Pressure? Stress? Leave it where?

Pressure? Stress? Leave it where?

Pressure, stress, and worry got the best of me; until I unexpectedly stumbled into a promising antidote. A couple years ago I accidentally deleted my entire website. Yeah, ‘File Not Found’ stared at me in the eyes. My stress level went from a three to a hundred in a matter of milliseconds to say the least. As a result, about 5 seconds later Worry settled in, and in a matter of a 60 seconds Pressure found it’s trigger point.

Fix it please

Furthermore, because I did my own website work, I couldn’t just call a web person and say, “Fix it please”. All this hard work…GONE. The “undo” button or back arrow were pointless in this case. I tried it. Do you ever have times like these? When you ask yourself, “Why did I just do that? Did that really happen?” Wishing there was an “undo” button? It’s funny when these stressful mistakes occur and we believe for a split second, maybe it will go away and fix itself, or everything will go back to normal if I just close my eyes. Tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this.

woman stressed out at computer

Above all, what really put the icing on the cake was that this website disaster occurred right before bed. Like sleep was going to happen! My brain was fried. Knuckles locked. Fingertips deaden. The courage to push the keys on my keyboard was in deep jeopardy. As a result, when I did find the strength to push buttons, I immediately checked my backup. Well, guess what, it wasn’t working! My ears got hot and gut started to cramp. I needed help.

Just gotta vent

My husband was sleeping already…not that he knows anything about websites…but I needed someone by my side, to listen to my predicament. Through the years I’ve found healing when I talk to someone about an issue. When we “vent” it’s like we release the problem from our minds and put it out in the world for the world to figure out. Maybe the listener can relate to how to deal with the subject. I see “venting” like a pressure cooker. When there is too much pressure, we need to open the cap to let some steam out. Anyway…I needed to vent.

Believe me, many lessons learned here. But my biggest lesson I learned was the gift pressure gave me. Uh? With no one available, I folded my hands and closed my eyes tight, “God, I’m freaking out. I made a mistake and I’m not sure how to fix it. Please help me dig deep and figure this out.” And then I prayed again.

The size of my problem

All I wanted to do was escape, to get out of the room, away from the keyboard. In the black of the night, I slide on my slippers, grabbed a towel and walked outside. The dark sky peppered with twinkle. It was a welcoming reminder of how small my problem was and how big the world stands. “Was anyone else in their backyard stressing-out like me? As I folded my towel into a neat square, I anticipated sitting on it to just be. The shadowy trees surrounded me, but not in an intimidating way. No bugs, no noises, just stillness. I watched my breath let go. The quietness blanketed my shoulders. The earthy air filled my nose. And I felt a peace embrace my soul. There in the moment was the gift.

man standing looking at night sky

Selective Perspective

The value of this stressful night revealed to me perspective. If I didn’t get stressed out, then I wouldn’t have prayed, I wouldn’t have felt the nudge to go outside, I wouldn’t have encounter nature in its nightly glory, and I wouldn’t have experienced the healing powers of my backyard.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending even just five minutes around trees or in green spaces, like your backyard, helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, instills focus, accelerates healing, increases energy, and improves sleep.* And you wonder why I craved to get outside….

The article goes on to say, “Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones.”

Consequently, I know this is hard, but when you encounter pressure or a stressful situation, I challenge you to focus on calming down immediately. In doing so; you will gain a better perspective of the issue and will respond in a wiser manner. After a good 15 minutes I wasn’t worried anymore. Whether I had to start from scratch or come up with a different solution, it was going to be alright. I stood up, shook my towel out, and walked back inside. My feet slid out of my slippers and I went to bed.

My Take-Away:

  • There are gems hidden in stress if you look for them outside the situation.
  • Back-up everything that is important to you.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Go outside and take a breather.
  • Rest to be your best.
Christy standing by tree reducing pressure

The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I got up extremely early to mend my mishap. With a well rested body and mind, I was diligent to figure this out. Hence, venturing into the back-end of my website was scary but I succeeded  and found an older back-up. Thank the Lord! Later that day I took a long walk amongst the trees while being grateful for my state of being.

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved

One of those? Three tricks to transform a lion into a lamb.

One of those? Three tricks to transform a lion into a lamb.

This past January started with an unexpected visit from a lion who set-up camp. This wasn’t one of those sleepy lions, this cat was roaring. A New Year, a fresh start, and WHAM, I’m faced with my first of many challenging days. I get it, these things happen, but they kept happening. So how can we transform a lion into a lamb? I have a few tricks that work!

What’s up with Diet Coke?

Let me give you a taste of how January went along. Below-freezing temperatures hit our area, we had no school for eight days in one month! On one of those days my son and I were chatting on the couch when suddenly we heard an explosion from the garage, “What was that?”. My mind quickly questioned ‘was someone breaking in, where was the gas can, did a tire pop?’ As we peered, ever so slowly, into the garage we were welcomed with a light brownish slush on our screen door. The garage smelled a little sweet. Hmm. As I turned the light on my eyes widened at the car, garage ceiling, recycle bins, and even our boots. This brownish familiar smell stuff has exploded everywhere. Yep, I guess that’s what happens to a 2-liter of Diet Coke when it freezes. It was in that moment I decided to practice my reaction to this roar, “All you can do is clean-up the mess. Just do it and move on. Getting mad is not going to fix it.” I shut the door and stood there for a second. “At least it’s frozen”, I said to my son. I grabbed my stocking hat, tightened my scarf, and went to work.

Later that afternoon I was craving a Diet Coke slushie. After I went through the car-wash I went to the store and got one. The funny thing was as I backed out of my parking spot, someone else backed up too…we met in the middle…crunch; hmm. My soul took a deep breath in and out, and my inner voice said, “Okay Christy. No one was hurt. There is no car damage. These things happen. Learn from this, and then move on.” This is just one example of one day I had this past month.

Salt & Pepper

Even though January was a bit rough, in hindsight, I’m actually glad it all happened. It’s usually through the bad stuff where we grow the most, no? The salty season reminded me that I have values and morals. I have goals. And I have a family who loves me after a bad day…month…LOL. But that’s not all this lion-of-a-month taught me. He taught me how to transform him into a lamb. Every week was peppered with dire events: work difficulties, health issues, relationship misunderstandings, car problems, communication predicaments, extreme weather conditions, and big decisions to name the least. I regularly thought about the superstition that bad things happen in threes, but there were more than three! “What’s going on?” It kind-of felt like I was in a boxing ring dodging punches; then I’d get an uppercut to the gut and a hook to the nose. My opponent would then roar like a lion and stand over my body. Okay, maybe not that intense, but I needed to fight back!

1 – Name it

The first trick to fighting the lion is to notice it. Identify it. Give the lion a name: Doubt, Insecurity, Frustration,name tag Unfairness, Confusion, or whatever it is. No one likes to call these out, but it helps to pinpoint the issue. I paid attention to what was going on around me, not to sulk in my despair, but to put a stop to it! What exactly is happening in my surroundings? Why was I letting it affect me so much? Can I name it? On the obvious note, it had been cloudy for weeks, sickness everywhere, bills coming in, and goals were strapped for time. On the not-so-obvious note, my hormones were haywire, my values were compromised, and people-pleasing got the best of me. But when I named it, I could then fight back with the right punches.

2 – Focus

The second trick is pace. The frequency of these downers were happening one right after we see what we wantthe other. My thinking immediately shifted from rolling it off my back to what’s coming next? This can be looked at as a good thing and a bad. The good helps with being alert, ready to act and prepared for the not-so-fun. The bad taints perspective. It’s like we’re looking for the grim so we see the grim. Here’s the trick with the good and the bad: what you focus on is what you’ll see the most of, pace yourself.

3 – Skill

Train the lion. It’s how we handled the situations. This is a skill and a skill I need to continuously work on. My awareness of how I managed these troubles became clear to me. Some I did well with, others…um…I could have done better. I don’t like to admit I blew some things out of proportion, but gosh, it happens to all of us. So what do we do in this situation?

Here are 7 training techniques to try:

  1. Understand the triggers. Have a plan of how you’d like to react. Play it over in your head and practice.
  2. Use this opportunity to better yourself, not to hurt others, but to strengthen your character.
  3. Flip the switch and focus on the good things. Seriously write down or discuss at the dinner table what good things happen that day.boxing gloves
  4. Turn to God. He might be trying to get your attention or even protecting you from something worse. Yes, spiritual warfare happens. Fight off the Enemy with God’s armor, Ephesians 6:13-17. It also helps to call the enemy out on it, “STOP! Away from me!” Jesus did, why wouldn’t it work for us? Ask Jesus to help you.
  5. If you don’t have someone you can trust to vent to, write in a journal. Get it out.
  6. Give your mind a break and your body a good sweat. Exercise helps your brain be more creative and it kicks in your problem solving skills.
  7. Distract your thoughts. Again, get your mind on something else that keeps you busy for awhile. It gives you time to regroup.

Practicing these training techniques over and over again will help us see lions as lambs. Peace and comfort in moving forward will be prevalent. Give’r a try.

Seriously?

Ironically, during the latter half of the month, my husband heard on the radio that the third Monday in January is called “Blue Monday”. Apparently, a university professor used a formula to calculate the most depressing day of the year. WHAT?! The date was calculated by these factors: poor weather, debt level, post Christmas blaa, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, and low motivation levels. You can see the formula here. After my husband told me that news I felt SO MUCH BETTER! Light bulb moment here: I wasn’t alone. And maybe that’s all we need to know when going through a lion season…we’re not alone.

For inquiring minds, the happiest day of the year falls sometime in the last part of June. Did you enjoy the post? I would greatly appreciate a ‘share’ or ‘like’ on Facebook. Thank you! And don’t forget to subscribe and check out the store! 

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved

How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers

How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers

chocolate chip cookie“You let this little thing tell you what to do?” – Diana (Wonder Woman)

Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Dear God, how am I going to do this? I have too much going on…too many hats to wear: Christmas shopper, decorator, home manager, wife, mom, personal banker, blogger, volunteer, and now a student?”

I enjoy these many hats, I really do! But this December I got carried away. I had a hard time sleeping, completing a thought, and taking care of my own physical ailments. I felt like I just existed. Don’t get me wrong it had its fun times with family and friends; but there were challenging, brain draining, and humbling realities scattered throughout the month.

During the second full week in December my expectations for myself where stupidly unrealistic. Not only did I have the usual Christmas preparations and home duties, but I started an online class! WHAT? “Wonder Woman Activate!” I would say to myself. “Wonder Woman Activate!” I pictured this tall, confident, strong woman with fists on hips seamlessly do everything with a smile and wind blowing through her hair.

“Wonder Woman Activate! I can do this.” Then out of nowhere a hawk landed on the back deck. Was this a sign? BARK! Bark, bark, bark! My dog saw the hawk… I snapped out of my dream. There I stood looking outside. My eyes stung. My arms crossed. And a golf ball size knot grew in the nook of my neck.

“Wonder Woman Active”, came out of my mouth like a broken record. My mantra did not work.

I found myself on my knees. My dog looked at me and knew what was ahead, annnnnd…yup…there it is.

Tears streamed down my cheeks. I stretched my neck side to side and bowed my head with fingers intertwined, “Dear God. Help. Help me manage all this.” After a few minutes of “sob-fest” I sat there on my knees. It felt good to take a breather. Real good. So I gave myself a time-out. I stood up and walked to the kitchen. My praying hands unfolded and tied the strings to my apron. A deep breath filled my lungs as I closed my eyes to envision my ‘go to’ recipe… Christy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

My realization:

As my hands got busy, my tangled world loosened up just enough to welcome in some wandering. A heaping cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and a few hardy shakes of cinnamon were ready to be mixed. The beaters spun. My brain zoned-in on the mesmerizing hand mixer. The hum of the beaters, the swirl of the dough, and the smell of sweetness filled my senses. Then it was as if time clicked into slo-mo. Thunk-a. Thunk-a. Thunk-a. Each beater spun with poise. Each beater focused on the job. Together they mixed the ingredients with accuracy. I watched them work. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Wait a second…I watched them work. All of the sudden I was back in the Hall of Justice! This time I wasn’t looking to utilize the powers of Wonder Woman, but of the Wonder TWINS!

My “Wonder Woman Activate” affirmation was wrong. I laughed out loud about my realization, my confusion. Let’s try this: “Wonder TWINS Activate!”

I quickly found a picture online of the Wonder Twins. Oh my gosh! Remember Gleek the monkey? Zan and Jayna’s purple body suits? Whoa…I have Jayna’s same haircut!

While cleaning the cookie dough bowl…with my finger…I still laughed about the super hero mix-up. As I detached the infamous dough-draped beaters my thoughts went back to my reality. What was I trying to prove with this juggling of hats? That I could do it all? That I could be that strong woman who holds everything together?

For one last lick, I swiped my finger in the umbrella of the beater. As I was enjoying the flavors I felt a brick hit my stomach, not because of the raw cookie dough, but because I understood my madness.

I was trying to achieve all these things to prove to myself that I could do it all. And do it…all…by…myself. Why?

It was in that moment realized there was a little something telling me what to do…i. The very letter that is in the center of pride, anxiety, and exist! Pride was getting in my way. Anxiety was stealing my joy. To just ‘exist’ was sabotaging my goals. I was holding me BACK!

It wasn’t tasks I needed to manage; it was my motive that needed attention.

What did I do next? I did 5 things.

  1. I asked God for clarity and perspective.
  2. I found my Wonder Twin. And called on them when needed; whether to physically help, to listen, or to be my cheerleader. “Wonder Twins Activate!”
  3. I took things one small step at a time, step, by step, by step.
  4. I made time to hang with my family and put aside the “I”.
  5. I gave myself permission to take a time-out every once in awhile and baked cookies.

For the remainder of the month, my Wonder Twin and I worked together. We joked as we cooked meals, we encouraged each other managing the house, we were present with each other, and we played games with our son and dog.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…” Ecclesiastes 4:9

This past December taught me something unexpected; my real super power came from putting the “I” aside.

The cookies I baked that day didn’t last long. In fact, I made another batch that coming weekend. Who knew cookie dough would be so powerful?

ChristyCookieRecipe: Gluten free, Dairy free, Soy free, Nut free! Click Here

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

The Price Behind Silence

The Price Behind Silence

Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.

Silent Night, the Christmas song, was composed in 1818. This now traditional Holiday tune debuted all because of an organ…that broke.* Without the help of an ill organ who knows if this song would have surfaced; oddly, silence accelerated its success. How does silence help your success?

Recently I saw a commercial, not sure what it was selling, but it did leave me wondering what ‘peace’ really was. In the commercial we see a couple who leaves the big city to go camping in the woods. Due to their over joyous accomplishment of setting up camp, they were obviously seeking serenity. However, when night fell and all was calm, they were restless and frustrated. Then one of them downloaded a ‘noise app’ on their phone. It played cars honking, emergency sirens blaring, and dogs barking…all was ‘calm’ and they instantly fell asleep. What is ‘your silence’? City sounds? Nature? Ocean waves? White noise?

Our ‘silent night’ is not only where our souls settle down, but it’s where peace waits and where ideas birth. Outside from bedtime, do you intentionally turn off the NOISE?

Here are 4 profitable reasons that give Silence its worth:

  • Hearing from God
    • The most likely time God is going to talk to us is when we’re relaxed…quiet…still…and alone. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, did this all the time! Why wouldn’t we?
      • But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
  • Creativity
    • Inc. Magazine says…awesome creative work can be achieved by shutting out the outside world, whilst you insanely focus on your craft.**
  • Problem solving
    • Turning off the noise slows our thoughts. We can then think through our issue without distraction. “Sleep on it” makes a lot of sense now.
  • Restoration in health
    • Huffington Post reports, Researchers found that two hours of silence daily led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.***

In the dancing noises of our world many of us, unfortunately, will miss these life enhancing riches. We’ll wander in the racket and wonder why our prayer hasn’t been answered, why this particular problem still lingers, why we feel like we just exist, and why our bodies hurt all the time.

Josef Mohr, author of Silent Night, pondered on what to do about his broken organ. Christmas Eve was the next day, people are expecting music! So he hiked up a hill.

It was there where he looked down at the snow covered village. It was there where he could be in ‘his silence’. It was there where he gained the courage to create his poem into a legendary song.

The next day, Christmas Eve, he approached his organist, Franz Xaver Gruber, and within 3 hours Franz composed the melody via guitar. Silent Night has been sung ever since. Are you making an effort to be in silence every day, ‘hiking up a hill’ to get a glimpse of the big picture?

“The trees, the flowers, the plants grow in silence; the stars, the sun, the moon move in silence. Silence gives us a new perspective.” Mother Teresa

Silence grows. Silence moves. Silence gives. How much is ‘your silence’ worth? Do more than exist by spending some time in silence. You might be surprised what you hear.

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By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

* https://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/silent.htm

** https://www.inc.com/thomas-oppong/the-science-of-silence-how-solitude-enriches-creative-work.html

*** https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/silence-brain-benefits_us_56d83967e4b0000de4037004

3 Ways Depression Can Make You Stronger

3 Ways Depression Can Make You Stronger

We’re climbing out of our crevasse of depression; occasionally we slip back, but catch ourselves by our jagged fingernails. We’re exhausted, feel weak, but try to press on. Out of desperation we continue to reach for the next ledge. How do we gain life from a dark icy hole?

For five years+ I suffered from depression due to events in my life. To make matters worse I became frustrated during those years because depression was messing with my identity. I felt like I just existed.

Depression is a common illness that negatively affects how we feel, the way we think and how we act. It can last a couple days, a few months, a handful of years, or a lifetime. It is a perplexed state of not knowing how to shut it off.

People don’t like to talk about depression. But people don’t talk about it enough.

How does depression happen? There are a number of factors…too many to list, but usually it’s when one event piles up after another. Recently we’ve heard social media being a player (or layer) in depression. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, says, “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades…it’s largely because of Smartphones.” Social media is a false measure of our identities.

This isn’t just for iGen, it’s happening to other generations. Why? We want to be accepted yet be ourselves and for people to ‘like’ us no matter what. When this happens our values collide. Could this desire alone be the root of all depression?

But here’s something I bet you didn’t know: Depression can make you stronger.

This post isn’t about how to get through depression or manage Smartphone apps; it’s about what to do with depression when you’re climbing out of it.

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried,    but you’ve actually been planted.” – Christine Caine

Our dark days can bring strength or weakness; it’s how we see it. You know how I said I just existed? Of course I’m going to feel that way. But as I look back, I noticed this period of life wasn’t to hurt me, it was to strengthen me.

“Experience brings understanding.

Hurt develops empathy.

Renewal cultivates compassion.”

– Christy Troy

When we’ve ‘been there’, we start to see the eyes of people differently. Let me reiterate, depression can make us stronger or weaker by how we use that experience in our life.

Using our troubles to help rather than hide-in produces strength. Our strength in moving forward, in doing more than existing, is having the courage to help people who are going through the same trials we’ve been through. This heals.

Here are 3 ways of how I used depression to make me stronger:

1- I sought God, my Creator, the Truth.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It is then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will” -Romans 12:2.

God gave me light. This verse gave and gives me permission to step away from the world, its expectations, and false gods; and to seek the truth, to strengthen myself, and to use my experiences to test God’s will for my life.

2- I sought someone out.

This isn’t easy. People don’t talk about this stuff. So I had to be the one who pursued people who went through what I did, and to talk with them about it. Talking with someone who ‘gets-it’ brings comfort.

I sought out a professional who brought clarity on my issue.***

3- I sought my identity.

I looked at my baby picture. I looked in the mirror. God didn’t create me to be sad. He created me to have joy.

In John 15:11 Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” He’s saying come to me, know me, and I’ll sustain you when adversity hits.

I dug into the Word, I helped others, I took better care of my body and stress, and I explored my heart to help me see the big picture.

We will all occasionally be visited by depression. But at least we know how to climb out a little faster and stronger than we did before. The hardest part is reaching for that next ledge. What do you want?

Action Steps: write Romans 12:2 on a note card and put it somewhere you can read every day. Write one thing you have learned about yourself in the dark days, how are you going to use that?

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Disclaimer

*** I’d be happy to recommend a certified counselor or therapist who I trust and respect.

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

My 5 Secrets to Fight Stress and It’s Crash

My 5 Secrets to Fight Stress and It’s Crash

Every year I have an off-month. Typically it occurs after Christmas. Now that the huge holiday is over, “normal life” makes its way to back earth…whether from heaven or hell. Wouldn’t it make more sense if December was my off month? Probably, but it’s not.

When there are lots of projects and deadlines to be met we go into fight-or-flight mode. We anticipate the gratification of getting things done. But when distractions come into play, our “zone” gets off course, cortisol enters our bodies. Memory gets foggy, throats get sore, and digestive tracts get out of whack. Cortisol is the ‘bad stress hormone’.*

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” This year I was on a quest to destroy my cortisol-feeders. My strategy? Awareness. I simply paid attention to the little things and did something about them.

Here are 5 discoveries that fed my killjoy:

  • The step-counters. At first I found it curious. But then it became an obsession. I had to reach my 10,000 or it wasn’t a good day. = DISTRACTION. I applaud the creators for getting my attention. I took it off.
  • Social Media. “I’ll just check it”, then 45 minutes later I’m like “What just happened?” = DISTRACTION. I accomplished nothing! I set a timer.
  • Health. My body got tired of ME ignoring it. My small health issue was turning into a major DISTRACTION. I changed my diet and workout.
  • My purse. Wow, this was stressing me out. It was awkward on my shoulder. Too HEAVY! Not organized. Weird zipper. = DISTRACTION. I changed my purse.
  • Paper Clutter. Junk mail, receipts, sticky notes, magazines, sale ads, newspapers were all over the house. = DISTRACTION. I got a recycle bin.

When the big “task” (Holidays or end of the school year) is complete, cortisol levels go back to normal. Everything is fine, right? Not necessarily. Think of a wave approaching shore. When a wave breaks how does it hit the beach? It crashes, sand and shells stir, water splashes. It takes time for the water to settle.

The wave of cortisol might be gone, but our bodies take a lot longer to recover. Needless to say February is my crash month. Sickness is EVERYWHERE, my body hurts, and everyone seems Vitamin D deficient…I live in the cloudiest place on earth, Michigan.** February may be the shortest month, but to me it feels like the longest.

Here are 5 strategies that have worked for me to combat the “crash”:

  • I set a daily routine. Routines help reduce anxiety, we sleep better, and we are more productive.***
  • I’m keeping a food journal and paying attention to how my body feels after I eat something. I give it at least a week+ before I draw conclusions.
  • I make a ‘daily to-do list’ that includes errands and simple things like laundry and walking the dog.
  • I make sure to get outside every day for at least 20 minutes.
  • I cut out (as much as possible) disturbing TV shows and movies, even the news. I know bad stuff is out there; I don’t need to be reminded of it day and night.

Taking charge of your existence needs awareness, self-discipline, and time; but it’s all worth your sanity. What is one thing you can change today to help fight stress and its crash?

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

* https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

**http://woodtv.com/blog/2017/01/28/g-r-cloudiest-place-in-the-world/

*** https://www.bustle.com/articles/148246-7-benefits-of-a-solid-daily-routine

Miscarriage. I’m here for you.

Miscarriage. I’m here for you.

Six years ago today I lost a beautiful innocent soul. At 15 weeks pregnant I had a miscarriage, we call her Sarah. I almost didn’t post this because I didn’t want people to think I’m seeking sympathy, because I’m not. I’m seeking the fellow broken hearted. Our trials in life aren’t meant to be hidden, they’re meant to help others in need; and today, I felt a nudge to reach out.

This post is not for everyone, I understand that. Although, we all have our dark times in life: loss, poverty, addition, abuse, divorce, or illness. I can’t say I’ve been there in all cases, but I can say, “My heart breaks for you; for I know what it feels like to suffer. You are not alone.”

It’s scary to open your book of life, yet alone your heart to people, but maybe your story is just what someone needs to hear.

Miscarriage isn’t something that can be forgotten. It is a painful, difficult, and piercing experience. And some days, no matter how long it’s been since, no matter how young or old your baby was; you get a stir in your heart and fall to your knees and cry. I know I do. Listen sister, its okay to do that. You are not alone.

When this miscarriage happened, both my husband and I bled with heart break. We were confused, mad, and in disbelief. You hear it happen to other people but not you… not you. We walked around like zombies, not saying a word for days. With Christmas around the corner and a 2-year-old tugging at my robe… it was hard to put on the Christmas spirit.

In these tender days I didn’t need to hear “it’s common”; I needed to hear, “It happened to me, I know what you’re going through”. Not a pep talk, not a statistic, but a down to earth connection with someone who understands.

So how can I help those of you who have had a loss like mine?

First off, know I want to hug you.

Secondly, I feel your pain.

Thirdly, you are beautiful, healthy, and perfect.

Fourthly, write your child a letter.

Lastly and the most important, keep praying. The Lord is close to you. Talk to Him about how you feel. He loves you and will comfort you more than anything else in this world.

No matter how many children you had or didn’t have after your loss, your princess/prince cannot be replaced; they are in addition to your family. Continue to celebrate their lives, it’s important. Today, for baby Sarah, I’m painting my fingernails pink and I’m not a fingernail-painting-kind-of-girl.

May your heart be stirred this Holiday season to bring comfort to those who are hurting, for isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Jesus came to save.

Let me pray for you. Contact me through the contact page, Twitter,or Facebook .

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Mental Health Quick Fix?

Mental Health Quick Fix?

My toes were planted in wet sand. My arms stretched out as wind combed through my pig tails. “Let’s give them a show,” I said. I cleared my throat, threw up my hands, and orchestrated the waves as they crashed and rippled onto the beach.beachmi

I learned at an early age how to develop a relationship with nature. It’s not until later in life I realized how important that relationship was going to be. I’m sure you’re thinking ‘relationship with nature? That sounds nuts, but it’s just the opposite.

National Geographic wrote, “Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats… it also helps regulate our weather and climate. But these systems are extremely fragile…we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.” We didn’t need National Geographic to tell us this. However, isn’t that statement similar to our mental health? Our brains need clean water, good food, and recreational escapes to help normalize our well-being. If we don’t get these things, our minds, too, are fragile and will break.

Mental health issues shouldn’t be ignored. More drug use, more depression, and more suicides come from mental health. Have you ever wondered why this is happening? Fingers point to various things like physical and mental abuse, violent entertainment, bullying, social media bullying, or disease. The cause, however, might be less complex than those assumptions.

The National Academy of Sciences performed a study that shows a simple 90-minute walk in nature {a place with trees} decreases negative thinking about oneself. Taking a walk in an urban area like a city or industrial park has zero effect. This study reveals that there is a “…pathway by which nature experiences may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.”

The University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’,” which is largely due to screen time… ***

This isn’t new news. Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and even Albert Einstein all understood the power of nature. But it seems our world has forgotten this. So what do we do about this epidemic?

For starters we can take care of ourselves. I don’t have 90 minutes to take a walk but I do have 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes is gold to me. My ideal walking area is to be around trees. For you it might be the beach, the river, the field, or the mountains.

Next we can encourage our family and friends to get outside. Taking little steps here and there [outside in your element] are strides for our health both body and especially mind.

The secret to relieving psychological stumbles might be as simple as going outside to play.

If nature goes away; so will our sanity.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

5 Easy Ways to Comfort Hurting People

5 Easy Ways to Comfort Hurting People

I admire people who can share openly what’s going on in their life; I’m not talking about people boasting about themselves, I’m talking about people genuinely reaching out for help. Why? Because it makes me feel human and it gives me a chance to help in some way or form.

It takes courage, confidence, and bravery to open up and expose our hearts to the world. We weren’t made to go through storms alone, so why do we try at keep it quiet and pretend everything is “fine”.

Recently, an old friend of mine was going through a difficult situation. She had a choice; keep it to herself or share it. She chose to share it on social media. She didn’t do it for sympathy or for attention. She shared because she needed help getting through the storm.

My heart went out to her and her family. I took time in responding to her post, I could hear she felt alone. And that struck a chord in me. Whether it was emotions, hormones, the Holy Spirit, or a soul connection, I started weeping for her broken and confused heart. I thought back to my storm I endured years ago, how alone I felt. From experience, I knew the best thing I could for her was to pray, and I gave her that promise.

I believe my friend posting the updates about her situation was meant to not only keep everyone informed, but for her to know who was sitting by her. Sometimes you have to just exist with someone… to do more.

Here are some ideas:kids walking

  • Visit them
  • Send them a card in the mail
  • Pray for them
  • Call them
  • Just let them know you’re thinking about them

“People don’t always need advice. Sometimes all they really need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart to understand them.” – unknown

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

My Backyard Can Do What?

Last month I accidentally deleted my entire website. Yeah. That prickly, hot face, pit in gut feeling….that was me staring at my ‘File Not Found’ page.

All this hard work …GONE. My brain raced, I hope my backup works, I’m scare, and what the heck was I thinking? I was afraid to push the keys on my keyboard. I said a prayer. And then I prayed again.

What really put the icing on the cake was this occurred right before bed. Like sleep was going to happen. Of course I tried to fix it before I attempted to summit Sleep Mountain, but it didn’t work. All I wanted to do was escape to the outdoors and sit in the middle of my backyard; and with good reason…

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending even just five minutes around trees or in green spaces, like your backyard, helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, instills focus, accelerates healing, increases energy, and improves sleep.* And you wonder why I craved to get outside….

The article goes on to say, “Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces…stress-related hormones… Looking at pictures of trees has a similar, but less dramatic, effect.”

After the initial ‘holy crap’ and my desperate prayer, I went outside for a moment. Within a matter of minutes a calm came over me. I wasn’t worried anymore; whether I have to start from scratch or come up with a different solution, it was going to be alright.

IMG_2554My Take-Away:

  • Back-up everything that is important to you.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Go outside and take a breather.
  • Put pictures of trees in your office.
  • Start incorporating an outdoor recess at work.

I did end up falling asleep that night. The next morning I got up extremely early to try and mend my mishap. Thank God for back-ups. I was able to retrieve most of my site. And of course, I took a long walk amongst the trees.

“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted.” – Katrina Mayer

Copyright ©2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved. By CT