Keeping the Pieces Together

 

You are so busy. You struggle to keep all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of your life together- home, church, family, kids afterschool activities, work, and the list goes on.

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You must plan ahead and determine what pieces of the puzzle (a.k.a your life) will get a ‘yes’ response from you and which will get a ‘no’ response.

Before the holiday season becomes hectic for you, take a look at your situation. Where will you focus your energy? What will be your priorities? Plan now so you can enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them.

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Place your priorities in this puzzle and determine to keep yourself pieced together. Just like putting together a manufactured jigsaw puzzle, there are boundaries. Set your boundaries and build the beautiful picture that is you within them.

Voices in My Head

I suffer from a problem I am sure none of you ever face. I experience bouts of low self-esteem and lack of confidence.

I know, I know, this is unfamiliar to you, but if you will allow me to share my story with you, perhaps you will have a clearer understanding.

Inside my head are a bunch of ping pong balls that bounce around triggering thoughts and ideas – sometimes they run in supercharge mode and hit all the negative nerves inside my brain …and occasionally hit on ones I didn’t know existed. These negative thoughts turn the volume up until nothing else can be heard except the slow and steady drumming. Think of that car that passes by your house with bass turned so high the windows rattle. Yeah, that’s my mind-field.

Several months ago my small group did a video study by Pastor Steve Furtick. I had never heard of this guy, but the title looked interesting – Crash The Chatterbox.

In this study he described the thoughts we have and voices we listen to as a factory, and we must maintain quality control. That was interesting in itself, but what really got my attention were the sessions where he ‘interviewed the chatterbox’. He personalized the chatterbox by having someone portray this chatterbox. He demeaned the interviewer, reminded him of his failures, and hinted at others displeasure of him. It appealed to me because, by placing a face and personality to this negative trait, it changed the way I looked at ‘the ping pong balls’.

Taking my cue from the chatterbox interview I created my own ‘chatterbox’. I used one of my teddy bears.

Are you a Star Trek fan? Do you know what happens when a crew member in a red shirt joins the away team? Yeah, that person won’t be back. The term “red shirt” is defined on Wikipedia as a stock character in fiction who dies soon after being introduced.

So, I got out one of my Star Trek bears, dressed appropriately in a red shirt, and named him “chatterbox”. When the negativity strikes I tell my red shirt chatterbox to shut up.

Occasionally, before dying, a red shirt will say something that may be referred to throughout the show. Thus, my red shirt doesn’t always stay quiet. So, I created a NO CHATTERBOX ALLOWED sign. I put the bear in the box and ban it from mind. Hey, whatever works!

Still, the chatterbox tries to call out to me. I need another defense!

This one comes in the form of a Tiara. Every woman should have a tiara.

It started in fun. I commented one day needing a tiara to remind me I am a daughter of the King and my wonderful husband, on his next trip to run errands, picked up a tiara for me.

I put the tiara on to remind myself of my worth. I am royalty! My Heavenly Father is the King!

In a quick check of google I found some tips on how royalty is to be treated. Here are a few tips I learned and modified to tell my chatterbox it was unwelcome.

• Do not initiate conversation with royalty – Chatterbox, you may not start with me

• During a formal dinner, stop eating when the queen does – Chatterbox, stop chewing on my life, my past failures, perceived indiscretions, and inaccuracies.

• A non-royal must never touch a person of royalty – chatterbox, keep your distance; and stay out of my head!!

• Most importantly, take the lead from the royal person – Chatterbox, please leave me alone.

Speech_8_photo-9x6Yes, this is silly. But when I get a glimpse of myself with my tiara as I pass a mirror or see my reflection in a window or even in the monitor of my computer, I get a little smile. I stand a little taller. I walk with a surer step. I have the strength to block the chatterbox out.

Is it silly if it works? Yes, it is probably still silly. But there are is so much negativity around us it seeps into lives and can take over. We must find ways to see beyond it, to change the focus and the self talk.

For me, it’s a teddy bear in a box with a not welcome sign on it and a tiara on my head. How do you destroy the chatterbox in your life?

Draw Me A Picture With Your Words

I love to use word pictures to try to describe what is happening in my mind’s eye.  I can see something but it is fuzzy, and unclear. By speaking out the picture to someone it becomes clearer. Focus becomes sharper. I can see it and now I can choose how to act on it.

One thing I really enjoy about the coaching process is using questions to help bring that picture into focus. With my own life coach I often describe a bunch of ping pong balls bouncing around, each with a different thought or idea. When it strikes my mind goes there, but before I can focus on that thought or idea, another ball bounces and another thought starts to form. This continues until I am filled with disjointed and ideas that paralyze me from moving forward.

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My coach has learned how to use this scenario to bring clarity and focus by addressing the ping pong balls.

To some, this word picture may be ridiculous. My coach might even think that. But that doesn’t matter. It is my mind, my focus. As a coach she walks alongside me using the metaphor I describe and helps me to examine it, to look closely, and understand within myself what I am seeking.

Another word picture I have seen many use in coaching calls is that of a road. To some the road and clear and they are speeding along it; others find various road blocks and unexpected turns.

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As a life coach I enter your word picture and walk with you.

What word pictures would you use to describe a goal you desire to reach?

What will it take to move you forward from where you are

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to where you and God desire you to be?

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I’d love to discuss this with you. Click the “move forward” tab to start the conversation. If possible, I would love to enter the journey with you.

Living within Healthy Boundaries

I did it again.  She called with a last minute cancellation asking me to please take over the project. Through gritted teeth with a forced smile I said it would be no problem.

Afterward I slammed a few cabinet doors, spoke some words I wouldn’t want my daughter to hear, and then started to readjust my plans for the day to complete the project and submit it on time to our client.

Everyone has emergencies come up, I get it. But this person seemed to always have one excuse or another. Everything was an emergency. The stories are such that I don’t even listen to them any more. I simple say ‘sure, I will take care of it’. Then I lash out.

Why can’t I confront her? Why should my family take the brunt of this?

This is just one of many scenarios I live with. Can you relate? What would your story be?

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend address this and similar issues in their book “Boundaries”.

I will be using this text and correlating video lessons in an 8 week online course.

Some of the questions to be addressed include:

How can I say no and not feel guilty?

Are boundaries biblical?

What if setting boundaries will upset or hurt someone?

For more information, go to the Boundaries page (CLICK HERE) and sign up to join us.  This online course is for women only and class size will be limited to allow everyone a chance to participate.

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Eclipse Glasses for my Focus

When eclipse glasses started hitting my Facebook news feed I thought for sure these were a scam. Just do the pinhole trick and save your money, I thought.

Then my grandson came to visit to attend a solar eclipse event with us. He let me try on his glasses. WOW!!! Everything was blacked out, except for the sun. This was so awesome, I wish I had my own pair, but alas, it was too late, everybody was sold out.

When rains started in our local area we were concerned we would miss the fullness of this event so we headed east to a find a state park where the sun was shining and no rain appeared in the near future. Once settled with our lawn chairs with cameras and pinhole pages, we were so fortunate to find 2 people with a stash of ISO approved glasses they were giving away.

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Yeah!!  My husband and I each had our own pair.

It was amazing to watch this historic event through these glasses. The only thing visible through these glasses was the sun and moon fighting for my attention.

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(My traveling teddy bear watched the pinhole eclipse, he didn’t have any glasses)

Now, with the event over I look at my glasses and wish I could have something like them to help me focus. Imagine putting on these glasses and only seeing the project I am working on!

No more distractions from a popup on the computer screen. Ignore that number that shows up on the tab telling me there is a new email or Facebook post I simply must read. The phone would not be visible for the latest call or text message.

I envy people who can sit down to one thing and concentrate only on it and shut out all other distractions. Just writing this post I remember the event, my mind wanders to where we stopped for lunch afterward, then on to what will I make for lunch today, and do I need to put something in the crock pot for dinner. That doesn’t include the glance at the other monitor showing me the virtual connections I need to complete and that open tab of an unfinished list of notes to use at a meeting tonight. Oh no I forgot I have to prepare for that.

Yes, I need focus glasses.

Since there appear to be none I have to CHOOSE to stay focused. I have to CHOOSE where my attention will be placed and CHOOSE to keep it there. For me this is not easy, but then I remind myself of times I have done so. I can stay focused on a movie I am watching. I can stay focused on a fun activity. Why? Perspective and choice.

Since there are no focus glasses I can choose to turn off the 2nd monitor and set the phone to silent. I work best in low light, so I can choose to turn off the overhead light and use a desk lamp. I could turn off the TV in my office and use another form of sound, perhaps uplifting music.

Yes, there are things I can do. Knowing this isn’t enough. I must CHOOSE to do these things to deter the distractions.

These are some of the choices I have and that work for me.

What works for you? How do you stay focused?  Comment below.

What is the Goal?

I like to play color match video games. It helps me to keep my mind busy, often while avoiding chronic pain – okay, I will be honest, sometimes avoiding work that needs to be done.

I have played some Candy Crush – until I reached a level I couldn’t defeat and gave it up. I have played Zuma and other similar games. The one I play now is Gummy Drop.

No matter what the game, they all have the same premise. Match the color balls for points, avoid the various barriers that are added along the way.

Sometimes, as you progress through the game you find barriers interrupt the goal. Here is what I mean. You ( I ) have played several levels where a specific barrier must be defeated in order to win the challenge. Then I (you) become so focused on that barrier, that a new challenge comes along with those barriers, that the goal of the challenge to just accumulate so many points is missed!  The barriers have nothing to do with the goal.

When I play, I have to look first at ‘what is the goal’ of the challenge, then look at the board and proceed while focusing only on the goal. I don’t always do this, thus I lose the game.

The same applies to my everyday task. What is my goal for this day, for this project, for this hour, for this moment? Another view is, what am I avoiding? Why?

The project isn’t due until Friday, but today I must work through this portion. Some need the deadline looming over them to move forward. Others need to clear obstacles. What do you need? 

How will you focus on that one specific portion only. The others cannot be complete until THIS is accomplished. Ignore those obstacles of ‘what if’ and ‘he said or she said’ and ‘we may not complete the whole thing’. How you will focus on this – now.

I often relate it to a jigsaw puzzle. I don’t know about you, but everybody I know (and that is not necessarily a lot of people) focuses first on the outer border. Once the outer border is in place, strategies change. Some focus on matching colors, others focus on shapes, some just wing it and pick up every piece and try to place it on the board. No matter the process, they all have the same end goal – to complete the puzzle and make it look like the picture on the box. Same end goal, different process for the various details.

My goal for a Gummy Drop challenge may be to defeat all the barriers, or it may be simply to gather so many points. The end goal is complete each level; and each challenge will get me there, but not until I focus on and complete the stated goal.

What are you working on now? Are you stumped by the overwhelming picture? How can you break it down in your mind so that you can proceed through each step. How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.

For some, the color match game works as focus picture. For others, it might be the mountain or the jigsaw puzzle. What image works for you?

Are you ready?

Name your goal, and go for it! 

Allow Yourself Time

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  – Jeremiah 29:11

I have heard this verse used over and over by many people. It is a promise of hope.  But I think there is more to it. 

Read the verse before this one:   Jeremiah 29:10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

Ouch!! God has plans, He is in everything, and yet the people are told it will 70 years of hardship.  So often we look to hardship as a punishment, as God turning His back on us.  That is not the case. 

God did not abandon them during this time; see verses 12-14

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

God promises he will be with them, though they are going through difficult times.

We have become so microwave focused we expect everything to happen as we want them to in a snap. Though stew has a more flavorful taste if I allow is to slowly simmer in a crock pot all day, I grab a a pre-packaged bag and throw it in the microwave for 10-15 minutes. No mess, no wait. Accepting okay, when better was possible with a bit more time.

I know that the biggest reason I rush through something is because (1) I want to feel the satisfaction of completion and (2) I fear if I take longer it means I am not giving it the attention it deserves.

Does that 2nd ‘excuse’ sound as awful to you as it did to me just now when I typed it?

As soon as I read what I wrote a picture of a homemade loaf of bread popped into my mind. Years ago I used to bake my own bread. I would spend all day preparing the dough, allowing it to rise, punching it down and allowing to rise again until it was time to punch it down and place it in the loaf pans where it would rise a 3rd time and then finally be ready to place in a hot oven to bake. Oh the flavor of that bread, fresh out of the oven. Grabbing a slice out of the bag I purchased from the store might be okay, but my mouth doesn’t water in anticipation like it did when I sliced that warm bread I worked on all day.

God is there, through all times – good and difficult, prosperous and poverty, hilltops and valleys. You are not alone. During his darkest moment on earth, Jesus knew He wasn’t alone. He knew it would be difficult, even asked God if there was any other way. Despite that he told his disciples “But the time is coming when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” John 16:32 

“I know the plans I have for you” the Lord said. And He will not leave you alone.

There will be difficult times. It does not mean you are alone. Grab on to God’s promise of hope.

My Checklist

‘Oh that my steps may be steady, keeping the course you have set’ – Psalm 119:5 msg

I have tossed my daily TO DO list and now work on an I WILL list.  Simply thinking about ‘what I should do’ verses ‘what I will do’ is a perspective shift that has helped me to move forward.

Alongside my I WILL list I now have checklists.  Many activities require a number of steps, as if putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Once I determine what I will do, I look at what must be done to complete that task.

An example would be writing this post. I work it out like thischecklist_md_clr:

  • determine the topic
  • open the software so I may type as phrases or particular words come to mind
  • type, delete, type, repeat
  • proof read for spelling/grammar
  • set categories
  • set tags
  • schedule the post

To you, this may be excessive. Perhaps for you it all comes naturally and impulsively. I used to be able to do that as well. I don’t know if it is aging, time of life, or just a cluttered mind Smile 

By breaking it down, I stay on course, feel a sense of accomplishment and realize that I am closer to my goal with each step.

What works best for you? How do you stay on top of your TO DO lists and accomplishments?

Abstract Absolutes

 

A young man was called into the boss’s office. He working as an artist for a Missouri newspaper. He was informed that he was not creative enough and was no longer employed.

 

If you’ve ever lost a job you cherished you understand what this young man thought and felt.  

 

In our minds, each of us looks at the life around us, at the actions and words – real or perceived – and draw conclusions of our own self worth.

 

Those thoughts create our emotions and determine our actions. They help us to move forward, work around an obstacle, and accomplish our goals. It’s a wonderful system……..unless our thoughts are wrong.

 

In the book, ‘As a Man Thinketh,’ James Allen wrote:

“All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish with your life is the direct result of your thoughts. You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

 

As a child I learned “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.  Yet those words sometimes are more harmful than than the broken bone.

 

Or should I say ‘my thoughts about those words’ are more harmful.

 

Many of us, myself included, find the prevalent thoughts are self-defeating.  This young man, after studying art and working for several years was faced with self-defeating thoughts.

 

He didn’t allow those thoughts to take hold.

 

I call the self-defeating voices we play in our minds:  Abstract Absolutes. 

 

Abstract is defined as ‘existing in thoughts or as an idea, but not having a physical or concrete existence.’

 

Absolute refers to truth.

 

A general example would be this young man who could have said “I’ve lost my job, I am a failure, I have nothing, I am nothing”.

 

What abstract absolutes have you or a loved one created? How about ‘I just ruined dinner, I can’t cook, who am I fooling?’  or  ‘I would try that recreational sport with the guys, but I am just no good and we would lose if I were on the team.’

 

I bet you can think of someone in your life who thinks along these lines.

 

There are a number of negative effects to abstract absolute thinking, such as:

 

·      Anxiety

·      Nervousness

·      Worry

·      Sadness

·      Discouragement

·      Low self-esteem

·      Feeling inadequate or worthless

·      No pleasure in life

 

What we think leads to how we feel and how we act; or as an ancient Hebrew proverb states:    “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.”

 

It’s true. It’s not what we do, or who we are, it’s what we think that counts.

 

There is good news!!  Our self-defeating, abstract absolute thinking patterns can be changed.

 

So, where do we begin?



There are only 3 steps to begin changing your life today.

 

·      Recognize

·      Replace

·      Rehearse

 

This young man knew what to do.

 

Let’s briefly touch on each one.

 

First step:  Recognize

 

I think the hardest part of this process is to recognize the faulty thinking. How do you recognize, admit, and accept that your thoughts are not healthy, they are not accurate?

 

Sometimes we are challenged by others around us. Other times we may find dissatisfaction in our lives.

 

No matter what triggers the process, once recognized it is time to face it.

 

Consider this experiment:

 

On a sheet of paper draw a line down the middle.

 

Now on the left side, at the top write COST OF HOLDING ON TO THE FAULTY BELIEF.

 

Write out the faulty belief you have recognized.

 

 

Once you Recognize the negative thinking and faced it, step 2 is to Replace it.

 

On the right side of the same paper: COST OF REPLACING THE FAULTY BELIEF    


 

 

 

Cost of Holding On to the

Faulty Belief

______________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of Replacing the

Faulty Belief

_______________________

 

 

Honestly look at the situation. Write out your more truthful thoughts. Ask someone you trust to help you.

 

What could I say instead of “I lost my job, I am nothing”.  Perhaps

I could remind myself:

 

The company is downsizing, my work results were good.

I have lost jobs before and always found another.

 

 

Another replacement technique is “Treat Yourself as You Treat Others”.

I would not look you in the eye and say “you are worthless” so why would I talk to myself that way. 

 

It is time to replace my thoughts with words that are true, that are encouraging, that will help me.

 

Now that you have RECOGNIZED and REPLACED the Abstract Absolute Thinking in your life, the 3rd step of the recovery process is REHEARSE

 

 

Henry Ford once said,

“If you think you can, if you think you can’t – either way, you are right.”

 

It would be wonderful if once we recognized and replaced a thought process, everything was fine.  But life doesn’t work that way.

 

Rehearse regularly by doing these simple steps:

·      Repeat your new thoughts to yourself as often as possible

·      Hang up post it notes around to remind you of your new thoughts

·      Have a friend, coach, or partner hold you accountable

·      Feed your mind with success stories

·      Surround yourself with people who think positive thoughts

·      Teach others what you are learning

 

This young man didn’t take his ‘failure’ as an abstract absolute. He used it to start a creative company with a friend of his. After a few years that company went bankrupt.  He still would not allow the abstract absolute thinking to take hold of his life.

 

Did I mention this man went on to create Mickey Mouse? Yes, he was Walt Disney.

 

Are you willing to look at your abstract absolutes honestly and take control of your thoughts.

 


You can change your Abstract Absolutes into Honest Absolute Truths with 3 steps:

 

·      Recognize

·      Replace

·      Rehearse

 

 

It wont happen over night.

Changing the habits of a lifetime takes time.

Give yourself grace. 

 

The only thing you can really change is yourself.

 

And that is an honest absolute truth.

Committed to the Task

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…Col 3:23

After doing a short bible study and focusing on this verse I went to make my bed and clean the bedroom.  Earlier in the week I had leaned down to pick up something and noticed the dust bunnies. My husband and I joke about them and the dust bunnies remained.

The dust bunnies crossed my mind and I tried to walk out of the room when this verse came back to me. I thought for a few moments then got out the vacuum and decided to evict the dust bunnies.

It is easy to ignore them as they are under the bed, I don’t store things under the bed, therefore I don’t make it a habit of looking under the bed. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then I started to think about the blessings God has given me. I have a lovely family. I have a beautiful home. In doing this small task of caring for the blessing given me, I am honoring God.

The job didn’t take long, I wondered why I put it off. I didn’t do it for my husband, he had already forgotten about them and didn’t plan to look under the bed anytime soon. I didn’t do it for me, I had ignored it this long. So I changed my focus. I did it as if I were working for the Lord. I thanked Him for the blessing of His love and provisions.

We all have choices to make. Ignoring dust bunnies was one of my mine. What choices are you making?

Even though no one notices a clean floor free of dust bunnies under the bed, I felt a sense of satisfaction when the job was finally done.

Whatever you do, do with all your heart as if you are working for the Lord.

Who are you working for? Who are you working to please?