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The Stories of Your Life

Last week I suggested going back to your roots to complete old stories, heal old wounds and bring a new understanding to your life today.

While it can be painful, it is also very therapeutic.

Within your story of life there are many little stories, hidden like gems in the wall of your memory. They often get overlooked because we only see the vastness of boring, mediocre or unpleasant experiences.

Sit back in your easy chair and reflect for a moment on all the experiences you have had.  Which ones were exciting?  Which ones were humdrum or monotonous?  Which ones would you flee from without a moment’s hesitation?  Which ones would you love to go back, dig deeper and learn more?

Within the raw stories of our lives are life-altering moments; things that affected us profoundly but have been forgotten.  There might have been “Ah-ha” moments or some “Ouch” moments when you learned a deeper truth about yourself, but then simply stashed it away in the closet of your mind. There are treasures waiting to be uncovered, dusted off and enjoyed.

As you dig deep and uncover the events and people who made your life unique to you, think about those times as valuable nuggets of wealth.  Whether you had a difficult childhood, either from neglect, abuse or never being able to measure up, or you were the darling who never did anything wrong, you will have sustained both negative and positive consequences.

You might have become stronger, able to sustain the hard trials of life today.  You might have learned wisdom in that within each of us lies the ability to hurt or harm others as well as the capacity to develop compassion, grace and understanding.  You might have learned you weren’t as perfect as you thought. You might have learned that no matter how hard things were there was still hope – hope that enabled you to keep trying, keep going.

Take that list of events and people that you have been making.  Put each one on a 3 x 5 card.  On the front write the situation.  On the back, put down bits and pieces of information: words spoken, smells remembered, emotions felt, etc.What was happening?  How did you feel?   Who was there? What important insight did you receive?

Now take one of those cards and write a story.  Write it as if someone reading it could put themselves in that situatioin. Put down details vividly so anyone could experience the same sights, smells and sounds.As you write you will remember details long forgotten, some that may be very important. This is your story.  It is how you perceived the world you were living in.  Write as much or as little as you want.

Then read it out loud.  What greater truth was revealed? What did you learn about yourself?  What new strengths have been discovered?  What uncomfortable flaws or faults have been revealed?  We are a combination of both our strengths and triumphs and our weaknesses and shortcomings.  When we recognize all of them we become human, relatable and genuine.

You have just written a memoir.  Each of us has many memoirs within the overall arc of our life.  If written honestly you won’t be writing to seek revenge or get even. You won’t fabricate or embellish, exaggerate or bend the truth.  But your take away will be that gem of understanding of what it means to be human, to survive and overcome.

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 Experiences – The Stories we Live

If you wanted to leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren that portrayed what life was like both growing up and as an adult, what would you say? What important and life changing events and people would be in your stories? What funny tales would you share; just thinking about them makes you laugh out loud.

In putting together a speech I am giving this week to a group of writers on writing memoirs, I was reminded again on how important it is to take time, go back and explore our past. We have so many stories to tell – stories that only we can tell – in our voice and as we experienced them.

Writing your own story is powerful and gives voice to what you have lived – it allows you to be heard.  Clarity comes as you begin to write.  It is a way to gather your thoughts clearly and coherently to piece together all your experiences, re-examine events objectively, and come to terms with life altering change.

Reflecting and writing gives us the opportunity to grieve old losses, heal old wounds and put to rest difficult memories.

As you write, identify your strengths and abilities. It will help you gain a greater appreciation of yourself and others.  When we can accept and celebrate all the parts of our life’s journey – the good, the bad and the ugly – we are able to integrate them into a new whole that has balance, grace and compassion.

Growing up we make interpretations of our experiences that form perceptions of who we think we are based on those meanings.

We will have experienced both happy and hurtful situations but tend to forget the happy times and dwell only on the unhappy ones.

In my new program, “Yes I can, Three Steps to Empower Your Life,” I suggest in Step One that you go back to your roots and make a list of all the things that impacted you growing up. What events were especially memorable?  Who supported and encouraged you?   Which events and people were not affirming and positive?

Then take some sheets of paper and write about each of them.  What can you say today that you couldn’t before?  Who would you like to thank? Write them a thank you note.  What elements of your story can you reframe and expand to bring more clarity and understanding to your life story?

Keep in mind that early serious psychological wounds inflicted by others were people themselves who struggled with a lack of worth, esteem and value. And unfair comparisons we may have experienced are just that – unfair comparisons.

It is important to also remember that we are not our pain, shame or abused child.  These are things that may have happened, but they do not define who we are, unless we allow them to.  We can take away a larger message of discovering our value and worth.

While our experiences help shape us, we are the final determiners of how we will use and apply our past today. Affirm your ability to be who you were meant to be.  Believe in yourself.

So take some time in the weeks to come to explore and write about the events you lived.  What lessons did you learn?  What bigger value can you take away that you didn’t see before?

As you write, be honest and genuine.  Don’t embellish or take away.  When you can express your weaknesses and shortcomings to yourself and others along with your strengths and triumphs, you and your story will become more human, relatable and engaging.

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.

 

 

Confidence is Empowering

We live in a time of rapid change.  Adjusting to that change requires self-confidence in our ability to rise to the level of new demands.  While technology can be helpful, it can also add to our stress levels as we try to adjust to the accelerating pace associated with rapid change.

It is a good time to ask yourself what things from your past have been helpful and how can I use them again? Our past influences the choices we make today. Taking time to reflect and explore our roots can help separate the negative from the positive.

What messages did you hear growing up? Were they hurtful or encouraging? How did the events and people in your past help “shape” and “mold” you into the person you are today?  Reflection gives us the opportunity to consider how those growing up experiences continue to make either a positive or negative impact on our way of interacting with the world today.

Here are three reasons why it is important to take a journey back to our growing up days. First, revisiting our past can bring resolution to traumatic and difficult events.  The brain constantly reminds us of threatening or intimidating experiences so they can be resolved.  It doesn’t take long to form a habit that always looks on the negative side of life.

Second going back to our roots can give us a clearer picture of circumstances.  While we can’t change our past, we can use new understanding to rewrite the ending moving forward. As a child we have limited ability to interact in our defense and put into perspective what is happening.

And third, reflecting helps us remember all the good times as well the not so good.  What was happening when you were relaxed and having fun. What were you doing?  Who was having fun with you? Did you find contentment and pleasure in exploring, creating, or just hanging out with friends?

We are a combination of genes and traits and experiences, some positive and motivating and others hurtful and discouraging.  The family we grew up in played a role in how we interact with others.  There might have been unfair comparisons or we were lost as a middle child. Our school years may have been punctuated with bullying incidents, peer pressure and unhappy alliances that continue to leave a residue on our lives.

Many occurrences, interactions, words and deeds combine to help “shape” and “mold” us.  While many may be unpleasant, there will be moments of intense pride and pleasure as well as special relationships.  Looking back helps us to remember equally those times.

We are not stuck with one premise, one way of looking at the world.  Each of us has the ability to grow and improve, conquer and overcome.  We can choose to look at today’s world with fresh eyes in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

Affirm your strengths – accept your vulnerabilities.

A quick exercise

Take a blank piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle. Put a smiling face on it and add your name.  Draw lines that extend outward from that circle like the rays of the sun. On each of those sunshine spokes write the characteristics, traits or features that make you “you”.

  • What traits or strengths would you assign yourself? You might see yourself as upbeat or depressed. You might see yourself as strong and determined or shy and hesitant
  • What qualities or defining features do you believe you have? Ex: thoughtful, contemplative, unselfish, introspective, charismatic, etc.
  • Describe your social traits (friendly, shy, aloof, talkative, engaging, etc.)
  • How would you characterize your appearance and physical condition (tall, attractive, weak, muscular, strong, frail, thin, shapely, etc.)
  • What talents and abilities do you possess (artistic, computer savey, athletic, etc.)
  • What is your typical emotional state (happy, pensive, anxious, angry, compassionate, cheerful, fearful, etc.)
  • What is your dominant way of thinking or mindset? (Suspicious, dependable, trusting, courageous, independent, reliable, competent, motivated, adept, etc.)

We are influenced by our DNA, personality traits, childhood experiences and the fundamental beliefs we put in place while growing up.  We have untapped potential that may have been obscured by earlier unpleasant life events. Each of us interprets life in our unique way. At any point in time we can expand that interpretation, accepting the not so positive as well as the strengths we have. Celebrate all parts of you.

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 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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

 

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

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.