#real life

Let’s get real here friends.

Life is hard. Being a woman is hard. Parenting is hard. Work is hard. Doing the right thing is hard.

And sometimes we do it well. And sometimes we don’t.

You know, in easy times and in tough times most of us know at least one thing to do to help ourselves or our situation. We know at least one thing to help us lose weight. We know at least one thing to raise our kids to be happy and healthy. We know at least one thing to help our relationships.

YET, sometimes we do those things and sometimes we don’t.

Why? Why do we choose to do things that we know probably won’t help and might even hurt the situation or circumstance.

Because we’re tired. We’re overwhelmed. We don’t have any willpower left.

Plus, pride, selfishness, the ways of the world, and evil can get in the way too.

And choosing the quick or easy thing doesn’t usually give us the results we’re looking for. In our culture of instant gratification hard work doesn’t seem very enticing.

So, what are we to do to help ourselves get through- especially during the really tough times? Here’s my top three ways:

1. Pray

Turn your eyes to Jesus. Tell him your hurts, your struggles, your pain. He knows what you’re going through, and he knows how it feels.


Matthew 7:7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”


And God wants us to co continually ask, seek, and knock. It’s not a one time and voila. Draw close to God in persistent prayer and He will draw near to you.

2. Read and Meditate on Scripture

The Bible has answers for all life questions and struggles. It may not be in the form of a neon blinking sign (which I prefer! Ha!). But, as we read more of God’s word we get to know Him more, and He then reveals more of his plan.

Study scripture (and believe it) for tips on physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It’s the greatest guidebook ever!


John 11:40

“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?'”


3. Get an Accountability Partner

Having someone like a friend, coach, or pastor to help hold you accountable can be life changing. They can help you step towards your goals in a way you can’t do by yourself.

Again, most of us know what to do. We just have a hard time following through. Having an accountability partner can be the missing piece- especially if we’ve tried again and again without success.


Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other one up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”


Which one of these do you need more of in your life? How can you implement more of that starting today?

Set yourself up for success and better ability to handle the storms of life with these three tips.

If you need someone to be your accountability partner, I would be honored to have the opportunity to walk alongside you in life.

Click here to schedule a time to chat with me for free to see if we might be a good team.

Back to School, Schedule, Work, or Just Anytime Stress

Back to school time for parents and kids can seem like a lot of hustle and bustle. Gotta get a new backpack (or clean up the old one from last year), get the million things on the school supply list, new clothes perhaps so cuteness can abound, get to bed earlier, plan lunches, talk to teachers, fill out paperwork for hours…

I could go on for days about stress of getting ready for school. Not that I’ve ever had to get a kid ready to go back to school, but I sure did that for myself many, many years.

The hustle and bustle can be stressful. I kinda think of it as similar to the hustle and bustle at Christmas time too: presents, food, traveling, managing money, Santa, pictures, family, tree, church…

I could go on for days about this too.

It seems no matter what’s going on in our calendar our culture does a really good job at making us stressed out about it. We set expectations on ourselves, others, the schools, our homes, families, friends… And for what? So, we can be the cutest, give our kids the best, look like the perfect family, be the perfect student, have the most or best stuff?

What if we took a moment to step back, breathe, and refocus?

What if we could de-stress these stressful times by taking pressures off ourselves that our culture tries to drown us with?

What if we could focus on what was the most important thing?

At Christmas time of course the most important thing is Jesus. So, can we focus on showing His love and sacrifice to others? (I’m not saying we can’t give gifts, but I am saying we have the ability to simplify.)

At Back-to-School time the most important thing is also Jesus. So, can we focus on our kids and helping them feel loved and cherished – like Jesus would? (I’m not saying we can’t buy them things, but again I am saying we don’t have to keep up with the Jones’s – or what the culture says we have to be and do and have.)

It’s so easy to lose our focus when there are so many distractions every single day. Think tv, cell phones, radio, billboards… These things on their own don’t seem so overpowering, but when we look at our cell phones for over four hours a day, watch tv for over five hours a day, and listen to the radio for about two hours a day (these are average amounts for Americans according to google) our time is nearly filled up. That’s about 11 hours of marketing that we’re getting per day. People trying to get us to buy, buy, buy so we’re happy and more fulfilled.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:20,

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

If we’re so focused on what our culture tells us we should do and what we should buy we are storing up treasures on earth. We’re trying to keep up with everyone else, and causing ourselves endless stress in the process. All. Year. Long.

So, how can we reduce stress and refocus?

I might invite for us together, to reduce the amount of media we’re taking in during our personal time.

I might invite for us to resist the temptation to be the same as all the others, feeling the need to buy all the things and go all the places, and focus on what is MOST important.

I also invite for us to put Jesus at the center of our focus. When our eyes are trained on Him, no matter what comes He will provide us His perfect peace. BUT, we must keep our eyes trained on Him. (See Isaiah 26:3)

We can’t get rid of stress in this world today. But we can do things to manage how we deal with stress. We can start with reducing how much hustle and bustle we allow during each the seasons.

How Effectively Do You Use Time?

Our health is directly related to how we deal with stress. And time is one of those stresses that affects all of us. How effectively do you use your time? I know I am not always the best manager of my time.

So, I’ve been reading this book called The Deborah Anointing, by Michelle McClain-Walters (she also wrote The Anna Anointing and The Esther Anointing). In it she says,

“The quality of your life is determined by how effectively you use time.”

Notice she says, “time,” not “your time,” Hmmmm….

We feel most stressed when our calendars are so full and we feel like we have to get it all done NOW! So, how can we practically understand time and manage it better?

Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Michelle goes on to describe four spiritual seasons of time in our lives. We experience:

Spiritual winter – a time of death to self

Spiritual spring – a time to embrace the call

Spiritual summer – a time of revelation

Spiritual fall – a time of harvest and fulfillment

In the midst of our busy schedules it’s important to keep Christ as our focus. It is sooooooo easy to allow ourselves to focus on things of this world – money, status, reputations, ourselves… (God has been working on my heart on this very thing lately. Sigh.)

Our life here on earth was meant as a preparation period for our eternity. God created each of us perfectly and for His purposes. If what we’re doing isn’t glorifying God in some way, we might need to reconsider if we need that thing. What spiritual season are you currently in? And how can you honor and accept where you are?

Let’s look at 5 ways we can practically keep our focus on God and use our time wisely no matter what spiritual season you might be in.

1.Adequate time with God daily

This is the most important part of our day. Think about this: You have about 8-10 hours of time during the day that are most likely dedicated to someone else – work, kids, whatever. That leaves you with 14-16 hours of time for yourself. Hopefully about 8 of those hours are sleeping. And that gives you 6-8 hours to do whatever else you desire. What are you doing with that time? Cooking and eating, exercising, playing, chores… What can you do so that time with God is your number one, non-negotiable priority?

2. Make a list of our top 5 priorities

I encourage you to take a moment and write down the top 5 priorities in your life. These are the MOST important things. This list will help you prioritize what you say yes or no to. Then use this list. Don’t just make it and put it aside. Allow it to help you make decisions.

3. Take time to breathe

You might be thinking, Carrie, I breathe all day long. I know, I know. But, I’m talking about time to focus on your breath. Every time you breathe in oxygen God is breathing into you His breath of life. Take time for 10 deep, focused breaths a day (at least) and watch your stress melt away. There are many different breathing techniques for different things. If you need help with this please let me know! I’m happy to give you more details, information, or tips.

4. Say no

This might be one of the hardest things for us. Saying no – especially when they are good things! But, it also might be what needs to happen to clear some things out of your calendar to make room for your top 5 priorities. I invite for you to inquire of God first to see if it’s something He wants you to do or not. Is there anything you can say no to today? And I might add – that if you have kids show them how to say no to things too. You will help set them up for success in so many ways.

5. Make a plan and be flexible

It’s important to not be willy-nilly all the time or just live by the seat of our pants. We do need a plan. But it’s also important to be flexible with that plan. Life is uncertain and when we hold on to our plans like a tight fist then we are only causing more strain and stress on ourselves. (Take a moment and make a tight fist. See how that would feel in your entire body to carry that around all day every day.) Make a plan, and allow God to infuse, change, and direct you – even when His way seems way out of the way. His plans are always good!

So, what is one thing you can do today to be a better manager of time?

Letter for a Rainy Day

I found this letter I had written myself for a “rainy day.” You know, one of those days that nothing seems to be going right, depression begins to set in, and you can’t seem to focus on God’s goodness- no matter how hard you try. Perhaps it’ll help you for a rainy day too!

Dear Carrie,

You must be in the middle of a horrendous rain storm. Hail, lightening, severe wind, stinging rain, and dark clouds surround you. Don’t give up! The storm will pass. Sunshine is on the way!

While in the midst of this storm there are a few things to remember:

  • The task ahead of you is never as great as the power within you.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

  • Guard your heart, but don’t lock it up.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23

  • God will be faithful to complete what He has started with you. He hasn’t quit. Don’t you quit either!

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

  • Let go of control. God’s got this!
  • If something hasn’t gone right, try again!
  • Do you need to change your perspective? How is this storm good for you?

Even when we don’t understand what God is doing (and this horrible storm) we can still trust His promises.

Breathe!
Breathe!

Do something right now that will fill you up.

Smile, even though it hurts. You are loved and appreciated.

How can I up-level my healthy?

Being as healthy as you can be takes time, perseverance, and knowledge.  But it doesn’t have to be hard.

Here are 10 ideas for up-leveling your healthy:

  1. Poop every single day

    I know. I know.  Poop is so terrible to talk about.  But, it’s actually one of the most important things to help you stay healthy.  If you’re not pooping every day then it’s fermenting and rotting in your gut.  Then that ickiness gets absorbed into your blood stream.  Even ickier.

  2. Manage your stress

    Stress is the number one cause of ALL dis-ease.  Stress felt consistently can even alter how your genes are expressed causing sickness, disease, pain, weight gain, and sleeplessness.

  3. Eat organic

    Pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals put on our food sources cause our bodies to have a build up of toxins which cause tons of health issues.  Choose organic whenever possible or use the Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen list.

  4. Pray and meditate

    Praying and meditating reduces stress.  Plus, the connection to God and learning to love and trust Him during life struggles will increase your faith.

  5. Get good sleep

    Your body detoxes while you sleep.  If you’re not sleeping enough you will likely wake up feeling foggy brained, irritable, and of course exhausted.  The left over toxins build up over time and cause more dis-ease in the body.

  6. Move your body

    Exercise does so much for not only your physical body but your emotional well being too!  Movement releases feel good endorphins that keep us happy and obviously help our muscles too!

  7. Play 

    As we age we play less and less.  We get more serious.  Play allows us to feel lighthearted and enjoy life more.

  8. Invest in your relationships

    Multiple researchers have found that happy, healthy people have around 3 to 5 strong relationships that are nourished often, or daily.  Cultivate relationships with people most important to you.

  9. Drink spring water

    Tap water contains a number of toxic chemicals that most filters can’t remove completely.  Spring water contains essential minerals and is what I recommend to my clients for safe drinking.

  10. Detox your body and home

    Getting rid of toxic chemicals and cleaning products in your home will do wonders for your health.  In addition, your body stores toxins and needs detoxing every so often.  Make sure you detox safely and with guidance if you’ve never done anything like that before.

 

These are a few ideas to up-level your healthy.  Know that creating new healthy habits takes time.  It doesn’t happen overnight and requires one step at a time.  What questions do you have about this list?  What would you add to this list?

Need ideas for implementing any or all of these tips?  Email me for suggestions.

 

 

The PTSD Christmas

Happy Thanksgiving!  Merry Christmas!  Jingle Bells!  Santa Claus!

Do these words make your heart swoon or send dread all the way to your toes?!?!  For some people, the holiday season can be a time of anxiety, sorrow, dread, worry…

And I get that.

If you’re like me and have suffered from PTSD or anxiety/panic attacks, the whole thing and especially socialization of the holiday season can feel like a boulder on top of you. Even thinking about being with all those people and having to have conversations might just send us into a full blown “I refuse to get off my couch and celebrate – bah humbug” state. And possibly even the idea of getting one tree out of the attic -much less seven (yes, I have seven Christmas trees!) – is just too much to handle.

Let me explain.  When there is an emotional war going on in our brains the body is trying to figure out how to create balance and peace.  Some days it does better than others.  And some days it’s a total loss.  Either way, when something is thrown in – expected or not – that is out of our control our brains flip out.  Our brain is already overloaded and this small feather just sent it into full combat mode.  Que the heart palpitations, sweaty palms, shallow breathing, tight chest, dread, fear, and fight or flight mode.

The sympathetic nervous system -the fight or flight system – is fully engaged and anxiety is high with panic riding full force towards us on the horizon.  And grandma, parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, nephews, and in-laws are arriving shortly!  What am I supposed to do?!?!?!

Here are 5 tips for those of us with PTSD and/or anxiety to use in moments like this.

  1. Stop.  Take a deep breath.  And another.  And another.  And another.  When we breathe slowly and deeply for at least two minutes our brain says, “Hey!  I was freaking out, but I’m breathing like a calm, relaxed person soooooo – I must be relaxed.”  This turns on the parasympathetic nervous system and allows us to relax and calm down the nerves.
  2. Focus on what is going well in this very moment!  We are in control of our thoughts!  Much to many people’s surprise, we have the ability to stop negative thoughts from taking over and sending us in a downward spiral.  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.”-Philippians 4:8 (NIV)  Paul’s words are written as he sits in a jail cell wondering if he will live or die.  If he can focus on positive thoughts in that situation then I can too.
  3. Get grateful!  Begin to name all the things you are grateful for.  This also takes the focus off of the negative and puts it on the positive.  Gratitude can do more for us than we realize.  I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal that I write in everyday, and I really notice a difference in how I respond to anxiety producing moments.
  4. Be prepared ahead of time.  Take some time for yourself filling your own cup.  Maybe you’ve heard the thought that you can only serve others from the overflow of your own cup.  And if you’re dealing with anxiety or PTSD then you need some extra filling of your own cup to be able to deal with life – especially around the holidays.  What nourishes you or helps you relax?  What is enjoyable? Go do that!
  5.   Choose your activities wisely.  What are some parties, events, or gatherings you want to attend (if there are any)? You don’t have to go to all of them.  Choose the one or two that will be important for you but also the ones that could end up nourishing your soul.  If it’s too much to have Mammy, Pappy, and Uncle George over then ask if someone else can host this year.  Things don’t have to stay the same just because, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Being kind to yourself and to others, make the best choice for you.

Implementing these tools won’t stop your anxiety, but they will help you manage it.  And as a yoga teacher I often tell my students that when we feel depression we are living in the past.  When we feel anxiety we are living in the future.  The best way to counteract both of those is to live in the present moment.

Comment below with a way you help manage your anxiety!

To learn more about me and my story visit my website, and contact me if you need advice for dealing with anxiety or PTSD.