To Not Feel Deprived

Share

Gretchen Rubin, a happiness author and blogger whom we’ve featured on the blog before, has taken on a new challenge: figuring out what’s behind a habit and “how to make good habits and break bad ones (really).”  Ms. Rubin will reveal her findings in a book due out in 2015.  In the meantime, she has been blogging about her research into questions such as

  • Sometimes, people acquire habits overnight, and sometimes, they drop longtime habits just as abruptly.  Why?
  • Do the same habit-formation strategies apply equally well to everyone?
  • What are the overarching strategies that allow us to change our habits?

Ms. Rubin suggests that when in pursuit of a good habit, one of the most important things to do is to avoid deprivation.  When we feel that we have been deprived of something, we often compensate by giving ourselves permission to break the desired habit, even if by just a little.  For example, I’ve been known to say, “I was really good with my calorie counting this week, so I’m going to indulge in this brownie tonight.”

Ms. Rubin points to a recent study published in the NY Times.  In the study, participants were split into 2 groups before going on a 1-mile walk and then eating lunch: 1 group was told that the walk was for exercise and that they should focus on their exertion; the other group was told the walk was for pleasure and that they should enjoy themselves.  Afterwards, the “exercise” group reported feeling more tired and grumpy, and they ate more sweets at lunch.  The study results suggest that if you view a habit or activity positively, you’ll be more likely to stick to it and less likely to feel deprived.

In several posts, Ms. Rubin refers to “the strategy of treats.”  This is not about a reward system where you get a treat if you maintain a habit or reach a goal but is instead about giving yourself small, healthy treats on a regular basis:

“Treats help us to feel energized, restored, and light-hearted. Without them, we can start to feel resentful, depleted, and irritable. When we give ourselves plenty of healthy treats, we don’t feel deprived. And when we don’t feel deprived, we don’t feel entitled to break our good habits. It’s a Secret of Adulthood for Habits: When we give more to ourselves, we can expect more from ourselves.”

Some examples of treats that don’t cost much in the way of calories, money, or time are:

  • Rather than saving them for fresh flowersvacation, reading “fun” books regularly
  • Using spa-like hand soap in your own bathroom (not just for your guests!)
  • Lighting candles during a regular-old weeknight dinner
  • Twinkle lights every day of the year
  • Flipping through vacation photo albums
  • Keeping fresh flowers on your desk

What are your favorite treats?

-Katie Huffman

Thoughts inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s June 9, 2014 post, “A Key to Good Habits? Don’t Allow Ourselves to Feel Deprived,” Image by Flickr user Morgan

Pastoral Health and Sexuality, Part III

Share

 This is the third in a special series on Sexual Health by guest bloggers Dr. Bill Bixler and Greg Hill, LPC (see their bio below the article).  Click to read the first  and second installments.

****************************

In the first post we looked at the importance of sex and sexuality for pastors and the dangers inherent in minimizing that part of their lives.  The second post explained how pastors can become vulnerable to the misuse of their sexuality, acting out via cybersex activities or by having extramarital relationships.

Pornography-viewing and other sexual acting out often serve a dual function of relieving stress and offering escape into a fantasy world. Such sexual acting out indicates a pastor’s life is precariously out of balance. Here are some tips for keeping your life in better balance:

  • Boundary-setting: One of the greatest stressors for pastors stems from their inability to set clear boundaries. What are some ways to set clear boundaries? Take time off. Construct a metaphorical fence around your day off. Let it be known that that time is vital for replenishment. Barring a dire church emergency, defer non-essential requests from parishioners. This can be done with grace and humor and will decrease burn-out symptoms.  Delegating responsibilities is another way to set a boundary. Avoid micro-managing and succumbing to the belief that the pastor needs to do it all. Learning to say “no” is an important aspect of boundary setting. For example, set time-limits on phone conversations and meetings.  Pastors often have a need to please everyone, which is impossible.
  • Self-care: Engage in self-care, including physical exercise, adequate sleep, proper diet. In addition, self-care includes time for pleasurable activities, time with friends, developing a hobby. Seek out a spiritual mentor with whom you can be transparent. sunset-13444_640Take time for your prayer and devotional life.
  • Nurturing marriage: Healthy marriages require quality time together. Keep a date night sacred. Take a weekend away. Talk to your spouse, especially about your feelings—fears, doubts, frustrations. Your partner is there, not to fix everything for you, but to provide care and support. Mutual emotional vulnerability can significantly enhance sexual intimacy. Talk with each other about your sexual needs and desires. Be playful; don’t get stuck in the same sexual routine.

This is not an exhaustive list of ideas but provides some seed-thoughts on rebalancing one’s life.  However, many pastors reading the above will likely consider the writers to be naïve or even delusional. The objection would be something like, “We don’t have time to engage in these activities. Church work is too demanding.” But this objection takes as a given, what we feel needs to be reexamined. It is incumbent upon the pastor to shape his/her ministry in healthy ways to reduce stress and the potential for sexual acting-out.

To succumb to the thinking that the above is impossible places pastors in untenable positions. To survive and thrive in ministry requires more than dedication to one’s pastoral vocation. It requires attending to the basics, balancing life, and caring for self as one cares for others. In so doing, the risk of needing to escape into sexual acting-out is significantly diminished.

Two final thoughts.

Firstly, for those who find they have been unable to stop pornography-viewing or other acting-out behavior, counseling with a professional trained to deal with these types of issues can be very helpful. These problems are treatable in a therapy context which assures both acceptance and confidentiality.

Secondly, the pastors who come to us for help are usually male, despite the fact that female pastors also struggle with sexual issues. We are aware that these posts may be unintentionally geared more toward male pastors. We would love to hear from female pastors regarding gender-specific differences related to the topics we have discussed.

-Bill Bixler and Greg Hill

Greg Hill     Bill Bixler

Dr. Bill Bixler (above right), a clinical psychologist, and Greg Hill (above left), licensed professional counselor, have both received clinical and theological training and are co-founders of the Center for Emotional and Sexual Health in Cary. They are certified sex addiction therapists and specialize in working with:  couples coping with infidelity; individuals caught in sex and porn addiction; teenagers struggling with porn, sexting, etc.; and spouses and families traumatized by the addict’s behavior. They are also available to speak to church groups on sex and sexuality. They can be contacted via phone: (919) 466-0770  or email:  dr.william.bixler@gmail.com  and  greghlpc@gmail.com.

Image by Pixabay user PublicDomainPictures

Pastoral Health and Sexuality, Part II

Share

This is the second in a special series on Sexual Health by guest bloggers Dr. Bill Bixler and Greg Hill, LPC (see their bio below the article).  Click here to read the first installment.

****************************

Pastor John survived another Sunday, but just barely. Still awake after midnight, he stares at the  bedroom ceiling while a host of stressful thoughts bear down on him—parishioners’ criticism of his sermon, worry about the budget shortfall, power struggles with the assistant pastor. He needs some escape, some respite from the pressure. Almost without thinking John slips out of bed without waking his wife, tiptoes to his study, and proceeds to view pornography on his laptop until 3 a.m.

This scenario is, unfortunately, not rare.  Various surveys place the number of pastors viewing pornography between 30 and 54 percent in a given year.  Also, these surveys do not include additional acting-out behaviors, such as participating in sexual chat rooms, hiring prostitutes and escorts, and affairs with church members or staff.  If we included those statistics the above percentages undoubtedly would be higher.

Cybersex (the term used to describe all sexual activities on the internet) has three Computer_keyboardcomponents, the three A’s, which make it so compelling. It is:

  • Accessible– the click of a mouse or touch on an IPAD
  • Affordable– most pornography on the internet is free
  • Anonymous– it can be viewed in complete privacy

Many pastors exhaust their physical, spiritual, and emotional resources taking care of their flock. If stress and anxiety are not managed well and healthy relationships are neglected, pornography becomes a source of escape and emotional self-medication. The fantasy world of internet pornography becomes a substitute for real relationships and intimacy.

In addition, pastors who do not take the time to nurture their own marriages and friendships are at risk of cybersex activity. Marriage therapist John Gottman describes two types of couples: those who turn toward each other and those who turn away. Pastors who turn away may turn toward pornography or someone outside the marital relationship. An absence of genuine intimacy can lead to the false intimacy of extra-marital relationships or fantasy relationships via pornography.

As in the case of Pastor John from our introductory paragraph, cybersex can provide instant, but temporary, escape from the stresses of church work. In addition, some pastors seek to numb deeper emotional wounds:  emotional or physical abuse from childhood, memories of a perpetually critical father or mother, constant fears of not being a good enough minister, spouse, or parent.

Various psychological strategies are employed to allow pastors to continue their behavior unimpeded by self-restraint:

  • Compartmentalizing occurs when that part of the pastor’s life which is unacceptable to him/her is intentionally split off from the rest of life.
  • Minimizing is a type of rationalization, such as, “it’s not that bad because it’s only pictures, not actual sex with someone.”
  • Denial does not even recognize that there is a problem—“I don’t do it that often so it’s no big deal.”

But it is a big deal. Pornography-viewing and other cybersex activities generate intense shame and guilt, create emotional and sexual alienation in marriage, open clergy to accusations of hypocrisy, place ministerial vocations at risk, and severely weaken the spiritual vitality of the pastor.

In the next post we will examine how pastors can significantly reduce vulnerability to sexual acting-out, affirm healthy sexuality, and provide guidance to those who have tried many times to stop but have been unable.

-Bill Bixler and Greg Hill

Greg Hill     Bill Bixler

Dr. Bill Bixler (above right), a clinical psychologist, and Greg Hill (above left), licensed professional counselor, have both received clinical and theological training and are co-founders of the Center for Emotional and Sexual Health in Cary. They are certified sex addiction therapists and specialize in working with:  couples coping with infidelity; individuals caught in sex and porn addiction; teenagers struggling with porn, sexting, etc.; and spouses and families traumatized by the addict’s behavior. They are also available to speak to church groups on sex and sexuality. They can be contacted via phone: (919) 466-0770  or email:  dr.william.bixler@gmail.com  and  greghlpc@gmail.com.

Image from wikipedia

Remembering God’s Gift of Water

Share

Question: Are we forgetting how important water is?

Clean water is a goal for many Americans.Is God’s gift not good enough?
I have had some interesting conversations about water lately. As a Wellness Advocate, I have learned a lot about the importance of water for our physical health. Today I want to share a short reminder about why water is not only important for our health, but also why it is especially essential to us as healthy Christians.

Water is mentioned a total of 722 times in the Bible, more often than faith, hope, prayer, and worship. In the Bible, it doesn’t take long for water to be mentioned. Right away in Genesis 1:2, “The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” Water is such an essential component of life, it was created on the very first day.

In Revelations water is mentioned again, and it is almost the last words of the Bible.  Revelations 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.” Water flows throughout the scripture, and this should remind us of its importance…both spiritually and physically.

St. John Damascene summarized, “Water, then, is the most beautiful element and rich in usefulness, and purifies from all filth, and not only from the filth of the body but from that of the soul, if it should have received the grace of the Spirit”. (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith– Book 2: Chapter 9). Water has the power to heal, as can be seen from the stories of Naaman – the Syrian cured from his leprosy in the waters of Jordan (2 Kings 5:1-14) and the annual miracles at Bethesda in Jerusalem (John 5:1-9). Water has the power to purify, to provide deliverance, and it can also destroy evil and enemies as in the stories of the Flood (Genesis 6:17) and the flight of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 14:1-15:21).

Christ of the Abyss--Cristo_degli_abissi70 to 75% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. Roughly 70% of an adult’s body is made up of water, and about 85% of the adult brain is made up of water. Water is essential to life, and all living things need water to survive. So why do we as God’s children, sometimes take this gift…His gift of water for granted?

Jesus, the source of Living Water, extends an invitation to all who thirst. We take communion to remember His body…broken for you, and His blood… shed for you. We remember that water and blood poured from Jesus’ wound (John 19:34), while he was crucified. Water is given to us by Our Lord Almighty. Let us remember this, and honor His blessings daily. My father never drank water, and he spent the last 3 years of his life on kidney dialysis. My brothers and sisters, I challenge you to drink more water daily.

“O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love;
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above.
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.”
Taken from Sam Rutherford & Anne R. Cousin’s hymn The Sands of Time Are Sinking

10 Reasons to Drink Water (from Allaboutwater.org)
1.    Water is absolutely essential to the human body’s survival. A person can live for about a month without food but only about a week without water.
2.    Water helps to maintain healthy body weight by increasing metabolism and regulating appetite.
3.    Water leads to increased energy levels. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is actually mild dehydration.
4.    Drinking adequate amounts of water can decrease the risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer.
5.    For a majority of sufferers, drinking water can significantly reduce joint and/or back pain.
6.    Water leads to overall greater health by flushing out wastes and bacteria that can cause disease.
7.    Water can prevent and alleviate headaches.
8.    Water naturally moisturizes skin and ensures proper cellular formation underneath layers of skin to give it a healthy, glowing appearance.
9.    Water aids in the digestion process and prevents constipation.
10.    Water is the primary mode of transportation for all nutrients in the body and is essential for proper circulation

Cool Extras

  • Water Your Body, and Drinking Water are two free App for Android users that remind you to drink water daily and also help keep track of your water drinking habits.
  • Unicef TAP Project” For every ten minutes you don’t touch your phone, UNICEF Tap Project donors and sponsors fund one day of clean water for a child in need. Take the Challenge and help provide a child in need with clean drinking water.
  • How Much Do You Know About Hydration? Take the 15 question Water Quiz from WebMD.

-Dwight Tucker

First image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons; second image is Christ of the Abyss at San Fruttuoso, courtesy of Wikipedia via Creative Commons

Pastoral Health and Sexuality, Part I

Share

This is the first in a special series on Sexual Health by guest bloggers Dr. Bill Bixler and Greg Hill, LPC (see their bio below the article).

****************************

Gnosticism is a theological cat with more than nine lives. Its most recent resuscitators include Elaine Pagels, the brilliant Nag Hammadi scholar, and Dan Brown, author of the best-selling book, The Da Vinci Code.  Gnosticism continues to live in a church context whenever a pastor places spiritual formation on center stage and relegates physical life and health to the homilectical and practical shadows.

One aspect of physical life which many pastors struggle with is sexuality, so they place it in the deepest, darkest part of those shadows.stone-tower_Pixabay user steinchenPastors who ignore their own sexual health are not only flirting with Gnosticism, but are neglecting a vital and God-given part of their identities.  Affirming the goodness of sexuality should include more than an annual sermon on Adam and Eve becoming “one flesh.” Spirited Life encourages pastors to move toward a healthier lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition, exercise, and timely physical and emotional health checkups. In addition, a healthy lifestyle needs to include a healthy sexual life.

In the Scriptures sex is not viewed as peripheral but as an essential part of marital relationship. For example, a battle-ready army was essential to Israel as it was occupying the Promised Land. Despite the necessity of a military fighting force at the ready, certain males were exempt from military service as follows, “If a man and a woman have been married less than one year, he must not be sent off to war . . . He must be allowed to stay home for a year and be happy with his wife.” (Deut. 25:4) Thus, for Israel, even national security did not trump the need to safeguard sexual and relationship nurturing during that vital first year of marriage.

So while the Bible shines a bright light on sex as good and right, it also is unflinching in its narratives of sex gone bad.  There are almost too many examples to illustrate this point, from the tragicomedy of Onan and his spilled seed to the horror of the rape of Tamar.

Whether describing the Song of Solomon’s beauty of sex, or the David and Bathsheba ugliness, the Scriptures address the issue of sex and sexuality head on. Sadly, many pastors do not.  By not doing so they leave themselves and many of their church members adrift in the struggle to live out their sexuality Christianly.

Pastors often focus their entire energies on spiritual concerns and church business to the neglect of their physical and sexual well-being. This unconscious homage to the anti-physical tenets of Gnosticism often carries a terrible price. Sex ignored can become master rather than servant. When that happens, sexual acting-out by the pastor is bound to occur and with it the tragedies all of us are familiar with.

In the next two posts we will be looking at how a pastor becomes vulnerable to sexual acting-out, whether with another person or via pornography. We’ll look at the factors that create that vulnerability and the various functions served by that acting-out. Lastly, we will examine what steps can be taken to develop healthy sexual attitudes and behavior, including making lifestyle changes which will greatly diminish the potential for sexually self-destructive behavior.

-Bill Bixler and Greg Hill

Greg Hill

Bill Bixler

 

 

 

 

 Dr. Bill Bixler (above right), a clinical psychologist, and Greg Hill (above left), licensed professional counselor, have both received clinical and theological training and are co-founders of the Center for Emotional and Sexual Health in Cary. They are certified sex addiction therapists and specialize in working with:  couples coping with infidelity; individuals caught in sex and porn addiction; teenagers struggling with porn, sexting, etc.; and spouses and families traumatized by the addict’s behavior. They are also available to speak to church groups on sex and sexuality. They can be contacted via phone: (919) 466-0770  or email:  dr.william.bixler@gmail.com  and  greghlpc@gmail.com

 Image by Pixabay user steinchen

We Will Uphold and Care… Together

Share

We all know that our relationships have a significant impact on other spheres of health in our lives.  When we have strong ties to our friends, extended families, spouses, children and communities, a solid foundation for health is nourished.  But when those relationships are expected to exist in isolation from each other, too much pressure can be put on those relationships.  There can be pressure to have flawless relationships with our children.  Single adults can be expected to endlessly serve their friends and neighbors.  And we all have seen marriages that are expected to function without the support of community.

photoThis past weekend I drove to Philadelphia from Durham to attend a wedding.  My husband was there to support his best friend by being the best man.  The wedding was a beautiful mix of style and substance.  The bride and groom had the ceremony and reception at a facility that was in the middle of the woods, which lent the proceedings a kind of rough, rustic fairy-tale quality.

The ceremony itself took place in a stone amphitheater that felt like it was built around the time Stonehenge was constructed.  It was a beautiful place to watch a couple get married and it felt like their marriage was springing up out of some primal past, up from the rocks and moss and trees.  But there’s the rub: we were an audience gathered to watch something good happen.  The presiding minister, who my husband’s family knows to be an excellent human being who loves God and has lived his life in God’s service, had played a significant role in the groom’s life.  But it became clear over the course of the ceremony that we were there NOT as participants in this sacrament, the liturgy of marriage, but as spectators of someone else’s special moment.

He preached classic sermon texts from Genesis two and Ephesians five, but the message we were left with was that we were gathered there to watch God do something to these two people.  The God in the sermon was extremely fond of marriage, so much so that He had instituted it as a rock on which to build in the creation.  Marriage was about God, and a successful marriage was one that “had God at the center.”  Of course, all of this was good.  But as the ceremony and sermon went on, suddenly it became clear to me that at this wedding, something was missing that should have been driving the whole thing:  Community.

The group rallying around this couple was not there as the Church (though nearly all of us were practicing Christians and many where actual members of the couple’s place of worship) but rather people meaningfully connected to the couple who had come to watch something wonderful happen to them.  Moreover, and perhaps more deeply troubling, the unity and bond of marriage between two others becoming one was not traced back to its source.  There was no Trinity.  On p. 118 of the Methodist book of worship, the congregation is asked to “do everything in [our] power to uphold and care for these two persons in their marriage.”  Marriage in the Methodist tradition is not a thing that happens merely between a couple and God, but one that is supported, facilitated, and affirmed by the community of the Church.  It finds its shape and roots and source in a community that is God and is nourished, supported, and guided by God’s body, the Church.

Marriage, like baptism and ordination, is the work of God in the church.  Pastors, baptized individuals, and married couples share the distinction of owing their lives to the church.  Pastors, if they are to be healthy and whole, need the community of the church to be with them, to nurture and support them, and hold them in prayer and relationship.  One of the great difficulties for clergy is loneliness—of being the other within a community–but there is a call and opportunity for pastors, like married couples, to say out loud that they need support, they need care to be whole and human in the midst of the hard work of their vocation.

-Caren Swanson

Image by Caren Swanson

Pedaling to Stop Traffic

Share

The following post was written by Mark Andrews, Spirited Life Group 3 participant and pastor at St. Luke’s UMC in Hickory.

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do is admit to my church that I need help.  Somehow, through almost thirty years of ministry I had taken for granted that as the spiritual leader of my congregation, I could never admit any weakness or vulnerability.  But keeping up that façade of invincibility has been catching up to me in these last few years.  In a new appointment with more staff and more administrative responsibilities I found myself less and less able to maintain the persona.

In the midst of this stress I began Spirited Life through the Clergy Health Initiative. At the same time I also took part in a year-long spiritual practices exploration called the School of the Spirit offered through The Lydia Group.  These two programs reinforced each other, and one of the messages that became clearer during this year was what Brene Brown calls the courage of vulnerability.  Somehow, if I was going to get better I must, first of all, admit I was needy, and secondly, ask for help.

With fear and trembling I went before my Staff-Parish Relations Team, then my Administrative Council, and finally, my congregation, asking for a three month renewal leave.  I told them I was weary and needed a rest from my responsibilities, with the hope that I would come back renewed and refreshed to continue ministry.  At each announcement, I received from my people powerful signs of grace, appreciative affirmations, and open-hearted permission to do what I needed.  Such an outpouring would have never happened had I not admitted my need.  And as a result, I have already begun the healing that I had denied myself but so desperately needed.Mark Andrews_bike

On June 1, I will begin my renewal leave by climbing on a bicycle and riding from the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina to the Pacific Coast of Oregon.  I plan to use this trip as a means of support for our United Methodist Women’s efforts to stop human trafficking.  As I ride 4000 miles, I hope to raise $10 a mile ($40,000 total!).  Your donations are welcome (Pedaling to Stop Traffic).

Most of all, I am making this trip for me.  I want . . . no, I need to do this.  I am anticipating a restoration of my soul as I use this time to reflect on my calling and how to fulfill it with greater vulnerability in the years I have left.

But I have already learned one thing — we who serve the needs of others must acknowledge that we have needs of our own, and we must be vulnerable to our congregations if we are ever to receive the help we need.

-Mark Andrews

To do, or not to do….a To-Do List

Share

to do list--redSo here we are a couple of months into 2014, and my wife and I are still discussing our goals, our vision and our plans for the year. We have talked about finding more ways to keep ourselves and each other on track.

As parents who both work full time, the To-Do-List is an important tool for getting things done in our home. If you ask my wife, she might say that the Honey-Do-List is the only way things get done in our home. Sometimes The List is an actual list written on a notepad or on the dry erase board, or even a post it note. Other times, it involves her leaving me a voicemail message, sending a text or an email, or just telling me.

Without task or to-do lists, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to do, and it is also far more likely that you will forget things. Many of us are familiar with the phrase, “There’s an app for that.”  Recently Forbes magazine released its list of The 9 Best To-Do List Apps For 2014. When it comes to managing, scheduling, prioritizing, sharing, and completing tasks on a To-Do-List, taking advantage of these digital apps can help you organize and juggle multiple to-do-lists, meet tight deadlines, and make better use of your valuable time. By being creative with your To-Do-List, you can provide yourself a healthy framework for accountability, affirmation, improved focus, motivation, organization, prioritizing, time keeping, and increased productivity or efficiency.

One example, Wunderlist, is a free app that I have really grown to like. Wunderlist syncs across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, Windows and the Web to keep you on top of your to-do’s from just about any device. It has several options and features that allow users to customize their experience, maximizing the app’s usefulness:

  • Share your list with a colleague, a friend, your spouse
  • Include a note, a photo, or web content
  • Add recurrences to capture your daily, weekly and monthly tasks
  • Break big tasks into smaller achievable goals through sub-tasks
  • Print your list with just one click
  • Assign To-Do’s, start conversations, or attach spreadsheets, PDFs, videos and sound files to a task (requires an upgrade to Wunderlist Pro, $4.99/month)

Developing a daily routine is one of the most powerful ways to become better at keeping and completing To-Do-Lists. You might find some inspiration from these seven famous entrepreneurs and their routines. When you flip your perspective by reflecting on what you actually got done at the end of the day, you’re looking at real, concrete evidence of productivity rather than thinking about all the should’ve, could’ve, would’ves. At that point, the To-Do-List, becomes the Done List.

What is your relationship with To-Do-Lists? Share what works for you in the comments below.

-Dwight Tucker

Image courtesy of Straighten Your Paths.com via Creative Commons

February Wellness Calendar

Share

Back at the beginning of January, I came across a new kind of calendar where you focus on a different wellness goal every day of the month.  For each day, a healthy activity is suggested and you customize it by setting a goal that makes sense for you.  The daily goals can be very simple and include things like hydration, having fun, eating healthy, staying active, and self-care… good habits that many of us in Spirited Life are striving for.

The blogger who creates these calendars says, “A healthy lifestyle is made up of a whole collection of small daily decisions… and when spread out over a week, month or year, it adds up to a healthy, happy you.”  I found that even though I might only focus on hydration for one day, those actions I set up carry over into the following days and without meaning to, I’ve started a habit of drinking more water every day.

I enjoyed this exercise and plan on trying it again in February.  Click here or on the image below to download a copy for yourself.  And the good news is that this is for YOU, so if you don’t like one of the recommended activities, replace it with something of your choosing!

feb2014-Katie Huffman

(Find more calendars and healthy recipes at back to her roots)

Snow day

Share

With snow in the forecast for much of Central and Eastern North Carolina today, this is a timely reflection from Wellness Advocate, Lisa MacKenzie.

Last week I visited my daughter, her husband, and my 5-month-old granddaughter in Pennsylvania.  It was bitterly cold and snowy, and I realized that I had been missing the crisp mid-winter chill and crunchy snow and the hush that comes with January storms in the northeast.

Looking out the kitchen window one morning, holding baby Guin, I watched cardinals in the cardinal in snowfront hedge against the pure white of fresh snow and thought about the 2 months of winter ahead and the storms that would inevitably come along with the disruption and inconvenience of slippery roads, school closings and frozen pipes. But in all the chaos of storms comes the blessing of solitude and stillness.  I thought that morning that I had been given this gift of space and solitude many times but often didn’t acknowledge the gift—maybe it was the warmth and cuddliness of a baby and the smell of wood smoke along with the softness of the gentle light at dawn that became prayer in the quiet kitchen. That morning I didn’t miss the gift.

I read a recent post about snow days on a blog called the Busted Halo by Christina Gebel. She writes:
What I realized, or perhaps simply remembered, is that snow is a reminder to take pause, with others or even just with ourselves. The presence of snow can be a great spiritual exercise for us, inviting us to quiet down and be with ourselves.
If you want to accept the invitation to pause and go deeper, you might consider a few of these suggestions:
•    Read a good book. Though it might sound cliché, how often have you “been meaning to” read something but never gotten around to it? Maybe there’s a spiritual read you’ve been meaning to pick up. Try starting the book on a snow day and then reading five pages each night as part of your nightly prayer.
•    Have fun. There is no rule that only kids can have fun in the snow. When was the last time you went sledding? Went for a walk in the woods during winter? Went ice-skating? Built a snowman?  A snow day is the time.
•    Take a good look at snow. Snow is symbolic of so much of the spiritual beauty in our lives. Why do you think God made snow the way it is? Would it convey the same feelings if it were a different color? Different texture? Each snowflake is unique, reflecting the diversity of God’s creation. It’s made of water, which can be both soothing and powerful, reflecting the humility and omnipotence of God. Take a glove-full of fresh snow and meditate on the beauty and paradox of God’s creation.
•    Be still. Be quiet. Snow has the ability to quiet a city, but it can also quiet our inner self. Go outside and stand in front of a winterscape. Or stay inside and feel the warmth and the absence of sounds outdoors. Repeat, to yourself, the line from the popular hymn, “For You, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits.”

So now I am home in Apex and it seems to me it’s time for a snow day… maybe you think so too.

-Lisa MacKenzie

Lisa-MacKenzie-90x120

 

 

Image by Flickr user rkramer62 via Creative Commons