The ABC’s of Positive Thinking (Do)
I thought I was going to write about delight, but my thoughts took a turn and I’ve decided to write about doing instead. Not that delight doesn’t tie in. It most certainly does. If we are doing the right thing.
This morning I woke up and started baking and thinking. Soon, I had myself in a tizzy thinking about all I have to do for the holidays—the food, the gifts, the obligations.
Now, I am fully aware of the reason for the season. I know this time is about Christ’s birth, and I truly respect that. What we as a society have done, I believe, is make this time about showing our love for Christ and honoring Him by giving to and helping others. I think this is wonderful, until it starts becoming un-fun from all the self-induced stress (For many of us, myself anyway, it is the SELF that needs fixed, not those around us).
Stress and anxiety should not have anything to do with the holidays. I believe, in order to enjoy this season we must DO the following:
*Remember the why—to give thanks and to celebrate Christ’s birth.
*Give in the truest sense of the word—from the heart.
*Gift yourself permission to say no to too many commitments and/or too much giving.
*Take care of you. Give yourself some downtime. Let yourself off the hook if everything doesn’t get finished when you intend it to get finished.
*Love what you are doing.
Do—what’s right, what feels good, what brings peace, what fills your heart with love and joy.
Do what delights you.
Change your mind. Change your world.
The ABC’s of Positive Thinking (Christine)
I could have used so many C words for this post: Caring, Courage, Confidence, or even unConditional Love. What I realized as I was thinking through this post is that my BFF encompasses all of these characteristics, so I’ve decided to use Christine for the C in the ABC’s of Positive Thinking.
Everyone who wishes to live a balanced joy-filled life needs a Christine. This isn’t your soulmate, nor is it your child or parent or sibling, yet you consider this person immediate family. God purposely partners the two of you. You help each other weather life’s storms. You get excited when something wonderful happens for the other. This is a person who doesn’t have any reason to love you other than the desire to do so. This is someone you love just as much as he or she loves you.
I met my Christine in the lunch room at Warren County Junior High School in the seventh grade. I can still picture the suspenders she was wearing. Our friendship was immediate.
For years, our families had dinner together every Saturday. We painted Christmas ornaments in December and took our kids to Bing Crosby Park in the summer.
All these years later, Christine is still my BFF. We do not see each other nearly as often as we should. Life is busy, but in that busyness comes the greatest blessing that also serves as a great lesson: True friendship is not stressful. God helped us build an indestructible foundation. We don’t get upset with each other when we go too long without calling. We are not concerned that another will ever take our place. We trust the strength of our friendship.
I think of Christine every day. I love her just as much now as I did when we talked daily. Truthfully, if I came home from work and found her in my kitchen making a sandwich, it would be perfectly normal no matter how much time has passed.
A friendship like this knows no jealousy or conditions. It simply exists as the perfect sweetness that it is. It is beautiful and honest and pure. It is nonjudgmental.
My life is better for having Christine to call my Best Friend Forever. Perhaps, though, BFF isn’t enough. I believe she’s my SF, my Soul Friend.
Who’s your Soul Friend? If you don’t have one, it’s never too late to get one. You will be happier for such a relationship as the one I have with Christine.
Change your mind. Change your world.
Check back in a few days for The ABC’s of Positive Thinking (Delight)
The ABC’s of Positive Thinking (Bridges)
5 November 2017
In our lives, we construct many bridges. Depending on the circumstances, we also take bridges apart, or, as the old saying goes, we burn them. Usually, we think of this burning of a bridge in a negative light, and, perhaps, at times, this is true. But I’m not writing about self-destruction; I am writing about positive thoughts which, of course, lead to positive actions.
We must take inventory of our lives and make decisions accordingly.
If we are too busy, we might put up a Bridge Closed sign, a temporary halt on a project or commitment that is not producing fruit right now but that might prove beneficial in the future. Maybe you are tired of being the head of a committee and it’s time to let someone else have a go at leadership. You step down for a season, and perhaps, after a time of rest, you feel restored. You may return to the committee in the same capacity as before or maybe a different position.
Sometimes, you deconstruct a bridge and use the material to add to another bridge. For example, a family member might need more love and attention than ever before. You may need to withdraw your efforts from a commitment where there is plenty of help and use that material to strengthen the bridge that connects you to the family member who needs so much more.
But what if it is clear that a chapter in your life must close for good? Someone’s negativity is dampening your spirit, or maybe someone is using you. At this point, you need to light the match.
Bridges can be formed, and bridges can be dismantled. In our very busy lives, we tend to take on too much. We must reevaluate often, constructing, deconstructing, and demolishing as necessary in order to keep ourselves and others renewed and refreshed and positive in mind, body, and spirit. We must ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of the bridges in my life?” Answer yourself honestly, then get to work and liberate yourself from what isn’t working, adding only that which enriches your life and the lives of others.
Change your mind. Change your world.
The ABC’s of Positive Thinking (Acceptance)
November 2, 2017
Last night I left Bible study with one word on my mind: acceptance. If we are to be positive thinking people, we must accept ourselves, flaws and all. This is not permission to act any way we want; this is simply giving ourselves permission to be a work in progress, to love ourselves despite the mistakes we, as humans, are bound to make.
How might we accomplish such a task? A couple of months ago, a friend gave me a rock. Painted beautifully on the surface are the words, Let It Go. When I would get frustrated with myself, when I’d make a mistake, when something didn’t go my way, when my flaws were right there in my face, I would take a deep breath and Let It Go. It worked beautifully until everyday life distracted me from the practice. Today, I am challenging myself and you to accept ourselves as the beautifully broken people that we are, to know we are works in progress, that we are to love and accept ourselves right now and always. Whether it is once a day or fifty or one hundred times a day, I believe this love and acceptance of self is possible if as our flaws surface, we acknowledge them, then let ourselves off the hook–take a breath and let go.
Change your mind. Change your world.
I went through a phase in my life where I thought Jesus was just a person. Why not? He’s King of the Jews, after all, and Jews don’t pray to Him, so I figured they are probably the ones who know best. I began praying only to God. At some point, however, I heard that in order for God to hear my prayers I have to pray to Jesus Christ, that He is the connection. Hmmm. I then considered the examples of prayer I’ve collected over the years. In listening to others pray, I’ve heard a variety of greetings: Dear Lord, Dear God, Dear Jesus, and Holy Spirit. So … the question then is this: Must I use a specific name or greeting in order to be heard and have my prayers answered?
Here’s what I think: God hears my prayers no matter what I call Him. He meets me where I am in my faith walk. He understands me because I am His child. He would never ignore me or forsake me for calling Him Lord instead of Jesus, or Holy Spirit instead of God. If I am communicating with Him, and I’ve asked Him to guide my prayers, wouldn’t it be that my prayers are the words He has given me? Or, say I am praying totally from my human self, I haven’t asked for His guidance as I pray. Wouldn’t it make sense that since God knows what we are going to say before we ever utter a word, He hears us out, forgiving our humanness and differentiating between the pieces of our prayers that are ego-flawed as opposed to those pieces that are genuine?
I have come to the conclusion that I am much like a mutt from the pound, not in the sense that I am insignificant or ignorant, but definitely in the sense that I am what I call a mixed Christian. I’ve picked up this bit of Christianity and that strain of Christianity over the course of my walk with the Lord. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit knows me inside-out. Jesus loves me; He understands me better than I understand myself. God has rules I must follow, yes. But, I truly believe no exact address matters when I am praying to Him because praying to One is praying to All.
Change your mind. Change your world.
Ever let yourself get upset when someone doesn’t agree with your beliefs? You know that they are wrong on an issue just like they know you are wrong, and, even though you agree to disagree, there’s an underlying current of hurt that vibrates in your spirit and keeps your peace from being complete. You can remind yourself that we are all entitled to our opinion, but isn’t it our like opinions that link us in friendship? Not necessarily.
In regard to diversity, my uncle taught me this: If we are to truly embrace what it means to be diverse, we must accept even those whose opinions and practices differ from our own. To act or believe otherwise would be hypocrisy. Just as positive thinking is a practice, so to is this idea. We have to grow beyond, but I know I am right. We have to accept others beliefs and practices even when we believe they are wrong. Not change our minds, but accept. There is a difference. Truly agreeing to disagree and meaning it is what we must do for ourselves and others to have freedom and peace.
Diversity, when we want it for ourselves, is easy. It is when we must “practice what we preach” that it hurts. To try and change someone’s mind is a direct breach of acceptance, so, I caution you to let the issue rest if no one is harming themselves or anyone else. To do this, practice the true definition of diversity, we must accept and allow others the freedom and peace to live according to their beliefs without causing stress or turmoil within yourself or those with whom you disagree. This will likely feel awful at first. It did and at time still does feel terrible for me. But, with practice, I believe it will only enrich our lives and make us better people.
In response to a post I’d made, a very dear friend responded with one of the most important messages I’ve ever received. She wrote, “… It’s great to pray, but it’s amazing to believe your prayers will be answered.” Perhaps this is something you already know. It’s something I thought I knew, but really, I didn’t. The more I thought about this statement, the more it got deep down inside of me. Then, all of a sudden, I understood. I mean, when I read the words, I knew what she meant, but the comprehension I’m writing about is different. It is a knowing that brings with it a sense of confidence in the Lord. It is an understanding that brings peace.
I pray all the time. I’ve been working on praying more sincerely—not the same rote prayers that come out without thought. For a long time, I’ve had such a fear of God. I’ve worried that if I pray the wrong way, He’ll punish me. I’m sure you’ve heard before, “Be careful what you ask for.” The one prayer warning I’ve heard the most is, “Don’t pray for patience.” Who wants the grocery store lines to get any longer? Or the stop lights, traffic jams, and meetings to last forever? So, I’ve never prayed for patience, and I still don’t have much.
As my faith has grown, I’ve been able to talk with God differently. When I feel that old fear creep up, I tell God that I am afraid, that I don’t want Him to cause harm as a result of what I’m saying. I tell Him that I don’t know how to convey my message effectively without feeling afraid, and then I ask Him to please give me the words or please read the prayers of my heart. This prayer strategy has been working for me. I feel more comfortable with God, closer to Him, and I know He hears me and wants what’s best for me. But, do I believe what I ask will be granted? Not always. Don’t we all doubt at times?
One request I make of God is for Him to let me know that I am safe and healthy. Sometimes, too often probably, I ask for signs. Sometimes He sends them; other times I get this feeling deep in my spirit that God wants me to trust Him more. I thought I’d been doing a great job of surrendering, of trusting, of drawing closer to God, but when I got that message, I mean really received it on another level, I realized that I can pray all I want and tell God I believe He can do anything and profess to others that God can perform miracles, but saying I believe and truly knowing aren’t the same.
When I was in the hospital, just before surgery, I remember telling my mother-in-law that I could get a miracle. “More than one,” I’d said. I believed it with my whole heart, and, I got the miracles I needed. But not every prayer I prayed after that did I truly believe. I doubted. I thought maybe God could keep me safe, but I didn’t know it. I questioned Him. I let others’ opinions compete with His word.
Over the past several months, I’ve been doing less believing in what people have to say and more believing in what God has to say. I’ve thrown my support behind Him rather than sitting on the fence weighing information of the world against His word. When my friend wrote, “It’s great to pray, but it’s amazing to believe your prayers will be answered,” a shift occurred in me. I began to analyze the moments I felt down and afraid and realized these dreadful feelings occur when I doubt God. So, if I want to remain peace and joy filled, I need to remain faithful and always BELIEVE that what I ask for I have received. May we all BELIEVE for peace and goodness and joy and health and love.
Change your mind. Change your world.
I used to believe I was healthy, that I was living well. I exercised and I watched my calorie intake. My husband and I got along well; our children were well-rounded, good human beings. We had the house, the cars, the dogs and cat. We lived on a budget, but we didn’t want for anything. I even quit my job to write and publish books.
It wasn’t until my life took a drastic turn that I realized I’d been living a toxic lifestyle, one full of negativity. A life that, by my very thought process made me sick.
Before you ask, “What did you do, sit around and think about getting sick?” My answer is no, although I fully believe you can bring about illness in that manner. Think about the cold you get every fall, or the sinus infection you get mid-summer. It’s like clockwork. If you didn’t get it, you’d think something was wrong. If you’d quit asking for it, perhaps it’d quit showing up.
But, I wasn’t expecting to get sick. It happened when I thought I was well. In retrospect, I see it all so clearly. Pre-positive thinking, my husband and I ran a 10k Monday through Thursday and eight or more miles on Saturday. Off days weren’t really off days. I’d walk the dogs, do pilates, lift weights. On eight mile days, I’d come home, eat very little breakfast, then do a thirty minute step routine on the wii with another step bench underneath the wii to increase the difficulty. I thought I needed to get rid of the calories I’d eaten.
Food was another issue. I thought since I ate a salad most days, I was healthy. In reality, I was addicted to sugar, and, while I watched portions, I didn’t watch my sugar intake. I was a carb junkie. Bread was my friend. I drank water flavored with aspartame-filled drink mixes. My body craved sugar and salt, perhaps because I was running myself into the ground.
Add to that the fact that I was always angry or worried about something, and you’ve got a toxic volcano ready to explode at any moment. And it did. I got sick. Very sick. I got cancer. After that, everything changed.
At first, I thought life was a miserable mess that would never be the same. I was right in that it was miserable for a while and it isn’t the same; in some ways, many even, it is much better. I still can’t say if I had to do it all over again, I would, but I can appreciate the silver lining.
I will not go into the details of what I went through. Suffice it to say, it was horrible. But, I’ve learned a lot about how toxic and negative I used to be. I started researching. A lot. I needed to know the cause of the cancer so I could fix it. Over the past two years I’ve changed the following:
- I run sometimes, but not often. Gone are the thirty mile run weeks. Really, I run in the winter when I have to be on the treadmill (I hate the treadmill). Otherwise, I’m hiking, walking, biking, or doing yoga. I am very active, but I am not killing myself. Oh, and I kayak! Before, you wouldn’t have caught me on the river. Never. I was afraid. Not anymore. I’d have never known how much I love kayaking had I not gone through such a trying time.
- I’ve changed my diet. I realized I had an eating disorder, one that was coupled with and addiction to exercise. I’ve been eating paleo for more than a year now, and, recently I’ve added intermittent fasting. This means I eat within an eight hour window each day. Good cells thrive in a fasted state. Instead of their time being taken up with digestion, they are able to repair and get rid of waste. Bad cells, however, cannot thrive in a fasted state so … they die. (Please do your own research and talk to your doctor before you try anything I mention. I am not a doctor; I do not pretend to know what’s right for you).
- I went back to church. I go to an amazing Bible study every Wednesday. I try to keep my stress at a minimum, and I take a holistic approach to healing (frankincense, curcumin, wheatgrass, noninvasive acupuncture and chiropractic care, and paleo diet).
I’ve changed my outlook on life. This took some time, and, like everyone else, I am a work in progress. After the first round of chemo, I knew I was going to get cancer again. Guess what? I did. It was small, but I had to have a cyberknife radiation treatment and another round of chemo. The cancer was gone after the second treatment, and, I am perfectly healthy now. The difference between the first and second time is that, after the first, I worried until the cancer came back. Now … I’ve changed my mind completely. Does this mean I never worry? No. I especially get nervous when it is time for a checkup. But, I am doing the work. When I start getting negative, I throw away the thought and pick up a positive one. Sometimes it takes me a little longer, and sometimes the shift is quick, but I do it. I am much better at throwing out the negative and replacing it with positive thinking. One day, positive thinking will be second nature.
Over the course of two years, I have become a much different person. Sometimes, I don’t even recognize me. I enjoy talking to people, whereas before I had social anxiety. My stress level is much lower. I realized I missed teaching teenagers, so I went back to work. Now I write part-time. In fact, I’m almost finished with a new book. I eat well, exercise within reason, love my life, and I work hard to keep negativity out of my life. I’ve forgiven grudges and I now enjoy a greater peace than I’ve ever felt before. My husband and I are closer than ever. We even pray together now. Our children are awesome. They are doing great. We are well.
I work constantly on repaving the negative pathways in my brain with positive ones. I am doing the work. I am an overcomer. With God’s help, I am changing my mind and changing my world.