The Story of the Green Cast

Once upon a time there was a young (yep, I said young…stop snickering) woman who loved to ride her bike. Actually she loved to be outside, period. She ran outside, worked in the yard, hung out in the pool, took her dog for walks, and planted flowers. A sun bunny to the max (with sunscreen and a hat, of course). This woman enjoyed being active, getting stuff done, and marking tasks off her to-do list. She walked fast, talked fast, drove fast, made decisions fast…I’m sure you get it. The bruises on her shins made the point clear that moving quickly was a priority over moving carefully.

While enjoying her bike ride one beautiful morning in May a battle between bike and sidewalk ensued with the sidewalk emerging as the clear winner. After checking to ensure her teeth were in their appropriate spots and holding pressure on her busted lip, she was able to ride home. I’ll clear a couple of things up right off the bat for you: No she was not on a mountain. No there was not a mountain lion chasing her. No she was not rushing to perform CPR on a choking child. She was just moving…fast. Bicycle fail. User error. #nooneelsetoblame

IMG_2187Cue green cast. After three rounds of negative x-rays and no perceived improvement of left wrist, the MRI finally showed the fractured wrist bones. A crack so hard to see had gotten this fast girl a place on the bench.  As the cast was applied, the reality of the doctor’s words pierced my heart, “expect a 3 month recovery”.  “Expect a 3 month recovery”.  He repeated it at least three times, my face must have shown my disbelief.  I’d love to say my attitude was great from the start. I wish I could report a positive mindset and trust in God to use this time to produce good things in my life, but I’d be lying. Instead, I stewed, felt guilty, denied my situation, and stomped my feet around a bit. I pouted and stressed. I felt anxious and disappointed. I felt bored and useless. I felt stupid. I felt sad. For a couple of weeks, not hours.

My response to the situation led to some introspection that was overdue. God didn’t judge me or tell me I was stupid for having an accident, and He didn’t want me to dwell on those emotions. He didn’t get frustrated with my pouting and struggling as I tried to resolve the feelings I was experiencing on my own, He was just there. I love God. He is my Father. I am a long time committed follower of Jesus who enjoys a precious, personal, and saving relationship with Him. I knew He was there, I just wasn’t ready to sit still with just Him. But He didn’t leave. Mentally I really struggled with being still, not accomplishing. I wanted to “do”. I would wake up and think, “What am I going to do today?” “What can I accomplish today?” “How can I fill this time?” I was a broken record. I knew I needed to be still with God, but I had forgotten how. It sounds simple, but just stopping and physically sitting still does not necessarily mean that you are emotionally or mentally still…do you get what I’m saying? Being truly still and receptive to His voice is a discipline that I had allowed to fade away.

It has taken several weeks, but I am getting the hang of it. The perks include peace, joy, and rest. Nice replacements for stress, guilt, and anxiety! As I stopped talking and trying to “do” the right thing, I was able to listen. I was surprised to realize the focus of my life had become my two-day a week nursing position. Two 12-hour shifts had become king. Not having them created a void that shocked and dumb-founded me, I was used to having 5 days off every week, why was this such a jolt? I didn’t think I was defining my life by my job until my job wasn’t part of the equation anymore. My job provided my purpose, my social outlet, my mental challenge, and my excuse to be a hermit when I wasn’t at work. My job is a blessing and I realize that so much more now than ever before! I miss my job, my friends, and my patients, but I needed to get my priorities back their appropriate places in order to serve them best. I am grateful for my broken wrist. Not because it is so fun to wear a cast in June in AZ, but because I am excited about this time to reset my daily living. Work will be a part of my life, not the hub. Christ is the center, the cornerstone of my foundation. When I tried to put other things there, I felt the instability and relationships suffered. God didn’t push me off my bike, as much as I’d like to blame someone other than admit my own error. But He creates beauty out of every situation I give to him, He promises to do that for all His kids. “For we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

If we set our pace by the world around us, we are not encouraged to be still or quiet. Rather, a hectic schedule and fast pace is equated with success and importance. Technology reigns and connects us to devices rather than people. It is so easy to get lost in the tasks and the “doing” and slip into auto-pilot mode. That lonely, empty place where we just function without much thought. A healthy lifestyle involves creating space for inactivity and rest. We all need space in our days to unplug and slow our roll. It has to be intentional or it won’t happen. We need time to process emotions and events in our lives. We need a time to slow our pace and hear about the people we share life with. We need to slow down to take care of ourselves and model this practice in front our kids. It is hard to carry on a conversation while you are sprinting…you know?

Here are some things I’ve been reminded of as I’ve been re-kindling my relationship with God and learning to be thankful for stillness and quiet. Be sill for just a moment and consider these thoughts:

  • We benefit from coming to grips with enjoying free time and not feeling guilty. We need hobbies and ways to unplug and decompress, they are not a waste of time.
  • We are not as important as we think we are. (Surprisingly, the staff at work continues to function even when I’m not able to be there…crazy, right?)
  • We can relax and learn when we stop taking ourselves so seriously.
  • Perfection is not the goal…pursuing it is a waste of time and energy. Choose to pursue realistic goals.
  • Relationships are what life is about. Accomplishing tasks, mastering skills, making money…all good things, but relationships are most important. Relationships require a time investment and a mental presence to grow.
  • A solid foundation is critical for resilience. A reset is possible when our foundation is solid. Pursuing a lifestyle that promotes mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health is a great place to begin.
  • We are going to fall. Getting up is optional. Get up.
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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

 

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