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Who does she think she is?

If you are a female, you have likely said this before…I’m not really sure about men. However, hold on men who follow my blog…which are a grand total of two I think. My husband…and my dear friend Joe Gala (he is like an adopted parent, and I’ve seriously vowed to him and his wife Rebecca that I’ll take care of them when they are old if they need me to:)).

Anyways, as a human being, Christian, wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher, therapist, friend, organizer, etc…I have asked this before and I’m sure people have asked it about me. First of all, wow…we sure have many ways to describe ourselves….Titles, degrees, occupations, roles, etc are many of the ways we define “who we think we are”. Right? Some people also define who they are by things they haven’t accomplished, they may say say they are uneducated, unemployed, unmarried, not religious, an orphan, a sinner, or a failure…

I think whether we are on a positive side or a negative side of choosing a title to define us is stressful, brings unnecessary pressure, and can create anxiety in our lives. For example, if I’m a wife, I may think I have to look sexy, cook, clean, not nag, etc. If I’m a friend, I must hang out with my friends, have a Facebook page and like others’ posts, call them 1.5 times per week, etc. If I’m uneducated, I can’t get a job, etc…Too many times in life, we also let our society, Hollywood, or other outside influences from the world define who we think we should be.

Personally, I believe who I am is defined by God. He created me and said that he did so in a wonderful, fearful (respectful and in an awesome way in this sense), and amazing way. Psalm 139:14. He created me in his image. Wow, how is that for a definition of who you are? What does this mean? For me, I think it means that I am created uniquely and for a purpose. My ways, my wiring, my personality, my goals, etc. are specific to me and I should not compare myself to others or let others or things define who I am.

Take the pressure off and enjoy being you. Maybe you need more sleep than others, maybe you need more or less noise than others, maybe you are a mother who works, maybe you are not married…These titles or descriptions are not who you are. Figure out who you are and maybe like me, you will choose God the creator’s definition or not, but either way don’t try to be someone else or something else. Be you! You are special.

As of today, I’m trying to be loving, kind, compassionate, and silly because that is who I want to be,

Natalie

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Digging makes you feel better

 

Hello to my faithful two followers! I appreciate your willingness to read what is on my mind for the day. Truly, I hope it provides some helpful insight.

With that said, I’ve found that digging things up or out is helpful. Children like to dig boogers out, dig holes in the yard, dig embarrassing moments up when in front of company, etc. Even as adults, we like to dig out inappropriate things such as wedgies…Admit it, when it’s out, you feel better…:). I drive my husband nuts the most when I pick my face…yes I do and it’s an addiction. I tell him it makes me feel better when something oozes out. I know that is gross but I’m weird ok..it’s just me. God loves me. Moving on…

Today, I want to mention the importance of digging up our stuff and dealing with it. Not digging up junk on others that would be gossip and let’s be honest, gossip benefits no one so why do it. What then, you may ask am I referring to digging up?  Maybe it’s a childhood dream, maybe it’s likes and interests you’ve buried while raising kids, maybe it’s a talent you haven’t used in a while, or maybe it’s hurts/bad memories/lack of forgiveness for someone/or another other sickness of the heart.

Whatever it may be as Dr. Henry Cloud would say, “Your job is to dig it up and then do one of two things sow it or throw it away!

Sowing it may require setting up a date night for you and your spouse, having a girl’s night, taking piano lessons, starting to write, etc.

Throwing it away may require you seeking therapy from a good counselor or calling an old friend to say I forgive you or I”m sorry.

Whatever it is, Digging it up will free you up!

Love,

Natalie

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“Hopelessly Devoted to You”

GreaseMoviePoster

 

I apologize for using two song references in the past two weeks, but I can’t help myself. I love me some “Grease”… Hopelessness was the topic coming to mind this week, so the song hit me..

I recently read of a story about a lady named Naomi. She left her homeland because she and her husband thought things were getting bad and they wanted to leave while the going was good…they were pretty wealthy. They didn’t want to stay and struggle through with their family and friends so they left with their two sons. The sad news is after they left, things got worse..Naomi’s husband died, her sons married woman of a different faith, background, etc. (which was unacceptable in her culture), and ten years after that her sons died too. Things went from bad to worse…

Have you ever felt this way? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, a fortune, a house, a job, or all of the above. This would definitely feel like a hopeless situation. Naomi was so bitter that when she went to return home finally she asked for her named to be changed to Mara, which meant bitter in Hebrew. She didn’t return home alone though, one of her daughter-in-laws went with her. Ruth must have loved her mother in law to leave her home and go with her. She was hopelessly devoted to her mother in law and to her mother in law’s God as it turns out.

Naomi felt so hopeless that she forgot to see what things she did still have hope in and for. She wasn’t alone. Also, in this culture for Naomi not to lose her inheritance, Ruth would have to marry the closet relative. Naomi had also forgotten the hope of her relative Boaz. Ruth and Boaz did marry and gave birth to a son in the story and Naomi became a happy grandmother, which was something she had completely lost all hope of becoming.

Even when we feel like hope is all gone, look around and ask yourself “am I truly alone?” “is there anyone who is willing to help me?” “is this path my only option?”, etc. I guarantee you that in most cases, there is still someone out there willing to help you or some path that is available for help so don’t give up!

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Oh Happy Day is not a good song choice for a funeral

Humorous moments often happen by accident in my family…My maternal grandfather was a Baptist minister turned alcoholic. He left my grandmother and six kids way before I was ever thought of by my mother and father. God knew I was coming eventually, but they didn’t at that time. 🙂  Part of me is sad I didn’t know him and the other part is glad. I do remember however when he was on his death bed. My mom and her sisters went to visit him, offered him help from addiction, etc. It was a sad ending because he never gave up drinking even after receiving unsolicited forgiveness from his children. The funny part is for some reason my mom and aunts thought they should sing a song when he was ill in the hospital. Amazing Grace would have been appropriate since they were mirroring God’s grace at this time, but NO…they chose “Oh Happy Day”, which later on we all thought was hilarious. They didn’t mean anything funny by it at the time but that was one of those accidental humorous moments in my family.

I’m not going to give a list of ways people can cope with grief today. I’m simply going to say that in my life, I’ve noticed people grieving in a variety of ways. It is helpful for us all not to judge anyone who is grieving.

Some people get stuck and don’t move on, don’t go out of the house, etc. for a while. Some people move away, move on, or run period, etc. Some combine staying still for a while and then running, etc. Some are forced to seek survival, some seek therapy, some seek drugs, etc.

I’m a complete dork and I love PBS. While watching a PBS special the other night on the Roosevelt family, I learned that Theodore Roosevelt lost his mother and wife on the time day within a four hour period. His wife had just given birth to their first child four days earlier. When he heard the news, he came home, ask his sister to take care of his daughter, and he ran to the West. He couldn’t even speak their names. Many people judged him but he grieved the way he needed to and survived the grief in the end and was able to raise his daughter in the end and got remarried. Many people judged him I’m sure.

People who are grieving don’t need judgmental family members and friends, they need supportive ones even if we don’t understand their choices.

Have an Oh Happy Day,

Natalie

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humor mental health

USA (United States of Anxiety)

 

anxiety-girl

Did You Know?

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Anxiety and Depression

It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety related disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Panic Disorder :panic attacks, etc.

Social Anxiety Disorder: kids who don’t simply hate going to school, it is much more than that…

Specific Phobias: fear of crowds, fear of going outside, etc.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): not just washing hands 50 times a day, others things also.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):  Veterans are not the only sufferers, victims of abuse also may suffer, etc.

Major Depressive Disorder

*Info from American Association of Anxiety Disorders

As you can see this is a major problem. If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety, get help by:

-Going to see a doctor

-Consider seeing a therapist/counselor

-Enlist a support system (positive friends, family members, church group, support groups, etc.) find people who can make you laugh and enjoy you for who you are.

 

 

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Fight or Flight

I’ve been watching and participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge over the past week, which somewhat reminds me of the Fight or Flight response. I like many others chose to fight by doing the challenge and fly shortly after…I can’t figure out how to upload my video so I found this one which is quite funny…

Don’t you just love the British accent? Anyways,

Many years ago Sir (he wasn’t a Sir I don’t think but it sounds better) Walter Bradford Cannon coined the term “Fight or Flight response”. We all do it, have it, or whatever verb you would like to use to describe. The F/F response has to do with stress. We can’t always control our stressors in life, but we can learn to manage stress. Here are some simple tips for managing stress…

1-Fly some things out of your life. Are there stressful things in life that you’ve chosen and can work to get rid of? i.e. debt, overcommitting, etc.? Start by meeting with a financial advisor for example.

2-Fight for your physical health. Can you begin to exercise, prepare healthy foods, take vitamins, get plenty of rest? Do you need to call your doctor for a checkup?

3-Fly to others for help. Ask for help. We often get very “wound up” or frustrated because we try to do everything by ourselves. Call a friend, neighbor, family member, doctor, and/or therapist.

4-Fight by gaining a new perspective. Consider things such as: this trial won’t last forever, there are some who have it worse off than me, this stress is making me growing in a certain area in my life, etc.

5-Fight for an attitude of gratitude. Start being thankful for all of the blessings you have in life. Food, water, shelter, clothing, etc..change your thoughts from negative to positive by being thankful!

Hoping and praying you choose the right response to stress this week,

Natalie

Book recommendation: 9 Things you Simply Must Do to succeed in love and Life by Dr. Henry Cloud

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I’m trying the blog thing…

Hello Mom (I realize you may be the only person reading this at first…),

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog to discuss counseling topics in a real and honest way while spreading my own comical takes on the issues. Many people I’ve come in contact with struggle with mental health either personally, among family, friends, co-workers, etc. It is something we all may have to deal with at some point or another in life. We may simply deal with counseling topics in a general manner too.

So, I thought I’d share what I’m learning this week. I’ve been studying the book of James in the Bible…Pastor James is kicking my butt. He doesn’t beat around the bush or (shoot around the bush as I said teaching by mistake…). In chapter 4 James discussed how to deal with conflict. We all love conflict I know…It is a part of life that we can learn to deal with in a healthy manner.

Here are a few tips from James (my paraphrase…)

  • Most of our arguments, conflicts come from our own selfish desires. Consider in certain areas of conflict where you are being selfish. Can you put aside your selfishness in the matter?
  • Stop envying others and spend that time and energy asking God for the things you desire.
  • Be humble. Accept when you are wrong. Give grace like God does. Some of us need more than others.
  • Resist evil (the devil), resist selfishness, resist bad motives/intentions. Submit to God, be kind, loving, and forgiving
  • Don’t judge others. We weren’t created to judge, it makes us feel horrible when we try to do it. Judgment is God’s not ours.

Ok, that’s it! Easy enough. In the words of my six year old son, “Done”. Seriously, it is tough stuff. However, if we handle ourselves properly during times of conflict it can make a huge impact in the lives of others.

 
Ok, now I need to read James again…I’m obviously a slow learner..or hard-headed one…the jury is out on this one.
 
Be intentional about things that matter,
 
Natalie
 
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Fear and boobs: version 2.0

What are your biggest fears? They are likely not the same as they were when you were a child. When I was a little girl, my wonderful parents (who still haven’t read my blog, I will use that in a blog on humility vs. narcism later on… 🙂 )… let me watch a show where a bear broke in a cabin of a family and harmed the family. As a result, I had nightmares about bears for a long time after that episode. I overcame this fear by going camping with a friend b/c I loved her and her family. As a teenager, I was afraid of cobras (I realize this is not a popular snake in NC, but it was still scary to me). I overcame this fear by being thrown off of a golf cart on the wrong side of a lake at a church youth camp. Good times, and lots of laughs in the end.

Facing fears often has a way of alleviating anxiety whether you do so by imagining a certain event happening and planning for worst case scenario or whether you actually face the fear. Probably the biggest fear I’ve faced wasn’t one I realized I had until it happened. Last year, I found a lump in my breast that my OBGYN was concerned about. Over a period of a month and 1/2 I was poked at, prodded at, and felt up more than I was during my dating years…(If my parents do read this, I promise it wasn’t that much…) I wasn’t afraid of cancer and dying. I was afraid of leaving my children because they are so young. They have a wonderful father, but I didn’t want them to grow up without a mother.

New Image is me and my mom from this year’s conference with TC Stallings from the movie the War Room. I highly recommend it.

New addition to this story: for those who know me, they also likely know the story that goes with my breast lump scare…I was at a conference for christian counselors (2013) and I was crying during one of the speakers who was speaking about his wife dying of breast cancer. Often times, we think the worst when we get bad news…After the speaker, a lady came up to me noticing my ugly swollen cry face and asked if she could pray with me. “Of course!” I said and told her what was going on, so as we bowed our heads and prayed she also put her hand on my breast to pray for my boob…Of course since I’m normally very silly, my tears turned into an inner giggle. I’m not opposed to people laying their hands on one another and praying together, but I don’t recommend a private body part. My mom said, thank God you didn’t have a cervical cancer scare. LOL. God loves me and knows I need this humorous moment. I know that lady didn’t mean anything but to be helpful, however, it was awkward and funny to me but God answered her prayers and am healthy!

This is a scary thing as a mother, but I had to face it in theory. Thankfully, everything checked out ok and apparently I just have weird lumpy boobs. Too bad the lumps aren’t bigger…:) just kidding.

Here are a few healthy ways I’ve found to deal with fears:

-Prepare yourself for worst case scenario but live like the best case has happened. For example, If you fear death and leaving a family behind, have a will, life insurance policy, family/friends who are willing to help with your children. Live today and have fun with those around you.

-Think like a statistician: I’ve heard it said that 90% of things you worry about never come true.

-Transition your thoughts: Start thinking about others more than yourself. Does a neighbor need help with a home project? Can you volunteer somewhere? Get busy doing for others and you’ll be amazed how much you don’t even have time to sit and worry about your own fears.

-Treat everyday as if it were the last in some ways: don’t call in sick and go bungee jumping but tell your family you love them, be kind to everyone, stop complaining, forgive others and/or ask for forgiveness.

-Lastly, for me personally, my belief in God encourages me by verses such as “Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you.”(1Chron 28:20) “Be strong and courageous…” (Deut 31:6)

Have a great week!

Natalie