Wednesday, November 30, 2011

With Thoughtless and Impatient hands...


With thoughtless and impatient hands
We tangle up the plans
The Lord hath wrought
And when we cry in pain He saith
Be quiet man while I untie the knot

-- Anon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Recovery

This morning I was watching "Good Morning America" and Tracy Gold was on talking about her new show "Starving Secrets."  In her interview she brought up that she believes that she is "recovered" from Anorexia.  Then she said that she believes recovery is when you aren't using your crutch any more, that when things go wrong in life, you don't fall back on that crutch.

I've wondered during the past several years of therapy when I would be "done" and some people have said you are never done.  That may be true in the the sense that we are always learning, growing and changing, but I think there is a lot to be said for being done in the recovery sense of the word, not using whatever your crutch was any more. 

Several months ago, I was watching the TV show Necessary Roughness and the lead character, Dr. Dani, said:

The thing about habits is that you have to disrupt them gently, in steps, until one day you have a whole new routine. Old habits do die, you just have to want it bad enough.

I feel like that is how it has been for me, changes made slowly.  As I write this I realize I haven't used a co-dependent behavior in a really long time.  I feel like I have the skills now to make better choices and that I listen more to my inner self and see a more whole me.  Judith Viorst said it beautifully in her book Necessary Losses:

For healthy growth involves being able to give up our need for approval when the price of that approval is our true self. What we call our sense of identity is our sense that our truest, strongest, deepest self persists over time in spite of constant change. It is a sense of self-sameness that is deeper than any differences a true self on which all ourselves converge. This steadying sameness includes both what we are and what we are not. It includes our identifications and distinctiveness. And it also includes both our private, inner "I am I" experiences and the recognition by others that "yes, you are you."

So, what does recovery really mean?  In the "Co-Dependent's Guide to the 12 Steps" by Melodie Beattie, she puts it simply that recovery means:

We are safe now.  We are cared for.  We are protected. 
We are free now to live our lives and love ourselves.

I have come a long way in the last four years and I feel like I can really say that I am in recovery.  I do not fall into co-dependent behaviors when things in life go wrong.  I now have the skills to act appropriately when challenges come my way.  I believe that I am worth things like rest, nourishment and so much more.  I love who I am becoming, a more complete self.  I believe in me and in my dreams.  As Melody Beattie says in her book:

Recovery is accepting yourself for who you are,
no longer waiting for others to define you or to approve you.

Before all of this, I would hope that others would say and believe good things about me.  My level of belief in myself would ebb and flow with what others thought of me.  I have learned how to define me by my own terms, not by what others may think and say.  I have learned how to feel my pain and embrace it.  I have learned how to feel love for myself and embrace that.  I can accept all of me.  I do the things that bring me joy and are a part of me.  And yes, I can finally say, "I am I."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Losing Weight - Month 3

On The Biggest Loser they always have that "dreaded week 2" where the contestants don't seem to lose hardly anything.  I didn't have a "dreaded week 2" but I did have a dreaded month 2.   I did so well the first month, then the second month it was my birthday month and I had a lot of celebrations and opportunities to cheat.  At the end of the month 2 I ended up not losing any weight (but I didn't gain any either so that was good), my body fat percentage went up 1%, but I did lose just over 2 inches.

Originally I thought that I could allow myself one cheat a week, but I realized that I was cheating more than once a week.  I decided to not cheat again until Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow - yippie!  My exercise is still hit and miss, but I did great with my food in month 3.  Again, I'm doing the plate method (divide your plate in half, one half is fruit or vegetable then the other half is divided again and one-fourth is a protein and the other one-fourth is a carb).

In my last Losing Weight blog entry I had a picture of an average breakfast for me, this time I'm including a picture of an average lunch.  For lunch I usually do a protein shake for my protein, for the carb I will usually do another small cup of cereal (I like my cereal) or something similar like this muffin (it is a large muffin, so I will only eat half of it) and, of course, I have my half a plate of fruit.

So at the end of Month 3 I have lost 9 lbs., 6 inches and 2% body fat.  After 3 months of my "Losing Weight" plan, I have lost a total of 20 lbs., 21 inches and 8% body fat.  I am down several sizes in my clothing too which is really cool!  After Thanksgiving, I'm planning on not cheating again until Christmas.  I can't wait to see how well I have done at the end of the next month!
 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Spiritual Living - If . . .

We were talking about sacrifice in Sunday School this morning and the teacher asked for examples of what we sacrifice today.  I immediately thought of time, but then I remembered a quote from Elder Neal Maxwell that I had read this week that made me think of something even greater that we can sacrifice.  This is what Elder Maxwell said:

"The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. . . .  The many other things we give to God . . . are actually things He has already given us, and He has loaned them to us.  But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God's will, then we are really giving something to Him. . . .  There is a part of us that is ultimately sovereign, the mind and heart. . .  And when we submit to His will, then we've really given Him the one thing He asks of us."

In our lesson, we talked about various things we sacrifice like money when we pay our tithing, time when we do our callings and so on, but our will is the ultimate sacrifice we can make to our Heavenly Father.  I think the bottom line really is making the choice to put the Kingdom of God first.  This isn't always an easy thing to do, but if we are willing to do that He willingly rewards us and as Elder Maxwell said, if we let our will be swallowed up in God's will then we are really giving him something.

As church went on today, in Relief Society we talked about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and our teacher brought up some quotes from President Boyd K. Packer's recent General Conference talk "Counsel to Youth" that really inspired me, he said:

The gift of the Holy Ghost, if you consent, will guide and protect you and even correct your actions.  It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought or a feeling put into your heart. . . .  It is not expected that you go through life without making mistakes, but you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Spirit.  This promise applies to all members of the Church. . . .  I say again that youth today are being raised in enemy territory with a declining standard of morality.  But as a servant of the Lord, I promise that you will be protected and shielded from the attacks of the adversary if you will heed the promptings that come from the Holy Spirit.

There it was, the word "if" that seemed to be the key.  If we consent, the Holy Ghost will protect us and even help us correct our actions.  If we will heed the promptings, we will be protected and so on.  It really is our choice as to what we will do and how we will be blessed based on those choices.  I have always felt strongly about choosing to live the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I just have known what I wanted in the end, so it was never really a hard choice for me, but I do know others who have struggled with this choice.  If is a small, yet powerful word, it denotes our ability to make choices.  Making choices always yields us something, either blessings or consequences. 

There has been so much talk lately about the Mayan Calendar and the year 2012 and it really bothers my daughter.  You see, she is from the graduating class of 2012 and to hear all this talk about "the end" just as she graduates can feel like there are no choices, no if's ahead of her.  But she knows that "only the Father knows" when the end will come and just knowing that makes it more encouraging to move forward in her life and to make good choices.  President Packer also said something in his talk that I thought was very encouraging to the youth of our day, to those that might worry about the state the world is in right now, he said:

Sometimes you might be tempted to think as I did from time to time in my youth:  "the way things are going, the world's going to be over with.  The end of the world is going to come before I get to where I should be."  Not so!  You can look forward to doing it right -- getting married, having a family, seeing your children and grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren.

My children have so much to look forward too, as do I.  I pray that we will all make good choices and know that in the end, that if we make good choices we will be blessed greatly by a Father in Heaven who loves each one of us dearly.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Breathe Strategy - Positive Imagination

I have been extremely tired the last few months and the other day I decided to do some research to see if there was something I could do for the fatigue.  I know that fatigue is one of the major symptoms of depression but I just didn't know how much sleep a depressed person should be getting or if that even matters.  In my research I came across a website with some really interesting ideas.  The website is hgi.org.uk.  This is the part that I found most interesting:

People sink into a depressed mood when their innate physical or emotional needs are not being met and, instead of dealing with this situation, they begin to worry about it - misuing their imagination.  All depressed people worry.  This increases the amount of dreaming they do, upsetting the balance between slow-wave, recuperative sleep and dream sleep.  Consequently they start to develop an imbalance between energy burning dream sleep and refreshing slow-wave sleep.  Soon they start to wak up feeling tired and unmotivated.  (Depressed an anxious people dream far more intensely than non-depressed people.)

This really made sense to me because my dreams have been intense and seemed to go on all night long.  In wondering what to do next, I decided just this paragraph alone addressed several things I could work on.  First of all, was making sure my "innate needs" are being met which the website listed as the following:

  • Security-safe territory in the home and outside where we can live without experiencing excessive fear and anxiety
  • Volition-a sense of autonomy and control over what is happening around and to us
  • Attention-receiving it, but also giving it-an essential nutrition that fuels the development of each individual, family and culture
  • Emotional connection to other people, both indvidually (friendship, love, intimacy) and in the wider community (respect, status)
  • Privacy-time to reflect and consolidate our experineces
  • A sense of competence and achievement (ensuring we don't feel low self-esteem)
  • The need for meaning and purpose that comes from being stretched mentally or physically (or both)
I can see in my past where those needs weren't met, but I have really been doing well at making sure that they are now.  One other thing that I noticed in the quoted paragraph above is the line about how depressed people "misuse their imagination."  That part really caught my attention because it was something my therapist and I had talked about.  She said that I have a really good imagination, I just use it negatively and I had to agree with her.  I always imagine the worse in everything so I decided I needed to figure out how to use my imagination in a more positive way, but I didn't know how.  In Beyond Co-Dependency there is this line:

"How do we nurture ourselves? . . .  If we've never seen, touched, tasted or felt it, how could we know what nurturing is?"

I felt like I could apply that to my problem with positive imagination, if I've never seen, touched, tasted or felt it, how could I know what positive imagination was.  After reading the hgi website, I made a list of  positive imagination ideas that it suggested such as noticing good things (I think my blog renaemcbarron365.blogspot.com is helping me to do that), deep breathing exercises (I have been doing this for years using the Bodyflex program), exercise (I'm working on this one), harness imagination to solve problems instead of worrying about them and imagine dealing with problems positively. 

These last two suggestions were definitely difficult for me, but I came up with an idea.  I have been doing my "morning pages" (the morning pages idea is from the book The Artists Way where you write whatever comes out of your head filling three pages) for several years and I decided as part of my morning pages I would take one of my worries and write the opposite of the worry.

On the hgi website, it said, "when patients know that their negative ruminations are causing their poor nights sleep and their exhausted days, they are quickly motivated to work to break the cycle of depression."  After reading all this, I was motivated too.  I really wanted to feel better so I started my positive imagination writing as part of my daily morning pages the day after I found the website.  A week has gone by and I'm feeling so much better.  I'm not as fatigued and my dreams are slowly lessening in intensity.  I think I still have a long way to go as "positive imagination" is a challenge for me, it definitely does not come naturally.  But practice makes perfect, right?!  At least that's what I imagine.