Thursday, April 2, 2020

Creating A Distraction For Yourself

It's hard to know what to write about when the world seems off kilter right now. Daily press briefings from the Covid-19 Task Force, press briefings from the state governor, schools closing down for the remainder of the current school year, how do people apply for temporary unemployment, etc. Questions ... everyone has questions. How long will people be working from home (assuming you're able to)? How do you get a Covid-19 test if you think you are symptomatic? Will the grocery store have what you need when you venture out of your home to go?

A lot of these questions don't have answers right now. So what do you do to keep your mind (and your body) busy while you are 'staying home to stay safe'?

I've been seeing A LOT of social media ideas ...
  • post a picture of a landscape without you in it
  • post a picture of a beach
  • post a picture of your dog
  • post a photo of you and your oldest child to see if you look alike
  • play the 'I spy camera roll' game
  • post the 8th photo from your phone gallery
The list is endless, with new ones popping up every day. Once we get past all of this (and we will!), we'll know more about each other than we ever thought possible. When we get past all of this (and we will!), let's post a photo of our clean cupboards or the new hat we're wearing to cover up our long overdue haircuts, lol. Things are serious enough, so I am purposely trying to keep it lighter here.

If you're looking for a hands-on project, try checking out Rainbows Over Michigan on Facebook and look through all the colorful and creative projects people have done with their kids. They ARE amazing! Decorate your window, your front door, or even your sidewalk!

What helps you relax and keep your mind busy these days? 
Hobbies? 
Taking a walk? 
Cleaning up the yard?

Monday, March 23, 2020

Are you feeling isolated?

Most people here in Michigan are heading into at least their second week of social distancing and staying at home. The kids and college students may be home from school and some people may have the luxury of working remotely, but that isn't the case for everyone. There are many people who are still required to venture out to work; health care workers, firefighters, EMTs, police officers, those who work at grocery stores, gas stations, etc. Regardless of where you find yourself right now, HOW ARE YOU FEELING? Are you feeling anxious? Bored? Frustrated? Isolated?

Whatever you are feeling is normal and you are most definitely not alone. What can you do to try and keep some sense of normalcy in an otherwise unsure time? (Disclaimer: these suggestions aren't medically proven, just my opinion for it's worth.)

  • Stay busy. Be productive at home, but also be purposeful about carving out some personal time for yourself.
  • Don't watch the news for a few hours before you go to bed. You can't allow yourself to get caught up in information overload. Whatever is shared on the news at 10:00 p.m. will surely be repeated at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. You need your sleep.
  • Not used to working at home or sharing a space with someone? Be sure to take breaks or work in shifts. Create a fictitious co-worker that you can blame the messy desk on, lol.
  • I know a lot of people would argue with me about this one, but try and stick to a routine. Make your bed and get dressed! I've seen all the memes on social media about changing out of your daytime pjs into your nighttime pjs, lol. Don't get sucked in to the 'I don't care who sees me' mentality ... just walk into your bathroom and look in the mirror. Is that who you really want to look at?
  • Get outside and get some fresh air. Walk to your mailbox. Clean any wind-blown debris up from your yard. Take a walk and stay 6 feet away from other people, but still wave at your neighbors and your mail carrier.
The truth of the matter is that we don't how long this Covid-19 part of our lives will go on for. We can probably safely assume though that things will get worse before they get better. That's being said we all need to remember to be patient, to be kind, to call or email or text our friends and family to check in with them routinely, and be creative when we need to be (with our meals, with our activities, etc.)

How are you feeling?

How are you passing your time?

Monday, March 16, 2020

It Won't Always Be This Way

Unless you've been living under a rock lately you've got to realize the world is going through some crazy and unsettling times right now. The Coronavirus has mostly everyone on edge to one degree or another. Some people are nervous about self-quarantines, anxious about having their kids out of school, the potential for many working remotely from home, people being temporarily without work, people being exposed to the virus or potentially exposing someone else ... the list is endless.

In the end, we need to know the ONLY real things we can control are our own hygiene and our attitudes. How we choose to handle things says a lot about us. It's true that our actions speak louder than our words. Whether you are taking the pandemic super seriously or think 'things are blown out of proportion' is your choice. I am certainly not here to tell you how to think or how to act. Your conscience is your own, but try to think about not just how your choices and actions affect you but also how they may be affecting those around you.

What things can we do during this time? We can continue to communicate ... with our families, with our church communities, with our friends, and with our neighbors. We need, now more than ever, to stay connected. We may not be able to physically check in on some people, but we can pick up the phone and send a text or actually call someone and see how they are doing. People still need contact with other people. We can pray for each other and we can take the time to listen.

It won't always be this way. Things may get worse before they better, but things are temporary and we'll see what we're made of. In the meantime, think of things to do to stay busy at home. We all tend to say how busy we are, we have To Do lists and schedules, and we have responsibilities. I know I generally have a hard time making any kind of real time for myself. In the midst of all this uncertainty I am extra thankful today for 2 special things; things I usually would not take the time for. I got a book (a large one at that) from the library a week ago. Sadly, I usually find myself renewing it after my 3-week deadline because I didn't make time to finish it. Today I got an email from my local library that they will be temporarily closed and are extending ALL due dates by 3 weeks. It may sound silly to some people (those of you who can read a book in a day), but to me it was a huge sign of graciousness saying 'You're going to have the time to actually finish this book now. Take your time and enjoy it.' The second thing is a few weeks ago I purchased an adult paint-by-number canvas. Yesterday I set up my 'studio space' in my basement and painted for 2 straight hours. It was therapeutic to say the least. I think I'll say this piece of art work is from my 'leveling the curve' period.

In the days ahead ... stay calm, stay busy, stay focused, and keep the faith.

What will you be doing to keep busy?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Should you or shouldn't you?

How often do you make a decision to do or not do something and make the mistake of telling someone about it beforehand? Okay, now how often do you change your mind and then feel obligated to stick to your first decision because if you don't you think people will judge you? Will they think you don't have the stamina or will power to stick to a decision? Will they think you are wishy-washy? Will they think you don't know how to make up your mind? Will they say, 'Oh I've heard that before?' 

Sometimes the truth of the matter is that in order to make the right decision about something we need to weigh out all of our options; weighing the pros and cons. One day we may think one side outweighs the other more, but just like the weather our opinions can change just as fast. Often we need to talk about it with others and get their opinion to truly know where we stand. But as with any other conversation if we aren't 100% sure where we stand on something we can be easily swayed one way or the other based on the input we receive.

I recently made some decisions, not big 'change the world' ones, but important ones all the same. They involved things I was doing and how much of my time I was putting into them. I was thinking of things I could cut back on to give myself more time for other things I want to do. I stepped back from one project and felt at peace with the decision. Another project presented itself and I nearly stepped back from it as well, but after deeper thought realized I would be giving up more than I wanted and it was worth the time I was putting in to it. But in the process I talked through it with a few people. When I changed my course of action I felt guilty to some extent like I had to go with my original plan since I had been semi-committed to it. But then I thought about it and figured, 'Oh well'. If I was making a wrong decision it was MY decision to make and MY time that would be at stake ... and I could live with that. If anyone thought less of me for it, I was okay with that too.

Sometimes when we are in conversation with people we need to just be a sounding board. We need to give people the flexibility and freedom to change their minds (several times if needed); whatever it takes to be supportive. In the end the decisions people make are theirs and theirs alone. Some decisions are easy to make and others can be very difficult. Let's give our opinion when asked and just listen when needed.

Do you ever have a hard time making certain decisions?
How do you get to a place where you feel comfortable and confident with your decisions?
Do you think everything through by yourself or do you talk it through with a friend or co-worker to get their input?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

When In Doubt, Make Your Own

Here we are well into the first week of February and we've only had a day or two of sunshine in the last 30 days. Unless you are a bear that is hibernating, that doesn't work for most of us. We all need certain things in our lives; human contact, conversation, affection, to feel respected and worthy, and for many ... sunshine. We need our Vitamin D. We need to feel the warmth. We need something to look at other than the color gray. We need options, lol.

Something to remember; we don't always have to wait for others to notice us, our talents, or even our needs. Sometimes we have the ability and the power to create our own destiny. We can forge our own path based on our choices. We can earn our own fortunes by working hard and with integrity and a positive spirit. We can create our own good luck, rather than waiting for it to drop at our feet. And with a simple yellow highlighter and a black Sharpie pen we can create our own little ray of sunshine. It may not give us physical warmth, but it will definitely rejuvenate us and lift us mentally. My little mental reminder was provided courtesy of a friend.

What have you done lately for yourself or someone else that lifted spirits and replenished souls?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Fresh Start

It's a new year; a time for planning, hoping, and maybe a little strategizing. At the end of the year we don't just pack away the holiday decorations to make the room look clear and organized again, we also put up a fresh calendar. We like starting with a clean slate; at least I do. New year ... new hopes ... new ideas ... new plans of attack on how to hopefully accomplish them.

We all have our share of challenges, anxieties, pressures, and responsibilities. Many of us will probably look back at 2019 and think, 'Wow! How did I get through that?' But guess what? If you're reading this, then you did. Don't be so surprised; you're stronger than you give yourself credit for. I know that 2019 was pretty rough for a lot of people; illnesses, finances, relationships ... you name it and I probably know someone who's been dealing with it (or for that fact, still is).

The thing is is that the challenges and the pressures won't always change or go away or even get temporarily resolved, but HOW we choose to deal with them can. We can decide to not let 'it' consume us, whatever IT is. We have the choice to make a change or take a different approach. We get to start fresh if we want to. Every month or every day if necessary.

Who doesn't like the occasional fresh start?
  • a new house
  • a new job
  • an improved body or mindset
  • a new haircut
  • a new hobby
  • a new challenge
  • a new goal

Pick the one that speaks to you and choose to start fresh. Start small and test the waters or be bold and jump in with both feet and arms flailing. What have you got to lose? Absolutely nothing.

How am I starting fresh this year? I'm trying to be more diligent with my blogging. I hope somewhere, someday someone reads one of my posts and is impacted and shares it or shares a positive comment. But if they don't that's okay too. I'm blogging for myself and some days that's more than enough. It's my voice, my thoughts, and I can actually hear myself think as I type. That's worth it in itself.

What does your fresh start look like?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Moving Into 2020

Well, I'm back; although it has been a few weeks again. In my last post I pondered over what direction my 2020 would take. I decided, after much reflection, that more than a resolution or a specific goal I needed to focus on a word that would help keep me on track for the new year. I chose the word BALANCE. Why? Mostly because I am the first to admit that I can easily get overwhelmed or off track or out of sync if I let obligations and responsibilities take over my life. I have a difficult time saying no to anyone when they ask for help; heck sometimes I don't even wait for them to ask for my help - I just offer it up like it has instantly become my sole responsibility to help them, make things easier for them, or help them to stay on track. 

But should I be doing that? If I do, am I helping them or enabling them? By me helping am I giving them the easy way out? Shouldn't they own up to the responsibilities that are solely theirs? It's usually at this point that my life gets out of balance. I become stressed and consumed over things and situations that affect other people more than myself. Why do I do this to myself? That's the million dollar question. I don't think I do it on purpose, but I've grown up my entire life playing the self-imposed role of the mediator, the organizer, the task master, the list maker, the worrier, and the sleep-deprived person. I look at what I think the result should be in the end and I do what I can to help it get there. I don't settle for good enough; that's always been unacceptable to me. I tend to care too much sometimes; but that's on me. Can you see why my word for 2020 is BALANCE? I clearly need more of it in my life.

I need to know that I can help, assist, care for, worry about, and be concerned for other people in my life without letting it become all-consuming. At some point the scales with the ME side of the equation will be out-weighed by the magnitude of everything else. That's unfortunate, but also unhealthy. It's when I can make this clear observation and own it that I hope to be able to learn something beneficial from it.

I want to move into 2020 like there are no set limits. I want to feel unstoppable. I want to feel deserving of my successes. I want to hear the sound of my own voice and know that it matters (not just to me, but to others as well). So how do I go about accomplishing this?

If I need a space where I can clear my head, then I need to make it or at least clean up the one that I have. If I don't have the tools I need to be the kind of success that I want, then I need to get what I need in order to do that. I need to make the effort because I care as much about me and my needs as I do about everyone else's. I need to be my own best advocate and stop being my own worst enemy. I need to convince myself that looking out for what's best for me doesn't have to make me a selfish person. There will always be those voices in your head that say, 'Now isn't a good time.' 'Maybe next year would be better for everyone else.' But that's the thing, there will always be other reasons and more excuses. Maybe it's the fear of failure. Maybe it's the fear of commitment. Maybe it's the fear of insecurity or being judged. There will always be fears that can talk you out of anything. That's when the hopes need to take the forefront and outsize the fears. Listen to the hope in your heart; the hope that tells you that you have what it takes to succeed, that you deserve to be happy, and that you have what it takes to make a bigger difference in the world.

How are you doing so far with choosing your word for 2020?

Are you getting on track with your goals and dreams or do you feel stalled?

Let us know what's going on ... we are all here for you.