Do overs and turning the clock back…How to heal.

Some times I make mistakes.  For example, yesterday I printed out something for my daughter with an error.  This morning I had to reprint it, except I had to change the computer time clock/date back to datetime changeyesterday so that yesterday’s date printed out.  As I’m changing the date on my computer clock, I thought how wonderful it would be if we could simply turn the clock back on our lives and have a do over.

I would do things so differently.

Except we can’t turn the clock back.  I can’t change choices I made in the past.  I can’t go back and heal wounds from my past.  Or can I?

How do we heal?

  1.  Calendar Healing
    For me the quickest way to heal is to allow the calendar to carry  some of the burden.  What does that mean?  It means that time does heal.  Thirty years ago I was in the midst of a messy and complicated relationship. I experienced great pain.  I felt like I was damaged.  I felt like I would never heal.  The hurt and pain blurred my vision of my future.  Now that time has passed, I can’t even see the scars.  I really don’t think I could have experienced healing in a short period of time.  Mainly, I need to allow God the time to show me how good He is and how faithful He is.  I needed time to allow God to perfect me into who He wanted me to be.  I had to have adequate time to experience God’s love and God’s truth.
  2. Choose to forgive.
    I had to choose to forgive.  I had to say it out loud…to God.  Daily.  For a very long time.  I had to pray for the person who caused me damage.  It took me thirty years, but when I finally was able to speak to the person who I believed wronged me, all I felt was love.  And that love didn’t come from me.  It was a God-thing-kinda-love.  And it really feels good.
  3. Anchor yourself in the future.
    Some of us have gone through really bad times and we feel justified to linger in that pain. We nurture the bad memories.  But we can’t let the past hurts keep us hostage.  We can’t anchor ourselves to our past.  Instead we have to push on into the future and anchor ourselves there. Otherwise, we will start to use those moments of betrayal or hurt, those failures or losses to detain us in the past and it will start to define us.
  4. Allow the past to create something new and good. 
    We need to define our past, not let our past define us. Let’s redefine it and work on it until our past starts to work for us instead of against us. When we can examine what happened in our past, we can begin to learn from it and let it mold our future for the better.  It will humble us, and make us wiser and smarter. It will teach us to take a better read on people, maybe not to be so lenient in this area or not so undisciplined in that area. Or maybe just not to take anything for granted. We shouldn’t let the things that are pulling us or tethering us backwards restrain us, but, rather work at letting these things push us forward to a better place.

My high school youth pastor once said, “Never despise anything that takes you to your knees, never despise anything that makes you better, and never despise anything that drives you closer to God.”

Making Decisions. What’s Behind Door Number 3?

When I was a kid…I watched a show called “Let’s Make a Deal.”  Contestants would be given options of which grand prize they wanted.  Door number 1, 2, or 3.   One particular episode the contestant actually got to see behind two of the doors to decide which prize he wanted.  Door One was a dumpster full of garbage and Door Two was a shiny new car.  I remember staring at the screen wondering why the guy took so long to decide.

I mean really, you can’t decide between garbage and a new car?

A couple of weeks ago I had to make a decision on what type of procedure to be done at my gynecologist’s office.  The two options:  Pain or No Pain.  Well duh….I picked “no pain.”

Who would pick garbage?  Who would pick pain?

I have a  friend who is experiencing many challenges in her life and it’s as if she’s trying to carry 20 cartons of eggs into the house, and one by one she keeps dropping the cartons before she gets through the door.  She trembles as she looks into each carton, perplexed that there’s so many eggs broken.  She recently moved her mother with alzheimers into her home.  She started a new job in a new city.  And she’s cultivating an out of state relationship.  She sat in front of me in tears, because Eggs in boxshe felt like she was failing at all three.  All of her eggs had cracks.  Without getting too personal, she basically had the decision before her of door number 1 (garbage) and door number 2 (a shiny new car.)  It sure looked obvious to me….(PICK THE CAR!!)  When I asked her why she was hesitating with  a decision in the right direction, she had a number of issues that were clouding her ability to choose.

1.  The Past

2.  Self Doubt

3. Judgement from Others

4. Fear of the Future

THE PAST:  We tend to bump into a lot of things when we walk looking backwards.  Let’s face it…we’ve all made mistakes.  Anchor yourself in your future not in your past.  Jeremiah 19:11 says,“I know the plans I have for you, plans for a future and a hope.” God is focused on your future; you should be too.  If your anchor is on your past, it will be a weight that will pull you back.  If you anchor yourself in the future, you will believe in the vision God has for you.  It will act like an engine with a thrust that will move you forward.  Anchor your life in your future.

SELF DOUBT: Do you want to be the person who walks around whining over what could have been, or the person who jumps in with both feet and goes all in?  Take your focus off yourself and focus on chasing after God’s best.  Self-doubt is like putting on blinders, which doesn’t allow you to see your options clearly.

JUDGEMENT FROM OTHERS: Thinking about what others may say or think can be very crippling.  Choose several God-seeking friends and seek their discernment and leave everything else behind.

FEAR OF THE FUTURE:  God is a God who can take a mistake and turn it into a miracle.  He can take your dead end and start a new beginning.  He can take you from what seems like a sunset and make it into a sunrise.  God understands what’s going on and He has an ultimate purpose for your life.

Pain or no pain?  No brainer.

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolution(s) Success Tips

2015 resolutions

When ever I’ve made new year resolutions, I’ve created this really great list of all the things that I desperately need to change or improve. But after three months, if even that long, I’ve failed at every single thing on my new year’s resolution list.  Like the picture, I’m jumping across a huge gorge.  What if, I can somehow, make the gorge not such a huge distance to jump over?  Would that increase my chance of success?

The end of 2014 brought many unexpected changes.  I started working full time outside the home.  This is a first for me in over 20 years.  The last 20 years I’ve run my own business from my home.  Now I’m back in Corporate America.  This has been a major life change, and with that a few adjustments had to be made.

When the decision was made to go back into the work force, my husband said I had to promise that I would figure out how to continue with Crossfit.  That was my only lifestyle goal.

And so as I started my new job on October 13th, I also started getting up at 4:30 am to participate in the 5:15 am Crossfit class.  I didn’t have much faith in my ability to succeed at an early morning workout.  I’d tried the class once before and never went back.  Until now.  And now it’s become second nature to me.  And I really really like working out at 5:15 am!! No really…I do!  It’s as big a shock to me as is for those who know me.

I’m almost three months in.  I’ve had a few ups and downs (getting to bed on time for an early morning wake up) but I think my success in surviving this transition was to have only one goal and work hard at reaching that goal. (Besides going to work every day!)

I think success for me comes when I can focus on one thing at a time, until it becomes a habit.  Once it’s a habit, then I can start on the next “resolution.”

I made Crossfit a habit 2.5 years ago.  Then August 1st I started Whole30 (which was only supposed to be 30 days….)and I’m on day 153!

One thing that has taken a back seat though is my writing.  I haven’t posted one blog since starting back to work.

So that’s going to be my first resolution for 2015.  I want to spend my lunch hour either journaling or blogging.  Daily writing.  And publishing a blog post weekly.

There…that’s it.  What’s your ONE New Year’s resolution?  Come on…only pick one and share it!

New School Year Brings New Habits: Simplify = Happiness

First day of school at the bus stop

First day of school at the bus stop

I ran into one of my neighborhood moms last week at the grocery store.  She expressed what I think we all are feeling right now.  Great excitement for the kids to start back to school.  For our neighborhood, that day is today.

My friend was complaining about how much weight she had gained over the summer.  Vacations and travel had ruined her diet.  Sleep habits were completely ruined.  Her house was a wreck.  As she walked away, she said something that rang through my head all weekend…”Monday I’m going to start something!”

I kept thinking….what is that something?  How do you start “something” unless you really know what it is… (My old mantra:  You can’t shoot a target you can’t see!)

So over the weekend I decided to write down on paper the easy things that school forces my family back into.

1.  Go to bed at 8:30 each night.

That was it.  Sleep habits will return to normal.  I really couldn’t think of what else school forces us back into.

So I decided to write a list of things I wanted to change.  The list was long.  Too long to start in just one day.  That would be complete culture shock for me and my family. But the first and most significant was getting up 30 minutes before the kid(s) so that I could enjoy my coffee and have quiet time.  That means getting up at 5:30 am.  In the 27 years that I’ve been raising kids, I’ve never done that.  Am I crazy?  Could I keep that up? The encouraging thing is….I’ve never worked out like I have been the last 2 years…so maybe this can be another major change in my life.  But today I got out of bed at 5:30 am.

Here’s some habits that I’ve maintained over the summer and will continue into the new school year.

1.  Workout 4-5 days per week.(Crossfit925)
2.  Eat Whole30 (I’m on day 25) (Whole30.com & It starts with Food.) (I’m blogging about my health journey  @ MerrilyBrown.com.)

I got a little overwhelmed when I started writing out my list of everything I wanted to change, improve or renew.  So overwhelmed I almost deleted this blog post.

Luckily I came across these tips from author Leo Babauta from his e-book 52 Changes.

1.  One Change at a Time. Just one. Don’t make several at once, because then they’ll all fail.

2. Small Changes Only. Don’t try to run 30 minutes if you haven’t been running. Just do 2 minutes. Small changes are more likely to stick.

3. Enjoy the Change. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not worth doing. And it won’t stick anyway.

4. Iterate. If a change fails, figure out why, and improve the method. Or pick another change.

5. Pick a trigger. A trigger is something already ingrained in your routine that you use to anchor a new change. For example, go for a walk (the new habit) right after drinking coffee in the morning (the trigger).

I’m starting this week out with getting up earlier.  And I succeeded on day one.  I’m pretty excited!

Next week I’m going to start using the suggestions in One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler.  I’ll be blogging about my progress.

Who wants to join me?  Will you get up 30 minutes prior to the kiddos?  (Or let me know if you already do this and how it’s helped!)

Have a great first day of school!

Chasing After Happiness or Running from Hopelessness?

The recent death of Robin Williams has stunned the world. (Me included)  Such talent.  Such laugher.  Such life.  But hidden behind the gigantic grin was a human being struggling to survive.

I don’t claim to know much about clinical depression or bi-polar disorder.  I grew up with a brother who struggled with depression.  My mother also battled a depression/anxiety disorder.  What I do know is, depression is not a “I feel sorry for myself” state of mind.  Depression is a physical disorder.  You can’t talk a depressed person out of feeling bad.  It’s like when I broke my arm as a child.  I couldn’t talk myself out of the bone being broken.  No matter how many people came up to me and told me they loved me and that my arm was fine, it wasn’t.  The bone was fractured.  And it wouldn’t heal on it’s own.  Mental disorders are much like that.

A simpler time.

A simpler time.

My mother went through therapy for two years.  Hour long sessions every week of talking it out to a professional didn’t do much good.  It was the right medicine correcting the chemicals in her brain that turned my mother back into a normal functioning happy woman.

What I do understand is hopelessness.

And I’m pretty sure Robin Williams battle with depression left him hopeless.

I’ve never struggled with depression.  But I’ve struggled with hopelessness.  A feeling that there’s no future.  A feeling that I’ve messed up so bad that nothing could ever make it right.

I’ve made some pretty bad decisions based on hopelessness.  Yes, I felt so hopeless at one point that I even contemplated suicide.  It wasn’t so much of a “I can’t stand this pain.”  It was a “everyone would be better off without me” mentality.

You would think it would be visible, this hopeless state of mind.  But it wasn’t for me.  No one knew how I felt.  I put on a happy face.  I was good at making sure everyone around me thought I was bubbly and vivacious.  I refused to holler out for help.

When I packed up my 12 year old daughter and left a marriage of 15 years, I felt as if I was bound in a tight bandage and I was suffocating.  I couldn’t breath. No one around me knew what I was feeling.  My entire family and close friends were shocked that I would “do such a thing.”  They all assumed I had lost my marbles and was running off with another man.

That wasn’t the case.

What no one knows, I wanted to die.

Had it not been for my precious 12 year old daughter…

I ran away.  In order to….survive.

I didn’t really want to talk about my hopelessness to anyone.  No one would understand.  So I kept it inside.  Bottled up.  The good news is…I immediately got into a great church.  I surrounded myself with some fabulous women.  I got into a bible study.  I started counseling.

After about three months of getting my relationship with God back in tact, I had made the decision to return home to my husband.  It was Christmas.  What better gift than to announce to my family that I was returning home.  What greeted me at the time was divorce papers.  And there was no convincing him of taking me back.

Did hopelessness set back in?  No.  The difference now was my faith was much stronger.  My hope was now in Christ and his plans for my life.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

happyeverafterstory

I have been divorced for over 12 years.  I remarried a wonderful Christian man.  My 12 year old daughter is now 24 and recently married the man of her dreams.  My husband and I adopted his biological granddaughter.   Maddie is now 10 years old.  Ten months ago my step son and his baby boy moved in with us.  I am now raising my 5th child.  Garrison is 2 1/2 years old.  I have never struggled with depression.  I have struggled with hopelessness.  The broken pieces of Merrily have been put back together into something whole.  I give all credit to God for being the master who holds the glue, waiting to put back everything into a masterpiece of his creation.

Brownfamilyweddingphoto

 Here’s one of the books that helped me: