Peace in Preparedness.
by: Peggy Mason
Definition: Preparedness…..a state of readiness.
Don’t we all wish we were prepared for anything? Really? Who in their right mind wants that? If we live our lives in a state of constant preparedness, all the joy would be sucked right out. Wouldn’t we miss spontaneity, the spur of the moment opportunities and adventures, what about surprise, what about the unknown or unexpected, and what about the thrill of anticipation?
This time of year is a time of preparing. Many people begin preparing for the holidays, preparing for vacation, preparing for gift exchanges, preparing for the year end reconciliations, preparing for the New Year, we even prepare for the flu season. Since the very state of preparing means we are looking towards the future, the “doing and busyness” of preparing can really take away from the importance of today. Now, please don’t think that this means all preparation is bad or that the things we prepare for are not important. The point is all too often our attempts to prepare get out of balance and lead people down a path of unhealthy results. We begin feeling overwhelmed and stressed, many articles have been written on the theme of how to remove stress from your holiday planning. To put things back in balance we need to move away from the external preparedness and move towards a sense of internal preparedness.
Spiritual preparedness is an internal experience different than just a state of readiness. It does not mean a specific religion, it doesn’t even need to be a religious state. It just means getting your core value and belief system in check. Spiritual preparedness is of even greater value and importance as it provides a much deeper and more meaningful perspective.
Now, doesn’t that sound like something we all need, not just at this time of year? There are many ways for us to begin this Spiritual preparedness in our lives. Starting slowly will build success into your efforts. Understandably many of us have overlapping obligations in our schedules; we certainly don’t want to add another 20 minutes into our already overloaded 24 hour day. But even a couple of minutes can help to identify areas where you can simplify and refresh your spirit. Think about taking the time that you are getting ready for work or school in the morning, or your driving to your first appointment of the day, the break in the morning schedule, or your lunch hour. Choose one of these routine times and rather than catching up on the phone with someone, or checking your emails, Facebook, etc. engage in a grounding mindfulness practice in order to connect to your spiritual self. For just a few moments take note of how you are feeling physically. Is there tension anywhere in your body, are you tired, notice your breathing, how do your clothes feel against your skin? Focus on what feels positive in the moment and bring those good feelings to the stressed areas of your body.
Taking the time, even just a few moments a day to rejuvenate our inner self will make a difference. Then as the days go by perhaps you will start to find it important to take a few more minutes for yourself, you will leave the radio off in the car, not turn on the TV or computer as soon as you walk in the door, and perhaps even turn off the phone….okay, so that may be a bit of a stretch for most of us. Allowing yourself to connect with the part of you that desires this new found spiritual preparedness will be a release from the bondage of all the other preparing we do.
When we begin to change our daily schedule a little at a time, we will loosen up the strain of overload that so many of us have. This is when we will find the peace in preparedness that our souls are searching for.
small stuff CELEBRATED
by Sharon Paprocki
Some years ago Richard Carlson wrote an inspired book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and It’s All Small Stuff). His message offered readers the chance to step into a less stressful more grace-filled view of our world by not getting worked up about the small stuff; the daily challenges of life. Carlson encouraged us to be open to going with the flow. There is no doubt that this is sound advice. Recently, a friend shared a story about her son and I found myself realizing that although it’s important not to sweat the small stuff it is just as amazing to appreciate the little things in life knowing that this is where we can experience God’s presence, love and joy.
Ryan is a young man that I have known for nearly 15 years. Ryan’s brother, Ben, and my son played basketball together beginning in elementary school. Ryan is Ben’s older brother and he has always been Ben’s biggest cheerleader. Ryan is autistic and throughout his life has faced many physical challenges. He currently lives at home with his parents, Sandy and Mark.
Predictability is important in Ryan’s life so you can imagine that babies are not on the top of his favorite things list. Sandy shared, “Babies cry, they can be messy and at church Ryan doesn’t like the “diaper isle” because babies don’t know how to use the bathroom.” Sandy noted that Ryan has never been interested in babies or had not touched a baby other than when Ben was one.
While at a church service, during which baptisms were to be held, Ryan and his parents were sitting just behind a little baby boy; maybe 2 months old. Ryan didn’t know that he wasn’t one of the babies to be baptized so he thought the baby was going to have to have water poured over his head. During the service Ryan had been listening to old Sunday School cassette tapes. During the sharing of Peace, Ryan leaned over towards the baby. Sandy admitted there was a moment of panic as she wasn’t sure what Ryan was going to do. As she watched, Ryan gently shook the infants hand and said, “You little light will shine.” The infant responded by giving Ryan a big smile. Sandy smiled and thought…”God can speak through anyone!”
This story reminded me not to sweat the small stuff and when the opportunity comes to celebrate it instead. May Ryan’s story bring a smile to your face, gratitude to your heart and be an invitation to you to let your light shine through this Thanksgiving holiday.
The Gift of your Imagination down a dark alley is otherwise known as -worry-
Listen and be inspired….
As promised, in last month’s issue of Wellbeing, we are sharing ways to boost your mental health and maintain your life balance. To add to the 4 tried and true tips from January we have 4 more ideas that can melt any humdrum mood February and it’ frigid temperatures have us in.
TIP #5: Learn to deal with and manage your stress effectively…
Stress is a normal part of life. How we deal with it depends on our attitude. It helps to know what triggers our stress. This gives us a chance to avoid unnecessary stressors and prepare or manage others. Winding down from stress can include relaxation breathing, yoga, or a mini-vacation — brain break. To take a 5 minute vacation — each day set aside 5 minutes for a mental health break. Find a spot to be alone and give yourself to permission to day-dream. Enjoy dreaming about a place, person or idea, or think nothing at all! You will feel like you have been on a mini-vacation.
TIP #6 Deal with your Emotions…
We are all challenged to find safe, constructive ways to express and share our feelings of anger, sadness, joy and fear. How can we deal with our moods? Share joyful news with a friend; “cry on a friend’s shoulder” when you feel blue. Physical exercise can help you deal with your anger. Keep a stack of your favorite funny cartoons or a collection of humorous stories or videos for times when you feel the need to laugh.
TIP#7 Take time to enjoy…
Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. Do a crossword; read a book, sew, scrapbook, draw pictures with your kids or grandkids, play with your pet, bake, cook, or write a letter to someone special.
TIP#8 Participate and share interests…
Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for our mental health. Join a sports club; a band; a dance class; a theatre or choir group; a book or car club; or a bible study. If you know your way around the internet, google –meet up groups–. Meet up groups can connect you with people who have similar interests to yours. Recently a client shared that her Meet Up group took in a local art event. Now that’s a great way to bring beauty into a blustery winter day.