Do you feel like you’re being tested?

Below is a piece I wrote a few years ago when I took a class through Mary Anne Em Radmacher. She is most famous for a quote that says:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying I will try again tomorrow.”

I took her on-line class in a period when I was processing a number of life events: my mother had recently died, my family had made a momentous geographic change, and I was learning information about the health of my children. And to top it off, I had broken my ankle, so for six weeks I had ample time to heal myself through writing. This was occurring right before my 50th birthday.

My humorous side revealed itself. How do you use humor to help you through a difficult period?

Dear Brenda,

You have been involved in an extremely rigorous testing period known as your 49th year. This is the year that culminates all of the learning you’ve been involved in just prior to entering your Jubilee Year. You are 85 percent complete in the testing period.

Your test questions are being randomly created by a computer in REAL TIME, so there is no way to prepare for the test. It will seem as if the test is being created by some gnome living in the backwoods of Montana who has no clue of who the hell you are. This is a safeguard to ensure you are not taking a duplicate test from some previous year, which you thought at the time was a year you were glad to be finished with. It is natural for you to feel nostalgic about those years.

You are not allowed scratch paper or a cheat sheet on how to answer the questions which come your way. You may access at any time, though, a large library of self-help books, but they won’t seem very helpful to you because you’ll think the authors of those books were endowed with some special characteristic which wasn’t doled out to you. While the concept of cheerleaders is noble, the quarterback has to take the hit anyway whether anyone’s cheering or not.

You will be allowed frequent Diet Dr. Pepper breaks during the testing period. Ignore the warnings of Diet drinks being harmful. Instead, enjoy these brief moments as a way to recollect your thoughts.

After you have answered a question, you may check with your fellow classmates for their answers. But you won’t be allowed to change an answer once it’s submitted. Also, your classmates are being given a completely different set of questions, so their answers won’t apply to yours anyway.

It may seem as if others are cheating or skating by on their test. In fact, this is true. Your pointing it out to the test proctor, though, will not change the test questions for you. Instead, the test proctor may give you additional questions if you take your mind off what you’re doing and focus on other people’s test process.

Certain questions may be written in such a way as to your not being able to answer them correctly. This is intentional. Give an answer anyway and move on. You may also see some questions which you believed could be answered perfectly by you and it will be marked as incorrect. In fact, those questions will be underlined and circled in red to bring attention to the arrogance with which you answered those questions.

One other thing: the test known as your 49th year may make you feel like it is stretching you beyond your capabilities. Do not be worried about this. Answer everything that comes your way, the best way you can, and move on.

Sincerely,
Your 49th year

P.S. There will be no class survey afterwards asking you for your opinion on how we may improve our process.

courage

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What will you learn by doing?

“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. Begin as a mere apprentice and the very power of love will lead you on to become a  master of the art.” Francis de Sales

frances de salesYou learn to write a blog by blogging. You learn to sell by selling. You learn to account by accounting. You learn to counsel by counseling.

You can read any number of books or websites to learn strategies for improving your performance but the real learning comes when you actually do the work. And when you make a mistake–and you will–don’t get discouraged, keep going. A year from now, you likely won’t remember the mistake. And if a year from now you still remember the mistake, then you will have had a deep and life-changing learning which will help you develop humility and keep you teachable.

Steven Pressfield offers a free five-audio lesson on the “artist’s inner battle,” based on his book The War of Art. Listen to it, but then take a risk and practice what your “wild and precious life” is calling you to do.

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Happy Veteran’s Day to those who serve

My father, a Korean War veteran, was raised Presbyterian but he had a lot of Zen in him. He used to say things like: “if you pull a flower out of the ground, the moon shakes.”
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Hollis E. Perry served three tours as a paratrooper in the Korean War.

He served three tours in Korea. He quit high school to join the U.S. Army. The Army trained him as a paratrooper and he had a tattoo on his arm representing it. On his left hand he had the word “LOVE” tattooed, one letter on each of his fingers. He was proud military with a hint of hippie.

Ironically, after his military service he refused to ride in an airplane and he didn’t like to leave home very much. He also never owned a gun except for the last few years of his life. He bought a rifle when a drug addled neighbor across the street threatened him. But he hated having a tool used for killing in his home. But he was a realist and understood the horror of behavior that other human beings are willing to commit.
He belonged to the American Legion and served in the U.S. Army Reserves for many years, including at Fort Des Moines, when it was used for that purpose. He worked as a recruiter for the Reserves. He recruited many people because he had such passion and respect for the discipline the military taught him. Even though he didn’t recruit me to the military (much to his chagrin), he did pass along personal discipline to me and that I learned how to solve problems through him. In addition to his Presbyterian upbringing, he was raised on a farm, so he knew how to fix things. There were many an Iowa winter day he would have the hood raised on our cars working and swearing to start them in frigid conditions. Although he was Army he swore like a sailor.
He also taught me a lot about politics saying “follow the money” and that will tell you what people’s motivations are. He listened to Rush Limbaugh but he supported Democratic politicians.He owed a debt of gratitude to former Iowa Gov. and Sen. Harold Hughes who advocated for my dad to have his discharge from the army be ruled honorable. My dad had several situations in the Army involving alcohol and Gov. Hughes was a big proponent for people with this illness. War is not pretty so I have an understanding why many military people turn to alcohol to cope.
My father successfully overcame his struggle with alcohol and he gave up other habits that helped him cope with life’s stress, including his Pall Malls. He didn’t wear a patch, chew gum, or learn hypnotherapy. He decided to quit and so he did. He found the best therapy after that through gardening. He loved being in his garden and sharing his produce with neighbors.
The most important thing he taught me, though, was this: “it’s better to have nothing then a little bit of something.” It took me a long time for me to understand that koan. But  I understand now. It’s better to be on your own then to surround yourself with people who are only there during fair weather.
RIP. Sgt. Hollis Eugene Perry
flanders field

Fear corrodes you; here’s how to stop it

image-from-rawpixel-id-421916-jpegIn the oil industry, rust build-up destroys pipes. The speed at which rust spreads depends on how reactive the pipe is to its environment. Corrosion specialists counteract rust and a pipeline’s natural environmental influences by depositing coating chemicals and shooting electric currents through the main pipe and re-directing the destruction to a secondary sacrificial metal.

Fear can be as corroding to your body as is rust is to metal piping. It feels like a million jumping Mexican beans in your stomach and your shoulders sag from the buildup of it. The environment of your mind influences the spread of panic, depending on many factors. Today, you can choose to detach yourself from highly charged emotional environments, which can mitigate some of the flow of anxiety. You may be in the environment, but you can choose to not take anything personally, even it it’s meant personally.

Should you realize your thoughts floating, shooting and wandering and untethered to places and people flung far from your body, you can bring your body back to now.  You can use your breath to coat yourself and prevent the build up of more fear.  In and out, in and out, you can consciously redirect your ionic attention and thoughts to the energy held in your shoulders and stomach.

image-from-rawpixel-id-418597-jpegThe life force of your breath can  redirect and expel the corroding fear from your  lungs and nose and into the Universe. The Universe, though, sacrifices nothing with its absorption of your breath. Instead it can take your highly charged energy and expands itself by creating more galaxies.

© 2018 Brenda Henning

 

 

 

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

Keep knocking it out until you’re successful

Affiliate disclosure: I do not have any affiliate arrangements with any of the products created by those mentioned in this blog post. If you buy one of their products, they will receive all of the profit. I will not receive a commission.

Do you feel like a fake, an imposter? Are you wondering what you’re doing putting yourself out there like that?

In “Steal Like an Artist: 10 things Nobody Told you About Being Creative,” Austin Kleon lays out the unspoken dilemma of people who are entering a creative or start-up phase: “nothing new is under the sun.” With the exception of actual inventors, nearly every one with a product wants you to believe they have an original idea or that they offer a special sauce to the established formula. What they offer is consistency of effort. The more times someone gets their message out there, the greater the chances that someone looking for that service or product will find it.

Look at Dave Ramsey. He didn’t invent either the envelope strategy or the concept of snowball effect for Financial Peace University. Those terms and strategies have been around for a long time. What he did, though, was organize a curriculum around a need he and others had for financial peace and, since then, has been sharing it with everyone he comes in contact with. His need has helped many others.

Lots of people will show you a formula on how to develop a successful blog. They may even have a course. They tried a number of things and kept doing the things that worked. So, if you are set on building a profitable blog, do what the successful bloggers tell you they did and yours will grow, too. Polish native Cristian Mihai began blogging in 2012. I started reading his blog, then. He did not have many followers. Now, over 132,000 people follow him. If I had done what he did beginning in 2012, I could be where he is now. But I didn’t. I started a blog and then stopped it. I started another blog and then stopped it. Remember, 90 percent complete to you, is 0 percent complete to your potential reader or customer.

Don’t stop. Keep going.

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A journey of a 1,000 miles, begins with one step. Lao Tzu

Just about anyone who makes an excellent living boosts their income when they present what they know to others. To do this, they sit down and organize their thoughts and strategies into a cohesive, sequential manner. People who sell courses on-line or offer public speaking services are teachers in disguise.

But marketing is the secret sauce to success. And at its most basic definition, all marketing is, is telling everyone you come across what you’re doing. Don’t be shy: just blurt it out. When I started out as a journalist, I applied to work at newspapers and kept applying until a newspaper hired me. Then another one did, and then another one. Then, I decided to become a counselor. I had to complete additional educational requirements to be in this field, but not all fields require that. Now, my private practice is growing because I tell everyone I know I’m a counselor.

Some people never finish high school and can become billionaire business owners. Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, David Karp who invented the popular Tumblr social media platform, and singer extraordinaire Aretha Franklin are among people who were exceptions to the statistical outcomes of dropping out of high school. But the common denominator between them and people who became successful with Ph.Ds, is that they kept working at what they wanted to do and told everyone about it.

When you’re starting out, what you’re doing may feel like a version of the real thing. It takes a lot of practice and repetition for the stars to get to be stars and they all started as beginners. Even the prodigy piano player had to sit down at the piano for the first time to discover that s/he had the talent. Then s/he kept playing the piano over and over until enough people looked at him/her, young as s/he is, and noted s/he’s got talent.

It is the same for you. Whatever you pick to do for your living, keep telling other people about it and keep doing the work. Eventually, you will be known for your unique version of “nothing new under the sun.”

© 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

 

 

Rapid ways to make money and get out of debt

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.

My husband and I completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Course two separate times. What can I say, we’re slow learners.

But we’re not alone: the average credit card debt load in U.S. households is nearly $16,000. Thanks to Dave Ramsey and our own commitment to building a wealthy mindset, we are well below the household average to now $0.

We make it our focus to rapidly pay off our credit card debt. The solution we keep refining is preventing it in the first place. The leading trigger for household debt is unplanned medical expenses. More than a 1/4 of American households have difficulty paying for medical care, according to the Kaiser Family Health Foundation.

abba, moneyThe irony of the blogs you read giving you tips on how to make money and make it fast, work under the assumption you are in good health and you have the energy to take on an extra job.

So, if you don’t feel good enough to get a job delivering pizzas as Dave likes to recommend, what are some other ways to rapidly raise cash?

Here are a few ideas:

Sell what you have:

  • Pawn some unused electronics, guns, or jewelry. The risk is you might not get the item back if you can’t get it out of hawk, but it’s better than running up the credit card debt. Pawning your goods is less labor intensive than a garage sale.
  • Sell unused gift cards. The Gift Card Exchange kiosks will trade your card with a $20 minimum balance, for a voucher minus its fees for you to exchange for cash at the retailer where the kiosk is housed.

Borrow your own money:

  • Some retirement plans will allow you to take a loan out on yourself. While the money isn’t in the account making a return for you, you are repaying YOURSELF with interest. Doesn’t that sound better than repaying the bank or the credit card company with interest?
  • Borrow from your own life insurance policies. Some whole life, or permanent life, policies will allow you to borrow a certain amount, which you have your WHOLE life to repay. If you don’t get it repaid, the insurance will still pay out the amount of the policy, minus what you borrowed.
  • Do you have a stash of savings bonds you’ve been saving up for a rainy day? If they have reached their term, then you might consider cashing them in because after 30 years, they no longer earn interest.

Increase your income:

If you’re not feeling well, then you might not be up to getting a part-time job outside of the home. No worries. With technology, you can earn money from your bed if you need to. Some ways to do that could be:

  • Freelance writing or building a blog. If you have a unique health situation, then sharing your story to a niche audience may help them while it’s helping you. You may not earn a lot of cash the first day, but if you keep at it, you will overtime. And, you will learn a new skill which you could market to business owners who are too busy to keep up with their own blogs.
  • If you live in a house with a nice-sized yard, then you can dog sit for people who are traveling. Just be sure to check your city’s ordinances before providing this service.
  • Rent out a spare room. This might be mutually beneficial if you’re not feeling well. Knowing another person is within ear shot could give you peace of mind. Even better is if you have educational centers which offer nursing programs. Nursing students or traveling nurses would LOVE the low-cost living arrangement you could offer in exchange for their checking up on you.

Cut your monthly expenditures:

  • We had our car and home insurance company review our plans. During our requested audit, we learned that the company hadn’t given us all of the discounts for which we were eligible. It was an “oversight” on their part. They retroactively paid us over $300 and we lowered our premiums more than $100 each month.
  • If you need the extra cash, you will muster the discipline to change cell phone plans. It’s nice to have all the bells and whistle on your phone, but they’re not necessary. If you start a side business and can show proof of your business structure, you could qualify for cell phone business plans, which can run about $100 a month with unlimited voice, text, and internet.
  • Consolidate your debt and look for introductory rates for credit cards. But a word of caution, make sure you mark it on your calendar when the introductory rates end, or you could find yourself owing more than when you started.

While spending money seems to occur more rapidly than making money, take heart. You do have options to keep yourself from drowning in debt. New Thought, Right Action is here to help you develop the skills and mindsets you need to achieve your financial goals.

© 2018 Brenda Henning

via Daily Prompt: Rapid