Thursday, September 21, 2017

How To Use Difficult Situations To Enrich Your Life Journey

Dear Readers,
First I want to apologize for being gone for several weeks. Since I live in Florida, I spent time before, during, and after hurricane Irma. Trees, limbs, wires, and debris were everywhere, but I rode out the storm and survived without damage to my house or car. I'm grateful, but so sad for others less fortunate. And I ask you to pray for all those who suffered and are still suffering. God bless all.

Now for this week's post as listed in the title.


Imagine that when you wake up each morning a familiar feeling of dread reaches your mind, and your stomach immediately tightens with stress. You fold your hands over your chest and calm yourself enough to get up and go to a job where you have to face the monster who supervises you with criticism, insults, and anything his sick mind conjures up. You would have left long ago, but you love your work, and you keep thinking things will change. But they don't. What would you do in such a situation?

On our journey through life, we each experience painful situations that hold us hostage with no visible way out. These situations can involve health, work, financial issues, damaging relationships, losses, various addictions, whatever causes us pain. We bring some on ourselves, and others invade our orderly world without explanation. And we usually view each one as our all-powerful enemy. We may fight back, or leave the situation. Then another one is sure to come. And we move through life never really free to be who we are. Maybe we need to take a closer look and see what's really happening.

We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems. Lee Iococca

Obstacles in your life are not enemies. They're opportunities to learn, overcome, and grow into more of the person you're meant to be. Without these opportnities, you may never realize the depth of how wonderful you are. At times, the road is painful, but if you meet each encounter with faith and determination, life can be rewarding and meaningful.

Years ago I worked as a Mental Health Therapist in a Psychiatrist's office, and I suffered the same experience as in my opening example. I awoke each morning with dread about going to work. I went to my Minister for help, and she carefully listened, then said, "This man is probably one of the most important teachers you will ever have. Pay attention, learn and grow, and you will be guided to the next plateau in your life." She was right. I saw myself and my situation with new vision, and I finally left for a new rewarding position, as a wiser and happier me.


If you can learn from the worst times of your life, you'll be ready to go into the best times of your life. Unknown

Methods for change:

Meet each difficult situation as an opportunity with willingness to learn and grow from it.
Analyze the situation and your response to it. You can learn a lot about yourself in the way you respond to a negative, even hurtful, situation in your life. The more you learn, the more powerful you become. And your situation's power over you weakens.

Keep asking yourself: What am I supposed to learn from this? Unknown

Go within and examine your attitude and feelings, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Do you feel stressed with worry, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, forsaken, etc? How immersed are you in your feelings? How clear is your mind? Where is your focus...on the situation, your inner response, or both? Do you view the situation as more than you can handle? Can you call on a Higher Power for help? Question and learn.
You're stronger than you think. Uncover your strengths, and let them shine. Use denials and affirmations ie "I deny that this situation has any power over me. I am strong and unbeatable." This process will reinforce your power.
Create a plan to deal with your situation. Then choose techniques that would work best for you...confronting, accepting, or getting away from it. As you go along, monitor your situation and your response, and know you have a right to the life you want. And make it so. Each time you pass a hurdle, you can look back with a grateful heart to where you were, compared to where you are now. And what you learn now will lift you to a higher place for future encounters.

I wish you happy discoveries on your journey.


Marilyn

Friday, August 25, 2017

How And When Does A House Become A Home?



Home is a place where we live, where we keep our toothbrush and our dirty clothes hamper--or is it? We don't usually take notice, but what if it's a state of being that one feels in a certain place, or in every place. I've known people who feel at home wherever they go, and others who have never felt at home anywhere. The place where one lives could be a house, an apartment, a cave, the side of a mountain, a ship at sea, or under a bridge somewhere. Does the place matter? Or is home really inside of us, in our mind and heart waiting for expression?

It takes hands to build a house, but only heart can build a home. Anonymous

We each have our own ideas about what a home should be--or what it should not be. And our memories are sometimes involved in this perception. We may want to escape painful childhood memories or re-create happy ones in our surroundings. For some, it's the physical environment, for others the people they're with, or the state of their affairs. A person can live in a mansion and long to go home. But the place where we live is just a place until something there satisfies a need in us, and then we perceive the place as home. So it's the meaning we assign to a place that brings us in touch with our inner sense of home.

I have a friend who was born and raised in Poland. She sometimes speaks of walking in the woods near her grandfather's farm when she was a child, and of the safe, warm feelings she experienced there. Now when times get rough for her, she longs to go home to Poland. That place is where she found her inner sense of home, and that's where she yearns to be when she feels a need to rest from life's burdens.

Until I moved into my present home, I had never lived in one dwelling for more than four years. I used to wonder what it was like to have a home. When I was nine-years old I came close to knowing what that meant. I spent several months with an aunt and uncle in their lake house in Michigan. It was a beautiful time when I felt home inside of me. I felt joy in the scenic wonder of the place, validated and loved by my aunt and uncle, accepted by my school friends and was treated as a special part of the universe. That's what home meant to me, and I found it there, if only for a little while.


Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful. Hazrat Inayat Khan

Each of us is unique, and how homes are created differs with different people. Some may feel at home as soon as they walk into a place where they will live. Others may already know what they need and want, and they plan purposefully to fulfill their unique perception of home. Others may create gradually without purpose toward a home, and over time, without forethought, add little by little, until one day they look around and say with a smile, "Oh, my goodness. I've turned my place into a real home." However a home is created, it's a feeling made manifest from the heart.

A house is made of bricks and beams. A home is made of hopes and dreams. Unknown

What thoughts, memories, visions, scents and sounds come to mind when you think of home? Do you already have a place that's home to you? Does where you live satisfy a need in you? Your home is an ongoing expansion in your life, and as years pass, allow it to reflect more of you and what you hold dear.

I wish you love, peace, joy, safety, and abundance in your special home.

Marilyn

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Coping With Job Dissatisfaction And Finding Your Joy



Recently I saw research on TV regarding job dissatisfaction, and I was amazed at this revelation, although not surprised given the way our world has changed over the years. According to this report, a large number of people are greatly dissatisfied, many are somewhat dissatisfied, and many are no longer even mentally or emotionally involved while on the job. In too many situations people go to work, do what's expected, get a pay check, and go home stressed and exhausted.

In my younger years I did waitress work, and while it was hard work and I sometimes dealt with rude customers, employees were not taken for granted like cattle to be prodded into submission. We were valued and appreciated, and this was reflected in the work environment. But not so in many places today. We live in a different world.

Having also worked in the mental health field for many years, I look at the psychological reasons for today's dissatisfaction in the place where we spend most of our daily life. It's not only our response to what goes on outside of ourselves, but something that's going on inside too. We humans have basic needs that must come from both our outer world and our own sense of well being on the inside.

In our outer world we need validation and appreciation for the work we do. This means receiving fair pay and treatment in a safe work place where we can enjoy doing what we do. It means a sense of security with benefits and a solid future. It means respect from supervisors and congenial relationships with co-workers. It should be a place we look forward to each work day...a place that enhances our quality of life. Utopia? Not really. I remember when most work places were like this.


Burnout is what happens when we ignore the soul whispering against an unhealthy job or relationship. Unknown

On the inside, each of us is endowed with a 'knowing'. But how often do we listen to our inner voice telling us what we need to know for our life to be fulfilling? Maybe we're too busy to listen. Every day our mind is caught up in what we need to know on the job to keep the bills paid. And we push buttons to communicate and get things done. Out modern world is efficient in many ways. But there's something inside that needs to be fulfilled. It's that innate need to create and find satisfaction in our creation. Our God-given gift of creativity feeds our soul and maintains our identity. And you can't get that from a stressful job or a hand held gadget.

If you're employed in a happy work environment, enjoy the years you spend there, and express gratitude every day. You're blessed. And I'm happy for you. On the other hand, in our society, many are not so fortunate. Some do turn to more gratifying pursuits, but as months turn into years, some feel so trapped, they don't even try to change the status quo. These are people you see every day who live from one pay check to the next without hope for a way out.

Use your smile to change this world, don't let this world change your smile. Unknown

If you feel unhappy in your job, even miserable at work, know that you can change your own life in spite of your situation. First, change the way you perceive your work environment, and do the best you can with what you've got there. Start taking your love and your smile to work, and you may find it's contagious.

Then create something in your life that reflects who you are, that says your life matters...You matter. Focusing on creative satisfaction can compensate for the negatives at work, and reduce stress, and give your life meaning. Hopefully this could be at your job, but if not it could be found in something you just enjoy doing...maybe volunteering, gardening, cooking, writing, music, sports, sharing interesting knowledge, whatever. There's much undiscovered talent within you. So look within and find your joy.


I wish you peace and joy in all of your life.

Marilyn

Friday, August 4, 2017

Freedom To Quiet Childhood Messages And Choose Your Own Way






What then is Freedom? The power to live as one wishes. Marcus Tullius Cicero


We're all products of messages we hear growing up. "Do this...Don't do that"...etc. Those messages influence who we think we are and the way we live our lives. But some people break loose and answer the call they hear deep within...the call to be who they are and choose how they will live. Which one are you? How free are you to make your own choices and follow your own way? A few years ago, I wrote a very short whimsical story about a young woman wrestling with her messages and making a decision about her future. I hope you enjoy this story. It could be you.


SPRING CLEANING

I slushed through soapy puddles across the kitchen floor, doubled up my fists, and kicked the empty mop bucket as far as my bare foot could sling it. I heard my mother's voice from my teenage years. "You should be more careful. Spring cleaning doesn't need to be a chore." My mother's voice was grounded in my head--from all my ages. Sometimes I wondered if I even had one of my own. Her voice echoed from the past with phrases like, "Nice girls sit with their legs together," "Take a quick shower, so you don't waste water," and "Too much sugar isn't good for you." I remember how she hovered over me at mealtime to make sure I cleaned my plate. I still feel guilty when I turn away from brussels sprouts.

Yes, my mother taught me some valuable lessons and gave me some good advice, but wouldn't you think I could do something now without cringing to chatter from an old phonograph wound too tight? Where was my own self in my life? I'd wanted spring-cleaning to be painless, but I always wrestled with my inner drill sergeant spounting orders. 

I knelt down and sopped up water with the big towel I usually took to the beach where I heard my mother tell me not to go out too far in the ocean. "Even good swimmers drown, you know." Calm down, I told myself. Keep it simple. I knelt down and squeezed the last bit of water into the pail, threw the towel across the room and sat back on the tile floor. It's time for a break.

I wiggled my body into a comfortable position in the recliner chair on the patio. The morning air smelled clean and fresh. A big gulp of iced tea cooled my throat, and I grinned like a defiant child escaping out the back door when it's time to help with the supper dishes. Escape sounded good. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and coaxed my mind to quiet. There's power in quiet. There must be ways to stifle old messages, free to express my own voice and reflect my own personal style.

I turned off the alert button in my head and allowed new plans to flood my mind. First I'd go to the beach, feel the cool breeze between my bare legs, and swim far out into the ocean, looking back at the shore from very deep water. I'd run along the beach as fast as the wind would carry me and feel the warm sand ooze between my toes. Then I'd come home, take a shower and bask under the welcome spray for as long as I wanted. And that strawberry cheesecake that's been in the freezer too long. It's time to smack with each bite.

My grin widened to a full smile, and I felt a strange sense of power begin to stir, a feeling I'd only glimpsed in the past. A sense of resolve gnawed in my head. I'd get back to spring-cleaning, I mused, but wait 'till I'd done some inside cleaning and practiced being a new me. I could hear my mother saying, "Everything begins with a first step." That one I'd choose to keep.

I wish you successful intention, follow through, and freedom.

Marilyn




Friday, July 28, 2017

Your Journey Through Life. How Are You Living Yours?


We seldom think of life as a journey, but that's what it is. For most, it goes from infancy to old age, and we travel through many situations with different people, places and experiences. And most of the time we don't really notice where we're going. We just move along and deal with whatever comes up. But every single moment is a pecious part of what makes your journey unique.

Not everyone will understand your journey. That's fine. It's not their journey to make sense of. It's yours. Unknown

Our journey is like a tapestry where our life weaves many designs reflecting our happiness, our pain, our challenges, opportunities, lessons, and yes, our blessings. We face many changes, some welcome, some bitter memories, but all a part of our own individual journey that no one else can live for us. As you move through the years, every thread is woven by you and becomes a part of who you are.

Sometimes your journey provides pit falls with people and situations that pull you down. And you feel lost. Did you make a wrong turn? Where is your road? How can you go on? But then you dig deep inside where guidance is always there to lift you back to your familiar path, the one you know in your heart is where you belong...your rightful place on your journey. And you begin again, stronger and wiser than before.

Somewhere on your journey, don't forget to turn around and enjoy the view. Unknown

Our journey consists of a series of stages where life takes on new flavors with new ways to live each day. Although we may fight the passage of time, each stage is equally important with opportunities to learn and grow. We all know nostalgia, and sometimes we want to go back. But on this journey when the road gets rough, we can't make a U turn and go back to happier, easier times. Those memories you want to recapture now live in your mind and heart.

Oh, how I remember when my children were small. I rocked my babies, rode on the sled with them when they got older, when my son fell off his bike, I got the gash in his head sutured, I ordered art lessons for my other son, and made my daughter's prom dress. Treasured memories, some wonderful, some not so wondeful. You know what I mean. You have yours too. Did you realize time was passing when you lived those years? I didn't. I just took it all for granted.

Then one day I looked around and realized I had aged, and I wondered where it all went--those precious memories, my clear skin, my flat tummy and my firm rear end. Wow. It must have happened when I wasn't looking. Time has a way of creeping up on us, and we don't notice the changes until they're demanding our attention to make necessary adjustments.

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been. Alan Alda

So much is said about living in the present, but I think we don't realize the full meaning of the word 'living'. To live is to learn, to savor, to share, to be aware of self and others, and to know where we are on our journey and what we want to do with it. We have the power to create the quality of our life in spite of challenges. Did you know that? And you're probably a lot smarter than you used to be, so you're more able to create the quality you want.


Think about where you are now, and where you want to go. Keep the precious moments from the past, and forgive your mistakes. You did the best you could according to your growing ability at the time. Don't carry them now. You're a beautiful being on a glorious journey of self realization. There is Divine purpose in your journey, and you're part of that Divine plan for yourself and humanity. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

I wish you sunshine on your journey

Marilyn

Friday, July 21, 2017

How To Deal With Sadness And Heal Your Pain



Sadness. We know the feeling...like gnawing in the back of your mind or being immersed in a cloud of pain right down to your soul. Sometimes it can be so painful, you feel you can't survive, and your first instinct is to run away. But the more you run, the stronger it gets. So you resist, but resistance holds it to you. And it can become relentless, almost like a will of its own.

Usually sadness involves some kind of obvious loss...a loved one, a job, a home, money, personal freedom, anything you value. And the severity of your loss contributes to the degree of your pain. In some situations, you're able to recoup and carry on. In others, life may take a sharp turn, and what used to feel real and dependable in your life seems to disappear, leaving little to comfort and sustain you.

Hypophrenia: A feeling of sadness seemingly without a cause. Unknown

Some sadness we carry may reflect unresolved issues from childhood. And sadness may be something you've carried inside for your whole life. You function and get by, and try to avoid feeling it. But sadness lurks somewhere deep inside, and you always know it's there. You live with it, like part of you without knowing where it's coming from.

I'd like to share one of my own experiences. My father died when I was six years old, and I never recovered from losing him. It broke my heart, and I suffered deep sadness for many years. Then several years ago, with the help of an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) treatment, I was able to finally let him go peacefully. I dealt with my loss, and now the sadness is gone too. I will always miss him, but it's okay for me to miss him. I would not change that.

Loss is the real issue we need to deal with. Everything is energy, and just as physical pain is an energy telling us something in our physical body needs attention, sadness is the energy that tells us we need to deal with a loss in our life. So the goal is to release the sadness and ultimately release the pain of the loss itself.

It's important to understand that sadness is a necessary part of healing. It's a bridge we must cross to resolve the issue and heal the pain. And we need to deal with it.

1. Clarify what's causing your pain and sadness, but don't be concerned if you can't find a cause. Just refer to it as the loss you're dealing with.
2. Identify your feelings, and give yourself permission to feel without judgment.
3. It's okay to control your feelings when you have to, but allow some private time each day, 30 minutes to 1 hour, to express your pain and sadness freely. Verbalize, release your pent-up tears, punch a pillow, run, whatever expressions help you. Then at the end of the assigned time, stop and immediately go to a pleasant activity you plan ahead of time. Your pain and sadness may, or may not, totally disappear. But as you repeat this exercise during each day, those feelings will gradually decrease and give you peace.
4. Find someone in your life or a class you can attend that will listen and help you through this difficult time. Someone is there for you.


When we're suffering it's difficult to imagine pain and sadness someone else is experiencing. It seems like ours is all there is. But we meet people every day hiding their feelings behind fake smiles, afraid to reach out for understanding and comfort they long for. It could be a clerk in a store, a stranger on the street, a neighbor, even a friend. Identifying another's sadness, and doing what you can to help them through it, can help bring you through yours. And if you've already come through yours, you can feel the joy in your heart from helping another. You will both be blessed. 

I wish you a heart filled with peace and comfort

Marilyn 

Friday, July 14, 2017

How Do You Perceive Your Suffering?



Each of us is a unique being, expressing a unique self, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And no one else can live our life for us or deal with all that happens to us. But as we move through life, we do a lot of feeling without accurate understanding of all that's taking place at a given time. And it's important to also experience life with knowledge and understanding and find meaning in our being here.

When we suffer, there's one question that usually comes up, "Why do I have to suffer in this life?" There are all kinds of answers, but in the end, who really knows? Maybe it's there to teach us something, to make us grateful for the good times, to appreciate our blessings, to emphasize compassion...and more. Whatever the reason, it's part of life, and we can learn to see it in a different way with our innermost self.

We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are. Unknown

No one wants to suffer at all, but suffering must be included in a meaningful life. Step back, look at your life, and ask questions. What is yours, and only yours, to do in your life? What is, or was, your suffering, and what do you see in it...pain, loss, bondage? Your own perceptions of your suffering create what it is, and no one else can experience or express it. Therefore it becomes something more meaningful that simply pain. And you can learn to not only survive, but to thrive in spite of it...or because of it.

Your suffering may be temporary or of a chronic nature. But your perception of it is vital to the quality of your life, and it can save you or destroy you. In a positive way, your perception can provide valuable information about you and help you see personal qualities of which you're not aware. Maybe you're stronger than you think, or you have 'first hand' experiences that can help others, or you've developed skills to compensate for the suffering.

In a negative way, your perceptions of your suffering can influence the severity. Or when you allow your suffering to become who you are, your true self may get lost in the pain. We apply meaning to everything. And if you assign negative meaning to your condition, defining what you believe it is, that may lead to more pain and inability to deal with it. But sometimes life itself will heal your suffering and provide a way to escape.

Until my early forties, I suffered from serious depression, and cursed the pain everyday. Then 2 years of intensive therapy released me from my prison and opened a door to a rewarding career as a Mental Health Therapist. Looking back I blessed those bitter years and expressed gratitude for the suffering that led to renewed purpose for my life. Those years provided insight into the lives of my suffering patients, and I understood their pain.

While working in a jail setting, I circulated a book titled, "Man's Search For Meaning" by Victor Frankl. I can't imagine how many read this book, or tried to read it, but its pages are yellowed, phrases underlined in pencil, words scribbled in the margins, and many questions from my patients about its contents. It offered new understanding and possibilities for their lives...some attainable, some not.


In this book, Dr. Frankl offers various ways to deal with your suffering and find meaning in it. Imagine you're 85 years old looking back on your life when you did a lot without thinking about it. Be an observer and remember...happy times when you laughed and had fun, the people in your life, problems you solved, your skills and talents, your accomplishments, things you did well and mistakes you made, lessons learned, small kindnesses like hellos to strangers, warm hugs, holding doors open for others, blessings given and received, etc, etc. Look at your life, and include your sufferings. They were an important part of it.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same. Unknown

Now return to your present time and see your life with new eyes, with a new mind and heart, with knowledge and understanding, and with love and forgiveness wherever it's needed. Can you now accept your suffering as something you deal with, while your light reduces any darkness you face? You have the ability to rise above any situation, and your beautiful self can find peace.

I wish you angels to tickle your nose.

Marilyn