Wait a minute M. Post(wo)man

“Imagine you are a letter traveling through time. What message do you wish to convey to your readers?”

This is the theme of the Universal Postal Unions Letter writing contest for 2018.  Winners will be announced today. All week is International Letter Writing Week, which was started by the UPU as a way to foster mutual understanding among people all around the world. Today is World Post Day.

20181009_081000(1)I am participating in International Letter Writing Week as a way to promote connection; however, it can also be an opportunity to advocate on your own causes. Below is the powerfully elegant letter that last year’s winner, 14-year-old Eva of Togo wrote  on behalf of girls who are forced into marriages against their consent. it was in response to this theme:

“Imagine you are an advisor to the new UN Secretary-General which world issue would you help him tackle first and how would you advise him to solve it?”

Her identity is concealed in the letter but Kudos to her for understanding the power of a single letter. Perhaps it will inspire you and I look forward to the announcement of this year’s winner.

UN Secretary General

Dear Secretary General,

My name is [E], I am [age] years old and I live in [City], [Country]. Just like any other young girl, I dream of the perfect wedding, with a dazzling white dress and the perfect gentleman by my side, of an unending buffet and throwing my bouquet, and of two wedding rings that are more beautiful than diamonds. I dream of the perfect wedding, but it’s only a dream as I have all the time in the world before I get married, and for that I am happy! It is just a dream for me, but for others it is a horrific reality. Every day it becomes a reality for poor young girls who cannot defend themselves. Each year, more than 15 million girls aged 15 and under are forced to marry men three times their age.

No doubt you have understood, Mr Secretary General, that today I would like to talk to you about child marriage.

Child marriage is the act of marrying a child who has neither legally nor emotionally reached marriageable age. Child marriage is the result of deep-rooted traditions, poverty, ignorance, early pregnancy or a lack of law. Underdeveloped and poor countries are often the most affected, and the victims are usually girls aged 15 and under. They are married to build strategic alliances and partnerships with other families. They are married because of tradition, which leaves their parents with no choice in the matter.  They are married because they are seen as a burden and another mouth for their parents to feed. They are married because…because…because…

The solution, the only solution to child marriage, is education. Education allows the children of today, who will be the adults of tomorrow, to understand that age-old traditions which instruct them to marry off their daughters are unfair, and that poverty is no excuse, especially when the men are far too old for them. But education is not possible without means, without money. Underdeveloped countries are often poor, lacking the means to build good education facilities and recruit qualified teachers. They settle for low-performing schools. Aid to underdeveloped countries must, therefore, be increased, so these countries can make up lost ground in terms of both their educators and their infrastructure. But for now, these countries must be encouraged to strengthen their laws against child marriage. When families end up in court for having married their child too young, they are often released without charge as they can bribe the judge or police officer. Not to mention how the legal system can often be much too lenient in these types of cases. And ironically, although it was a lack of money that drove them to marry off their daughter in the first place, parents then have to find the money to bribe the legal authorities. They are trapped in a vicious circle and only you,
Mr Secretary General, have the power to help them break free today.

Mr Secretary General, I hope that my small contribution will help you as you plan your work for the years to come, and that you manage to end once and for all the inhumane and outdated practice that is child marriage.

Kind regards,

[E]

Who will you send a letter to this week?

 

 

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Do you need a lifeline?

Affiliate disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase of a product or service.

Every so often it’s good to take a step back and take a different view of your life. A big picture point of view can give you some perspective that living it up close and personal every day won’t allow. A wide-angle, panoramic view can be especially helpful when you are experiencing a challenging time.

37061793_10155408670426968_2408675066129678336_nOne way to see your life in a different way is to create a lifeline or life map. New author Jen Alward recommends a lifeline as an activity in her new release Hope and Healing at Home: Build Bridges with your kids and empower them for life with Art & Christian Therapy.Click here to visit Jen Alward.

Locating where you are and gaining insight into how you got there can give you direction in where to go next. Families have challenges today that were unimaginable 20-30 years ago. Drug epidemics, increased school violence and other societal trends are placing new levels of stress on parents and their children.

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A lifeline will help you see where you’ve been and where you could go.

You can be as detailed as you want in your lifeline, family map. I set mine up for 10-year decades, but you divide it into five-year increments if you prefer. It can be helpful to include other family members on one sheet of paper to see where the trajectory of their lives may be headed and to help you set family as well as individual goals.

A perspective you may gain by completing a lifeline or family map is noticing how many challenges you have already successfully overcome. This can be reassuring that you will be able to meet whatever challenge you currently find yourself coping with. Seeing the pivotal periods in your life on paper can be a reality check into how you are spending your precious commodity of time.

So, where are you going with your one “wild and precious life?”

direction

© 2018 Brenda Henning

A little something to get you through

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Some people like to pray.

Others,  as soon as they hear or read the word prayer go a different direction. They are more open to the concept of phrasing such as an inspirational quote, a mantra or meditation. What phrasing do you prefer when you are working to settle down your over stimulated mind?

In 12-step groups, people pray and meditate and whatever other approach helps them build a relationship with a Higher Power, Universal Intelligence or

G. ood
O.  rderly
D.  irection.

Most importantly, while they are developing a trust in a spiritual side of their human experience, they take what they like and leave the rest.

The Serenity Prayer most commonly is associated with 12-step recovery groups. People in these groups open and, often times, close their meetings with this prayer.  But if you don’t like the concept of prayer, you can call it a statement or philosophy. Call it whatever helps you receive the underlying message contained in it.

But the prayer’s effectiveness comes in differentiating between what you have the ability to address in this moment and what you are powerless over. The crux of the matter is you are powerless over other people’s thoughts and actions but you have absolute power to change your own thoughts and actions.

You may not always have control over the first thought, those buggers move around so fast in there, but once you are aware of it, you can make a conscious decision to change it.

And it is an act of courage to change yourself.

What changes are you making today? Could you share on this post as you may be the inspiration someone else needs.

Love and light,
Brenda

P.S. A shortened version of the Serenity Prayer is most often recited at 12-step meetings. The full prayer, usually attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr, is as follows:

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And Wisdom to know the difference

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen.

 

© 2018 Brenda Henning

What to do when your neighbors Facebook shame you or your dog

My 19-year-old son took our dog for a walk. Like many young (and old) men (and women), he wasn’t inclined to pick up the stuff that our dog dumped on her walk.

So he left it there and walked on.

The neighbor who was looking out his window at the time, saw this occur

  • on his street,
  • in front of his house, and
  • he didn’t like it.

So, he took a photo of our dog and posted it on our neighborhood’s Facebook page.

I discovered the wall of shame after I got off from a long day of work. At about 10 p.m., right as I was getting ready for bed.

man and dog
This is not my son. This man is probably being paid to demonstrate picking up after your dog in this staged photo. That’s the only way my son would do it is if he got paid. There may not be actual poop in this staged photo.

I was EMBARRASSED. Because by the time I discovered the post, about a dozen neighbors had posted their opinions on how the event should be handled, which included picking up a bag of other people’s dog poop and leaving it at our doorstep. THESE PEOPLE HAD ALL DAY WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN DISCUSS DOG POOP. Anyway.

By this time, my son had taken our dog for an evening walk. Uh. Oh. He’s predictable and takes the same routes, and my dog is predictable, too.

I quick got on the phone and had my son come home before any further natural fertilizer could be deposited.

I sent my neighbor a private message and apologized for my son’s inconsiderate behavior.

At first I thought there might be a chance the poop was still in the street so while I waited for my neighbor’s response, I drove by his house prepared to clean it up in the middle of the night like some stealth reconnaissance mission. But, too late, it was already smeared into the road.

My next dilemma was to decide if I should out myself on the public forum. I decided to. My dog is recognizable so I figured no use trying to pretend it’s not us. IT WAS A VERY GOOD PICTURE THE NEIGHBOR TOOK.  I acknowledged the dog was mine and apologized to the WHOLE ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD AND EXPRESSED MY MORTIFICATION at being called out as I was.

I had many acknowledgements of my post and several suggestions of how I should handle my son, including making him take a bag and pick up dog poop that other neighbors hadn’t cleaned up on their walks. Uh. no. That would never work.

My reaching out to my neighbor with an apology was all the guy needed. He sent me a private message thanking me for validating his concern and acknowledged he had a young adult son who didn’t always use best judgement, either. He also gave me credit on Facebook that I “seemed like a nice person.”

Then, he took down the post.

© 2018 Brenda Henning

Your Personal Bill of Rights in Relationships

Happy Independence Day New Thought, Right Action readers! Below is a post of a New Thought, Right Action leaders (two in particular) who worked and continue to work in the field of mental health. Their efforts in writing and teaching in the area of recovery from addiction and growing up in dysfunctional families helped define what healthy boundaries in relationships looks like. I hope you are enjoying your independence from what ever patterns that have been binding you from living your life to its full, healthy capacity.

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Native Houstonian John Bradshaw was a prolific writer and he, along with Atlanta-based Dr. Charles Whitfield, made popular the concept of “healing your inner child. ”  In the early 90s,  Mr. Bradshaw shared in a public way his vulnerabilities and own recovery journey from alcoholism. He built a platform of lectures, PBS presentations,

and books to help millions of people around the world. If it weren’t ‘t for his and Dr. Whitfield’s service in writing, many people would never have been introduced to the concept of toxic shame. Mr. Bradshaw’s theory, in particular, is that toxic shame is what drives so many people’s decisions to self medicate through alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping, and overworking to mask the intolerable feeling of unworthiness.

IMG_0960(1)Mr. Bradshaw died two years ago. Friday, would have been his 85th birthday. His family held an estate sale at their property last weekend and I chose to attend so I could see where he wrote his many, many influential books. While we were there, admiring the many artifacts Mr. Bradshaw had collected on his international trips, we had the serendipity to meet Mrs. Bradshaw. The reason she and her husband had so many collectibles is not because of materialism but because of Mr. Bradshaw’s spirit of service. Everywhere they went, she said, “John wanted to buy something from the shopkeepers to help them out.”

Helping people out is what healers do. Dr. Whitfield is referenced for his compilation of a Personal Bill of Rights as it relates to interacting in healthy relationships. Here’s his list of “rights” that we are all entitled to enjoy if that’s what we choose. What rights are you exercising today?

 

© 2018 Brenda Henningindependence day

How to get what you envy in others

 

pele

Affiliate disclosure: I sometimes link to other websites that sell products. I currently do not have any affiliate relationships with websites to which I link. What that means is if you go to a website that I’ve linked to and you buy something from them, they will get all of your money and I won’t get a commission. I linked to them because I bought something from them and I liked it.  This disclosure will be updated as required.

A motivational speaker held up a $20 bill and asked the audience “who wants this money?” She asked the audience with increasing volume of prompting: “who really wants this money?” I really wanted the money.

So, what did I do?

I sat there. I just sat there.

Instead, someone else ran up and took the money.

I was envious of both the motivational speaker AND the person who had the chutzpah to run up to the front to grab the bill.  I’ve been green with envy many times. I’ve come to learn, though, that envy is just another word for nothing left to lose, to paraphrase Janis Joplin.

Staying stuck in envy is a wheel-spinning activity. A close cousin to worry, envy keeps you fixated on what’s right in front of you without any effort from you to take what you desire.

That activity was pivotal for me. Well, that’s why I went to see her, after all, was to get motivated.

Her point was that no one is going to hand you anything, but if you want something you are going to have to get out of your seat and get it yourself.

I’ve been getting out of my seat and working for want I want since then.

Who do you envy? Your answers will help you define your goals. You can go here, if you want to learn more about achieving goals.

But what if you’re on the other side of the envy and receiving a lot of hate?

Achieving your personal ambitions puts you at risk of leaving other people behind. Some people can’t seem to get over that hump and they never live the full life they dream about. Other people achieve greatness and forget about the shoulders they stood on which gave them a step up.

I can understand that latter category. People who do nothing but envy can put out a lot of negative energy. I did at one time. But there are some mindsets you can develop to buffer yourself from others envy.

In Maranda Pleasant’s Mantra Wellness (spring 2018 issue) is a short how-to guide to “learn to roll with the punches.” Here’s my version of the article’s suggestions:

  1. Learn to soft belly breathe to calm yourself from other’s negativity and envy.
  2. Others criticisms and feedback might be your best guide in learning what aspects of yourself need healing.
  3. Learn to roll with the punches or toughen your skin. When you put yourself out there, people are going to grumble under their breath, talk behind your back and troll your social media.
  4. Conflict is spiritual. You don’t think the disciples ever bickered? Read up on your spiritual saints and gurus and you will learn a lot about how conflict can develop consciousness.
  5. Speaking your mind can get you hated, especially if you put yourself in front of an audience who doesn’t agree with EVERYTHING you say. Unless you are building an audience of clones of yourself, SOMEONE SOMEWHERE is going to disagree with SOMETHING you say.
  6. Keep yourself grounded by surrounding yourself with those who, too, are getting out of their seat and going for what they want.
  7. If you can’t take all the negativity anymore, then hire a therapist or a confidential confidant with whom you can process how it’s affecting you. As a person with a platform, it’s a misuse of power to use it to get back at people who are filled with envy and don’t have all of what you’ve worked for. Take the high road EVERY SINGLE TIME, PLEASE.
  8. And if you fall off that high road, use it as an opportunity to build, rather than burn, a bridge by humbly making amends.

Now, who REALLY wants that twenty-dollar bill?

© 2018 Brenda Henning

 

 

Astonish yourself with the right questions

questions

Affiliate disclosure: I have linked to other websites which sell products. I currently do not have any affiliate relationships with websites to which I link. What that means is if you go to a website that I’ve linked to and you buy something from them, they will receive all of your money and I do not receive a commission. I linked to them because I bought something from them and I liked it and it improved my life. Disclosures will be updated as required.

Asking the right questions can provide you with astonishing answers about living your life to its full capacity. Starting your morning with five questions can prompt you to begin your day in a powerful and positive state, according to an exercise in Anthony Robbins’ Personal Power II: The Driving Force program.

So you remember your questions, write them down and keep them on your bed stand, tape them to your mirror, or have them as a note in your phone. Each morning for 30 days, read these questions and come up with two answers for each question.

These are the questions I developed for myself:

  • What can I do to be of service to at least one person today and enjoy the process?
  • What can I find to be grateful for today?
  • What actions can I take today that demonstrate I love myself and enjoy the process of loving myself?
  • What can I find to laugh about today?
  • Who do I love and who loves me?

In Anthony’s Personal Power II Success Journal he lists these questions:

  • What am I happy about in my life now?
  • What am I excited about?
  • What am I proud about?
  • What am I enjoying most in my life right now?
  • What am I committed to in my life now?

What are the questions with which you can astonish yourself by answering them?

© 2018 Brenda Henning

 

via Daily Prompt: Astonish

Parallel career choices may be the best move

Affiliate disclosure: I have linked to other websites which sell products. I currently do not have any affiliate relationships with websites to which I link. What that means is if you go to a website that I’ve linked to and you buy something from them, they will get all of your money and I won’t get a commission. I linked to them because I bought something from them and I liked it and it improved my life. Disclosures will be updated as required.

If you’re in a position to make a choice in your career, logic tells us the best move is a vertical, rather than a parallel one. Even in parking your vehicle, given the choice between parallel parking and head-in, which is a better, less time-consuming maneuver?

Carparking-memeBut like in developing our driving skills, a parallel move or a lattice supported approach in career development, may be the best decision in moving out of a comfort zone. Vertical or head-on parking is the easiest maneuver, but parallel parking will hone your driving skills, for certain, especially on a busy city street with other drivers queued waiting for you to get your car parked.

The high-achiever brain thrives on challenge. Boredom is the Achilles’s heel of many people and can lead them to compensate for it with a set of unhealthy distractions. It’s better financially for you if you can stimulate your brain with on-the-job training and have someone else pay for it.

Now, sometimes a toxic work environment may make it seem any move to escape is best. With a little patience, supportive coaching, and determination, though, I know you can wait just a tad longer to make a move that best serves you. Even within the same company, one work group may have a different culture than another. Making a lateral move within your current workplace will develop a perception from others of work stability, rather than a job hopping resume.

No matter whether “it’s just a jump to the left or a step to the right” the parallel move may be the best for you in stretching you out of your comfort zone.

© 2018 Brenda Henning

 

The Power of Your No

Affiliate disclosure: I have linked to other websites which sell products. I currently do not have any affiliate relationships with websites to which I link on this post. What that means is if you go to a website that I’ve linked to and you buy something from them, they will get all of your money and I won’t earn a commission. I linked to them because I bought something from them and I liked it and it improved my life.  Disclosures will be updated as required.

Your mom tells you “no” for a reason when you’re a kid. She’s looking out for your welfare and she knows what you’re like to live with when you’re over-tired. But now that you’re a grownup, it’s your job to figure out what to say yes to and what to decline.

As you’re building a professional reputation, telling your requestors a plain “no” or “because I said so,” in “Momese” could be viewed as impolite. It takes courage to say no if you have a “people pleasing” tendency, yet setting a limit on others dependent demands may be the kindest thing you do for someone all year-long.

A way to confirm whether you’re taking on something that’s not yours to take on is ask yourself a simple question: “Am I doing something for someone else that they’re perfectly capable of doing themselves.”

If the answer is “yes,” then your answer to them might need to be “no.”

In the personal arena, people have difficulties saying no to themselves, much less to other people. Look around, credit card debt is negatively affecting a generation’s ability to retire without taking on a job and obesity is a public health issue. If you feel conflicted about saying no to others, perhaps it’s best to start with yourself.

Limiting your own over-indulgences may be the best “no” you give yourself and could potentially improve, if not save, your life by preventing a host of health issues, especially stress.

As James Altucher writes in his book “The Power of No” learning the well placed “no” can free you to say a “truly powerful “Yes” in your life—one that opens the door to opportunities, abundance, and love.”

Here’s a list of 20 ways to say “no.”

© 2018 Brenda Henning

just say no

The more you say, the less they listen

Affiliate disclosure: I have linked to other websites which sell products. I currently do not have any affiliate relationships with websites to which I link on this post. What that means is if you go to a website that I’ve linked to and you buy something from them, they will get all of your money and I won’t get a commission. I linked to them because I bought something from them and I liked it and it improved my life. Disclosures will be updated as required.

I mentioned only a couple of things (within a 10 minute conversation) to be of help to my young adult son. Did he welcome my advice? NOT AT ALL. Instead, he told me “the more you tell me to do something, the less I want to do it.”

Okay, then. So, my son isn’t open to positive suggestions. How is he going to figure out life? He is so young and there’s so much that he doesn’t know.

Perhaps, you’ve run into this dilemma, too, if you’re the parent, teacher or other adult-figure in a teenager/young adult life.

What is it about young people that you tell them “go west, young man,” and they go south?

Developmentally, rebellion is a rite of passage for teenagers. You will notice it in two categories: social non-conformity rebellion (hence, pierced lips, purple hair, etc.) and parental non-compliance rebellion (you tell them be in at 10 p.m. and they come in at 10:30.)

It’s a tricky balancing act to know when it’s time to allow a child to assume more responsibility for themselves. But, as soon as human beings are potty-trained is the time to allow natural consequences to occur, within a developmentally appropriate way.

The sooner a person has to clean up his/her own messes, the sooner s/ he is motivated to learn from them and find effective ways to manage his or her life.

So, fast forward to the teenage years. With peer pressure, temptation, and executive function not fully developed what’s an adult to do? The greater part of a relationship with a teenager is listening and to ask questions which are open-ended, affirming, reflective and provide a summation (OARS). Dr. John Coleman covers this in a modified way in his book “Why Won’t my Teenager Talk to Me?”

Some examples of how to approach not only your teenager/young adult but essentially anyone, include:

  • “What do you need from me” instead of “this is what you should/need to do.”
  • “Help me understand,” instead of  “you’re not listening to me.”
  • “I see you worked as hard as you could,” instead of “why didn’t you study more/work harder?”

Barring any significant health issues or outright dangerous rebellion, most teens are highly sensitized to the pressure of succeeding. As one teen told me: “I’m well aware of the importance of the SAT exams and when my parents nag me about it, it just causes me to feel more stress.”

Teenagers have a heavy work/school load and each of them has a unique approach to arranging the order of  tasks.  When parents give unsolicited advice, it can cause the stack to topple because teenagers are easily influenced by perceived judgement from important role models. So, instead of telling them how they should carry their load, ask them what you can do to help them carry it. And, if they tell you, “nothing,” then allow them autonomy. If the load topples, let it fall. You serve as the calm bystander ready to assist if asked.

Overcoming adversity builds confidence and resilience. Some of the best change makers, leaders, and inventors in history learned from daunting circumstances and mistakes.

As Thomas Edison said: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

edison

© 2018 Brenda Henning