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A New You – A New Canvas of Life

January is the time of year when we think about making new year’s resolutions. New goals are made because we want to improve our life in some way.  We begin with good intentions but often do not have enough resolve.

Goal setting often fails because they are made without careful thought and planning.

If we do not take into consideration how they will impact family, work, relationships or finances, we can easily get discouraged and abandon them.

When goals are too general, we don’t follow through because the end result is too far in the future and we haven’t put in place reasonable steps to reach that end result.

REFLECTION

Before you begin to make new goals, take a moment and reflect on what you have accomplished in the past.

What did you do to make that happen? For example, your goal might have been very specific with well defined action steps.

Did you have a clear picture of what you wanted before you started?  Could you visulize it?

What obstacles or insurrmountable odds did you face and how did you overcome them?

What kept you motived when you got discouraged?

Did you modify your large goals into tiny ones that could easily be completed?

Are there goals you have abandoned?  Can you develop a new plan of action to complete them?

Did you have the support and help from others?

Reflection helps us to know ourselves better.  What are our strengths and our weaknesses?  How can we better direct ourselves in order to succeed? Reflection reminds us of what we consider important and can help motivate us to keep going.

When I refelct on what I have been able to accomplish in the past, I am reminded that when I remain focused and motivated, I can accomplish many things. But before I set specific goals, I start by looking at the big picture of what I want, who I want to become and how that will bring meaning and purpose to my life.

 

Anything is possible if we can dream and visualize it –

but we have to be willing to put in the effort.

 

“Yes I Can, Three Steps to Empower Your Life

 

Yes, I can, 3 steps to Empower your Life  is a new life coaching program I will be introducing to my readers in the upcoming weeks. It is designed to help you heal old wounds, replace negative and devaluing self talk with positive affirmations and look at the bigger picture of what you want in life.

Yes I can” is a belief you develop about your abilities and perseverance to complete whatever you set out to do. It says,

I will go on when I am disappointed, discouraged or face what
seems like unresolvable roadblocks.  I can find a way.  I can make it.
 

It is a mantra that will allow you to problem solve, review and refine the end goals you want to make to maximize your potential and live a life with meaning and purpose.

So make your first resolution to reflect on what you have accomplished this past year and in the years prior.  Ask yourself: what do I you really want to achieve in my lifetime?  Are these wants realistic and ones that will have meaning to me in the long term?  Do they meet my values and principals?

Then take the information and make an overall plan on how you might accomplish this.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghosts of Holidays Past

While finishing the last touches of decorating, buying and wrapping presents, we might experience feelings of sadness and depression instead of happiness.

My last blog spoke to how losses can impact our Christmas.  Those losses include pets that were a major part of our families.

It isn’t just recent losses that can influence our feelings.Holidays remind us of magical childhood moments when we were spellbound over lights and the promise of unwrapping that special present we wanted more than anything.

But holidays also remind us of strained relationships, broken promises and a past filled with pain and disappointment.  It can remind us of a childhood where the dreams of a happy family were constantly shattered.

When painful emotions from the past surface, we often medicate ourselves with drugs or alcohol or endless shopping sprees to dull the ache. We lose ourselves in parties so we don’t have to feel. But deep inside a tiny voice pleads, “I am tired of running away and feeling sad. I want to feel peace and happiness. I want to experience that childlike wonder of expectation and anticipation this Christmas.”

How do we get beyond painful feelings that are triggered this time of year?

  1. Allow yourself to feel. Walling off, pushing away or trying to contain your past can be stressful and exhausting. Only when painful issues are faced directly can we be free from their grip. If you continue to experience intrusive troubling emotions from your past, gift yourself time with a good therapist who can help you work through the pain.
  2. Acceptance. The losses from our past often continue to haunt us because we have not accepted them. Acceptance stops the cycle of resistance, resentment, anger and helplessness.   While the losses in our life will always be a defining part of who we are, moving through the grief allows painful memories to heal.
  3. Let Go. Forgiveness allows you to let go of resentments, anger and bitterness. It acknowledges that life may be unfair, but hanging on to our grievances only hurts me. Holding onto resentment is corrosive and toxic.  Forgiveness allows us to get past the hurt and allows us to make peace with a bitter past.  We can choose to hang onto hatred or replace it with meaningful and productive thoughts and actions.
  4. Focus on blessings. Even in the darkest of times when we are struggling to survive, there are things to be thankful for. Looking for things to be grateful for and focusing on blessings changes our brain chemistry allowing us to feel differently. Thankfulness reframes our outlook and removes us from victim mode.
  5. Reach out. If you are struggling, reach out to a friend or become part of a support group, especially if your losses are current.  Reaching out to others reminds us we are not alone. Become aware of others who are going through tough times and reach out to them with a kind word and understanding. When we reach out to others we feel better. It puts a new perspective on our own troubles. A smile and empathy for the frazzled clerk, choosing not to get angry or grumpy when standing in long lines, giving grace to others who are having a tough day are small ways we can reach out that also enriches our lives.
  6. Stay in the here and now. When you become aware your thoughts are constantly tuning into the negative, tell yourself “stop.” Listening to old negative messages from the past is a habit.  Push the stop button on that old tape and replace with a constructive message.  It can be an affirmation that says, Yes I can, or God will see me through this, or I refuse to live in the past, I can choose to create a positive life, or I choose to see the good as well as the bad, or I will be okay. Yes I can” is a mantra I use when life gets me down that completely reverses my thinking.  And the second is, God loves me and I am never alone.

Christmas is a time to rejoice in a new beginning. It is the time a Savior was born.  He came because He loves us.  In Him we find the peace and healing that our heart longs for. Reach out and take His healing grace and allow Him to be a part of this holiday season and your life.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Losses at Christmas

Christmas – a time of presents, giving, receiving, concerts and singing.  Most of us slip into the season without giving it a second thought.

But for those who have suffered a loss, it can be a time of renewed pain and sadness as we greet the season without our loved one.  Sometimes it is disease that is slowly taking away a person we love.

Those losses include our pets, as well, as anyone who is a pet owner can attest to. They are a part of our families too.

Earlier this year I invited Deb Kalmbach, a writer friend, author and speaker if she would be a guest blogger. She had written a book about the escapades of her Jack Russell Terrier, entitled “Kosmo’s Christmas Delivery”  (available on Amazon.com) and I had asked if she would write a guest blog for my website about what we can learn from our pets.

She shared the following blog which was posted on her website and she asked if I could re-post it on my website.She recently lost her beloved dog and her blog speaks to love of her pet and the pain felt of his death.

Product Details

 

What I Learned From Our Jack Russell Terrier

by Deb Kalmbach

We said good-bye recently to sweet little Kosmo, our 14-year old Jack Russell Terrier. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone. I keep looking for him everywhere. I’m certain that noises I hear are Kosmo. He’s letting us know he’s at the door or jumping down from one of his favorite perches so he can check out what’s going on outside. He never missed a thing!

Kosmo came into our lives on an ordinary summer day. We had no idea our lives would be turned upside down and our hearts inside out by one small dog. Randy and I were content. We already had our fill of Jack Russell adventures with our dog, Kramer. But Doc (the local veterinarian) and his wife Patty were convinced we needed a companion for Kramer.

Patty introduced us to this wriggling bundle of energy one day while I worked at our video store. “Here’s Kramer’s little brother,” she proudly announced.

“What?” I asked, bewildered.

Patty, not one to be discouraged, said she’d already been to the house to tell Randy this exciting news.

I wasn’t sure we were ready to welcome another puppy. Kramer was only 3-years old and we’d weathered his puppyhood without too many problems. Only a few indoor “potty- accidents” and Kramer had mastered the routine. Kosmo proved to be an entirely different story.

“He’s free,” Patty continued. She mentioned that she and Doc had adopted three puppies from this litter. “He’s our gift to you!”

Well, how could we say no? A few weeks later, after Kosmo’s first sign of “trouble,” Patty asked if we were still talking to her. Kosmo had swallowed our neighbor’s gold nugget heart-shaped pendant. He needed to see a specialist in Wenatchee (2 hours away) to have it extracted. Doc had pointed out the perfectly shaped heart lodged in Kosmo’s stomach on the X-ray. That should’ve have been a clue. This dog would cost us way more than we could’ve imagined!

Kosmo’s antics could fill a full-length book. Our sons tried to console us after hearing the sad news that we had to put him to sleep. “Mom, it’s really a miracle that Kosmo survived so many years with all the trouble he got into.”

I managed to laugh, remembering Kosmo’s encounters with bobcats, skunks, cows, getting lost in the wilderness, and swallowing a jellyfish– just to name a few of his misadventures. Yes, it really was a miracle that Kosmo lived to old age.

I can’t help but think of how much we learned from him. He lived his life with ferocity. I’ve read that Jack Russell Terriers are known for being tenacious. Kosmo took this to a whole new level. When my friend Sue came for lunch, Kosmo always raced down the driveway to greet her, leaping as high as he could, and catapulting himself right into her arms. One of his favorite pastimes was dunking his head underwater in the river or at the ocean to dig for rocks. He didn’t give up until he procured the perfect one. He managed to carry it to the car or all the way home. No doubt about it, Kosmo lived life to the fullest.

And we should do the same.

Kosmo was fearless–sometimes to his detriment. His curiosity knew no bounds, and often landed him in deep trouble–when he faced off with cows or deer and managed to hold his ground.

Look at life with courage.

Kosmo offered unconditional love. Whenever Randy and I came home and saw Kosmo watching for us from his window vantage point, our day instantly became a lot brighter.

Love, love, love!

When I was tempted to be a couch potato—especially on cold winter days, Kosmo let us know that wasn’t happening. Come on, let’s go! His enthusiasm was almost contagious. We’d always give in, bundle up in our winter coats and boots (and bundle Kosmo in his coat) and trudge down the snowy roads together. He loved to go cross country skiing and snowshoeing. He spent most of the time attacking our skis or snowshoes. Now that adds another dimension to trying to stay upright on skis!

Keep moving forward!

Kosmo was 100% loyal. He always knew when we were feeling down or under the weather. He knew it was his place to snuggle next to us. During his last weeks, he hovered especially close. Being near us must have comforted him. We didn’t know how sick he was because he never complained. He kept soldiering on. Our veterinarian told us the tumor in his stomach was so large, he didn’t know how Kosmo had functioned. But I do. It was his job to always be there–right until the end.

Be a faithful friend.

Now my emotions swing between remembering all the moments of pure joy spent with Kramer and Kosmo and feeling heartbroken because I miss them so much. My 5-year old granddaughter Lucy told me that losing Kosmo is super sad. She instructed, “Grammie, you have to get another dog and name him Kosmo.” Children have such a sweet way of fixing your heartache.

I wish it were that simple. It will take time to learn how to do life without Kosmo. Maybe someday we’ll open our hearts to another little canine friend. Until then, we shed some tears and smile through them as we remember.

I’m especially thankful I found a way to write about Kramer and Kosmo. Last year, I launched Kosmo’s Christmas Delivery, a children’s picture book. My friend, Joey Palmberg, brought the story to life with his delightful illustrations. Even though it’s fiction, it’s based on some real-life events. And so the legend of Kosmo lives on!

Remember to give thanks!

 

Thanks Deb for your moving story.  It is a reminder to enjoy every minute with our loved ones, whether it is a favored pet or a beloved spouse, family member or dear friend.

 

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

A New Season

Thanksgiving is over, the beautiful fall colors have been replaced with red and green and twinkling lights. We have entered a new season, the season of Christ’s birth.

The namesake of this holiday is so often forgotten, pushed aside or replaced by a jolly old man in a red suit, congested malls and holiday specials you can’t afford to miss.

We are bombarded with ringing bells asking for donations, food bank requests and impersonal checks made out to special organizations.

But wait – Christmas is more than mulled wine or eggnog flavored with nutmeg and cinnamon. It is more than concerts and festivities and Christmas shopping.

Reaching Out

Perhaps more important than anything, Christmas is a time when we can make a special effort to reach out in more personal ways to those who are hurting. A few minutes time, a empathetic listening ear and understanding can be huge to those who may be suffering from a loss or rejection, illness or disastrous financial downturn.

 

When I was closing my son’s affairs after his death, I had an unexpected conversation with a member of a small bank where my son had an account. After the shock of learning that my son had died, she shared with me a time when my son had reached out to her when she was going through a tough time.

Sensitive to the needs of others, he was aware of the sadness and unhappiness that couldn’t be hidden. A few moments of time, a caring and listening exchange of words that offered understanding, hope and encouragement had made a huge benefit at a time when she needed it the most.

We never know the impact we leave on the lives of others when we reach out with compassion, caring and understanding.

Reaching out can be as simple as acknowledging how someone is doing. “You look like you are having a tough day.” Sometimes, it is simply taking a few minutes to listen without judgment, preconceived assumptions or emotional platitudes. A simple touch on shoulder or arm, or squeeze of the hand can be incredibly uplifting. An invitation for coffee or to join with others in group activities can make us feel we are important in the scheme of things.

Whether during the holidays, or mid-year, reaching out can have both immediate and long term benefits. It is not just for the Christmas season. When you reach out be genuine and sincere.  Honor and respect another’s privacy. People don’t always want to talk about their pain. Make it clear they do not need to respond – you are simply acknowledging an awareness. Whether individuals return conversation or not, what is important is that you showed in some small way that you cared. It is telling them they are not alone and opens the door for sharing if they choose.

I believe when we are sensitive to others and reach out, even in tiny ways, we are blessed as well.  It takes so little time – so little effort and yet can be so profound.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

Life in the Fast Track

Tires hit hard on the tarmac as Flight 460 lands at LAX, gradually slowing as it turns toward its assigned gate. Debarking, I become part of the melee of jostling people who are hurrying to grab their luggage off the carousal. Re-positioning my shoulder bag, I hurry to join the fray at the curb jostling to hail a cab.

Welcome to Los Angeles – the city of angels – and life in the fast track.

But there is another fast track few are aware of and no one wants to encounter. It isn’t the race track or the board room of high stakes businesses, but the ambulance entrance to the ER. This Fast Track gets fast attention from the medical staff. This is the fast track I am headed towards.

My unexpected and unplanned flight brought me into the world of hospitals, CT Scans and an unwanted diagnosis. Within 24 hours my days had shifted from a usual work day to sitting beside the bed of my son well into the night after he was admitted to the hospital. His flu-like symptoms had turned into something more sinister – an aggressive Stage IV pancreatic cancer. I had moved from the Fast Track to the slow, methodical world of testing and waiting.

But then life returned to the fast track as treatments were scheduled, friends helping, and early morning trips to the medical center where treatments began. But the cancer was too aggressive, and after a week he was re-admitted to the hospital and from there to a hospice care facility. Once again, this time with my older son by my side, I sat beside a loved one who was dying.

It was thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving – a time to remember and give thanks. And regardless of losses, I give thanks for my remaining family: a beautiful daughter, a bright son and his wonderful wife and 4 delightful  grandchildren. I give thanks for the many wonderful years I had with my husband. And I give thanks that I had the privilege to raise my creative and talented artistic son Don who left a huge imprint of joy on all who knew him.

As I celebrate my family and the love we share, I encourage you to celebrate yours.  Celebrate the loved ones that death has taken away. Celebrate the ones that remain. Celebrate the many blessings given to us every minute of the day. Heap those kernels of gratitude and blessings on your thanksgiving table and thank God who continues to love, strengthen and comfort us in times of joy and sorrow. And may each of you experience a blessed Thanksgiving.

True Blue

by (c) (c) David Abramson, Feb. 6th, 2010 for Don Anderson

In memory of my son who died November, 2009 I share again a song written for him after he died by his good friend David Abramson, entitled True Blue.  The song in  many ways represent the feelings of his many friends in California where he worked and lived, who loved him as we his family did.

 

Marlene Anderson

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Unenforceable Rules

We are governed by laws and rules. Speed and you can get a ticket. Steal and you can go to jail. As children we were given rules to obey or be punished. As adults we put in place personal rules to manage our lives but then insist everyone else must follow those rules as well.

 

Unenforceable rules are often at the center of most of our relationship problems. Within these rules we find the words, should, must, or ought to. “You should send your mother a birthday card. You ought to give your wife flowers on her birthday. We have to spend all holidays with family.” We expect others to treat people as we do. We assume our neighbors will take care of their yards and pets as we would.

 

Marriages often suffer the most from unenforceable rules. Each partner brings their bag full of expectations that are never discussed and we assume the other should automatically know. They involve how we parent, how we deal with in-laws, finances, how we express love and concern for one another, etc. “If you really loved me, you would….”

 

When conflicts occur, individuals involved are often unaware that they have set up rules that have not been expressed or discussed.

 

When we assume others should automatically know what is expected of them and they don’t do it, we will be disappointed, hurt and angry.

 

When we live by unenforceable rules we often end up bitter and resentful.

 

How do you know if you are living with unenforceable rules?

 

  • You will be irritated when people aren’t doing what you think they should be doing
  • You assume everyone thinks and believes as you do and if they don’t you are surprised and sometimes offended
  • You blame others and the world for how you feel
  • You take someone else’s behavior personally – what they do or don’t do is a personal attack on you
  • A difference of opinion is seen as an insult to you

 

Our emotional response will tell us if we are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule; how we feel is directly attributed to what someone else is doing or not doing.

 

Taking ownership of our emotions and responses allows us to look for solutions instead of nursing resentments. Taking ownership of our attitudes and responses to life enable us to find solutions to differences of opinion.

 

We can address unacceptable behaviors without trying to manipulate or change the other person. We don’t have to like someone to accept them.

 

Trying to force something you cannot control is an exercise in futility.  You will end up angry, frustrated and disappointed.

 

When we take responsibility for our emotional responses to all things, we will find ways to negotiate and resolve disagreements. We can live by our principles and allow others the same privilege.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

In the Darkness of the Night

This can’t be happening.  There was no warning; no time to prepare.  When we look around at the carnage that remains, we are numb, our mind is reeling and we ask, Why? Why has this happened?

And we are left to struggle in the darkness of the night with the tremendous loss that has smashed into our existence.  We were not prepared.

But is there ever a way to prepare for the tragedies that occur – that snatches away a loved one before their time or turns our world upside down and inside out leaving us feel as though we have fallen into the surreal world of Alice in Wonderland.

Throughout our lifetime there will be moments of despair when we look at the remains of a life we have worked hard to construct that has been destroyed by a senseless act, an unexpected accident on the freeway, or an act of violence that took the life of a loved one. Perhaps we have been told our child has an untreatable condition, or that our spouse has an aggressive cancer, or a troubled family member has taken their life.  Perhaps we hear the words, I want a divorce, or our finances have been wiped out.  The list goes on and on. The world as we knew it has come to an end.

 

And in the darkness of the night we struggle to believe and understand. Why?  Why Lord? It doesn’t make sense.

 

And like Job, we angrily confront God because we believed we had done all the things we were supposed to do and feel that life with all its unfairness has targeted us with undeserved and unjustified pain and suffering.

 

And in the darkness of the night we lay awake and wrestle with our doubts and fears. Are you real God?  And if you are, do you really care? We struggle to believe as our mind is assaulted with unanswerable questions.

 

And a darkness creeps into our soul and stains the values and core beliefs we have about God and life in general.

 

The Challenge of Pain and Loss

It is there in the darkness of our soul where we realize we  have a choice: we can either push God away or run into His comforting arms.  It is here, when assaulted with fears and doubts, that we can recognize our need for Him as never before.  In our surrender we will find His comfort, love and peace and we begin to understand the love of a Heavenly Father who sacrificed His only Son to die for us on the cross.  Does He understand pain?  Oh I think so.

 

It is in the darkness of the night, in the middle of the struggle, in our turning to God that we will be able reconcile, find peace and recover. It is here we gain new strength and resolve and our lives will be enriched as never before.

 

We live in a fallen world where the unthinkable happens – where there are no easy answers.  But in ending the conflict of trying to have all the answers, we can move forward in the comfort of God’s grace and love.

When we have wrestled with our pain and accepted the fact that there are no easy answers, healing and recovery can take root. In our surrender to God, our brokenness can be healed; where we receive new resolve, strength and hope and can begin again.

Working through pain is never easy. But it is where we find healing and recovery.

Marlene Anderson

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Mind the Gap

In London’s underground stations you hear a mechanized voice say, “Mind the Gap”, as you board a tube train. That “gap” between platform and train is usually quite small and as a tourist, after the novelty wears off, you take for granted the need to watch your step and the recording simply becomes one of those endearing facets of the London experience.

Neil Gaiman, in his book, “Neverwhere,” artfully creates a more sinister reason for “minding the gap” in his fantasy story about London above ground and the London below.

The “gap” no longer is a small precautionary hazard but one of lethal danger as an invisible cloud-like “black smoke” rises out of the crack, wrapping around the ankles of its targeted, unwary traveler, ready to drag him into oblivion.

Gaps in our Lives

It is easy to overlook the “gaps” that occur in our lives because most of them are simply little daily obstacles we step over. But sometimes, those gaps take on the proportions of huge chasms, larger than life and so threatening that we remain rooted in place and stranded on the station platform while the train moves out.

The “gap” then becomes an insurmountable obstacle; a hollow place empty of inspiration and motivation; a place that threatens to swallow us up in mediocrity and depression.

Recognizing Your Gaps

What creates the gaps we easily step over and those that literally suck away our confidence and energy? Usually it is our interpretation of what we see and experience. A small gap to one person can seem like a gigantic gap to another.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches us that in order to change our emotional and behavioral responses to life, we need to be able to challenge irrational or unreasonable thoughts and beliefs. When you feel overwhelmed, anxious and fearful, find and challenge that connecting thought and belief attached. Often we will find patterns of thinking that prevent us from moving forward because we believe the “gap” is too large to cross.

Maybe the “gap” that trips you up is the “all or nothing” thinking that locks you into an “either/or” way of looking at the world – inflexible and rigid. When all we see is gaps too large to cross, we often give up without exploring other options.

Distorted beliefs about one’s ability to find solutions usually focus instead on exaggerated failures from our past that minimize any accomplishments. As possibilities and opportunities are filtered out, we no longer see a minor gap, but an impossible chasm.

We use our interpretations of the past to predict the future. When unrealistic expectations about what we can and cannot do are held, we believe everything that happens is our fault and we beat ourselves up or become a victim.

We choose how we respond to “gaps” in our lives

We have the ability to choose our thoughts and beliefs and therefore our corresponding emotional responses. We can choose to accept setbacks and seemingly impossible obstacles and then consciously explore other options. We are not the center of the universe and cannot predict the future, but we can make new choices.

We can give ourselves grace to fail and start over again. Without challenging our thoughts and beliefs, our feelings direct our behaviors. If we feel it is impossible, it becomes impossible. But if we can accept the fact that we do not need to be perfect we can learn from each experience and find new choices and new options.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Just say No

We live in a world of high power marketing. Technical advances have been rapid and we struggle to keep up with the changes. We are told, covertly or otherwise, that we cannot live without the latest gadget – in fact if we aren’t using all these modern “conveniences”, we are living in the dark ages.

Many technology advances have made life easier with instant access to information and connections. But is it prudent to keep purchasing the latest and most advanced gadget that does everything except bake a cake when you are struggling to make ends meet?

Separate wants from needs.

Put on hold tantalizing wants and shop carefully for what you need.  Become a wise consumer. Let the fun stuff go until you have a firm budget in place.

It is critical to take into consideration our future and preparing for unexpected changes. Do I have a savings account established?  Do I have an easily accessible reserve account should I need funds quickly? With an uncertain market place, have I updated my resume?  Have I adjusted my budget to include rising costs? We not only need prudent spending habits for today, but also how today’s spending habits can affect our future.

In reviewing your spending habits, consider the following:

  • Marketing ads make us believe we can’t live without their product. “You will be happy when you have this new car, this new phone, this huge house, etc.” But research and wisdom from the past confirm that “things” don’t make us happy. We quickly habituate to all the things we “have to have” and then need something new to get the same emotional high.

 

  • Don’t shop without a purpose. If you can’t resist that latest technical toy or that dress on sale, stay away from the malls. How many times have you purchased things on the spur of the moment that only end up cluttering your closets and garages? Sometimes we even rent storage units to store all the stuff that we “might” someday need. Take advantage of sales, but purchase for the right reasons. Remember things in and of themselves do not make us happy.

 

  • Cut up or lock up your credit cards. I know – they are the greatest invention on God’s green earth. When spending becomes so easy we no longer think of how we will pay it off, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.Unless you are able to be ruthless in self discipline, leave the credit cards at home and remove some of the easy spending apps on your phone.

 

  • Learn to say “No” to your kids as well as saying “No” to yourself. You are modeling behavior for your them. If you are a compulsive spender, you are teaching them it is okay to spend when you feel like it. When you become a disciplined spender, your kids learn they do not need the latest toy to be happy. You will hear lots of moaning and tantrums about how their lives will be ruined forever, but when you say No to your kids you are teaching them how to live a productive life. Part of raising children is teaching them how to make good decisions and knowing their are always consequences of some kind for their decisions.

 

  • Work together with your spouse on common goals.  You will be amazed at how easy it is to have the really important things in life when you work together.

It may be painful at first to analyze your spending habits, but when you begin to reap the benefits you will be energized.  And you will find the things you do purchase will have so much more meaning.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

A New Perspective

Years ago I worked for a company contracted to help injured workers in chronic pain recover and re-enter the workplace. Some had been injured on the job even with all the safety precautions.

As part of their rehabilitation and recovery program, they attended a two week all day class. Most were not happy to be there; in fact some were downright hostile.

Yet after one week, we began to see a transformation of attitudes, mind-set and way of thinking.

It was always amazing to watch this metamorphous from hopelessness, despondency and despair to one of possibility, hope and motivation.

Some didn’t let go of what had happened to them. They were angry at the injustice of it all and did not want to hear about ways they could re-frame their circumstances. They hung onto their grievance and left with the same bitterness they were generating when they arrived. But they were in the minority.

But, it was those who took the information presented and applied it that humbled and encouraged me.

While there were many people who I came to admire, one lady in particular resonated with me. Her injury left her unable to continue in her job. She would have to be retrained in some other line of work. Her benefits would soon run out. She was a single Mom living in a tiny one-bedroom house and the enormity of her losses was severe. Life seemed pretty grim and hopeless.

After the first week, she returned to class from the weekend off, glowing. She was not the same person who left on Friday. She shared with the class what had happened to change her outlook.

She went home and thought about all the information we had taught them and decided to apply it to her situation.

The first thing she did was “re-frame” how she looked at her current existence. She went through her tiny cramped house, room by room, looking at it with a new perspective.

There was only one tiny bedroom. She decided to give that room to her children and make the living room her bedroom. During the day it was a living room, but at night it became a cozy, spacious bedroom.

She positioned the sofa bed in front of the fireplace, and when she crawled into her “bed” that night, she lit a small fire in the fireplace and snuggled down to watch the flames and thought to herself, how many people do I know who have a fireplace in their bedroom. She helped her children make her old bedroom into their special space. They were happy and she was happy. In fact, she told us she slept soundly for the first time in years.

What had changed? Only her perspective.

During the remainder of that last week in class, she actively sought out information about re-training and potential jobs. She was excited about the possibility of a new job from a re-training program that paid more than her previous job.

Was she going to have to struggle? Yes. Would it take hard work? Yes. Would she still have to live with limiting conditions? Yes. But she would be bringing into that space a new outlook – a new perspective – that held possibility, options and renewed energy.

The world we live in today has drastically changed. We are challenged as never before to be innovative, creative and flexible. The beliefs we hold about ourselves can seriously impact our ability to move forward.

We may experience events that seem catastrophic, limiting and hopeless.

But within each of us is the ability to take what we have and create something new from it.

Out of the ashes of one disaster we can create the promise of a new beginning, if we are willing to re-invent ourselves, grow and change.

©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.