Five Ways To Renew Yourself This Holiday

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The holiday season is a wonderful time to renew your spirit. It is so easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the season that you can burn yourself out. A general definition of renew is “to make new or as if new again,” as stated in The Free Dictionary on line. My encouragement is to follow the Five “R’s”: restore, revive, resume, reaffirm and replenish. While each of these is very closely linked, each offers a different dimension.
Restore means “to make new or as if new again; to bring back to or put back into a former or original state.” Many factors in life can cause us to dull or bury some of our essential qualities. Maybe you have been in an abusive relationship and have just recently freed yourself of that situation. I invite you to think of any qualities you may need to bring back to the forefront of your life.
Revive means “to become active or flourishing again; to restore to consciousness or life.” What parts of your essential self might need to be revived? Are you creative and artistic but have tucked that part of you away? Did you get caught up in the structure of daily life and all its demands and forgot your adventurous, spontaneous sides? Sometimes we can be so serious that we forget how to play.
Resume means “to return to or begin again after interruption; to take back to oneself.” This is very similar to the two aforementioned; however, I am hoping each will help trigger different ideas. For example, for me this brings up my spiritual issues. For many years for various reasons my spiritual life was on the back burner so to speak. Then after while I began to focus and examine that aspect of my life and started to again claim that very important part of myself.
Reaffirm. Affirm means, “to assert as valid or confirmed.” I would be asserting again or confirming again something of importance within myself. An example of this for me is my creative side. I had gotten so caught up in my life with children and my clinical practice and all the responsibilities that I wasn’t validating my other creative needs. Beginning to write articles and my book was a great example of me reaffirming this very important part of me.
Replenish means to “fill with inspiration or power; to fill or build up again.” I just love this word. Who couldn’t use some replenishment? What a better time of year than the holiday season to be purposeful about participating in activities that inspire and empower you! What accomplishes that for each of us is different. Maybe what will replenish you is a weekend spiritual retreat of meditation. (The definitions for the Five R’s came from Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1987.)

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Protect Your Spirit During This Holiday Season!

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Before we can talk about how to protect your spirit during the holiday season we need to have some clarity on what it means when we speak of our spirit. I am guessing this conjures up various ideas. How does one describe their spirit? According to TheFreeDictionary.com spirit is defined as “the essential nature of a person”; the vital principle or animating force within living beings”; “incorporeal consciousness”. What does this mean for you? How would you describe your spirit?
What do you think it means to protect your spirit? One definition of protect is “to keep from being damaged, attacked, stolen or injured; to guard,” from TheFreeDictionary.com. I think this covers the essential meaning of protect. It is your job to know what types of situations may hurt or damage your spirit or what type of situations are just not you and therefore may need to be avoided or at minimum prepared for in advance.
With this in mind, one of the first things that can benefit you around the holidays is to surround yourself with people who accept and like you and your spirit. Maybe these are the types of people you will already be around during the holiday season. If so, what a blessing! If, however, the people you will be spending the holidays with are not so accepting, then I encourage you to saturate yourself with those who do accept you prior to your holiday events or travels. Fit these accepting people into your schedule. Whether this means having a dinner date with them prior to you traveling or before the event you’ll be attending. Or maybe it will be to stay in contact with them via phone, email, or texting while you or they are away
Equal in importance is to be as prepared as possible for what you might face during the holidays. One way to do this is to scope the place out! Know what you’re getting into. Be prepared and take responsibility. Is this going to be an environment that is more safe than not? Some situations (like families) are ones you have experienced often so that you understand the dynamics enough to know what to expect. Some situations are new so you do your best to get a sense of what the occasion will be like ahead of time.
Lastly, dress for the occasion! If you are going somewhere that feels very safe and accepting then by all means, go for it! Wear your best and most colorful outfit or dress drab and comfy, whatever is you. If there is some risk or if it is unsafe for your spirit then wear your protective gear! Don’t let it all hang-out. It is your job to protect yourself and stay alert.

Honoring Those Who Have Given So Much!

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As veteran’s Day is once again upon us I am reminded of the meaning of this day as one of remembering all the men and women who have served our country. Many have been injured or killed in combat. I hope we take this day of remembrance seriously. In the days of past men were not given a choice about service in the military and many mad huge sacrifices, some giving their lives in the service of our country.

And to the men and women of today who make a choice to serve in the armed forces what an amazing commitment and an immense amount of courage it takes to make that choice. And I personally want to thank you for your bravery; for taking such a risk, to living often in the unknown. And I am certainly thankful to all of you who have served in active duty and returned fully intact without sustaining any serious injuries. And my prayers and hopes go out to those who have suffered in tremendous ways that most of us cannot understand. I am thankful to the people who are there for you to encourage you and help you in your new life and I pray these people continue to be a source of support to you and that you receive many blessings
for the sacrifices for you made.

My heart goes out to the men and women who have lost their lives servicing our country. And I extend a thank you to the surviving family and friends of these brave souls. I hope and pray that you are continuing to receive support and that you’re holding the memory of your loved one vividly and able to share these memories with many, because I know he or she is still alive in your heart.

And in closing these thoughts about Veterans Day I want to remind all that there are many who come back from service with no physical injuries that look alive and well yet are suffering in ways one cannot imagine. These individuals suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). These individual’s may appear unharmed on the outside, but they suffer greatly on a daily basis. For some, just staying alive and choosing to live each day requires all their energy. Occasionally functioning with the memories they have seems too much.

My hope and prayers are extended to those suffering from PTSD that they too will get their needs met. I hope that as a society we can learn more about PTSD and learn to respect how debilitating it can be. The men and women who suffer from PTSD need to be acknowledged for the very real injury they suffer. I pray that we as a community and the system that is providing treatment to these individuals continue to find creative ways to assist these sufferings veterans.

Creative Ways To Handle Conflict!

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For many just the word conflict makes them nervous. Conflict conjures up negative meaning for countless people. There tends to be the conflict avoider and the conflict seeker/creator and then those that lay somewhere in-between. Learning how to handle conflict in a respectful way to self and others is the key. If we are going to be in relationships, then we are going to have conflict. The following are a few quick tips on handling conflict:

Concern
Open-Minded
Non-defensive
Fairness
Listening
Introspective
Consideration
Thankful

When someone has the courage to express something to you that seems like a conflict it is imperative to show sincere concern. Showing sincere concern is displayed in many ways, however, your non-verbal communication will tell the person a lot about your level of sincere concern. Keeping good eye-contact and sending non-verbal cues that show concern is a good start. Positive non-verbal cues are open-body posture, nodding as you listen, concerned facial expressions, etc.

Being opened-minded during a conflict with another person is certainly a challenge. It is not always the easiest things to do especially if it is a topic that you are both personally invested in your viewpoints. Being open-minded to the fact the maybe the person’s viewpoint has some merit takes training in being intentional in the moment. It is about acknowledging that this person may have something I need to hear and in fact may offer you a different perspective if you can stay open to that possibility.

I will say that being non-defensive is the best way to handle conflict. Often you don’t even realize you are being defensive because it such an instinctual reaction. This actually is true. It is instinctual to be defensive; yet, it is harmful to all our relationships. As a human you have the ability to learn to be non-defensive. However, this requires significant attentiveness to your reactions and choosing less defensive ones. In the beginning it feels like a lot of work, but as you practice non-defensive responses they become easier.

Fairness during a conflictual situation can also be a challenge. Fairness makes me think of the win-win outcome that is often referenced. When you approach a conflict with the intention of both your needs and the others being important and valid there is a greater hope that a win-win outcome will occur. If you are the type that tends to have to be right then you usually seek a win-lose outcome with your way winning. Just as harmful is the lose-win when you give into another without expressing yourself fully for the sake of stopping the conflict.

Being a good listener during conflict is a rare and special craft. In my experience most people are not too good at listening. Listening is about staying with the sender not shifting to your own thoughts and reactions. Good listening is making sure you understand and have heard the other person. Reflecting back or mirroring to them what you heard them say is priceless. This has nothing to do with agreeing; it is about making sure you get it from their perspective.

Being introspective can be very helpful during conflict. What part of what he or she is saying to you may be true? Is this a complaint I have heard about myself before? What truth is there for me in this? Another part of introspection is asking yourself what this is bringing up for you. Are you having reactions that are connected to other parts of your life, not just with this person?

Consideration of what the other is sharing is very helpful during conflict. Being willing to consider their perspective in the conflict is a wonderful gift. Considering the possibility that both of you can see and experience the situation differently; and yet considering that both views are valid.

Being thankful for both the courage the two of you had to talk through the conflict and thankful for the opportunity to learn is key. What a wonderful attitude that would be towards conflict!