Tag Archive | lifestyle

Setbacks

How often, it seems, we take two steps forward and one step back.  There are even occasions when we seem to relapse altogether.

Don’t be discouraged when this happens, okay?

“Yeah,” you scoff, “you don’t know how serious this is or how hard it is to turn around.”

But I do.

Anybody who lives any length of time at all has had a few setbacks:  That slip into an old habit or addiction that really knocks you off your feet.

The secret:  Get up, dust yourself off and move forward again.

Dusting yourself off means to forgive, learn from your mistakes and the circumstances that contributed to your setback.

Move forward means take one step at a time back to wellness – toward sobriety or eating… You already know because you’ve done it before.

Next, take hope in this:  Every time you move forward from a setback, you are stronger:  That particular trap won’t get you again!

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How Is Your Diet?

714px-Breakfast_in_the_Garden,_Frieseke

A friend of mine was sharing that he is on a negativity fast.  This entails checking himself every time he starts to think in a way that brings him down.

One secret to his fast is taking care to avoid news and conversations that feed his mind with sorrow, fear, anger, gossip or distress.

This raises a very important question for each of us:  What are you eating these days?  You could apply this to your physical diet, but I’m after your soulful one.  The music, stories, movies, news and conversations that we take in have a direct impact on how we think and feel.  All of this in turn affects our physical well being.

I do find that an occasional “fast” is very good for our souls.  That might mean skipping a rather dark movie or show, choosing some gentle music or avoiding newscasts for a couple of days.  It also means finding a quiet moment each day to pray or meditate.  It’s amazing how a little time to reflect and ponder wil detox us!

Then there are the positive things that build us up:  Time with a good friend who encourages us; conversations that spark new ideas; sermons, books and music that inspire.

One of my sisters finds that art refreshes her; another likes books.  I like playing and listening to music.  A neighbor and I both agree that our gardens are the best “prayer closets.”
What is your preference?
Walking
music
cooking
books
movies
sewing
scrapbooking
gardening
sports
writing
other?  (You get the idea, yeah?)

One thing I have learned:  Choosing your soulful diet takes as much determination and clarity as choosing your physical diet does.  It is at least as important:  Wellness is built from the inside out.

Bien provecho….bon appetit…enjoy!

Don’t Be Surprised

I started my journey of healing many years ago.

The first leg was a long, steep, difficult path that wound through rocks and thickets so dense, I couldn’t see beyond myself at all.  It’s unpredictability was mind boggling.  I would climb a little higher; then find myself in a hole with no apparent way out.  Some days, I was pleased with what felt like progress, only to fall into a helpless heap of despair the next.

Eventually, the path widened into a road – you know the kind:  Two tracks with plenty of ruts and potholes.  The going was a bit easier and I had more perspective.

I found some nice spots to rest along the way:  Just the right mix of sun and shade, running water near by and soft places for lounging and sleep.

I don’t know how it happened, but I came to another steep, difficult place; in fact, it was more painful and challenging than the first one.  This time, there was no path.  I had to whack my way through the underbrush.  I thought I’d never get through it all!  Perhaps the hardest part was that I blamed myself:  If only I had learned my lesson the first time!  What is wrong with me that I’m back here??

Eventually, I had the pleasure of travelling on wide, well paved roads.  They were straight and level; there were lots of companions.  Loneliness was not even a whisper of a thought.  The camaraderie was wonderful!

Years later, my journey took a turn, and once again, I found myself in a quagmire.  I was dismayed!  This time, I had enough experience and maturity to recognize that this is part of a life-long pilgrimage.  It was still difficult and in some ways, the most painful of all.  I knew what to do:  Keep moving forward, step by step, clearing by clearing.

The moral of my tale?  When you find yourself in a difficult patch, know that you are making progress.  These detours are necessary for continued growth and wellness.  Greet them with dignity; don’t be surprised when they happen.

Deeper Knowing

winding_stream_banff_national_park_alberta_canadaI have heard a quote more than once:
“Be a river, not a reservoir.”

Truthfully, I think we are rivers, whether we acknowledge it or not.  We are ever growing and changing; things that fit before don’t now; we are always searching.

I am in one of those times of evaluation and revision.  One major reason for this is, circumstances are changing:  There are matters of privacy and involvement to consider that were not all that important before.

Another reason:  I am discovering new aspects of myself that need exploration and development.  I have questions to ask, ideas to ponder and whole areas of quandary on which to shed light, such as wants and dreams I can feel, but can’t articulate; like being hungry for something and not knowing what it is.

Thinking of life and ourselves as rivers is encouraging to me:  By nature, streams flow through different landscapes, eddy and swirl, run shallow, then deeper.  They are fluid; they start as small trickles that become larger.  Some develop into mighty rivers that carry ships and barges; others meander through forests and meadows.  Each one is just as valid and important.

It is also a given that a river is never fully known, no matter how many times someone visits it.  We’re that way; it’s okay because that is how we are meant to be.

Flow, river of my life;
As you travel through each circumstance,
growing and morphing into your next self,
May I delight in discovery and deeper knowing.

STRENGTH AND GENTLENESS

I once heard someone say, “A woman is strong in her gentleness; a man is gentle in his strength.”
This seems especially important now, when we are being called to react in anger, aggression and “toughness.”  Really, only cowards need to resort to such things.
The greater strength is in love.  Do you want to melt the ice of bitterness, fear and shame?  Honor others and watch these disappear like fog in bright sunshine.

gentleness will take the flame right out of anger, which needs fuel to burn.  If we take the time to listen – truly and sincerely; then give a gentel, reasonable answer, the likelihood of peace goes way up.  Argue or push back, however, and the fire will burn hot.

Love, honor, gentleness and strength are available to each of us, like clothes in our closets.  They adorn us like beautiful jewelry. We can pick them out and put them on.  The result is loveliness and attraction that is beyond words.
Things such as  anger, fear, prejudice, greed, self-centeredness and bitterness are within reach, too.  They make us pale and fragile in the same way as  a long-term disease does.

Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this is that we have the power to choose.  These are inward qualities that cannot be forced on us or taken away from us.

What’s in your closet?  Which will you put on?  By the way, if you want to throw the ugly “clothes” out, you have the power to do that as well.

THREE FRIENDS

It isn’t that we have never been afraid; never worried or thought that we would most certainly die.  We experienced all of that as we walked through the fiery hell of abuse, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and trauma.  That is what courage is for.

 

Now that we are on the healthy road, the one that leads to greater wellness, we face new challenges:  Old monsters that rattle their cages, demanding our attention; sobriety’s call to a completely new lifestyle; pain that was so neatly medicated and tucked away; new truth that requires us to lay down old lies and beliefs, even when their replacements are not clear.  This too, is what courage is for.

 

As we face the hard things in life, we meet two other companions:  Strength and Wisdom.  These can only be developed as we persevere.

 

May Courage be your most constant friend,
Along with Strength and Wisdom.
Keep these three close, and in the end;
You’ll smile at life well done!

TRUE BEAUTY

Lovely hair, deep blue eyes;
A smile that melts your heart;
Soft, dewy skin with a radiant glow;
These are all a proper start.
But lovelier still is a beautiful soul,
Formed by hardship and blessings.
The one who has conquered and overcome;
Growing from all of life’s lessons.

 

 

Etiquette, manners sweet;
Fashion that looks just right;
Talent and scholastic accomplishment
Admired for being bright.
But more luminous still is a loving heart,
Tender and open to all;
Whose compassionate ways honor others;
This is most beautiful of all.

 

Outward poise, appearance:
Desirable indeed;
Learning all the skills for society;
Will help you live and succeed.
But the deepest, most everlasting beauty
Can’t be honed or used to win;
It’s only authentic living that brings
Beauty that comes from within.