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I know I’ve been quiet for a few weeks [ahem, months]. I have a lot of reasons, but I’m not sure if any of them amount to anything life-changing. I definitely feel stuckĀ right now. I have everything and nothing to share.

photo credit: Georges Fontaine

photo credit: Georges Fontaine

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Running at My Fear (pt. 2)

Alana —  May 1, 2012 — 6 Comments

Well, I’m quickly realizing it was no coincidence that I chose 2012 to be The Year of Facing my Fears. This has been a very real struggle for me and I am finally realizing many of the things I have missed out on because of my refusal to face these fears.

In Chapter 6 of the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat the author John Ortberg shares the six things we lose out on if we do not face our fears. Among these are: Loss of Self-Esteem, Loss of Destiny, Loss of Joy, Loss of Authentic Intimacy, and Loss of Availability to God.

In the past four years I have watched my Self-Esteem TANK. Despite the encouragement I receive from others on how wonderful I am (and I truly am wonderful ;)) it does not seem to penetrate. Ortberg addresses this exact issue. Below are excerpts from chapter 6:

“Why are there so many people lacking self-esteem who have many reasons to have high self-esteem? They accomplish many things – they are gifted, attractive and well-liked – yet struggle with self-esteem. Even people who have accomplished a great deal and are apparently successful are often prone to feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. Not only that, the many people who receive much affirmation and admiration from significant others tend to disbelieve it and wrestle with self-esteem all the same.

All research suggests that self-esteem largely boils down to one issue. When you face a difficult situation, do you approach it, take action, and face it head on, or do you avoid it, wimp out, and run and hide?

If you take action, you get a surge of delight, even if things do not turn out perfectly. I did a hard thing, I took on a challenge. You grow. When you avoid facing up to a threatening situation, even if things end up turning out all right, inside you say, But the truth is, I wimped out. I didn’t do the hard thing. I took the easy way out.

Avoidance kills an inner sense of confidence and esteem…
But there is something about embracing a challenge that is very important for inner well-being… When you are in a situation that creates fear, but you face it head-on, you will feel a rush of satisfaction in knowing you displayed courage.

Why don’t you conduct your own experiment of trust this week?
Sometime when you are tempted to avoid, hold your ground and press forward instead: Stand up to a bully who is mistreating others (or you) at work. Wade feet first into a task that you have been putting off because you have feared it would be difficult or unpleasant. Express your true opinion when you are talking to a person you would normally try to placate or impress.

When you do this, you will get a little stronger inside. But when you wimp out by refusing to take the difficult step or saying the hard word – you die a little inside. And if that becomes a pattern, over time you come to see yourself as someone who cannot cope with life’s greatest challenges. Where there ought to be an inner core of strength and resolve, you will experience fear and anxiety instead. You will learn to live in fear and avoidance.”

Ouch! This is absolutely what was happened to me over the past four years. Because I have chosen to run, hide and avoid certain fears, it has slowly eaten away at my confidence. I mentioned last week in Running at My Fear that I have a relationship that I have been avoiding because I’ve been too scared to face it. Well, this week I will be facing this fear. What you can’t see, is that I’m about to crap my pants right now. Ha! BUT, I’m SO TIRED of what I’ve missed out on because of it. I am no longer willing to give my confidence and energy away to this.

I know I keep harping on this “fear” topic, but I know I’m not the only one missing out by… avoiding. You already know what you have been running from. If you don’t, ask yourself right now, “What one thing am I avoiding because of fear?” The answer will come to you; if not today, it will soon. When it does, what will you do?

Simple Ways to Nurture Your Soul

Alana —  February 7, 2012 — 6 Comments

Nina Nelson with family

I met Nina through I immediately connected with her holistic approach on life. Nina recently released her e-Book titled Simple Natural Health and I am honored to have her share a few thoughts on what she has learned here!

When someone says health, the first thing that usually comes to mind is diet or exercise. But there’s so much more to wellness than food and activity. Nourishing your soul is just as vital to your well-being as taking care of your body.

Since realizing (and acting upon) this idea, I’ve enjoyed so many benefits: I feel strong. I’ve lost weight. My relationships are richer. And I’m pursuing a purpose that seemed so unclear until now.

Eating and staying active are still very important, but I’ve learned to pay attention to these areas as well:

When we sleep, our bodies repair themselves. So when we cheat ourselves on sleep, we’re really preventing our bodies from doing some important healing.

Rest during the day is important, too. Have you ever tried to keep pushing yourself to meet a deadline only to find that the harder your push, the harder it was to finish. Our bodies work in a natural rhythm, so try to remember that during the day. Take a brief break every ninety minutes or so.

Sometimes we just need to be alone. For introverts, like myself, this is especially true. It’s good to take a little time each day to just regroup and breathe. Take a walk, a hike, sit in the sunshine. Or, steal away to a room with a locked door or the bath to enjoy some solitude.

This goes right along with the solitude. For me, this entails going somewhere by myself, reading a bit of my Bible and just talking to God and listening. I need this. And when I can’t steal away I try to pray throughout the day. I give thanks, ask questions, surrender troubles and just try to stay connected.

A rich life is one full of meaningful relationships. Marriage. Extended family. Friends. All of these connections are vital for your well-being. Nurture the relationships you have and build meaningful new ones.

I think creativity is super important. No, it’s vital to our well-being. When I create, I feel better. It makes me more creative. It helps me to stay grounded. There’s just something about putting something beautiful out into the world, whether it’s a drawing, a beautifully presented meal or poetry.

I used to struggle with depression, feeling meaningless and unfulfilled. I knew that I was made for something special; I just wasn’t doing it. Seeking out my purpose has brought about the greatest change in my life. I’m much more aware of myself – my talents, strengths, passions – and how I can positively impact this world.

Creating a life that you love – one that makes you come alive and blesses others – can’t be done if you don’t take care of yourself. Take some time right now and figure out what habits you need to incorporate to begin nourishing your entire being.

What aspects are you ignoring that need more attention? What habits have you created that nourish your soul?

Nina Nelson is a wellness advocate, mama to four and wife to one. She writes regularly at Shalom Mama, inspiring others to live intentionally. She loves reading, snuggling and giggling at miniature horses. She just released her new book, Simple Natural Health, a resource that simplifies intentional wellness.

But… He Said I Was Pretty

Alana —  February 6, 2012 — 18 Comments

Have you ever had a scent, a song, a taste or a location bring memories flooding back to you from your past?

I have, and it happened again this weekend. I went to Lansing on Saturday to spend time with friends and family. Lansing is about an hour south-east from where I live now in Grand Rapids… Lansing is also the city I grew up in. As you can imagine I have many memories from this town.

I came alone this time, so the commute and downtime in between meeting up with people allowed for me to contemplate. I drove past a couple of the locations I use to work – McDonald’s and what use to be, Circuit City. I really enjoyed both of those jobs, but they also brought with them memories of me at 16, 19 and 22. First a girl, then a young woman, greatly desiring to be loved and told that I was beautiful and worth fighting for.

A specific memory came to mind of a coworker I hung out with. We hung out at his apartment. He didn’t live in the greatest area. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good either. When it was time for me to go, he walked me to the front door of his apartment, but stopped there. I stopped too. “Aren’t you going to walk me to my car?” He laughed and said, “No. It’s cold outside.” I was stunned, but not feeling confident, I didn’t call him out on it. I just turned and walked briskly to my car.

As I re-experienced this memory, my heart sank for this girl who was looking for protection and not receiving it. That experience reinforced a message that had already been festering within her, “If you were worth anything to him, he would have walked you to your car.”

Growing up, and sometimes even now, I find myself engaging in relationships that are unhealthy and abusive. Sometimes I have chosen to stick around because the thought of being alone seemed more scary than the abuse.

What abusive or unhealthy relationships are you choosing to continue simply because you are afraid to be alone, to lose a friend or to have conflict? Maybe its time to step away from this relationship. You are worth fighting for.

Beware. Crazymakers Ahead.

Alana —  November 3, 2011 — 15 Comments

A Crazymaker makes me feel like this.

Crazymakers. Before I even define it, you probably know what this means. Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers. They can be charismatic, charming, highly inventive and powerfully persuasive. A Crazymaker can take over your whole life. If you are a fixer-upper, you find a Crazymaker’s draw irresistible: so much to change, so many distractions.

Crazymakers love drama. They also love being the star. Everyone surrounding them ends up functioning as the supporting cast, taking orders at the whim of this shining star. They expect special treatment and discount your own reality. In their world, nothing is their fault.

Below are some conversations you may have with a Crazymaker:

Crazymaker: I’m at the airport and need you to pick me up.
You: I can’t. It’s the middle of the workday and I am working.
Crazymaker: Puhleeeease? I didn’t bring any taxi money! You don’t want me to sit here in the airport alone all day, do you?
You: Fine. I’ll come get you.

You: Hello?
Crayzmaker: Hey, can I borrow your camping gear? I’m leaving for a camping trip tomorrow morning and I don’t have a tent or sleeping bag. (It’s 11:00 P.M.)
You: And you’re telling me now? I’d have to dig the gear out of the shed…
Crazymaker: Sweet! I’ll be over in 5 minutes to pick them up. But I only have 5 minutes. My favorite Happy Days re-run is about to come on and I am not going to miss it. Have it ready when I get there… ::click::

Okay, by now you probably have a few specific people in mind. I know I do. I also can admit I’ve been a Crazymaker myself. I’ve been this way to one of my coworkers, to my dad, my sister and even to my own husband.

Now that you have identified the Crazymakers in your life, here is what you can do about it:

If you are dealing with a Crazymaker: STOP. First you must admit this fact. Admit that you are being used. They are a block between where you are now and the life you want to live. Set up boundaries for yourself. It is okay to tell someone “no.” They may kick and scream and pout, but you need to be true to yourself.

If you are the Crazymaker: STOP. Realize how you are showing up in other peoples’ lives. Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on their part. Be aware of your behavior and requests. If you put a little more effort into your own life, you may be surprised by how willing others are to help.

This topic and most of this information was pulled from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.)