Welcome back! Here we go with chapter 2.
Thanks for all the feedback through comments and emails. It’s been a huge help. Looking forward to more!
This Is How We Grow©:
Part 1, Patience
“Live Strong. Love life. Don’t ever let the chance to say ‘I Love You’ pass you by…”
(from my song, Live Strong, In Memory of Rob)
What does that mean anyway—strong? If we’re going by outside appearances then it must mean muscles, might, and the ability to…oh, I don’t know…pull a train, on a rope, with your teeth? But we all know muscles fade. And, deep down, we all know that being strong really has nothing to do with might. Perhaps being truly strong simply means being vulnerable enough to allow our story to be written—to accept where we are, to learn the lessons we are taught, and to courageously live the story we are given, no matter how over- or under-whelming it may seem.
I do this for a living. I get to witness incredible strength as I hear some incredible stories. I get to see how the stories play out—the dramatic arc of the plot, the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement. Usually I get to offer a little help for the character development and how the story will end. One constant I’ve seen through each character’s plot is that the story always has twists and turns no one could have predicted, but in the end, it’s the twist that creates the hero and the turn that makes the story great.
We all have a story. But will it be a great one? Will we choose to allow ourselves to be created by the twists and strengthened by the turns? Will we slow down enough to participate in and be strengthened by the stories of the ones we love? Or, will we wait for tomorrow?
We mustn’t wait, for all stories must come to an end someday. And, sometimes that someday is much sooner than we could have known. My sister, Shannon, had a story—some chapters I knew like they were my own; others I will never know. Her husband, Rob, had a story too.
Sunday, July 29
The decision to even try for one more baby took so much time, faith, and courage, but hearing “It’s a girl,” at my OB appointment three days ago, made everything suddenly right. Two boys. Two girls. She’ll be the perfect piece to complete our family puzzle. We couldn’t wait to tell Rob when we drove down to visit that afternoon.
“We just found out we’re having a girl!” I exclaimed. “I hope you plan to stick around to meet your new niece.”
But reality set in quickly as I noticed Rob’s once-chiseled jawline, now thin and carved. He barely had the energy to smile and nod, and an urgency whispered I had no time to waste. No time for false hope. Better to say it like it is.
“Actually, you’ll probably get to meet her before we do,” I said with puddled eyes, patting him on the knee and taking his hand. “Tell her hello for us. And don’t teach her any of your old tricks.”
Today, it is sinking in: That was probably the last time we’ll see Rob in this life.
After the visit, Tre and Brody asked to come home with us to Flagstaff for a weekend of fun with their cousins; I sensed it was to take their minds away from their dad. This morning, I caught a glimpse of a little photo of Rob and Tre that Tre carries in his pocket, and was once again reminded of the complete difference in Rob then versus now. All weekend, we’d been playing the part of the “normal,” upbeat family. But, seeing that photo in Tre’s 10 year-old hands put an end to my part in the charade and filled me with memories and nostalgia.
I remembered the day OJ and I introduced Rob to Shannon—my college graduation day. He wore a suit and brought my pressed gown from the dry cleaners. Shannon told Mom, “He’s cute, but he’s too conservative. He’s wearing a suit!” I remembered Christmas Eve, our babies asleep, laughing ‘til our insides hurt, seeing this “conservative” brother-in-law of mine strut around in his two year-old’s Superman Underoos before shouting, “Dare me to jump in the pool naked?”! We didn’t even have time to object before his bare white bum plunged over the side.
I remembered Rob’s intensity—spouting passion or spitting fire, you certainly didn’t want to be caught in the middle of either. I remembered the humor that tempered him—his ever-changing business ideas (energy drinks!, mobile car detailing!, modeling!) and dead-on Jim Carey impressions (“All-righty then!” “It’s…The Claw!”)—always good for an honest laugh. I remembered sitting along Lake Mary Road cheering him on in one of his first triathlons, expecting him to appear over the hill in the lead, instead seeing him carry his flat-tire bike as he jogged uphill way behind the others, never giving up.
I remembered Shannon telling me they were considering divorce, Rob’s fieriness having clashed too many times with her own. The “manic-depressive couple,” OJ and I used to joke, so hot and cold they were. It certainly didn’t seem funny anymore. I remembered Shannon telling me they’d made their decision, how she thought it was the better way—the only way—and how she didn’t listen when I told her she was wrong. Even since their divorce, I loved having Rob around. Always the life of the party, every family event seemed more eventful with Rob and Shannon there. Rob told Mom he still considers us his family, and I know we will always love him as a forever part of ours.
But forever felt very real today as I remembered it was just last November when Rob broke the news that he had lumps everywhere but was waiting for his new insurance to kick in before seeing a doctor. It was just after OJ was handed all his diagnoses when we pleaded with him to forget the insurance and get immediate help. Then, as OJ and I spent Thanksgiving afternoon in Rob’s hospital room, he confirmed the news we already knew: his melanoma had returned. Did I pay attention to the knot in my stomach when I heard those words? Did I really believe then that it would come to this?
Today is Sunday—resurrection day. If only Rob could be resurrected to his former self today. Though I know he isn’t gone yet, I miss Rob as we have known him. Yet perhaps it is only now that I’m seeing the real Rob as he calmly accepts his life’s story. Strange how, the weaker his body has become, the stronger his spirit. This realization makes me miss him all the more, yet it is accompanied by peace. His body may be fading, but he is not. It inspires me to want to follow Rob. It inspires me to want to be strong in spirit too.
Tuesday, July 31
Shannon called and woke me first thing this morning sobbing. “He died in the night.” All I could do was cry with her—that’s really all anyone should ever do. And all I could tell her was, “I’m coming,” then load up my boys in the car, call work to cancel my day, and head down the mountain to the sweltering heat of the valley.
We arrived earlier than planned and had time to spare while Shannon and her boys were at the gym, so we went to Target. I wanted to bring something for my nephews, something to console them in any small way. They lost their dad today kept repeating in my mind, the saddest part of this shared grief. What do you buy for a child to tell them, “It will be alright”?
My boys, 10 ½ year-old Braxton and 8 year-old Colton, and I rummaged through toys and treats and finally settled on two musical animals. For 6 year-old Brody, a warthog-rapper with a gold chain that sang, “I like to move it, move it,” while apparently attempting to dance. For 10 year-old Tre, an ape-dancer that played AC/DC’s “You shook me all night long”.
Presenting them to the boys, Shannon and I burst out laughing. “I know it’s completely inappropriate for the occasion,” I acknowledged. “But I thought we could use a little humor today.” And we laughed some more to the tune of dancing warthogs and apes.
How do you help someone heal from losing the “one and only,” the one she didn’t even know was the “only” until after he was gone? We sat and shared memories; we laughed, we cried. I bought Rubio’s tacos and Paradise Bakery cookies for lunch. I let her nap. We planned a memorial service for Friday. And I brought Tre and Brody home to Flagstaff with me to give Shannon space for her grief and to hopefully set the boys free from theirs, if only for a little while.
Friday, August 3
“…Love your children. Be a friend. Keep ‘em laughing ‘til the end.
When we love, his legacy begins…so live strong.”
(from my song, Live Strong, in memory of Rob)
I fear we don’t recognize the good in others until after they are gone.
We had a beautiful memorial service for Rob at OJ’s parents’ house tonight. I know Lorri and Dave loved Rob too, and it meant a lot to everyone that they would offer their home when Rob’s parents said they wouldn’t be involved. Playing music Rob loved, seeing his life in photos, and sharing his stories—it felt as if he should have been there, and I wonder if he might have been.
Just as Rob would have wanted, this memorial was a party—a smile on every face, a laugh in every corner of the room, and a good time had by all as we remembered and celebrated Rob. “He was always interested in whomever he was talking to,” one person said. “He sure loved his boys. They would play steam-roller…,” said another. “He really loved Shannon, too, didn’t he?” I added, glancing at her across the room. “I remember when he threw a bowling ball into a toilet in college and shattered it!” was OJ’s contribution. As we shared tales, the lessons of Rob’s life seemed suddenly clear: “Take interest in others,” “Love your family,” “Love unconditionally,” “Live your life to the fullest.”
I wrote a song for Rob and sang it for everyone at the memorial. It seemed a crazy feat—to write a song in two short days and perform it in front of 75 people. But I decided I would write the song not for my benefit but for Rob’s, and only if I felt inspired. Last night, as I went to bed, I had just a few lines written with no real feel for the melody. But I prayed (again) for help and somehow awoke in the early hours this morning with the melody and lyrics floating in my head.
It was almost complete, but I knew I needed Dad to play the guitar for me if I had any shot at actually pulling it off. Luckily, Dad’s good at winging it too. About 15 minutes before I was to perform, as Dad and I practiced for the first time, I found the words for the final verse, and it was only as I sang it for everyone that I knew it was exactly right—perfect—exactly Rob. The title? Live Strong. Not only iwa it a nod to Rob’s hero Lance Armstrong’s cancer awareness campaign, but Rob was an example of living strong. He had “strength in spirit with the muscles to match. He r(an) through the obstacles and never look(ed) back” (Live Strong lyrics).
At the end of the night, after all the guests had gone home and as Shannon prepared to leave, we embraced. “Thank you,” she whispered. “He would have loved this.”
In my heart I willed her all the strength she and her boys would need for the journey ahead, and as her car pulled away, I committed to be there for and with them every step of the way.
We may have been celebrating Rob all evening long, but it was Shannon’s face I pictured as Rob’s song chased me to sleep. Live strong, Shannon, I felt deep within. Live strong.
**I’ll be posting new chapters every other Saturday, so stay tuned, and subscribe, below, so you won’t miss a thing!**
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This is How We Grow: Related Posts
Summer is here. Again. And that means warmer weather, time at the pool or beach, visiting family and friends, and, for many, changing schedules, travel plans, and time off.
In our home, summer also means summer goals—for the kids. Instead of them lying around, bored, all the time, we sit down at the beginning of summer and create a list of goals, together, that each of them may (or may not) accomplish over the summer. They select their own goals, how many they’ll do, and how difficult they’ll be, but I require they have at least one goal in each of six areas: 1) Education/Intellect; 2) Personality/Character; 3) Hobbies/Talents; 4) Family; 5) Spirituality/Church, and 6) Contribution/Service. They present me with their “summer goals” plan, and we go over it together, deciding how much each goal will be worth. Yes, that’s the other great part of summer goals—they get to earn money to then buy their own school clothes (a win-win for we parents)! (Watch this quick video for more on summer goals. Or, this one, for toddlers/preschoolers.)
But sometime, a few years ago, I started thinking, “Why don’t I set summer goals too?” After all, I want to be the example for my kids. And, much as I love summer reading, hammock swinging, travelling, and relaxation (or attempts at relaxation, at least), I also love self-improvement. What better time to work on myself than summer?
This summer, I’m hoping you will join me in my summer self-improvement movement. Below, are just a few suggestions to inspire you. Pick one or several. Then, get to work! After all, wouldn’t it be great, at the end of summer, to be able to look back and say, “Hey, I’m not just tan—I’m actually a better person!”
25 Inspirational Ideas for Summer Self-Improvement
1) Pick a virtue each month and focus on it. Maybe you need a little more patience. Or perhaps it’s courage you need. Pick one, write it and post it on your fridge or mirror, look up a quote or two to inspire you, and practice. Virtues aren’t simply born with us. We can and must work to develop into who we want to be!
2) Read. As much as you can. Read for pleasure, yes, but also, read to learn. Read many different varieties of books–self-help, history, culture, whatever you like. And read with your kids too.
3) Laugh. If you don’t laugh enough, look for ways to get laughing! Work on lightening up, having fun, and letting a little humor into your life. Deep belly laughs are a sure sign of health and vibrancy.
4) Unplug. How much time do you spend “connected” to technology, TV, and social media? Can you (or your family) use a little less time “plugged in?” If so, summer’s a great time to learn how to ditch the tech and reconnect.
5) Improve your physical space. Use summer as a time to prepare for fall. Pick one area of the house each week, then spend 15 minutes 5 days a week cleaning out, organizing, and beautifying.
6) Cut the mental clutter. Create internal space by making time for solitude. Teach your kids how to be alone sometimes too. Solitude is crucial to staying in tune with your spirit and what matters most.
7) Get still, ponder, meditate. If you’ve never tried meditation, summer’s a great time to give it a go. Meditation is one of the best habits you can form for mental, emotional, and spiritual health. (Watch this 30 second “basics of meditation” video to get you started. Or, check out Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, “Mindfulness for Beginners.”)
8) Eat as many colorful fruits and veggies as possible. Filling yourself up with the good things leaves less room for the not-so-good and gives you energy too.
9) Try 24 hours without criticizing anyone nor anything. That includes thinking criticisms. When you make a mistake, the 24 hours start over. It’s harder than you think; at least, it is for me.
10) Take a class. Ever wanted to try oil painting, Zumba, or horseback riding? Why wait? Summer’s a great time to try something new! It will keep your mind fresh and might even lead you to discover your life’s passion—who knows?
11) Spend quality time with your kids. Set aside 20-30 minutes (or more) each day to get down and do what they love to do. Really focusing on them helps you stay connected and reduces the “I’m bored” syndrome! (Check out this tip too)
12) Incorporate more play into your own life. Did you know play is actually a vital part of mental, physical, and emotional health? Set aside 20-30 minutes (or more) a day for you to play, run, laugh, joke. If you need to improve your play (and most adults do), there’s no time like summer!
13) Rest. If you’ve been sleep-deprived all year, it’s time to focus on getting more sleep, naps, and down time. Sleep is the core of health. And, we need “down time” to prevent stress and burn out too. Prioritize sleep, rest, and R&R this summer. And, if you’re a parent, set a “quiet” or “nap time” every afternoon to help your kids learn to prioritize rest and sleep too!
14) Get to know yourself. Start a journal and explore who you really are. Start by listing your strengths and weaknesses, adding to the list as summer goes on. When others criticize or praise you, look at it as feedback to help you in your search to better understand yourself.
15) Learn how your thinking affects your body, feelings, and behaviors. Start noticing the thoughts running through your mind all day. Try a thought record, to help you understand and change your thinking and improve your emotions and behavior. (This is one of the best things I’ve ever learned to do! A fabulous summer goal!)
16) Practice seeking joy. Remember, joy is in the moments. Look for the joyful moments each day. Write them in a journal so you’ll never forget.
18) Improve a relationship. Select one loved one and choose to really love them this summer. What is their love language? How can you show them your love and help them feel how much they mean to you? Make it your summer project.
19) Move your body! There’s no time like summer to improve your fitness. Go for a hike. Swim. Take a walk each day at sunset. Forget about how many calories you’re burning or how hard you’re working. Just get out and enjoy the green world around you every day. It will start a habit of motion and get you FITT!
20) Forgive someone. Lighten your own load by letting it go. Keep letting it go as often as you need.
21) Practice and freely share your talents. It can be scary to get up and share with others, but it makes you practice hard, and it’s one of the best way to improve!
22) Volunteer. Serve at a soup kitchen, make hygiene kits for those in need, pick up trash, or watch a friend’s kids so they can go on a date. Serving others is one of the greatest habits you can develop and will make a huge impact on your character. And, if you can serve as a family, it’s even better!
23) Overcome fear. When you want to try something new but feel frozen in your tracks, take a deep breath and do it anyway. Or, start small by signing up for something that will happen later this year or next: A course, a class, a job, a race you’ve always wanted to try. Look to the future and plant a seed today.
25) Appreciate where you are. Enjoy the “now.” Look around. See the beauty. Hear the peace. Smell the goodness. Feel the warmth. Taste the sweetness that is everywhere, if you will only look and see.
**26) Oh, and one more thing. No matter which self-improvement idea you decide to try, please make sure and follow this excellent advice: “Do your best, and be a little better than you are” (Gordon B. Hinckley). That’s all we have to be. Just a little bit better, each and every day.
Have some summer self-improvement suggestions? I’d love to hear them! I’d also love to know what you’re working on and how it’s going. Let’s help each other this summer! Leave a comment below.
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(see the links in this article too)
Suggested Reading:Read More
Thanks so much for joining me for my This is How We Grow© Summer Book Club! I hope you enjoyed the Prologue, and I’m grateful for the comments you’ve already provided. As I mentioned before, I appreciate your feedback tremendously. That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing this “Summer Book Club”–to gather your ideas, thoughts, questions, and concerns, allowing you, the reader, to help me, the author, make this memoir the best it can be.
Today, we dig in with Chapter 1! Since you don’t have a Table of Contents, I should mention This is How We Grow is written in four parts, each representing one season and one year, beginning with Part 1: Patience. Again, I welcome your thoughts and hope you will leave a comment, (below). I also encourage you to subscribe to my email list (below), for exclusive This Is How We Grow opportunities and updates.
Mostly, though, I want to thank you for taking the time to read these selections from This is How We Grow with me this summer. I know you have plenty you could be doing, and I deeply appreciate you choosing to do this. Happy reading! (I hope!)
Fall is the jumping in, the beginning of learning, the end of the ease of summer.
Fall is the slowing down, the turning of the sun, sky, wind, and trees.
Fall is the surprise—
the hint of something coming,
the twists and turns signaling that everything
is about to change.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”
(Holy Bible, King James Version, Ecclesiastes 31:1)
(also an excellent song by The Byrds)
Change is about the only thing we can count on when it comes to life. Seasons change. Years come and go. And so do we. But, what good is all that change if it doesn’t change us?
Several years ago January 1st, I was struck by this question and knew I had to do something about it. Tired of too-often forgotten “New Year’s Resolutions” and desiring a more meaningful practice of personal development, I developed the idea of a “yearly theme.” This theme would serve as my one resolution for the entire year and give me focused, extended practice in mastering it. It would steer me in the direction of the person I longed to be.
My first year’s theme was “Carpe Diem”—a time in my life when I was ready to take on the world as a freshly licensed Clinical Psychologist, mother of three, and starter of a non-profit organization. I think I “Carpe’d” a little too much “Diem,” if you catch my drift, and ended up completely burned out by the end of the year. But it was okay; it was the exact lesson I needed at that time and paved the way for my next year’s theme, “Humility.”
2007 was my year of “Patience”; I could never have guessed how much patience I would actually require, but somehow I knew, just like I always know, that it was the direction to take. In true cyclical fashion, my need for patience in 2007 actually began in the fall of 2006, my year of “Charity.” It was our first trip to Hawaii and we were in for some, yep, you guessed it—change. Yes, to me, it is now clear: It all began with an earthquake….
Sunday October 15, 2006
Nature’s absolute power. That’s what we witnessed today.
I came to Hawaii to decide if we should try for another baby. OJ thought I was just tagging along while he attended his dental seminar, but I admit, I’ve had an ulterior motive. For the past three days, as he’s been sitting in air-conditioned boardrooms, sipping mini-Sprite and eating chocolate chip cookies, I’ve been sitting on a beach towel, digging my toes into the grainy sand, watching the waves slip in and away and wondering when I should bring up the subject. We already have 3 beautiful, healthy children, so why have I been contemplating having one more?
I finally, casually, brought it up before bed last night. And his reply? “We’re good, hon. Why shake things up?” He then kissed me, rolled over, and promptly fell asleep. So OJ. And so ironic.
“Stop shaking the bed,” I muttered this morning, irritated. The clock read 7:07 am. OJ has a way of becoming annoying in the early morning when I want to sleep in. I sat up, frustrated, and looked to my left where he lay in his own double bed. He was sound asleep, but those double beds were definitely shaking. “OJ, wake up! Is this an earthquake?” I asked in disbelief, then ran to the window and looked out from the 27th floor. The ocean and other lofty hotels lining Waikiki beach seemed undisturbed, but yes, we were moving. In fact, we were swaying. The entire tower leaned side to side as I helplessly gazed at the tiny cars, people, and trees below.
Are we going to die? We don’t have our will finished! Our kids! What would become of them? We’d never survive if this building should fall. Crushed. It would be quick. All these thoughts flashed through my brain in a dizzy moment.
I turned to OJ—sitting up, still in bed, stunned as I was. “Should we run to the door frame?” Somehow I knew that would be pointless being so high up, so we stayed where we were. There was nothing else to do. We remained frozen and rode the vibrations of that eerie sound, like a buzzing wave rolling through every cell of the body.
And then…surrender. I was staring out the floor-to-ceiling window, in the midst of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Our building was rocking and swaying. Yet I saw below me…calm. Intense quiet. Peace. Peace found me. I submitted. There was nothing else to do. A moment of beauty—surrendering to the power of nature—a moment experiencing nature’s fury and absolute domination in such a calm and humbling way.
The vibration slowed. The building swayed to a halt. We were still, though our bodies had yet to recognize it was over. I looked at the clock: 7:08. It had only been one minute. It had only been one minute yet something inside me knew, everything had changed.
Saturday, November 4, 2006
I keep thinking back to Hawaii. How different life feels now, compared to then.
OJ’s new Hawaiian habit of drinking endless pineapple juice and going to the bathroom umpteen times a night followed us home. He’s been waking me up every night, and we’re both exhausted. But he is more than exhausted. He seems unmotivated and maybe even depressed; for weeks now, he returns from work each night just to plop in front of the TV and fall asleep early on the couch. I was first annoyed, then offended, then downright furious with his newfound “laziness.” But I was put smack in my place tonight when, finally confronting him, I accused, “What is wrong with you? Do you have diabetes or something?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Probably.”
Having grown up the son of a diabetic father, he suspected this days ago. He even set up a doctor’s appointment for this Tuesday—the first time he’s called a doctor in 11 years of marriage. “I didn’t want to worry you,” he said. “At least not until I knew for sure.” But I am worried. And it’s clear he’s worried too. We’re in limbo until Tuesday. And then? We’re probably in for a life change. Sighing and holding my breath, I’m trying to be patient. But I hate this—the waiting, the not knowing.
I guess it’s a good thing we decided not to have another baby. I could not have handled a sick husband, three kids, and a nauseous pregnancy. Until now, I couldn’t explain why it felt wrong—why we’d both agreed we’re most likely done having children. This explains it. That’s one thing Hawaii has done for me—made things clear. It’s reminded me to enjoy what is right in front of me, for I never know when it might rumble or disappear.
Monday, November 13, 2006
It’s official. OJ has Diabetes. Type I, Insulin-Dependent, or Juvenile Diabetes. He’s also been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, and Celiac’s disease—an allergy to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, most processed foods, and a host of other products. I believe the doctors’ words were, “You’re such an unusual case,” meaning he has so many autoimmune diseases all at the same time, it’s fascinating to the doctors. Well, good for them, but not so good for us. We definitely don’t want to be called an “unusual case.” OJ started insulin the day he was diagnosed, narrowly avoiding hospitalization, and was put on medications to regulate his off-the-charts blood sugar and thyroid and, hopefully, bring back the man I married.
It’s slow going, however, and he’s been quite sick. This week he’s had a head flu on top of being weak from Diabetes and Celiac’s. We don’t fully understand what we’re supposed to be feeding him, and I’m doing my best to figure it out. For now, we’re just trying to get and keep him stable. We’re getting closer, I think. I hope.
Tonight, after a particularly long day at work, I came home, checked in with the kids, started making dinner, and found OJ lying on the couch, lethargic. I asked what I could do, and he sent me to the pharmacy to pick up his new medication. Standing in the never-ending line, it hit me: It’s all changing. You have to be the strong one now.
OJ’s always been “the strong one,” in my mind—the rock upon which I can roll in and out like the waves of the sea. But I knew in that moment that it is my turn now. Though exhausted from my own long days of helping others—clients, my children, OJ, parents and siblings struggling through crises of finances, mental health, and addictions—I can see that as I near the end of my year of “Charity,” of service and love of the purest kind, I have been given the opportunity to become that love.
Standing tonight in that pharmacy line—just like that moment 27 stories up in Hawaii as the world around me threatened to fall—I stood still, surrendered, and accepted what is before I even knew half of what will be. Taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly, my head and shoulders seemed to stand a little taller as I settled into the voice repeating in my mind: I am charity. I am love. I am the strong one now.
**I’ll be posting new chapters every other week, so stay tuned, and subscribe, below, so you won’t miss a thing!**
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This is How We Grow: Related Posts
Yes, I’ve been writing a book. For quite some time now. 4 years, on and off, to be exact.
Most of my friends and family know this by now, as well as those I’m connected to on Social Media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, & Twitter. I’ve had several inquiries about where to purchase the book (It’s not published yet, but will be by year’s end). And, many people have asked what it’s about. Those who know me as the “Postpartum expert” ask, “Is it about postpartum depression?” Those who know me from my website ask, “Is it a self-help book? Is it about grief?” Those who know me as a parent and parenting educator ask, “Is it a parenting or motherhood book?” And those who really know me ask, “Are you writing your story?”
The answer to all of these is, “Yes.”
This is How We Grow© is a memoir about the four years, or seasons, after my sister and brother-in-law died, we inherited our two nephews, and went from 3 to 6 kids. It has themes of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, yes. It’s definitely deals with grief and loss and how the entire family gets through. It’s about motherhood and parenting, and family relationships. But really it’s about choosing to grow through whatever life hands us. The best way I know how to sum up the book is this quote, from Part 1: “When life throws you in the mud, plant yourself and GROW.”
This is How We Grow© Summer Book Club
The good news is you no longer have to take my word for it. A few months ago, I started sharing portions of This is How We Grow with select book clubs, to receive feedback and editing suggestions. It’s been incredibly helpful. Now, I’m going to do the same with you.
This summer, I will be posting one chapter of the book every other week, as part of the “This is How We Grow Summer Book Club”. I admit, it’s scary putting this out there before it’s all finished. But, I value the wisdom of my readers. I know your ideas can make it even better. I, therefore, welcome your comments and suggestions to help me improve the book, as well as your impressions and questions.
Join the Club!
So, join my “This is How We Grow Summer Book Club.” Sign up for my email list, below, for special This is How We Grow opportunities, like a sneak peak of extra chapters, the book cover, and subtitle (still working on these), and for updates on publication and events.
Please tell your friends to join us too! Then, read away, leave comments, and check back every other week for a new chapter! Oh, and please “Like” my Facebook page for quotes, discussion, and This is How We Grow inspiration!
Let’s Get Started: Prologue
To kick us off, please enjoy this preview of the title page and prologue. It may be short, but hopefully it’s enough to keep you coming back for more!
Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D.
There is a great, cosmic ebb and flow—energy pouring calmly, powerfully through all—
prompting change, nudging growth. Telling us we cannot stay as we are.
Telling us we must become.
“She’s dead, isn’t she?” I asked, not feeling the words. My body was already erecting the wall that would hold back so many emotions for so many months. “Just tell me,” I pressed him, still holding the glimmer of hope that I was wrong.
Hesitation. Hesitation was a confirmation in itself. He is my OJ–my husband, my most steady supporter, my best friend. He didn’t want to drop this bomb. The moment before the truth comes out is so full of possibility; yet it was already determined.
“Yes,” he said. “She died.”
What do I say? When time stops and everything changes, what can possibly be said?
“Do you realize we just inherited two kids?” Half angry, half in shock, I laughed. My sister just died and I laughed.
OK. Let me have it. Just kidding. I would love your thoughts so far, though. So, share by leaving a comment, below. If you’re not ready to share yet, then keep joining us! I’ll be looking for your comments down the road!
Below are some of my posts inspired by the book–more snippets to get us to the first week of June, when I will be posting Chapter 1! Happy summer reading!
This is How We Grow: Related Posts
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“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
What is your purpose? What were you and you alone put on this earth to do?
We all have one, you know—a purpose. We’re all here with a call and a work to do. Allow me to prove it to you with these wise words: “’If you are breathing, you are still alive. If you are alive, then you are still here, physically, on this planet. If you are still here, then you have not completed what you were put on earth to do. If you have not completed what you were put on earth to do…that means your very purpose has not yet been fulfilled. If your purpose has not yet been fulfilled, then the most important part of your life has not yet been lived…”. No matter how old or young or tired or sad or busy or lazy or whatever you believe yourself to be, you have a work to do, my friend. We all do.
The Key to True Happiness: Purpose & Meaning
Research shows that purpose and meaning in life are associated with the highest levels of happiness. Father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, Ph.D., teaches that many people live the “pleasant life,” which consists of experiencing positive emotion on a regular basis. It’s good to feel good, to have fun, to experience the joy of life, for sure, but there’s even more out there if you so desire.
“The engaged life” is more than just positive emotion, incorporating a focus on character, feeling engaged in life, really striving to be the best you can be. And that’s pretty good too—certainly more desirable than a mere pleasant life.
But the ultimate is the “meaningful life.” These people not only create positive emotion and are engaged in life, they also establish what Seligman calls “meaningful positive institutions,” or in other words, they live a life full of purpose and meaning.
As one author writes, “True success is to discern the essence of what we’re created to be and to follow it relentlessly”.
Have you felt the essence of what you were created to be? If not, what is standing in your way? Is it lack of desire? Is it failing to get still enough to hear the whispers? Is it allowing the distractions of a busy life to keep you in a routine until your life is living you? Whatever is holding you back, hear this: You will never feel at home until you discover, uncover, or recover your divine purpose and make it the focus of your life.
Listen Through The Passion to the Meaning
I’m not just talking about living passionately. Though I’m definitely a fan of passion, there’s a difference between passion’s rush of excitement that gets you out of bed each day, and meaning’s deeper connection to something greater than yourself–whether you’re in or out of bed. Your job is to listen through the passion for the meaning, then infuse it into everything you do.
Meaning makes patience of pain, gratitude of sorrow, cheerfulness of change, and is the key to lasting joy. As C.S. Lewis describes it, “It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in”.
Let Your Light Shine
The Bible teaches, “Let your light so shine before men,” and warns us not to “light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick,” so it “giveth light unto all that are in the house” . We are all candles and we have brilliant light to share. Only we can hold ourselves back from giving light to all.
Don’t hold yourself back. Embrace your light. Seek your life’s mission. Live your purpose and your life will be full of meaning and joy. Listen to the wise words of Marianne Williamson and be inspired:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.
Your purpose, your life’s mission, your calling, whatever words you give it, as long as you’re alive, you have one, and as long as you have one, you might as well pull it out, put it on, and let it shine.
~Excerpt from Dr. Hibbert’s forthcoming memoir, This is How We Grow (2013)
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What is YOUR Purpose? What gives your life meaning? If you’re not sure yet, then good for you! You get to discover it! (Exciting, isn’t it?) Ask yourself the following questions: 1) What gives my life the most meaning? 2) What is my passion? What gets me out of bed each day? 3) What do I feel most “at home” doing? 4) What are my strengths/weaknesses? What do these tell me about my purpose? 5) If I have a sense of my purpose, am I actively seeking to engage in it? If not, what is holding me back or standing in my way?
We’d love to hear how you define and discover meaning and purpose in your life! What questions do you have? What insights? Please share by leaving a comment, below!
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 New Testament, King James Version, Matthew 5:15-16.
Thought Management, Part 2: How to Change Your Thinking (& Your Life!) Using a Thought Record [plus video]
In Thought Management, Part 1, we learned about the connection between thoughts, feelings, the body, and behavior. We learned about the thousands of automatic thoughts that run through our minds each day, and how one little, unnoticed thought can lead to a whole lot of trouble if we do nothing about it. (If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do!).
In Part 2, we shift our focus to what we can do about our thoughts, using a little tool I love, called a “thought record”.
One of the Best Tools for Thought Management: The Thought Record
A thought record is just a piece of paper with several different columns, including: “Date,” “Situation,” “Automatic Thoughts,” “Feelings,” and “Rate Feelings 1-10″. However, when used correctly, that little piece of paper can allow you to step back and look at thoughts objectively, to see which thoughts are “truthful” and which are not so truthful, and provide you with the chance to change the thoughts you don’t want. Initially, a thought record helps you notice your automatic thoughts, write them down, and learn to tease them apart from what you’re feeling. In time, a thought record can also help you identify and alter false thoughts and beliefs into something more helpful and truthful for you.
Today we’re focusing on the first steps of using a thought record: learning to identify difficult situations, thoughts, and emotions, and writing them out. I’ve attached a copy of a basic thought record, below, for you to view or to print and use, if you’d like.
How to Use a Thought Record: 3-Minute Therapy
Since it’s much easier to show you how to use a thought record than to write it out, I made this video, as part of my “3-Minute Therapy” series. I urge you to take 3 minutes and watch as I explain exactly how the thought record works. Then, join me back below for a couple more points to get you on your way.
“Change Your Thinking with a Thought Record: 3-Minute Therapy w/Dr. Christina Hibbert, YouTube
6 Tips on Using a Thought Record
Now that you know how the thought record works, there are a couple of things that might be helpful to understand:
1) It’s hard to hear automatic thoughts at first. If you’re not used to it, be patient. Give yourself time to learn how to listen and hear them. It often helps to talk out your situations and have someone else help you identify your thoughts. Therapy is great for this–I have clients bring empty thought records to me and we fill them out together. It’s so easy for me to hear and write their thoughts as they tell the story. I highly recommend it if you need help.
2) Most people have a hard time distinguishing thoughts from feelings, at first. It often feels like a jumbled mess and it can be tough to tease them apart. The thought record helps you work on this, so keep at it and ask for help if you need it. It’s so much easier to deal with thoughts and emotions when you can see them as the separate entities they are.
3) As you work on this, you’ll begin to notice patterns of thoughts and feelings. Certain feelings will come up often, and will usually be related to the same types of thoughts. It’s good to see how often you’re dealing with the same old things. Very motivating!
4) Over time, you’ll be able to pull out “themes” from your thoughts. For instance, you might always automatically go to the belief that you’re “not good enough,” or that “everyone always abandons” you, or that “life is against” you. It’s good to know what these “themes” are, for then you have the chance to challenge and change them.
5) At first, it may be minutes, hours, or days later that you write things down. It’s hard to want to pay attention to your thoughts and emotions right away at first, even if you hear them. That’s ok. The important thing is to write them down, whenever you do it. Writing them down gives you the chance to come back later, with fresh eyes, and see the truth of the situation. And it also gives you the chance to work on that “truth”.
6) Eventually, you’ll be able to hear the automatic thoughts and beliefs, challenge them, and change the ones you want to change while you’re still in the situation, or even before the situation gets really going. Yep, eventually, if you work on it, you will. How’s that for changing your life?
Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life! (It’s Worked for Me!)
Now you know what a thought record is and, hopefully, why I think it’s such a great tool. I’ve been using thought records, on and off, for over 10 years, and they’ve been essential in helping me identify what’s really going on when I’m feeling powerful emotions or engaging in behaviors I don’t understand and don’t want. I still struggle with hearing and changing my thoughts sometimes, but this tool has been one of the best things I’ve ever learned, for it’s helped me change so many false thoughts and beliefs and thus has helped me overcome so many false emotions. I hope it helps you too!
Join me as we learn the next, important steps of using a thought record in: How to Challenge and Change Thoughts Using a Thought Record! (coming soon!)
And, please, leave me your questions and comments below as you try this out! I’d love to know what you think!
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First, I want to thank all who have joined the discussion on self-esteem and self-worth. You’ve had a lot to say, and I still do too!
I’ve received several questions over the past couple of weeks, so, to ensure we’re all on the same page before we move on, today’s post is a Q & A. If you haven’t read the first two posts, “5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth,” and “If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then what is the Truth?: Understanding Self-Worth,” I suggest you do. And be sure to watch my “Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth: 3-Minute Therapy” video, below–I ask a very important question that will make it worth your 3 minutes!
What’s the difference between “high self-esteem” and a sense of self-worth?
Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing “I am greater than all of those things”. It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth. It is possible to feel “high self-esteem,” or in other words, to think I’m good at something, yet still not feel convinced that I am loveable and worthy. Self-esteem doesn’t last or “work” without self-worth. That’s why I believe the pursuit of self-esteem is a myth.
But having self-esteem means “feeling good about ourselves.” Isn’t it good to feel good about ourselves?
It’s definitely a good thing to think and feel good about ourselves. But, what happens when we don’t? Does that mean we’re no longer valuable? Absolutely not. Yet many people believe, at least on some level, that it does. Buying into the lie that my “self” is based on those good thoughts or feelings is the problem. Rather than trying so hard to just “feel good” about ourselves, isn’t it better to actually know our “self” is good? That’s what self-worth is: a deep knowing.
Everywhere I look I’m being told to work on my self-esteem. Isn’t it a good thing to work on increasing self-esteem?
When we focus on building self-esteem, we work on being better at this or that—at losing weight, becoming healthier, thinking more positively, developing healthy personality traits. And all of these things are good. But what happens when we place our entire value in them? What happens when those “good” things change or come crumbling down? Our value crumbles right along with it. I’ve seen so many people who have gotten caught in this trap; never seeing the fruits of their labors, they determine they have absolutely no value and believe they never will. That’s the worst lie we could possibly believe. Focusing on “increasing self-esteem” alone, unfortunately, reinforces that lie. If, however, I know that I am of great worth–no matter what I think, feel, or do–then, whether I “succeed” or “fail,” that core knowledge does not change. Even though I feel the pain of failure, if I have self-worth, I still know I am valuable, capable, and “good”. That’s why I believe we need to work on knowing our self-worth rather than increasing our “self-esteem”.
Are you saying that all those “self-esteem techniques” and books out there don’t work?
Self-esteem techniques can and do help, but only if there’s already a foundation of self-worth. What I see all the time in my practice is people–women and men–who have worked hard on “self-esteem,” have found great success in their work, but go home each night feeling like they’re not good enough. Or, they feel great about their talents and abilities, then get in a relationship and can’t let the other person in because they don’t believe they’re worthy of love. That’s the trouble with self-esteem techniques. They only work once we really know and embrace our true worth.
When you define “self-worth,” you say we need to understand “who we really are.” What exactly do you mean by “who we really are?”
Think of a child. You know how they just believe they’re good and loveable and valuable? They “know who they really are.” I was at a field trip yesterday and the leader asked, “Are there any artists in the room?” Almost every hand went up. That’s not because they have had experiences that tell them they’re good artists or even because they’ve somehow proven it to the world—they’re only 5! They believe they’re artists because they simply know they are of worth and have great potential. They haven’t had a chance yet to believe otherwise. We need to get back to that childlike sense of who we are, that deeper knowing that we matter just because we are.
You’re right. That’s what I’ve struggled with most as a psychologist: “How do I help someone feel their true value when they don’t feel it?” As I continue to write on this topic I hope to share several of the ideas I use to help people not just hear they’re of worth, but really feel and know it.
What would you say to those who have a history of abuse and struggle with self-esteem and self-worth?
I say it’s completely understandable why you would feel this way. When you’ve been abused, you’ve been given the message that you’re “not of worth” way too many times. It’s hard to counteract a lifetime of hearing that message. However, I also say that it’s possible to discover your true worth. Your value is not based on someone else’s misuse of you. It’s not based on their opinion of you or their words about you or their wrong actions. You are of deep, infinite worth. You may not feel it yet, but you are. And discovering it for yourself starts with simply opening up to the possibility. Ask yourself, “What if I really were of worth? What if I could feel that I am valuable and lovable and good, deep down?” It’s not easy, but don’t let someone who hasn’t been living up to their potential prevent you from living up to yours. Let yourself begin to believe. (There is a lot more to be said on this topic and I hope to address it in a future post).
Don’t get me wrong.
I agree that it’s valuable to learn to think positively, to create positive emotion, to go for our dreams and believe in ourselves. If you’ve read any of my other blog posts or articles, you’ll know I believe in this. But I believe we sell ourselves short when we base our worth on anything external and changeable. Our goal shouldn’t be to “feel good about ourselves.” Our goal should be to be able to know and say, like this man I admire greatly: “I believe in myself. I do not mean to say this with egotism. But I believe in my capacity and in your capacity to do good, to make some contribution to the society of which we are a part, [and] to grow and develop. … I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world, be it ever so small.”
Share your thoughts on self-esteem vs. self-worth with us by leaving a comment below!
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Related Posts/Articles/ Videos:
 Gordon B. Hinkley, I Believe, in Ensign, Aug. 1992. http://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/08/i-believe?lang=eng
5 Reasons “Self-Esteem” is a Myth
For years, I have noticed that almost everyone who walks through my private practice door is really dealing with the same core issue: poor “self-esteem”. Whether struggling through depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship issues, parenting challenges, or even life stress, when we get to the core of the issue, it almost always has to do with some false feeling or belief about oneself.
This has had me wondering: “Why is it so hard to feel “self-esteem?” After all, it’s a hot topic; a Google search will return 76, 200,000 results! There is plenty of advice out there on how to “understand” self-esteem, “evaluate” self-esteem, and “improve” self-esteem, on teaching self-esteem to kids, teens, women, couples, grandparents! (OK, I didn’t see any on grandparents, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere). As one major psychology site said, “Perhaps no other self-help topic has spawned so much advice and so many (often conflicting) theories.” And I agree.
Self-Esteem is a Myth
So, if we know “self-esteem” is a problem and we know there’s plenty out there to teach us how to overcome the “problem,” then, why does the problem so strongly persist? I see people all the time who have read these books and articles and have really tried; yet they still don’t feel self-esteem. They don’t believe they’re of worth.
Could the fact that so many people are struggling to feel “self-esteem” be a clue that something is not right? Because I can tell you, something isn’t right. In fact, I’ve come to see that the entire concept of “self-esteem” is not right. And that is the real problem: The very thing we are trying to pursue is a myth.
Allow Me to Explain
You may be thinking, “But wait?! Aren’t we supposed to pursue self-esteem? Aren’t we supposed to teach it to our kids and make sure we help others pursue it too? Isn’t it the way we learn to love ourselves?” Certainly, that’s what we’ve been taught. But what we’ve been taught is wrong. Allow me to explain.
First, let’s define “self-esteem”. According to dictionaries and even psychologists, Self-Esteem means:
1) Belief in oneself; self-respect; undue pride or conceit
2) One’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth
3) A judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self
4) Encompasses beliefs, emotions, thoughts, and power of conviction about oneself
5) “Self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it.”
Reading these definitions, it’s easy to see that “self-esteem,” while it sounds like a valuable and worthy goal, is based on one’s own thinking, perceptions, and emotions related to one’s own performance and behavior. And that’s where the problem lies.
5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth
We can never build a permanent sense of our own worth if we base our worth on things that are bound to change. This is why Self-Esteem is a myth:
1) Self-esteem is based on what we do and how we behave.
If our worth is based on our performance or behavior, then we are bound to feel poorly about ourselves when our performance or behavior drops; and it will drop—it’s human nature. We are more than what we do and how we behave.
2) Self-esteem is based on how we feel about ourselves.
Basing our worth on our emotions can never succeed, because emotions are fickle. Like clouds in the sky, they come and go according to the pressure in the air. Our emotions can also be false. We can feel like a “bad” person when that’s absolutely not the case. We are more than how we feel about ourselves.
3) Self-esteem is based on what we think about ourselves.
While I believe self-evaluation is a positive tool for personal growth, we mustn’t base our worth on our thoughts and evaluations. Most of us have flawed thoughts running through our minds all day long, and many times we don’t even know they’re there! We are definitely more than what we think about ourselves.
4) Self-esteem is based on how we’re doing compared to others.
We don’t just evaluate ourselves on how well we’re doing compared to our own potential (which is healthy); with self-esteem, we compare ourselves to others. It’s fine to compare to others at times if it helps us see something to work on or inspires us to grow, but usually comparing to others just makes us feel worse about ourselves. The truth is, no matter how great we are at any given thing, there will always be somebody smarter, faster, skinnier, braver, kinder, and more “talented”. That’s when the identity crisis hits. “I thought I was good at that, but now I’m not so sure.” We absolutely cannot base our own worth on what others do or don’t do.
5) Self-esteem is based entirely on judgments, whether from others or from ourselves.
And nothing good can come of that. We are certainly more than we or anyone else judges us to be.
If Not Self-Esteem, Then What?
I hope it’s easy to understand, now, why self-esteem is so hard to obtain, why, like a sand castle, it’s so hard to maintain and so easy to destroy. It looks beautiful and sturdy, but one shift of the wind or tide and down it crashes.
Yes, we need to feel good about ourselves. Yes, we need to love ourselves. Yes, we deserve both of these. But the answer is not to be found in what we do, what we say, how we look, how we perform, what others or we believe, or how we feel. For, when we base our worth and love for ourselves on anything external, we will always fail. It may not happen right away, but it will.
Yes, “self-esteem” is a myth. What we really need to work for is discovering what is already within, discovering our self-worth.
Be sure to Check Out Part 2: “If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then what is the Truth?”: Understanding Self-Worth
 Webster’s Dictionary
 E. R. Smith/D. M. Mackie, Social Psychology (2007), p. 107.
The 3 Steps of Creating
“When you are in the orientation of the creative, life is often interesting, exciting, and special. This is not because creators try to be interested in whatever they are doing, but because they are involved in life on a level where there is always the possibility of something new and wonderful happening that has never existed before.”
Does this sound like what you want—to enjoy the “possibility of something new and wonderful happening that has never existed before?” It sure sounds good to me, and I’m here to tell you that it’s possible: You can create the life you desire. “Interesting, exciting, and special,” are not just empty ideals meant for other people; they are the possible and even probable results of creating (and I would add, creating in partnership with God) the life that you envision.
As I mentioned in Part 1, creating is the key to getting out of the “rubber-bands” of life, the key to getting “unstuck”. It’s a paradigm shift—a whole new approach to becoming who we desire to be and living the life we crave. Now, don’t you dare say, “But I’m not creative!” because I won’t believe it. It’s in our nature to create—not only things of beauty like music and art, but relationships, experiences, and emotions too. We each have a creative part of us; some make physical creations while others create meaning, love, compassion, trust. And we are each ultimately the creator of our own life. So, if we find our life lacking–in joy, love, peace, passion, whatever!—then it’s up to us to create something better.
The 3 Steps of Creating:
So let’s get started! Allow me to share 3 steps that have helped me create the life I desire. Whenever I feel “stuck” again, I go back to these steps and create something new. It can be challenging and a long process, but then, so is life. I hope they will help you as much as they continue to help me. Happy creating!!
1) SEE your current “reality.”
In order to create the life, emotions, relationships and experiences you envision, it is important to be honest and open about where you already are. This means taking off the “rose-colored glasses,” being willing to take a good, hard look at the ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, experiences and “problems” that make up your current life. It means setting aside time and attention to look and really see what your life is like. Only once you have seen the current reality can you begin to envision a new one. (If you need help, try the exercise in this article–it’s a great way to start to “see”!)
2) DESIRE a different reality.
What do you desire? Some people have trouble with this because they think it’s “selfish” to desire. Believe me when I say, “It’s not,” at least not the kind of desire I’m talking about–knowing what lies in your heart and embracing it; reaching out and working for your dreams; creating yourself into the best you can be. Are you able to easily discern the desires of your heart?
1) If so, make a list of your current desires. Your list may include things like, “I desire emotional health,” “I desire a more joyful atmosphere in my home,” “I desire to have more fun with my family,” or “I desire to develop my ability to…(sing, paint, write, be kind, have faith, etc).” There are endless possibilities; the important thing is to recognize what your desires are and embrace them.
2) If not, start dreaming. This is the fun part. Let yourself imagine all kinds of possibilities for your life. Imagine what your family, work, hobbies might be like. Imagine where you might go, what you might do, and especially, who you might become. This is your “brainstorming” session, so there are no “rights” or “wrongs”. Let go and dream away!
A couple suggestions…
Remember, your desires are uniquely yours. Let go of the urge to look around and compare to others. Only you know the true path for your life. And…
Let go of your preconceived ideas of what is possible. Suspend your current concept of reality, of what you can or cannot do or become. Simply let your desires take hold. What you do with them will come later; just let yourself desire away! Who’s to say what’s possible and what is right for you? Only you will be able to know, and you will never know if you don’t let yourself dream and desire!
3) CREATE what you desire.
Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want. What steps need to be taken in order to get there? What must be done to achieve the end result you desire and dream about? Remember, this isn’t all about adding more “to do’s”. While creating certainly involves many “to-do’s,” what we’re really working on here is your “to-be” list. Thus, if you desire more love in your life, start today and be more loving. If you desire more peace, reach out in peace today. It’s not always about doing more, but rather, about being more in what you do. Choose one small thing you can create today and begin there. Then, create the next step. And the next. Bit by bit your creations will become your reality, and your reality will be the life you have always desired!
Above all, have compassion and patience with yourself, for change is not easy, especially when you’re creating something brand new. But, if you persistently follow these steps, in time, you can and will create what you desire. And if not, well, you just begin to SEE, DESIRE, & CREATE again!
 Fritz, R. The Path of Least Resistance, p. 57.
Let’s Get Real: 10 Confessions
from “The Psychologist, The Mom, & Me”
It’s time to get real: I’ve been in a bit of a “funk” the past few days. It happens more often than I’d like—I’m sailing along, the “do-it-all-mom” one minute, and bursting into tears, collapsing onto my bed the next. My husband gently reminds me, “This is just how you are, dear. You have a meltdown and then you get better.” And he’s right. I do have meltdowns, and I do get better.
But last night, not feeling “better” yet, I posted my “confession” on Facebook—that I’d spent all of the day before watching Downton Abbey (Season2) and eating dark chocolate and that I was about to resume with episode 6 and the chocolate chips from the freezer. Then I asked, “Does anyone else have a confession to make?” This led to the most fun conversation I’ve had on Facebook in, well, ever. I was laughing and loving the other confessions (eating a bag of cookies, gelato for dinner while watching The Bachelor, actually “keeping up” with the Kardashians, forgetting to make the kids dinner), but I was especially surprised by the comments like, “I think I love you,” “It’s so great to know you are human!” and “You are my hero!” What? Why? Just because I said it like it is? I guess I should say it like it is more often!
Let’s Get Real
See, we all have confessions—those little things that feel huge that we hide from others because we believe that they, in some way, make us “less”. But I would argue that they make us “more”: More human; More open, vulnerable, and teachable; More real. And I believe in being real. In fact, everything I write about stems from my own real-life experiences and challenges, and sometimes I need to go back and re-read what I’ve taught in order to remind myself what I’ve already learned.
So, I have done just that–re-read several of my old posts and articles–and in an effort to be as “real” as possible I have a few more “confessions” to make. Now I don’t mean “confession” in the religious way, for none of my confessions is a sin (at least not to me), but rather in the “stating a true fact” sense, confessing what is real simply because it is. After all, I’d hate for anyone to get the wrong idea about me—to think I’m anything other than a human being working hard, messing up, and getting back up again.
10 “Confessions” from “The Psychologist, The Mom, & Me”
1) I am a stay-at-home mom. I have been for the better part of 16 years, and I’m proud of it! Sure, I have a private practice I work in, but only on Tuesdays. And yes, I’m also a writer and speaker, but I’m usually desperately trying to fit all that in to the tiny spaces when my kids are either all well and actually at school or when they’re otherwise occupied. I am mostly at home, Monday through Sunday, 24/7; my kids can really “Drive Me Crazy,” I “Make Major Mistakes” all the time (and keep on making the same ones!), and for me at least it really is the toughest job in the world. In fact…
2) Parenting is my biggest stressor, by far. It’s true what they say, that the older kids get the more they need you and the harder it becomes. And I don’t care what any inspirational Pinterest quote or article says, having 6 kids is tough!! My morning routine starts with the first round of kids at 6 am and spans 3 schools and 3 hours. After school, they all have homework, projects, and it’s always a battle to keep up with their technology habits (I wrote about it in “Internet Safety for Kids,” but I have a lot more to say!). My older kids are involved in sports and activities that take up most of their afternoons and much of mine, they are dating now (emotional stress for mom!), their grades really matter, and my oldest is starting the college application process. They’re always gone, get home late, and get no sleep! (It’s no wonder they want to sleep all day on the weekends—I do too)! Then there are my youngest ones, who are up early, want “playdates” and need me to entertain them. The contrast is what’s killing me—there are so many moving pieces to this family that it’s hard to find time to sleep and any time to just be “me”. That’s why I’m always writing about things like “The Let-Go’s,” “Fake It ‘Til You Make It,” “School-Year Sanity,” or “Summer Sanity”–I’m always looking for a way to keep up as a mom. That’s probably why…
3) I feel out of “balance” way too often. That’s why I can write so easily about “Achieving Balance,” and how it’s a “a state of being,” a “by-product of the choices we make”. I’m always examining my choices to see, “Is this right for my family and me?” Yet I still mess up and say “Yes” when I should say “No” and say “No” to those things that must be a “Yes” for me (like rest, relaxation, and the “Things that Matter Most”). In fact, recently, I wrote about how to “Create the Life You Desire,” (and part 2 is coming soon!), a topic I chose because I found myself, once again, stuck in the “rubber-bands” of my life—letting my kids and me get too little sleep, feeling overwhelmed keeping up with the “routine” of everything, and allowing myself to get worn out. I’m working on re-creating the structure of my life so I can get myself out of the rubber-bands yet again. Hopefully this time, for good! Unfortunately…
4) I am “all-or-nothing.” I try not to be, but my thoughts are full of all-or-nothing thinking. I take on the world, give it 100%, and then end up hearing myself say, “I can’t handle any of this!” and wishing I could run away (which, I confess, I have done before–temporarily). I think that’s why my husband, OJ, doesn’t get too caught up when I fall apart and simply reminds me I’ll get better again; we may not always see eye-to-eye (especially when I’m stuck in all-or-nothing thinking!), but he knows how I think even when I can’t see it (17 Secrets for Making Marriage Work). It’s definitely given me lots of practice in “Thought Management, which is especially helpful because…
5) I am highly sensitive to shifts in hormones, and it really clouds my thoughts and emotions. I struggle each month to just feel “normal” for a few days or a week before my period. I’m always shocked by how I feel and it’s silly that I’m always shocked–shouldn’t I know what’s going on by now?! It’s one of the hardest things for me to deal with, this constant shifting of emotions, and I can’t help but want to reach out to others who might be feeling the same, to help others see the “3 Components of Emotional Health,” how our hormones and experiences can create “The Emotional Earthquake,” and how “The Menstrual Cycle & Moods” are related. After all, I’m living it and it is hard! Speaking of emotional turmoil…
6) I’m a terrible sleeper and terribly affected by lack of sleep. I mention the importance of sleep often (6 Insomnia Causes & Cures; PPD Treatment: Sleep; Emotional Tool Box Basics) because it’s something I’m always working on. I don’t really even like to sleep—I’d rather be awake, and when I do sleep it’s so light I hear everything. Yet, I can’t seem to be nice when I’m too tired, and that’s almost always an issue I’m working on. And yet…
7) Every few months I completely burn myself out. I really do strive to make choices that keep me healthy and strong—better sleep, regular Exercise, and I do think carefully about anything else I add to my life, but the truth is, my life is very full. Just with my kids, it’s enough to fill all my time, and especially in May, September, and December—the times when my kids’ schedules suddenly shift and burst out of control—I lose the battle. The only good thing about getting burned out is it reminds me to “Slow Down & See,” and practice “Self-Care” so I can be healthy again. But it can take a while, you see…
8 ) I’m supposed to be finishing my book, This is How We Grow, but I have been completely stuck. Because I hit “burnout” in December, I’ve been slowly working my way back to my work. Overwhelmed by too many opinions and ideas of how it “needs to be,” I’ve been opting instead to spend my time writing articles and posts for my website, which are important too, but I need to finish the goal I started first (my book). It’s part of my process of “Learning Self-Love” and “Making Lasting Change,” and I’m going to have to cut back on my website and social media and trust myself in order to do this right. Writing about my past has been a great challenge, but I will do it, that I know. It’s just that…
9) My past comes back to haunt me more than I’d like. It’s no secret that my “Dealing with Grief” series comes out of the most painful years of my life. I revisit those emotions on anniversaries and holidays and sometimes out of the blue, and it drives me want to help others navigate through their grief and life struggles all the more. Having had Postpartum Depression and Anxiety 4 times, I have a strong desire to help others through those experiences too. Each week, when I facilitate my Pregnancy and Postpartum Adjustment group, it reminds me again of how much we need to nurture and support our new moms and dads; it wasn’t long ago that I was postpartum too. But the voices of my past are what drive me into my future, and for that I am always Practicing Gratitude. However…
10) All of the things that “drive” me in my life also drive me crazy. I love to write, teach, and learn. But those things drive me crazy too. I have too many ideas and I’m always having to reign myself in. I am a mother and wife first and foremost, that I know. I know that “Joy is In The Moments,” and I always remind myself, “All Frustration comes from Expectations.” I just love what I do and wish I could do it all. But I can’t. And that’s my final, bonus confession: I cannot do it all. At least not all at once. At least not all right now. But, I must confess, I am ok with that, for that is what is real, and you know how I love to be real.
What confessions do you want to make? You’ll feel better if you do—trust me! Leave us a comment and “get real”!
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