Wednesday, August 29, 2012

3 Ways To Survive Life's Hurricanes

Sometimes hurricanes miss the state of Florida. Sometimes they don't. But if you live here long enough, you will experience one. I'm praying for everyone and everything in the path of the one that left Florida and is now moving through the gulf.

As I watch the news, I'm reminded of the similarity between hurricanes and life's challenges. As long as we're in the human condition, we will experience storms involving our health, finances, relationships, work etc. Sometimes those storms are a category one, and sometimes a five, but all affect life in some way. Just as a hurricane zone is where you find hurricanes, life is where you find challenges, and how we handle them determines how much devastation is left behind.

When I was a teenager, my cousin and I sneaked out of the house and went to see what the ocean looked like during a hurricane on Daytona Beach. The winds were so strong that our bodies were forced into a 45 degree angle to the ground, and we had to walk on all fours to get there. I still remember the breathtaking sight as the white ocean foam thrashed in mighty torrents all the way out to the dark threatening sky far beyond. After the storm passed, the ocean and its ocean life fell back to earth to recover, regroup and once again assume it's beautiful place in the world. In my life, I've experienced some life challenges that felt like being in that violent, raging atmosphere that left me exhausted and wondering if I would recover. But I did.

I know hurricanes, and I know life challenges. And over the years I've learned from them. We deal with both in similar ways.

1. Stay prepared: Don't wait until something is upon you to prepare for it. Just as physical structures need to be made strong to face hurricane winds, so we need to maintain strength within us to face life's challenges when they come. Keep your body, mind and spirit as healthy and strong as you can on an ongoing basis. Meet each day with love, peace and gratitude, and your strength will be there when you need it.

2. Action: With a clear mind do what is yours to do in every situation. Examine and define the problem. Don't cloud the issue with worry and fear. Use whatever outer resources you need to correct it, and draw upon your knowledge and inner strength to get through it. And when you're in the midst of the clouds, remind yourself that the sun never really disappears. It's always somewhere above the clouds, just as it's above the hurricane roar. And you will see it again.

3. Recovery: Once a challenge is under control, don't analyze or chew over it. Move on, and congratulate yourself for crossing another hurdle. If it happens to be a chronic situation, and there's no more you can do, draw upon the strength within yourself to live with it in peace.

When life's challenges come, in any form, know that there is in you the strength you need to survive and see the sunshine in your life.

I wish you sunny days.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Are You Waiting For?

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin--real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. Fr. Alfred D'Souza

There's a difference between existing and living. Some people exist while biding their time waiting to really start living their life. They're busy fixing things, problem solving, and cleaning up conditions and situations. Once they get everything out of the way, then they can live their life with purpose and meaning. But that time never comes, because there's no ideal time to start living.

Are you one of those people who puts off living until tomorrow? Do you ever feel like you're in a constant state of waiting to get everything done so you can begin? Well, you have already begun. The living is now, and life's obstacles are part of the journey. They can stretch our boundaries and make us more tomorrow than we are today. A well lived life is one in which we can look back and see how much we've learned and how far we've grown in spite of, or because of, those obstacles we worked through.

There is a part of us inside that longs to express in the outer. Are you allowing life's problems to help you expand and bring out more of who and what you are, or are you fighting those problems like enemies invading your comfort zone? A comfort zone may appear safe, but your inner self won't be quiet until you listen and allow it to speak in your life. Life needs to hear every part of us, not just our problem-solving self.

So what are you waiting for to start living? Have you ever dared to seriously think about it? Maybe fear is holding you back and your comfort zone feels safe and predictable. Do you think you could trust enough to reach out and transcend your status quo and discover your greatest gift, your true self with all its beauty and wonder? What is there in you that wants to express in your life? It may be an untapped talent, a hobby, a new way of doing things, shining your light to warm another's life--something that says, This is who I am.

The first step may be a simple statement of intention that will nudge your mind into possibilities and new avenues of expression. You don't need to wait until you get all your problems solved. When they come, ask what you can learn from them. And grow into more of who you are.

I wish you exciting discoveries.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Maybe It's A Blessing

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. Theodore Rubin

We live in a dualistic world where everything has an opposite--joy or sadness, inner bondage or freedom, peace or anxiety, bumps in the road or smooth sailing--everything. And we term things either good or bad. No one goes through life with only one or the other. We must experience both. But the quality of our life often depends upon how we interpret our experiences, and the label we put on them. Our life is what we see and how we respond to it.

Sometimes in tragedy we find our life's purpose--the eye sheds a tear to find its focus. Robert Brault

Until my early forties, I suffered with anxiety and depression. I saw these feelings as monsters in my life from which there was no escape, and I hated the suffering. Then I went through 2 years of therapy which changed my life. I went back to school and worked in the mental health field as a psychotherapist. Now when I look back, I thank God for those years of suffering, because they prepared me for the work I was meant to do, and they gave me a deeper understanding of my patient's pain. I didn't know it at the time, but those unhappy years were a blessing in my life.

We can't escape life's challenges, but we don't have to meet them with devastation and helplessness. I like what Oliver Wendell Holmes had to say about meeting those times of adversity. If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass round it. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it. We can look with wiser eyes and allow the adversity to reveal parts of us we might not see otherwise and inevitably bring deeper meaning to our life. When we survive a storm, the rainbow shines brighter.

Problems will come, and we'll either grow with them or be defeated by them. We have 3 choices.

1. Suffer with the problem for as long as it lasts.
2. Resolve the problem, learn from it, and move on.
3. If it can't be resolved, do what you can and accept it with an attitude of peace.
It may turn out to be a blessing.

Turn your wounds into wisdom. Oprah Winfrey

Blessings to you, Marilyn

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Do You Express Your Self

Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. Edwin Hubbel Chapin

I belong to a writer's group at a Senior Center, and recently we talked about how the energy in the group changes when some members leave and others come in. And this affects the dynamics of the whole group. Interesting phenomenon. For me, this is a good illustration of the uniqueness of every person and how our expression of self impacts others in unique ways.

We express from our human self and our spiritual Self, in tangible and intangible ways and to different degrees. But we rarely think about what we're expressing or the impact our expressions will have. You can't touch a smile, but it can turn someone's heart in a different direction, or the advice you give to someone may make a difference in the rest of their life, or maybe something you said or did hurt to the core. We do make a difference one way or another.

Have you ever taken the time to observe other people's behavior in a group setting--maybe with family, friends, at work, in church, in your neighborhood etc? There are fixers, nurturers, jokesters, know-it-alls, independents, team players, helpers, agitators, all kinds. And each touches the others with the way they express in their life. Have you ever observed your own behavior and thought about the impact you make on others? Is there something you'd like to change?

When I was a child, I watched my brother put together model airplanes. He opened the box, laid pieces on the table and carefully identified each one. Some were ready to use as is, while others needed sanding down and rough edges smoothed out. He was grateful for those ready to use pieces, and happily spent time on those that needed some work. No piece was more important than the other. He needed all of them to create a plane that would fly like the plane he wanted in the first place. If we're to fly, we need to search inside the box, see all the pieces and work with them without judgment.

By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before. Edwin Elliot

Wouldn't it be great if you decided what kind of a person you want to be and then expressed that person in your life? You are unique, different and special, and you might be surprised if you took a closer look inside and found the unexplored wonder within. You make a difference somewhere, somehow, to someone. So discover your own specialness, and touch others with the best of who and what you are.

You are beautiful. Let your beauty shine.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ways to Manage Your Energy Level

Everyone needs energy to function, but our energy levels differ. I like to think of energy levels in terms of quarts, pints and less than a pint. The quart people are fired up most of the time, and have to force themselves to slow down. The pint people have all the energy they need to accomplish what they want or need to accomplish each day. And then there are the less than a pint people--people like me. The level of your energy depends on a number of factors--heredity, motivation, need, physical health, life situation, etc.

You may be a person who would like to make better use of the energy you've always had, or you may be someone who's energy has declined, you tire quickly and you feel like a frustrated failure. Sometimes energy can be increased with lifestyle changes, and sometimes not. But whatever your situation, there are ways to deal with the energy you have and produce more of what you want in your life.

I was never a quart person. I was happy being a pint person. I got a lot done and enjoyed every minute of it. However, I retired and developed health issues that knocked me down to less than a pint. My body would no longer keep up with where my mind wanted to go, and I became frustrated with myself, never satisfied with my performance. And that was unacceptable until I devised a way to function with whatever amount of energy I had. I may always be a less than a pint person, but a change in my perspective helps me accomplish what I can and find peace with myself and my situation.

I've always been a list maker, and this enabled me to get more done. I still make lists, but now I don't need to get everything done in one day. I listen to my body and obey what it tells me. I call this method of managing energy Go, Push, and Stop.

1. First make a to do list, and prioritize most important to least important. Then start out when your energy level is at it highest. Your body will tell you when it's that time.
2. As long as your energy is flowing, continue in the Go mode.
3. When you feel your energy level drop, continue in the Push mode.
4. When your body says you're too tired to push, then turn on the Stop mode and stop.

Always obey what your body tells you. Whatever you don't finish can wait until tomorrow or until you rest enough to Push some more. You're in control. You can manage your time and your activities. Who and what you are is not measured by your energy level, so find no fault with yourself. Just do your best whatever your situation, and love who you are.

You are worth loving.