Change of Attitude

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A huge revelation came when I was working through writers block:
I often talk about how we need to change ourselves to change our world, and I often do challenge myself with changing when I set goals and figure out how to do better and be better.
There are times when a situation can trigger an “old tape” that plays in our head that feeds on the insecurity or hurt of a memory. This happened without me being aware, that resulted in writers block.
Having had to deal with health problems since I can remember, I have felt at times a burden. I have people literally tell me when I have taken on a new project “You can’t do that, you are sick!” It hits me that some people who have never really dealt with real health issues may not be able to express empathy to those who have health challenges. They also cannot view those with health challenges clearly or see what they can offer and treat those people with limitations as limited. This is a challenge on top of physical and/or mental health issues.

Recently a poorly organised project actually saw me being excluded with helping someone who I know and care about. The thing is, it wasn’t personal, there were a few people who wanted to be included in the project that didn’t even get asked (I was at least asked – just asked at the very last hour in which it was too late). Even though logically I knew it wasn’t personal, it really fed on the insecurity of being overlooked or being perceived as “too sick” to help and serve others and started edging to the insecurity of feeling like a burden.

Serving others is a privilege. It is absolutely necessary for mental health to know you can do something for other people. When you are physically unable to help others – you can start feeling like a burden which is the number one red-flag feeling that causes people to fall into depression and suicidal thoughts.

One of the most interesting suggestions for people who deal with depression is to start doing things for other people.

As I started realizing that I was more upset about this than I should be, because it triggered thoughts of not being helpful and being a burden – I was able to tackle these feelings head on. I, for one, am quite sick those insecurities – and I was determined that a situation in which I had no control of was not going to control me.

I remembered times when I felt like I was giving back, even when I am not financially able to help people out in the way that I would like. I used to write more cards, call people, or visit those that can’t get out of their house or nursing home. Sometimes just sending a text saying I was thinking of them was enough. I had stopped because of the recent procedure and all the hospital stuff I had to go through. I had stopped because I was the one who was in need and I needed to take care of myself, but you can only be in need for so long before you have to change that attitude and realize it’s time to change. It’s time to find ways of giving back, and no matter what our limitations – to help others.

One of the most amazing women I have ever met who is no longer living, had severe MS. It was So bad that she had nurses around the clock to do everything for her. She would make her nurses sit down and write cards for her while she dictated them. I have a couple of her cards. They would say how she was praying for me and I was in her thoughts. Some of the most thoughtful people are the sickest people. Why? They can’t do anything there but sit and think about everyone else. It was humbling to think that a woman who was bedridden would still find a way to make the effort to encourage others.

So with giving myself a good kick (you know where), I realized I don’t need to wait to find out if I am included on “big giving projects”. Depending on your ability (and financial situation)- you can use your skills to organize your own projects – big or small, to help others. It takes your mind off of whatever your brain is telling you what you can’t do… and reminds you of what you CAN do.
So my challenge to you is to find a way to brighten up someone else’s day! Please let me know how you go!

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Writers Block

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So, Lately I’ve been writing blogs and then deleting them. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel genuine about my work. It just doesn’t feel good to publish. Which is a weird thing for me, I love publishing my work, I love just writing, even if no one reads it. It’s soothing to me to write everything on my mind.

However, lately I have been kept awake at night, my mind racing with words as I have not written them out or even found a way I feel comfortable with expressing them at the moment.

I usually can think of 2-5 different blogs in one day, but lately if I think of anything I become seriously in doubt with myself. I have been silent on here a while – not wanting to write a mediocre blog – and yet when I publish – within minutes to hours of publishing I press the trash button as I have convinced myself that what I have written is stupid.

I don’t like feeling this way, but I am sure most of the actual readers (not the spambots) will relate and I just wanted to be honest with my readers.

Please share in the comments section if you have any thoughts on how you deal with writers block and ways you have gotten yourself out of it.

Thanks for still being loyal.
Jen

The strongest people are the loneliest..

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This is one of the most honest blogs I will ever write:

One thing that my family and friends have observed about me over the years was that in the face of trauma and drama I appear like I have it together. One of my thought processes is “I’ll take care of the people around me first, and then someone can take care of me when things calm down. The problem is, by the time I think everyone around me is okay and it’s my turn to lean on someone – people have already assumed the crisis is over and long passed.

I don’t know when this started, maybe before I can remember. I do remember specifically being aware of it when a family friend took his life when I was 13 years old and I knew that my parents had many people to attend to, including the family of the man. There were so many people around me affected by this, that I thought it was my role to comfort. Later, when I felt like the situation had calmed down a little… I waited. I thought “okay, someone will ask me how I am now…”. No one ever asked. I remember years later asking my parents and family, how come they never checked on me? They replied “you seemed like you were doing fine”.

I actually remember in that same week that I was beat up by a bunch of guys (yup, true – they are all such brave boys – beating up a girl as a group). I came home to a lonely house. My family gone because I knew they were at the man’s house comforting that family. It wasn’t until many years later that I told my family about being beat up. They asked me why I hadn’t told them at the time. I assumed that me mentioning that I got beat up at school would have added to the problems that had accumulated around the suicide. I had been beat up – I hadn’t died.

The thing is, the people who seem the bravest, and the strongest, are still suffering but they are looking at the bigger picture – of helping others until they are safe to have their breakdown. The problem is, most people have forgotten by then, and assume those that provided comfort are okay. News flash is: THEY ARE NOT OKAY.

The people who seem the strongest feel like they cannot unload their burden after they have comforted others. Those are the people that are most at risk. They turn to ways of self-medicating.
I believe this to be true, because the people I know who have taken their lives are all people who made others laugh, thought about others and tried to comfort people around them and make them happy. That was definitely true of the man I knew who took his life during this time. If you ask MOST people if they saw any signs in someone who took their life they always mention how funny they were and how they helped others, and USUALLY they never saw any signs.
We need to talk about loneliness, depression, suicide, and addiction in a different format. Mental health isn’t something that is easy to notice. We need to check on each other, no matter how weak, or how strong they seem and sometimes months and years after a trauma.

Hope you are having a good beginning of the week… God bless.

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
National Suicide Hotline (USA) 1800 273 8255

 

 

 

A Better Perspective

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I spend a lot of time talking and writing about the benefits of being real with yourself, to examine yourself, that making the world a better place starts with making changes about yourself. However there was a situation recently that made me realize that there needs to be balance in this area:

 

My daughter is constantly needing new glasses. She takes after her mother when it comes to being short sighted at an early age. At the age of 10 (her age) I was so excited to receive my first pair of hard contacts. I had to get them because my eyes would not stop getting worse and I simply hated wearing glasses. It didn’t help with being called “four-eyes” and the several weeks I had to wear “the patch” like a pirate.

My daughter on the other hand, loves her glasses and they have become her security blanket. So as much as I have tried to convince her that we could get her contacts she flat out refuses. This latest shopping trip for picking out glasses really surprised me though. I was trying to pick out some thin-framed, feminine looking glasses – and she wanted the thick-black glasses. I remember having arguments with my mother as a child picking out glasses – because I never got the pair I wanted and it was one of the reasons why I hated wearing them. So I really do my best to give my restrained opinion when my daughter picks out glasses. Ultimately she needs to like them more than me, as she is the one that needs to wear them.
So after realizing she was stuck on the thick-black glasses – I asked her why oh possibly why would she want such big black glasses. Her response surprised me, “because I want to be like you!”

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“Oh”… I was speechless. In my mind I wanted to raise my daughter to be so different from me. I didn’t feel like a success – or that I was particularly fashionable or good at anything.  I couldn’t figure it out – so I asked “You want to look like me?” She said “Yes, I love those glasses on you! You look really pretty in them”.
Funny, I had never thought I looked good in glasses and it hit me that there are negative voices in my head that are not fair to me. The things we tell ourselves is nothing we would ever say to anyone else. Why do we do this to ourselves? Most of the time, people view us more compassionately than we view ourselves. SO if you are in an examining mode at the moment (I know I am) please think of those things that you tell yourself that you would never say to another human being and get rid of it. People don’t view you that harshly, so why should you?
I’ve decided this week to take a better look at myself but through my children’s eyes…
On a similar note tonight, I asked my children if there was anything special I needed to get at the store – my son said “just something for yourself mum, for doing such a good job today!”
WHAT?? (I really need to work on this…)
Hope you have had a good week.

 

 

 

Look for the silver lining…

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Yesterday I had a bad day, A very bad day.
I was not my best because I had an infection which led me to a last minute appointment with a dentist. I know when I am about to battle a flu or an infection because I get angry. I am not an angry person by nature. I think (if I asked my friends) that although I am open with my emotions –  that I reason things out with a lot of logic (hence my love for Mike Rowe), and think about consequences and put things into perspective. So for me to be unreasonably angry is a big red flag – which often indicates some sort of illness. When I realized I could barely chew food, I made my way to the dentist with children in tow. I had already given myself a horrible guilt trip because I had yelled at my children for stupid reasons – something I don’t do. I had yelled a lot. A lot. So once I realized it was because I was unwell I had been able to put it into perspective and as I was driving to the dentist I apologized. They were immediately forgiving… which was undeserved.
I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had been to the dentist. My kids went 6 months ago but I have not. I realized this when the dentist I had been to for almost 14 years made me fill out a new patient form.
I saw a dentist  I was not used to, and apologized. I knew it had been long and I felt embarrassed. I was anticipating being told how bad my teeth actually were. And so that happened. BUT- the dentist did not stop, it was lecture after lecture as if I had never brushed my teeth or been to a dentist and I grew up in a cave. I wanted to tell her what had really stopped me from going to the dentist – which is kind of hard when they have dental tools in your mouth. I tried to explain my health problems had taken priority and I had been in the hospital – so my teeth weren’t the first things on my mind. She then asked if I ate a lot of sugar – I explained I had suffered from major fatigue with these health problems and desperate for energy and knew I had eaten a bad amount of sugar to try to keep up with life. With all the guilt tripping I couldn’t tell her the truth. The real reason for keeping me back was financial. It was not safe to say

“Well, my husband has been unemployed twice for long periods of time and is now only making just enough the threshold where we don’t qualify for benefits. On top of my children suddenly having growth spurts and I was only finally able to buy them two outfits each (they are on rotation) and somehow paying crazy amounts of money for my teeth had not made priority.”

Also, as anyone knows that has struggled financially – there is a lot of guilt as to what you wish you could afford. I couldn’t explain how there are days where my knees go weak feeling overwhelmed with what little money we do have – and there are times I feel like I cannot take another step with this burden. I couldn’t tell her that. Yet she kept trying to explain how bad it was that I had neglected to come in. Do I need that guilt? No. Does anyone really need that guilt? nope.
I had incorrectly guessed how much it would cost. Turns out my whole week’s worth of groceries – food I try to keep on the table is gone… and when I was asked to pay. when they told the amount it took everything in me not to start crying. I only kept it together because my kids were with me. I am so glad I spent a week’s worth of groceries to be told what a horrible person I was because my teeth aren’t perfect.
I had a headache and felt quite ill after when I got home. My sensory child decided that that was the time to  have a meltdown. I tried to do everything I could to make him stop but in the end I couldn’t and his screaming caused my seizures to start – so I made my way to my bed (as I don’t like the children to witness them) and closed the door and tried to just relax. I left my sensory child with my daughter, which also made me feel like I had failed as a parent.
I could hear my daughter, and my sensory child stopped screaming almost as soon as I got to my room. He was even laughing.
It hit me there was a silver lining here, that even though I had felt like a failure, through health, and parenting, that I had a daughter who was able to settle the situation in seconds. Not only that but she attended to me. She gave me encouragement and told me how much she loves me. I never asked for this… I didn’t tell her to do this. She was absolutely amazing. Her ability to settle a stressful situation was beyond what a 10 year old has the ability to do. I told her how Proud I was of her that night and she explained how she had distracted my sensory child with all the things she could think of that he loved.
A woman that I know who has MS told me not to be scared when I first had health symptoms – and young children. She said

“If you saw what a better person my son has become since I got sick, you will see that there is no reason for guilt, that children learn amazing skills when their mother is sick.”

I didn’t believe her until yesterday. I now know that is true. My daughter has peacemaking skills that no school could teach her. Maybe the bad day was worth seeing the light in someone else.

Finding a way to make an obstacle your advantage? Check out The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. 

The Advantage of Outrage.

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We have developed a system of outrage. I could point the fingers at the many reasons why this is becoming the norm and who has contributed to this but it seems like the outrage isn’t stopping and it is becoming worse each day.

There is an advantage of having a society that is full of outrage: Society can be controlled by it.

There was a situation in Australian Survivor series (2017) when a male contestant thought that he had upset a female contestant. He had told her information that was to get her angry. He says words to the camera that go a little something like this “I’m feeding her anger, because if she’s angry, I can control her, and control her vote”. It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me. It was never so clear to me as it was in that moment – that people will use the worst emotions to manipulate and change a situation. The female contestant explains to the camera later in the show how she was faking anger to make the male contestant think he was controlling her.

With social media there is opportunity for outrage everywhere. The good news is we can use social media to shed light on many difficult and painful situations around the world that would normally be ignored, and bring it into the public. The outrage of this unfair and painful situation can bring about effective change. This is a brilliant strategy to make the world a better place. It’s useful. It betters bad situations.

The downfall is when we become outraged over anything and everything: “uncontrolled outrage”. We get used to being in a state of outrage – or calling people out about anything and everything. There is an short-term advantage to this too, but added long term harmful consequences: The advantage is that outrage can prove to be a distraction from our own difficult lives, things we don’t want to face. Outrage with others does not allow us to focus on our own situations that need improvement. This, in the long term, will harm us.

One of the best ways to be an contributing member of society is to look in the mirror (I really want to break out into that Michael Jackson song), and make changes to who we are and to better ourselves.
One of the ways we can help us survive this time of outrage is to be balanced with it. Yes, we should be outraged with the horrible things in the world, but we also must keep ourselves in check so we don’t allow that outrage to control us. Anger and outrage are emotions used to control, and we must be careful with it so we don’t cause more damage and pain to others by those emotions.

CBS Survivor Fan? get Survivor gear here

 

 

Comparison is a thief..

 

 “Comparison is the Thief of all Joy” Theodore Roosevelt.

Today I went for a walk with my children to the park. My muscles were stiff, and struggling after all that I have been through in the last 3 months. It has been longer than that, as I didn’t realize how my health issues before had so deeply impacted my overall health until now when I’m finally getting energy back.

While walking around I found myself working through a series of emotions. I began frustrated with how my muscles were screaming out at me. I started feeling discouraged thinking about memories of when I used to hike on a more regular basis. The bigger the challenge the better. Here I am, struggling to walk in a flat circle around a local park.

Another memory popped into my head. Me, lying down on the operating table, just before going under anesthetic, wondering if I was going to wake up again. Wondering if I said goodbye to my children properly. Thinking if I had left anything undone if I should not wake up. It hit me that I was lying on that bed less than 3 months ago. How amazing was it that I have gone from the extreme of being told I had a good chance of not waking up, to walking around a beautiful park, alive to see winter, with my children…. it was a matter of perspective. I can choose to feel frustrated that I am not pushing myself hiking up steep hills, or I can be in absolute amazement at the opportunity to see the trees in the park and smiles on my children’s faces. Yes, my body isn’t where I wish it would be, but I have the opportunity to feel the stiffness of my muscles and the opportunity to work those muscles to get them where they should be. I have that time. That time is a gift.

The world is in a place where we are taught to be competitive and compare ourselves to others. We find ourselves participating in social media shaming – because it makes us feel “not as bad about ourselves” because “We would never do that” or “we know better not to say/do that”. We are taught it is okay to win when the loss is someone else’s.

Although it’s good to experience loss within games (I’m not a fan of participation awards) as life does hand out real losses in our lives, it isn’t how one should measure oneself. We are in competition with ourselves not others. We are meant to be a better version of ourselves. It is okay to look into our past to evaluate where we should be or where we want to be. We have time, the opportunity to change whatever we are not happy with. It is also important to not be too hard on ourselves if we have experienced loss or setbacks… and consider the fact that you are still here, and have time to work through them.
Comparing yourself to others, good or bad never gives you a real perspective. You can only measure yourself from where you have come from.
Hope you have a great week ahead.