To Do Lists! Most of us make them, either in our heads, on our phones or even on paper. They help us to NOT forget, to stay on track and to move forward. Ok, this is GREAT, right? So what exactly IS on our To-Do Lists, hmmmm? Is there any mention of loving acts for our dear ones? Is there anything on that list about the actions of appreciation we're going to make happen today? If so! Wow! Good for you!! You can stop reading now. But, if we're like most, probably not, and this isn't to make anyone feel bad; this is just a wake-up call, for everyone, including ME!
Our loved ones can NOT possibly know what we are thinking and feeling about them all the time, and depending on the person, this 'unknown' can feel very uncomfortable. Luckily, we can act in purposeful ways to reveal our true intentions and keep our relationships on positive grounds. Sounds like a lot of effort, doesn't it?
So, Why bother?
It’s sounding DIFFERENT outside these days. Here in Michigan, early September, I’m hearing a constant hum of crickets all day. As a matter of fact, as I am now writing, with my windows open, I hear them. Falls coming, and I love it!! It fills me with anticipation of new beginnings, of a new school year!! I’m a dork! Even though I only teach one class a school semester, and I only have one child left in school (a college senior), I just LOVE it!! And I am an actual online student, so that counts too! Nevertheless, I KNOW!! Not EVERYONE shares this thrill.
For many, the thought of a new school year can produce dread or anxiety at a variety of levels. This can apply to parents, students and teachers, too. Today I address my parents and teachers with some tips and reminders that will hopefully contribute to a more peaceful mind.
These are all tips that I've had to continually remind myself, too, at one time or the other. I hope you find some that prove helpful, as well. Every day is a gift and that includes school days! Claim it!!
Retreats! Aww! They sound delicious and so self-serving don’t they? Well THIS is a mindset that needs to change right now! Actually, retreats do you and those you interact with MUCH good.
They CAN be a key element in personal growth. At the very least, I’ve found them to work wonders in defining my next major goal(s) and the steps needed to move ahead. Besides a relaxing getaway, retreats can illuminate our next personal missions (for the season), or even year. It’s because we ARE more relaxed, with no other demands, that our brains are able to expand and think more clearly. It’s a lovely thing!!
Retreats do not have to cost any or much money, nor must they require a whole week, or even a few days. Even though this length of time sounds grand, sometimes we just don’t have it in our busy lives. Nevertheless, there is a way! Home or not, retreats can be 4-6 hours, or 4-6 hours a day for 3 days, or a 3 full days, up to a week. It all depends on what we need, our environment and the time we have. But no matter what, believe me, each one of us should claim one.
My personal idea of a retreat is SOLITUDE for, at least, 4-6 hours a day for a few days in a week. Most importantly, it is a time where nothing is expected and therefore I experience no “lazy” guilt. The chance is there to totally relax and focus on myself and God. Later, to complete my day, there is usually 1 or 2 other chill people I socialize with in the evening, and this makes me happy.
No matter your preference, retreats give an opportunity to contemplate what we like about our life, what we need more of, and what we can do without. We focus on those events, tasks, and behaviors that WE have control over because, frankly, anything else is USELESS!!
It’s a time to DO and “study” the things that bring joy and growth to our spiritual and practical lives! Yes, please take that fun book that you’ve been wanting to read, and certainly watch a great movie or two, but ALSO use the time to learn and plan for some aspect of life that could actually make a DIFFERENCE in your weeks and months to come. I’ve got a ton of ideas, so here are a “few”:
· Study ways and exercises to strengthen the lower back.
· Learn about clean ways of eating and setting up a menu plan.
· Learn about good workout programs that you can implement.
· Do a workout that you’ve been planning to try.
· Learn and practice different methods of prayer / meditation.
· Find new recipes that you might want to try.
· Do that puzzle book you’ve been meaning to take out.
· Run, Canoe, swim, lay on the beach!
· Take long walks. Contemplate on the move.
· Learn about new places you would like to vacation with the family.
· Plan next year’s garden (or anything for that matter).
· Learn about ANYTHING that gives you pleasure and will make you a better version of YOU in the coming years.
· Plan for anything that will give you peace of mind once your retreat time is over.
· Do any fun project (scrapbooking, painting, knitting, etc.) that you just haven’t allowed yourself in lately.
So, SERIOUSLY! Take this into consideration. If you’re not comfortable with the Retreat idea, start small (4 or 6 hours or 1 full day), but definitely take it on. Decide on an amount of time, then OPEN your calendar, FIND your date(s), write it in and then COMMIT. Protect that scheduled retreat time like you would any other event or appointment. Next, you can take a few days to brainstorm and decide what your focus will be, and the materials you need. Then, you guessed it, COMMIT! 😊 Make any arrangements you need to so that this can happen, and then ANTICIPATE the time to come.
It’s worth the planning, and If you follow through, I GUARANTEE you will be sooooooo HAPPY that you did. Remember, at times, WE really need to be our own BEST friends.
GATHER YOUR PEARLS!!
Dark Secrets (being victim of abuse, or other violence) are toxic substances that spread disease throughout our bodies, brains and emotions. Even more, they overflow into our relationships and spiritual well-being for years, if not a life time. This hurt can manifest in some very significant ways such as:
So why such secrets? We all understand secrets involving our own misbehavior, and wrong doing, but WHY when we have been the victim of an offense? Why the embarrassment or shame? Turns out that, in the perspective of the “holder”, there are a good number of reasons to be silent,
So who knows? There may or may not be a hurtful secret at the bottom of all the sadness or anger or anxiety; however, what we CAN do is provide all the opportunities as possible so that disclosure and/or sharings can happen. And although we can’t force ANYTHING, we can always work to project the most nonjudgmental attitude possible which will create that SAFE ZONE, which each one of us needs. Talk LESS; listen a lot MORE. You might be surprised at what happens next.
The Key Points to Remember:
1. Acknowledge specifically what it is you want to feel, experience and see when you do obtain your goal.
2. Look at the facts of your situation: the positives as well as the negatives.
3. Identify the positive results (no matter how small) that have occurred.
4. Identify what is not working, what still needs improvement.
5. Develop strategies to move you ahead by mini-steps so that they are achievable.
6. Note (0r even better, journal) the results and effects of those strategies week to week.
Following these steps will lift you out of deep discouragement because you will clearly identify your progress. Everyone needs to know that they are moving forward, so let's make it visible and clear all those tiny steps forward we are actually taking. Peace!!
The wild black raspberry season has passed at my homestead and this signals the next round of activities. This is the time for re-evaluating and revamping my personal schedule for the coming fall.
Some people get so discouraged because they have to come up with a new plan or schedule for their life. But I see two strange assumptions being made here. First, perfection! It's only the perfect plan that would NEVERr have to be altered and second, that perfect plan would have to be for a "perfect" life that NEVER changes, because if it changes, then guess what, you need another perfect plan. YIKES!! And really! A life that never changes, is THAT perfection? Sounds like death to me and at the very least, extremely boring.
I say, let's be real! Our life strategies and plans naturally have to change, flex and adapt because our lives and those we care about change. So it's time to start drafting some plans. You'll notice I said PLANS and not plan. Don't think that the first concept will be the THE concept. Like writing and other creative projects (and this IS creative), a few drafts are necessary to get NEAR perfection for the coming 6 or 12 months, if I'm lucky. Because life happens!
What's the process?
1. I Brainstorm and write down all the categories of my life.
2. I keep in mind that not every category has to be attended to every day, for example Financial Maintenance, or my Personal Projects.
3. With a weekly planning sheet, I plug in my scheduled responsibilities and events (those I can not alter) under the appropriate days.
4. In that same weekly planning sheet, I plug in my life categories under the appropriate days.
5. I make 3 different sheets with different set ups.
6. I decide to share with a buddy who also takes her life plan as serious as me, and I share all three of my plans and thoughts over lunch or coffee.
Whatever I do, I try to insert some fun into it, and in this case, coffee or lunch with my friend fits the bill.
it's really helpful to not isolate yourself in this or any other process if you don't have the best perspective on it going in. Don't isolate! Others will be inspired and you will be empowered!
Keep it fun!!
It is a Decision
So many of us wait, thinking that when all the pieces of our life fit together just right, THEN we’ll be joyful. Won’t happen. When our relationships are warm and fuzzy again, or the kids start doing better in school, THEN we’ll be joyful. I doubt it. And on and on go our excuses to not have joy. Joy has to come in the midst of our disappointments, challenges, and deficiencies or it won’t come at all! Noooooo! You cry! But YESssssssss, it’s true! True because we’re talking about REAL life here, and
real life is never wrinkle free!! It’s just like those lies they tell on the labels of dress shirts, “Wrinkle FREE!” Ha!! Not true in my house, but crisp or slightly not, we still manage to get ourselves together and take on each day. So whether we’re conscious of it or not, sometimes we make the decision to NOT be joyful because things just aren’t right yet, or we’re not right yet, or the world situation certainly isn’t right yet, so joy does not deserve to exist yet. I recommend forgetting the ‘YETs’, and start dwelling on the ‘NOWs”, the present moments. The NOW is our real life, the only life that counts, it’s the GIFT, and joy is inside.
SILENCE! This is strongly recommended. Why? It is a purposeful state of being! I mean no music, no TV in the foreground or background, no earbuds , and no, not even that audio tape talking you through states of blissful bliss - just silence (at least from all those factors you have control over). It allows your thinking to happen, creativity to drip, flow and then eventually burst through with a calmness that settles deep within. You take the opportunity to be with only yourself. Silence is a key element in all of my Morning Beginnings. Honestly, I don't even turn the music on in my car until after my meditation/prayer and exercise has been done for the day. And although it didn't feel so "right" at the beginning, it certainly does now. Be at peace with yourself!
Usually our main goals require the accomplishment of a number of base goals that we would be happy to ignore. They’re BASE and so the reason is obvious! They’re not exciting or glamorous enough! There’s nothing beautiful to look at or show off to family or friends. So, though we don’t want to admit it, our ultimate goals can be rather surface-minded. We seek that “instant” gratification of the “look”, the final product, the happy feelings that come once we achieve THAT goal. We desire an accomplishment that causes a “Wow” response from ourselves but even more from our families and friends. This is natural, so no shame! However, our journey to the “Wow” will be more sure when we strengthen our foundations first.
It’s true! The achievement of increased self-discipline is not so dazzling. It is not immediately acknowledged by others, nor necessarily encouraged, but it IS one of the base essentials needed to achieve those more gratifying results. Of course, what IS acknowledged is that person with the hard, lean body, or the person who is joyful or the person who has suddenly gained success in school or career. The person is praised, and admired. And it is fun and gratifying to receive that praise. I know!! I get that!!
However, no one is there to gush over us during the PROCESS are they? . That’s the hard part and this is when we could use the most applause and encouragement, right? Here is where we start taking charge of ourselves and actually carry out the work….like going to bed on time, getting the paperwork done, exercising, and eating right. But, count yourself lucky if no one is hanging around with negative and discouraging comments about your new life habits. If there are people like that in your life, no worries! You’re growing strong and more sure as you move ahead, while, at the same moment, the doomers are standing stock still.
You can never give up on yourself! Only in believing in yourself can you then move forward. The first
essential step is to start each day in as purposeful and peaceful a manner as possible. Before your
day starts in full throttle, you need time to be quiet, to think, to reaffirm your intentions for your
general life and for that particular day ahead. Depending on your life responsibilities, this will take
different forms and happen in different places. For me, each day has to be a bit different on how I do
it, and I don't even have a regular job schedule or children to tend and teach. Life is just a
challenge for everyone who chooses to live it. So the main message is stop fretting over the details
and over whether what you do today will sustain throughout the next and future days. Focus on the
moment, focus on the day you are in. With all your life energy (chi) zeroed in on what you are trying
to achieve in the present moment, it will definitely inspire you to do whatever is needed in the future.
So no worries! Stay in your moment.