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Top Gun is one of my favorite movies…

Happy Friday friends,

I hope that you are preparing for a great weekend. Many people flock to the movie theaters on the weekends to catch the latest film. Some prefer a nicer theatre and some don’t mind the “dollar theatre” where their feet stick to the floor. Growing up, I remember loving the movie Top Gun, partly maybe because my dad has a mustache like the character Goose. Of course the other characters weren’t too bad to look at either and I loved the female star b/c my natural hair looks just like hers curly and goofy…which is not in style like it was then…As a good parent now, I force my children to listen to the Top Gun anthem every time we go across the bridge to the beach where we visit frequently…They like it now and are very talented at playing their air guitars and drums.

So why am I referencing movies today. Well most people love a good story, get swept away for a minute in a strange world on screen, and much more. Our world is full of gifted actors, actresses, directors, screen writers, musicians, artists, camera people, etc… it truly is amazing. However, in real life our stories don’t quite play out as they do in the movies. One of the things I like to encourage my clients to do when making major life choices is to try to “play the movie” in their minds. It is a technique described by Dr. Henry Cloud in the book “9 Simple steps to succeed in love and life”.

For example:

-You struggle with overeating: when you sit down to eat, play out in your mind how you will feel if you overindulge. will you feel miserable? Thinking about the scene ahead of time can be helpful in making a better choice and choosing a better ending.

-You are considering cheating: play the movie, how will this end?consider how this one thing will play out in your life. Play it out all the way to the end of your life and story.

-You are considering giving up on a career: How will this scene fit into your movie?

-You are an alcoholic, play the movie of what drinking has done to your life and if you continue drinking what it will do to you long term.

-You are struggling to save money, play the movie of how if you save a little now, how it’ll pay off years down the road.

-Sometimes it is helpful to play out good and bad potential scenarios to make sure we are in a position to handle what comes our way.

-Playing the movie technique is worth a try in all areas: Parenting, marriage, preparing for death even. Try it…

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Happy Not so New Year!

That doesn’t sound like a very exciting title I know…However, I hope you’ll be encouraged by this blog as I explain…So many people set resolutions and set out to change themselves, their surroundings, etc. in a New Year. The idea of starting fresh, starting new, starting over is very appealing.

According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 40 to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year.

Top new year’s resolutions: By far, the top 3 new year’s resolutions are:
– weight loss,
– exercise program,
– stop smoking.
Also popular are resolutions dealing with better money management & debt reduction.

The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:
– past the first week: 75%
– past 2 weeks: 71%
– after one month: 64%
– after 6 months: 46%

While a lot of people who make new years resolutions do break them, research shows that making resolutions is useful. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions:

I am definitely an advocate for setting goals and use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques weekly to help clients set goals. However, today and in 2015 I want you to focus on and think of one thing that you do not want to change… What do you like about yourself? What are you excited about accomplishing in the past? We are all a work in progress and it is important sometimes to appreciate your past successes and even your failures if you’ve learned from them. At the very least appreciate the marvelous creation you are:)

Happy New Year!

Natalie Atwell

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Pondering the thought…does God love bald guys more than hairy gals?

People often ponder thoughts of meaning in life. Does my life matter? What is my purpose? Does my individual life have meaning. Often people use career, family, service, good deeds, money, power, etc. to find meaning in their life. These things in and of themselves have not proven to fully satisfy individuals. The rich want more money. People with power want to conquer more. Those who serve and do good deeds just to make themselves feel good will always want to do more.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe my life has meaning. My purpose is to do God’s will which is serving and loving others in addition to myself like Jesus did. I do not think life is about me, which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take care of myself and love myself. It just means that I shouldn’t only care about myself.  I believe in a much higher purpose than little ole insignificant me. The cool thing is that I can be a part of that higher purpose! Maybe God wants you to be a missionary and help refugees in Syria or maybe he wants you to be a successful business person who can give money to aid in those efforts…each individual is just as important to God.

In Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus says, “Two sparrows cost only a penny, but not even one of them can die without your Father’s knowing it. God even knows how many hairs are on your head. So don’t be afraid. You are worth much more than many sparrows.”

Maybe God has thinks about my husband more than me because he has a lot less hair on his head than I do, but he loves me just the same. LOL. How amazing is it that he knows every intricate detail of our lives and bodies down the the number of hairs we have on our head?

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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