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

Be grateful for today.

Be thankful for how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned along the way.  We only have one life!  

Don’t waste it away worrying about what you haven’t yet been able to do.  Make today great and full of gratitude and everything else will take care of itself.

5 Things not to say to a person with bipolar disorder

Some of you have requested that I post more about my experiences with living with bipolar disorder.  So I figured this year I would try to write about it at least once a week (maybe more depending on the week).

I will say that it is much easier to write and talk about these things when I feel healthy and that the disorder is in control.  The sad part is that just because I’m healthy now, doesn’t mean that I don’t have it or that it will magically go away.  I like to think of it as it’s “in remission”.  Hopefully it stays way but just like cancer, I need regular checkups with my Dr. And for me personally, making sure I take my medication and always strive to keep up the 10 habits.

There can also be many side effects that never go away.   And it doesn’t mean that things that people say (well-meaning) don’t affect me in a negative way.

So today I thought I’d give you an idea of what NOT to say to someone who has bipolar disorder.

1. You seem so normal. This is probably the one that I hear the most and it’s frustrating because just because I look or seem normal doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling.  Plus, you never know if someone is between cycles of mania or depression.  And some people are just really good at hiding it or wearing a mask.  Think about how this would feel if you said it to someone with cancer!  It is a lack of empathy in my honest opinion.  A better way to approach this would be to say.  “You seem like you’re feeling good at the moment, what can I do to support you?”  Just showing you care and recognize it as a disorder, will go a long way.

2. I saw so and so the other day and she was acting so crazy, I think she’s bipolar! First of all, we are NOT the disorder, we HAVE the disorder. Second, making assumptions that someone has a disorder just because of their actions is rude and disrespectful.

Remember how I talked about your manner of language yesterday?  When you say it like that, it makes us feel like if you think that about them then you must think we are totally bonkers!  It’s a generalization that doesn’t help the situation.  And most often just makes us feel worse.  A better way would be to say, “I saw so and so the other day, she looked like she was really struggling, it’s possible she could be suffering with a mental illness.  Is there anything that you would suggest that might help?” Be genuine.

3.  Come on let’s go shopping, you just need to get out. It’s not that easy to just snap out of it.  This is a real honest struggle for those who suffer, and just getting out doesn’t make it go away automatically.  Most often it feels physically impossible to do the easiest of tasks. However, I will say that continued support is extremely helpful.  Check in often ask sincerely how they are feeling that day and if they might like to get out?  And then be supportive and understanding if they decline.  Again a little bit of empathy can go a long way.  Genuinely care about the person and do not make it seem like what we are going through is fake or brought on by something we are doing or not doing.  Don’t give up on us.

4. You are acting crazy, phsycho, deranged, out of control, bonkers, or any other negative terms used to describe someone who is probably really struggling to stay in control.  Again, just be careful of generalizations and assumptions.  Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

A better way to handle this situation would be to gently say, “I feel like you are not quite your usual self today.  Is there anything I can do to help?”  Be prepared for a person to become defensive.  And if that happens, it’s best to just give them time to process your observation.  The last thing they want to have happen is to have the disorder sneak up on them.  Pointing out an observation and then giving them time to adjust and process would be a good way to handle it.  And again, lots and lots of support.  Don’t just walk away and never come back to it. Give it time and then try to sort it out when they are ready.

* A note to the person who has bipolar: Personally, when this has happened to me, I find it therapeutic to document how that made me feel in a journal, just let it all come spilling out on paper.  It saves me from saying something that I will probably regret.

5.  And finally… You’re just making all of this up to get attention. While it may seem illogical to you, it usually makes perfect sense to the person with bipolar.  Bipolar is a disorder of the brain, so it makes sense that sometimes certain behaviors or statements may seem irrational.  When observing behavior that doesn’t seem normal, brushing it off with blanket statements like this is NOT helping. Give the person validation by saying something like,  “I understand that what you are seeing/saying/doing is very important to you, what can I do to help you with this?”  Again you may encounter some defensiveness, but be gentle.  Yelling and trying to make your point is actually just a way of escalating the symptoms they may be experiencing.

I hope that helped a little and made you think about your words and the way that you support someone who is struggling with bipolar.  It’s very difficult for a loved one to see someone they love struggling and not acting like themselves.  Give each other grace and be gentle.  And encourage them in the kindest way, to get the help they need.  They need your support more than ever when times are tough.  Checking in regularly and genuinely is a great way to help someone who has bipolar disorder.  And above all, never, never give up on them!

XO Wendy

What does it mean to “Be Still”?

Be StillI have found a pattern for me in writing, posting on FB or instagram, or other forms of social media.  I get really motivated and I go full steam for a while and then I fizzle out.  I really don’t mean to ghost you.  It’s just that a lot of times, life just has a way of getting in the way of some of these things.  We have moved twice in the last 6 weeks, once from our home into a hotel (all of our belongings in a storage unit) , and then again from the storage unit into our new home.  And the moves were 2 Saturdays in a row!  It was crazy.

Then, the very next Saturday we got on a plane and flew to Utah for my son’s wedding for a week (my last child to marry).  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and I got to see so many of my old friends and family!  Being in the Salt Lake City temple with all four of my children and their spouses was an experience I won’t soon forget.  The tears were flowing before the ceremony even started!  For those of you who may not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of the things that we believe is that families can be together forever through temple ordinances that are performed there.  We also believe that this blessing extends to those who have passed before us.  And so we do what we call “proxy” work for the dead so that they can have the promised blessings if they so choose.  For more information about temples and what we believe you can click here.

Now we are back in Tennessee and settling into our home (but still trying to unload the storage unit, haha).  And then in about another week, we will be moving my husbands office space to a new building. Phew!  It has been a crazy summer!

Amidst all of this craziness it has become apparent to me how important it is for us to learn how to “be still”.  What do I mean when I say that?  Well, it’s more than just sitting quietly cause we all know that rarely happens (although it’s great if you can), or praying, or reading scriptures.  While all of those are good means of being still, do you think that there is more to it than that? One of the reasons that I attend the temple as much as I can, is that it is so peaceful inside.  As soon as you walk in those doors, the whole world just melts away.  It is quiet, everyone is equal, there to serve and to love.  There are no sounds from traffic or other outdoor noises.  Just a peace and a reverence that can’t be found elsewhere.  However, I’m not gonna lie, it’s been REALLY HARD this past few months to maintain my regular attendance with everything that is happening.  (Which I am positive Satan is getting ready to put a little tic on his side of the board, lol.) However, as I contemplated what I would write about, I kept just coming back to “be still”.

So again, what does it mean to “be still”?  In the Bible in Psalm 46:10 we read Be still, and know that I am God..

and in Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, aPeace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great bcalm.

When I ponder on those scriptures, I feel that being still is more than just the action of quieting our mind.  It also requires an action of believing that God will enlighten our minds as we do so. Faith to know that He wants us to be still so that we can be given revelation for the direction He wants us to take.  To grow and progress in ways that we can not do on our own.

Twice in the Doctrine and Covenants it mentions the words “stand still”.  first in section 5:34 Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and astand still until I command thee, and I will bprovide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee.

and then again in Section 123:17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us acheerfully bdo all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the csalvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

In the dictionary, one of the definitions of “stand” is to face or encounter.  And the definition of “be” is to take place, to happen or occur.  And then the word “still” in the dictionary, silence, or at this time. If we put those words together, I think that maybe God is telling us if we can BE (something is about to happen), STILL (silent), STAND (Face me, pray, ask!), He has something important to give us, tell us, or show us.  An encounter or something special to take place.   I am in awe of the greatness that those scriptures offer to us.  “Stand still, with the utmost assurance”.  “Be still and KNOW that I am God.”  There is so much that He wants to tell us that He wants to share with us that He wants to show us!  But it’s not just the act of silence or being quiet, it requires us to be willing to face or encounter what it is He is trying to share with us. And then… the most important part….believe Him!  And if your answer involves action on your part (most often it does) then you get up go and DO! Even if that answer is a calm peaceful feeling.  Go and let that resonate with you, don’t just brush it off.

I had an experience a few months back when I was stressing out about everything that was happening in my life and I was having a particularly bad day with my illness.  I was angry, frustrated, felt like it was unfair that I had to deal with this every day.  See that’s the thing with mental illness, chronic illnesses, mental health issues, diabetes and so many other illnesses.  You never just wake up and it’s all gone.  It is with you every ding dong day!  I was SO ANGRY and I knelt down and I was kind of shaking my fists at the Lord saying why? WHY do I have to deal with this every day of my life? Why did you do this to me?  And within seconds of my tantrum, I had one of the most incredible experiences.  It’s like the curtain opened for a minute and I got to see all the miracles that have taken place since my diagnosis.  All the answers to prayers, all the changes in direction (that have been so positive for us) all the experiences that have happened since then.  It was like He was saying:  “Oh my daughter, look at all the good that has come through this illness, look at all the ways that you are better, look at all the ways that you have helped others.  STAND and LOOK (FACE).  I have not forsaken you.  BE STILL!”

And then of course the reprimand, “now get up, wipe those tears and do what you need to do!

I picture a child throwing a temper tantrum and the parent becoming frustrated and just getting down to the child’s level, grabbing that child by the face saying, Look at me! Listen to me! I’m going to tell you one more time! Now, go and do what I have asked you to do (of course in the most gentle of ways ;)).

What a beautiful opportunity we have at any time of day or night, in any situation, with all that the world throws at us.  We can “be still” or “stand still” (face Him, talk to Him, be open and ready to what His plan is)  and we will receive the strength to move forward, to be stronger, to be as He would have us be.  I say it all the time, His plan for our life is a MUCH BETTER PLAN than the one that we think is going to be great!  But we have to be willing to be ready for the encounter, be silent so we can hear it and face Him.  He has all the answers.  Trust Him!  Be still, and Know…

XO Wendy