Moods are symptoms. Don’t just react. Look under the surface and connect with the other person to solve or even prevent an outburst, tantrum, or other negative behavior.

I talked about this in a previous post, “Pain Is the Root Of Anger, and Why You Should Care” but today I’d like to amplify that by sharing the following post by Rebecca Thompson, M.S., MFT.

Her blog is about parenting, and this post of hers in particular reminded me of when my son was a toddler and he would routinely become annoying, fussy, and troublesome when he was tired. It was an irritating distraction for work-at-home parents. Of course the instantaneous reactionary impulse was to be short with him, tell him to stop being that way, even yell at him. But I wanted to love and help him, not hurt him. I found that all I had to do when he started acting badly, was realize that he had been awake for hours, and then pick him up and rock him on my shoulder. He felt the loving connection and quickly fell asleep. When he awoke, he was always able to behave much better.

For older kids too big to hold or too old for naps, a hug can be just as refreshing–like rebooting a computer which has clogged up and can’t function right.

For even older people or those you aren’t so personal with, look for a way to give a verbal hug. A kind word, compliment, or some acknowledgement that you are sympathetic.

Meeting and treating on a personal root level works with a person of any age—infant, toddler, teen, adult, and elderly. It can even work with animals.

Read Rebecca’s post: An Alternative View of Tantrums and Emotional Upsets

Or visit her website by clicking this image:

 

© NPM

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(Please share the illustration from below the text.)

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Is living or working in a cramped or cluttered space driving you crazy?

You wish you had storage room to put stuff away, and more organization, and more money and time to make things the way you want them; or maybe you wish you could make some other person clear up their mess which is perpetually in your way. Maybe you’ll get that, but not today.

So put all that aside for a minute.  Freeze. Take a breath. Today is the day you have in front of you, the day you feel the oppression building, and the day you want to feel great, be productive and radiate happiness. Right now, here’s an instant help—a mood and brain pick-me-up…

Stop always standing or sitting in the middle of your space.
At least for one minute.

I know you have to be close to your work to work on it, but being in the middle means your face is close to stuff no matter which way you turn. The cubic free space is also divided into smaller, unnoticed chunks, which visually mix with chunks of stuff.

Stand with your back in a corner or, against a wall or door.

Standing (or sitting) with your back against a corner or wall will allow all the space which is usually around and behind you to meet unobstructed, blending into a relatively large open area; it will also put all that space between you and the stuff that you’re tired of looking at.

Do it every chance you get!

Move back against a corner or wall any time you have a minute or more that you’re not hands-on with your work, like when you are answering the phone, drinking water or tea, eating a cookie, stretching, deciding your next chore, hugging your child, etc..  Move back and look into the opened-up space.

Don’t eat your cereal at the breakfast bar in the middle of the kitchen; eat sitting in a chair off in a corner, facing into the open space you’ve just walked out of. This will allow you a moment of physical AND emotional relaxation.

Don’t eat at the computer. See how much better you feel sitting on the floor with your lunch, on the opposite side of the room. Or try swiveling your chair with your back to your computer, and looking into a different part of the room while you munch.

Surprising additional benefits.

There is a benefit to this idea beyond giving yourself a time-out from feeling claustrophobically overwhelmed with both endless work and ever-growing chaos. You may find that stepping back occasionally to enjoy the space you never knew you had, also calms and resets your thinking enough to let happy new ideas and creative new solutions come to the front of your consciousness. You may see a way to quicken or lessen your workload. Or you may see a less stressful, and more grateful, way to think about things.

Take a literal step back, and a deep breath, and smile—as often as you can.

You may not have enough space for what you want, but now you know how to make your invisible space visible—and that can be a wonderful treat!

Being at the CORNER of Your Area Consolidates Free Space & Moves You Farther from the Mess. A Refreshing Breath of Space = a Mood-Lift.

©NPM

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Stop with the easy question. Ask the right question & YOUR answer will make you JOYFUL. ...( http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ )

Stop with the easy question. Ask the right question & YOUR answer will make you JOYFUL.

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Life is a beautiful forest, and I see that most of the time. But when I’ve bumped my nose on a tree trunk, it’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking about “that stupid tree that’s always in my way.”

It goes like this:

Angry. Short of patience even though I don’t want to be. Frustrated. Tired. Very tired of the same things over and over. “Why does life have to be so hard!?!?” I think.

Wrong question.

I know why life is hard in general: so we’ll learn—learn patience, self-control, love, endurance, humility, cooperation (with each other and with God), appreciation for better times, etc.

But why SO hard? Why so hard that I can’t seem to manage what I think I ought to be accomplishing?

Still the wrong question.

Would I really be content with life as it is if I had any clearer understanding of WHY life is as it is? No!

If life is hard so that we learn and grow, then we aren’t even supposed to be content exactly as is—we’re supposed to be growing and moving on, changing our thinking and our approach and our outcome to something better than what comes naturally.

Looking backwards at how we got to the state we are in is helpful, to see consequences of actions so we can make better choices as we go on. Looking backwards can also be helpful in seeing what all we’ve forgotten that we should be thankful for, so we realize that life isn’t as bad as it might seem when only focused on a small part.

But when one is angry and frustrated, then asking “why” life is as it is, is actually mostly looking to blame. Why did God put me in this lousy life? Why don’t other people make my life easier? Why am I so stupid I don’t do something completely different?

Blame breads bitterness, loneliness, and depression. When vented, angry blame only make a problem bigger.

Life is what it is—so far as the present moment. The future depends on our choices.

The right question is “What am I going to do to make things BETTER?”

As long as there’s a plan or an idea to move forward positively, there’s hope for goodness. And where there’s hope and action, there’s joy, and love, and progress toward all good things.

When positivity is radiated, improvement can grow and multiply.

So what are you going to do to make things better?

NOT “What are you going to do for revenge?” NOT “What are you going to do to get free of miserable responsibilities?”

What are YOU going to do to make things TRULY BETTER?

That is the right question. And the answer will make you joyful.

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© NPM

(Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, dan, & Stuart Miles, at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ )

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Happy Endings Have a Purpose

December 19, 2012


My nine-year-old son and I both “booed” after finishing a short story which started with two children being left alone on an island, and ended with them still there, abandoned by their only visitor, and one of the children vowing to find a way off of the island some day. I tried to console my son by saying that when I experience a sad story that ends without an “ending,” it makes me resolve to get busy making something happen in real life. I asked him, “Do stories always have to have a happy ending?” I continued, “Real life doesn’t have happy endings—it just keeps going and going.” To which he instantly replied, “That’s why we turn to stories!”

I think he’s right.

Most adults are busy, and we can sometimes accept taking a piece of a story to ponder its points as we go on with our activities; but remember being a kid, when a year seemed like eternity? Adults may have been around enough to know a hard time will pass in a day, or week, or year; but it’s hard for a child to hold out for relief which might be so far away—so they turn to fantasy. Time goes so slowly for children that they can’t always grasp from their own real lives, the sense of hope and joy they need; but they can get it from a happy ending to a story.

We all want to know that things will be okay in the end—the end of a situation, the end of a season of life, or the absolute end of one’s earthly life. We need hope for the future in order to keep going through anything less than perfect. We fuel that hope with stories, real and fictional. Stories give us a rest from our reality, and ideas to take back into reality. Sure, we can draw positive thoughts from a story that stops sadly, but that’s work, not recreation. We all–adults and children–need happy endings to feel relaxed and happy.

Life does keep going and going, but with lots of little happy moments, if not “endings.” For those who say that kids should not be taught to expect happy endings in life, I’d say they should be allowed the uplifting pleasure of happy endings in stories, AND taught to both look for and create happy passages in real life.

It doesn’t matter so much that life isn’t “happy EVER after” ONE struggle. It does matter that we CAN get through a struggle, and be happy—and so then we must be able to get through another struggle, and another. A happy ending gives hope for multiple happy endings to multiple struggles.

So don’t feel guilty for filling your kid’s heads with happy endings. And do make happiness come true, even in difficult times.

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©NPM

(This information is not doctor-confirmed—it’s just my personal experience and opinion. Use your own judgement for your own health.)

Many websites list iron-deficiency symptoms such as tiredness, which I never really noticed. Yet it is my belief I was iron deficient.

I had a severe problem: I couldn’t move–not even roll over in bed–without feeling like my brain was spinning; and along with causing head discomfort, this kept me on the verge of nausea. This was extreme dizziness!

My doctor was on vacation. I don’t remember what prompted me to try iron supplements (I think it was an educated person’s suggestion), but a few hundred percent of the “recommended daily allowance” of iron, a few times per day, cured me gradually over I think about a day or two.

This does make sense, because iron is needed for red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body; and what happens when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen? Dizziness of course!

Here is a nice clear page about iron http://health.learninginfo.org/what-does-iron-do.htm  But if you read that page, and many others around the web, you’ll see that tiredness is the symptom most often mentioned.

So why didn’t I feel tired or lacking in energy? Because I was a person who habitually did what I judged needed to be done, regardless of my energy level. In other words, I had long before forgotten what rested and energized felt like, living on adrenaline, willpower, and love for others. I was deaf to my body’s subtle signals.

I repeated the on-off “test” process a few times: I stopped taking iron for a while or maybe only a couple of times per month, had the dizziness come back; took more iron and felt fine. I repeated this cycle more than twice, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t coincidence. Iron really was what I needed. (BE WARNED: Too much iron can damage organs, so be careful and consider having your blood iron level tested.)

Then I had “another” problem: taking an iron supplement daily for a long time wasn’t enough. I cooked in iron skillets; took 100% US RDA of iron daily; I included in my diet lots of fresh broccoli and swiss chard, canned spinach, eggs, beans, prunes and raisins, and occasionally red meat (all iron-rich foods, but most are calcium too). Still I could feel the dizziness coming back (thankfully I’d learned to notice it before it got severe). Without blood tests I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I was worried.

I did another internet search to learn what interferes with iron absorption. I realized that I was usually consuming my iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods and whole grains (both of which block iron absorption), and I was always taking my iron pill with my multi-vitamin-mineral pill which also contained calcium. These were not helpful habits.

See these pages for detail on what interferes with iron absorption, and how to increase absorption:
http://www.ivillage.com/iron-absorption/6-n-145851
and
http://www.livestrong.com/article/34792-foods-interfere-iron-absorption/

I also read in the book “the Four Hour Body” that the author, Timothy Ferris, did have his blood tested before and after adding orange juice to his somewhat strict diet. His test proved what one of those webpages says: citrus juice increases blood iron content (because, it is thought, of the Vitamin C content in the juice). This didn’t make Mr. Ferris happy (because, he says, men don’t lose blood monthly and so have no way to rid themselves of too much iron); but it’s some good news for anyone already low in iron. Orange Juice can help. ……….By the way,  I’ve only read a part of his book, but found it has a lot of good information in it. Here’s a link to it on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Body-Uncommon-Incredible-Superhuman/dp/030746363X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342717373&sr=1-1&keywords=the+four+hour+body

So, I started taking my near-daily iron pill with vitamin C (which helps with iron absorption), AND when other nutrients can not interfere: in the middle of at least a 4-hour stretch between meals, or two hours after dinner if I won’t be having a late-night snack.

Before I figured out how to absorb enough iron, I had already committed to taking better care of myself, including getting enough hours of sleep. I noticed that even 8-9 or more hours didn’t feel like enough, and I blamed this on my dreams. I was always busy in my dreams trying to get things done, just like in my waking hours. I learned to turn off my mind when going to sleep, telling myself that everything can wait because now was the time to rest. This helped considerably with waking up energized. But after correcting my iron intake, I was surprised at how much better I felt! I still get 8-9 hours of sleep occasionally, but often only seven, and I have real energy—I don’t have to push myself like I did for years. (I still sometimes have to push myself to work on the right chores when I’d rather work on different ones, but that’s another issue.)

SUMMARY:

  • Iron deficiency can cause tiredness; BUT, if you don’t notice that, it can go on to cause severe dizziness.
  • It’s serious when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen flowing—not something to cure with will-power.
  • To make sure more of the iron you consume is absorbed:  A) try to eat some iron-rich foods at separate times from tea, coffee, bread, cereal, dairy, beans, tofu, etc., B) try to take any iron supplements on an empty stomach if you can, or with foods that don’t interfere.
  • Take citrus juice or vitamin C with your iron foods or iron pills. (NOTE: Potatoes are rich in vitamin C too, if not over-processed.)
  • Listen to your body and find out what it needs, so you can last longer to do more for others (and for yourself).

Now I feel great, and have more energy than I’ve had in a long time. Real energy.

© NPM

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God designed work and rest. Sometimes He set the intervals. Day and night. Summer and Winter. Six days of work and a Sabbath. Six years of cultivation and harvest, and the seventh year a Sabbath for the land (which some modern farmers have found so beneficial that they rotate their plots, always having one at rest). Sometimes God devised or allowed exceptions. There is no winter of rest around the Equator. Slaves, prisoners, and the persecuted were not always allowed a Sabbath of rest. Since Christ, we are freed from strict rules, as were made for the childhood of humanity; we are to understand, value, and aim for what the laws were supposed to accomplish, and we are saved even when we fall short.

For years I thought that at least some of the reasons for resting the seventh day, was for the Jews to gather for listening to God’s word (as they did not each have their own Bible), to exercise their trust in God to provide for them even if they did not work non-stop, to set the Jews apart from the rest of the world in an outward way, and to remind the Jews themselves (as well as the world) that God’s people were no longer slaves—that God was better to them than their old earthly masters.  I thought that if God was in my heart and thoughts every day, if I read His word frequently, and lived my life for His glory (sharing Him with others, directly or indirectly), that I didn’t have to follow the strict 6-1 schedule. I didn’t need to put one day aside for God, if every day was for God.

I still believe that. But however flexible God is, and our bodies are, there remains the rule of alternating work with rest. It’s part of the earthly human existence God put us in. It has reasons and value, which we should appreciate and respect.

Some people may be built to go all their lives on two-thirds as much sleep as other people, but each better get the rest he or she needs. When there are unusual circumstances or people who need our help, we may be able to go for weeks on a fraction of the sleep we usually need, but eventually we will stop functioning well and even collapse without enough rest. We can break down emotionally or physically—even spiritually if we allow the strain to lead us astray. Jesus didn’t take much rest during His ministry, but then He only had to go at it for about three years before He was done with His physical body.

I really extended myself all this Summer, for the sake of others directly, and for the sake of projects intended in the long run to be mostly for the sake of others.  I thought that God was my strength, and He was. I didn’t succumb or stray emotionally or spiritually under the strain, and my body lasted the summer. But then I had a month of physical trouble—a month of rest and refurbishing before I could work again. A Summer on, and month off. It’s like a week on and a day off, but on a different scale. I never would have been able to serve the people who desperately needed my love and help, if I’d stuck to observing Sabbaths for only rest and worship. But what I’ve learned is to have more respect for God’s design, and to look for when I should accept rest, rather than expecting to be “on” for the whole of my life. If I’d taken rest just a bit sooner, I could have prevented my physical crumbling. And on top of that, if I plan in regular rest, I’ll be stronger the next time I’m called upon to work a very long stretch.

I’ve learned to accept that “everything” will never be done, and I’ll make myself sick trying (giving me even less time to get “everything” done), so I’m better off taking time to rest rather than being made to take time being sick. The tricky part is knowing what doesn’t have to be done. I’ve learned to trust that God can help me get enough done, without doing all the time. I’ve long known that choices, balance, and respect were keys, but now experience has in one more way made them a reality in me. I’ve felt consequences of over-tiredness before, but sometimes we humans don’t “get it” the first time around.

I have to take care of the dearest tool God has given me to work with—my body. God knows there is only so many hours in each day, and days in our lives; so He knows what we can and can’t accomplish. We just have to not be too busy to hear His guidance on how to make the best of our time.

Someone who knows me may read this and think, “I knew she was trying to do too much; I told her to rest.” But it’s not a matter of how much I’m trying to accomplish, it’s a matter of how. Working fast when I work is fine, if I can think fast or feel guided. Working on a short night’s sleep is fine, when necessary. But what’s new for me is accepting that I can’t always cut sleep to make things work. There has to be another way, most of the time. There has to be something else to cut, or smarter ways to get things done in the given time. I have to look for those solutions, because I have to respect that God wants me to rest. Rest is a piece of God’s puzzle, and if I accept that piece as non-counterfeit, then I can search for what fits with it, until my life works. I can still amaze everyone with what all I accomplish, because God is my guide and my strength, and He is amazing.

Some people hand out advice which sounds rash to me, like ditching your spouse if he or she seems to be holding you back. I believe more often we need to look for more creative and gradual solutions. You may not feel you can commit to eight or nine hours of sleep, and let everything else work out around that. What you can do, is work toward the rest that you need, as quickly as possible, with trust that there is a way to have a balance appropriate and good for your particular body and spirit. If this post is another nudge to you, that you know you need more rest, aim for it, seriously. You can work better with a full battery, and be happier in the processes. Trust God that it is possible.

© 2011 NPM

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If you are one of us ambitious types, with always too much to do, you’ve probably been through countless bouts of frustration and despair when you felt that you’ve had too many things going wrong and too many problems to deal with. You often feel like you deserve a break–a span of time when everything goes well, long enough for you to get caught up and even to get ahead before the next batch of trouble strikes. After all, you are working for the good of someone–your kids, your spouse, your boss, your customers, your country, the world; the universe should give you a break so you can do good things, right?

Well, maybe it doesn’t work that way. Maybe rather than resenting the relentless difficulties, we should plan on them–the way we plan on other facts of life in this human form on this strange planet. Businesses have to plan on employees taking sick-leave or missing work for various reasons, so why don’t we plan on it for ourselves? Why do we act like our lives should always run smoothly, as if difficulty isn’t part of a smooth plan?

Maybe dealing with problems coming at is like baseballs from a mechanical pitcher set on high speed, is as useful in the long run as having to work for a living, interact with other humans, sleep a third of our lives, and eat on a regular basis (all things God instituted).

Maybe we’d get farther if we accepted these unexpected troubles as character-enriching experiences (teaching us humility, patience, faith, respect) and planned time for them: expect the unexpected and greet it with grace.

We wouldn’t expect to keep a job without allotting time for personal grooming and the commute to work. Lets stop complaining and start allotting time for dealing with crashed computers, relatives with bad moods, incompetent people, sicknesses, lost items, mechanical breakdowns, etc.

Sure we should intelligently try to minimize or avoid problems, but we would suffer so much less stress and less-frequently inflict a hurtful attitude on others, if we would understand and accept that we are in an imperfect world, and other people are imperfect, as are we.

As illustrated in the poem “How Did You Die?” by Edmund Vance Cooke, life isn’t about everything running perfectly; it’s about how we deal with everything, however it runs.

Lets plan X hours per week for unexpected trouble, and see how much happier we are–and how much happier we make those around us too.

© 2011 NPM

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A shower of thoughts.

Dark and troublesome days are good because we grow from them. If we remember that when we are in them, they will seem shorter and brighter.

Any time the weather isn’t good for what I want to do, I know there’e something else I can do—maybe something more important that I’d forgotten about or hadn’t thought about until I have to stop and rethink.

After several stressful days, today I slept in; and when I awoke I was delighted and thankful for clouds and a light breeze, so I could water and harvest the garden well into the day—with the company of my son who can’t stand to stay out on hot sunny days.

Now I am going to re-focus and stay busy. Lots to do. Tomatoes and Swiss Chard to harvest. Books to read. A Child to teach.

© NPM