Remember to Breathe

Breathe Deeply
In the photo a beach in Zanzibar at sunset where there is an inscription on the sand “Breathe Deeply”.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7 NIV)

Remember to breathe.

In the Creation Story, the first burst of energy Human Kind experienced from God was the breath.
Focus on your breath today and know it is the essence of the original Breath of God. As you walk on your path today, every breath in and every breath out can be a connection to God’s infinite, soothing peace.
Remember to breathe.
© 2018 Brenda Henning

 

 

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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.

© 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

 

 

 

Save $300 without even thinking about it

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.

Do you find it challenging to set aside money for an emergency fund or to pay for luxuries such as vacations, new furniture or other items that you know you really shouldn’t put on your credit card?

If your employer offers a retirement savings plan, maybe you put aside money in there as an automatic deduction. You don’t even miss it and to encourage you to go to work one more day, you check it to see how wealthy you’re going to be 30 years from now.

Save your pennies
Take your loose change at the end of the day and place it in an “in-home” savings account.

Using the same principle, you can set up a savings habit and before long have a stash of cash which you can access anytime you need it. A simple, at-home, savings account can be taking your loose change from your pockets and billfold and placing it in a piggy bank. Within a couple of months, you may have added up $60 or more.

Another secure way to add up a savings or emergency fund is to take advantage of round-up programs. Those work by your buying things and the program automatically rounds up your purchase. For example, if you buy $8.75 in gasoline at the 7-11, a round-up program, such as Acorns, will charge $9. The gas merchant will get their $8.75 and the quarter will go into a savings account. Within a few weeks or couple of months, you realistically could save over $300.

Since it launched in 2014, Acorns has added beneficial features for participants, such as debit cards and partnerships with other merchants who will contribute to your account if you buy their products. The best added feature, though, is Acorns is sensitive to your accounts. So, if your funds get low in your checking, Acorns will automatically pause withdrawals until you get your next paycheck. That is a huge benefit, so you don’t have to worry about pausing the program yourself and risk overdraft fees from your bank.

Your bank may offer this round up program, too, and if you can resist frequent transfers of money from the savings back into checking, then this may be more convenient for you.

If your employer has the technological sophistication, you can ask your human resources department to split your paycheck into two separate accounts of your choosing. Some people have a bank or credit union account only for monthly expenses that are on automatic payment. This can be helpful if you need to have strict boundaries around your spending.

Should you need help tracking your money, Mint is a free program for the consumer which can help you monitor your credit score and give you updates on the latest interest rates. How it’s free for the consumer is that the Intuit-owned program makes its money through referral fees to companies they promote.

Unexpected events happen all the time. When my mother went into a nursing home,  I was able to make more frequent trips to visit her because of saving money through Acorns, rather than charging it to my credit card.  Maybe you will have some unexpected necessary trips or have a desire to take a vacation. Wouldn’t it be nice to do that and have it paid free and clear all by saving money without even thinking about it?

© 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

 

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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?

© 2018 Brenda Henning