The Grief Walk

Image result for griefAs a nurse, I experience many emotions with families that cross my path. The spectrum involved in one day can sometimes be dizzying and is often exhausting. The powerful emotions surrounding loss can easily overwhelm even the most veteran nurses when tragic loss arrives during a “normal” work day, unannounced and uninvited. A chaplain offers a prayer, nurses gather to cry and hug, and then the serving resumes. We proceed through our shifts and appear to be unscathed…but loss always leaves a mark, whether acknowledged or not. The grieving process is the healing process. As nurses we talk through our losses. We manage them alone at night while the rest of the world sleeps. The goal being to walk all the way through the grief and experience healing that can then ignite deeper compassion and nursing care that promotes true health and wellness for our patients as well as ourselves.

Our response to loss initiates an extensive ripple effect through our lives. It is worth acknowledging and discussing. I think people don’t understand how many losses are really experienced throughout life. Things that we may think are “just a part of life” create losses/wounds that need to be grieved. It is easier to disregard the impact of loss then to address the emotions of these difficult times. Left alone, these emotions destroy us. They build up and become distorted and impact us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. However, when we are willing to grieve and walk through the pain and out on the other side, we transform a gaping wound to a small scar. We can lift our heads and embrace a new normal.

So why have I brought up such an uplifting topic? My work allows me to see new life coming into the world every shift, and I wonder what lies ahead for these small miracles that have landed in this family called the human race. Hatred seems to be growing like a forest fire after a drought and I have to wonder…is this a ripple from grief and loss that have not been healed but rather passed down through generations? When the response to tragedy is finding someone to blame…a seed of hatred is planted. When the response to loss is jealousy of others who haven’t experienced that same loss…seeds of contempt and entitlement are planted. When the response to loss is isolation and self-pity…seeds of bitterness and resentment are planted. Destructive coping skills can impact families through generations and create deep chasms of pain in stone hearts. These hearts turn into nations imploding.

Loss is a given, but grieving and healing areImage result for grief choices and not mandatory. When we acknowledge our feelings and our grief, we are accepting the hurt and pain that come from the healing process. We must be vulnerable and welcome uncertainty and that is not in our comfort zone. However, the beauty is that as we journey, we grow and develop new skills. We meet others that reach back to aid us in our assent. And we stop the bleeding and heal. Then we can turn around and extend a hand to others with soft hearts and eyes filled with tenderness instead of hatred. I have walked a few roads that involved extreme loss and I have many scars. These times were dark, heavy, and oppressive. I would not want to experience them again. But the emotional stamina, faith, strength, confidence, hope, and clarity of thinking that I have today were all developed and nurtured during the grief walks of my life. Now, my scars offer common ground when others that are hurting. Ripples of empathy and non-judgmental kindness instead of hatred, bitterness, and pain are the result.

Take a moment and think about losses you have experienced. Some will be enormous, like loss of trust or control from an abusive situation or loss of a loved one or wayward child. Some may seem insignificant like the loss of a pet or a friend moving away. All loss leaves a mark. When kids move away we experience loss. When we retire there are losses to address. When loved ones pass and there are no answers, the loss is immense. We all experience loss and must choose our responses carefully.

I pray for you today as you read this blog. My journey has led me to a deep faith in God that sustains me each day. I know that He can be trusted and is my unwavering foundation of security no matter what losses come my way. Maybe I just lost you there. Maybe you have been hurt by something that happened to you at church or someone’s actions who said they were a Christian. I understand and I truly am sorry. My prayer is that you take it up with God. His shoulders are big enough and He can handle even the most rambunctious human heart. This is encouragement for healing, a hand reaching back, an acknowledgment of need. Please stop the bleeding and find rest and peace.

 

 

“May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, New Living Translation)

 

 

 

 

 

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Muffin yumminess…yes please!

I took these to work this week and the girls gave them the thumbs up. I wanted to share the recipe with them and thought I’d post it here to share it with you too! I love food. I love texture and variety and knowing it is actually fueling my body at the same time it is satisfying my taste buds.

I am not on a diet and don’t encourage them. I have created and manage a healthy lifestyle. This allows me to enjoy the foods I love, appreciate fruits and vegetables, proteins, and complex carbs and the benefits of all the pieces that complete a balanced diet.

The key is this: eat foods that digest quickly, like sweets, with foods that slow down the digestion process, like low-fat dairy, high-fiber foods, or foods that contain protein. When we slow the absorption we reduce the glucose hit our body takes, we reduce the insulin rush that is the response to a spike in blood sugar, and we give our bodies Image result for muffin tinsmore time to utilize the calories we have just ingested before storing it as fat.

Balance. Portion Control. Smart choices. One choice at a time and you can create a lifestyle that will allow you to feel good, work hard, play with enthusiasm, and maintain a healthy weight.

Try these pumpkin muffins with your morning coffee and a scrambled egg and you will be all set to feel fabulous as you begin your day!

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients: 

  • 1 15 oz. can canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg + ¼ cup egg substitute
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, no added sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups oats
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together pumpkin, eggs, bananas, applesauce, Splenda, and vanilla and set aside.
  3. In large bowl, combine flour, oats, soda, powder, spices, and salt.
  4. Add the banana mixture and stir just until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips
  5. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 18-20 min.

*The nutrition information was created by entering the recipe into My Fitness Pal.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 18.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 140
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5 g 7 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 12 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 12 mg 4 %
Sodium 563 mg 23 %
Potassium 52 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 25 g 8 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 11 %
Sugars 9 g
Protein 3 g 6 %
Vitamin A 0 %
Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 1 %
Iron 7 

 

 

 

Stress Management…just do it

What Stress?

Work, Image result for stressed outfamily, relationships, finances, illness, change…the variety of ways stress comes into
our lives presents us all with a challenge. There is no one way to reduce and manage stress. But, it is universally accepted that less stress is better. So, the first important step is identification. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. You know you feel it, just identify and accept what causes stress for you. Don’t worry about if it would cause stress for someone else or if you believe it is less stressful and worthy of attention than what someone else may be experiencing. Your life, your stress, and your job to handle it. Own it and then you can fix it. Identify each stress and your response.

Good stressors, like a promotion or a new baby, are still stressors. Negative stressors, like hectic schedules or holding grudges, need attention. Internal stressors, such as striving for perfection, must be managed. External stressors, such as deadlines at work, must be given an outlet. We need positive and effective coping skills to enjoy physical, emotional, & mental wellness. The first step is identifying what is stressing you. The next step is identifying what you can do to reduce & manage your stress.

Just do it

We all know the top tips for managing stress I bet. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, meditate/pray, play, take time for yourself…blah, blah, blah. That is what you expect me to say, right? Well, I’d love to report that I have new information and there is now a pill. You can take this pill and your stress will be relieved; you will sail through adversity without a tight muscle or added pound; you will glide through 17 dance, gymnastic, and soccer practices a week, help with homework, and still prepare healthy meals with a smile and a hug; and you can immediately dismiss hurt feelings and apologize to your spouse without shedding a tear! Ummmmm…not gonna happen! Here’s the truth: in this life there will be trouble (John 16:33), we will have stress, good and bad, and we get to decide if we manage stress or if stress gets to call all the shots, even determining our health. So just do it.

SoAuntJodi, as your friendly u.b.healthy coach and mentor, I’d like to gently encourage you to pay attention! Today is the day to make changes and decrease the impact of stress on your physical body as well as your mental health. The stress level you live with impacts not only you, but everyone around you. (As does your effective or not-so-effective set of coping skills) None of us get to try today over again…this is it. This is not like Solitaire where you can play and then hit the button to “replay this game” now that you see the correct moves. The impact of stress is very real inside our bodies and chronic stress is very damaging in the short-term as well as the long-term. It is time for us to take stress management seriously and enjoy our lives more each and every day.

Usually I try to stay positive in my approach here, but I feel the need to help us all identify some poor and ineffective coping habits regularly on display all around us:

  • Denial/Suppression
  • Isolation
  • Procrastination
  • Indulging addictions (food, alcohol, shopping, gambling, drugs, etc.)
  • Ranting/Rage

I’m sure this list is not exhaustive, but it covers a lot of the most common “fails”. These strategies create more stress and perpetuate dysfunction in our lives. Procrastination is probably the culprit if you read this and say to yourself, “this is true, I do need to manage stress differently”, and then get up and get a snack.

Change is a choice and is often difficult. These types of ineffective coping skills were probably modeled in our homes and are reinforced daily everywhere we look. But making changes in how we manage stress has enormous rewards. Rewards for us personally, our families, and our co-workers. So, yes, I’m encouraging you to slow down, take time for yourself, eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise, enjoy being outside, breathe deeply, meditate, pray, spend time with friends, have fun, laugh, play, sleep, eliminate grudges and comparisons to others, and share with trusted friends the concerns on your heart. Take time to share, but also to listen, to advice from people who know you, love you, and have your best interest at heart. This is your one shot at today, don’t just wish it was over, decide to enjoy it.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – Winnie the Pooh

 

Healthy Lifestyle vs. Diet Plan

Oh my goodness, my heart breaks when I hear friends that are discouraged and depressed when diets are embarked upon and then abandoned. The feelings of guilt and self-degradation are useless and yet overwhelming. The self talk becomes damaging and discouraging. Self-esteem plummets and self-loathing moves in. This does not need to happen, it is not helpful or productive. There is a better way and I plead with you to read these words and take them to heart. A healthy lifestyle includes room for desserts and vegetables, physical activity and rest and relaxation, fun and hard work, protein and carbohydrates! Diet plans restrict and offer merely a band-aid, but a healthy lifestyle frees and brings long-term success. There is no comparison…a healthy lifestyle is the only way to lose weight and keep it off, maintain a healthy weight, create balance, joy, health, and wellness for you and your family.

It seems a new and improved diet plan shows up every day. Headlines boast: Follow these 15 simple rules and you will reap the benefits of “easy” weight loss, non-stop fat-burning while you sleep, unlimited energy, and detoxed cells…and they’ll even throw in happiness, whiter teeth, and a group of slim, energetic friends. Seriously, anytime you see the word easy next to weight loss…stop reading! Weight loss and weight management take hard work, period. Weight management is not a temporary mission or a destination, it is a journey.

Women, seriously, please stop the beatings! We must change our focus to healthy living instead of striving for perfect bodies. This is such a passion of mine. I have lived for years in bondage to food and perfectionism, I was never thin enough, good enough, disciplined enough, smart enough…you get the picture I’m sure. I understand the trap and I also understand the depression, discouragement, and hopelessness that comes with yo-yo dieting and failing time and time again. It is ok if you don’t love broccoli. It is ok if you have chocolate every day. It is ok if you “just” take a walk after dinner for your exercise that day. It is ok! You are ok! Just keep taking steps forward and use your head. If something seems too good to be true it probably is bunk. If someone says you can lose weight without changing your diet, it is bunk! If your self-talk says you are a failure and you’ll never change, preach truth to yourself–you are unique and valuable and the only one that can offer the world you! Simple things like portion control, desserts in moderation instead of three times a day, and adding more veggies and more water to your day will help you in your journey to better health and weight loss. Please stop wasting time looking for the quick fix…there isn’t one, that is a path to discouragement.

Start today to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Take time to relax, rest, and sleep. Enjoy the relationships you have in your life and laugh, smile, and play. Eliminate extra clutter in your schedule and spend more time creating in your kitchen, taking walks and bike rides as a family, and noticing the sunset. Take care of yourself! Get to the doctor to have your physical, have lunch with a trusted friend, share life and be genuine. These are the keys to a healthy lifestyle and will result in a life that is full and breeds contentment. You can do it and you will thrive! Spend your energy and your money on creating a healthy lifestyle…the benefits are endless.

 

A Doggie-sized hole

 

IMG_0209  Today I am feeling a doggie-sized hole in my heart. At the end of December we had to say goodbye to our dear, sweet Sadie girl. Sadie became a part of our family when she was six weeks old and lived 12 full and cuddly years. Sadie struggled with ridiculous allergies and degenerative arthritis. She had been deaf for several years and had almost completely lost her vision this year. I know it was time to let her rest, but as is always the case, the ones left behind must work through the emptiness.

Even though it has been several days since we said good-bye, today is different. Today I am home alone, doing school work, and the house is quiet. Tom is back to work, both boys have moved out now, and I am alone. As I sit here missing the sound of her breathing on the rug behind me where she would always lay as I worked, I am in awe of the love that she expressed without words. Unlike Disney movies, Sadie could not speak in words, but she did clearly love us. A love that we can all learn from. Here are a few things that have come to my attention today:

Sadie was present. Even though her body struggled the last several years with getting up and laying down, it didn’t stop her from always being where we were. Even if I just got up to go the kitchen for a drink and she was sound asleep, somehow she would know I had left and follow along.

Sadie was paying attention. Dogs have this uncanny way of knowing the day of the week and the schedule of the home where they live, have you ever noticed that? Sadie could tell when it was Saturday and would nervously anticipate her clipping and bath time. She knew when each of us was due home and would wait at the garage door. Even on the day when we took her to her final appointment, Tom and I were amazed that she knew we were going somewhere and she knew she was going too. We did not understand her keen senses, but I can tell you this, we were her focus and she payed attention so that she wouldn’t miss a moment to be with us.

Sadie was loyal. We brought Sadie into our home when we did because we felt the boys needed a loving companion to grow up with. We researched for dog breeds that would be good with families, friendly, loving, and loyal. We nailed it. Sadie from day one longed to be with the boys. Again in a way only she could, she knew them, their needs and how to comfort them. TJ taught her to walk on a leash and to obey his commands and she willingly learned and obeyed because she loved him. Curtis would often have to get up during his guitar playing and open his door and let her in because she just wanted to be near him.

I could go on, but I need to get busy with school work! I just wanted to talk about her for a few minutes. I miss her. I want to learn from her kind of love. I want to be present for the people in my life and that I come in contact with daily. I want to pay attention in order to see the needs of those around me. And I want to a loyal wife, mother, friend, co-worker, sister, and daughter. Probably one of the biggest lessons for me is to remember that it doesn’t take words. When things happen in our lives or the lives of the people around us, we don’t have to have the right words to say. We can show how much we love them by just consistently being there.

 

 

Not so Normal Night

Ordinary People — Extraordinary Plan

The Christmas message is about a bunch of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary story. Sometimes I think it is easy for us to read the story of Jesus’ birth and imagine that the other characters in the story were set apart and different in some way, or we just don’t think about them at all. Well, I’d like to focus in for a moment on the shepherds.

If you were arranging the arrival of a king, would you be sure and notify a bunch of dusty, ordinary guys who care for stinky sheep? And not just send them a text message, but send a choir of angels? Well, God thought it was a great idea. One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is thinking about what that night was like for the shepherds. “That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep” (Luke 2:8, NLT). Ok, stop for a minute and set the picture in your mind. Just a routine shift, nothing new to see here, just a bunch of dirty, lazy sheep, watching out for predators, counting stars, trying not to freeze…” Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. I bring you good news of great joy for everyone. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!” ~pause~ If you aren’t very familiar with the Bible, just know that these men would have heard prophecies of the Messiah coming since they were little boys. That history in conjunction with the angel and radiance of God all over the place had to be quite a spectacle!  ~play~ Then, after giving instructions on how to find the Messiah–Baby Jesus, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of Heaven—praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors” (Luke 2:13-14). Imagine for a moment the glorious sound and sight that those shepherds witnessed! The shepherds decide to take the advice of the host of angels (good plan) and go to find baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, sharing their beautiful experience all along the way. These men were shepherds, ordinary people doing ordinary things who were suddenly and gloriously interrupted by a host of angels…way cool!

So, what does this have to do with living a healthy lifestyle? Well, it is important to remember that God shows up in the lives of ordinary people. And He didn’t just whisper to the shepherds, he organized a very unique invitation for them to celebrate in the birth of Jesus Christ, the arrival of the Messiah. I imagine the shepherds felt pretty special after all that went down. A new identity perhaps? A new God-sent-angels-to-the-field-to-talk-to-me kind of identity. Enjoying a healthy lifestyle includes a solid understanding of identity and value. So often we get caught up in trying to solidify our identity and value by trying to please others, comparing ourselves to others, or striving to meet unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, the holiday season is prime time for these kinds of pressures to escalate. Remember, your value comes from being a creation of the most-high God and has nothing to do with the number on the scale, the color of your hair, the number of children you have, how fit you are, the job you have, or if you have been acknowledged by Forbes magazine!

Maybe you haven’t been visited by a host of angels, but God did send Jesus for you. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” (John 3:16-17, NLT). And we get to experience reminders of God’s love all around us every day. We don’t live in a bland world, we live in a world full of sights, sounds, smells, and touches, and we have the capacity to enjoy it all. Seeing familiar smiles to greet you, birds flying in formation, 15 shades of pink in the sunset…yep, that’s for you. Hearing orchestra concerts, ocean waves crashing, babies cooing…all for you to enjoy. Smelling fresh baked cookies, Grandma’s perfume, wood burning fire, pine needles…you guessed it, all for you. Experiencing hugs, warm coffee soothing your throat, puppy tongues licking your cheeks, a hot bath or steamy shower…all for your pleasure because you are loved.

Banish thoughts of creating the “perfect” Christmas for your kids and just savor the season, even if it is filled with sniffly noses and crazy relatives. Relieve the pressure and take in the brisk air, the twinkly lights, and the festive music and be grateful for the ability to do so. Rest in the reality that you are perfectly created by God and he loves you.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Pace Yourselves for Peace

AuntJodi

Are You Missing Today?

We live in an environment of pushing forward, making gains, striving for perfection, hectic schedules, and getting ahead. Just where are we trying to go? And, will it be worth the sacrifices we are making today trying to get there?  These are questions worth answering.

Goals are wonderful and important. Looking forward to a vacation adds the freshness of anticipation to our lives. But, do we really live the day we are in or are we just going through the motions determined to arrive at some destination in time that we have deemed is worthy of enjoying?

What are you waiting for, striving for, or pushing towards so that you can enjoy your life? A number on the scale so you can finally feel good about yourself? A trip that is going to be the best time of your life? A relationship that will save you from loneliness? A job that will prove that you are acceptable? Unrealistic expectations can rob you of the enjoyment of life around you today.

Today is a chance to enjoy the small things that only today will bring. Moments that will never come again. Opportunities to learn and share and grow that we miss if we are only focused on where we are going instead of where we are. All the rushing creates tension, stress, and loss of focus which over time dulls our senses to the wonderful things about today.

Pacing

Having a mindset that promotes wellness includes learning how to pace ourselves. Words like balance, mindfulness, and time management all describe part of what I’m talking about. These are ways of living that take time and practice to embrace and live consistently. The beginning of this process is learning to pace. When we pace, we take life in smaller portions so that we aren’t overwhelmed. The best place to begin is to focus on just taking one day at a time. Something that sounds so simple is deceptively difficult.

Sometimes I think about this when I’m feeding a premature baby in the nursery at work that is struggling to learn how to eat. We have to pace them, slow the flow and give them time to breathe so that they don’t choke because they don’t do it for themselves. Over time they learn how to suck, swallow, and breath and to be able to take the whole feeding without wearing themselves out…but it is a process. This analogy seems to correlate pretty well with what we need to do for ourselves so that we don’t “choke”. Life can come at us pretty fast sometimes, like trying to drink water out of a fire hose. So let’s talk about pacing in an environment that seems out of our control; what can we do?

There are things in your life you can control and things that you cannot. Begin by understanding which ones are which and accepting that. Pacing involves laying aside emotions that are not helpful, but rather tiresome and distracting, to lighten our load. No need to carry around extra baggage, dump it and you have one less thing to juggle.

When we face times that include immovable circumstances, we can help ourselves by pacing in other areas of our lives so that we have the energy and strength to handle what we cannot change. For instance, if you are tapped out after your twelve-hour shift, don’t promise your kids that you’ll make them homemade pasta when you get home! Pace yourself by setting realistic expectations for yourself. A lot of good times can happen over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grapes that won’t happen if you are stressed trying to pull off unrealistic feats.

Pacing requires you to understand what you value and what your priorities are. You can’t know what to eliminate if you don’t know what is essential. To go back to the baby analogy, the priorities for the infant are to reduce calorie expenditure so that energy is reserved for feeding. This helps them to gain weight and go home with their families. Because of our experience, we understand that passing the baby around between family members, giving it a bath, and then changing its clothes three times for pictures right before feeding time does not fit with the needs of the infant. However, how many times do we sabotage ourselves and prolong difficult circumstances in our lives because we do not do what is needed to meet our own needs? Pacing means understanding your needs and protecting them, valuing your own sanity and health enough to set boundaries in other areas of your life. Constantly putting everyone else in front of your own needs is not heroic, it is destructive. Give others the gift only you can give by being your best self, you are the only one that can do that.

Night Songs

Surviving life with grace and hope

u.b.healthy

Create the life you want