Therapize me

Fill a page a day.

1.) Take a minute to connect with your feelings. Close your eyes. Imagine. Draw or paint them.
2.) Doodle until  you fill an entire page.
3) Pick an object in your house. While looking only at the object put your pen to paper and draw it without picking up your pen. Colour in your crazy art.
4) Find a beautiful picture in a magazine cut it out and make that the centre of your art journal page.
5) Imagine your inner critic as a monster. Draw or paint that monster.
6) Pick a quote and design an art journal page around it.
7) Write down five of your core beliefs. Pick one and illustrate it.
8) What is your favourite fairy tale? Draw or paint your favourite scene.
9) Think about someone who inspires you. Use the person’s characteristics to inspire your journal page.
10) Live in the moment. Journal about whatever is on your mind.
11) Construct a Journal page around the last time that you travelled.
12) Grab some junk mail and use it as the background of your page. Colour over it.
13) Write down 10 things that you are grateful for and use them to inspire your Journal Page.
14) Pick a lyric from one of your favourite song and illustrate it.
15) Find a poem and let it inspire your Journal Page.
16) Pretend you are a goddess. Draw her.
17) Illustrate your favourite moment from the last week.
18) Write a compliment to yourself for a recent accomplishment. Centre a Journal page around it.
19) Draw yourself in a beautiful ball gown.
20) Journal about things that you think are lovely.
21) Think about something in your everday life that you take for granted and devote your art journal page to it.
22) Paint or illustrate how you feel when you’re at your favourite place.
23) Draw a large heart in the middle of the page and fill it with things that make your heart smile.
24) Think back to your favourite childhood memory and use it to inspire your Journal page.
25) Journal about peace and harmony.
26) Use glue to stick book pages to your Journal page and use as a background then draw and paint on top of them.
27) Pick three colours. Draw an animal using a pen and then use only those three colours to fill it in.
28) Draw a staircase and think about your biggest dream. Draw it at the top of the staircase and then fill in each step with goals to make it reality.
29) Journal about hopes. (I totally read her writing as Herpes hahaha)
30) Journal about things that make you laugh out loud.

On guard

Earlier in life, I struggled mightily with migraine headaches.  Overwhelming and sometimes debilitating.  I’ve been incredibly thankful that they have become manageable and few and far between in recent years.

Lately, though, I’ve had more headaches.  My initial guess is blood pressure.  I’ve put some pounds back on and I know that takes its toll.  I’ve also had a lot of life changes to navigate, which sends my mind reeling at times.  And let’s be honest:  I’m 47.  My hormones are doing their own thing.  Any of those things could lead to some headaches.

In yoga the other day, I noticed that it took me a while to unwind.

Let me restate that:  In yoga the other day, I got about halfway through our savasana before I even began to unwind so in stead of lying still and enjoying the yummy relaxation, my monkey brain was still saying, “relax, relax, relax. breathe. in. out. in. out. breathe.”

Not quite the zen experience I was hoping for.

Yesterday during my body check, I asked myself to look past the easy thought that my body just felt “regular.” I wasn’t hurting anywhere, but how did it feel?  Tense? Well, yes.  Almost always in my neck and shoulders, but my homework was to focus on what was going on below my neck and shoulders.  So I pondered this: How does my body feel? Not my head with its dull ache or my shoulders and neck with their characteristic tightness, but how does the rest of me feel?

The answer?  On guard.  Not the same as strong and ready for whatever comes, but on guard and coiled as if anticipating something harmful to happen.  As if years of living on adrenaline created a habit and posture that’s difficult to undo, but that isn’t who I want to be.  I want to be open Lisa. Soft Lisa. Strong and ready? Yes. Guarded and coiled? No.

One yoga class I attended a few years ago would often use the term “Open your heart” to encourage us to pull our shoulders back.  Isn’t that a beautiful, positive way to to describe that?  Open your heart.  Soften your heart.  Your body will follow when your heart is open.

Reconnecting

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I’m a woman of the mind.  I read.  I think. I even store my stress in my neck and shoulders.

My mouth is also a big part of my identity. I teach.  I sing.  I talk.

Thanks to years of concerted effort, I have also learned to be a listener, using my ears and brain together.

When you ask me how something feels, I will most likely answer with an emotion related to my mind.  I feel tired.  I’m overwhelmed. 

It was recently called to my attention that I rarely, if ever, talk about how my body feels.  It’s almost like my whole life lives from my neck up.  I think.  I talk.  I eat.  I think some more. I listen a bit.  I talk some more and eat some more and think some more and feel some more.

It reminded me of Paul’s statement about how the Ephesians lived in the futility of their minds.  I’m not a biblical scholar, but it makes sense to me that maybe they also suffered from mind-body disconnect.

So I was challenged to reconnect.  To focus on how my body feels and not participate only in the things that are going on between my ears.  Once a day, I’m to take a few minutes and focus and ask myself How does my body feel?

Today, I did that during yoga and you know what the answer was?

My body feels strong.

As I moved from a down dog into a plank for the third consecutive time, my body felt strong.

And connected to my soul and my mind.

And it was very good.

Buying time 


See this? It comes into my inbox every month. Every month, I pay $32 so I won’t have to think about some things.

Things from a past life. From a time that didn’t work. Things from a time that overwhelmed me and caused me to doubt myself.

For over a year, I’ve paid to keep those things out of sight and out of mind. During that time, the only time I’ve thought about it is when I see that invoice every month. Thinking “ugh” once a month seemed a small price to pay, but is avoiding a difficult task worth over $300? I’m not sure anymore.

It may be time to face it. To sort through what’s in that space and make decisions on what to do with it. To be honest, I don’t even remember what’s in there. I just know it was all stuff I didn’t feel strong enough to deal with.

Stay tuned.

No more black and heavy 

 Isn’t this much better than a burdensome and unending list of things to do? Wouldn’t you rather have a light, colorful, festive list of awesome things?
I choose light. I choose contentment. I choose happy and joy and color pretty.

I choose joy and I choose me.

Choosing me means choosing to be the person God created me to be, not what others expect or what is supposed to be. It’s choosing joy and self care and self care is not the same as selfish.

I choose joy.

why i need jimmy carter

Stress

In a word, that’s it.

Since identifying that calm, loving internal voice as Jimmy Carter, several little things have clicked.  I’m reading his memoir A Full Life and I can hear his beautiful southern voice as I read.  It calms me and brings peace.  Today, I started his daily devotional book and the gentle wisdom in it does the same thing.  My heart voices a resounding, yes! as I read his words. I can hear his story and his years of experience.

I will readily admit to feeling defeated in a couple of areas right now.  Food has once again gotten the best of me.  When I’m tired, I eat.  When I want to de-stress, I eat.  My body is pulling me toward simple carbs and sweets, which is not what I want to eat when I’m not stress eating.  It’s hard to realize that I’m once again at this place. I’m also being stretched WAY before my comfort zone in a personal area of my life and it’s causing physical stress — tension in my neck and shoulders and jaw.

So today, I listened to Jimmy.  I cancelled two services that were no longer serving me, but only providing additional sources of stress.  I committed to returning to yoga and I claimed the fact that I am a good wife.

And all  the while, a gentle southern man stood next to me and smiled, encouraging me with the soft sounds of a coastal Georgian accent.

Winning by losing

No, not losing weight.  I don’t think that’s happened yet.

What I lost today was more important than that.  I lost a false belief.  The belief that I had somehow failed at being a wife since my first marriage ended.  Even going further back than that, I listened to the negative words of MC Hammer telling me that I wasn’t enough; that the real me wasn’t wife material.  Wives are quiet and stay home and spend all their time on other people.  They don’t do things to take care of their hearts, minds, or spirits if it means time away from families.

And that’s just not true.

I’m a good wife.  It’s OK to be happy.  It’s OK take time to care for myself and do things I enjoy.  Not just things that will “make me healthy,” but things that I enjoy.

So what else did I lose?  Well, I lost two of those things that were on my long list of “shoulds.”  I cancelled my gym membership and my membership to Weight Watchers.  Neither of those things are bad in and of themselves, and can actually be tremendously positive in the right place and for the right person.

But they are not for me.  I’m an intuitive eating/yoga doing/morning walking kind of girl.  That’s what makes me happy.  Not following rules or going to gym class.  There are way to many PE memories for that.  So today, I committed to making my Tuesday/Thursday yoga time work and to also getting up and going for walks.

I also gave myself permission to not feel like I had to eat enough to keep up with the boys.  It’s OK to slow down and listen and follow my body’s cues.

And Jimmy Carter smiled.

He smiled because he knows all about winning by losing.  He lost his second presidential election in a big, big way, but he went on to be the best former president in the history of the US.  He’s used his connections and influence to feed and house hungry people, to end disease, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to thousands upon thousands of people.  Even now, as he faces brain cancer, there is no losing for him.  No losing.

Just peace and happiness and winning.

sadness and fear

I don’t want to give these two things anymore room than they already have, so i’m not going to use capital letters in the title.

This has been a rough week.  A really rough week.  A situation I can’t avoid has caused me a lot of stress and I had to choose: do I face this and stand strong to keep the boundary line in place or do I listen to the fear?  Acknowledging my fear unnerves me.  It’s so easy to call it other things: stress, worry, anger — those are all easy scapegoats, but at the root is fear.  So what am I afraid of?

I’m afraid of being hurt.  Whether it’s my body or my soul, I’m afraid of being hurt because I have been hurt.  A lot. I was routinely hurt by my mother when I was growing up.  Body, mind, and soul, Nothing was exempt.  I was hurt by my husband in every way you can imagine.  My husband — the man who was supposed to be my ally, my friend, my protector.  Instead, he hurt me.  Sometimes accidentally and sometimes intentionally.  The worst part about it was that more often than not, it was couched in humor.  Let me say this clearly: it is never, ever funny to make fun of or belittle someone.  It is never, ever OK to use your relationship with someone as a butt of a joke.  Ever.

So when people get loud and verbally hostile, I shut down.  I get afraid.  I would rather absorb the situation than confront it.  Also, in an attempt to not be that person, it’s hard for me to set boundaries and stick with them.  I don’t want to come across as bossy or controlling because I don’t want to be that hurtful person in someone else’s life.

So this week — when I had to set boundaries and the response was yelling, accusations, and extreme physical agitation, I was physically overwhelmed.  I craved processed carbs and sugar.  I just wanted to sleep or curl up on a couch and watch movies.  I seem to have clenched my teeth all through the night because I woke up with extreme tension in my jaw, neck, and shoulders.

And I cried.  I don’t cry a lot, but I cried.  I cried for the little girl who felt like she was too much and I cried for the mom who feels like she can never be enough.

I don’t want to be ruled by those two things though: sadness and fear.  I don’t want to be defined by them.

I want to be that girl in the picture.  Who isn’t afraid to laugh out loud at the world and all its craziness.  The girl who knows she’s loved beyond all doubt.  The girl who knows she’s doing the right thing for herself and her family even when other people have doubts.  Not sadness girl.  Not worry girl.  Strong, happy girl.  That’s me.

Externalizing the internal

Abby asked me how I felt when I’m micromanaged from within. What do I want to say to the doubting internal dialog? And what would I say to the people who have put me through waves of self-doubt over my recent decision to marry.  Without much hesitation, I answered,”I want to say that you don’t know me and I do. I know I’m capable. I know my strengths. I know I can do this.” She challenged me to write that down and post it someone in my office where I could see it. 

And so I did. The beach is my happy place. The sound of the waves centers me. I feel more grounded there than anywhere. A few years ago, my sister gave me this picture and I’ve had it in my office as a mental mini-vacation spot. One of my college student friend volunteered to do the writing around the margin, and now it sits front and center on my desk. 

 

And yes. That is Scarlett O’Hara in the pink frame. I don’t think that requires much explanation. 
Rewriting old scripts can be hard. I need to have this message in front of me on an ongoing basis. Isn’t it lovely? Not only the picture, but the words of strength and the knowledge that it was written by a friend? 

I am capable. 

I know my strengths. 

I know I can do this.