Long time, no see! Sorry we’ve been away for a bit. We’ve been working hard to keep producing great, inspirational titles over at Higher Ground Books & Media! We haven’t forgotten about you, though! Especially as we start to enter the holiday season in what has been a pretty challenging year for most.
Today, I wanted to check in and let you know that I’m going to start posting some videos on our YouTube channel to help you work through the material in the Wise Up to Rise Up book. I’ve been working on putting together some curriculum and I will be posting links to those videos here. I hope you will check those out and that you will pick up a copy of Wise Up to Rise Up to help you begin working toward overcoming the challenges you face.
I pray that this note finds you well and that you will take a few moments to check out Wise Up to Rise Up and check back for links to the videos we’ll be sharing.
Yes, we’ve made it to the end of the 47 Days of Self-Care project and I’m happy to have ended up here, on Higher Ground for Life. I think I can safely say that I never want to do that again. Not because I hate writing every day, but because when I write I want the content to be from inspiration and not desperation. Some days, it felt really forced to write something worth posting and some days, I’m sure that what I posted wasn’t good enough to be shared. I’ve never been one who liked to post just for the sake of posting. I generally reserve my posts for things that are weighing heavily on my mind or for new releases or projects that I’m working on. If I’m lucky, I might have something good to post every 47 days, but not necessarily every day.
To recap, we’ve talked about making choices, setting limits, knowing our worth, the importance of friendships, dealing with anxiety, and defining what it means to be healthy. All great topics and I’m so thankful to my guest bloggers, Joe Siccardi, Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, and Derra Nicole Sabo for sharing with us on this journey. I’m so blessed to work with some truly talented authors. They make Higher Ground Books & Media a great place to be.
Next time around, if I do a special blogging project, I’ll most likely be limiting my posts to weekly. I want to make sure that what I share has value and meaning for all who read it. On the plus side, I was able to release a couple of new books during this time and I’ve been going back through my old WIPs to see what else I can finish. I’m tying up loose ends. I’m de-cluttering. And I’m getting ready for the next big step I need to take in this journey.
I appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to read these posts. And I appreciate the likes and feedback I received. And as always, I appreciate your continued support of Higher Ground Books & Media!
In preparation for an event we are having next weekend, I’ve been working on my presentation for Empowerment through Writing. This has definitely been something that I’ve been collecting information on for many years. Writing as therapy is a major part of my life and it has been my weapon of choice in the numerous battles I’ve fought. I’ve journaled and written short stories, poetry, songs, and even screenplays. I write random thoughts and Bible verses or whatever comes to mind. But one of the things I do that has helped me through the healing process more than anything else is to write out a list of the things that are causing me anxiety or sadness.
When I’m in the middle of a panic attack, the best thing I can do for myself is to put pen to paper. Instead of letting all of those anxious thoughts run rampant in my head, I like to round them up and write them down. Almost every time I have done this, I have found that what felt like a million problems was really only a few things that were easily handled once I was able to quantify them. Instead of letting these thoughts control you by allowing them to run amok in your head, get them out on paper! This also makes it easier to create a plan of attack for resolving the issues that cause us to feel out of control. Anxiety has been described to me as our reaction to our perceived inability to control a situation. It’s anger turned inside out. By writing down what’s bothering us, we effectively take back our power and we can move toward an effective resolution.
If you’re in the Springfield, Ohio area next Saturday, October 12th, I hope you will join us at the Clark County Public Library for our Empowerment through Writing/Empowerment through Art Workshop. Admission is free and you can find more information at our website.
My anxiety is at its highest when I have nothing going on. I have a really hard time with down-time. Which explains much of what I was talking about in last night’s post. I have a hard time slowing down because it makes me nervous to rest. It’s not as bad now as it was several years ago. I’ve found new ways to cope with anxiety and depression. I no longer sit and dwell on the fears that used to control me. I set goals, I take steps, I move forward and push through obstacles instead of letting them deter me from continuing the journey.
Anxiety and depression were crippling to me as a result of family trauma, rape, and multiple miscarriages. All of these things worked together to make life seem impossible for a time. But eventually, I found my way to a good relationship with God and the anxiety and depression lost their hold on me. When you are struggling with these things, you can’t set goals. Your goal is to get through each day without dying or becoming so overwhelmed that you just fall into a heap. When you have anxiety and/or depression, your main goal is to just put one foot in front of the other and keep breathing. Sometimes we turn to drink or pills to get through it. Other times we may have a fixation on sex or food or work. But freedom won’t come to you from any of those things. It only comes from the peace of knowing and understanding who is in control and allowing Him to do His job. The more we trust Him, the less we fear. For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. ~ 2 Timothy 2:7 NIV. These words have gotten me through more rough nights than I can remember.
Before that, there was a mantra that came to me through prayer one day and it just stuck. It was:
“Lord lift me up to Higher Ground.
When I am weak, please come around.
Hold my hand and make me strong.
Help me as I journey on.”
This was the thing I said to myself as I sat in meetings where I had panic attacks. When I was sitting in the ER getting checked out because of the chest pains and the racing thoughts, I clung to the little cards I’d made up with this prayer on them. I’d say it over and over until I was able to get myself to focus again. Thankfully, God delivered me from all of it. He heard my cries and He healed this in me. And now, I’m offering it to you. Let me know if you would like a keepsake prayer card. It’s my gift to you. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send one your way.
Sometimes, the simple things can shift our focus away from our fears long enough to let us get a foothold in something that offers far more power and strength to us. For me, God gave me the prayer and it guided me to Him and His word. What a wonderful place to be.
I’m not sure what’s worse, that I was ambushed by someone else’s bad mood or that their bad mood caused me to snap back and say something that was completely out of character today. I’m not a fan of being called out of my name, so naturally my response to this was not one of grace and forgiveness. Instead, the claws came out. And they came out with a vengeance. I said some things today that I don’t feel great about, but the response was brought on by what I perceived to be a very unnecessary attack on the part of the other person. I had no intention of fighting today. It was a good day. I wasn’t upset about anything. I was feeling fairly productive. And then, there it was. A barrage of insults and then, the final straw, a verbal attack that extended to my daughter.
This is how unprepared I was for the fight. The gloves, once I found them and put them on again, had to come off. It had been so long since I had braced myself for this kind of animosity that I didn’t even know how to respond to it. And so, out came the worst possible insult I could think of…and I spent the next few hours feeling terrible about what I’d said. Thankfully, God gives us grace when we can’t give it to ourselves or anyone else. It took a long time to get to a point where I could talk to this person without being angry, and I thought we had put all of that crap behind us. But, we can’t control anyone’s actions but our own and today’s exchange reminded me that it still isn’t safe to let my guard down around some people. I must continue to guard my heart and not allow the devil to get a foothold. I don’t have time for these distractions and I don’t want to get drawn into the drama. I’ve got better things to do.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ~ Proverbs 4:23 NIV
On days like today, it’s all I can really do. I’ve been fighting a losing battle and I’m trying not to let it get the best of me. It’s frustrating, but I know God’s got me. I just hate having to go through the chaotic part of things to get to peace. Hopefully, tomorrow will bring resolution. Goodnight all.
As someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time in front of a stove, I sure do have a whole lot of things on the back burner. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s not that I’m a procrastinator or anything. I just have lots of plates in the air and rather than burn myself out completely, I sometimes have to put things on the shelf and pick them up again when I have the energy to deal with them. There are some projects that I can’t set aside due to deadlines and contracts and so forth, but everything else is negotiable. And whenever possible, I try to spread those tasks out over time. Most often, the things that get put on the back burner are my pet projects. This is why I’ll publish fifteen books by other authors before I’ll work on my own. My mission as a publisher is to help others tell their stories and since I’ve already told most of my story, I’m more than okay with waiting until the right time to say more. But I didn’t always feel this way. For a long time, I was very focused on writing at least one book per year. I had a plan and whenever I would encounter delays, I would become so stressed that I couldn’t write at all. Only when God presented me with the option of helping others was I able to set aside my debilitating need to prove myself.
I’ve read that one of the best ways to help yourself out of depression or anxiety is to reach out to help others. I can say from personal experience that this is absolutely true. Whenever I’ve been struggling, I’ve found complete relief and healing through helping other people sort through their own traumas. It helps me to put things in perspective. This doesn’t mean that I sweep my own problems under the rug; it simply means that I shift my energy to helping someone else resolve their immediate issues first. When I’ve finished that, I can turn back to my own issues and look at them with a fresh perspective and hopefully, reprioritize the steps I need to take to get resolution.
Please note: If you’re in immediate crisis, you may need to concentrate on getting help for yourself before you’re able to extend yourself to others. But as you gain ground, you may find strength in sharing your experiences with others; especially what has worked and what hasn’t.
Healing is a gradual process. Once we start gaining momentum, we may find ourselves trying to do too much. If you’re like me, you’ll feel as though you need to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. This fear that the desire to heal will dissipate if we don’t do it quickly can cause us to try too hard, thus leaving us feeling devastated when everything doesn’t fall right into place the first time around. This is why it is necessary; no, it is VITAL to the healing process that we allow ourselves to shift some things around from time to time. So, don’t be afraid to put a few things on the back burner now and then. Just remember to turn down the heat when you need to. Everything will turn out fine.
“Now go! I will help you as you speak, and I will teach you what to say.” ~ Exodus 4:12
Sometimes God will give us an assignment that we don’t feel we are qualified to complete. Okay, not sometimes…most of the time. It’s kind of His thing. He tells us to do things that scare us so that we can show Him the faith we have in His power to make things happen. He wants us to step out. He wants us to do the things that we think we cannot do. In His power, we can do anything. And if He has put it on your heart to say or do something, you will eventually have to say or do that thing. It’s never going to be as simple as hearing God say to turn left and just turning left.
More often, we’ll hear it or we’ll keep seeing a phrase or a concept and we’ll keep trying to ignore it. We’ll wait for the day when we feel the most confident and then we might take a tentative step toward action on that command. But if the wind blows the wrong way, we’ll step back and call time-out. We won’t necessarily refuse to do the thing; but we’ll skate around it until the ice gives way.
If we are going to live a good life, we can’t let a bad hair day stop us. Even if we don’t feel confident, we have got to have the courage to step up and do what He’s telling us to do. Even when things seem impossible, we need to trust in His plan and take the steps He’s telling us to take. I often hear Him speak and I try to pretend that I didn’t hear it. I’ll push it to the side and then go on about my business. Inevitably, that thing He’s telling me will start showing up everywhere. It gets to the point where I just can’t get away from it. For example, I used to wake up every night at around 3 a.m. and have at least two or three paragraphs worth of thoughts to write down. When I would try to just go back to sleep without writing it down, I would find myself staring at the ceiling, thinking about the fact that I should really have a tablet and pen beside me at all times in case I was struck by inspiration in the middle of the night. Sometimes it would take an hour before I would make myself get up and get something to write with, but I finally had to concede because if I didn’t I would be up for the rest of the night.
It’s not just little things. It’s the purpose. He shows us over and over who He made us to be, but sometimes it takes a couple of lifetimes to convince us of who we are. What I mean by this is that in my life, I’ve gone through things that it took so many years to heal from that I can’t even remember the person I was before I was broken. And thankfully, I also can’t remember who I was before I was healed. I am no longer the person who was hurting. But I am also no longer the person who didn’t see that pain coming. I am just the person He healed. And I hope that one day, that healing will allow me to help someone else heal.
Matthew 6:34 says that we cannot serve two masters. I feel that my entire adult life has been a testimony to this very principle. It is true, you cannot serve God and money. If you choose to serve one, then you will likely not have an abundance of the other. Without question, this has been my experience. When I started my “career,” I wasn’t focused on God. I hadn’t focused on God at all as I reached adulthood because I’d had a bad experience with church as a teen and had turned my back on the whole idea of being a Christian. I still loved God, but I wanted nothing to do with the church. As I began working “real” jobs, I found that my interest was in climbing the corporate ladder and trying to achieve as much as I could so that I could somehow outrun the feelings of inadequacy that I had been trying to evade for much of my existence. And I did climb pretty quickly. In my early twenties, I was a manager, and then by the time I was thirty, I’d reached director-level and was making more money than I’d thought possible in such a short time. My early thirties marked a turning point, however, with the birth of my daughter prompting a shift in my ambitions. This new role had me questioning everything about my life. What was I going to teach my daughter? Would I show her that being an ambitious, ladder-climbing, feminist type was the way to go? Or would I eventually settle down and take on the role of homemaker and teach her that this was the right path to take? Everything I had thought was right before I became a mother was no longer making sense.
My daughter was nearly seven years old before I decided on the right course of action. Yes, it took me that long to figure out that the voice I needed to be listening to was God’s. I needed to get my heart right and to get my focus set on the right things before I decided to teach my daughter about life. Unfortunately, the voice I began to hear was telling me to get away from the things that were hurting me. One of those things ended up being my marriage. I left and began to build my life around seeking God. I needed desperately to find my purpose and to start doing things to validate my existence. I didn’t want my life to be all about money and stuff. I don’t even like money and stuff, so why would I build a life around those things?
The problem with life in today’s society is that you really can’t survive without some money. Even if you cut your budget to the bare minimum, you still have to spend your days working to bring in that paycheck just to keep things moving. I consider myself to be a person who has faith, so it’s not that I don’t trust in God’s provision. It’s just very easy to lose sight of what’s right for your heart when those bills are staring you in the face. The struggle is very much real. But the thing is, when you choose to put God first the money doesn’t necessarily appeal to you like it did when you were all about that career. Now, even though I would like to make more money, I call it a blessing that my life is structured in such a way that I don’t have to serve that master.
When I was growing up, I went after the type of life that I thought I wanted, and it fell flat. I went through all of the motions and tried to be what I thought I should be based on a life lived with no attention to pursuing God’s truth. As I became a little more experienced with life, I found that a life lived without real substance and truth will never be anything but empty. No matter how much money you throw at it. For me, knowing my Creator and understanding why He made me and what He expects me to do with this life is worth far more than any salary I could ever earn.
The concept of self-care means different things to different people. For me, self-care has meant loving myself enough to stop and take inventory of what I was feeling, how I was reacting to those feelings and whether or not my actions were helping or hurting me. When I finally started to take the time to evaluate my actions, I became more invested in taking better care of myself. As long as I was coasting along and just reacting to my feelings without taking the time to determine the impact of my actions, it was easy to do the wrong thing if it helped to ease the pain I was feeling at the time.
Writing these posts is actually a big part of the healing process for me. Being able to process the things we go through is very important to rebuilding after we’ve suffered trauma or loss. If we aren’t yet able to talk about them or at least to write about them; whether it is in a personal journal or in a very public blog post, then we most likely aren’t finished healing. When we deliberately focus on the whole issue and go as far as writing down what happened to us or what we’ve gone through, something happens to that monster that has been running around in our subconscious. As long as it is allowed to roam freely through our minds, it feels as though it has all the power. Once we say the thing out loud or put pen to paper, we effectively drain it of every ounce of energy that it has been using against us. Only when we have the courage to say that something is wrong will we be able to go about the business of making it right. We can’t fix what we refuse to acknowledge is broken.
So that is what it means when I say I’m blogging about self-care. It’s about giving our pain the attention it deserves and giving ourselves the power and permission to heal. So, do that. Feel what you need to feel and take the action you need to take in order to heal.