I know, I know–we are almost through February, and I’m still thinking of New Year’s resolutions! What can I say–it takes me awhile to gather up my thoughts.
Here’s my list:
- to be more thoughtful of others
- to show more concern for others without being judgmental
- maturity, especially in more control over my emotions
- writing, in quantity and quality
- enjoy the outdoors more
- exercise (whether stretching, doing yard work or housework, or walking)
- being intentional
- a thicker skin, to handle criticism better, especially of my writing
If a store could hand these out, I’d be first in line! 🙂 As it is, since God is the only One Who can help, I’ll add “more prayer” to this list and see what God does.
My idea of a to-do list used to be like the one pictured above. Sometimes it still is. I still write a list, and some days I accomplish quite a few items. Most of the time the items on the to-do list spill over into the next day, or even the next week—or two.
In the past year or so my idea of accomplishments changed. It broadened to include not only things you see on a list, but also things you can’t see, like victories over discouraging thoughts and worries. Recently I engaged in a fencing match with the thought, “Your life isn’t worth much.” You can read about that battle here. Last week or so I boxed with the impression, “You’ve fumbled badly in your work, your finances, and every area of your life.” Then a picture flashed through my mind of falling flat on my face. Not something to give a person confidence, is it?
I prayed, and once again, Faith came to my rescue, saying that I haven’t fumbled badly, and even if I have, God can and is willing to help me. I’m not alone.
These interior victories show me the most meaningful accomplishments aren’t ones you can cross off a piece of paper. They are ones achieved inside you.
Photo Credit: Micaela Parente, Unsplash
“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24, KJV)
“Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 60:12, KJV)
Sometimes I get impatient when helping my mother around the house. I want to move faster, get things done quicker, but she’s not able to. Lately I’ve been praying and asking others to pray about our relationship. One answer that came from those prayers is this: when I’m in a situation and feel impatient, ask myself: what practical steps can I do to move things forward? Is there something else that contributes to the project I can do–move objects out of the way, for instance? Asking myself those questions gets rid of my impatience and the stress that comes from it. My mindset switches from me to her.
Earlier today the impression entered my mind: “Who are you to think you’re anyone special? Your life isn’t worth much.”
At first glance circumstances agree: I am just one of six or seven billion plus people on this planet; lower sales after Christmas means I am working fewer hours on my retail job, so don’t have a sense of productivity/ worth there; I don’t have a boyfriend or husband who can lift my spirits. Even the weather got in on the act. The sun shone dimly through an overcast sky, so it was gloomy inside, even with lights on.
I prayed about that impression. Immediately Faith kicked in and said, “No! Your life is worth much because God loves you and created you. He sent His Son to die for you. You are valuable.”
God reminded me that the earlier impression of low worth didn’t come from Him; those were not His words.
After this, I called a relative who, like me, wants to put more emphasis on spending time with family. We agreed to meet tomorrow.
Then I spent some time outside (being in the fresh air always raises my spirits) feeding the birds, and raking leaves for mulch. It was cold, but I was helping the birds, doing something productive, and I could always warm up with a cup or two of tea back inside. As I raked leaves, the sun shone a little stronger, and beautiful blue sky appeared on the horizon.
Lastly, I am writing this blog post for anyone else who hears those words, “Your life isn’t worth much”. I am writing to tell you not to believe them. You are valuable.
This year my doctor prescribed physical therapy to treat my achy, cranky joints and muscles. Since March I’ve had several visits to the physical therapist’s. In the process I’m learning: a different mindset, to cooperate with and respect my body better, and the ways regulated motion (stretches, using weights) can help me live better and more pain-free.
- “No pain, no gain” is not the motto of the physical therapists. The therapists don’t want you to push through pain; your muscles will tire and there is a greater chance of more injury; stop just before the point of pain. You want the point of stretch, but not to the point where it hurts.
- When doing exercises and stretches if you have to stop and rest, do so. For example, if you are supposed to do two sets of 10 reps (repetitions), but you have to stop after just 5, that’s OK. Rest, take a break, do them in sets of 5. You can break it down to four sets of 5, instead of two sets of 10.
- Your attitude towards pain and physical therapy is just as important as the physical therapy itself. You need to be as confident as possible.
- Be patient with your body and the process of healing. It takes time, and this varies with each person.
- You can work for a long time and it seems as though nothing is getting better. Don’t buy into that sneaky voice of discouragement. Get tough and keep on going, anyway. One day when you think nothing has changed, the therapist will say, “Your flexibility is improving”.
- Strength comes last in an injured part, but it will come.
- The physical therapy place is a “no judgment zone”; no one is pointing the finger at you and how few reps you managed, how long it took you to do them, or how you had to ask for help on a particular machine, again. Everybody’s in the same boat–focusing on getting stronger. No one in physical therapy can claim to be a super-athlete.
- Clients encourage one another, and when one client rehabs enough to be released from therapy, this gives a boost to others still working to reach that point.
- Physical therapy is a hopeful place. Doctors tell you what’s wrong; physical therapists tell you where you are strong, where your flexibility improved, where your range of motion is normal– in other words, what’s right. Yes, they do say things like, “Well, those muscles are a bit on the weak side. But there’s exercises we can do to strengthen them.” The therapists emphasize the positive. Most of the time I walk out of PT feeling more hopeful about my situation. Rather than being in despair about my body, I believe something can be done.
- One part of the body affects another. If one muscle is weak and can’t do its job, another muscle has to work harder. Eventually the hard-working muscle may develop weakness, and then other muscles and probably joints get involved. Then you wonder why you hurt.
- Physical therapists are detail-oriented–something I didn’t realize until this time around. They take measurements in their evaluations and plan each person’s therapy course with those measurements, along with the comments the client makes, in mind. Each stretch, each exercise, is selected to address the particular problem the client has. Therapists have to know how the body parts interact, and what happens when a part is not acting as it should.
- Physical therapy is a participatory time. Unlike going to the doctor and listening to him or her explain your condition, showing up for physical therapy requires action on your part. To get the most benefit, take time to do recommended stretches at home. (I’ve been known to get some stretches in while waiting for supper.)
- To me, physical therapy is counter-culture. The world demands, and often gets, speed. Physical therapy allows time for the healing process, however long that takes. Some things can’t be rushed.
- Physical therapy isn’t a cure and it’s not guaranteed to work for everyone, but for many painful problems it’s worth considering.
BTW: That lady on the stability ball is not me. If I was that flexible, I wouldn’t need physical therapy! 🙂
I need to give credit where credit is due: Most of the information used in this article comes from observing and listening to the physical therapists at the office I go to. Along with their specialized knowledge and ability they offer much patience and compassion.
Photo Credit: Micaela Parente on Unsplash.com
The more time I give to writing, the more I realize my creativity has “enemies”–things that can sap my creativity if I let them. Some are external, some internal; some are physical, mental, or emotional, but I need to be aware they can appear, and be prepared to deal with them.
“Enemies” of creativity:
- Tv shows which have violent, sexual, or just plain stupid content. That mental garbage stays in my mind too long.
- News programs–while most end with a positive, heartwarming story, 98% of the coverage is negative. I can’t do anything about the bad stuff. I can easily slide into despair, and that sabotages my creativity.
- Workplace gossip and drama. Again, it’s negative, not anything I can do about, and provokes anxiety.
- Physical aches and pains–if they are bad enough to be all-consuming. Normally, focusing on writing pushes whatever pain I may have away. I don’t have any pain. But if the pain is severe enough, it’s all I notice, and I have a real battle on my hands to do anything that is the least bit creative.
- Perfectionism–a “natural” enemy of creativity, because perfectionism demands perfection, and creativity can’t be forced into the confines of perfection. Creativity requires a sense of freedom, and perfectionism and that sense of freedom are at odds.
- Depression–another “natural” enemy of creativity. Depression sometimes comes as a result of physical pain.
- Low self-esteem–no surprise, because if you think lowly of yourself, you’ll feel as though you don’t have anything inside you to create with.
- Little self-care–this goes along with depression; low self-esteem, and perfectionism (perfectionists are often unrealistically hard on themselves and don’t allow themselves to get the support they need, whether that’s a massage or making a needed doctor’s visit, or whatever).
- Clutter–whether it’s physical clutter like papers all over the desk, dust bunnies in plain sight (not even hiding under the bed), or mental clutter such as bitterness, un-forgiveness, resentment, or a tightly-scheduled to-do-list, clutter can be highly detrimental to creativity.
- Giving too much weight to other people’s negative opinions of your creative expression. Years ago, a family member told me that “I’d never make any money writing”. I allowed that to squelch my desire to write for a long time. (BTW: that person was wrong; I’ve already made a little bit of money writing. I’ve also received much joy.)
I’ve been thinking of ways to fight these enemies. Creativity means too much to give up without a fight.
The past six months I’ve been hit by a variety of health issues. Among them was a bout with depression, that darkness my doctor called “a heavy spirit”. For me, I felt as though my spirit was being crushed. I couldn’t find joy in the simple things I usually find joy in; I couldn’t get relief in the simple ways I could before; I felt as though I could cry at the drop of a hat; I had to push myself to do normal, everyday responsibilities. Continue reading
“And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.” Joshua 4:5-7 King James Version
Several years ago, the Lord told me to “cultivate faith”. One valuable way for me to do so is illustrated by the passage above: find a way to remember what God has already done for me. In the above example, the Israelites used stones to help them remember; other times, God instructed them to mark occasions with feasts or festivals. He gave specific directions for the celebrations. Each of those gatherings stood for an occasion God had acted for them.
For me, I write down items. I have notebooks in various places, and I record God’s blessings in them. I carry one little notebook in my purse. While I have different sections in the notebook for meeting different purposes, the most important section is right at the beginning, where I list God’s blessings to me. I have small and large ones written down. Reading them carries me back to the situation and I have a renewed sense of gratitude for God’s care and provision for me. Remembering what God has already done helps me have faith for challenges ahead (and there’s always challenges ahead!) and helps me have a more optimistic view of the future. In the past, I tended toward despair, so being able to counteract that downward slide is important.
Photo credit: Pexels.com
As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.
I first came across How to Live in Fear–Mastering the Art of Freaking Out in a Christian bookstore. I thought that was a little strange, with a title like that. “Fear” and “Christian” don’t go together. But the longer I leafed through the pages, the more I realized the title fit perfectly with the theme: being able to live with faith in God while having anxiety/panic attacks.
Pastor Lance Hahn has experienced severe anxiety attacks since boyhood. For a few years the attacks left, then they came roaring back into his life. He describes what it’s like to be a Christian, and the senior pastor of a large church–a pastor who suffers from panic attacks. Continue reading