Thank you.

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There has been a sense of entitlement growing for a while within society and culture. However many people do not understand the power of simply saying “thank you”.

Doing things for other people makes one feel good about yourself – it’s good energy that is put into the world. The failure to hear a thank you, can make you think twice about helping again.

I am writing Thank you cards this Friday due to many people who helped me out during a difficult time. I have found that my relationships grow ten-fold when I don’t just say it but take the time to write a card.

I have had people who will help me out in the most difficult times, beyond what I think is normal for a person to do, because they appreciate feeling appreciated. It really is that simple.

Not only will people be more willing to help you out, but the act of saying thank you in a more tangible way actually helps your attitude and gives you good energy. Most people think the opposite… they have some sort of power to think “Well, I deserved that”. This attitude just grows to being more ungrateful, less happy, and less attraction for others doing anything for you or helping you out in a desperate time of need.

Don’t think you have time?

Taking 30 minutes at the end of each month to write out a few cards for those that might have done something for you will change your world and your relationship with others.
Happy Friday.
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Mental Health: Having Fun

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One thing that social media can give us is the sense that we are missing out.
I am happy for other people’s children when they receive awards but I rarely ever post pictures of my children when they receive an award. I am not trying to prove that my child is amazing, or to prove I’m a good parent. Instead, I may post everyday photos of my children because I am just proud of them for being themselves. Showing people what awards they got does not mean anything if my kids are miserable all the other times.
I like posting pictures of my kids just having fun. Having fun and having down time is becoming a lost art.

Instead we are building a world based on accomplishments and causing anxiety. Parents have anxiety because they are worried where their child stands academically or physically within their age range. Experts are now saying that how we are parenting is causing more anxiety for the child than anything else.
One of the suggestions is about giving children space without chores, without assignments, without “do do do”. Children also need to learn how to just BE.

How do I encourage this? We have certain “electronic free times” throughout the day. Most people give their children ipads in the car, I try to make this time one of those electronic free times. During this time I chat with the kids in the car about their day. We point out things in the window (Yesterday there was a old male motorcyclist next to us with a very masculine beard but he had one very long curl in the back of his neck  – we then made up a song about him not being a girl but liking his very looong curl – it rhymed).
We point to the dogs we drive by, or a paddock of cows or on our daily trip – there is usually a Kangaroo somewhere.

Part of being mentally healthy is to notice what is around us, and to enjoy those little things. I want my children to realize that there is more to life than competing academically or on the court. I want my children to understand that it is just as important to be in a “fun” moment as it is to focus on a test (obviously at appropriate times). Not understanding the value of both is causing major imbalance in our mental health, and the mental health of our children.

If your life or your child’s life is too busy, it is vital that you start scheduling “fun time”, where you start finding joy in the little things. To just be…

 

The thing about death…

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This subject has been on my mind a lot lately. Mainly because about 6 months ago I was told that I didn’t have much of a chance of survival, and yet through miracles and brilliant doctors I’m here writing this blog post for you today. Having had to face my own mortality… this subject has weighed heavily on my mind…

Recently an older woman I knew passed away. We saw life very differently but through attending her funeral I learnt many amazing things about her, and also understood why we disagreed on a few things. I wondered that if I had taken a little more time in trying to understand her that I would have discovered how we could see each other a little better in this life.

Today I learned of another person’s death. Someone who my family has grown to care deeply about. It is a blow.

The only thing I can think about is a quote I heard today – that I heard before I learned of the death. It was something said in response of a question about Anthony Bourdain:

“Every death is here to teach us how to live better” – Oprah Winfrey

No matter who it is that passes away, this one quote is true. When we reflect on those around us who has passed, and we think of how they lived (or suffered) and/or the way they died… we can learn something from it, and help it add to our perception, and goals in our own lives.

 

 

 

Why Honesty Matters

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In the wake of Anthony Bourdain I sit here and wonder what it is that is causing such a mental health crisis. I don’t just mean depression, but I also include addiction.

It takes me back to the first suicide I experienced with someone I felt was as close to me as an uncle. A man who I felt cared for me and understood me when many others didn’t. We shared interests, smiles, and laughs at a most difficult time, and was considered in close friendship (if not the closest) to my family.

I remember approaching him at a ski trip in Tahoe that I realized he was not himself. He didn’t smile back. I thought I might have upset him. After all, I was only 12 and my under-developed mind didn’t know how to interpret this small sign. He always had a smile on his face that I didn’t know how to interpret that frown other than I must have caused it. A few weeks later he took his life. I unfortunately was not told a lot of details until I was much older and “mature enough” to handle the truth. That my friend, my close family friend who was over at our house all the time, had battled not just one but a few addictions. It was freeing to know this because for many years I thought I was the only one to know about the frown I had witnessed. I thought that maybe I should have warned others. I later found out that there were many signs. I was not the only one who witnessed a change in mood.

I also had no understanding of why someone who appeared always happy, had taken his life. At the age of 12 I remember thinking “Did he not know how important he was to me?”. I look back and realize how selfish that sounds being that he had a wife and two children, but I had no help to process the information, and the word “suicide” and “depression” were still taboo. Many people had focused on helping his family, and had not checked on others that may have been affected.

I remember holding a lot of feelings in about this until a student at my school took his life my senior year in high school (5 years later). The student that took his life was the son of a much loved school secretary. His mother was the one you always went to if you needed any sort of compassion about any difficulty in life. She was the most approachable staff member at our school. It was hard to process how her son didn’t ask her for help. I also remember the bravery of her speech at our graduation. What was freeing about my senior year (the same year and around the same time as the Columbine shooting), was that we had speakers come to our school and discuss how suicide and depression COULD NOT and SHOULD NOT be taboo. Our teachers then had discussions within our homerooms and I remember just feeling this relief inside of me that I could say the words “suicide” and “depression” out loud and that it took away a lot of bottled up pain from years past to talk about it freely.

It’s not that we don’t go through pain and sadness, and yes, even depression. I think a lot of times this may be natural. It becomes a sickness when we aren’t heard and we feel shame in speaking about it. There are so many people out there that are willing to help, even strangers, if we could feel like we can freely talk about it. When we take away the stigma about these things, there may be more people willing to ask for help. I am the first person to admit that when I have had bouts of depression that I can only talk about it afterwards because when I am going through it I feel like the shame envelopes me. I wish that somehow we can cut through that shame.

We need to get to a point of honesty in our society. Honesty without feeling like we will be punished for being open about what it is we are feeling. This must be our number one goal. YET, our world (with the add of social media – and social justice) has become a more hostile world for honesty. We need to reverse this, if we wish to be a healthier society. Please, if you are struggling please call the number (that applies) below.

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

 

 

Balancing Sensitivity

 

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When I was younger I was told by the majority of people around me that I was “so sensitive” and that I needed to “stop being so sensitive”. I tried to change as I thought this was a problem with me and who I was as a person, but as I got older I realized it was a gift not a problem.

I learned to accept my sensitivity and use it in a way that drew people to me through that sensitivity.
My greatest weakness had become one of my greatest strengths…but with some things out there the opposite can become true. Your greatest strength can become your weakness.

I personally think we all have sensitivities that can be used to attract others as everyone’s desire (whether they realize it or not) is to be seen, heard, and understood. However there are some pitfalls with having a gift. When used incorrectly – your gift becomes your weakness.

One of these examples is if you are TOO sensitive to yourself but not to others. We all know them. People who dish it out, and have no awareness that they say awful things but are extremely sensitive to even the slightest look. They definitely can’t take what they dish. This isn’t a balance of sensitivity. You can be just as sensitive to yourself as you can be to others… but it takes a lot of awareness to do this. This can be classic to some of the Autism community, and I think then it falls on the people with those that don’t have the challenges of Autism to try to understand that this is not a personal thing from Autistic people. The other is that there are just some people out there that have never been taught a “greater awareness” of others, or something outside their ‘bubble’. Some people have never been taught about the bigger picture. Some people cannot put themselves in other’s shoes. It usually isn’t something that the regular person can approach. The few people I know that fit this category have total unawareness of their lack of sensitivity and believe they are sensitive to others. The clue is when you find they can be more sensitive to strangers or people on the news than to the closest people to them. I’m not a psychology expert but it definitely seems like something that hasn’t been fully developed.

The other problem is when you are too sensitive to others more than you are to yourself. My mother used to get quite upset when I was just in Kindergarten and she would see a child do something to me and I wouldn’t say (or do) anything back. After five children she was curious and frustrated about this trait. She asked me why I didn’t stand up for myself and she said she was quite surprised that a five year old would say “because they are hurting”. She says that I knew if someone expressed anger it was because they were hurting. I didn’t want to hurt them back. As much as this is probably admirable and quite intuitive, it definitely turned into a fault. I put my needs behind everyone else’s because I was so worried about others. Even now some of my best friends know me well enough to tell me when I am doing this. In the past, this was definitely more extreme and it really hurt me. I had friendships where I allowed others to blame me if I perceived that they felt better about themselves when doing this. This is unhealthy. This is not something that should be continued. If anything this should be a temporary imbalance for someone helping another person out long enough for them to get on their feet. What is important is to get back on your feet. You taking the blame to make others feel better should not be a lifelong crutch. This is something I still struggle with every day. I have to constantly check in with myself to see if I am giving too much of myself away, or allowing people to cross boundaries just because I think they feel better doing so.

Being sensitive is awesome, but it takes skill, a lot of practice, and a balancing act to make sure it doesn’t turn into our weakness.
Hope your weekend is awesome.
Jenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health update: Energy and Excitement…

 

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I know it’s not the day I use to do a health update but I’m kind of excited.
I had no clue how much I struggled before. I just thought that I had to focus on what I could do than what I can’t. BUT Who knew losing a 30% of your 3-times-larger than normal spleen could make you feel so good?

I kept getting told by my doctors that if I did “survive” this all, that I would feel better than I have in years – possibly ever. Well, of course there is recovery of procedures to do and such…  and I had been struggling with energy through recovery.

However – I am now feeling less weight internally –  and able to sleep on my left side again (it had been months). I find that my mind feels lighter in the sense that I actually feel like I can accomplish more. To me there is so much proof in that if your body isn’t working right, there is more difficulty with feeling focused and motivated in your thoughts. It definitely causes the feeling of being overwhelmed. This is part of the reason why I started this blog, to use it as a source of encouragement and positivity for those that may have extra challenges.

I have a cold right now, the first I have had in a long time. I’m kind of excited by having my first cold with a nearly normal white blood cell count! It sounds weird I know, but when your neutrophils drop below 1 on the blood test and you are told to “stay inside” on those occasions, well… it can affect you mentally as well as physically. So knowing that I’m almost back to normal blood cell counts like other people has made me feel more optimistic about fighting this cold. I’m a weird one but I said to my husband “I can’t wait to see what this level of white blood cells can do!! They are going to kick some butt.” (Ahh… one of my mottos is that if you don’t deal with health issues with a sense of humor you become mentally unhealthy).

My circulation is so much better at the moment. I definitely feel less sluggish and am motivated to do more exercise. It doesn’t hurt to jump around or dance with this extra-large organ inside of me anymore. To be honest – I may need another procedure in a couple of years that would possibly cause further spleen death. Since my Spleen has gone from 3 times a normal size spleen to twice the size – I think I can afford another 30% off… but that can wait though.

It does prove one thing – that nearly 37 years of struggling there is still hope that technology, doctors, investigations, procedures and FAITH can actually get you to a point where you feel better than you have – ever. Even while having a cold! Keep going…

 

Thankful

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My son happily cleaning windows.

Lately I have been frustrated with life working against us. This has to do with my husband’s Job and my personal life goals and on top of that our whole household has come down with a cold which means my kids have stayed home all week in destructive attitudes which included non-stop fighting.
Today was different. The kids needed to get out of the house but we didn’t want to infect others… my husband was able to put them to work.
Suddenly the destructive attitudes turned constructive and they were so excited to be useful. I was able to watch them from inside the house and I started thinking about how thankful I was for this moment.
Despite my son having some challenges, he is always excited to do things for others. Despite my daughter stirring her brother constantly, her sense of humor and willingness to respond promptly to instructions is a wonderful thing.
My husband is a hard worker – and unfortunately one of those good traits he has worked against him this week when he was told that he didn’t get the position he wanted because he was “too calm” (I know, ridiculous right?). His calmness helped our whole family deal with an incident last year when our car lost its brakes. I wouldn’t trade his “calmness” – for a better position within a company. I’m not sure what company would want a stressed out/yelling type of manager anyway…. I’m proud of my husband.
Today when I went shopping all the things I needed, most of my items were on sale… I didn’t plan that as I needed to do a last minute shop. I remember just feeling thankful that even though money is tight, that so many of our favorites were on sale.
There was a situation in which we have been given a chance to serve in a few months. I usually feel stressed by this, but I feel not only calm about it but excited to help. I’m not only thankful that I have the opportunity but also thankful that I don’t feel stressed and miserable about it like I have in the past.
Anyway, Today was a day where I was able to focus on the good things in life.
I hope you have a thankful and grateful day.

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Jen