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Gratitude

DSC00751Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more “feel good” hormones? Just by the process itself you are changing how your brain is operating.

Wow! That’s pretty significant. But why then don’t we focus more on all the blessings and things we can be thankful for rather than the things we don’t like and that make us unhappy?

Because we also get a payoff from continuing to focus on all the bad things.  We are rewarded at least in the short term. Even worrying makes your brain feel better – at least for the moment.  But not in the long term.

And that is what is important – the long term consequence of what you are doing.  Because that will have a more lasting effect on everything you do.  It produces a feedback loop that continues to expand into more positive things.

Alex Korb, a UCLA neuroscience researcher gives us insights into the importance of gratefulness, happiness, and reduced depression in our life and has written a book about it entitled The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.

j0438577We see around us so much anger and hatred; hanging onto  grievances and seeking retribution. We fail to see the long term negative effect it can have on us.

As a therapist and former teacher and facilitator, I encourage people to challenge negative thinking and replace with more positive thinking.  As we change how we interpret and respond to life’s challenges, we will begin to see things to be grateful for. Even if they seem small and inconsequential, they are still important.

It isn’t events or people who make us angry, depressed, etc. It is how we choose to respond to whatever is happening around us.

We can reframe our circumstances so we not only see the bad stuff but the good stuff too, which all too often gets pushed in the background. The wonderful thing is that nobody can force us to remain angry, upset or hopeless if we choose not to.

Start a gratitude journal

Get a journal and call it your gratitude journal.  Every day write down something you are thankful for.  Search for those jewels of gratitude.  Include those bits of humor or funny quips – those things that make you smile. Read them as often as you can.

Purposefully search out those blessings and they will expand your frame of reference – your view of the world. You no longer see the telescopic dot of misery, but other aspects of life that is good. When you do, you will find your mood, attitude, thinking, point of view, and your life take on a new color, a new sense of thankfulness and contentment.

We are making choices all the time. We choose what we want to focus our attention on. We can focus on constructive planning and decision making or we can focus on thinking about how nothing will turn out. We can choose to worry or we can choose to put our energy into problem solving. We can spend our time thinking about how little we have or we can be truly grateful for all we do have. We can choose to be happy.

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.

Laugh – Its good for your health

Eliz and Don“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

Mark Twain

 

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and

hang on.  And swing!!!”  Leo Buscaglia

 

“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow”   H. G. Wells

 

Laughter is a tonic that makes today better and raises hopes for tomorrow. Humor is not just fun. It is extremely powerful “medicine” that heals the soul and mends the body.

 

Each person has within them the ability to create humor and laugh.

 

Medical research suggests that it gives a workout to many bodily organs and triggers the secretion of hormones connected with the immune system. Humor is a revival, a mini vacation, a breath of fresh air, a way to cope. Laughter counters isolation and puts people in empathetic touch with others.

 

Humor can:

  • Instantly transport you to another world
  • Remove you from the troubles of the moment
  • Allow the pain to subside for a moment
  • Make life more bearable
  • Allow you to laugh at yourself and your situation
  • Give you power over what seems impossible and powerless

 

Don in disguise 001

What makes you laugh?

Our youngest son had to wear a brace to hold his head up.  While it took a bit longer with more hard falls to learn to walk, once he did he never stopped.  Full of mischief and a sense of humor that never quit, he would do something totally unexpected and have us all laughing.

Our days are full of moments when if we are aware give us not only pause to smile but out and out laugh.  The ordinary can become moments of comedy or an opportunity to turn it into something to laugh at.

 

When do you laugh the most?

 

The following are some ways to bring humor into your life. Try some. Don’t be concerned about whether it seems strange or phony.  It may seem corny, but if it makes you smile or laugh, hey isn’t that what we need today?

 

  1. Take an intolerable situation – one that is packed with emotions and stress. Flip it over and “tickle its tummy.” Humor can take the edge off any crisis.

 

            “I’m giving so much money to the doctors, they’ll want to

erect a statue in my honor.”

            “I’m hanging on so tight, I’m getting rope burn!”

 

  1. Exaggerate. Take a bad day. Blow it out of proportion. Make a mountain out of a mole hill. Imagine you are giving a performance at the local theatre. Or become one of your favorite comedians and during the day deliver their usual script using your situation.

 

            “I had such a bad day. . . You wouldn’t believe

how bad it was.   It was so bad. . . “

            “I wouldn’t say the rooms in my last hotel were small,

but the mice were hunchbacked!” Fred Allen

 

  1. Create a good news/bad news scenario by turning upsetting events into humorous ones. Start with the bad news – then end it with a humorous punch.

 

            “The bad news is I had all my teeth pulled.

“The good news is I don’t have to floss anymore!!”

 

  1. “Accent-tchu-ate the positive, eliminate the negative. . .” and “latch onto the affirmative” was a popular 1940’s song. Choose to look at the world on the positive vs negative side. Example: a 50% chance of sunshine instead of a 50% chance of rain. A glass half full vs half empty.

 

            “How did the play go tonight?” “Oh, the play was

a great success,  but the audience was a failure!”

Oscar Wilde, Playwright

 

  1. When you’re hurting, the world looks grey and dismal. Start a “Happy Journal.” Paste a large smiling face on the cover.

Record one happy, pleasant or joyful event each day. This may include smiles, warm comments, a beautiful sunset, a favorite saying or anything that made you laugh. Paste in cards and letters. Write a love letter to yourself.

 

  1. Start a list of fun things to do. Things you have always wanted to do. Choose one to do each day.

 

  1. Smile at yourself every time you pass a mirror! At the same time, give yourself a big hug. (Simply wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze!)

 

Then, the next person you meet, ask for and give them a big hug.

Hug somebody new each day!

 

  1. Cut out jokes and cartoons and place around the house.

9.   Create and put some humor affirmations. When you start to feel depressed, repeat:

“I love to laugh”

“Each day provides funny moments. I just have to look for them.”

“I am so grateful I just want to laugh!”

 

  1. Write your troubles on a piece of paper. Burn it in a large ashtray and watch “your troubles go up in smoke.” Or tie the pieces of paper to a helium balloon. Take outside and release. Watch your troubles float away.

 

10.  Perhaps the greatest gift of all is our ability to laugh at ourselves! If we laugh at ourselves

nobody can laugh “at us” – they can only laugh “with us”.

 

            “When we admit our schnozzles, instead of defending them,

we begin to laugh and the world laughs with us.”   Jimmy Durante

 

So try it out.  Smile, laugh, share a moment of happiness with someone else, hug a friend who needs it and then help them smile with a word of hope and grace and humor.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packing

IMG_2971Last year I went on a long anticipated river cruise. It was something I had wanted to do for years and was excited when I had the opportunity to go.

Because good friends had done most of the research for our trip and had established our traveling plans, what was left for me was to determine what I would take with me for the fifteen days we would be traveling on a beautiful river boat up the Danube, Main and Rheine rivers.

It took careful thought to determine what I would need on the trip.  The clothes I chose would need to meet many different weather situations: rain, sunshine and chilly winds as well as dress up and casual. At home I had a whole closet to choose from as needed. Now however, what ever clothes I took had to fit into two suitcases that I could carry.

What should I take? What do I need to purchase? What would I like to take but really could do without? Eventually, I came up with just the right amount, the right balance and was ready to take off.

 

The Trip of Life

As I work on my next book, The Next Step, Beyond Survival, I am reminded again of all the “stuff” we take with us through the trip of life:

resentment, grievances, labels, fault finding, unfair comparisons, hate, anger, fear, anxiety and tons of other garbage that continue to weigh us down.

Perhaps as we travel on this trip through 2017, we can repack our bags, take out the things that only weigh us down and put the following in place instead:

acceptance, confidence, problem solver, compassion, hope, humility, love, forgiveness and grace. The load will be lighter and much more serviceable.

Whatever we decide to take with us on our next steps into the future, I hope they will be exciting and motivating and energizing, helping us to solve problems, enhance our relationships and make life a true bold adventure.

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.

My Next Step

Woman Doing Sit-ups --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisTradition compels us to start the New Year with new resolutions. We have good intentions, but too often they don’t go anywhere.

 

I resolve to . . . .  Go on a diet,

start an exercise program,

lose 25 lbs. and on and on it goes.

 

But if you are anything like me, I look back at the many resolutions I have made and most did not come to fruition. Perhaps some effort was put into them, but then they were abandoned.

 

But why? I think we have a spurt of motivation which evaporated once our regular routines begin again after the holidays. So do we abandon the idea?

 

Woman filling in a formGoal setting works – most of the time – and when it doesn’t, it’s usually because the goal wasn’t specific enough or realistic enough. If you want to lose 25 lbs in a month without the appropriate dedication and commitment, you will fail. And that brings me to the last point.

 

It takes more than just immediate motivation – it takes a long term commitment. That commitment must take you beyond two weeks, two months, or a year. It is a commitment to yourself to make your life better because you are the only one who can do that.

 

It’s not just losing 10 lbs. It’s not just joining a gym. It’s not just dieting. It’s making life style changes that go beyond the little goals. The long term goal here is becoming responsible for your health and putting in place those tiny steps to work towards that goal. It’s an ongoing process.

 

Businesswoman Writing on White Board and Businessman at TableI don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore, but I do reaffirm my life long goals and the goals I put in place during the year; goals which I have considered carefully.

 

I am committed to living my values and principles, take charge of my overall health, my behaviors and my attitudes.

I remind myself that I am responsible for what I do with my life.  I can waste time or I can manage it more successfully.  I can sit back in comfort or take a step out and beyond my comfort zone. I am responsible for not taking on more than I can handle.

 

As I reflect on 2016, I stop and think about the gains I have made. I have made and completed goals. For those that weren’t completed, I ask was it important enough to me? What can I learn from this and what can I give myself credit for. Were my goals realistic?  Did I understand what it would take to reach my goal? We can learn from looking back and evaluating our efforts.  Give yourself credit for trying and the work you did; then ask what you want to do next time.  Perhaps it is fewer goals and more realistic ones.

So among your new resolutions, go back and reflect on your accomplishments.  List even the tiny ones, because it is the tiny steps towards a goal that eventually help us complete our bigger goals.

Happy New Year

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.

New Steps – New Year

Family Celebrating KwanzaaOver the last few months we explored six little words that can help transform our lives.

Imagine    Create    Believe

Achieve    Inspire  Transform

These are words I want to remember as I step into the new year. I want them to form stepping stones to a better life, a renewed life, a transformed life.

 

It takes imagination to create a church, a cathedral or skyscraper. It takes time to build a structure that will rise thousands of feet in the air. We need to believe in ourselves and our abilities to achieve the impossible. It takes determination and a willingness to allow our inspirations to find a way to transform our dreams and goals into actualities and a willingness to be vulnerable.

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Within each of us are great possibilities for doing great things.  But it starts with the little things.  It is more than belief in one’s ability; it’s a belief in others – in their potential.  The possibilities then become how can we work together, how can we see the good in each other instead of all the things that divide us.

For after all, what each of us wants is to be loved and accepted; respected and given the opportunity to become all that God created us to be.  We can make that the focus of this next year or we can continue to strive for things that will divide us.

MP900444270As we reflect on all the things we have; if we allow our imagination and creativity to flow and believe we can do the things necessary to bring us together, we will be transformed from the ordinary to the extraordinary.  Our next steps will be discovering our potential and living our values, and reaching out to help others realize there’s.

Any new step can be both scary and exciting.  But It is where we reach out and take our Lord’s hand, asking Him for guidance and understanding and wisdom to become His people.

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.

 

Transformation through Action

Christmas tree with presents and fireplace with stockings --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisChristmas – we look at the twinkling lights and bright decorations and for a few seconds the Christmas spirit permeates our hectic schedules and “to do” lists.

We extend greetings and mail Christmas cards and packages and feel that “spirit” for a few more minutes. For some people, time is taken to attend candlelight services at a neighborhood church as a token to an old ritual or tradition.

But is that all there is?

Have we reduced Christmas to a few watered down traditions that we observe once a year before we go back to life as usual? Do we forget that we have this holiday because we wanted to honor and celebrate the birth of a tiny child who happened to be the Son of God? It is with this monumental event where transformation of the heart and soul begin.

j0444212A friend of mine buys a wreath every year to put on her parent’s grave.

This year, time was running out for her annual tradition and she stopped at a store she usually doesn’t frequent and was visibly disappointed to discover all the wreaths had been sold.

When she made an inquiry as to whether there were others in the back room not yet put out for sale, she was told no, they were all gone.

Her disappointment led to a conversation about why this was so important to her. The clerk suggested perhaps she could buy a swag, which was above her budget. The store manager, overhearing the exchange, came up and said they would like to give the swag to her free.

She was overwhelmed with such generosity and told them she would accept their kind offer. A week later, as she told me about the exchange, she reported how long lasting the deep warm feelings of good will she had experienced with this gesture of kindness and understanding still remained.

Girls Holding Plate of Mince PiesOne little act of understanding, of caring and giving created long term feelings of peace and good will.

If such a simple act could resonate so strongly and last for a long time, how much would a string of little acts transform the lives of those around us?

With this story, I am reminded again of the times I have not followed this principle of being sensitive to the needs of people around me. With a warm smile or a few compassionate words of understanding, we can let someone know they are not alone, that we have been in similar situations and that there is hope. We can extend that tiny kernel of belief that will carry them beyond the moment.

Christmas Tree in the SnowAs I look back over this past year, I am reminded of those times when I was too busy to see the need of another and to respond in some way. As I kneel humbly before the Christ child’s manager, I ask for more awareness and sensitivity to those around me – times when I can listen, or give a hug. It doesn’t take a lot of time. I ask that the transformation that He started in me so long ago, continues – that through my actions that transformation will grow – a transformation that goes beyond rituals and holiday celebrations but is seen everyday by simple acts.

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.

 

 

Transformed

img_0200What does it take to transform one thing into another?

Flour, sugar, butter and water are some of the basic ingredients that go into the making of beautiful pastries such as those that filled a window in this pastry and coffee shop.

Enticing and tempting, their tantalizing shapes and forms suggest the pure enjoyment we have of biting into such sweet confections.

 

Just as a baker transforms the simple ingredients we find in our kitchens into magnificent works of culinary art, so we can take the ingredients of our individualism, uniqueness and innate creativity and fashion them into a life that reflects beauty and substance.

In the process we become transformed from the mundane into the bold, audacious and adventuresome.

Basic Ingredients

All of us have the basic ingredients to create a life full of promise, accomplishment and contribution.  Within each of us are the necessary ingredients to be more than just the ordinary.

Recipe books give us the formulas to take basic ingredients and them into cakes and cookies and casseroles. The recipe of life dictates certain formulas be used to survive, achieve financial security and raise our families.

But within that mixture is the inspiration and motivation we need to give ourselves permission to be creative and go beyond the norm of life as usual.

 

ConductorWhat would it take to transform your life from the usual static routines to one that is satisfying and robust? How can you put the icing and decoration on your cake? What have you always wanted to do but was afraid to try?

 

To go beyond the mundane you have to be willing to let go of the commonplace and give yourself permission to explore, to believe you can aspire to greater things.

img_3108

 

First you have to imagine. What if I tried this or what if I did that, how would I feel? How would it inspire others? What am I attempting to say with my art? With my life?

 

An artist, whether using paints or pencils or words to form and express ideas and the yearning inside each of us can transform what is ugly or unpleasant into something of beauty or inspiration.

 

Throughout my trip to European countries such as Austria, Germany, Slovakia, etc. I saw ordinary, sometimes very old buildings, made incredibly attractive by the use of artistic doors, window shudders and flowers.

 

img_0609

We are transformed when we pick up the pieces life has broken and put them back together again.

In the process we not only grow, but rise to a higher level of understanding and faith. In the process of doing, we are changed. We aren’t the same person we were before.

 

In much the same way an athlete becomes hardened and toughed and his muscles become stronger and more reliable through daily workouts, so too do we get stronger, more resilient and self-reliant when we are stretched in the arena of life.

It is in adversity when we are challenged to do more.  It is there, working through the knots and tangles of life where we discover who we are, what we are made of and what we can become.

When we allow ourselves to be transformed above the ordinary and routine, we will find an excitement for life as we discover the recipe that is inside of us to become the wonderful person we were meant to be. You become the piece of art, masterpiece, that is enjoyed and appreciated by others.

Marlene Anderson

 

Postscript at end of each blog:

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.

 

 

Achieve

Award CertificateIf you can imagine a better life, you can create it.

If you believe you can, you will find the strength and resources to make it happen.

To achieve, you must first believe you can.

Just like you, I have struggled with the enormity of problems over the years and have been discouraged when trying to find solutions.

But I continue to remind myself that I have found solutions and can take whatever is handed to me and achieve something positive from it.

 

When struggling with devastating odds, we are often flooded with self doubts. “How will I do this? How will I survive?”  But when we stay in that space of doubt and fear, panic can set in and keep us frozen.

Yes you can!

 

StudentTo achieve anything we need to be willing to risk. As we step out into the unknown, the greatest obstacle we face is often ourselves.

What do you say to yourself when you are faced with unexpected tragedies, and life as you knew it has been turned upside down and inside out?

Life will throw us curve balls when we least expect it. And when it does, we will feel like a top spinning out of control. In the blink of an eye what we treasured can be snatched away and we will wonder what hit us. What will I do?

One of my stories

Years ago, my husband and I drove home from a large medical school hospital trying to absorb what the doctors had just told us. For five days doctors performed intensive tests trying to find the reason why our 10 month old son was unable to hold up his head. Words such as cerebral palsy, little to no intelligence, quadriplegic, were spoken to us as casually as if they were a weather forecast.

Struggling with the enormity of what we faced, I got on my knees to pray a very serious prayer. I knew I couldn’t ask God to simply take everything away – my son obviously had a very serious condition. But, I could and did ask God for the strength, courage and wisdom in raising our son and find ways to make his and our family’s life as normal as possible. I will never forget the incredible sense of peace and confidence I received. And I got up and knew we could do it.

 

don-tarzan-in-our-basement

We not only received strength and courage, but many other unexpected blessings as well. Don did not have cerebral palsy, nor was he mentally challenged and he was not a quadriplegic.

But he had been born with missing and weak muscles in his neck and other areas of his body. Although the diagnosis was less severe, his life was going to be a challenge for him and us.

 

I share this life event because I learned that the first course of action in any situation and crisis is prayer. And the second is to take that strength and courage and step out with confidence, determination and a “Yes I can” attitude.

Without a “Yes I Can” attitude, it would have been impossible to let him take the falls and scrapes and bruises he needed to gain that inner strength and confidence to become autonomous and self-reliant. We would have made him an invalid.

 

Young Woman Standing Over a Car Engine Bay Checking An Oil Dipstick

“Yes I Can” is a mindset that takes whatever life hands us and helps us use it to achieve.

It allows us to move forward with confidence.

It frees our energy to be creative, pro-active, resilient and flexible.

It enables us to risk

It gives us the freedom to try and fail and learn along the way.

It says, we are okay no matter what

 

“Yes I Can” is not only a skill – it is a way of life that allows you to live to the fullest.

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.

 

 

I Believe

img_0102Last month, I wrote about five little words that helped inspire a young woman to put together the pieces of a shattered life.

Imagine – Create – Believe

Achieve – Inspire – Transform

 

If you can imagine a better life, you can create it. If you believe you can, you will find the strength and resources to make it happen. But first you have to believe.

We are often Unaware of our Beliefs

Beliefs involve a conviction, a mindset and attitude – an approach to life where we take a position or point of view and act upon it with the assumption that something good or positive will result.

We don’t often think about it, but our beliefs are influencing our decisions in one way or another every day. Some we rarely give much thought to; such as the sun rising and setting even when hidden by clouds – we simply take for granted it is there. Others seem insignificant, such as believing your favorite sports team will win and cheering them on in the stands.

Yet, our beliefs guide and direct what we do all the time. In fact, when we do things that go against our beliefs and values, we will feel discontented, uneasy and distressed.

What do you believe in?

img_2847Losses, tragedies, and misfortunes will put into question what we believe.  We assume the trust and expectation we put in a marriage will last a lifetime.

We believe we will live a long and healthy life and then get MS. Our spouse dies before his/her time; our child is killed by a drunk driver.

We believe that if we get our degree we will be guaranteed a steady job doing work we love only to find ourselves dissatisfied and unhappy or without a job.

The expectations and assumptions we had and believed in are now questioned and challenged

And then you also begin to question yourself, your worth and your ability to make good decisions. You may question God – is He real – does He care. Do we believe enough to have confidence and faith to take that next step and try one more time?

 

Identify what you believe in and why

 

Sit down and make a comprehensive list of what you believe in and why you value those beliefs. If you don’t know what is important to you, what you believe, you will be conflicted in your goals and aspirations.

Here are some of mine:

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– I believe God gives us the strength and courage to face any adversity we encounter – I need to ask, be open and receive.

–   I believe when I face fear head on,  it will shrink in size.

–   I believe I can overcome whatever obstacle comes my way

–  I believe we can learn from our mistakes and become more honest and genuine in the process

–  I believe we will find solutions to our problems if we accept and believe we can

 

 

I believe we need one another for support and encouragement.  I believe there is determination and resiliency within each of us.  We need to be willing to dig deep to find it and put it to good use. Life isn’t always easy. But when we hang onto our faith and believe that we can, we can see amazing results.

My list can go on and on.  Your list may look totally different than mine.  What is important is that you know what you believe and why.  These will be important values you take with you as you move forward and take that next step.

Marlene Anderson

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

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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.

Create

img_2833Not everybody feels they have the ability to create.  But I’m not sure I would agree.

 

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. . .” Gen 1:1

 

When you look up at a star studded sky or watch the first rays of the sun rise above the curve of the earth, or stop to appreciate a panoramic stunning display of clouds colored by a setting sun, we are silenced and awed by the beauty.

 

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . (Gen 1:26) and then God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. . .” (Gen 2:7)

 

Did we receive some of that ability to create when God breathed life into us? I believe we did.

 

img_3194Oh, not everyone can create great cathedrals with spires rising to the sky or intricate carvings or giant monuments.

 

But every day we are creating something of importance.

 

We are creating relationships as we reach out to one another with care and concern.  We are creating acceptance as we look at one another as individuals with the same concerns as we have.  We create safe and warm environments within our homes where our children know they are loved.

 

Are these not as important creations as touring skyscrapers or driverless cars or phones that talk to you?

 

A number of years ago I attended a weekend course on art therapy.  The teacher was an art therapist who used different forms of art expression to help clients work through grief and loss.

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We were given a lump of clay and told to shape and mold it according to how we felt. It wasn’t important how it looked – what was important was that we allowed ourselves to use the clay as an expression of what we were feeling and experiencing.

 

At the end of our weekend course, our teacher, an art therapist, showed slides of some of the art her clients had done in her art therapy classes.  There were collages and quilts and wall hangings that were stunningly beautiful.

Yet I doubt any of them would have considered themselves an artist.  But out of their hearts and souls they allowed themselves to express who they were in that moment in time.

 

Children allow their instincts to create to come out in their play.  Clay and crayons and building blocks become their works of art.

 

The same instincts that are in children are the same creative instincts that are in all of us.  We just need to release them.

 

So allow yourself to be creative in how you play with your children, inquire about a neighbor who might be ill, find creative ways to reach out to those who may be hurting. Create a way to bring about healing from division. What will it take to bring your family together again? Perhaps it is just finding those ways to show love.

 

img_3132If you have a creative flair with flower arrangements, share it with others.  If you have a creative flair for writing, write.  Join an art class or writing group.  You may surprise yourself.

 

Allow yourself to be you: unique – creative and special.  And encourage others to use their creative talents.

Tell that child what a great job they did in drawing their dog or mom and dad.  Spend time asking them about the clay images they have made or the towering building they have made with blocks.  Ask an elder what they experienced in life and encourage them to share their life stories.

You will discover not only the triumphs they had over difficult situations and how they created a life out of nothing, but the what they learned in the process.

I do not know what you were handed in life to work with.  But I do know that God has given each of us the ability to take that inner spark of creativity and build on it. We can take whatever we are given and create something positive from it.

Marlene Anderson

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