Posted in grace, grit, happiness, Life, self care, strength

Coloring

Today, I’d like to take you back to when you were in kindergarten. Did you love to color, like I did?

I loved my coloring books and crayons. I would color for hours; choosing the perfect crayon and concentrating so I stayed within the lines.  There are times now I wish I had colored outside the lines, but I digress. 

Some days I would be so “into” my coloring it felt as though I was lost in my own little fun-filled, peaceful world. My tongue would even hang out the side of my mouth I was so focused on my creativity. 

On the first visit to my therapist’s office, she had a clipboard with mandala coloring pages and a little box of colored pencils. There was a written invitation to “feel free to color while you wait.” So I did just that. 

During a later session…on a day I was very anxious…she had me color while we talked. As we chatted and I colored, I mentioned I had coloring books for adults and colored pencils at home, but I had never used them. 

She suggested I go home and begin using my books and pencils. She instructed me to concentrate only on the end of the pencil while I colored.  I thought, “that’s a little strange, but okay.”

Willing to do almost anything to relax and get rid of negative emotions and anxiety, I went home and pulled out my coloring paraphernalia stash. I chose an intricate pattern, the perfect color of pencils and away I went. I focused all my attention on the tip of the pencil as it moved along the outline. 

Believe it or not…you can believe it because it’s true…before long my tongue was hanging out and my mind was cleared of all thoughts except the pencil! Just like when I was a kid, I was in my own calm, peaceful happy zone. 

It’s funny how as adults we forget the little things that brought us such joy as children. We get so caught up and bogged down with life we forget to do things just for fun. We all could use a little more fun and calmness in our lives, right?

If coloring isn’t your thing, you can pick a game you loved as a child; Etch-A-Sketch, Barrel of Monkeys, Jacks (I’m aging myself here, but who cares) and focus on fun. Even ten to fifteen minutes can do a spirit good. 

That’s it for today. Now, you go get your game or coloring book of choice and have a great, stress-free time playing with the joy and wonderment of a child. 

Diane💙

Posted in grace, happiness, Life, self care, strength

ABCDEFGratitude

The definition of gratitude is”the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation.”

Gratitude can be shown in a multitude of ways; from a simple thank you to telling someone how much you appreciate them or being of service to others. 

One way I express my gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. I have a spiral notebook and almost every day (sometimes, I forget…just being honest here)…I take out that notebook and write the letters of the alphabet in a list down the sheet of paper. 

Next, I think about things or people I’m grateful for and list them alphabetically. For instance:

Angels

Beauty

Counselor

Dogs

E, F, G and so on until I reach Z, which is hard, but I am grateful for zebras, because they’re interestingly beautiful, so the first “Z” isn’t so difficult. 

My gratitude list does several important things; it helps clear my mind of negative thoughts, calms my anxiety and helps with my depression when I read the things I’ve written for which I am thankful. 

For “gratitude on the go,” I carry a notepad or a small journal in my purse. When I’m waiting patiently for a doctor’s appointment or in a stressful situation with time on my hands, I pull out my notepad and begin writing. 

This is helpful as it gives me something I can physically see and touch, keeps my mind busy and my thoughts distracted from anything other than gratefulness. 

Keeping an alphabetic daily journal of gratitude is a great way to end, start or get through your day, relieve stress and is a gentle reminder that there is always, always something to be thankful for. 

That’s all for today. Thanks for taking the time to visit and read. See, I’ve got my “B” and “R”  for today…”Blog” and “Readers!”

What are your thoughts on this practice of thankfulness?  Leave a comment and let me know. 

Diane💙

Posted in friends, happiness, Life, self care

Ten Pins

Two of my good friends (Anita and Mary Beth) came to visit me last month. Instead of our usual go to lunch or get a pedicure, I suggested we go bowling. They agreed, so off to the bowling alley we went.

I can’t remember the last time I went bowling, but I did remember to bring socks and that I had to rent shoes. So did my friends.

After paying to bowl and ordering food, we found our assigned lane and put on our attractive bowling shoes. Then the search for just the right ball began.

Searching for a ball I could actually carry and fit my fingers in was a chore. Low pound balls were hard to come by, but my friend Anita found an 8 pound medium, which we decided to share, and Marybeth had no problems finding a ten pounder.

Once we had our balls, I entered our names into the automatic scorekeeper and we were ready to begin our bowling adventure.

We all three got off to a slow start with gutter balls, if I remember correctly. Despite the gutters we high-fived and gave fist bumps after every roll of the ball. And we cheered one another on.

Anita commented she had never been cheered on in a sport and how she really liked it. We all liked it. Three friends out for an afternoon of sporting fun, loving and supporting one another.

We barely paid attention to the scoreboard because we were too busy laughing and cheering. Suffice it to say, the professional bowlers have nothing to worry about with the three of us. We don’t care.

What we did care about was being together and doing something different. In case you’re wondering which of us won, Mary Beth and Anita said I did. But who’s keeping score.

Diane

Posted in Life

Agreements

The first day I walked into therapy I was a hot mess! I felt gloomy, unhappy and in great agony and despair.  Depression and anxiety will do that to a weary soul.  And I was one tired and weary soul.

On that first day, my therapist asked, “If you spill milk what do you do?”  My answer, “I clean it up.”  “Yes,” she continued, but what do you say to yourself when you’re cleaning it up?”  It only took a second to share my self-talk; “Look at this mess you’ve made.  You’re so clumsy.  You can’t do anything right!”  That was an eye-opener for me, as I didn’t consciously realize how negatively I felt about myself.

As our session continued, my therapist shared a book with me and recommended I read it at least three times stating “it changed her life.”  The book was small and titled The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. 

At that point in my life, I was open to doing anything and everything to feel better, so I went home and ordered the book from Amazon.

When it arrived, I began reading and couldn’t stop.  It felt as if the book were written just for me.  I finished it in no time and read it again and again.

The Four Agreements is a wisdom book based on the beliefs and teachings of the Toltec people of southern Mexico.  The Toltec were “scientists and artists who formed a society to explore and conserve spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones,”  the book explains. 

Don Miguel Ruiz’s writing is exceptional and reader friendly.  In The Four Agreements, he writes about the Toltec traditions and beliefs and sets forth four teachings…a way of life for those who practice…meant to bring about happiness, peace and love in one’s life.  While the four teachings sound simple, they require a lot of work.

The four agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
  2. Don’t take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t make assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always do your best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

(Text from The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom ©1997 Miguel Angel Ruiz, MD.  Published by Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc.)

After reading this powerful little book, I began to practice the four agreements, even posting them on my refrigerator door as a reminder.  I am by no means a master of these teachings, but I do my best (#4) every day to remember them and put them into action.  I can tell you honestly and sincerely this book has changed my life for the better.

If you’re struggling with negative self-talk, worried about everyone liking you or get upset when you assume without asking questions or just want a good read,  I highly recommend you get a copy of The Four Agreements

 Diane

Posted in Life, self care

Panic

Last week, I felt off kilter for a few days. Panic attacks were daily visitors. Exhaustion my enemy; sleep my friend.

I wrote the following when I was in the midst of a panic attack to try and distract myself and to document what happens to me physically when one occurs:

  • My ears are ringing.
  • My hands are numb.
  • My vision is blurred.
  • My stomach is churning.
  • My head hurts.
  • I feel dizzy.
  • I can’t get enough air into my lungs.
  • I feel something horrible is about to happen.
  • I want to flee my home.
  • I’m in a full blown panic attack!
  • There’s nothing anyone can do to make me feel better. Time is what I need. It’s time I want to speed up, but I can’t make it do so.
  • I just took medication to help, but the 15 to 20 minutes it takes to start working is really going to suck.

Yes, it really sucks to live with panic. I am lucky in that I have a strong support system in place. Mainly my husband who knows while he can’t stop the panic he can be patient and loving while it’s happening. That’s a big blessing to me.

The difference between anxiety and panic is anxiety is situational while panic comes out of the blue for no apparent reason. One minute I’ll feel perfectly fine and the next panic strikes. I have both anxiety and panic.

I’m usually a happy, optimistic person except on the dark days. During that time I’m all over the map emotionally.

I know I’ll be alright. During this time I need to rest and get back into a positive mindset as I know this too shall pass.

Diane

Posted in friends, grace, happiness, Life, self care, strength

Blank Pages

The blank page taunts me. The cursor on the page blinks incessantly as I try to reach deep inside and pull out words to write.

Sometimes the words pour out. Other times not so much. Those are the times I stare at a blank page and feel like I have nothing to say.

I actually have a lot to say. However, some of what I have to say is not ready to share in such a public forum. It’s a long, painful story with no end in sight. So for now that page will stay blank.

What I can write about today is having grace; the exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor disposition to benefit or serve another.

Each of us possess the ability to have grace. Unfortunately, not everyone practices it and many show it by posting on social media.

Everyday I come across a post, a tweet or Instagram story by or about unkind people. Racism, homophobia and just downright meanness are common themes in my newsfeeds and in the media. It’s very disheartening.

Despite the negativity and unkindness, I still believe the world has more people who love, are kind and willing to help others than not.

These are the people I want to (and do) surround myself with. The people I’m drawn to. The ones who lift me up, who inspire, who challenge me in a kind and loving way.

We can choose to disagree on a topic or belief and still remain in grace doing so. I will calmly listen to you with an open mind. In doing so we may discover things on which we can agree. Wouldn’t that be great?!

I choose and try everyday to stand in grace with everyone I know and meet. Myself included.

Diane