handcuffs and coconut money.

So, when my alarm goes off in the morning, I often wake up angry. Yes. Angry.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve started diffusing my lovely YL essential oils as I’m getting ready for bed and going to sleep. I’ve tried many different ones, but the blends Believe, Release and Abundance seem to be my favorites lately. There is no science telling me which one to choose, usually I’m just drawn to one and I go with it. I’m learning to trust my inner voice.

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I have noticed a change in my attitude as I am rising to meet the new day. I’m not excited to get up … yet. But I am also not angry anymore. However, I still have room for improvement and I want to start my day on the right foot. Which means I have to venture from the bed.

Stacey mentioned (this is my paraphrase) that going to sleep with positive thoughts will help your mind to marinate in them and you can wake up in the morning with positive thoughts. Prayer, meditation and gratitude are great places to start, but how often do we affirm ourselves for the great things we’ve done?

Time to go APE.

It’s awkward … kind of like when I started talking to myself in the mirror … but appreciating yourself goes something like this:

“Tracie, I appreciate you for taking the time to invest in yourself and your business by joining in on this training call … and really great job for stepping out of your comfort zone and attending that networking event!”

“Tracie, thank you for nourishing me with healthy, delicious food today. Thank you for listening to your body and giving it what it needed today!”

And so on … reality is, my mind wandered a lot. Kind of reminded me of my kayak lesson. At the beginning of our lesson, our instructor (Jamie) taught the 5 of us to “raft up,” which is what what he would say when he wanted us all in a line, our boats parallel with each other and we would hold on to each other’s boats while he gave us instruction. At first as we tried to get our boats together, he kinda laughed and compared it to herding cats…. LOL!

But he patiently taught us the different paddle strokes and at the end of 3 hours we could paddle forward, backwards, sideways, in a circle and make a sharp turn. Some of us even took turns practicing “wet exits” (getting out of a capsized boat) and rescuing each other. I have to mention that facing the fear of capsizing the boat really helped me to enjoy the whole kayaking experience more. Nothing left to fear … but that’s a whole different lesson!

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Practice … yes at the end of 3 hours Jamie called out for us to raft up and we had it down! In control, no injuries, calm and having a blast!

Ok, I’m going to have to practice the appreciation for myself at night and I’m sure in time that my thoughts will be less like herding cats. I think it means I have to practice awareness of my thoughts throughout the day and start training them to focus on the positive, on solutions, on action, gratitude, integrity and so on…. Over time, I’ll strengthen the focus and the awkwardness will dissipate…I’ll be able to raft up those thoughts and get to my goals much quicker.

So, this morning when my alarm went off, I caught my thoughts. They were going negative, but I was able to intercept them and think about how I wanted to start my day.

I am grateful for the job I have – it is the springboard that will get me to where I want to be.
I am grateful for another day to show my love and appreciation for those in my life.
I am grateful for the amazing journey that God has me on now – I know there are many great things in my future.

~Rafting Up!
I AM a Master Attractor of ALL I desire to support me in achieving my B-All!

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8 HCSB)

By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about Stacey Hall and going APE, check out her website: http://www.chi-to-be.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChiToBe
I got to meet Stacey at the YL convention in June and we have chatted several times since then. She is genuine, inviting and full of a lot of wisdom, and her book is helping me to reach my goals. If you feel stuck, then this is a great resource to start working through that!

If you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and are interested in learning to kayak, I highly recommend Discover Kayak. You will have a great time!
Discover Kayak

You Have Blessed My Life

I am so blessed … for so many reasons but there is one thing that I want to share my gratitude for today. My tribe.

The last few years I have been finding my way out of darkness and into the light of healing … the light of love. I learned something recently … the more I open myself to receive love, the more I can give love.

There was a time when I shut everyone out. I remember the day. I was in junior high school, a boy was picking on me on the bus. I stood up, turned around and pulled my fist back like I was going to deck him … he stopped. Everyone was shocked, including myself. I sat back down and in tears, decided that no one would ever hurt me again. Ever. This was only one incident in the long line of hurts that had already piled up in my young life. And I was tired of it. That decision came with some hefty consequences. I shut down emotionally – the decision to not be hurt also meant that receiving love became difficult. The armor around my heart didn’t just keep the bad stuff out, it kept everything out.

I guess the armor served a purpose for a while. I survived though I can’t say that time was pleasant.

But God.

Isn’t He just so good to His children?
He is always pursuing … He never gives up.

Love - Light

God put people in my life who loved me anyway. And over the years, the armor has softened, cracked and began falling away. It started with the one special friend in high school who took me under her wing, then my faithful college buddies (we call ourselves “Sarah”), my best friend, church friends, Life Group, CR, and those I’ve met here and there along the way …. wow! I’m so blessed. And every year, it just keeps getting better … this last year has been the most amazing. Starting with the journey with Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating program … and one special mentor who reached out to me and showed me beauty that I could not see. My heart opened up allowing me to receive the next part of healing — which started with my mentor coach at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition — and led to an amazing friendship with a group of people who are on the same path as I am.

My tribe. These are the people who really “get” me. We share many common interests but are free to be unique…my weaknesses are their strengths and vice versa…We share a passion and a vision.

As I look back at the people in my life who have had the most impact on me, I realize that I have several tribes or circles of friends. Life is dynamic and multi-dimensional, after all — It makes sense. Each tribe is just as important to me as the next.

I met my newest tribe when I joined Young Living and quite honestly, I am having trouble expressing in words how I feel about these amazing women. Our friendship started online via Facebook, phone calls, Google+ hangouts, Skype … and we finally got to meet in person a few weeks ago (except for one — and we will meet soon, of this I am sure!). It was a family reunion — and the whole week we bonded and shared and loved as if we had known each other all of our lives. I experienced so much healing through them and through some emotional release work that I did using the YL essential oils. I am so blessed that they were there with me during that time. My heart is so full … and this is how I realized that the more I open myself to receive love, the more I am able to give. Otherwise, how can I give what I haven’t received?

God demonstrates love the same way — He loved us first as described in 1 John 4:7-21

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

All of my life, God has been loving me and I’m just now getting it.
Really getting it.

“Keep the spark of passion kindled by finding a way to connect with people who inspire, uplift, encourage and empower you. Because however passionate you are about following your chosen road, you will experience uncomfortable moments of doubt and fear. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own; and drawing on the encouragement of others, whether in person, through virtual networks and forums or through reading uplifting material, will calm and inspire you to get right back in your groove. And don’t forget to have some fun along the way as well.” ~ Kathryn Bryant – Brillyantliving

Every single friend in my life has been a blessing to me and I value each one. Thank you for loving me through thick and thin … and know that I love you more than you’ll ever know!

~Loving Deep

Flipping the Switch

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I’ve been thinking about my internal dialogue a lot lately … if you’ve been reading my previous posts, it’s probably pretty obvious. I have experienced quite a shift in how and what I’m thinking. I’ve realized that I don’t have to be a victim of negative thoughts and emotions anymore. I actually have control over them. I’ve realized just how disempowering it is to allow my self talk to dwell on the negative – it makes me feel hopeless and like a victim.

What you tell yourself …

I can’t _____ (fill in your blank).
I am a failure.
I am inadequate.
I am an emotional eater.
I can’t eat that donut.

These thoughts lead to feelings which eventually spiral out of control and now …
I feel like I have no choice. Trapped.
I feel like I can’t do anything right.
I feel depressed.
I feel out of control. Hopeless.
I feel deprived.

Once I slowed down long enough to recognize what I was feeling, I would spiral down into the pit of depression and self pity because I allowed my emotions to control how I responded and they reinforced my thoughts, which reinforced my feelings …. and so on.

And then a few months ago, I saw this qoute from Lysa TerKeurst …

Feelings are indicators not dictators

Feelings are indicators not dictators

What? You mean to tell me that my emotions don’t have to be in control of me?

This got me thinking…..
{I think a lot – especially while driving…and gardening…}

If my feelings aren’t dictators, then that must mean I have a choice. I can choose to change my response even if I don’t feel like it. Yeah. I can do that. Sometimes. But it seems kinda like a brute force attack. There may be times when I need to suck up and do the right thing despite how I feel but this doesn’t really address the heart of the matter, does it?

The quote says that feelings are indicators. So what are they telling me?

I started questioning the feelings … to clarify, I didn’t question what I was feeling … but rather put the feeling on trial … like this -

I feel deprived.
Is is true? Am I really deprived?
No. Not really. I have lots of things I can eat.
Ok. So you feel bad because you can’t have this donut.
Yes.
Why are you choosing to not eat this donut?
Because it is not a healthy choice for me to make. Eating donuts make me very sick.
So what CAN you eat?
Oh, there are actually a lot of things I can eat. I can eat dark chocolate, apples, pears, kale, avocados, mangos, coconut, squash, pumpkin, chard, bok choy, cabbage, chicken, beef, bacon, asparagus, ginger, taro, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, radish, strawberries, blueberries … and more!

Reframing the thought

Then it dawned on me. It starts with the thoughts!

I can’t do anything right….
Is it true?
No. There are lots of things I do well.
Like what?
Well, I am good with technology, cooking really nutritious meals, talking to people …
Great and the other areas where are you are weak are simply opportunities for growth.

I can’t talk to this person ….
Is it true?
Well, not technically. I am afraid to talk to this person.
So you are choosing not to talk to them?
Yes. I choose not to have a conversation with this person.
(and now we can address the why … which is fear in this case)

Instead of “I can’t” now I say “I choose to …” or “I choose not to …”

I can’t eat this food ….. becomes …
I choose not to eat this food because it not beneficial to my health. There are so many more healthy things available for me to eat. Look at all the options I DO have.

Now, doesn’t that feel more empowering? I choose this … instead of being the victim of circumstance.

The missing peice for me has been tying those feelings to my thoughts. And now that I can change the thoughts … the feelings will follow.

But there is one more thing …

What I call myself & The power of intention.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go all new age on you. But I don’t want to ignore something very important in our self talk and that is what we call ourselves.

I’m an emotional eater.
I’m codependent.
I’m fat.
I’m ugly.
I’m …..

Those statements are very powerful. Have you ever had a thought about something and then just HAD to have it? I am naturally drawn to things … even crave them when I think of them. {Think KALE! Think BEETS! Think BRUSSELS SPROUTS!! … hungry?}

I’m not a fan of labels. I think they become self-fulfilling prophesies. So if I’m going to claim to be something, then I want it to be good. I may struggle with eating when my emotions are high, but that does not define who I am.

First and foremost, I am a child of God. His beloved daughter. As a child of the King, that makes me a princess. Oh, yeah … you can call me “Princess Tracie.” I am dearly loved, treasured and cherished. Created in the image of God … He calls me beautiful and He rejoices over me.

Knowing and BELIEVING this …. well, nothing else really matters. I choose to claim these truths. I reject that other stuff. Those labels are just things I struggle with – opporunities to rely on God in these areas of weakness.  I’ve even been reframing how I talk about Rheumatoid Arthritis. I used to say “my RA.” But not anymore. It still affects me, but it doesn’t own me nor I it. It is now referred to as “the RA.”

I believe that our minds and bodies are connected … not separate. And just like we move toward the things we think about, our bodies respond to the directives received from our minds. If I’m constantly thinking I’m fat and ugly, then the body will reflect that. I’ve seen people change. I’ve seen people blossom into new creations when they start believing the truth … yes there is a physical change! I’ve experienced it myself! So be careful about the words you say to yourself. Reframe. Set intentions.

I have a healthy relationship with food.
I choose healing foods to nourish my body.
I am beautiful. I am lovable. I love and am loved.
I am fit and getting healthier every day.
I love myself and choose health for myself.

This is what I’m moving toward.

Flipping the switch …

I had to draw on this reframing self-talk when “the RA” recently flared up. My dr suggested a pretty aggressive elimination diet. If I would have sat there and dwelled on everything that I could not have, I would have been overwhelmed and feeling extremely deprived. Instead, I made note of what to avoid and focused on what I could have. And the reality is, there is A LOT that I CAN have. And I even get to try some new things. When I pass by something that is on the “no” list, I remind myself that this item will not help me heal. I am healing my body and have committed to choosing only foods that will heal. (all things are permissible but not all are beneficial) Also, I quit calling it an elimination diet. It is a healing diet.

Now, that feels more empowering.

So, what phrases are you needing to reframe? How are you flipping the switches in your thoughts?

~Princess Tracie, Digging Deep

Ecclesiastes 8:1
How wonderful to be wise,to analyze and interpret things.Wisdom lights up a person’s face,softening its harshness

The Pits

Beth Moore has a book called Get Out of that Pit, which I read a few years ago. In it she describes three different ways that we get caught up in those nasty pits that become strongholds in our lives.  We get thrown in, we slip in or we jump in.

Last week I was thrown into a pit.

I was told by my eye dr that the RA that I thought I had under control was, in fact, not in control but causing my severe dry eye issues and if left unchecked would cause my eyeballs to melt. He actually used the word “melt” and offered to show me pictures. Now, I CAN handle the truth, but there was no love in how that was delivered. He questioned why I wasn’t taking plaquenil or methotrexate. Ummm… well, have you SEEN the side effects? I’d like to keep what’s left of my immune system and my liver, thank you very much.

I kept myself poised long enough to get out of the office and I drove to Whole Foods, where I had an emotional break down in the parking lot. Getting a good cry out, I went in, bought some plants for my garden, sushi for lunch and a small box of gluten and corn free cookies. I promptly ate the cookies. I know, I know. I’m still working on this … I consider it progress that I allowed myself the cry and pass through several emotions while in the parking lot. Baby steps.

I contacted my health coach and a different dr. and they have both been extremely supportive. I have a new plan … an elimination/gut healing diet, some new blood work, perhaps a different med to use temporarily to get things under control (low dose naltrexone) …

Now I find myself sitting on the edge of my pit…I’ve been down in the bottom wallowing around – nursing my wounds, recoiled in emotional pain…and now I have clawed my way up the side of this pit, even had some help from friends to give me a boost. But I have a choice to make. I look down and see a ledge. I could easily hop down and hide a little while longer. Nursing my wounds. Hanging on to the pain. Listening to the lies. “This will never work. You will never be able to get the body you want. You are broken. It’s hopeless.” They are only whispers, but they are deafening.

I look up and look around, noticing that the air is fresher when my gaze isn’t down in the pit. I see light, new life, and hope. Why wouldn’t I choose life? What is so appealing about the pit? Ugh. Self-pity. Defeat. Depression. There were lessons learned here but nothing worth staying for. It’s time to move on.

It’s no coincidence that I began reading my friend Angela Dee’s new book Out of the Ashes We Rise – 40 days of hope when life seems hopeless. I love how God provides for His children … just what we need, right when we need it. Every day that I’ve read has been exactly what I needed that day. God is truly faithful. And loving.

He [Abraham] believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. (Romans 4:17, 18 HCSB)

Time to get up and move along. I have new things to learn. I’m sure that God will be bringing some people across my path who struggle with the same health issues and I will be able to share my victories with them. I, too believe. Against hope — because I don’t put my faith in doctors but in God who can heal and who can show me what is best for me — my hope is in God. No matter the outcome, He will see me through it. I know He is more interested in me having a growing and thriving relationship with Him than anything else. I also believe that God created our bodies to heal. Yes, eventually the body breaks down. But I don’t have to speed that process up by abusing it.

So, I’m going to approach these next few months as a series of experiments and a research project. I will be investigating the problems and finding solutions. My attitude will need to remain positive. I won’t view the dietary changes as deprivation but rather as a source of healing for my body. Any new diagnosis (possibly Sjogren’s) won’t be a death sentence but clarification of the issues and empowerment for more targeted research. I am not alone, I have a great health coach, doctor, some other health coach connections and very supportive friends …. If I can’t find a support group, then I think that must mean I should create one. I’m willing to bet that there are others around here who could also use the support.

Time to leave this pit behind. I have a mountain to climb, but at least the air is fresh, I am not alone and I have Hope. I am taking my eyes off the pit and back onto God.

I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalms 121:1, 2 HCSB)

~Dusting off and going on a hike

Finding Peace with Myself

Self-sabotage. Why do I do the things I know I shouldn’t? … I’m moving along doing great, then BAM! I start heading down that path that leads me away from my goals. I feel a bit out of control, like some other being has taken over. What is this about?

I think my inner 2 year-old takes over and begins lashing back … “you’re ignoring me, so I’m going to act up!” … Sound like any other children you know?

Over the last couple of months, some of my old lies or unhealthy belief systems have come into the light. It’s been an emotional and exhausting time as I have been working through identifying them and looking for the truth. I realized that while many of these lies originated from external sources, I have kept them going. I feel rejected – not because others reject me – but because I reject me. “You are fat. Being fat is unacceptable. I don’t like who you are.” I feel ugly because I look in the mirror at myself with disgust. I feel unloved and unlovable because I don’t love myself.  I feel alone because I don’t want to be me or with me. I feel forgotten because I have ignored myself – I ignore my physical body cues and my emotions. I feel like a burden because my attitude toward my body and set backs has been that of frustration with myself instead of compassion and understanding. I feel inadequate and insecure because I can’t trust myself … And why should I? I’ve rejected me, bullied me, and abandoned me.

Time to make amends with myself. I did just that this morning – I looked myself in the eye and apologized for being such a bully…for ignoring and abandoning me and for rejecting me. I promised myself that I would treat me better…with love, compassion and grace.

I forgive me and trust that I will do what is good and healthy for me.

In Celebrate Recovery I learned how to make peace with others and with God.
In LE I am learning to come to peace with myself.

In my mind’s eye, I picture a little red headed girl with pigtails … her big brown eyes look up at me and she takes my hand. We walk over to a huge oak tree and sit among lots of bright orange flowers. It’s time to get to know this kid :)
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~Making Peace

Time to Bloom

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Community of Hope United Methodist Church has a community garden that provides organic fresh produce to a local food pantry. For a small fee I can rent my own little box and grow some produce while helping out in the community garden and in other’s boxes. I had been thinking about starting my own garden in my back yard, but the thought of preparing the area and getting it going on my own was a bit overwhelming….so I contacted the folks who oversee the community garden and checked it out.

After taking a look around, I decided to give it a whirl and chose the box that looked like it needed the most work. I began at IMG_1749the task of clearing it out. There were a few other people around working in the garden – some were just starting their first garden as well and others had been working on their gardens for several years … and they pitched in to help me. We raked and dug and pulled out the old straw and weeds … at times there were others helping me out and then at times I worked on my box alone. I got some new soil and mulch and worked it all in — as I raked and mixed in the soil, more weeds would surface and I cleared them out. The thought of clearing out my garden on my own was overwhelming … “where do I begin?” Coming to the community garden has it’s advantages … because as soon as I began working on it, three other people joined in and began helping me clear it out. Sometimes we just need a little help to get started. Right? I got to a point where it was a little more manageable and they went on to do their own things while I continued working. Occasionally they would come back around and help again with some things I missed. Even the pastor came by and threw on a couple of bags of mulch …

This got me to thinking …

This is me thinking ...

This is me thinking …

Sometimes in life I let things pile up … I neglect my garden (or it’s in a winter season), weeds and other debris take over and it becomes stagnant – produces no fruit. It seems overwhelming to begin clearing it out but I know I need to make some changes. I feel like I’m dying. I look up and look around until I see hope. As soon as I reach out for help I find a great community of people who are in different seasons of their own lives who are willing to come along side of me … some have a little more experience and give me great counsel in my journey while others are in the same season as I am and we support each other as we go.  After taking my own first steps, I will be able to counsel and encourage others who are just starting out as well. At times I will need the encouragement, wisdom and support of those in my community and then there are times when I need to do the work on my own. And it is work. There will always be weeds to pull. But the reward is well worth the effort.

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This is Celebrate Recovery. CR is a safe community where anyone can go to begin clearing out their garden. In CR I have found a safe place to share my deepest hurts and have found healing and freedom through my relationship with God. I have a sponsor who gives me wise counsel in my journey. I have accountability partners and deep friendships with those who journey with me. And I have the privilege and honor to sponsor those beginning their own recovery journeys.

This is also Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating. The LE journey has been a very surprising one for me. I began in July 2012 with the expectation of losing weight and getting fit…what I didn’t expect was the emotional growth I would experience and how much I would learn about myself. I didn’t realize just how much I despised who I am, how much of the rejection I felt was really coming from me (not others), how disconnected I was from what my body was physically feeling versus what my mind and emotions were telling me. LE has helped me see myself differently. I know I need to give me grace and compassion. I need to be ok with who I am and where I am right now. In this moment. I am learning to love me so that I can make the best and healthiest choice for me in this moment. I also didn’t expect the friendships that I’ve developed which I hope will continue even beyond LE. My coach and mentors have supported, encouraged and guided my journey … and my fellow Lean Eaters have supported and encouraged me as well. What a wonderful, beautiful group of women they all are.

LE has helped me clear out my garden, I’m nurturing the beautiful flowers that are there, planting some wonderful new flowers and now it’s time to bloom.
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Some day I’ll be on the side of helping others with their health journey … I can’t wait to see my own clients bloom!

~Digging Deep
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The Tape Player

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I have learned over the past few years that I’ve had a belief system “programmed” into my brain since I was a child … messages that I learned about life and myself that I operate (or behave) based off of. Like a tape player, the messages play over and over in my head. Some louder than others. Some paused and waiting for someone to come along and press play. Some of the messages are true and some are out right lies. The lies seemed to trip me up often and cause a lot of pain.

I worked with a counselor for several years and we focused on identifying these lies and replacing them with truth from God’s Word (the Bible).  It was hard work, let me tell ya. But so worth it.

So, I’m fixed. Right? Reprogrammed. No more bad tapes playing in my head!

Not so much.

A few months ago, someone said something to me that hit not just one button but all of them.  Every button on those old tape players from my past – of every negative thing that I’ve ever believed about myself and how life is – was pressed. It makes me think of the scene in Elf when he’s on the elevator and hits every button for every floor.

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It’s like a Christmas tree!

The whole panel lit up and the elevator stopped on each floor … yup … the elevator in my mind stopped at every lie and started playing those messages.
I am alone
I am forgotten
I am not enough (this was one that I was unaware of, but I know it’s one I’ve been operating on for a long time)
I am a burden
I have to take care of myself, by myself
I have to protect myself
I can’t be myself because I am unacceptable
I have to do things for people for them to like me
There is something wrong with me

I actually started writing this blog post in February … and we’re half way through March and these messages have been rolling over in my mind over the last few months. A few of them I’ve been able to quiet down. But to tell you the truth, I haven’t really been working much on shutting them down…and it’s taken a toll on how I’ve been seeing myself. Lately, when I look in the mirror I haven’t liked what I’ve been seeing and quite frankly, I’ve been pretty hard on myself. But with the help of a friend, I see that ignoring this has stalled my growth and progress — or perhaps distorted my perception of progress. She said a few things that really got me thinking … “you can’t see the transformation yourself but others can see it” and “even when you are where you want to be you still think of yourself as you were.”

Letting that sink in for a minute….

My friend told me that an “aggressive mind shift is in order.” And I agree. I’ve allowed these little monster lies to steal my joy far too long … when I look for negative, all I see is negative … when I look for positive, I will see more positive … it’s time to record some new, truthful messages and interrupt those old lies. Hopefully, over time, the lies will fade away and my new messages will replace those old ones. The recording studio is my bathroom but I will be carrying the new messages with me all day long …

I had my first recording session this morning … a mirror mantra, so to speak…my conversation with myself went something like this:

mirrorHello there Beloved Daughter of the King … Beautiful Bride of Christ … Princess … today you are going to be nice to yourself. BE NICE!! I am going to be nice to you! You are, after all, a Princess with value. I am chosen, accepted, forgiven. I am loved and worthy of love. God and I will always be here for you, you are not alone. You can trust me – I will take care of you. I will make healthy choices for you. I am not alone. …

The conversation went on for a few minutes, and then I ended with repeating “You are beautiful and you are loved … I am beautiful and I love you” – this was the most difficult part. And hard to believe. But I know I am creating new paths and replacing old lies which will ultimately result in finding the peace with myself that I am looking for. Also, I realize that I can’t get lazy with this … I have to be intentional.

~Digging Deep … blazing new trails!

Intentional Interruptions …

As I was driving home from work today I remembered that I wanted to try a new route…a new road had recently opened that had potential to cut some time off my commute – or at least lessen the headache of some traffic. But normally when I am headed home, my brain goes into autopilot and I completely forget about my intention. Today, I remembered! And a thought struck me…this is just so like my life.

My brain goes into autopilot and I miss everything around me. I get stuck running around in the same paths … paths that at one point may have served me well, but could now be holding me back from progress or may be completely destructive, and I am blind to it. When I’m in autopilot, I don’t even notice that a new path is available, much less remember to take it.

So how do I notice the new path and remember to take it?

This past year I have learned so much about the importance of being in the now … being present with what I am doing right now. Not thinking about what is going to happen in the next day or next hour … not thinking about what happened yesterday …. but what am I feeling now? What am I thinking now? What am I doing now?

This practice started with eating (and it takes practice!!). I discovered that I was rushing through meals, stuffed but unsatisfied. How can this be? I was challenged by some health coaching that I was receiving to begin to slow down while I was eating. Become aware of taste, texture, smells, flavors … breathe deeply … turn off all distractions (no tv, music, mobile devices, books) … be present and eat slowly. My, my what a challenge. And at first, I didn’t do too well. At first, I would reach the end of the meal and realize that I was supposed to be slowing down. But the more I kept it at the forefront of my mind, the quicker I was able to intercept that old routine and begin to do something different. At one point, I was halfway through before I remembered that I was supposed to be slowing down … and then it was after a few bites…and now, I take 3 deep breaths before I start and try to put my fork down between each bite. I’ve even started checking in with my body when my plate is half full … am I still hungry? Of course I’m not perfect, but I have made so much progress here. And I’m enjoying my food. Experiencing every texture, smell and flavor. I like that I don’t miss out on such a great gift.

And now I’m working on a more internal path. Learning to love who I am … who God created me to be. I am, after all, a child of God … a beloved daughter of the King – which, by the way makes me a princess. I am created in the image of God. But is that how I have viewed myself? Not even close.

When I look in the mirror, I see pain and ugliness. I see a broken, alone, rejected, fearful and hurting little girl. My past pain has clouded my view – distorted the image of God. I can hardly stand to look.

Am I still this hurting, alone, broken little girl? Not by any means. I have worked through so much of this pain with God in counseling and in Celebrate Recovery. I have forgiven those who hurt me. I enjoy life and love where I am in life right now. I think what has happened is that these little programs keep going off in my head – they haven’t been quite interrupted enough yet. My brain is in autopilot when it comes to how I see myself. Others see my progress, but I’m blind to it. I still hear the messages … the lies. So I have to be intentional to interrupt the lies and replace them with truth.

Yes. I have many thoughts on how to proceed with this. It will start with conversations with myself as I look at my reflection in the mirror. It’s time to be intentional and interrupt the autopilot pushing the buttons on the negative tape players in my head. I will also identify those lies and squelch them with truth — record new messages….true messages. I foresee a few more blog posts on this topic … :)

By the way, the new route home was perfect .. shaved a few minutes off of my time AND a lot less traffic! Score!

~Digging even deeper …

The coaching that I referred to are listed and linked below:
Sheila Viers (Rock Your Dream Body)
Precision Nutrition (Lean Eating)

Elephants

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Ignoring Elephants …
You’re only as sick as your secrets

Denial. Living in a state of mind where you ignore everything going on around you.  “I refuse to look at the problems, therefore they do not exist.” No problems. Seems like a pleasant place to be. Seems like it should be quiet and peaceful. Seems like a dream.

Reality? It’s more like a nightmare. The problems do exist and when ignored they tend to start consuming everything around them and grow into mammoth-sized elephants. You see, by ignoring them you actually feed them. Then they start trampling things, breaking things, smelling up the place, moving things around, taking up all available space and zapping you of energy. You might find yourself having to rearrange things to accommodate them or you start making excuses to hide them from others. Makes me tired just thinking about how I can continue to ignore them …elephantThis is where I’ve been living and I have unwittingly raised a whole herd of elephants.

Herding elephants …
Notice and Name

Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating program isn’t just a diet and exercise system. It has been a journey of identifying and overcoming obstacles in my journey to become healthy and fit. We get plenty of nutrition and exercise (or movement) guidance, but there is just so much more to becoming a healthy person … and to ignore the emotional, relational, and spiritual part of ourselves is to create an unbalanced approach to wellness. We are all of these. And more.

My PN coach challenged me to take a long hard look around and start identifying the elephants in my life. Sometimes I just need a little shove in the right direction …

What’s one Elephant (problem, challenge, or limiting factor) that you’ve been avoiding?

“What? I have to look at it? Name it?”

Yes. Seek out the biggest one … what is holding you back from making progress? What are you avoiding? Stop running. Stop. Turn around. Look at it.

“But there’s a whole herd. And they’re loud and scary. I’m overwhelmed!”

Look at the biggest one.  What does it look like? What is its name?

“Ahhhh! The horror. It’s green! It’s ginormous. Its name is Debt.  It has taken up the whole living room just standing there swinging the destructive trunk of “behind on mortgage.” There are dents in the walls and a few broken collectibles on the floor … but it is coming close to knocking the whole wall down. A near miss. It’s time to take action. It’s time to quit feeding this elephant. It’s time to … wait, there are more.”

“Coming toward me are twins vying for my attention. They are coming at me. What do I do? I have to get away!”

No! Don’t run. Stand your ground. What do they look like? What are there names?

“The first one is black. Dark and heavy and depressed, slow moving but with a heavy momentum that is picking up speed. It is saying something. ‘You’re not enough. You’re alone. You’re forgotten. You are a burden. You are unacceptable. There is something wrong with you.’
Oh! I know who this is … this one is the Liar.”

“The second one is red. Dark red – almost black. It looks like it’s about to explode and it is charging at me. Looking at it brings up feelings.  Anger, resentment, shame, guilt. I feel like I’m exposed as it looks back at me. I know this one, too…. this one’s name is Unforgiveness.”

I’ve battled these elephants before. Though they are presenting some new challenges, I know what I need to do.

Starving elephants …
What you feed grows.

I’ve dealt with these elephants before. I’ll have to admit that I’m a little frustrated with myself for allowing them back in. But I am reminded that it’s taken many, many years for them to grow and it will take some time to get rid of them. And I’ve gotten lazy. Distracted. Worn down. Life happens, priorities change, seasons change – my focus shifted and I neglected these things, so here they are again. Demanding my attention. Ignoring them hasn’t worked. So what now?

Well, it’s time to take some action.

Debt won’t go away until I change how I spend money. I will have to become creative and figure out how to do more with less. I may have to make some sacrifices … but the alternative is losing my home. And that’s not what I want. It’s time to starve the Debt elephant, shove it out the door and release it to the wild.

The Liar goes away when I start blasting it with Truth. And there is only one definitive source of truth that I know. It makes sense to me to check in with my Creator – since He put me here, He must have a purpose for me and He must know something about me … so, what does God say about me?

• I am a child of God.
But to all who have received him–those who believe in his name–he has given the right to become God’s children … (John 1:12).
• I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.
For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love (Ephesians 1:4).
• I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).

These are just a few of the many truths that I will be meditating on to combat the lies.

Unforgiveness will be deflated when I:
1. Receive God’s forgiveness and
2. Forgive the one who hurt me.
So, it’s time to sit down with my CR inventory sheets and Life Coach Sheila Viers’ forgiveness exercise and start working through this mess. I have the tools, but they do no good sitting in the tool bag. Time to dig them out.

Releasing the elephants …
Send them back to the wild.

It takes the right tools, time, work and strength from God to work through the process of letting go of the elephants in your life. Right now, I’m doing the work of starving them and repairing the damage that they’ve done … but I know I’ll get to the point of letting them go. I’ve had this victory before, God will see me to it again.

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5

Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up;You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest;You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue,You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me;You have placed Your hand on me. This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
(Psalm 139: 1-6 HCSB)

~Digging Deeper and Riding Strong again.

Expectations

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Have you ever had one of those moments where you are expecting one thing and get something completely different? Order a Dr. Pepper and get Diet Coke …bleck!!!! (I don’t drink sodas anymore, but I distinctly remember that experience!!)

So, in my nutrition studies, I heard a lot about cacao nibs and decided that I needed to try them. I bought a box, poured a bunch in my hands and scooped them into my mouth, which was already watering in expectation and anticipation of dark chocolate bliss. Ahhhh….bleecckkk!!! Yuck!! Tree bark and dirt were the first thoughts that popped into my mind … you know that scene from “Over the Hedge” when the animals are chewing on tree bark after experiencing the bliss of Spuddies and “It’s Nacho Cheese” chips….yeah.Nacho Cheese

Well, that box was expensive, so I couldn’t bring myself to just throwing it away. I vowed to find another use for these nibs – maybe I could grind them into powder – so I sealed the bag in the box and put them up in the pantry.

A few months after that I was at dinner with some health coach friends and the conversation went to chocolate and cacao nibs. I shared my experience and one the coaches said he actually prefers the nibs to regular chocolate. “Really?!” I said “… they tasted like tree bark and dirt to me!”

“Hmmm…. Yeah, they are a bit earthy, but I actually prefer them now.”

With that in mind, I came home, pulled out my expensive box of cacao nibs and tried them once again … no expectations of chocolate bliss this time. “Hmmmm…not so bad.” I thought. A few more. Actually, yes they are pretty good. Bitter, stronger than dark chocolate and not sweet, but almost a liquor flavor. Yeah, I like them.

cacaonibsBenefits of chocolate..

I learned something that night. Expectations are powerful influencers. And an unmet expectation made me completely turn on something that I ended up liking when I was able to remove the false expectation.

Have you ever been there? So disappointed in a movie because it didn’t live up to your expectation from the hype of the previews? So disappointed in a meal because someone else promised it to be the best thing you will ever taste? So disappointed in a person (or yourself) because they didn’t live up to your standard?

What about going into situations expecting to fail? This one strikes home for me. I am working through Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating program and realized half way through it that I expect that it won’t work for me. I’ve tried a whole bunch of things and they didn’t work, so why would this one? Expecting to fail = self-fulfilling prophesy. And I’m crushing that limiting belief with a clean slate … an attitude of exploration and finding what will work for me.

What if we started going into situations without expectations? A clean slate. Unprejudiced experience. Ohhh. That’s hard. How can I forget what hasn’t worked, drop the fear of failing again, or forget a painful experience … if I put myself in that similar situation again, then surely all of those bad things will happen again. And there may be some truth in that – on occasion with some circumstances.  I wouldn’t suggest that you continuously put yourself in a known abusive situation. But for the most part, those past experiences that have caused pain probably won’t happen again. And we can learn from those painful experiences and do things differently.

Failed, unmet expectations lead to a lot of self-induced disappointment, stress and pain.

Or, as my pastor puts it:
It’s a basic rule in ALL relationships:  “Unmet expectations ALWAYS results in conflict.”
Expectations are generally not met because of 3 reasons:

a.  We don’t know it’s expected.  (the expectation was never communicated)
b.  It’s not realistic.  (the expectation itself is just not realistic…therefore never accomplished)
c.  We know the expectation but just selfishly choose not to do what it takes to meet it.

Thanks, Marty …

So, when are expectations healthy? What is a “good expectation?” As one who tends to have expectations that are too high, I don’t know that I can answer this question this side of humanity. It’s really hard … I expect that people will follow through with their word, that they will do their job, pitch in, etc … but reality is, as humans we all fail to meet expectations. We miss the mark. We need grace.

But there is One who I know I can always expect to come through for me.  The Bible is full of God’s promises and when I take the time to understand what He has promised, I am never disappointed. And when everything and everyone else falls through One thing always remains … constant and unchanging … God’s love never fails, never gives up and never runs out on me.

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Rom 8:38-39

So, what expectations do you need to adjust?

~Digging Deep …

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