Work Hard

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 44 and Chapter 7 of my book Keep up the pace.

Chapter 7 Work Hard

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

(Tiffany wiley, Mckayla Carter, Mallory Hamblin)

 Being involved in the pageant industry for six years brought many new experiences into my life. Some were difficult to handle and others were simply beautiful to be of a part of. But if there is one thing that I have learned, whether it be winning a pageant, getting a job, losing weight, or raising children, if you put in the work you will definitely reap the benefits! I saw work in action happen time again in the pageant industry.

As my daughter set out to compete for the title of Miss Teen Utah International, she was not afraid to work hard. As soon as she came up with her goals of what she wanted to achieve and how she wanted to make difference she started working hard by getting more involved in her community.

She wrote a children’s book about her platform, “Kindness Counts”, that she could take into elementary schools to help the children learn how to be more kind. She worked on her walk, her speaking skills, and her physical appearance and when it came time to compete she was able to win the title even though she was the youngest girl competing.

As her mother, I seen her go from a shy, quiet, very reserved little girl, to a confident young woman not afraid to express her ideas and share herself with others.

My first year Directing the teen pageant, I had a contestant enter the competition that wanted to learn how to overcome her shyness, and fear of public speaking. Having never competed in a pageant before, she really didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare. Though we had workshops and appearances to help all of the contestants prepare, she really didn’t put a lot of effort into the competition. When the big night came and she walked out on stage, she was scared to death. She even had to run off the stage at one point because she felt as if she might pass out. She had a fair experience that year, but had she worked a little harder and put a little more effort into it she may have had an even more positive experience.

The following year, I was shocked when she decided to compete again. I figured that as painful as it had been for her to be in front of people on stage, that she would probably never try it again. However, she had seen the growth in herself and knew that if she put more effort into it she could conquer her fear of being on stage and speaking in front of people. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anyone work as hard as she did that year. She literally blossomed into a more confident young lady. With the help of her mother, she was able to set up seminars and gain some experience in public speaking. She went to every appearance and workshop that we held and even scheduled extra time so that she felt strong and ready to compete.

She worked on every area of the competition because she understood the importance of being well-rounded, and she practiced hard. She was committed to finding the perfect wardrobe. One that complimented her physically, and radiated her personal style. When it came time for the competition she felt more confident and ready for the event than she had for anything else in her life.

The competition started out with personal interview. She had practiced and prepared and she was ready. She looked amazing in the suit that she had chosen to compliment her personality. When the interview ended, she felt positive that she had done well. She even commented that she had fun! What a difference she had made in herself and her attitude by committing to put her full effort into this.

I wish that I could say that she went on to win the competition, however after the interview ended, tragedy struck. She was contacted and told that her grandfather had suffered a heart attack and it didn’t look good. How could she continue the competition? It all seemed so trivial now. She decided that even after all her hard work and effort that she needed to withdraw from the competition. I fully supported her in that decision. That decision, in and of itself, proved to me how much she had grown throughout the past year.

A few hours later as rehearsals were being held, this strong, beautiful young lady returned to the competition. Her grandfather had passed away and after much deliberation, tears, and heartache, she and her family felt that it was the right thing to do. The competition took place and she was able to complete every area with ease and confidence. She was able to show commitment, dedication, and drive in a time when it seemed her world had come crashing down. It would have been so easy for her to give up. But because of what she had learned through her hard work she was able to overcome an obstacle in her life that was very difficult.

I found out a few weeks later that she had actually volunteered to speak at her High School graduation! I was so glad to hear that she was continuing to set goals for herself and that she had not let hardship defeat her.

An important concept I have learned through being involved with pageants, is that it is imperative that we continue to set and achieve goals. When I competed in the State, as well as, the National competition I seen contestants who would invest all of their time and effort in to the competition with the expectation of winning. When it was all over and the title was awarded to someone else, they would have such a hard time accepting it and moving on with their lives. I believe that it was because they hadn’t looked beyond the mark.

What happens when you put everything you have into achieving a goal and through your hard work you are finally able to achieve it, or possibly fall short? Is that the end? It absolutely is not. We have to remain in a constant state of setting and achieving goals in order to progress in life. If we give up after one failure we never truly learn what it is to work hard and be successful.

One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased.”

I have always been one to believe that everything happens for a reason or put another way, there are no coincidences. We may never know what the lesson is that we are supposed to learn from a given situation. Especially, when that situation is emotionally and physically difficult to endure.

Life is full of lessons to be learned. Never ever give up! Keep pressing forward, working hard, and setting new goals and you will become stronger and more capable of maintaining a positive attitude in all areas of your life, regardless of the circumstances.

Your assignment: Read over your list of goals again from chapter 1 and make sure that you are putting in the work to have to the outcome you desire. If not, make some short-term goals that will help you get back on track and get your head back in the game!

XO Wendy

Surround yourself with positivity

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 43 and Chapter 6 of my book Keep up the pace. Surround yourself with positive energy.

Chapter 6

” Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits.”

One of my all time favorite movies is Forest Gump. If you have seen the movie, you will recall the statement that his mother taught him to help him overcome the teasing and bullying that he endured throughout his childhood. “Stupid is as stupid does.” She taught him very plainly that people will become what they repeatedly do.

For a period of time, I had a quote hanging on my refrigerator that I wanted to instill in myself as well as my children, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I’d like to put those two concepts together and give you a mantra that is super easy to remember and will change your life if you choose to believe it. “Positive is as positive does.”

When I decided to compete in the Mrs. Utah International pageant, I needed positive thinking more than ever. I had been a stay-at-home mom for almost 12 years. After spending my days changing diapers, reading children’s books, and watching Sesame Street and Barney with my little ones, I was badly in need of something to get me out of my comfort zone. My youngest child had recently started school, so I found myself with a few extra hours to myself.

When I first heard about the competition I was still learning how to live with and manage depression. I knew that if I didn’t find something constructive to do during those hours, I could easily fall into some old negative habits, such as sleeping in instead of working out, eating when I became bored, and the worst habit of all, negative self-talk. So the pageant became a vehicle to motivate me to stay on top of my depression, while at the same time, work on some skills that needed to be dusted off a little. If you spend your days talking to toddlers and building bird nests out of play dough, you will understand what I am talking about. Not exactly the best interview techniques!

I am a great believer in mentoring and being mentored, so I sought out previous pageant winners and asked them to share their secrets with me. The positive energy and motivation that I came away with was incredible! Consequently, I had the tools I needed to achieve my goal. I just needed to learn how to put those tools into action. My first task was to post positive quotes on little post-it notes all throughout my home. As I was working out I would read, “Think lean and strong!”. As I applied my make-up, “Believe in yourself” was instilled in my mind from it’s position on my mirror. When I fixed breakfast, cleaned the house, turned on the television or got into the car, there was one positive message after another. Though the changes weren’t immediate, I did find that slowly I was evolving and changing into a more confident woman! Not only were the changes happening on the inside, but on the outside as well. Of course some of the physical changes could be attributed to eating better and exercising. But for changes to become permanent, they must happen from the inside out.

The most remarkable change was what began to happen in my home with my children and husband. They were visibly happier, more confident, and a lot more willing to help out whenever asked. Instead of the usual “Do I have to?” or “I don’t want to!” statements, their answers became “Sure! No problem.” As a family we were constantly surrounding ourselves with positive sources, people, places, things, and habits. Obviously, we all still had our moments, but for the most part our home life became a much richer and enjoyable place to be.

Surrounding yourself with positive energy can be one of the most powerful steps you can take to gain a happier more fulfilling life. Again, there are times when we can not control the experiences that happen to us, but we can control the attitude with which we choose to face those experiences.

The following are a few ideas that can increase the positive energy in your life.

1. Cleanse your inner spirit. If you have things in your life that are bringing you down or have left you with feelings of guilt or resentment, take care of it! Nothing can lift you higher than offering an apology where one is warranted. Let by gones be by gones. Forgive those who have wronged you, even if they won’t accept your forgiveness. Holding on to grudges only brings you and others down. Start living in the present and let go of the past. I know it is easier said than done, but taking that risk will greatly improve your quality of life.

2. Simplify your life! In the world that we now live it is so easy to fill your life with unnecessary clutter. I was talking to my little sister the other day and she made a comment that reminded me of how my parents had raised us. She said, “It just wasn’t a necessary expense.” How many times do we spend “unnecessary expense” on trivial, unimportant things? It’s easy to do. I’m not just talking about spending expenses. Gaining the discipline to free yourself from “unnecessary expenses” whether it be material items, or time-wasting activities, will make your load lighter and your life much more enjoyable.

3. Consistently avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits. If you can steer clear of negativity in all forms you will find a change taking place in your life that is very noticeable. You will become more positive, more confident and a lot more attractive (both physically and mentally) to those around you.

4. Laugh often! Zig Ziglar once said “Laughter is the best medicine.” I can’t think of a better way to remove negativity than to laugh.

Laugh at yourself when you do silly things. Laugh with your friends and family and become closer together. My daughter Saydie, was born with an innate ability to make people laugh. She would be practicing her many faces in the mirror behind us as her Dad and I were reprimanding her for something that she had done. We could never keep a straight face and by the end of our speech we would be laughing so hard we would have tears in our eyes. No matter what is happening, if Saydie senses sadness she will do whatever it takes to make you laugh. Laughter definitely creates positive energy!

“Positive is as positive does.” I challenge you to try it!

Your assignment: Get on the internet or go through books of quotes and positive affirmations. Pick out your favorite and make post-its that you can place in conspicuous places throughout your home, car, office, etc. Read them and re-read them until they are ingrained in your brain and have become a part of your life! You are welcome to use the ones that I have used in this book if you like (they are some of my favorite).

Strength through adversity

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. I am your host Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 42 and Chapter 5 of my book Keep up the pace.

Strength through adversity

You never really lose until you quit trying.Anonymous

I would like to tell you about an experience I had that tested my ability to maintain a positive attitude. My husband and I had just given birth to our fourth child.

Because my three previous children had been born with the help of a physician through induction, I had prayed long and hard that I would be able to give birth to my last child on my own. I also dreamed, as every woman does, that I would have this child a little early.

I am sure you have heard the statement, “Be careful what you pray for because you just might get it”, well, I was about to find new meaning to that statement. Two weeks before my due date I awoke to a lower back ache. Having been through the process of child birth three times I knew right away that something was different and so I called my doctor’s office. My Doctor had gone on vacation but his nurse encouraged me to come in and be checked. Upon arrival at the office, the nurse checked me and determined that indeed I was going to deliver a child sometime soon.

After a long day of walking the malls and the halls in the hospital, I was finally admitted into the hospital that was filled to capacity with women waiting to deliver (12 to be exact!). Our baby boy was born at about 5:30 p.m. that evening. Things went relatively smooth with the birthing process considering I had a Doctor that I had just met. But, within minutes the nurse noticed that Cody was not breathing properly.

He was quickly whisked away to the nursery where they began a series of x-rays and tests. There were twelve babies born that night and only two nurses were on duty. The hospital was sorely understaffed, especially with an infant that required minute-to-minute monitoring. Consequently, my Doctor chose to have Cody transported to Primary Children’s Medical Center where he would be able to get the intensive care that he needed.

X-rays had revealed that his lungs were clouded and they seemed to be getting worse instead of better. Before transporting, a breathing tube was inserted and Cody was put on a ventilator. I was actually so relieved to see him breathing normally and finally sleeping, even if it was with the help of this machine. My husband checked me out of the hospital early the next morning and we drove straight to Primary Children’s Hospital.

The doctors and nurses had held a conference and decided to treat our son’s condition as a virus and had already started him on antibiotics. They also determined that because he was a little early, his lungs were not quite developed enough to fight off the infection, so they began giving him a drug called Cerfactin to help his lungs develop more quickly. He was showing improvement and the staff encouraged us to go home and get some sleep. I figured that would be a good idea since we had three other children who were still young and needed our attention.

That evening I received a distressing phone call from the hospital. They informed me that our little boy had taken a turn of the worse and that things did not look good. They felt that we should know that they had tried nearly everything and were not receiving a response. They encouraged us to come to the hospital in case the unthinkable were to occur. I did not feel strong enough to endure the possibility of losing him. I just couldn’t do it. So my husband went with a very dear friend who also happened to be our bishop.

While at the hospital they were able to administer a special healing blessing. They called upon God to heal his little body if it be His will. After standing helplessly by for a little while they decided to return home and hope and pray for the best. As my husband and I cried together that night we felt sure that our son would not make it through the night.

We talked of our great love for this child who was not yet forty eight hours old. We both felt it a great privilege to have him as a part of our little family, if only in spirit, for the past nine months. At about two a.m. that morning, we had heard nothing so we decided to call and see how he was doing. The nurse explained that, as a last resort, they had removed the breathing tube and to their dismay found that the cerfactin (the medicine they were administering to help his lungs develop) was clogging the bottom of the tube. The nurse said that they rarely ever changed the ventilator tube from an infant because it was so hard to re-insert, but they were out of options.

There is no doubt in my mind that angels were watching over our son that night and the Doctors as well.

Over the next twelve days it was a roller coaster ride. One day Cody would be improving and next he would slip back. It was very discouraging but I was determined to maintain a positive attitude. I visited him as much as I could but it was very difficult to see him in that environment.

The doctors had decided to put him on a temporary paralysis drug because he was bigger than most of the infants there and he would continuously pull the monitors off as he moved around. It was very difficult to see him lying motionless in the incubator.

We were unable to hold him for seven days, it seemed like an eternity. I will never forget the first time I was able to hold him, still attached to all the monitors and wrapped in a sheepskin blanket that made it hard to feel him in my arms, but I was in Heaven! The next few days became a sort of game as we would try to get him to eat enough and improve enough so that we would be able to take him home. I felt very fortunate to be able to take him home after just two short weeks, when some of the preemies that were his roommates had been there for months.

It was heartbreaking to see the parents come and go each day looking for any sign that their nightmare would end soon. I know it was hard for them to maintain a positive attitude day in and day out as they would receive the same bleak reports. I was amazed to hear their stories and listen to their determination as they would relive their experiences. “How do you get through it”, I remember asking one couple that had spent the better part of three months living at the hospital, a day’s drive from their home. “You get through it one day at a time . . . and you hope and pray for the best!” was their reply.

Positive attitude changes everything! No, we can not change the outcome of a situation. But we can certainly change the attitude with which we choose to face it . . . one day at a time. Not one of us is exempt from adversity. Every single person, at one time or another in their life, will face an illness, the death of a loved one, a divorce, etc. Granted, some people seem to have many more hardships placed upon them than others, but from my experience these people are the most tender, caring, and sensitive individuals I know. They can relate with others on a level that many of us can not. They help many to overcome and rise above the adversity that is placed upon them.

God gives us these trials to make us stronger and to help us learn more about ourselves and others in the process. We can choose to rise above adversity and be better for it, or we can let it control us and ultimately break us down. Most importantly whatever it is that you have been through or are experiencing this very moment……never, never, never, give up! 

Your challenge this week: Write down your experiences of trial or adversity that you have had or are having in your life. Record your feelings and be blatantly honest.

If this is a past experience, reflect on the things that you learned from the experience and how you re-acted at the time, and what your feelings are now.

If it is something you are experiencing at this moment, record what you feeling and what you hope the outcome will be. Resolve to look at all of your trials as learning experiences. I have started to do that, while it is not easy to say to yourself while you are in the midst of a trial, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”, (or can I learn)it definitely helps you look at things with a new perspective.

By the way, for those of you that don’t know our son is now a thriving almost 16 year old with loads of energy and love to share. We are so grateful to have him in our lives.

Side note: he was 16 when this book was written. He is now a happily married 27 year old!

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

XO Wendy

Believe in yourself

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. I am your host Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 41.

Chapter 4

Believe in yourself

“ Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Take control of your destiny! Believe in yourself! Those are two of the most powerful statements I think I have ever read. I am going to tell you something now that I think you will find most profound. You know yourself better than anyone else! You are the only one that has spent every waking second of your life with . . . YOU! Who could possibly know you better, with the exception of God?

Why then do we tend to doubt ourselves so much? I believe the reason we do so much self-doubting has to do with many factors. It could be the way that your parents raised you. Maybe you came from a very emotionally or physically abusive home. It is possible that you suffered many tragic losses throughout your life. Maybe you have had to endure a physical debilitation or disease, or mental illness.

Regardless of the circumstance, we are all capable of change. We all have the ability within us to take control of our lives. It is true that sometimes we cannot control the circumstances that happen to us, however we definitely can control the attitude with which we choose to face these experiences. I know that there will be many that will want to argue this point, but the fact is we “drive our own cars”!

Sometimes I think it might benefit us if we could take a step back from our life and view it from a different perspective. We are so good at looking at another person’s life and providing a solution to all of their problems. If we could use this same objectiveness in our own lives, we could solve a lot of crisis before they arise.

Have you ever felt restless? Like you were supposed to be doing something else with your life, or something is missing? I like to think of this restless feeling as God’s way of helping us to realize that we still have room to grow (and I don’t mean in height or weight!). Another way to view this feeling is to look at it as “growing pains”. Remember when you were a child and you would get stomach aches the first week of a new school year? Or maybe you just started a new job and you had those anxious butterflies in the pit of your stomach . . . Yes, I would have to say those are “growing pains”.

A few years ago I was able to attend a convention, the keynote speaker happened to be Sharlene Wells Hawkes, Miss America 1985. She discussed a technique that I feel is imperative to making your life what you want it to be. It is relatively simple and really does not take a lot of effort . . . once you get used to it!

I am sure that many of you have heard of the “comfort zone”. This is a place that we make for ourselves that is easy to be. We rarely take steps out of this safe place because it is hard or maybe a little scary. We stay in the same routine day after day and never do anything that feels uncomfortable, thus we have created our “comfort zone”.

But there is a very interesting fact about our comfort zones and that is that they never stay the same. It is either growing or shrinking! Sharlene goes on to discuss that the only way we can make our comfort zone grow instead of shrink is to consistently take steps outside of it. This means doing things that are hard or maybe even a little scary. But each time you do this your comfort zone will grow.

Rest assured I am not telling you that you need to do anything that is risky or dangerous. I am talking about setting small goals for yourself on a daily or weekly basis that you may find a little difficult. These might include: Getting up a little earlier each day so you can get more accomplished. Or parking your car a little further out than normal so you can get a little more exercise. Maybe you could try choosing carrots instead of cookies if you are trying to lose weight. Each time that you take a small step outside of your comfort zone an amazing thing happens . . . It grows! And it also gets a little easier to take that next step.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true when we choose to remain inside our safe little place and don’t take small chances on a regular basis. It is not easy. And very often, in fact more often than not, our chances will be accompanied by failure. But as Sharlene would say, “Failure doesn’t keep you from success, it leads you to it. . . if you are willing to learn.”

Some of the most successful people I know did not realize their dreams by mere happenstance. It takes effort, it takes desire, and it takes a willingness to learn from our failures. When we choose to let our failures defeat us and we shrink back into our comfortable place it becomes harder and harder to venture out again and our comfort zone gets smaller and smaller. The fact is, that we have all been given special gifts that are ours to develop if we choose. We can use these gifts, not only to improve the quality or our own lives, but also to help others around us. However, we can only do this if we learn to develop these gifts by taking consistent steps outside or our comfort zone and believing in ourselves.

I once heard someone say that in order to be a winner you have to ACT like a winner. I honestly believe this to be true. Our actions speak louder than our words, we can voice what we intend to do but until you take action there is no meaning behind the words. When we are doers our emotions will follow suit. It is hard and scary to attempt something new that is uncomfortable and no doubt our emotions and thoughts tell us that we won’t succeed, that we shouldn’t attempt the unknown. But, it is only in attempting or taking action that we find out what our abilities are and how good we can feel when we achieve a dream.

If you are anything like me, and I believe you are, you are probably saying to yourself right now, “How do I find out what my gifts are?” Or maybe you are thinking, “I don’t have any gifts.” Finding out what your gifts are is much simpler than you may think. Start by making a list of things that you are good at. Maybe you enjoy reading or listening to music. Who knows, you might just have a gift for writing poetry or music.

Second, start listening to, and accepting compliments. This is a great way to discover hidden talents. For example, people consistently comment on how great your hair always looks or what a snappy dresser you are. You might have a real talent in the cosmetology industry or maybe your gift lies in retail sales.

Has anyone ever told you what a great listener you are, or that you are very caring and sensitive? This could lead one to believe that you may be great in a field of social work or another related field. My point is, that sometimes we spend so much time complaining about the gifts that we don’t have that we lose sight of those gifts that are uniquely ours. There is not another person in this world like you , so why not celebrate that fact by being all that God intended you to be and by doing that, we not only help ourselves but, we help others along the way.

Finally, don’t be afraid to dream big. We are the culmination of our dreams put into action. If we stop dreaming we stop living. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t. If you can dream it you can achieve it!

I remember when I was a little girl and my mother gave me a necklace. On the chain was a heart-shaped locket made of glass that had a mustard seed inside. It was accompanied by a little metal plate with this inscription on it: . . .if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move. –Matthew 17:20

At 5’3” the shortest player in NBA history, Tyrone “Mugsy” Bogues, believed in himself against all odds. He said, “You can do anything you want to do in life, if you have a fierce belief in yourself, a strong will, a big heart, and some role models to inspire you.”

Don’t ever give up on yourself. If you have faith, belief in yourself, the patience to persevere, and most importantly, a positive attitude, you can make your dreams a reality.

Climb ‘Til Your Dreams Come True

By Helen Steiner Rice

Often your tasks will be many, And more than you think you can do . . .

Often the road will be rugged And the hills insurmountable, too . . .

But always remember, the hills ahead Are never as steep as they seem,

And with faith in your heart start upward And climb ‘til you reach your dream,

For nothing in life that is worthy Is ever too hard to achieve

If you have faith to try it And you have the faith to believe . . .

For faith is a force that is greater than knowledge or power or skill

And many defeats turn to triumph if you trust in God’s wisdom and will . . .

For faith is a mover of mountains, there’s nothing that God cannot do,

So start out today with faith in your heart And climb ‘til your dreams come true!”

Assignment: Make a list of the things that you feel that you are good at, or that you have a desire to become good at. Then write down some small goals or steps that you can take outside of your comfort zone to achieve those goals. Record your steps. Start with the small things and soon you will be leaping out of your comfort zone and growing consistently.

Remember, you are doing this for you! Don’t let anyone keep you from your dreams or tell you that you aren’t good enough. Believe that you can be all that God wants you to be and you will become better and stronger than you ever believed possible! Go now, and start expanding your comfort zone!

Thanks for reading! I hope you are enjoying it.

XO, Wendy

Fighting the fear within

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. I am your host Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 40.

Keep Up the PACE

Chapter 3

FIGHTING THE FEAR WITHIN 

“Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment!” Russ Quaglia

To say that I was afraid of what might lie ahead was a great understatement. I came from a long line of family members who suffer from depression. Some have been on medications with complications and some have been content to struggle with the disease on their own. And then there are some that remain in denial and are afraid to admit that something might not be right. I found it necessary to find some sort of middle ground.

At this point, I feel it is very important to address an issue that has a way of clouding one’s judgement. More specifically, one who is not thinking rationally as is. This issue is that of how people who have never suffered from depression, or have not been closely involved with a loved one who has, view depression in general. There is still quite a stigma against people who suffer from mental illness.

Just the other day I happened to mention to a colleague that I was writing a book about my experiences with depression. The comment that I received was one that I have heard on many occasions. I would be willing to bet that most sufferers have as well. “What do you have to be depressed about?” Believe me, I have asked myself that same question almost every day. This is one of the reasons most people find it difficult to seek the help of a professional. What I know now, is that depression is not a respecter of persons. It can and does affect both males and females, rich and poor, young and old.

Depression is not a reflection of one’s life, it is an inward disease without an outward appearance. Although symptoms are not physically seen, does not in any way mean that they do not exist! I was very fortunate to have a therapist who, from the beginning, explained this disease thoroughly and helped me to realize that this was not a reflection on me as a person. She gave me many options and explained each option in great detail.

Upon diagnosis is the best time for you to find a good support system. A loved one, trusted friend or counselor can help immensely. If you are not so fortunate as to have a support system at home, there are many support groups and therapists in every community that can help you.

Never give up hope, there is always a solution. As I spoke of in chapter two, I have always been a highly motivated person. I attribute much of this to the work ethic that my parents taught me. They taught me to take pride in myself and my accomplishments, and to always strive for something better. I believe that having positive role models in our lives is imperative to our success.

I remember on one occasion, I wanted to ride my bike down to the local convenience store with a group of friends. It was a sunny Saturday morning and this was a day when my siblings and I were required to help out with various chores around the yard. I must have been about ten or eleven years old. On that particular Saturday, it was my job to weed one of our many flowerbeds. It happened to be the one that was full of prickly bushes that would fill out the bed about three feet in width and grew low to the ground. The trick was to pull all the weeds that would grow up between the bushes. This was a job that was detested by me and all of my siblings, and I assumed my parents as well. Otherwise, why would they always make sure that one of my brothers or I had this job?!

Other than the scratches and cuts up and down my gloveless arms, what I remember the most was having to go back and finish my job because I had not done it to the best of my ability. This experience taught me a great lesson in taking pride in what I do and learning the importance of doing a job right the first time so I didn’t have to go back and do it over! I have to admit our trip to the convenience store was one that I felt I deserved beyond any shadow of a doubt. That candy never tasted so sweet!

As I began my road to recovery, these early lessons began to come back into my mind. I was able to realize that without risks there can be no achievement. And without working hard and lots of practice, how would I ever get better and stronger?

Starting on the medication was a huge risk for me, but one that I was willing to take in order to achieve a more fulfilling life. A better life! As the medication began to take effect, I was able to start thinking more clearly and rationally. I began to enjoy the simple moments in my life as a young mother. Bathing and feeding my young family became rituals that I relished. Even their mischievous moments became more enjoyable.

For example, the time I was overcome with panic, unable to find my four year old daughter McKayla. I had searched the house three times yelling out her name. I had sent five and half year old Chris, to scour the neighborhood homes. I had looked under the beds, just in case she had fallen asleep in one of her favorite hiding places, all to no avail. I called my husband at work in a panic. He reassured me that she would turn up and urged me to continue searching. We both knew how much she liked playing “hide and go seek”.

I hung up the phone, said a fervent prayer, and continued my hunt. As I was searching our toy room for the third time, I heard a muffled sneeze. I opened the closet door to reveal a “chicken-costume-clad” McKayla crouching ever so quietly in the corner. I scooped her into my arms and sobbed as relief swept over me. “Why wouldn’t you answer me when I called, sweetheart?” I questioned. With her innocent blue eyes, she looked up at me and said, “I thought you would get angry because I am wearing my costume, I’m sorry mommy.”

She had a dance recital coming up and I had asked her not to play in her chicken costume. As I documented this experience later on, I was able to see the improvement in my ability to stay “pulled together” at a time when previously, I would have been unable to cope. At the same time, it helped me to see how much I had missed feeling emotion. It felt so good to “feel” again.

But even though I had experiences like that one from time to time, for the most part my emotions remained on an even keel ninety percent of the time. I knew, that because of this glimpse of how good it felt to “feel”, I wanted more. I wanted something even better! I wanted to enjoy every positive moment. I wanted to feel sad when conditions called for sadness. Happy when things went well. And I started feeling as if the medication kept me from feeling some of these emotions. At times, I felt simply numb to emotion.

That is when I began to seek for something better. I have always been an avid reader. I loved to go to our local library. To this day, I have a stack of books beside my bed waiting to be read. I consider myself a “bookworm” because I rarely finish a book. I simply “worm” my way through looking for things that apply to me and my situation. I am a big fan of self-help and motivational books. So it was at this time that I made a trip to the library and returned with about eight books on depression, more specifically on alternative forms of healing.

As I read and reread I was able to see a common thread amongst most theories. Nutrition and physical exercise play a big part in maintaining our hormonal balance. But what I remember most was reading about serotonin, the brains own natural anti-depressant and tranquilizer. And I was intrigued that physical exercise played such a key role in the release of mood-enhancing substances known as endorphins. When endorphin levels become elevated so does one’s mood and vice versa. “This is it,” I thought “this is the key!”

I decided then and there that I was going to be in control of my own destiny. I had read enough and documented enough of my current patterns, to know that to go off of the medication “cold turkey” was not only dangerous, but could also set me up for an all-time low! Something I definitely did not want to have happen. I had worked so hard to come as far as I had. Instead I formulated a plan and set some goals, working with my physician. Together we devised a plan to wean me slowly off the medication. I had been working hard to exercise on a daily basis for about two years which explains the glimpses of emotion I had experienced.

Another major key in fighting depression is our diet. So I set out to find a nutrition plan that I could live with. Sifting through the wealth of information on nutrition is a job in and of itself! But as you are searching for something that will work for you here are some hints that I have found helpful. Be careful to avoid those that promise a “quick fix”. Avoid the diets that eliminate whole food groups. Make sure that whatever you choose, it is something that you can continue for the long term. If you have a hard time sticking with something for 2 weeks, you will never be able to stay with it for life. And above all, try to find a plan that works with your family as well. There is nothing harder than trying to fix yourself something different than your family. And it is just as important that they learn healthy habits too!

I have found that moderation seems to work the best. Instead of eliminating your favorite foods just try to learn how to enjoy them in moderation. Now, this is really important! Though I personally have learned how to function normally without the help of medication, and what works for me, does not mean that it will work for everyone. And it won’t always work for me, for that matter. I want to reiterate the importance of working with your personal physician and or therapist to find what works for you. There are so many options available today!

Throughout the years there have been times when I have let my priorities get out of line and I have not paid attention to what my body was trying to tell me and have had to return to medication. It’s not the end of the world! It is an option that is available to us and personally, I am so grateful for that! Whether you decide to try medication or not, definitely consider taking on an exercise program. This is where the list of priorities from chapter one begins to play in.

I hear so many people say that they cannot find the time to exercise. I agree that with a family, a husband, a job and all of our household duties, it is difficult. But if you make it a priority, even if it means getting up an hour earlier than everyone else, or giving up on your afternoon nap when your children are sleeping, you do it for one reason; Until you start taking care of yourself you really can not effectively care for anyone else.

Once you realize this you will be on your way to making some very positive changes!

Your assignment: Look back on your list of priorities that you made in chapter one and make sure that you are still working on them. If not, recommit to making this a priority! In your journal or on your calendar start to document your highs and lows and record your emotions. This will, not only help you to see and understand more about yourself and your emotions, but will also help your physician in making a correct diagnosis, should you choose to see one. Also, I highly recommend starting an exercise program. I truly believe that this is probably the key change that I made and have continued to do throughout my life that has kept me from slipping back into those major bouts of depression. Plus it keeps you young and looking great and that alone helps improve our spirits!

Thanks for reading today. I hope you are enjoying the book. Talk to you all again soon.

XO Wendy

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