Ha! Didn’t see that coming.

I was looking back on some of my posts from this year and boy oh boy, did I NOT see all of this coming in 2020.  I’m sure that we can all say that, unfortunately.

But I am an eternal optimist, and although this year started off with a bang, I am determined to make sure that the experiences that we’ve all been through this year don’t end up without a lesson learned.

So tell me what lessons have you learned this year?  Here are a few of mine (in no particular order).

  1. If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.  I believe this has been a tough one for all of us to learn.  Especially if we may not have heeded the warnings over the years from our leaders. We have been exhorted to keep several months worth of food storage.  To have a 72 hour preparedness kit on hand should the need arise.  Unfortunately the need has arisen this past year.  Not only have we needed to be physically prepared, this year has given us great cause to be spiritually prepared as places of worship have been unable to operate and social distancing has precluded us from spending time with our fellowshipping communities.  We have been counseled to be spiritually prepared in probably the most often quoted passage from President Russell M. Nelson this year.  He strongly admonished us to be ready.  He said, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”  I trust that we have all learned this great lesson to be prepared both physically and spiritually.
  2. Family and friendships should be first on the priority list, ALWAYS.  We have really learned this lesson the hard way!  Around the world we were/are all asked to social distance to keep Covid-19 from spreading.  So no more hugging, shaking hands, going to lunch and just plain hanging out with friends.  We have been limited to spending time in our homes with our immediate family members with limited resources for entertainment.  With schools and entertainment venues being closed, we have had to go back to a former time when riding bikes, doing puzzles, playing games and being bored sometimes, were the norm.  I think we have realized that all of those things have great value and importance in building and strengthening our relationships as we slowly return back to a new normal.
  3. Human life is fragile and can change in the blink of an eye.  So many of us (if not all) have been forever changed by tragedy this year.  From tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and floods,  to sickness, depression, loss of life, and loss of celebration of our most precious moments.  I think it’s safe to say that we have all been affected in some way or another. Not being able to be with someone in the hospital and them having to shoulder something horrible all by themselves, has been one of the most heart wrenching experiences to witness.  The importance of being with our loved ones in hard times and in times of great joy have new meaning now.  Leaving this Earth, coming into this world, and loving while here on this Earth have hopefully been deeply ingrained as the most important elements of our life here on Earth.  That lesson has been deep and hard in so many ways.  May we be forever grateful for all the life we have been given, and not take another single minute for granted.  It can all be taken away from us without a moment’s notice.
  4. Stillness is a practice to be appreciated.  For the Bertagnolli household, all of the craziness of life, work, school, running kids to and from activities and practices, all came to a screeching halt when the tornado hit us on March 2-3rd (in the middle of the night).  The boys’ school was destroyed.  So the focus became, where and how are the boys going to have school?  The first 2 weeks of March (approximately) that was our primary focus.  Thank goodness we did not sustain damage to our home but many, many of our friends did.  Not only did they have to worry about school, but how and where they were going to return to normal life?  And then, within days of decisions being made as to where the boys would be going to school and cleanup and repairs being made to homes and businesses, BOOM, shut down the world!  And suddenly life how we knew became very still.  Most of us are not used to being still, running around crazy all the time from one activity to the next.  And suddenly we are completely compelled to “be still”.  If ever there was a time that God spoke to us, “Be still and know that I am God”- psalms 46:10,  it has been in the year 2020.  We have had to turn our hearts to God to merely survive all of the craziness that has been thrown at us this year.   And if you haven’t learned that lesson yourself, I highly encourage you to make the time to be still, to meditate, to pray and then listen.  God knows you, He hears you, and trust me when I say you are never ever alone.  Be still and know!
  5. Good health is everything. Being a self proclaimed expert in the field of mental illness (joking), I have been reminded over and over again of how important it is to stay mentally, physically and spiritually healthy.  I am so grateful that 2019 was year of  improved mental health for me.  I think had it not been, I may have been one that succumbed to the pressures and stresses of living with mental illness create. I sincerely hope not, but you just don’t know do you?  I am torn apart to hear about friends and family that have not been able to cope with the sudden changes that have taken place.  I am heartbroken to hear of illness and loss of physical health due to the effects that this year has brought on.  I am distressed by the number of people that have walked away from God during this time when we should be seeking Him for deliverance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                .                                                                                                                                                                                                 I will be forever changed (hopefully for the better) because of the events of 2020.  And I know you will too.  How can we have a year like this and not be changed for life?  Only time will tell if these lessons will be ingrained within us.  I fear that as time goes on and life returns to somewhat normal, hatred, fear, and anger will return with a vengeance (as we have already seen politically speaking).  It is Satan’s way.  But as I said in the beginning, I am and will always be an optimist and I choose to remember and retain the good lessons that I have learned.  And I will more wholey choose hope and joy every day of the week.  I hope you will too.   Let me know in the comments what lessons you have learned this year.

XO Wendy

P.S.  Pointing toward hope is now on podcast!  Just search for Pointing toward hope on most podcasting platforms. Instagram, and Facebook.  I hope you come and follow me in pointing toward hope every day.  If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to share that will lift others in meeting life’s challenges, please contact me.  I would LOVE to reach out and have them on the show for an episode.  Choose joy!

Refresh and reframe your mindset

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At the beginning of the year 2020 we had such a positive outlook on the year ahead!  After all it was the year of “perfect vision”.  Now we are 8 months in, and as I’m sure you will all agree, it has been…. well… a year of some unmet expectations. Ok maybe a lot of unmet expectations! But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the rest of year. And neither should you. Let’s finish out this year STRONG!

So that all sounds great right? But it’s not so easy to do. Especially in our ever changing world filled with uncertainty and fear for what the third quarter of 2020 might bring. I mean I have started and stopped my goal of recreating my relationship with food (hello Covid-19), every time I read something else in the media that produces anxiety.  Maybe it’s time to step away from social media for a while (that’s why I’ve been missing in action for a hot minute, lol).

I’m not suggesting giving it up completely (thats just crazy talk), I mean we have to stay informed. Just choose wisely what you choose to fill your brain with.

Here are a five ways other than going easy on social media, that I have found to deal with the anxiety and hopelessness of the future. And to reframe thinking in a positive and productive way.

  1. Brain Dump Sometimes feelings and emotions can really become too much to bear. A practice that I have found helpful is to get out a journal (you know how I love journals!) and just “dump” all of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and scenarios that you are creating in your mind on to a blank page. You don’t even have to keep it if you don’t want to. I find that just releasing all of that emotion from your head and your heart is truly cathartic. It can be a form of therapy to just let your heart and soul out in words. Words that you’ve been tossing around and around inside your brain, creating all kinds of awful scenarios. Just get it out so you can let your brain rest.
  2. Breathe There are moments when I’m working on something whether it be at work or at home even hanging out at soccer game (yes we just started back up again, yay!), when I notice that I have been holding my breath.  It’s really a common practice to tense up when we are deeply engrossed in something. You may even be doing it at this very moment.  So stop right now and do it with me.  Close your eyes and take a big inhale through your nose (really fill up your lungs).  Now let it out slowly through your mouth.  Now do that 2 more times as you let your body just relax.  Hopefully that will help you feel a little less anxious.  Just breathe.
  3. Kill the ants automatic negative thoughts (thank youJim Kwik). Negative thoughts rob us of joy and kill our hope and steal our happiness. We’ve all heard the quote by Henry Ford,  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  Our thoughts are so powerful!  As Jillian Michaels from biggest loser always says, “If you fight for your limiting beliefs you get to keep them. ”  Don’t get caught in the trap of telling yourself that you are not (smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, motivated enough, old enough, young enough etc).  What you tell yourself you are, is what you will become.  Practice self love on a daily basis by being kind to yourself.  Don’t let the “ants” keep you from thriving
  4. Drink yo’ water!!!! I know this might seem like a crazy thing to add in this post. And I will harp on this forever (see more here). There are so many benefits to getting your water in daily (at least half of your body weight in ounces).  And so many negatives to not drinking water.  Being properly hydrated is so important.  Here are just a few benefits:  Weight loss and good skin elasticity.  Muscle efficiency, mood balancer (yes!), temperature control, memory function, and joint lubrication.  It flushes out the toxins that build up in our bodies creating good bowel function.  It aids digestion and creates better immune health.  When we become dehydrated it can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakened muscles and lack of motivation.  Do yourself a favor and fill up your cup!
  5. Get out of your space Sometimes we get so caught up doing things in our own little world that we forget how much of a breath of fresh air it is to get out and see others.  Being with people who love us and support us and laugh with us, might be the most useful and important activity we can do for us and for them!  I can’t wait to be able to hug big again!  Granted this has been especially hard during 2020 with Corona.  But it is not going to last forever and for the time being, we can still get out and walk our neighborhood and wave at others as they drive by, or talk and laugh 6 feet apart.  And sometimes playing games and visiting with your own family in your own home can be such a ray of sunshine. 
  1. I hope that these ideas will help you to find some ways to destress and decompress and refresh and reframe your mindset with everything that is going on in our world.  If you are struggling, please know that you are NEVER alone! 

Isaiah 52:12  For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.

The Lord is always by your side with His angels to assist you.  I know this because he has been there for me over and over again.  Love to you all, have a wonderful weekend.

XO Wendy

P.S.   Big News!  Something fun coming soon!!!

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Stronger than you think.

The past couple of months have been super challenging.  I know that I am not the only one that feels this way.  It’s ironic because back in February before all the craziness started, I felt better physically, mentally and emotionally than I had in a very long time.  Stronger.  More equipped to fight off the adversary.  More confident, after struggling for so long to regain what I felt being diagnosed Bipolar, had taken away from me.  Courage to face the challenges that would come my way.  Little did I know what myself and others would be facing over the next several months.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you, doesn’t it?  I don’t know if there is anything that could have prepared us for what we have all been through over the past several months.   And on top of the many circumstances that each of has faced together, many have had to face the normal day to day challenges and inevitable trials that unexpectedly come our way in our so-called “normal” pre-Covid life.

So as I have been struggling, I have been searching for ways to pull myself out of the funk that I have been in.  And wouldn’t you know it, God always comes through with something that I need.  It didn’t just happen.  I have been praying for days to feel better and re-gain that strength and faith and courage that I had just a few short months ago.  As I have mentioned many, many times, we can’t just wait for it, we have to look for it and ask for it.

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Today, I just wanted to share a little bit of what I have been thinking and pondering over and what I feel like God has been guiding me towards this past month.

You may have noticed that after my last post, I’ve been pretty scarce with social media.  I feel like I have had to shield my spirit away from so much of the negativity that has been going on, just as I would to my children.  Maybe I am different than most mothers, but looking back I don’t think that I would have allowed my children to see a lot of what is blasted over social media.

I was pretty careful about what I allowed my kids to see and be a part of when they were little.  Though the internet wasn’t as prevalent as it is today, the T. V. was a big influence.  So I instituted what we called “No T.V. week” once a month.  We used that time to read books, spend time together as a family, to go outside and enjoy nature and to find other sources of entertainment.

We also had many shows that were off limits, that the kids were not allowed to view.  I just didn’t appreciate the influence and ideas of disrespect, negativity, and irresponsibility, etc. that some of those shows portrayed.  And I think it has only gotten worse as the years have gone on (especially with all the venues that are available today for viewing).

The point that I am getting to is that maybe…. maybe we need to treat ourselves and our spirits exactly how we would our children.  We are given stewardship over our children.  They are not ours.  They are His, just as we are His.

And just as tenderly as we treat and love our children, is how we should treat and love ourselves.  We need to give ourselves the grace that God gives us and that we give our children.  Even if that means taking the internet away from ourselves for a week ;).

How awful would it be if the first time our child tried to walk, we chastised them when they fell and discouraged from trying again?  But we don’t do that.. we encourage them over and over and over again until they can do it on their own.  And then we continue to do that with everything that they come across throughout their lives, even as they grow older and have their own children.  We never stop loving and encouraging and allowing them to grow and become better than they were before.

We only have this one body…. it is a gift from the Father.  Ours to take care of, to have “stewardship” over.  And even though our bodies come to us with many different challenges, our spirits that are housed by those bodies are precious and so loved by the Father.

I remember many times, rushing to my child’s side as they fell down. Tenderly lifting them onto a counter, kissing “ouchies”  better and gently placing bandaids on the scrapes and bruises.  Giving them a hug and holding them as long as they needed until they felt strong enough to get back to what they were doing when they fell.  And most often, with that boost of love and care, they were able to try again pretty quickly without even a negative thought.

Maybe I’m not so alone in the fact that I don’t treat myself the way I would my child, my family members, or my friends.  I don’t give myself grace when I make mistakes.  I have a hard time picking myself up when I fall.  Instead of wiping away the tears as I would my child when they fall and scrape their knees, and encouraging them to get back up.  I tend to chastise and beat myself up for falling in the first place. That is not what the Lord would want for us.  There is only one place that negativity, self doubt, fear, and discouragement come from and that is from the adversary!

So as I move forward (and I hope you’ll join me) through this unchartered territory that we are all exposed to at this time, I am going to do my best to remember that this body is given to me to house my beautiful, tender, and loving spirit.  I am going to show up for myself just as I do for my children and friends and family. I am going to wrap myself in a big giant hug and tell myself that everything is going to be ok.  Because it will be.

I am going to let God cradle me in His grace when I fall.  I’m going to get back up and try again when I make mistakes or fail.  Because one thing is for sure, we can not move forward when we are always looking back.  We can not look ahead when we are always looking back.  We can not become better when we are always telling ourselves how bad we are.

Falling is not the problem.  Making the choice to get back up when we fall is where the real victory begins!

XO Wendy

 

An Ordinary Box? Or Something More?

Imagine for a moment, a medium sized moving box, (maybe one that you could put a couple loads of old clothes in).  Dingy, old and worn, smelling musty from being stored for a long period of time.  Maybe even a little water damage can be seen in the ripples of the beat up box.  Dust has begun to collect from the years of being untouched.  An ordinary storage box by outward appearances.

Ok.  Do you have that mental picture in mind?

Now let’s take this imaginary box to a new level.  Though ordinary, there is something different about it.  This box can not be seen by the naked eye.  Beat down, worn out, and barely noticed anymore.  But….YOU CAN see it clearly now.  And It is time to open this box and discover what is inside. For some reason, you are a little afraid of what you might find, but you decide to open it anyway.

To your astonishment, as you open the box, familiar things begin to suddenly appear in your minds eye.  There are loads and loads of memories inside.  Good ones, bad ones, happy and sad, success and failure, adventure, and despair.  But wait.  Some of these memories you recognize, and some you have never felt or seen before.  How can that be?  It is YOUR box, right?

Then you realize deep in your soul that these are ALL of your memories!   A Lifetime’s worth!  All of your emotions, your hopes and dreams, your adventures, your experiences!  Even those you haven’t had or seen before. All of them trapped deep inside this box never to be found.  And then it hits you!

It comes to you with great force, like a huge punch in the gut. You feel sick to your stomach as you realize that this  box was created FOR YOU!  Not only that, it was built BY YOU!

You suddenly realize that there is one emotion that is not trapped or missing.  It is the very same one that kept you from opening it to start with.  The very one that you are feeling right now.  It’s Fear!  Fear of what might have been inside.  Fear of what might have happened if you opened it.  Fear of the unknown.  Plain and simple, the emotion is  Fear.  And you realize that you have been filled with fear for a very long time.

Ok, snap out of it.  Back to real life?  How do you feel?

No worries.  The great thing about imagination is that it is just that, imagination!  And that means that you can change the way this story ends!

And you know what?  It is time!  It is past time for you to take control of your fear.  Kick it to curb.  Release all of those past experiences and failures that have made you afraid to experience your life. Afraid to try new things, to take risks, to become more than you are and learn something new.

Because no one wants to look back at their life as they take their last and final breath and see that there was so much more that could have been.  If only they would have opened the box!

Break free!  Your life is waiting for you!

XO, Wendy

What prompted this post:  I realized that since I was diagnosed with Bipolar 5 years ago, I have been so afraid of what might happen.  It took several years to get meds right and get my physical, mental, and spiritual balance back.

But since then I have been somewhat paralyzed by the worry that it will happen again (meaning I would end up in the psychiatric ward again).  So what if it does?  It wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I mean, I do NOT want that to happen for sure!  However I  have survived.  I’ve been surviving it most of my life (with the help of my Savior and redeemer carrying me every step of the way).

But the difference now, is that I am so much stronger.  Because I know.  I know what I am dealing with.  I know what triggers me.  I know what precautions I need to take.  There is absolutely no reason to remain stuck in this place.  It is way past time to see what is on the other side of fear!

And if you have similar feelings of being stuck and unable to progress or move forward.  Maybe it is time to take a good look at what is holding YOU back.  I’d be willing to place a bet that it is the box of fear that you have been hiding in.

I know it’s not easy to break free from.  Believe me I have been trying for nearly 40 years.  Do not let this be your story.  There is ALWAYS hope!

P.S.  If you have not yet heard of it, check out the book Limitless by Jim Kwik.  I haven’t finished it yet but it has made me realize that  my brain is not broken.  Just untrained, underused and misunderstood.  A work in progress, but truly limitless!

 

Quality “Quarantine” time

Being stuck in your house is not really fun for anyone.  The recent self isolation or stay at home orders have really wreaked havoc on our routines and daily living.  If we aren’t practicing intentional self care, our mental health can deteriorate rapidly.  It’s only been around a month for most of the country, but seems more like a year, lol!

So here are some practices that you can implement that might help alleviate feelings of depression, isolation, and mindlessness.

  1. Stay in a routine.  So your specific routine has changed drastically over the last month or two but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have A routine.  Start by getting out of bed at a specific time each day.  While working at home is great and being home with kids more, it does tend to allow you to sleep a few extra winks.  And while that may sound like a good idea in the groggy early morning hours, it will ultimately lead to being more tired throughout the day.  Setting a specific time to rise and shine is always a good practice and specifically in times like these!  So up and at ’em with a smile.  Ready to face your day!
  2. Make your bed!  It’s been said that making your bed daily is one of the best practices that you can get into and will start your day out right. Just ask U.S. Naval Officer William McCraven.  This is such a good watch that is well worth your time.  And will get you super motivated, not just to make your bed, but to make your life!

3.  Get out of your pajamas and leggings, take a shower and get dressed!  Sitting around in your pajamas or leggings all day just makes you feel lazy.  This time spent in isolation or “quarantine” can be a time that you can be super productive or it can be a time that you choose to make a temporary vacation.  And while vacations can be a lot of fun and very relaxing, it’s always good to come home!  So as you establish your routine, make sure that it includes getting out of those p.j.’s and into something suitable for your day.  Treat it as if you were not in isolation.  Dress in nice clothes as if you were going to see people other than your family during the day.  Put your make up on, fix your hair and definitely brush your teeth! Oh and wash your hands…again ;)!

4. Get Moving.  Moving your body will not only produce the feel good endorphins that help your brain, but will also help you to stay healthy physically during this down time.  When we are stuck in one place for long periods of time it can cause mental deterioration if we aren’t intentional with our health.  We can also find ourselves in periods of boredom which can cause overeating and overindulgence in other areas such as Netflix binging. I’m always up for a good episode of Grey’s anatomy.  But don’t get in the habit of making a day out of it.

5. Find and learn a new hobby or read that book that you’ve been too busy to find the time for.  Taking up something new, reading a book or learning something new is good for brain health and growth and can also help decrease the chances of Alzheimer’s  disease, believe it or not.  Here is a great presentation by Noelle Pikus-Pace that gives us some ideas of what we can do and how to make learning something new fun and rewarding.  This is also a fun watch and very motivating in getting you excited to do something you’ve never done before.

6. Take up meditation or yoga.  Learning how to stay grounded can be so significant in surviving this “Stay home, Stay safe” order.  One of the most important aspects of learning how to meditate or participate in yoga is to stick with it.  It may be difficult at first to feel like you are getting anything out of it.  But the more that you can make a practice out of it, the better at it you will become.  It will quiet your mind and bring your anxiety and stress to a controllable level. And you can do it almost anywhere.  So when we do get back to our stressful, busy lives, it will be a tool we can use effectively.

Let’s face this head on and make the most out of the time that we have on our hands now. It’s not going to last forever.  It will come to an end. And when it does, let’s be ready to jump back into our lives, healthy, happy and hopefully not (Covid) 19 pounds heavier!

Have a wonderful weekend all.  Keep your distance, stay at home, and stay healthy!

XO Wendy