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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Moodiness and Happiness Coexist Just as Rose Blooms Co-exist with Thorns.

A rose bush is both beautiful and full of thorns. - Photo Rosalie Garde 2014

Today's women are smart and savvy.  They want to be on top of their game.  They want to have meaningful work, a healthy marriage, to be able to manage their moods, and so on. So how can they be the person they want to be?

Just as the rose bush pictured above, beautiful blooms and thorns can co-exist.
When you get your skin too close to a thorn, it can shred your skin and draw blood. It hurts and requires first aid.

Any wise gardener puts on gloves.  But there are differences in gloves too.  The thin and flimsy ones only partially protect.  Good leather gloves, on the other hand, insulate the skin.  They allow a gardener to care for the blooms and successfully avoid the damage of the thorns.

If we compare thorns to moods--whether your spouse's mood, your co-worker's mood, or your own--it makes sense you should insulate yourself.  Being moody isn't a sign of weakness, it's part of life.

Many things affect our moods:  For instance, our mood can fluctuate based on our energy level, or our expectations of our spouse or children who seem to leave most of the chores for us.

Our moods can change after receiving scathing words from a co-worker, friend or relative.  Our moods can change due to hormonal cycles.  Those with chronic pain have a huge challenge regarding their moods.

When a husband comes home from work stressed, he might take his frustration out on the woman he loves because he believes he's in a safe place to do so.  But if a woman isn't equipped, she can take his frustration personally and division occurs.

Many women use venting  as a way to decompress.  But a husband may not enjoy being at the tail end of her vents.  He may not understand the therapeutic nature of venting and he may take it personally.  As a result, there can be division.

To keep life in balance, most women need a few good tools that will help them navigate issues such as managing their moods.  Using these tools is similar to putting on good leather gloves prior to gardening.

Choose Your Tools

Having a life coach to call or email may be helpful for a woman in need of decompression.  She can vent to her life coach all she wants.

Having a good friend to vent to might be equally helpful.  But it's hard to know how trustworthy your friend may be.  Would she leak information?  Would she get tired of hearing your rants?

Hiring a long distance life coach may be a good answer.  You'll have someone not too close to your life to vent to.  She will keep things confidential.  You will decompress and hopefully move forward with a new outlook after your session.

While I'm not taking phone clients right now, you can ask to be on a waiting list.  email or leave a comment for information.  What I hope to give you in the meantime is a tool or two.

Today's tools:  Separate your husband's vent so you don't take it personally.  Let him vent without it becoming an argument.  Validate him.  Do what you can to be his safe place to fall.  If his words seem abusive and targeted at you, leave the room.  Don't engage until he has time to settle down.

Separate your own issues from your relationship.  Ask yourself why you feel as you do?  Is it really that he doesn't pitch in or is it that you want to be a control freak?  How important is your issue in the bigger picture?  Ask yourself what the worst is that can happen if things don't go your way?

Consider writing your thoughts in a journal and employing self-care until you find the calm you crave.

If this is helpful to you, please leave a comment below.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Are you in Midlife and Feeling a Sense of Crisis? Help for the Christian Woman

(Revision of post Written in 2011)

I found myself awake at 3 or 4 am, unable to sleep and feeling troubled. It led me to do a web search on Midlife Crisis.



I've discovered that countless midlife women have similar insomnia issues. Alongside them may be feelings of midlife crisis that might be described as a bit of grieving or melancholy combined with an urgency to know what lies ahead on the road--to hope there is something meaningful yet to come.

Midlife crisis feelings are as prevalent in Christian women as they are in women of other faiths. Women everywhere tend to experience similar feelings--some as early as in their 30s, but more often in the mid- to late 40s and beyond.

Even when a woman thinks she's over the hump of uncomfortable "lost" type feelings, the feelings may creep back. She may be triggered hormonally, but there are probably several other causes at play.

It can be helpful for a midlife woman to understand the causes for her feelings so she can put coping strategies into place.

POSSIBLE REASONS FOR A MIDLIFE CRISIS

Here are but a few reasons a woman may have a midlife crisis:

  • grieving the growth stages of her children and grieving her own role changing
  • grieving not having had children
  • entering the empty nest or fearing an impending empty nest
  • recognizing that many goals have been achieved--education, career, marriage, children, home ownership...and experiencing a plateau (almost bored) feeling
  • experiencing marriage difficulties or disappointments
  • ongoing singleness
  • dealing with recent separation or divorce
  • experiencing job loss or inability to find work
  • trying to restore a sputtering business and having financial fears
  • parenting but having trouble with teens
  • experiencing pain, illness and general body aging issues
  • dealing with unwanted weight gain
  • coping with chronic stiff and sore muscles
  • working through perimenopause; menopause and other hormonal imbalances that cause hot flashes, headaches and more
  • feeling unhappy with her life evaluation
  • feeling disappointed with life or people
  • failing to have reached goals by a certain age
  • facing ongoing fatigue

Here are but a few reasons Christian women have a crisis:
  • All the above, plus...
  • Disappointment with God for not granting desires
  • Difficulty hearing from God
  • Difficulty accepting what God seems to allow
  • Feelings they have some how spiritually failed their family
  • Unanswered prayers, especially concerning spouse or children, hopes or dreams
  • Lack of financial prosperity they expected from God
  • Unfulfilled ministry dreams
  • Unanswered prayers regarding personal fulfillment
  • Disillusionment with the church or other believers
  • Spiritual attack--the devil's temptations of dissatisfaction and "greener grass" syndrome

WOMEN'S MID-LIFE CRISIS: The Good and the Bad

It may help a woman to talk with another woman about her struggles--preferably with one who can relate. (It's tough, though, to fess up to a woman who has no clue what you're talking about.)

Try joining a Facebook group with women in a similar phase, or join a Christian chat such as Power to Change. Buy and read books that will help walk you through your struggles.

The good is, midlife crisis feelings can cause a woman to draw closer to God.  The feelings drive her on a quest for answers. The bad is if a woman gets stuck in thought patterns that lead her to spiral downward into depression. The bad is also when those thoughts lead a woman to make drastic life changes she may regret later.

It is important to wage constant war on your moods and thoughts. Check out everything, and count the cost before taking drastic steps.

A woman can battle troubling thoughts and feelings by gaining professional help and/or by challenging her thoughts on a regular basis. Categorizing thoughts correctly as to what is true and what is irrelevant is vitally helpful.


How to categorize your thoughts or moods:

Sometimes thoughts are driven by overwhelm, tiredness, or pain. You may not have the energy you used to have, and sometimes chronic health issues cause problems. What you need to do in these instances is to nurture yourself. Sometimes you do need to just go to bed for a rest. Order-in dinner. Rest until your energy returns.

Sometimes thoughts are associated with a process of grieving. Grieving is a normal part of letting go. Small spurts of grief are healthy. All women face change and grief now and then.

Some feelings are driven by melancholy. This might include focusing on the good daysthe old friends, your children's preschool years...whatever. Sometimes a movie, music or possessions trigger sad feelings. Getting stuck in the past or in melancholy can become a major problem.

Feelings aren't bad.  They're part of the human condition.  It will help a woman to learn how to feel feelings and process her feelings, and then move back into the present quickly. That is, to learn to cherish good memories, but to not cling to them as though that's all life holds (a theory of author Susan Miller).

Sometimes women are bored, not in crisis.

Other times women are lonely.

Other times women fail to meet their own lofty expectations. Dropping high expectations may help a woman not only survive, but enjoy life again.

Assigning the most accurate label to the feelings may help a woman find the right solution.


MIDLIFE AND CHRISTIANITY

Christian woman are often told "all you need is Jesus". But even Jesus needed physical friends. Jesus liked serving people and talking to them. He attended parties, dinners and tea times in homes. He liked fishing and public speaking. He moved around the countryside. He didn't isolate himself.  He was on a mission with a purpose to fulfill.  We are to model Jesus.

Yes, Jesus did go away to pray and spend time in solitude, but not wholly.

We need Jesus, but while on earth, women need a variety of other things included in their lives to give them healthy life balance--events, relationships, activities, ongoing learning, soul work.

THE GOOD IN MIDLIFE CRISIS FEELINGS

The good about midlife crisis feelings is that they can direct a woman to look life squarely in the face and make new positive choices for herself.  They may push her to seek God more intently.


Evaluation is often part of crisis feelings. A woman may evaluate what could be done better, what she'd rather be doing, who she'd like to see, what she needs more of, things she'd like to change, etc. These feelings guide a woman to see what areas of her life might need development.  Once identified, these can be taken to prayer, and steps can be put in place for working on them.  (Over-evaluation, however, can be detrimental to a woman's sense of well-being.)

The good about midlife crisis feelings is that they push a woman to search for answers. They may push her to reach out to new people, to get out of her comfort zone, to search for new interests to become involved in, to look for answers, and ultimately to fulfill her God-given life purpose.

ACTION STEPS - WHAT TO DO when in a Midlife Crisis
  1. Hopefully you have many things about your life you are proud of and enjoy.  Always take time to enjoy your accomplishments. Pat yourself on the back more than look for what is missing.
  2. If your feelings are connected to tiredness, illness or pain, deal with them. See a professional (or two or three), take pain medication, lessen expectations, get rest, quit over-thinking, rest your brain.
  3. If you need a paradigm shift, go shopping, see a movie, take the family out for dinner, visit a poor area of town, help the sick. Basically, get out of the house and go somewhere new or different. Practice seeing the world in a new way. Read a thought-challenging book, listen to a thought-challenging audio, or watch a video.
  4. Capture your underlying thoughts and promise to work on them when you're feeling better.  For instance, if you're lonely, promise you will work on cultivating more relationships. If you're bored, look for a new course to take or an activity to become involved in, and so on.
  5. If your life has become too one-dimensional, plan to shut down the computer and get away from the house more often. If you miss time with your kids and husband, plan more regular outings with your family.
  6. If you're spiritually lacking, purchase a Bible study to work on, or join a study group. 
  7. Call someone and have a talk when you need to.
  8. Keep moving and growing in who you are. Take some personal assessments.
  9. Continue to be available to your children and to celebrate with them. Be available to other people--nieces, nephews, other young people, church members.
  10. If you have time on our hands, it's important to add in helpful things: take courses, apply for jobs (some that may be in completely new areas), volunteer or help others.
  11. Refuse to become discouraged.
  12. Take the leap of braveness and sign up for therapy, counselling, or coaching. 
  13. Start your own business.
  14. Pray and Seek God's input and commit to obeying what you hear him saying.

ULTIMATELY: FOR THE CHRISTIAN

Ultimately, God has many purposes for you to fulfill: fellowship, discipleship, service, evangelism, worship, relationship with God, study, etc.  He also has more specific purposes that you're design for. These specific purposes are the "bloom where you're planted type".  They are made up of your skills put to good use.

If you find no new doors opening to help you move forward, look at all the things on your to-do list right where you are.  God has you there for reasons!

Bloom where you're planted.  That means do your best at whatever assignments are before you.  Use your imagination and creativity. Complete all things well until new doors open. Accept where you are as what is God's best for you right now, but do dabble in a variety of interests.

There is a Bible verse that suggests the importance of scattering a lot of seeds along various riverbanks for when the river rises the right seeds will be watered and bloom.  This can be a good way to look at life too.  Scatter the seeds of your God-given abilities here and there.  Investigate.  Plant seeds of possibility and love every where you go.  God will bloom the right ones.

for more on midlife issues in Christian women, visit www.MidlifeChristianWoman.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Change these 3 Bad Habits and Become a Better You


We all think we're unselfish, loving and generous.  That's because that's what we think is right and noble--it's what the Bible teaches. Yet a deeper examination reveals more.  On deeper examination, many women are self-focused, out for themselves, and greedy.

If you don't think you fall into this category, start by examining your conversations with others, with your family,, and with your online connections.

Put your conversations through this filter:


  • How many times do you talk about yourself?  
  • How many times in a day do you complain about some hardship you have to endure?  
  • How many times do you become annoyed when others choose for you or direct activities you're involved in? 
  • How many times do you say no to things because you are too busy living your own life?  
  • How many times do you try to dominate circumstances?


Habits to Change:

These selfish traits creep up on us all, yet they aren't God's design.

Luke 6:38 (NIV) says this:


Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, 
pressed down, shaken together and running over, 
will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, 
it will be measured to you."


Here are some ways to change your way of living: 

1. Change the habit of self-focus by refusing to complain about your life.  Try it for a day, then another, then another.  

2. Change putting yourself first by putting others in your life first.  Make a nice atmosphere for your spouse and children.  Let them spend the day doing what they want.  Be supportive.  

3. Change your generosity level by looking for ways to give.  Give of your money or possessions to a family in need.  Give your time when it's needed.  Let someone else have the last piece of cake.  Let someone else go first to the buffet table.  Hang someone else's coat before hanging your own. Offer a free business service now and then.

Small changes can be made when you become aware of your interactions.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Transformation is Always Available



Tonight I watched TV show "Style by Jury."  I'm a little jealous of the transformations I've seen on that show. 

Some shows feature a life coach.  The coach on the show I watched got down to the truth with the client.  He called her up for not taking responsibility for her life.  He called her up on living like a child when she indeed was a woman.  He challenged her to grow up.

She felt uncomfortable.  It hurts to be criticized.  But as a fellow coach, I know he did it for her own good.  She needed to hear what he had to say.  She needed to go away and question how she'd been doing life. 

Transformation is always available.  We can blame others and fail to take responsibility, but we will stay where we are.  Nothing will change.  We'll still repel people. We'll still cry out for more and better.

Or we can become humble, admit where we're wrong, admit our sins to God, admit our faults to ourselves, seek to correct our behaviour, and so on.  

Read these verses to hear from God for yourself:

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land" 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT).

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor" James 4:10 (NLT).

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

What Life Coaching is Like

I'm sharing this for you more than me.  Actually, I'm not taking telephone clients right now, so this is not a solicitation.  

I want to tell you about the coaching process and why you might want to consider it.  Some have heard of life coaching, others barely know what it is.  Coaching doesn't mean some woman will dissect your life and tell you what to do. A coach becomes your cheerleader.  She is not a therapist.  She is a trained listener who tries to choose the best questions to ask that will help you make some sense of your life. 

I have found, as others have, that being fortunate to have another person devote a good hour to listening to your life story is rare.  Not only does a coach listen unlike any other friend, a coach hears what you say.  A coach encourages you.  A coach chooses to stand by your side. 

There are some coaches that talk too much, and I probably have too.  I had one client I'll call Erica, who was so quiet, I had to initiate questions to draw her out.  That made it difficult for me not to talk more than she did.

When you get comfortable with your coach, you'll more easily decide what to talk about and what to leave out.  Having a trusted friend to hear all about your life is a vital and healthy asset.   I recommend you try it if you haven't already.