Update: How Did You Do?

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So, how was No Whining Wednesday? You can be honest. I will.

Before I do, for those new to NWW, see last weeks post HERE to understand what it is, what it’s about and how to participate. Tomorrow is our second week of the newest feature to The PBS Blog and I’m going to try to do better because I was a mess last week. I failed miserably.

AND, I didn’t even have any quarters.

You know what, I don’t even want to talk about it.

OK, OK, I will. But only because I like you. What had happend was…

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I woke up that morning to a situation that brought me to tears. Not just tears but TEARS. I was balling. Here I was balled up on the floor praying away the anguish on the first day, but that’s not all.

Eventually, I decided to be a big girl about it and clean myself up because I remembered that it was No Whining Wednesday and I wasn’t supposed to be whining, let alone crying. I decided I would make pancakes before I got to work. Usually I’d just grab a cup of coffee or maybe some fruit so I was treating myself. So I thought.

This is Tuesday so I’ll get all my complaining out the way now. I hate…OK, hate is such a strong word… I dislike very much the taste of pancakes using oil. I like to use butter instead. For the twenty-nine years I’ve been on this Earth, my pancakes have always done well using butter. Except last Wednesday. They started to stick. I changed pans, thinking it was because I wasn’t using the cast iron skillet. It started to stick again and not just a little bit but like crazy. So, I started again using oil. It started to stick again. I should mention my sister in law is visiting. My plan was to make us a nice breakfast this morning (since I admittedly let her feign for herself the first night.)

My sister-in-law, awakened by the noises coming from the kitchen, walks in.

“Don’t worry, I’ll still eat them. I don’t really know how to make pancakes myself.”

“But I do! I do know how to make pancakes! Uhhgg.”

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After giving the pan (the butter and the oil) a piece of my mind I remembered this was No Whining Wednesday (something I started) and that I was definitely not winning.

At the end of it all the pans started to behave themselves and my pancakes and turkey bacon came out lovely.

The rest of the day smoothed itself out and all of my locs are still here. By the end of the day Wednesday all was well. I think I even had enough time left in the day to watch a chick flick (which turned out to be whack but I didn’t complain. I’d already done enough of that.) As I think back on it now it didn’t turn out so bad (maybe I just needed to write it out?) but I definitely had a rocky start.

So, how about you? I know you did better than me.

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15 Reasons why Reading a Book is a Life-Changing Experience

Neat. Post Quote: “The brain is an organ like any other and just as exercise strengthens the heart, reading strengthens the brain.”

Nicholas C. Rossis

ReadingDistractify.com recently published a list of reasons why reading a book is a life-changing experience. Here are my favorite ones!

1 . Reading a novel increases brain function for days.
Research from Emory University has found that reading a book can increase connectivity in the brain which makes neurological changes that act like muscle memory. Books not only put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense, but also in a biological sense.

2 . Reading can help prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Increased brain function is also useful for other things — various studies have shown that adults who engage in hobbies that stimulate the brain, such as reading, are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. The brain is an organ like any other and just as exercise strengthens the heart, reading strengthens the brain.

3 . Reading reduces stress.
Do you take a walk or listen to music…

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5 Reasons We Doubt (And Why We Shouldn’t)

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  1. Belief – We have no faith. Period. We invest more in our problems than we do in possibilities. We spend more time thinking about the bad stuff before the good stuff which ultimately leads to stress. In addition, our unbelief tends to lead us to wait until we get what we want before having joy. Why do you have to wait until you get the job to appreciate the job? Why wait until you are acknowledged for a skill to nurture or appreciate the skill? We wait when we should rejoice on the way. Rejoice during the journey, not just afterward.
  1. Fear – Fear is the biggest reason for doubting because there is no fear in faith. Our fears vary. Could be the fear of rejection from others or a fear of failure. In any event, it is not something that we so easily notice or that we even care to admit to but it’s there. At the root of not doing our best is the fear of something. I remember when I was a little girl and I got into this fight. I hurt this person so badly that I didn’t want to fight anymore. I literally restrained myself from it. I didn’t take up for myself sometimes. I let people pick on me, and push me around.

My secret wasn’t that I was afraid to fight. My secret was that I was afraid of my own strength. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and I was afraid that I’d do just that. Sometimes our fears are not because we know that we will fail (although that too), but that we will succeed and what that will mean for our future, for with great authority comes greater responsibility. What will it mean for us to be who we were ordained to be? For many of us, the answer’s a frightening one. But look at it this way: You cannot turn a light on and off simultaneously. You have to either have the light turned on or turned off because light and dark cannot coexist. Likewise, fear and faith cannot coexist. You will either be fearless or you’ll always be afraid. Afraid of what others will say. Afraid of what others will think, and afraid of how your light will make others feel. That’s a terrible way to live.

  1. Disagreements – Also known as criticisms, one major cause of doubts comes from disagreements among others. Who remembers the Ach Conformity Experiment? A series of studies performed in the 1950s that demonstrated the power of conformity in groups. These are also known as the “Asch Paradigm”. In one such experiment, there were five men who were to perform a very basic task: Match the line on the left with the line on the right. It was something your three-year-old can do. Four of the men were agents, people in on the program. They matched the line on the left with the incorrect line on the right. The subject knew they were all wrong but because they were the majority he chose the same wrong answer.

Even though he knew everyone’s answer was wrong, because they were all on accord and he wasn’t he doubted himself and chose the wrong answer. Remember, let no one make a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit. But as it happens, as soon as the majority shake their heads and say to themselves, “How foolish of us”, that’s it. One minute you’re confident and hopeful and as soon as the slightest wind of a disagreement comes along we are done. Boom. Over. Joy depleted. Spirits crushed. Dreams deferred. However, remember this if you remember nothing else: Beware when all men speak well of you. Every great person who has ever stood for something was mocked, laughed at, teased, and assumed to be foolish by his or her contemporaries.

  1. No Support – Usually from feeling isolated, almost just as bad as disagreements among others is no support at all. This can leave a big gaping hole of doubt in our minds. The feeling is so great that it can lead to sadness and depression. This causes a doubt that can be very dangerous as we can miss our purpose putting off what we were built to do because a lack of support gave the perception that it was not for us at all. The truth is that it just wasn’t the right time. Why wasn’t it the right time? Well, that depends but it could be that you were not in a place to do it. Could be that you were not mature enough to carry it through. There is always a reason for why things happen in our lives and if we stop trying to change what we have no control over we won’t be as stressed. As Einstein once said, “I am thankful to all those who said NO. Because of them, I did it myself.”
  1. Mistakes – A big cause of doubt is failing. Mistakes leave huge stains on our spirit and sometimes cause us to give up altogether. It also ceases us from trying again or thinking we had it in the first place. The truth is that sometimes you have to be torn down to be built back up. Remember that it is not being knocked down that makes the difference but staying down. I believe the man who has fallen seven times and stood up eight is a greater man in the end than he who has never fallen.

8 Ways to Avoid Stress

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  1. Take some time to sit quietly and appreciate everything that you have. Happiness is not in having more physical wealth but having less wants.
  1. Stop trying to change things that are beyond your control. Sometimes stress comes from not being able to alter those things outside of our control but trying to anyway. Stop that. You’re just going against the grain and you’re not going to win.
  1. Forgive yourself. If you make a mistake, get back up and forgive the less mature version of yourself who made it. Peace cannot exist around you if it does not first exist inside of you.
  1. Forgive those who hurt you the most. After you forgive yourself, forgive others. Instead of seeing what they did to cause you hurt, try and see them through the eyes of mercy. Sometimes people have been hurt and they pass that hurt on, try to see that. Look at them with the eyes of love instead of revenge. Excess pain is just baggage and in the words of Toni Morrison, “If you wanna fly, you gotta give up the stuff that weighs you down.”
  1. Learn to create balance in your life. Being busy is no excuse for surrendering your peace. We like to use the “I’m too busy” for everything but it just ends up being an excuse. Take breaks. Go on vacation. Date. Take some time to actually smell the flowers. In the words of Lena Horne, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
  1. In times of pressure, seek to be calm and centered instead of frustrated and angry. The calm person is the most productive person and makes the best decisions. Quick story. When I returned from a road trip last month, I thought I lost my USB or better yet, left it in Chicago, a 13 hour away drive from home. Upon realization that I’d lost the drive with all of my files and manuscript revisions (which I’d unwisely not saved anywhere else), I was actually too tired to worry about it! I literally put my worrying off. My exact words were, “I don’t have the energy to worry about this right now.” I didn’t even look for the drive. A few days went by and I knew that at some point I had to try and find it. Those things on that drive were very important after all. On the third or fourth day, I sat down in my chair and searched the place I last remembered it and found it. Just like that. By choosing to be calm and not worry instead of frenzied and out of control, I was capable of thinking clearly about where I’d last had it. I also learned a very valuable lesson. In remembering everything has a purpose, I understood that I should never save important files in just one spot.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others, it’s the easiest way to fail. It is also the easiest way to cling to your fears. Sometimes you can be so sure something is for you until you look at how others are doing it, saying it, or have done or said it. Own what you know to be true and perfect being you. People don’t want to see how you can do something the same as others are doing it. They wanna see how you can do it differently.
  1. Speaking of comparisons, be true to yourself. Stop worrying about being accepted by others. This too can cause unnecessary stresses. Don’t dilute your light for something superficial. The light bulb may shine bright now, but it is in no comparison to the sun.

Go

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Go and bring back the depth of the sea
Go and measure the measure of wind
Go and bring back the weight of fire
Go and explain the secret to water
Go and bring back the day that is passed

Sea, wind, fire, water and the day are elements that you interact with every day and yet they are a mystery to you.

Think about this the next time you stress over things you cannot change.

Writing Therapy

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Do you write for therapy? Also known as Journal Therapy, Writing Therapy is the act of writing down thoughts and feelings to either come to a deeper understanding of self, or of the world, or just to provide a kind of healing to the stresses of abuse, insecurities, or everyday situations. It is a form of therapy that I am not sure that everyone who participates is even conscious of. Do writers who write recognize a form of healing from the process? Perhaps that is something we may explore in great depth at a later time. “What drives you to write? What makes you write? What kind of stain does having written a piece leave on you?” These are questions you may feel free to respond to at your own leisure; it will be interesting to see what our answers are to these questions.

In the meantime, below is an excerpt from a piece on Journal Therapy that may be of assistance in the exploration of this topic. This article first appeared in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mind-Body Medicine, The Rosen Group, accessed from http://www.journaltherapy.com. ©1999 Kathleen Adams. I hope it is of help to you in your writing endeavors. Enjoy 🙂

The Philosophy of Journal Therapy

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In the 1980s many public school systems began formally using journals in English classes and across the curricula as well. These journals, often called “dialogue” or “response” journals, offered a way for students to develop independent thinking skills and gave teachers a method for responding directly to students with individual feedback. Although the intention for classroom journals was educational rather than therapeutic, teachers noticed that a simple assignment to reflect on an academic question or problem often revealed important information about the student’s emotional life. Students often reported feeling a relief of pressure and tension when they could write down troubling events or confusing thoughts or feelings.

Journal Therapy in Practice

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Although there are many psychotherapists who incorporate journal therapy into their sessions by assigning written “homework,” there are relatively few who specialize in journal therapy. Therapists who utilize journal writing in a session often begin by asking the client to write a short “check-in” paragraph or two on “what’s going on” — how the client is feeling, what s/he wants to work on in the session, and what’s happening in her/his life that impacts the therapeutic work at hand. This writing is usually shared with the therapist, and an “agenda” for the session is set. The therapist then guides the client through a writing exercise designed to address the therapeutic issues or tasks that the client has brought forward in the check-in or warm-up write. This writing usually takes about 10 minutes, and the remainder of the session is spent with the client and therapist exploring the information revealed in the longer write. The session generally concludes with the therapist offering several suggestions for journal “homework” to be completed between sessions. Journal therapy is also very effective in groups, and it is common for group members to establish a sense of deep community as writings representing authentic expressions of self are shared.

Benefits of Journal Therapy

It is believed that by recording and describing the salient issues in one’s life, one can better understand these issues and eventually diagnose problems that stem from them. Journal therapy has been used effectively for grief and loss; coping with life-threatening or chronic illness; recovery from addictions, eating disorders and trauma; repairing troubled marriages and family relationships; increasing communication skills; developing healthier self-esteem; getting a better perspective on life; and clarifying life goals.