Getting Unstuck For a Dynamic 2018

 

Getting unstuck for a dynamic 2018 enables fresh energy and motivation. It clears away subconscious negativity and makes room to live fully in the present. It allows us to have a clear vision for meaningful goals.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana Click To Tweet

Getting Unstuck: Wisdom From Technology

For example, an unfinished past is like issues I had with my iPad. All of a sudden a small white pinwheel in the middle of a blank screen kept going around in a rhythmic fading/returning circle over and over again. I tried clicking a combination of buttons hoping to turn it off and reboot. Nothing worked. It was slowly draining the battery and becoming useless at a time I needed it most.

Since I was traveling, I found the nearest service store. After the technician asked a few questions and clicked the home screen button twice, he showed me the hidden apps running in the background. Many were duplicates several times over.

“Oh, I didn’t know those were there,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Every time you open an app on the iPad, you’ll need to swipe it away when you’re finished.”

He showed me how to swipe each of those no-longer-needed apps away. Once I did that, my iPad worked fine.

Getting Unstuck: The Apps of our Lives

Our lack of awareness about the unfinished business of our past is like those apps taking up valuable energy. It’s human nature to move toward pleasure and away from pain. But our pain and pleasure is meant to flow in and out of our lives. Yet our obsession with avoidance keeps us from taking inventory of what’s slowing us down or keeping us stuck.

A daily inventory can be as automatic as brushing our teeth. For example, a practice such as praying The Daily Examine Prayer or writing in a Five Minute Gratitude Journal are great ways to swipe away those apps. Weekly and quarterly inventories may include participating in your place of worship or gathering with an accountability group. I’ve known some happily married couples ask each other things like, “How full is your love tank today?”

In addition to daily and weekly inventories, consider quarterly reflections. I’ve taken spiritual and personal retreats every 90 days for several years. It’s a time to be aware and reflect on the previous 90 days and be intentional for the next 90 days.

When clients go through a series of counseling sessions with me, I encourage them to schedule “booster sessions.” We can maintain our relationship health like we do our dental hygiene as we visit our dentist for six-month cleanings and yearly X-rays.

With a practice of regular inventory, we gain wisdom, awareness, and movement. As a result, we get unstuck.

The lessons of 2017 are catalysts for transformation in 2018. Click To Tweet

The journey through our past wasn’t meant to be forgotten. Our life experiences have meaning and valuable lessons for us.

Getting Unstuck: Deeper and Freer

Getting unstuck means going deeper and becoming freer. Therefore, a small percentage of people actually accomplish their New Year’s goals.

When we don’t take inventory and learn from the past, those who know us best experience us as moody, irritable, and cynical. Consequently, we’re easily triggered. The criticism/defensiveness patterns are like synchronized dance steps in the Tango of our marriages.

It’s the subconscious disappointments, anger, trauma and grief that keep us frozen. In addition, we forget even the highlights of the previous year. We don’t take time to celebrate and we miss valuable lessons.

Is it any wonder why most don’t bother to take inventory of their past year or plan for change in the New Year? The apps running in the background are blinding us from from fresh beginnings. Our unfinished past takes up wasted energy and slows us down. 

Let’s take inventory of the good, bad, and ugly of our lives.

When we share our unfinished past with a professional counselor, compassionate minister, or a wise friend, we begin to notice the lessons. We make room for the present when we swipe away the unnecessary apps of our lives.

Your Next Step to getting unstuck

  1. Consider a daily practice of the The Daily Examine Prayer or a Five Minute Gratitude Journal
  2. Schedule a free 20 minute consultation 
  3. Ask about the Professional Women’s Focus Group

Professional Women’s Focus Group

Join me for a live Q & A webcam call about a 90-day plan for online group accountability, focus and clarity. For other free resources, go to judycounselor.com.

 

How To Steer Clear Of Holiday Stress

 

Every Black Friday for several years, my husband and I spent time dressing up as Mr. & Mrs. Santa with our decked out 17 foot red Mohawk canoe. Red lights, Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and lots of adrenaline rush energized us as we paddled amongst fancily lighted yachts and cruisers. Hundreds cheered in rhythm shouting, “San-ta, San-ta, San-ta” as we honked the horn with the same rhythm. I may have missed shopping deals on Black Friday, but I’ve not regretted past experiences of creative events like this. Although any event or shopping spree can be stressful, we can learn how to steer clear of Holiday stress.

We can learn how to steer clear of Holiday stress. Click To Tweet

Here’s three tendencies to change if you’re overcome with stress.

Tendency to live with perpetual stressors

It’s easy to get used to our stressors without realizing the effect it’s having on us. Whether we’re overcome with finances, relationships, or household clutter, we tend to adapt it as normal.

We need to re-evaluate every 90 days to discover what we need to eliminate from our routines. For example, after years of decorating our canoe, we made a conscious decision to let go of the yearly tradition. We’re thankful for the memories, but have accepted our limits and energy at this season of our lives.

Tendency to be a harsh self critic

If we listened to our automatic thoughts out-loud, we may be shocked to discover how harsh we are with ourselves. We wouldn’t speak to our best friends with the same critical messages in our heads. Do you find yourself being critical when you’ve forgotten or failed at something? Thoughts like,

I should have done this or that or, I could have. . . or, I wished I would have. . . 

If we spend our mental energies thinking the would’a, could’a, should’a; we’ll perpetuate the stress awaiting our attention.

We perpetuate stress by using mental energy to ruminate on would'a, could'a, should'a. Click To Tweet

Tendency to think we can do it all

Many times we measure ourselves with others even though our physical energy and motivations are different. And we make the mistake of measuring our current selves with our past selves.

Although we’d dressed up our canoe and ourselves for the Parade of Lights for several years in a row, we began to realize our tendency to compare our present energy with our past. It took a lot of rowing and concentration along with risks among the larger crafts. It was okay to allow our experiences to become memories and relieve ourselves of the stress.

Each of us have specific situations when it comes to knowing how to steer clear of holiday stress. It’s important to re-evaluate and consider our tendencies to:

  • Live with perpetual stress
  • Be a harsh self critic
  • Think we can do it all

Our ability to steer clear of holiday stress takes just as much concentration, balance, and partnership as Mr. & Mrs. Santa rowing in a lighted canoe in the parade of lights.

Your next step

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Anxiety

Anxiety: How Journal Writing Helps

Anxiety: How Journal Writing Helps.

My first diary may have been pink or blue with flowers or peace signs, I’m not sure. But I know the mounted metal lock and flimsy key made me think it was secure. As a fourth grader who liked a boy in my class, it was a treasure box for my secret desires. It later became a way to process anxiety.

Anxiety Journal

Handwriting in a journal is one of the most intricate and complex things our brains can do. Without an outlet, those neurons can take you on trails of negativity, worry, and harsh self-talk. Even when you write down a list or phrases in a journal, you release those unwanted thoughts and focus on more important things, like the project or task that needs your full attention.

Then you can close the journal and use your mental energy toward living in the moment. The toxic thoughts transfer from your head to the journal.

Learn to live in the moment. Transfer uninvited thoughts from your head to your journal. Click To Tweet

Anxiety Appointment

For those who struggle with anxiety, I encourage them to find a 30 minute time frame at the same time every day to write in a special journal just for those anxious moments. You begin to train your anxious thoughts to associate a physical journal as a place to land.

When anxiety rears it’s ugly head at uninvited times, you can tell it, “I’m busy now. You’ll need to wait for your appointment later today.”

Journal Writing – Growth Beyond Anxiety

When your anxious thoughts are written down and closed up in a physical book, you can put it on the shelf or hide it under the mattress. It’s there when you need it again. Or it’s there when the anxiety is no longer haunting. Or it’s there when you’re far enough removed from it that you can look back and celebrate how far you’ve grown out of them. Like looking at a picture of your immature self that doesn’t even look like you any more.

Handwriting in a journal is one of the most intricate and complex things our brains can do for well-being. Click To Tweet

From Anxiety to Gratitude 

The authors of The Five Minute Journal consider daily journal-writing as good for your mental health as brushing and flossing your teeth is for your dental hygiene. You build up plaque in your brain if you go days without writing what you’re thankful for.

The mind is so intricately complicated and we can’t possibly be aware of every automatic thought that takes us on a trail of negative ruminations. But we can direct our thoughts that serve us well. The habit of writing down what we’re thankful for every morning primes our brains before starting our day. We learn to look for amazing things as we reflect and write them down right before going to sleep at night.

Write for Well-being

Our minds are now more complex and stressed with patterns of thinking than our ten year old selves. We’ve outgrown our fourth grade anxieties and diaries with peace signs and flimsy locks. Let’s continue to outgrow our current worries. Let’s appoint a time to write and give our ourselves the well-being to live fully in the present.

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Regrets, life lessons

How 5 Regrets Are Life Lessons

Some folks say they intend to live with no regrets. And I think, really? Is that even possible?

I don’t believe we can live our entire lives without regrets.

No matter how intentional we are, we all experience regrets. Those of us who admit our regrets can become stuck in sadness with focused attention around helplessness. There’s nothing I can do about it now. 

After having lost two loved ones recently (my friend, Marcia and my mother-in-law, Mary Ruth), my attention is drawn to lessons we can learn from regrets of the dying. With her care of people through hospice work, Bronnie Ware identified the five regrets of the dying. This list has been in my planner all year in 2016.

1. Have the courage to live life true to yourself and not what others expect. 

Ancient literature reminds us of how universal fear is to our humanity. I highlighted several references of God’s message to Joshua in my Bible. Joshua was the one to champion the nation of Israel into the promised land. (Old Testament, book of Joshua) There’s several phrases of Be strong and of good courage along with more messages of Do not be afraid. 

Notice that a pre-requisite for courage is fear. Let’s face it. We are all fearful at times. I believe fears (or any emotions we experience) are invitations to us from God to grow. Fear and courage are a necessary part of our growth.

2. Don’t work so hard.

We need to honor the God-given design of our bodies. Our brains need sleep, and our bodies need nutrition and exercise. Dr. Dan Seigel has a great diagram of our daily requirement for a healthy mind. Too many of us have stress-related health issues, and strained relationships due to overwork.

3. Express feelings.

Many of us don’t have words to describe how we feel. Or we may be constantly on the go and don’t notice our feelings. When we’re triggered in an instant, we fail to pause and explore what might really be going on. Instead, we medicate with social media or screen time.

4. Stay in touch with friends.

I fall short in this category and must admit I’d never been to any of my high-school reunions. Even though we have years of disconnect from former friends, it’s never too late to fill in that gap.

5. Let yourself be happy.

Some of us take ourselves way too seriously. When my husband meets new people, he usually asks, What do you do for fun? It’s amazing how many people just pause and are unsure how to answer.

As we get ready for Thanksgiving and the Holiday activities, may we take these five lessons to heart:

  1. Be courageous and true to yourself
  2. Relax from work
  3. Express your feelings
  4. Enjoy friendships
  5. Be happy.

Questions to Ponder

Which of the five lessons would you like to focus on?

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Grief

Dancing Into The Kingdom Of Love

I met my friend for the first time several years ago in the Waltz line at our local dance hall.

We were newly single women discovering the healing art of ballroom dancing.

Our similar life experiences gave us instant connection. The dance floor was a special place.We discovered the Princess parts of ourselves otherwise hidden. Click To Tweet We laughed and compared stories. We complimented each other and twirled to test the flow of our dresses. 

We secretly longed for our prince charmings.

Ballroom dancing allowed us physical connection with the opposite sex that was acceptable in no other type of environment. It was safe. There were rules of etiquette. It was proper only in that context. Our male partners were our friends and acquaintances. 

We hung out at each other’s dance parties and special dance events that became too many to count. The ballroom community became a place of belonging. 

We both eventually danced right into the arms of our husbands.

 Joe and I had a private wedding on the beach of Lake Michigan; just right for us. Theirs was a grand event!

It was a fairy-tale wedding. 

Marcia and Donald wedded at St. Peter and Paul’s Basilica in Chattanooga, surrounded by family, friends, and our dance community. I was a little jealous at first, yet that didn’t stop me from being overjoyed with them.  

Joe and I were among the prelude of couples who waltzed down the aisle to welcome the bride. Marcia’s elegance dazzled guests with her military-uniformed son accompanying her. The violinist played an instrumental version of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.  

The “something borrowed” on her wedding day was my cream-colored lace shawl. It was perfect for her November wedding day walk from the church to the dance reception.

The frequency of mine and Joe’s dancing gradually declined to once a month. Her’s and Donald’s dancing never slowed down. I’d never seen Marcia tired. 

Too brief and unexpected.

She was so healthy and her symptoms so undetected before her diagnosis. It had been less than two months and a few text messages back and forth between us. I assured her of my prayers. I was determined to be there to pray and cheer her on in her battle against cancer. I left her a phone message the day she planned further treatment in Nashville. I was hoping to hear her voice; and her to be encouraged by mine.

God had other plans. Joe and I stayed by her side, loving, watching, and praying along with her family. 

We must have been soul sisters all this time.

In those five hours of saying good-bye, her sons became my sons. Her sister and brother became my siblings. We listened. We watched. We waited.

Joe and Marcia shared camaraderie serving on the board of our local USA dance chapter. His job was to choose the music playlist with just the right tempo and variety for our monthly dances.

Joe brought a playlist of easy listening music to ease the tension. After all, Donald needed soft music to aide his grief. Gentle waltzes for Marcia seemed appropriate.

After he played several, Donald said, “Are slow Waltzes all you have? Marcia’s favorites were dancing the faster Foxtrots and Swings. Do you have Elton John’s Crocodile Rock or Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me?”

As Donald laid next to her with her head on his chest, the hospital bed became their dance floor. Marcia’s breathing seemed calmer and more rhythmic. The hours ticked by with this energetic showcase of Foxtrots, Sambas, and Swings. . . and a few faster Waltzes.

We watched her dance from the arms of her husband into the arms of Jesus.

Through the tears we could imagine her angelic princess figure with her flowing white gown twirling through the streets of gold.

This sacred time for Joe and me is beyond description. We cling to each other a little tighter. We see each other through the lens of gratitude and uncertainty. We cry together and pray more than before.

Marcia and Donald showed us how to love deeper and be gentle with the delicate soul of our relationship. We may even dance more often.

I’ll always be grateful for Marcia O’Conner.

I miss you, my friend. And I miss you and Donald as a couple. Thank you for showing Joe and me how to dance in the deeper places of our lives.