Thursday, November 29, 2012

Writing Up a List

I have been doing so well with my anxiety since probably June, but it has started to kick in again.  I have been traveling so much and been gone a lot more than I ever have and so I have been feeling like I am so far behind in my life and I keep trying to catch up.  Even as I sit here thinking about all the things that I need to do and how far behind I have gotten I can feel my heart start to beat a little fast and I feel a pressure in my chest and like I can't breathe right.  In fact, it feel just like as it is described as Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder carries with it a fundamental inability to relax . . . you're in a constant state of readiness for danger . . . remain hyper alert for danger, always seeing it as though for the first time.  It's almost as if they are continually facing threat.  Since the body is not equipped to keep this up indefinitely, you eventually collapse from exhaustion.  It's like the fight-or-flight response on a daily basis.

This is not a comfortable feeling, not to mention that being in a constant state of fight-or-flight is exhausting.  I used to just try and block it or just tell myself to just breathe, but I have learned that I need to stop and pay attention to the feeling.  I stop and ask myself what I am feeling and why.  Right now I am feeling overwhelmed because I haven't had the time to do all that I wish to accomplish and needs to be done (you know, mostly chores, etc.).  This is when I usually write my list.

I am a huge fan of lists, they just help me stay focused.  When I am overwhelmed and starting to freak out I pull out my paper and just start writing everything in my head that needs to be done.  Once I have my list I start writing next to each item a deadline date if they have one.  Looking at a huge list is daunting, but only looking at the items that need immediate action reduces the intensity of the list.  I only tackle the things that have to be done that day and then I move to the next date of items when I can.

It seems like life can just be about putting out the fires at times and at times like this, I really have to pay attention to the panic I start feeling, stop and recognize what I am feeling, then find a reasonable solution to solve it and my lists are just one way of doing that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turkey Treats

My Visiting Teacher brought this buy, isn't it so cute,
 it just make me smile (and the treats were yummy too)!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Baby Renae

So I recently had my birthday and then was going through some pictures on a disc my dad gave me and so I thought it would be appropriate to post my baby pictures to help celebrate my birthday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Daily Bread

Regarding the exodus of the Tribes of Israel and the miracle of the manna, D. Todd Christofferson said:  "By providing daily sustenance one day at a time, Jehova was trying to teach faith to a nation that over a period of 400 years had lost much of the faith of their fathers.  He was teaching them to trust Him.  In essence, the children of Israel had to walk with Him each day and trust that He would grant a sufficient amount of food for the next day on the next day and so on.  In that way He could never be too far from their minds and hearts.  Once the tribes of Israel were in a position to provide for themselves, they were required to do so.  Likewise, as we plead with God for our daily bread--for help in the moment that we cannot provide for ourselves--we must still be active in doing and providing that which is within our power."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Letting Go of Your Childhood Role

I have been thinking that I am all better.  I seem to have conquered my anxiety about traveling, my depression seems to mostly be under control and I haven't found myself doing something co-dependent in over a year or more.  But then, when you least expect it, something happens and there you are, battling those old feelings as they try to take over your life.

Without getting into details, I received a request from someone that threw me into my old co-dependent thoughts.  At first I wondered how I could fix the situation, then realizing I couldn't fix the situation and shouldn't, I felt the co-dependent guilt settle in.  I didn't know what to do about it, I didn't know what to say and I felt so awful and I could feel myself sinking down with each thought.  After a day or so of struggling with myself I typed up a reply and off it went.  I tried to stick to just the facts, but that didn't seem to help with my guilty feelings at all. 

My role my whole life had been the "fixer" and I just couldn't fix this situation, but couldn't seem to shrug off the feeling that I should try and find a way.  I realize that this was just my old co-dependent self trying desperately to rise to the surface and claim the old role.  In fact, I had even recently read this quote from the book Healing the Eight Stages of Life by Matthew Linn, Sheila Fabricant, and Dennis Linn:

Even into adult life, children may assume any of four roles to survive, often the "hero," or caretaker, usually the oldest child, becomes a surrogate parent by supervising the other children and running the household.  This "hero" is often a super achiever in studies or athletics.  In contrast, the "scapegoat" or problem child misbehaves to draw attention away from the alcoholism or to express family tension.  The "mascot" tries to minimize the problems by joking, clowning and pretending to be carefree.  Finally, the "lost child" fades into the background in an attempt to withdraw from the turmoil.

I guess its no surprise which role I took on even though I wasn't the oldest, I was the caretaker and letting go of that role has been an enormous task and I thought I had done just that.  One message and I found myself fighting to not fall off the co-dependent wagon.  I am happy to say that I didn't lose this battle, but I didn't walk away unscathed either.  I feel my battle wounds just assuredly as if they were physical.  I guess the co-dependant war is never over, hopefully I can win the next battle a little quicker and easier next time.  I just have to remember that I am not the caretaker of anyone but myself.  I need to remember that my roles are varied and different such as a mother to my kids, a wife to my husband, a sister to my siblings, a daughter to my parents and a friend to my friends.  These roles are all very different and carry different responsibilities, but none of them include "saving" anyone or "fixing" anything.  I have to remember that I can be supportive but not try and fix everything.  It is not easy letting that childhood role go as it seems to sneak up on me when I least expect it, but I am trying and I guess that is all I can do.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Princesses

On the right is my verbally adopted daughter, Taylor, who was recently crowned Bonney Lake High School's Daffodil Princess and on the left is Eatonville High School's Daffodil Princess, Annie.  They are both LDS and love having that in common, they are so cute and they just make me smile!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Crimping Our Hair

How funny are these, my sisters and I pulled out the hair crimper and went crazy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Give Love With All Our Heart

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “If the world is to be improved, the process of love must make a change in [our] hearts. … It can do so when we look beyond self to give our love to God and others, and do so with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind” (“And the Greatest of These Is Love,” Ensign, Mar. 1984, 5). (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 42: This Is My Gospel)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thow Out Old Beliefs

I was talking to someone about the abuse she received as a child and how her abuser convinced her that she deserved what she was getting.  We talked about how as an adult she logically knows that that isn't true, but emotionally the little girl inside her struggles to not believe that message. 

Whether we were abused, abandoned, neglected, hurt in some way, it is hard to let go of the message we felt for years and years.  I have really struggled with loving myself even though I received a clear message from my Father in Heaven that He loved me.  I knew that my family loved me, but loving myself, well, I wasn't sure I was worth it.  My friend was struggling with this same issue, she wasn't sure even God loved her.  I assured her that he did and then I sent her this quote from the book Healing the Eight Stages of Life by Mathew Lin, Sheila Fabricant & Dennis Lin about a woman named Linda who had received a lot of abuse from various family members:

As Dennis and I (Sheila) began to pray with Linda, we asked her to return in her memory to a time when she was sexually abused and then invite Jesus into her memory.  We thought Jesus' priority would be to help Linda forgive her relatives.  Although Linda was able to recall a memory and invite Jesus into it, she remained stuck in being able to forgive.  So I tried to listen to how Jesus wanted to love Linda in her memory of sexual abuse.  What I sensed in Jesus' heart was not first of all concern that Linda forgive, but rather outrage at what had happened to her.  I sensed that Jesus was angry on Linda's behalf, as angry at the desecration of her body as he was over the desecration of
God's temple (John 2:13-17).  I told Linda what I sensed, and then we asked her to see Jesus driving out the people who abused her just as he drove out the money changers who desecrated the temple.  At this, Linda began to cry for the first time in fourteen years of psychotherapy when we asked her why she was crying, she said, "that Jesus would get so angry for me . . . that he would love me so much.  He just wants to share all of me.  If I am crying he will cry.  If I am happy, he will be happy."

It is true that Jesus wanted us to forgive, but there was also a point where He said enough is enough as he did with the money changers.  So to my friend I say the she is loved and that God loves her and is on her side, enough is enough on believing her abuser's message, it is okay to get angry and throw out their messages as the Savior threw out the money changers.  Learning to love ourselves and believe in ourselves means having to throw out old mistaken beliefs so you can embrace new and better ones, namely that you are loved!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Puppy Potty Pads

I was helping a friend do some organization, we were in another room for about an hour and went back to find that her puppy had reached through the crate and had been pulling in puppy pads and shredding them like crazy, this was so funny it not only made me smile, but made me laugh!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trip to Washington D.C.

Amy Richards was one of my roommates in 1984 or 1985.  She was so cute and we hit it off.  She ended up doing a semester at BYU Hawaii and I had bought a ticket to go visit her, but then her dad got sick and she went home to the DC area so I changed my ticket and went there instead to visit her.  As her father was the current President of the Republican Party, Richard Richards, we had the opportunity to do lots of sight seeing around DC.  We even did a quick one day trip on the train to New York City.  I had such an amazing trip which took place in 1987!

Amy Richards & me
Facing Lincoln Memorial with Washington Memorial in the back

Lincoln Memorial Building

Statue of Lincoln

Amy Richards on the steps of the Capital Building

Me on the steps of the Capital Building

Me on the steps of the Capital Building again

Me on the side of the Capital Building

Me inside the dome of the Capital Building
Me at the Roosevelt Monument

Me with Roosevelt's statue

Me in the front of the Roosevelt Monument

Me by the Potomac River

Me at the side of the Washington Monument

Me and Amy Richards by the DC Temple

Me by the DC Temple

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Visiting Teaching is a Way of Life

In reality, visiting teaching is never finished.  It is more a way of life than a task.  Julie B. Beck

Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another:  a question concerning a person's family, quick words of encouragement, a sincere compliment, a small note of thanks, a brief telephone call.  If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good.  President Thomas S. Monson

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Giving Equal Time

If you have been following along with my blog, you will already know that I have decided that having a balanced live is like a teeter-totter, bouncing back and forth between yourself and others.  Not doing this can result in a variety of health issues.  One of my friend's health really took a turn for the worse when she started having seizures and it was finally determined that because she wasn't finding a way to release all her stress, worries and emotions, it was coming out of her body in the form of these seizures.

Recently I was talking to another friend who was finding it hard to release some of her past experiences and emotions and had gone so far as to consider cutting herself.  I shared with her something my therapist calls "Exformation."  I am sure you all know what "information" is, but my therapist takes the word a little further in describing it as everything that comes at you every day by others and life and we hold all of that information in our bodies unless we find a way to release it.  Exformation can be as simple as exercise, talk therapy, a massage, or taking a step further by doing something like Cranial Sacral Therapy, pretend fighting, yelling, and so much more.  The whole point of Exformation is to do something to physically get the Information out of your body.

My friend really liked this idea.  In the book The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D. says:

People with anxiety disorders are often out of touch with their bodies. If you are anxious or preoccupied with worrying, you may, as the expression goes, be "living in your head" - not feeling strongly connected with the rest of your body below the neck.

This was me for so long, I truly did feel disconnected from my body, so much so I didn't even see myself when I looked in the mirror.  Learning how to Exform and release things that I had been holding in my whole life was really scary for me.  I truly was afraid I might hurt someone in the process so I had to take it little by little.  All the years of feeling like I couldn't breathe or that I needed to throw up in dreams had taken their toll on me.  I was exhausted and suffering from depression as a result.  I had to learn that taking some time for myself was okay and that in the end doing so would bless not only me, but those around me.  In Dr. Bourne's book he also said:

Co-dependency can be defined as the tendency to put others' needs before your own.  You accommodate to others to such a degree that you tend to discount or ignore your own feelings, desires and basic needs.  Your self-esteem depends largely on how well you please, take care of, and/or solve problems for someone else (or many others).  The consequence of maintaining a co-dependent approach to life is a lot of resentment, frustration and unmet personal needs.  When these feelings or needs remain unconscious, they often resurface as anxiety - especially "chronic, generalized anxiety."  The long term effects of co-dependency are enduring stress, fatigue, burn out and eventually serious illness.  Recovering from co-dependency in essence involves learning to love and take care of yourself.  It means giving at least equal time to your own needs alongside the needs of others.  It means setting limits on how much you will do or tolerate, and learning to say no when appropriate.

Just that one line of "giving at least equal time to your own needs alongside the needs of others" made a real difference to me.  Giving at least equal time is fair, trying to hold everyone else up on the other end of the teeter-totter isn't realistic.  Eventually you would let them all drop due to your own exhaustion.  How much better it is to bounce gently back and forth giving joy equal time between yourself and others!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Flirting With Princesses

These boys flirting with the some of the new 2013 Daffodil Princesses made me smile!

Monday, November 5, 2012

OHS Cheer & Song Squads

This picture was recently posted on Facebook and yes that is me in the first row on the right.  What a fun part of my life!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Try Again Tomorrow

"Have the determination tomake the effort, the single-mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that syas, 'I'll try again tomorrow.'"   - President Thomas S. Monson

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Learning How To Serve Properly

We were talking about service at church and I shared my story about learning how to serve without doing it co-dependently.  As my therapist had always told me, you have to give from a place of love, not from a place of lack.  But I didn't know how to do that at first, initially I served others, beginning with my family as a child, out of fear and guilt, then because I had to as a responsibility.  I had read this in the book Choices by Melody Beattie:

There's a way to give and be of service that's healthy.  And there's a way to give that doesn't work as well.  I had to back-off from giving for awhile.  I had to learn the difference between giving as a reaction and giving as an action.  I had to learn to take care of and give to myself too.

I knew there was a right way to give and to serve, but I wasn't really sure how to do that.  I had been doing it the same way for over 40 years, so this was all new to me.  Isn't it interesting how service is such a crucial part of any 12 step recovery program, except Co-dependents Anonymous.  In fact, this is what Melody Beattie had to say in her book Codependents' Guide To The Twelve Steps about it:

A general consensus among those recovering from codepencency is that Twelve Step groups for codependency recovery are naturally less service-oriented than Twelve Step groups for other addictions.  That is because for many of us, too much service to others and not enough self-care is part of what has harmed us in the past--harmed us and not helped others.

Many of us feel a need to back off from helping others for a while, as part of our recoveries.  While our goal in recovery is to become healthy givers--giving from a sense of high self-esteem, giving because we want to, giving in a manner that is not overextended, compulsive, or guilt-ridden--we may need to go to the extreme of not giving for a while in order to find that balance and to be able to discern healthy giving and caring.

We will know how and when it is time to being giving again.  By paying attention to ourselves, we will learn healthy ways of carrying the message.

Learning to give and serve the right way begins with looking inward as taught in the movie Ramen Girl by this particular line:

Sometimes too much technical training can get in the way. You cook with your head. Understand? Your head is full of noise. You must learn to cook from the quieter place deep inside of you. Each bowl of ramen that you prepare is a gift to your customer. The food that you serve your customer becomes a part of them. It contains your spirit. That's why your ramen must be an expression of pure love. A gift from your heart. Do you understand? Begin by putting your tears into your broth.

Giving and serving comes from love and emotions not from have-to's and should's.  I finally felt it when I got a new Visiting Teaching assignment for someone that I truly love.  I realized I could serve her easily because I love her and that those that I don't love yet, I can serve with the spirit of love.  So what did I learn after 40 plus years?  Doing for yourself and for others is plain and simple - love!