Resolve Well: Mind

Mind WellnessIt’s Wednesday! Still the first week of 2017, so if you’ve messed up on your diet, don’t you worry your pretty little head, ok? There’s still heaps of time to get it right! We’re talking about resolving well this year. No short term resolutions here. We want to make our lives better day by day, year by year. Monday, we looked at body wellness. Today, let’s talk about mind wellness.

The mind is something we don’t always thing about giving a facelift – but it is equally important for us to look after our thoughts, our dreams, and our brain’s health. Imagine if we applied anti-aging skincare to our mind – or if we touched up the blemishes of our brain with some foundation, brightening certain areas with eye shadow or mascara.

Take a minute to think about what you could be doing to contribute to wellness inside that head of yours.

For my mind to work, I need to have time with people as well as time alone. I need to make sure there isn’t clutter in my house because I know that clutters my brain, in a sense. I need to trade pessimism and lies that sneak into my thoughts for positive thinking and truth. Eating well and focusing on body wellness helps me with this. When I eat well and have a good amount of activity, I feel better in my mind. It’s easier to control my thoughts and change them into good thoughts.

Here are my personal focus points for mind wellness:

 

1)      Commune well.

  1. Have people over and enjoy playing hostess.
  2. Be involved in my church community.
  3. Treasure my “friend” time, and expand my friend circle.
  4. Find something to do in my community (art course, volunteer work, etc).

2)      Work well.

  1. De-clutter the house.
  2. Set up “my space” at a desk.
  3. Work at organization.

3)      Think well.

  1. Enjoy my times alone, setting aside time to refocus and meditate.
  2. Less Netflix, more writing.
  3. Switch negative thoughts for positive thinking, focusing on truth.

Mind Wellness GoalsThat’s it. I want to simplify my mind. There’s just too much clutter up there. Focusing on the world’s problems (or my own problems) won’t help me or others. I want to start clearing up those pimples on my brain, treating the problem. Here’s to mind wellness in 2017!

 

The Art of Friendship

My 10th High School Reunion is coming up! But, I won’t be there. Not because I don’t want to be or anything. It would be really cool. And I can understand why so many sitcoms use the “High School Reunion” scenario. It’s because you want everyone to see how well you’ve done – or you want old friends to see that you’ve lost weight – or you don’t want to go because you’re embarrassed – or you want to see that your life is better than everyone else’s. I would be quite selfish, probably, and want to go show off my husband who is really nice-looking and has a sexy accent. I wasn’t really selfish in high school, so daydreaming about showing off seems like less of a sin. 🙂

But, I would be quite happy to see those people I graduated with living equally happy lives. I do sincerely want the best for them. And that makes me not such a horrible person?

The Art of

So I’ve been thinking about my high school experience lately. Do you remember when you were in junior high/intermediate and high school, wondering who would be valedictorian or salutatorian? The top 10% were always honoured in some way. I remember that five highest grade point averages gave little speeches at graduation – The Valedictorian got to say whatever they wanted. I think one of them did the invocation or the benediction, but the others were given topics like “Success”, “Moving On”, or “Friendship”.

The “Friendship” topic was in high demand, and I can recall the girls talking about how they just did not know what they would do without their friends – How could they possibly go off to college and leave all their friends? Many of them, I believe, stayed and went to the nearby university. I don’t know if this was due to finances, family, relationships, or fear of losing friends. For many, I’m sure it was finances. Live at home and save money. But, I used to imagine: What would I say about friendship if I were given the chance?

Honestly, I would have tried to turn the topic elsewhere. Something like: Many of us are leaving behind the people that make us feel safe and comfortable. But, we are going forward to bigger and brighter things. To more friendships. To more people that understand us. To a world and an adventure bigger than anything we have known so far. And then my speech would have turned into a rant on adventure, because adventure is obviously more important than friendship. Right?

I’m not so sure anymore. They kind of go hand-in-hand now.

Anyway, the topic of “friendship” was my least favourite of all the topics given. I guess I thought that friendship was for the weak – for those that, in my mind, lived a different kind of life. Because I was in school pre-High School Musical. I was in school during the era when the cool people had the “real” friends. The ones you would want to have.

No one was like me in high school, so I guess feelings of loneliness started there. I never felt lonely at home, and my mom was my best friend – which I’m really glad about, especially looking back. I mean, I had what you might be able to call friends in high school. Friends that made me feel bad about eating healthy food because they were eating unhealthy food, friends that said they would go to the big banquets with me and took someone else, friends that stayed silent while I struggled through depression and anxiety, and friends who disappeared when my dad was in a car accident. But, writing about friendship seemed like a waste of time.

I don’t think it’s such a waste of time to write about now. So here I am. And here is what I know about friendship. What do you think of when you think of “friendship”?

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Real friendship is not shallow. Real friendship is lasting.

Real friendship doesn’t get angry when you don’t call, and you don’t get angry when they show up late. It’s patient and kind. It doesn’t get jealous or try to one-up you. It’s not selfish. It wants your good. (1 Cor. 13)

Friendship is about community. It’s a form of family. We may not see one another every day, like in high school. We might be halfway across the world, as most of my friendships are. But, we are the same. We watch each other grow up and grow old. By helping each other, we because happier and healthier together.

Friendship is mutual, but not always easy. Sometimes a good friend goes through a bad time, and that is when you stay by their side. That is when you get close, and that is when you are welded together and real, trusting friendship is forged in the fire. You love them in spite of their flaws or troubles and they love you in spite of yours – mutually.

Friendship is a gift. When a good friend comes along, you have found a blessing. You have gotten lucky. If you find someone that can cry with you, and that you care enough about to cry with, then you have found a bottle of precious tears. There is a lot of magic in those tears. If you find someone that can laugh with you, and at you, and at life, and you can do the same

Deep friendship is not exclusive, but it is not freely given. My best friend taught me this. I wanted to be everyone’s best friend, and in trying to do that, I spread myself too thin and even made myself sick. Don’t feel bad if you can’t be there for everyone. We are human. Be a friend, but know that the deepest friendships can only come two or three at a time.

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My mom always told me that when I went off to college, I would make life-long friends that had the same interests as me and were more like me. I’m glad she was right. To miss out on that kind of friendship would be sad. I was content before, but having real best friends and trying to be a real best friend for them, is one of the most continuously rewarding experiences that any human being could ever know.

Looking back over my life thus far, I can now see that friendship is not fluffy. It’s not about who you can give the other half of your friendship necklace or bracelet to. It’s not just pink and girly. It’s rough. It’s blood, sweat, and tears. It’s adventure on one of the highest degrees. It’s climbing a mountain, but climbing it with someone else. And that, my friends, is a pretty good deal.

Loneliness: It’s All of Us

10 daysversuslonely ness

 My husband is from New Zealand, but I am from Texas. We got married at my grandparents’ house last Thanksgiving, and now we have been living in Auckland for a few months. I cannot work because we don’t have immigration consent as I am writing this post, so I have had little to do while my husband is in his last semester of nursing study.

Loneliness.

I feel like I say that word a lot lately. Yet, somehow, even the word doesn’t carry the weight of the emotions conjoined into those three simple syllables.

We all feel lonely. And that is part of why this site exists – so that we know that we are never really alone. Thanks for that.

Part of my coping with this new time of my life – starting off in a new country with new people and foods and ways of joking and teasing – is by writing. Writing this blog, for example.

But in the last few weeks, loneliness has integrated itself into worthlessness and a lack of purpose. I had purpose when I was teaching English literature to teenagers. I had purpose when I was helping youth at my church community back home. I had purpose when I was planning a wedding. I had purpose when it was only me and I could dream of travelling and wandering and going wherever I wanted – whenever I wanted.

I’m learning something new. Life changes and sometimes purpose changes with it.

So how do I cope with this?

How do I get back to a life of purpose in the middle of so much change?

Through life, I have learned that when negativity floods in – whether it’s self-doubt, being fired from an easy job, or just someone looking at you the wrong way – immediate action is required. If not dealt with and changed to a positive, the negative thought or feeling seems to compound itself and leads to other negative thoughts and feelings.

EUGENE (1)My theory in working through loneliness is, at the present, largely based on the same skills we learn in counseling to combat depression. Both loneliness and depression can be debilitating, and one can lead into the other if the dice lands a certain way on the table of brain chemistry.

As someone who believes in Jesus, I have the ever-present peace of knowing that my faith is giving me purpose. That is more helpful than anything. I daily thank my God for the purpose and plans that he has for all of his children. That is my number one.

And so, here, I write my list of what I do (or try to do) to refocus and balance:

  • Be in the light – both physically and spiritually.
    • The sun not only gives us Vitamin D, it boosts serotonin, increasing mood. On cloudy days, my husband whips out this handy “lightbox” and turns it on right in front of my face. It helps me.
    • The son of God is the light of the world. Without this source of light going into the deepest parts of my soul, I am empty. He fills voids created by loneliness. And I’m not even just saying that.
  • Draw. Or Colour.
    • Get an adult colouring book. Or a kid’s one. Create your own. Colours can be oddly therapeutic. So is colouring.
    • Sometimes, I draw myself how I want to be – happy, peaceful, thinking good thoughts.
  • Go to school. Any school. (Today, I’m sitting in a university library. I don’t attend here. 😉 )
    • This may not be useful for many people, but I freakin’ love to learn. So I sit and I learn whatever I want to learn.
    • Research your interests. I’m very interested in the subject and science of “loneliness” right now, as you can see. So I spent three months finding everything I could on the subject. I’ve also been studying pet therapy… because I want a dog. 🙂
  • Teach.
    • This is something I enjoy, partly because I learn so much myself through teaching.. So I’ve created a blog where I can do something like teaching while I’m unemployed!
  • Socialize. Find the “Other” Person.
    • Join a club, a church group, a gym. Be with other people. I joined a gym, and even though I don’t talk to anyone there, it’s nice just to be with people. The same goes for the library or a café!
    • Our landlord has an 18 year old deaf cat at our house. I pet it when my husband is studying or at his clinicals. It’s just an animal, but being with something else that is alive and breathing is comforting. If you have an animal, cuddle it. If not, hamsters are cheap in the States. 🙂
    • Be with your family, if you can. I can skype my parents. I can go to my in-laws’ house. I, personally, always “leave” feeling better.
    • Tell your best friend, your husband, your wife, your kid – whoever – that you want to spend time with them. Make a plan, set a day, and enjoy every moment. One day when I was at my loneliest, Mark stayed home with me and took me to the wharf. A week later, I was still looking back to that day, feeling the good feelings over and over. Count the blessings of those days as hope during the bad days.
  • Write.
    • Writing has always been my favourite thing to do, even though I’ve been shy and embarrassed to do it as much as I like. It’s therapeutic to write in a journal. It feels good to write a card to people I am thankful for.

What is your list? How do you deal with your lonely times? If you can’t think of anything, try to concentrate on what has always made you happy. Most of the things on my list fit into everything I wanted to be when I was a child: an author, an artist, and an adventurer. Look back at your childhood self. Where do you find joy? We all find joy in being with people on some level. How can that help you in your loneliness?

If you don’t have an answer, yet, then I hope and pray that by the end of this series, you will have one. Or two. Or many.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of, what I believe, will be useful articles on the problem of loneliness, solutions to help you through the loneliest times, and the hope that you can have within yourself to make it. Stay tuned for:

 

24 June       Loneliness: It’s All of Us

 

27 June       Loneliness: The Problem, the Paradoxical Virus, and a Cure

19 June       Loneliness: Finding the “Inner” Person

1 July          Loneliness: Finding the “Other” Person

 

4 July         Loneliness: Finding Meaning in What you Do

6 July         Loneliness: For the In-Between

8 July         Loneliness: Understanding Loneliness in All People

 

11 July        Loneliness: Helping Others, Helping Yourself

13 July       Loneliness: Finding the “Upper” Person

15 July       Final Thoughts on an Un-Final Topic

Loneliness is not something you alone feel. Everyone feels lonely. Many people feel chronically lonely. You are not alone in the fight to be with others and feel whole. It’s not just you. It’s all of us. Let’s take it head on – together.