New thoughts, right actions about marriage

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This weekend marks my 21st wedding anniversary. Marriage has consumed my life for two decades. Everyone’s marriage is unique to them, so no one can tell you how to be married. It’s uncharted territory for the both of you. You can learn general guidelines from books, therapists, or church classes in how to:

  • Fight fair
  • Have more and better sex
  • Be better parents (if you have kids) and
  • Plan for retirement.

But the details of those general suggestions will be worked out by you and your spouse. Sometimes it will be done in an adult, mature way and sometimes the neighbors will wonder if World War III broke out. Don’t worry, though, the neighbors have probably had World War III, themselves.

Ann Landers would pose the question “are you better off with them or without them” to someone who was trying to decide on a divorce. I’ve Googled once or twice about how to get a divorce, but thankfully, the moment passed and I was able to answer I’m better  with him. I hope my husband thinks he’s better with me, too.

mike and meDespite (maybe it’s because) of our rough patches, I admire and love my husband more than anyone else in the world. That is not an overstatement. Arriving at this global admiration has required me to be open to the experiences that developed the character my husband has. It’s easy to admire an inspirational person when you read about their story. It’s much different when you live that inspirational story with him. After all, the path to an inspirational story is traveled by overcoming challenges and obstacles placed on your journey.

Of course, we have overcome mutual obstacles and doing so is easier when you have a teammate. Yet, I am talking about the personal achievements of my husband. Perhaps, I’ve been his helpmate through it, but he is the one who tackled the work and earned the accomplishment. Most people use financial success as a standard for achievement. We have abundant resources, yet that’s at the bottom of my list for my admiration. What I admire him the most for is his diligent attention to personal self-improvement in how he cares for himself, interacts with others, and provides service to those around him.

I married M. because of the value he placed on being a father. Our sons have had health challenges that have required an investment in time, money, and nurture for them to overcome. My husband has been there each step of the way. I’ve talked to many single moms in similar circumstances and their common theme for why they are single tackling similar issues is because their men “didn’t want to deal with it.” M. deals with things.

When my husband graduated high school he went right to work. He learned a trade in the oil and gas industry. He literally has gone from wearing an FRC shirt with his name embroidered above the pocket to a high-rise office building with his initials monogrammed on his shirt cuffs. He has gone from turning wrenches in the dusty oilfield desert in New Mexico to turning in his swivel chair to look out over the swanky Galleria in Houston. Sometimes M., will say it feels like a dream to him he has been able to progress the way he has in his career, considering the modest background in which he was raised.  My husband is a good example that it’s not necessary to have a college education and the debt that goes with it to do well in your career.

My husband has a mind for business and he also has a heart for service. Daily, my husband is on the phone with people to check on them and offer his experience, strength and hope. If you’re one of my husband’s neighbors, thank your good fortune because if you have a broken faucet or fence latch, my husband will be there to fix it for you. If you’re the stranger on the road with a stalled car and my husband passes by, he will either jumpstart your battery, change your tire, or drive you to someone who can help you.

Twenty-one years is a long time to know someone and I’m grateful that both of us have been willing to stick it out.  One day at a time, I know we can make it another 21 years.

“Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” Robert Browning, Jr.

 

 

 

 

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?”

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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.

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.

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?

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How to get what you envy in others

 

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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?

 

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.

via Daily Prompt: Rapid

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.

 

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. 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.”

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. 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.”

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