No one likes to be cut down and corrected and other painful experiences that tear back what you believe to be growth. If you are a gardener, you will understand the pruning process. I raised roses when I lived in Washington state. I loved them. We had large enough property to have the roses well out of the way where the kids are playing ball. Rose bushes are ball killers so the space is much needed. Plus roses enjoy having their own space. I read books on raising roses. Each book included a chapter on pruning. The first time I pruned one of my 5 foot tall rose bushes I felt so cruel. I was horrified at the instructions of only leaving 6-12 inches of stems on 3 to 4 branches. Everything else had to go. In Washington, the first freeze sometimes happened as early as Halloween. So each October I would dutifully go out with my cutters and hack away. I then learned a trick to cover each cut end with finger nail polish to protect the rose bush from attacking bugs or diseases from getting in through these exposed ends. I also learned to protect the stems from snow and ice to bury them in potting soil so I could brush it off in the Spring. (First time I used straw, what a mess, picked straw out of the garden all summer.) Then I waited. October to March or sometimes April is a long wait. I second guessed myself constantly. Did I cut too much? Did I do it right? Will my poor plants recover? Will winter be too harsh? Will they bloom again?
In my own life, I experienced pruning. I would be going gun-ho in a direction thinking I am doing great then I will have an experience that will cut me to the core. I will feel hurt. Sometimes bewildered as to what was wrong with me that I was being trimmed back so painfully. Failure, major change in health, laid off from a job, loss of a loved one are all painful experiences that used effectively may be opportunities to prune back to my core values and stop the radical growth in the wrong direction. A life changing experience is supposed to change your life. These major events left me raw and feeling small. Using my time in strengthening my roots prepares me for the coming "Spring" when it is time for me to grow again.
SMART Goals are awesome. A reader shared a great web site for writing SMART Goals.
I like them because SMART goals encourage me to break down big problems into smaller components. I feel great when I accomplish a goal. They help me see my progress. Thanks to Anna for sharing this link:
Missed all the fun Easter weekend. Missed the visiting and the celebrations. I did make it to church barely but it is hard to enjoy a service when you feel like you are barely holding yourself together. Then I reminded myself of what I learned years and years ago when this was my daily life. Mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
How I learned this little gem was long ago when I was in my early 30's. I could only be up for 20 minutes a day. I struggled. I went to the doctor and all the tests came back "normal". I felt anything but normal. I was talking to another lady that just beat cancer. She pointed out to me that it was mind over matter. If I would just put my mind to getting the house work done it would be done in no time. (Side note, I knew this woman but we were not friends.) After this stern lecture I went into my house and decided to put the dishes away. Mind over matter. About half way through this 15 minute job, I slid down the cupboard and collapsed on the floor. I laid there pondering my dilemma. I didn't get the dishes put away and I couldn't move off the floor. I sat there for a couple of hours until the kids came home from school. My oldest directed me to go back to bed. I crawled back to bed. That was how I learned If I don't mind, it doesn't matter.
Took me many more years to realize someone else rarely knows exactly what is going on inside of me or anyone else. We get glimpses of each others stories but rarely the whole thing. My counselor spent 7 years talking to me. He knew me better than I knew myself in some ways. However, I could still surprise him with my own twisted perspective and how I look at the World. He told me that which does not kill me makes me stronger. I wanted to smack him. He sat across the room from me out of reach, with good reason. I felt like what happened to me broke me. Recently I found a quote that I like much better, "That which does not kill me, gives me some strange coping skills and a very dark sense of humor." I share what I experienced in the hope to help someone else sitting on a kitchen floor wondering, "How am I ever going to get the dishes done?" No one really knows each person's struggle but each person gets to decide whether that matters or not.
If topics of religion are triggering for you please skip today's post.
He is Risen. The women at the tomb weren't believed. Other followers of Christ ran to the tomb to see with their own eyes. He is Risen. Thomas doubted but so did the others. Help me with my unbelief, He is risen. The glad tidings of Easter Morning is not that Christ was crucified but the new that He is Risen. I know people that mock and make fun of my belief. In high school I totally changed my friends because they told me I was not Christian. I was not nice and go along with them to keep the peace. I walked away sorrowing that they could not accept that I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior. I wished no harm to them but I would not give up on my belief that Jesus Christ is my Savior and HE IS RISEN.
Core to my survival is my belief in Christ. I don't talk about it often not because of my lack of belief but my profound understanding that not everyone has the same belief as I do. I am painfully aware of religious abuse. I know that some people use Christ and the followers beliefs to manipulate and control another person. However, times such as Easter I share that I know Jesus Lives not because I saw Him with my own eyes but because I felt Him with my heart. I felt Him in my darkest hours, I was not alone. I felt Him when I feared greatly, I was not alone. I felt Him when I was failing, I was not alone. Above all else this one truth stayed with me Jesus Christ heals sinners and survivors. His healing is not limited to physical infirmities but to all suffering. He knows what it feels like to suffer.
My counselor once asked me why I believe Christ needed to suffer in Gethsemane. My answer was simple, "So He would know where to find me in my suffering. I could never say Christ doesn't understand how I feel." Being a follower of Christ does not prevent suffer for He taught, "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted."
Friend of a friend shared this and I really love it:
" I WISH I HAD UNDERSTOOD THIS WHEN I WAS YOUNGER> HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEONE> GREAT ARTICLE<
Are we not commanded to be kind, loving, and nice?
The first two? Yes. “Nice?” No. Jesus was never nice. Jesus was kind. There’s a big difference. Being nice is about not wanting to upset people or ruffle any feathers. Christ didn’t care about that. He had zero problem with upsetting people. That’s because He was kind. Kind people don’t want to hurt others, but they will speak the truth with boldness and love. Kind people care about the welfare of those around them. Kind people draw healthy boundaries because that’s good for everybody. The Lord upset plenty of people, but that’s not because He was mean. It’s because He was kind, direct, and honest.
Culturally we tend to misunderstand the Lord’s teaching that “the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil. We mistake conflict for contention. Contention is a heated disagreement. It involves anger and can escalate into malice and hatred. Conflict, on the other hand, is unavoidable as we navigate our differences or stand for the right. In trying to follow our Savior, we may erroneously become something that He never was: conflict-avoidant. There was perpetual conflict between Him and the scribes and the Pharisees. Did He back down? He did not. There is conflict today between the ways of the world and the ways of the gospel. There’s conflict between our will and God’s will. He doesn’t avoid any of it. Christ didn’t yield to the spirit of contention, but that doesn’t mean He avoided conflict when it was a battle worth fighting. His teachings to “turn the other cheek,” “go the extra mile,” and “love your enemy” are designed to keep us from returning evil with evil, anger with anger, hate for hate, and force for force. They’re to keep our hearts full of love for all and create in us a giving spirit. He practiced that. But He still boldly drew boundaries and spoke His mind. He still does today. “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him ”Mathew 5:5 This scripture is often used as an excuse to be conflict-avoidant, which too often leads to passive-aggressive behavior as we cope with negative feelings from unresolved conflict. Fact is, the Lord didn’t mean for us to agree with anything that was wrong or that we actually disagree with. That would be dishonest. Check the footnote on that scripture. “Agree” here is a translation of a Greek word that means “quickly have kind thoughts for or be well disposed toward.”
At work, with your family, and elsewhere, following Christ allows and even requires us to draw healthy boundaries to establish what we will and won’t do for others, as well as establish expectations for mutual respect. In cases where others don’t respect our boundaries, we can show kindness and love. We can let go of anger and bitterness. But we don’t need to let them be close to us.
Do you need to establish clearer, stronger expectations for those with whom you have a relationship? Are you willing to distance yourself from those who disrespect, use, and abuse you until and unless they repent of their behavior? You can forgive them. You can pray for them. But following Jesus means you don’t need to have a relationship of trust with them unless there is mutual respect."
It’s very easy to neglect to train the most important thing- the mind!
During practice tests & training runs, etc., there is one big element that is missing- the pressure. Pressure results in a shit ton of feelings including anxiety, self-doubt, overthinking, panic, etc.
Imagine this- you are in a championship basketball game and you are down by 2 and you get fouled with no time on the clock. It’s an away game and you are at the free throw line by yourself. You have shot and practiced thousands of free throws and yet it feels completely foreign when you step up to the line- as if you have never shot a free throw before.
It’s that very feeling that causes us not to be able to rely on all of that training we put in. It is important to train for the knowns and unknowns (invent unknowns). You have to train for the worst-case scenario. Your body doesn’t fuel your mind so while you may be physically ready, your body will only do what the mind is capable of.
A lot of us study our asses off in preparation for the SATs or LSATs, etc. We know the shit front to back but the second they put the test in front of us, we start sweating and the mind goes blank. We feel unprepared - as if we have never studied. You sit there thinking you have taken tons of practice tests and aced them all. How the fuck did I forget everything???
We have to prepare our mind for the stresses that competition is going to cause us to feel. Your heart rate is going to go up, you are going to sweat more, you will tire more quickly than you did in training, etc.
The best techniques to train the mind include training in a way that shocks your mind. If you are training for a race that starts at 6am, try training at 2am with no sleep (a lot of you may think this is stupid but how many of you actually have a good sleep the night before a race?). If you have test anxiety, take the prep tests with less time than you will have on actual test day.
Stress your mind during training or it will never grow. Training alone is not enough. During training, you must find a way to give your mind no way out so when the hard times come during the race or test, your brain is conditioned under the hardest of times.
Today I am thankful to be alive. On Friday, a new heater unit was installed in our house. I had trouble waking up Saturday morning. After going to my granddaughter's volleyball game I came back to the house and walked in and froze. I could smell gas. Natural gas has no odor of its on so they intentionally add chemicals that smell bad. I went out side to call my husband. His phone chose that morning not to work. I woke up my father-in-law begging him to get up. When he smelled the gas I haven't seen him move this fast since he came to live with us. I quickly got him outside and opened all the doors and windows. I felt terrified because in that moment I realized I had no idea how to turn the gas off. Thankful DH (darling husband) drove up and quickly turned off the gas while I went to my Dad's. An hour later the house was clear and safe to return.
We lived in Texas many years ago when they had a severe drought. The dirt pulled away from the houses and in one weekend 11 houses blew up. I realize that I could go from calm to sheer terror in less than 0.1 seconds. I also stayed thinking enough to clear out the house and do what needed to be done to get Father-in-law to safety. Also asked for directions to be posted in the house on how to shut off gas. I won't remember things like this so I plan to put a posting so when I open the door I can see what to do. I am so thankful that we discovered the problem in time. I am thankful that the weather is gorgeous so a night without heating is no disaster. I am thankful to be alive.
One of the challenges I faced with mental health was dissociation. I could totally cut myself off from all emotion. Before you start thinking this is a good idea, I assure you emotions are what make us human, lovable and colors our world with complexity and light. Take out emotion and life is gray....all gray. No darks, no lights, no feeling of any kind. I didn't get to pick and choose which emotions I felt, they were all gray. I worked hard at trying to share with my photography professor what that means. I shot over 600 pictures of gray, I narrowed the list to 100 to show him. When I took the pictures I held the criteria that changing color saturation in Photoshop was not allowed. The picture needed to be gray for me to include it in the series. No highs, no lows, no color. I am sadden now when people want to wish away emotions because sometimes they are excruciatingly painful. In my opinion, life without emotion is as close to being a zombie and still be alive. Living is emotional and embracing the whole range. Not easy to do but I hope to never return to gray.
Children learn about joking but they don't separate it from lying. One people laugh at, the other they get in trouble. April Fools day brings out the worst in some people. Weirdly I was reading what I thought was a truthful article until I got to the comments and they clarified it was all a joke. I had considered the source and not realized someone was playing a joke, it still felt like lying to me. Too many times I was teased until I cried and then accused of not being able to take a joke. Needless to say April fools day is not my favorite day. A couple of years ago, I tried to play what I thought was a harmless joke; I took a plate of Brown Es to school. The students were not impressed. I realized that even 'harmless' jokes can have a negative impact on a relationship. I no longer try to play April Fools jokes. I don't do it well and I feel so bad if the other person is up set about it. It is hard to know how someone will take a joke. Plus there are some things that are not joking matters.