The only way to change is to change. If you want to feel better and lose weight then changing-the-diet is in the cards. Here’s the thing, weight loss doesn’t have to be hard or daunting. I have a simple philosophy that will bring you relief and motivation. Get this, it’s back up by science. It’s easy: TAKE. IT. SLOW. Read my four tips to making the change and don’t forget the yummy recipe!
Changing the diet isn’t something I could do cold turkey. In fact, I’m allergic to turkey! Hence the going slow part. With a gradual approach, you’re more likely to stick with it and for longer if not forever! Chris Kresser uses the words, “shrink the change“.
Change Tip 1
The trick to eating a healthier diet is to clean out the bad stuff, call me Sherlock-Homes. I repeat, when you take a gradual approach, this gives your body time to adjust and not be shocked. If you go too fast, it could backfire and you’ll be headfirst in the bag of cheese puffs…not to mention gain even more weight! The cool thing about gradually reducing the bad stuff, like sugar, is that your body will start to crave healthier foods. You’ll feel better and the sugary snacks will start to be too sweet. Interesting, eh? The bottom line is our bodies will feel cleaner and they’ll want more of that awesome clean energy.
Change Tip 2
Awareness. Sugar was my number one weakness. It still is, but I’m now aware of my consumption and I know my limits. I sound like an alcohol disclosure. When I adjusted my intake of the sweet stuff the ‘less is more’ philosophy kicked-in. My taste buds became more content and my body was a happy human. Did you hear that? I didn’t give up sugar completely, I just cut back immensely. With that said, I wanted to share with you what I used to eat for lunch and what I’m eating now for lunch.
The old lunch
Back in the day of wanting to lose weight, I would only eat a salad for lunch. It contained greens, Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and maybe fresh broccoli. I didn’t have any protein or cheese. Just veggies. I chose whatever salad dressing sounded good, however, I would dip my fork in the dressing before I stabbed a helping of lettuce. Not too shabby of a lunch sounds good; but for me, it didn’t hold me over, which lead to a Snickers Bar in the afternoon, and then a hefty snack after work. Can we say blood sugar on the fritz?
Change Tip 3
First things first here, know your body. If you need protein, get protein in with every meal. Whether its nuts, clean meat, or dairy (I’m not a fan of dairy) make sure you get enough protein into your diet. There are a few reasons why. Protein helps you feel satisfied longer, it gives you energy, and need I say meat is an excellent source of B12, B6, zinc, and iron to name a few?
Protein builds muscle mass, and it’s especially good after a workout. Add a little vitamin C to the mix and you’ve got a digestive helper and a hand at iron absorption. Listen up! The meat won’t make you fat unless it’s highly marbled or fatty, and your watch portions. Choose lean beef, grilled chicken, grilled or baked fish, or pork loin. Don’t be scared to add it to your diet or your salad. Remember portion-control is king.
Now a day my lunch looks a lot different. I still have my sweet snack later on in the afternoon, but I don’t overdo it as I had before. For a healthy powerful lunch, it’s best to make it with your bare hands. What’s the simple in that? Everything. Sure cooking can be a lot of work if you have that mindset; but if you switch your thoughts of creating an experience your meal will be a lot more satisfying. You may laugh, but I dare you to try it. For instance; I am constantly busy all day long, so lunchtime is a big break for me. My apron comes on, my mind turns off, and my hands focus on making a good meal. Making our own meals forces us to slow down and engage all our senses, which is part of the ‘satisfying meal’ experience.
Change Tip 4
Okay, okay, okay…you’re at work and can’t make lunch. That’s okay! You have a couple of options for a healthy clean lunch; the most obvious is to make it the night before. The other is to choose simple, limited, ingredient dishes when eating out. For instance, a 100% beef burger without the bun paired with a side of steamed veggies or a cup of clear broth soup, is a great lunch. It’s not heavy in carbs (bread or pasta) and it’s high in protein.
Think ‘simple’ when at a restaurant and think portion control! As for drinks, you know what I’m going to say…water without ice. Hey, it may be a little boring, but your body will be quieter and happier. You may not even need to drink water with your meal. Too much aqua with the comida will cause a lot of vitamins to flush through your system, plus it will take longer to digest the yum yums.
The new lunch
Let’s cut to the chase and get to the recipe. This recipe is one of my favorites. It’s low carb, high in multivitamins, and low in inflammation. I call it “Autumn Awesomeness”. There are only 6 ingredients! And it’s oh-so-good for your body. Enjoy!
This is an amazingly healthy yet tasty dish for lunch or dinner. The chard kale and roasted butternut squash complement each other, while the dried cranberries make it pop. This is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free!
4Strips of grilled chicken or 4 GF Chicken nuggets
2TBSPDried Cranberries or Cherries
3 TBSPOlive Oil1TBSP for frying kale, 2 TBSP for topping at the end
Heat cast iron pan on low.
Wash thoroughly, pat dry, remove stalks, and chop. Put chopped kale into the pan. Then add 1 TBSP olive oil. It might get messy and splatter if kale is not dried off. Be careful.
I pre-roast an entire cubed squash. 350 for 40 minutes. Just toss a little olive oil and salt in before baking. Tip: Costco usually has raw cubed squash. Do not use frozen squash! You can also peel and cube your own squash.
After kale is charred and well cooked, wrap a dish towel around the cast iron panhandle and put kale on a plate.
Take leftover chicken, pre-cooked grilled chicken (Costco), or Gluten-free chicken nuggets. Microwave for the allotted time, or cook in your cast iron pan to warm. When done, put on top of kale.
Add squash to kale and chicken. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top. Drizzle olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Delish!
For added flavor, add thinly sliced red onion, roasted pecans, or crispy bacon!
Calories may vary on chicken type and the amount you use.
You probably saw that you need a cast iron pan. That’s right. Cast iron all the way. Here’s why: it’s what the pioneers used; no seriously, they had some things figured out and cast iron was one of them. It’s nonstick, chemical-free, adds iron to your food…this is great for us who have anemia. It’s versatile, you can use it on the stovetop, in the oven, or on a campfire! Cast iron has a long life span, and it’s super easy to clean…they don’t require soap! Oh, and cast iron is less expensive; on Amazon, the small one is less than $10 and Prime! Plus you could probably use it to lift weights. Ha ha ha! Hands down, the best pan out there. My favorite size is the small one. You can get one here if you don’t have one. Or click on the picture below for more details.
As for Olive Oil, not all oil is the same. You gotta watch out for scammers. What I mean is that some companies claim it’s 100% olive oil, but in reality, it’s not. They add soybean or sunflower oil to it. Ick! So how do you tell? This can be tricky. The oil needs to be First Cold Press and come directly from the juice of the olive. And secondly, it must be the only ingredient. Easier said than done. I did the research for you and my favorite safe, real, olive oil is California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Everyday). I know what I’m getting and it’s delicious. You can get it on Amazon. Or click on the picture below for more details.
Be sure to check out my new ebook: Simple Happy Weight Loss Strategies. It’s packed with tips, tricks, and proven methods to help you lose weight and keep it off. Check it out!
To be successful with weight loss and the management thereafter, it’s going to take time. But listen up. It’s totally worth it; there’s more to weight loss than weight. In 1992 I was 20 pounds overweight. I wanted to lose the weight, but all the things I was trying weren’t working. If my mind projected a picture you would have seen a desert. No landmarks, no sense of direction, no color, no contrast. I was thirsty.
What gave me a drink was an Indiana Hoosier Basketball game. At the time, I was a freshman at a small private college. The first month was okay, but as months ticked by and the newness wore off, the weight inched on. This college was more clicky than high school, and I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I wanted to be happy, to find me, to be free. Please help me Lord.
My roommates and I were watching TV in the common area when the basketball game came on. It wasn’t like I’d never seen a Hoosier basketball game, my dad is a big fan. But it was something a roommate said that stirred my core, “I’d love to go to Indiana.” I looked at her as she watched the game and asked, “Why don’t you?” She responded, “Because I don’t know anyone and I don’t think I can get in.”
Her answer triggered something inside me. You’re letting the fear of not knowing, stop you? It was as if I was asking myself that question. As I watched the game and the exciting fans…I began to want to be a part of that picture. I wanted a large university experience.
Be true to yourself
In the fall of ’93, I was officially an Indiana University student. I was in a new setting, with new people, and new goals. PLUS I had season basketball tickets! I did it. It wasn’t easy, but it was a game-changer. And you know what happened? I lost the 20+ pounds within 6 months; all because I looked at my thought process first. On the surface, I wanted to lose weight, but deep down I wanted to explore who I was and be true to myself. And when that was put into motion, the weight naturally came off.
Are you asking yourself the right question/s before you start your weight loss plan? Do you have a picture of what you want to be a part of?
To the core:
Which leads me to the core: it’s not what we’re eating or doing, it’s what we’re thinking. It’s not the weight on our bodies that give us frustration; it’s the weight we carry around in our minds that trip us up.
First off, I’m not going to tell you how to lose weight; you’re going to do that. Why? Because I want YOU to see results in more areas than one. I want you to live in harmony with your body, mind, and heart for the rest of your life…not just swimsuit season. And only YOU can make that happen, not someone telling you what to do.
My secret to weight loss starts with W: 5 questions you’ll want to answer.
1:What is your WHY? Why do you want to lose weight? I’m not talking surface answers here. Peal that off, look under that. WHY?
2:What are you WRESTLING with? What’s blocking you from making this happen? What are you carrying around with you? Stress? A belief? Fear? Identity crisis? Loneliness?
3:What is your WAY? In other words, what method works for YOU to reach your weight goals? What are you going to do EACH WEEK to make this happen?
4:What will you WIN? By reaching your goal, what is it going to do for you? Freedom? Confidence? More energy? More outgoing? Motivation? Purpose?
5: What is it WORTH?
I’m happy to say I’ve kept the weight off ever since my Indiana days; even after having a baby and going through steroid treatment for an ailment. I have managed the weight; not the other way around.
If you’re having trouble answering those 5 questions or want to dig deeper, I would love to walk with you and discover things you might have not known. You may find the desert is only a mirage. There is no better feeling than saying, “I finally figured it out.”
With Simple Happy Weight Loss Strategies you’ll find that you can go at your own pace, slow is GOOD! The action steps are simple to implement and, honestly, it won’t feel like much change with my gradual approach. In this easy to read ebook you’ll find stories, fun worksheets, and valuable resources. You’ll get amazing tips and effective tools to help you succeed in mind, body, and goals.
In 2007 my courage collapsed and my heart panted for fullness. My independence, which I held on to so tightly, attached to others. The attitude to do more than exist went to merely existing.But most of all my confidence and courage seeped further away from my core. Have you ever felt this way? Did you wonder how you were going to pull through? Our adversities are not only confusing but paralyzing. However, there are five antidotes to help resurrect us.
A little background
My hardship started in September of 2007 with a pregnancy disease that birthed at five weeks and proceeded to torment me for 31 weeks thereafter. During that anguish my skin was pale green, my mind a twisted mess of nausea, and relief was too far to be seen; I literally was fighting to just exist. Being dependent on others to help me function, let alone trust, made me feel like a failure. Things like I can’t even take care of myself, swarmed my thoughts. Any physical excursion or consumption, or even water, was a cautious and fear-provoked decision. My ribs pierced from wrenching, and dehydration was the foremost threat.
The instant my healthy 7.1 pound baby boy was born, the sickness disappeared. Yet, the mental anguish was far from healing. Have you experienced an event like this in your life? Was it an illness, an unexpected break-up, a massive hit to your bank account, or a loss of something that meant so dear to you? I think the worse of it all is when it’s done, when we think we made it through, after-shocks sucker-punch us with unforeseen triggers we didn’t see coming.
When things don’t go our way
Those days still impress on my psyche today, how can it not? Yet immediately following the birth of my son, the fear of pregnancy halted our family plan. Two years later I knew I had to fight it. I knew I had to give it one more try; after all, every pregnancy is different. This is where I’d like to tell you the second time around was easier, but friend, it was far from that and left our arms empty.
Answers to ‘how
was I going to recover my confidence and courage’ slowly inflated my hope. Those
answers didn’t come from a special diet, therapist, or medical doctor. The true
answers came from one source, Jesus. He had a plan that didn’t match up with
ours and I had to trust Him.
You see when I prayed before our second pregnancy, I didn’t hear a “Yes” as I did with our first. With our first baby, my husband and I waited eight years before I drummed up the courage to even pray about it. And when I did pray, I heard a clear “Yes!” But the second go around, I heard a solid “No”. Of course, I didn’t want to believe it, a no to another child? That doesn’t make sense! So I took my destiny into my own hands. And it didn’t turn out as planned…
Bit by bit I had to rebuild my confidence and courage using my anguish as building blocks and my faith as mortar. Jesus didn’t come down from a cloud and profoundly say, “You are healed child”. I certainly would have accepted that if He did! It was through His followers who physically passed His love on. He used other people in subtle ways to comfort my broken heart and body. Jesus equips us to love, and honestly, that’s all he wants us to do, is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 Paul says, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV)
I needed to not only learn to love
who I was now, but I needed to learn how to use love to become the confident
and courageous person I sought out to be. Moving from just existing to living a life of fullness
isn’t about accomplishing amazing feats or earning a special degree, and so
forth; it’s about loving others the way Jesus does. It sounds easy, but it’s
the doing that’s hard.
Five easy additions to building courage & confidence
Since God is
love. Who do you think we need to connect with to learn how to love? Rick Warren says, “When you are disconnected from God, you’re not really
living; you just exist.”
So, how do we connect with our Heavenly Father? How do we hear clear answers? I go to church. I pray. Isn’t that connecting? Yes, friend, it is. But there are some easy additions which can lead us to live a do-more-than-exist kind of life. Let me share with you what I have learned so far in this journey:
When clarity is the question, I don’t hold the emotion back. I pray with strong emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, joy, or excitement. Expressing it to Him helps keep things real. Emotion develops a relationship with Him, a trust.
Listening, singing, humming, and dancing to music that is good for our souls, brings us closer to our Creator. In this day and age Christian music isn’t just hymns. It has developed to feed all our genres. The writers and bands have done a great job at helping us fend off the Enemy and open our hearts for answers and comfort. Give it a try.
Our beloved Anne Frank says, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones. And the University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’.” Maybe we should think about spending more time in God’s creation.
There is something to be said about being around other Christ-followers. It’s kind of like a family reunion. Being surrounded by a common denominator encourages us, comforts us, and brings us closer to Him. We all have the same goal so-to-speak. The hard part is finding a church that fits you and your worship style. Keep hunting until you find it, you’ll know when you found it.
Being grateful changed my game. For me to love myself and to pass the love on to others, I had to learn how to be grateful even when it didn’t make sense. Gratefulness brought me out of adversity. Before we move forward, understand I’m not grateful for the hardships we face in life. I’m talking about the little things that surround us, those things we don’t even notice; like clean water out of our faucets, cozy beds to rest our bodies, medical help at our fingertips, and grocery stores to feed us. I’m talking about the love He gives us in delicate ways like music, flowers, and comforting smells.
Yet, what about those moments when you step-out and help someone? When you smile at someone even though you don’t feel like it…and they smile back? Sometimes to get what we want we have to give it first. I’m grateful for those promptings where we use our gifts to brighten someone’s day even when our life is a mess. It takes courage and confidence to make those things happen. And I’m grateful for our time He gives us and the freedom to choose how to use it, especially if it involves our calling.
If you’re hurting in a specific area of your life I encourage you to begin with being thankful for each comfort you receive every day. When we recognize the little things, the small achievements, the flickers of love passed hand to hand, then our courage and confidence surfaces and we begin to see what life is all about…love. Download my favorite affirmations to help make you stronger. You can get them here.
A hobby is more than just a hobby. Have you ever gotten overwhelmed, in a funk, or frustrated about the pace of life? Who hasn’t? It’s going to happen and repercussions may bellow; however, a hobby can help quiet the roar and make you feel human again. But wait! I don’t have time for a hobby! I used to think that way, but after a little experimenting, I found my hobby to be a superhero.
What exactly is a hobby?
It’s an activity that someone does for pleasure when they are not working. The hard part is knowing when to stop working! With a hobby, time is not ticking in your ear. You’re not looking at the clock to see when your shift is over. It’s your gift to self, so you can be yourself. When you’re under heavy stress our bodies produce more cortisol which can be harmful to your health. But when we’re engaged in, let’s say, a hobby, you’re producing the ‘feel-good’ hormones…more on this
A hobby is a
type of recreation that rejuvenates your spirit. It’s an activity that
challenges you in a way in which you want to be challenged. You see, your hobby
is YOUR hobby. No one can tell you how to do it unless you welcome the
reasons to get a hobby:
1. Helps enhance meaning in your life.
2. Gets the creative juices flowing.
3. Increases personal satisfaction.
4. Builds self-confidence and self-esteem.
5. Relieves stress.
6. Gives you something to talk about other than work.
12. This is a big one: helps prevent boredom when boredom can be harmful to you. Let me expand on this one: overeating, depression, drug use, looking at things you shouldn’t, or alcohol use usually come into play when we’re bored. Boredom and its adverse effects are going to get the best of us at times, but when we have a hobby we have an easy way out and can focus on that.
13. The icing on the cake about a hobby is that it actually helps you do a better job at work. CNBC posted an article about how a hobby can improve your work performance. For one, it helps prevent burn-out. As said earlier, it helps inspire creativity and problem solve. And here’s that word again, stress. A hobby helps reduce stress.
Back to hormones.
Hormones are a love/hate relationship. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. As said earlier, the most damaging hormone is cortisol which is produced in our bodies when we’re under stress. The good news is that happy hormones do exist, but to get them we must do a few things. There are four major blissful boosters: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Each hormone serves a different purpose, in a nutshell, this is what they do:
Endorphins are essentially the body’s pain killers.
Vigorous exercise or even eating spicy food releases endorphins.
Serotonin is the mood mediator. Get outside.
Being in the sun helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which helps produce
serotonin. Or even low-intensity exercise helps.
Dopamine is a gratifying hormone, in terms of
goal achievement. It’s all about goals and achieving them to bring on the
dopamine. We set an achievable goal and go after it, when we reach it, dopamine
Oxytocin. This is the love hormone. I think my
husband has an abundance of this one! LOL. Physical contact, hugs, massage, and
sex release this hormone.
comes to your hobby, aim to achieve one of these hormones. Now if you want to
experience all the bliss boosters at once, you might want to look into “R5HHPJ”
as your hobby: Run 5 miles while holding hands with your honey, drinking hot
pepper juice from your water bottle…now that’s a hobby! Sorry had to throw it
some great hobby ideas?
This is a
loaded question because you can make a hobby of your own; the trick to finding
one you love is to try some on. Here are some ideas of hobbies:
Knitting, exercising, reading, couponing, writing, music, woodworking, organizing, auto work, boating, horseback riding, hobby farming, candle making, photography, dance, winemaking, cooking, traveling, wilderness survival, Bible memory, drawing, painting, decorating, gardening, hunting, fishing, camping, running, kayaking, cycling, walking, surfing, sewing, essentially any sport, home brewing, collections, puzzles, and pretty much anything other than work.
FYI – watching endless episodes on Netflix or being glued to social media is not considered a hobby, nor is it something that can harm you. Remember a hobby is something that gives YOU personal enjoyment yet still a little challenge to enhance your well-being. This could very well be the peacekeeper you’ve been looking for to help balance life. What’s stopping you?
This past January started with an unexpected visit from a lion who set-up camp. This wasn’t one of those sleepy lions, this cat was roaring. A New Year, a fresh start, and WHAM, I’m faced with my first of many challenging days. I get it, these things happen, but they kept happening. So how can we transform a lion into a lamb? I have a few tricks that work!
What’s up with Diet Coke?
Let me give you a taste of how January went along. Below-freezing temperatures hit our area, we had no school for eight days in one month! On one of those days my son and I were chatting on the couch when suddenly we heard an explosion from the garage, “What was that?”. My mind quickly questioned ‘was someone breaking in, where was the gas can, did a tire pop?’ As we peered, ever so slowly, into the garage we were welcomed with a light brownish slush on our screen door. The garage smelled a little sweet. Hmm. As I turned the light on my eyes widened at the car, garage ceiling, recycle bins, and even our boots. This brownish familiar smell stuff has exploded everywhere. Yep, I guess that’s what happens to a 2-liter of Diet Coke when it freezes.
It was in that moment I decided to practice my reaction to this roar, “All you can do is clean-up the mess. Just do it and move on. Getting mad is not going to fix it.” I shut the door and stood there for a second. “At least it’s frozen”, I said to my son. I grabbed my stocking hat, tightened my scarf, and went to work.
Later that afternoon I was craving a Diet Coke slushie. After I went through the car-wash I went to the store and got one. The funny thing was as I backed out of my parking spot, someone else backed up too…we met in the middle…crunch; hmm. My soul took a deep breath in and out, and my inner voice said, “Okay Christy. No one was hurt. There is no car damage. These things happen. Learn from this, and then move on.” This is just one example of one day I had this past month.
Salt & Pepper
Even though January was a bit rough, in hindsight, I’m actually glad it all happened. It’s usually through the bad stuff where we grow the most, no? The salty season reminded me that I have values and morals. I have goals. And I have a family who loves me after a bad day…month…LOL. But that’s not all this lion-of-a-month taught me. He taught me how to transform him into a lamb. Every week was peppered with dire events: work difficulties, health issues, relationship misunderstandings, car problems, communication predicaments, extreme weather conditions, and big decisions to name the least. I regularly thought about the superstition that bad things happen in threes, but there were more than three! “What’s going on?” It kind-of felt like I was in a boxing ring dodging punches; then I’d get an uppercut to the gut and a hook to the nose. My opponent would then roar like a lion and stand over my body. Okay, maybe not that intense, but I needed to fight back!
1 – Name the Lion
The first trick to fighting the lion is to notice it. Identify it.Give the lion a name: Doubt, Insecurity, Frustration, Unfairness, Confusion, or whatever it is. No one likes to call these out, but it helps to pinpoint the issue. I paid attention to what was going on around me, not to sulk in my despair, but to put a stop to it! What exactly is happening in my surroundings? Why was I letting it affect me so much? Can I name it? On the obvious note, it had been cloudy for weeks, sickness everywhere, bills coming in, and goals were strapped for time. On the not-so-obvious note, my hormones were haywire, my values were compromised, and people-pleasing got the best of me. But when I named it, I could then fight back with the right punches.
2 – Focus
The second trick is the pace. The frequency of these downers was happening one right after the other. My thinking immediately shifted from rolling it off my back to what’s coming next? This can be looked at as a good thing and a bad. The good helps with being alert, ready to act and prepared for the not-so-fun. The bad taints perspective. It’s like we’re looking for the grim so we see the grim. Here’s the trick with the good and the bad: what you focus on is what you’ll see the most of, pace yourself.
3 – Skill. Train the Lion
Train the lion. It’s how we handled the situations. This is a skill and a skill I need to continuously work on. My awareness of how I managed these troubles became clear to me. Some I did well with, others…um…I could have done better. I don’t like to admit I blew some things out of proportion, but gosh, it happens to all of us. So what do we do in this situation?
Here are 7 techniques:
Understand the triggers. Have a plan of how you’d like to react. Play it over in your head and practice.
Use this opportunity to better yourself, not to hurt others, but to strengthen your character.
Flip the switch and focus on the good things. Seriously write down or discuss at the dinner table what good things happen that day.
Turn to God. He might be trying to get your attention or even protecting you from something worse. Yes, spiritual warfare happens. Fight off the Enemy with God’s armor, Ephesians 6:13-17. It also helps to call the enemy out on it, “STOP! Away from me!” Jesus did, why wouldn’t it work for us? Ask Jesus to help you.
If you don’t have someone you can trust to vent to, write in a journal. Get it out.
Give your mind a break and your body a good sweat. Exercise helps your brain be more creative and it kicks in your problem-solving skills.
Distract your thoughts. Again, get your mind on something else that keeps you busy for a while. It gives you time to regroup.
Practicing these training techniques over and over again will help us see lions as lambs. Peace and comfort in moving forward will be prevalent. Give’r a try.
Ironically, during the latter half of the month, my husband heard on the radio that the third Monday in January is called “Blue Monday”. Apparently, a university professor used a formula to calculate the most depressing day of the year. WHAT?! The date was calculated by these factors: poor weather, debt level, post-Christmas blaa, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, and low motivation levels. You can see the formula here. After my husband told me that news I felt SO MUCH BETTER! Light bulb moment here: I wasn’t alone. And maybe that’s all we need to know when going through a lion season…we’re not alone.
My heart was a month, so I went to my garden. November is not the perfect month to be blogging about a garden…at least where I live. But it is the perfect month to blog about what my garden DID for me. Not too long ago I found myself walking to my garden, but I didn’t go there to do my normal tending of it. I went there to sit in the dirt.
I had a troubled heart and felt like dirt, so why not sit in it too? If you don’t have a garden, don’t think this post isn’t for you. Each and every one of us has and needs a ‘garden’, maybe for the sole purpose of why I needed it on this particular day. Let me explain:
My heart was disturbed
I was completely dumbfounded by how I got myself in this state. Remember, as a kid, when you got in trouble from your parents…the flush of prickly heat bursting from your heart like a firework going off? Yeah. It’s that feeling when you know you really messed up.
Believe me, this wasn’t an easy post to write; in fact, I wasn’t going to write it. But it dawned on me that when my human-self learns something hard and valuable, I should probably tell someone…maybe it will help them in some way.
So here it goes. I unintentionally hurt a dear friend of mine…I messed up. I screwed up a valuable friendship! Part of me wanted to crawl into a cave, but the other half wanted to go to a place that knew me. So I went to my garden. As I looked over the rows of flowers and herbs I wrestled with scenarios. I tried to foresee the future. I played back my actions. Why did this happen? How did this happen? This came out of nowhere! My identity jolted.
In my garden that day, my gut was a trembling mess. My heart was anxious. I paced the walking paths and hid my face from my neighbors. As I dug for a tissue I knelt down and stared at the dirt. “Dear God, forgive me. Help me see the root of this action.” I blew my nose, took a deep breath, and got my hands busy. As I plucked little weeds and churned up the soil, layers of thoughts peeled off and exposed the truth. Wow, I didn’t see that coming. How juvenile. We all have our adolescent times, this was one of mine.
His presence in the garden that day was strong; there is no doubt. I felt His comfort yet discipline. “What must I do to mend this mishap?” I asked Him. As I walked to the other side of the garden, face a dripping mess, Jesus’ words “the truth will set you free” squeeze my heart. But I don’t want to tell the truth, I’m embarrassed, I said. “If its freedom you seek, the truth will set you free”. After I wrestled with it for about 20 minutes, I dusted myself off and wound-up the courage to do just that…tell the truth. What do I have to lose that I already have lost? As soon as I expressed the truth-of-the-matter to my dear friend; my stomach stopped tossing, my mind stopped spinning, and I felt the imprisoned shackles unlock. I exhaled and knew I made the right choice. Thank you.
Why you need a ‘garden’
A ‘garden’ is a place where we get our hands busy. It’s a place where we can be alone. It is a moment in time where our soul is unguarded, where we can let it free and know it’s safe. A place where we cradled the unique ability our Creator gave us. So what’s your ‘garden’? What place knows you? A woodshop, craft table, mixing bowl, knitting basket, sketch pad, garage, what is it?
When we’re feeling troubled where do you want to go?
Our ‘garden’ opens her arms. She knows that when we get on our knees, we need her touch. She knows we need to get busy, so little projects present themselves. It’s quiet. We’re focused. As we work, the surface looks brighter. It feels good. But as we move throughout the ‘garden’ and dig a little deeper we find a few deep-rooted invasives. These weeds have been there awhile. Seeds from their fruit are ready to plant themselves. Is that what we want?
The thistles on the stalk pierce our touch. We may step back for a bit, but find that if we gently grab the very thing that hurt us, we’ll then have the power to wrench and wrestle it free.
Our garden understands the pain that comes with breaking free. So she prays. And because our soul is defenseless to her love, we feel the hope she prayed for. It’s in our garden where tears nourish her beauty. Where truth is told. And where strength and might persist. It’s a place to rejoice when we pull the weeds out and plant new life in its space.
Our next step
Our ‘gardens’ do more than entertain and strengthen our talents. They listen, they heal, they comfort. I’ve got some questions for you: What is keeping you captive? When are you going to do something about it? Who do you need to talk to?
I encourage you to visit your special place this week. When you’re there, whisper loud enough for you to hear, and talk about what imprisons your heart. All you’re doing that day is getting the frustrations out. Then revisit your place again later in the week. Get your hands busy. And ask God for help. You may not hear anything right away, but as you live your life over the next couple of weeks be aware of your surroundings, open your senses. He’ll talk to you and give you the answer.
Stress got you? Two years ago I accidentally deleted my entire website. The uninvited hot, prickly stress-wave crashed on my face when I saw ‘File Not Found’. It’s in these stressful moments when we start talking out loud to ourselves, “WHAT THE? NO!!” Stress can make us do funny things with our actions, words, and even our bodies. But I’ve found some stress fighters that are packed with a punch. They’re so simple ANYONE can do it TODAY.
Building my own website and blog was my choice. I wanted the challenge. Doing something like this requires time, learning, and creativity. It had been a journey of gratifying moments and ‘oh crap’ sessions. That night was one of those sessions…OOPS. One accidental click, GONE!
Stress is like a leech that won’t detach.
It saps the life out of us. So how do we manage this life-sucking Jabba the Hutt from our bodies? First of all, I hate leeches. Years ago I went on a fishing trip in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. It was an amazing trip, but guess what we used as bait? Leeches! I screamed every time I TRIED to bait my hook…the leech latched-on to my finger! Do you think vigorous shaking of my hand and screaming got the leech off? Apparently leeches don’t have ears. My husband had to pull it off for me.
What if we could see stress attached to our bodies? We’d probably do a better job at managing it. Stress is the cause of many ailments. It’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, has a hay-day in our bodies. Chronic high levels of cortisol contribute to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), heart disease, anxiety, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, sleep disturbances, the list goes on.
The way to detach stress is to naturally fight back with things that decrease those levels, right? Easier said than done. So get this…some people will use things to manage their stress that actually causes MORE stress! I’m talking about eating a pint of ice-cream, sugar-filled gluten-rich desserts, a bag of salty snacks, alcohol, smokes, or pills. Sure, in the short run those things might help; but in the long term the leech is feasting off those inflammatory substances. All those foods inflame your innards. Without awareness or portion control, that inflammation can lead to physical issues = STRESS! It’s a vicious cycle. Believe me, I know!
I wanted to fix my website immediately. But all I could do in that moment was intertwine my fingers and pray. I needed someone to pull the leech off. So why not ask God. As calmly as I could I prayed, “Dear Gracious God…wait a second, OH GOD. AH! I DELETED MY WEBSITE!! HELP ME FIGURE THIS OUT. PLEASE! AMEN.”
It felt as if my fingertips went numb. Whoa, what is happening to me? God is that you? An angelic song filled my house as divine power struck my body. Light beams shot out of my fingertips. I started levitating. Wait. Wait. See how stress can make you think of funny things. As much as I wanted the Beauty and the Beast resurrection, I knew it wasn’t in the plan. In fact, God did answer my prayer. But in a way I didn’t expect. He nudged me to move. Christy, manage the stress, before managing the problem. I closed my eyes. Inhaled a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I was afraid to touch the keyboard, so I took that as a sign to step away. My desire to go outside to sit next to my favorite tree was unstoppable. Strange? Eh. Kind of. But with good reason…
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending even just five minutes around trees or in green spaces, helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, instills focus, accelerates healing, increases energy, and improves sleep. And you wonder why I craved to get outside…
The article goes on to say, “Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces…stress-related hormones… Looking at pictures of trees has a similar, but less dramatic, effect.”
I trusted that instinct and sat next to my blue spruce. Its soft yet firm pine needles combed my sweaty palms. The sky was black and peppered with stars. My body relaxed. Heart quieted. I was reminded of how big our world was and how I was making this little mistake bigger than the world! Within a matter of minutes, a calm came over me. “Hi God, it’s me again… thanks for getting me outside. I needed that.”Have you figured out that one thing that everyone can do to fights stress today?
Here are 5 stress fighters most people forget about:
Admit it. Say, “I’m stressed out. ___ is causing my stress.”
Say a prayer… Your Creator may need to remind you of something.
Find your happy OUTDOOR place and go there… the beach, woods, prairie, park, yard…Go barefoot a.k.a “Earthing” and SMILE.
Create an environment at work that promotes peace. Pictures of the beach, mountains, trees, sunrise, a garden…whatever nature scene speaks to you. Put a picture or two in your office, cubical, or wallet. Have it handy.
Start incorporating an outdoor recess at work or home, whether it’s exercising, reading the paper, walking the dog, playing with the kids, a lunch break, just get outside. J
This may sound too simple, but you’ll find it’ll make a BIG impact. The next morning I mended my website mishap. It so happened, I found a back-up on the server. But I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out without a clear head, a good night’s sleep, and a little time outside with my trees. Do your existence a favor, get outside. What is one thing you can do this month to make that happen?
Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, all is bright.
Silent Night, the Christmas song, was composed in 1818. This now-traditional Holiday tune debuted all because of an organ…that broke. Without the help of an ill organ who knows if this song would have surfaced; oddly, silence accelerated its success.
How does silence help your success?
Recently I saw a commercial, not sure what it was selling, but it did leave me wondering what ‘peace’ really was. In the commercial, we see a couple who leaves the big city to go camping in the woods. Due to their over joyous accomplishment of setting up camp, they were obviously seeking serenity. However, when night fell and all was calm, they were restless and frustrated. Then one of them downloaded a ‘noise app’ on their phone. It played cars honking, emergency sirens blaring, and dogs barking…all was ‘calm’ and they instantly fell asleep. What is ‘your silence’? City sounds? Nature? Ocean waves? White noise?
Our ‘silent night’ is not only where our souls settle down, but it’s where peace waits and where ideas birth. Outside of bedtime, do you intentionally turn off the NOISE?
4 Solid Reasons
Hearing from God. The most likely time God is going to talk to us is when we’re relaxed…quiet…still…and alone. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, did this all the time! Why wouldn’t we? But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16 If you haven’t gotten a daily devotional yet for this year, it’s never too late. One of my favorites is Jesus Calling.
Creativity. Inc. Magazine says…awesome creative work can be achieved by shutting out the outside world, whilst you insanely focus on your craft. You say you’re not creative? That’s not true! My go-to to taking my mind off things is to put my colored pencils to work. Here is a fun and soothing adult coloring book: The Psalms in Color.
Problem-solving. Turning off the noise slows our thoughts. We can then think through our issue without distraction. “Sleep on it” makes a lot of sense now. I absolutely LOVE my white noise machine. Our family has 4 of these. Seriously, this is amazing and has improved all of our sleep.
Restoration in health.Huffington Post reports, Researchers found that two hours of silence daily led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory, and emotion. If you can’t get complete silence, the white noise machine I mentioned above is a great alternative. It helps drown out the distracting with little noises. Again, I LOVE this thing! Click on the picture for more details.
The Power in Silent Night
In the dancing noises of our world many of us, unfortunately, will miss these life-enhancing riches. We’ll wander in the racket and wonder why our prayer hasn’t been answered, why this particular problem still lingers, why we feel like we just exist, and why our bodies hurt all the time.
Josef Mohr, author of Silent Night, pondered on what to do about his broken organ. Christmas Eve was the next day, people are expecting music! So he hiked up a hill.
It was there where he looked down at the snow-covered village where he could be in ‘his silence’. It was there where he gained the courage to create his poem into a legendary song.
The next day, Christmas Eve, he approached his organist, Franz Xaver Gruber, and within 3 hours Franz composed the melody via guitar. Silent Night has been sung ever since. Are you making an effort to be in silence every day, ‘hiking up a hill’ to get a glimpse of the big picture?
“The trees, the flowers, the plants grow in silence; the stars, the sun, the moon move in silence. Silence gives us a new perspective.”
“Silence” grows, moves, and it gives. How much is ‘your silence’ worth? Recharge by spending some time in silence. You might be surprised at what you hear.
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Depression is a downer. It is not a fun thing to talk about; but we all, at one point in our lives, will feel it’s slippery slope. Imagine climbing out of your crevasse of depression; slipping back but catching yourself every so often. It’s an exhausting cycle and at times we just can’t see the top. But how do we climb out once and for all?
For five years+ I suffered from depression due to events in my life. To make matters worse I became frustrated during those years because depression was messing with my identity. I felt like I just existed, in fact, I think I was just existing.
Depression is a common illness that negatively affects how we feel, the way we think and how we act. It can last a couple of days, a few months, a handful of years, or a lifetime. It is a perplexing state of not knowing how to shut it off.
People don’t like to talk about depression. But people don’t talk about it enough. These days depression is swallowing up our children, yes children who are already on depression meds. It’s heartbreaking on many fronts.
How does depression happen?
There are a number of factors…too many to list, but usually, it’s when one event piles up after another. Recently we’ve heard social media being a player (or layer) in depression. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, says, “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades…it’s largely because of Smartphones.” Social media is a false measure of our identities.
This isn’t just for iGen, it’s happening to other generations. Why? We want to be accepted yet be ourselves and for people to ‘like’ us no matter what. When this happens our values collide. Could this desire alone be the root of all depression?
But here’s something I bet you didn’t know: Depression can make you stronger.
This post isn’t about how to get through depression or manage Smartphone apps; it’s about what to do with depressionwhen you’re climbing out of it.
“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.”– Christine Caine
Our dark days can bring strength or weakness; it’s how we see it. Do you know how I said I just existed? I’m going to feel that way. But as I look back, I noticed this period of life wasn’t to hurt me, it was to strengthen me.
When we’ve ‘been there’, we start to see the eyes of people differently. Let me reiterate, depression can make us stronger or weaker by how we use that experience in our life.
Using our troubles to help rather than hide-in produces strength. Our strength in moving forward, in doing more than existing, is having the courage to help people who are going through the same trials we’ve been through. This heals.
3 ways how depression made me stronger
1- I sought God, my Creator, the Truth
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It is then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will” -Romans 12:2.
God gave me light. This verse gave and gives me permission to step away from the world, its expectations, and false gods; and to seek the truth, to strengthen myself, and to use my experiences to test God’s will for my life. Reading a short daily devotional can help. I recommend Jesus Calling.
2- I sought someone out
This isn’t easy. People don’t talk about this stuff. So I had to be the one who pursued people who went through what I did and to talk with them about it. Talking with someone who ‘gets-it’ brings comfort. I’m here for you. Sign-up for a Jam Session and let’s chat.
I also sought out a professional who brought clarity on my issue.***
3- I sought my identity
I looked at my baby picture then I looked in the mirror. God didn’t create me to be sad. He created me to have joy.
In John 15:11 Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” He’s saying come to me, know me, and I’ll sustain you when adversity hits.
My personal values came into play. And when I defined them and put them to use, I began to see glimmers of sunshine in my days. I have a freebie on personal values here.
I dug into the Word, I helped others, I took better care of my body and managed stress with simple techniques like going for a walk or taking a hot bath with Epson salts. I explored my heart to help me see the big picture.
When Depression Visits
We will all occasionally be visited by Depression. But at least we know how to climb out a little faster and stronger than we did before. The hardest part is reaching for that next hold.
Creativity is one thing I love to do in the kitchen. I’ll never forget the time when I was 10 years old; I reached for the flour in an overhead cupboard. My fingertips were millimeters away from the canister. One… more… bit… CRASH!
I was successful in getting the flour down, but it wasn’t in the canister… it was on my head. I stood there and sulked as my older sister laughed at me. She called me “Casper”.
Back then my dream was to become a baker. I loved baking cookies, muffins, and quick breads. Mixing simple ingredients with my signature twist was so fun. Unfortunately, its harder for me to bake these days. Not being able to eat gluten really puts a damper on the baking. But I still try and experiment with what I got. 🙂 My baking dream might have fizzled away but my need to create has not.
To truly feel alive I need to create something; whether it’s cookies, a garden, a writing piece, or simply drawing a picture on my son’s lunch bag. It is gratifying to see what my imagination can create. I feel like I did something. Know what I mean?
Why creativity is important
Creativity isn’t just for fun. Creative thinking can solve problems, help us perform better at our jobs, help with depression, and it can help make a difference in peoples’ lives. Look at music, art, dance, and literature… what are those talents trying to do? Matthew Barnet has a great answer from his book, The Cause Within You.
He says, “Fulfilled artists do not paint or sculpt for the sake of creating more art. They do it to move people and challenge them to see the world differently. “
Want to know what’s scary?
From CreatingMinds.org they say our creativity fades away when we don’t use it. As in the Bible, it says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything…” Matthew 5:13. (NIV)
In our busy lives, it’s important to take a time-out to be creative; to take a small step in becoming the unique person we were intended to be. Not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others.
The creativity flame still has a glow in us. Let’s blow on it to feed the fire within. There is no better time than now to get our hands busy; our minds will love it, our hearts will feel good, and we may incite someone’s perspective.