Is It Time For You To Graduate?
You always know when it is the season of graduations and proms because you can't get your usual appointment at the hairdressers with the frenzy of 'up dos' that are going on. The invitations come rolling in the mail and the signal into adulthood for so many is happening. A completion of one part of educational life and the beginning of a new chapter will start to unfold. It is a joyous occasion to see the growth of others. The transition into owning responsibility for your own life and truth, for some can cycle off an attack of the 'unknown' fears. The anxieties of moving into the next level of life can be anticipated, but overwhelming. It is a time when we really have to learn the skill of having focus. If you don't have your eye focused on something specific then you might end up floating anywhere.
The joy of watching life move forward can be thrilling, but there is the loss of leaving the carefreeness of adolescence and youth behind. One of the most important things in life to learn is not to settle. Internal harmony is achieved by having your passion directly linked into your aspirations. When you settle for something you did not want or does not feel right, it never will be right and you will continue to experience self disappointment wondering why you were not able to hold out for what you really wanted.
Settling is not the same as compromising when you actually acknowledge you have given something up to achieve an end result. Settling is accepting something you do not want when you might have patiently waited for more.
I was taught don't explain, don't complain, and don't settle. Living by these mantras saves much anxiety. Applying such life skills is the key to emotional graduation.
Enjoy The Journey
As a person who is very goal oriented, I often find myself looking ahead. This can be exciting. We plan. We prepare. We work hard toward all we hope to achieve. That is a great thing! During this process, we also have to remind ourselves to resist the temptation to postpone our happiness. We need to live for today.
Certainly we should have specific goals in our lives. This is healthy and necessary. If we do not, we will often find that we make little progress. Still, we need to remember that tomorrow is not promised to us. Today is all we have that is a certainty. We need to learn the life skill of enjoying the journey and living in the moment.
This can be difficult because our future goals involve our being at a much more perfected place than we live in today. We are imperfect creatures and will always find there are areas of our lives that require work and attention. That is true of the person we are today, and the person we will be in the future.
When you are tempted to say, “I’ll be happy when……” just remember that today is the gift that you have been given. Enjoy it to the fullest while working hard toward the new and improved version of yourself tomorrow will bring.
What is hope? I think it is that sweet, inspiring sense that lives within each of us that longs to be fanned into flame. It is the motivator of our inner self. It says, “Yes, I can!” even when everything around us says, “No, you can’t!”
Hope is the force that allows us to believe. It pushes us to achieve and to move past the pain of yesterday. It is that voice inside us that reminds us that tomorrow can be different than today.
Hope can keep us holding on when depression, anxiety, addiction and trauma have broken our spirit. Hope reminds us that life is precious. It is full of challenges, but full of joy as well.
If today finds you feeling hopeless, don’t despair. There is hope for tomorrow. Brighter days are ahead. Reach out for the help that you need and listen to that voice within that still believes, still hopes, still dreams. That voice may be faint, but if you listen closely your heart will hear it.
Healthy Beet Cookies
Here is a wonderfully healthy cookie recipe to satisfy any sweet tooth. These cookies are beautiful, delicious, and a great way to sneak more vegetables in during the day. The secret to their vibrant hue is the addition of beets! Enjoy!
Stress Relief – Different for Everyone
Stress and anxiety. In a society like ours geared toward multitasking, it seems as if everyone is rushing around trying to get things done and stressing about what still needs to be done. I am guilty of this myself, and often feel like I could use another hour in my day.
It was on a day such as this when I was running around trying to do three things at once and complaining about all the things I had to do, that a friend told me to take a break. My response was an eye roll as I thought that if she only knew all I had to do she would know that I couldn’t take a break.
Before I could say anything, however, she told me to sit down and listen. About halfway through her lecture, I actually began to listen and what she was saying began to make some sense to me. How can I focus on the task at hand if my mind is already on the next thing I have to do? How can I possibly do something to the best of my ability if I am completely stressed out?
So this got me to thinking and exploring the idea of stress relief. I tried many things on my journey to serenity. First, I tried to meditate, but that lasted about two minutes before I became frustrated and quit. Then, I tried to exercise, but that just made me stressed and sweaty. So, more stressed than ever, I called my friend up ready to give her a piece of my mind and before I could get good and mad, she took the wind out of my sails. She stopped me mid tirade and said that she never told me to meditate or exercise. I snapped back “but that’s what you do to relieve stress,” and she simply responded with “who said so.” Well, that stopped me in my tracks. After talking a bit more, I hung up and got to thinking about the hobbies that I had let slip by the wayside because I was too busy.
After some thought I realized what I needed to do - I needed to bake. Baking was something that I had always enjoyed doing, and as I sat there I realized how much I had missed doing it. So I dusted off my cookbooks and looked around my cabinets and made a pan of triple chocolate brownies. I will admit that in the beginning I was thinking about the things that needed to get done, but as I began mixing the batter, all those thoughts drifted to the back of my mind. When I pulled the brownies out of the oven, I felt good and more importantly, I felt calm.
As the brownies cooled on my counter I was able to go about my day and get all the things I needed to do done. In fact, I found that I was more productive after my baking break than I was before it. I had to call my friend up and tell her the one thing that I dreaded…she was right and I was wrong. I have since made baking a regular part of my week. Not only do I get to bring yummy treats to my coworkers, but also I get some much needed stress relief.
What I got out of this whole experience is to find something you love or a hobby that you have put on the back burner and make it a part of your week. By taking these little breaks for myself, not only do I get more done during the day, but I am more present and happy doing them.
Life can be difficult. There are struggles we all face that can weigh us down with feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression or anxiety. Traumatic events can leave us broken and hurting. Unresolved feelings surrounding trauma can lead to clinical depression and increase the risk of substance abuse and chemical dependency.
How can you know if you need professional assistance?
There are several warning signs of clinical depression. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or better off dead feelings?
- Do you think about taking your own life?
- Have you gained or lost weight recently? (Eating too much or too little)
- Are there changes in your sleep patterns? (Sleeping too much or too little)
- Have you lost interest in things you once enjoyed?
- Do you prefer to isolate, rather than being around friends and family?
- Has your self-care declined? (Not bathing, not dressing for the day)
- Have your symptoms lasted longer than two weeks?
- Are you turning to substances to escape the pain? (Excessive alcohol use, over using prescription medication or using illegal drugs)
If the answers to the questions above are yes, you should seek professional guidance. Make the call for help today.
Beauty Surrounds Us
Spring in East Tennessee is incredibly beautiful. Everywhere you look, flowers and trees are in full bloom. Weeping cherry trees, dogwood trees and the most beautiful flowers decorate this area. Brookhaven Retreat has beautifully incorporated these beautiful flowers and trees into its landscaping. It is truly spectacular to view, and fits seamlessly into mental health treatment, lifting the spirits of women working hard at attaining emotional wellness.
Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, hard at work, when a co-worker came in my office and exclaimed, “You simply have to look at the pansies next time you’re outside.” I was a bit surprised that the she found the pansies that exciting, but I agreed that I would make sure to notice them when I was outside next.
When I was again outside, I looked at the pansies. She was right! They were absolutely beautiful. They seemed to lift their little petals to the sun and were on display for all to see and enjoy. The wind was softly blowing, and the pansies were moving, as if to dance. I stood for just a moment, taking in the beauty that surrounded me.
It would be so easy to have passed the pansies as I have many times before. Their beauty was there all the time, but I had failed to notice. I had become too busy to pay attention. I was thankful my co-worker had prompted me to be mindful.
Living in each moment requires a bit of effort, but it opens our hearts to the joy that every day has to offer. If we look for it, we can always find the beauty that surrounds us, whether it is in pansies dancing in the breeze or in the faces of our family and friends.
Framing the Beautiful
Reframing can be a powerful tool to not only change your perspective, but also increase self-esteem, help you let go, overcome depression and set healthy boundaries. If you’ve ever had difficulty reframing your thoughts I encourage you to start with a camera. I had had some experience with “focusing on the positive” or “looking at the bright side,” but it was not until I used my camera, that I gained a more clear understanding of the concept of reframing. And, I discovered it a bit by surprise.
It was mid-summer, and I had been waiting for a day to photograph my mom’s flowers. My mom loves flowers and plants them all over the farm. There are bright orange poppies and white irises surrounding trees. A long row of purple irises, create a boundary on one side of the vegetable garden. There are at least three flowerbeds with an array of pink, orange, and purple flowers. Bright yellow sunflowers and tall, unique, black velvety flowers border the chicken coop on one side and a wide spread of lily of the valleys and columbine on the other. A variety of purple and red vine flowers attract bubble-bees and hummingbirds. Color, beauty, and life were in abundance, and I captured over two hundred photos from this majestic environment.
Later I was showing the pictures to my mom, and she stopped me about half way through and said, “Are those my flowers?” I was so surprised that she had not recognized them at first, but she explained that most of the flowers had bloomed early that summer. The flowers had begun to wilt or been found by bugs, and were far from their original splendor. And yet, they still possessed much beauty in the photographs.
I then realized that sometimes you have to
take a step back to find the beauty in something and other times you need the extra help of another’s perspective. This idea trickled into my photography as I began using my camera to find beauty that had been hidden in my life. Rainy days possess a beauty that a photographer in black and white truly understands. City streets became more about the activity going on and the individuals in the photo that would never be in that exact moment again. Photos of individuals became less about the perfect smile in the camera, and more about qualities of character being captured in the frame.
This idea trickled into looking for beautiful things in situations and people as well. I began accepting other’s perspective more easily because, even if we did not agree, there were beautiful things about that person too. I started understanding situations better by waiting or stepping back to gain a new perspective. So I encourage you, if you have difficulty seeing beauty in life, get a camera, and start finding it! There is an abundance to be found!
Have you ever felt discouraged? We all have. There are times when life does not seem fair. Circumstances can leave us feeling tired, defeated, anxious and depressed. These feelings are normal reactions to all that life can bring us, and can arrive at times when finding encouragement isn’t always easy. That is why it is important to know how to seek out encouragement. What makes you happy? What makes you smile? What makes you laugh? Move toward those things.
When we find ourselves feeling down, it’s easy to do nothing or to wallow in self-pity and despair, but this is not a healthy reaction. Instead, try putting on your favorite music. Look in the mirror and smile. After all, someone special is looking back at you. Think about things that will bring feelings of peace and contentment. When troubling thoughts come, refocus on something that will help ease your negative feelings.
In life, the level of our happiness is largely based upon our perception. If we focus on all that is good and right rather than all that is bad and wrong in our lives we will typically find ourselves feeing encouraged. If we do not, we should seek help from trained professionals who can assist us in overcoming chronic discouragement and depression. Whether encouragement comes from your own methods or from the help of a professional, know that there is joy beyond what you are experiencing today. Tomorrow will be better and brighter.
Stir-Fried Snow Peas with Shiitakes and Ginger
Snow peas are great eaten raw, blanched,
steamed, and stir-fried, and are a great source of fiber as well as vitamins A and C. Although they appear similar to the sugar snap pea, snow peas distinguish themselves with more real pea flavor and are slightly less starchy. Here is a tasty recipe using snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, ginger and toasted sesame seeds. Yum!
Recipe adapted from finecooking.com