DAY 24: GRATITUDE COUNTDOWN…

SAD GIRL IN LEAVES - thanksgiving colors (CROPPED)

Can I be really thankful…THIS year?

Just three days til Thanksgiving!

For some that’s happy news, while for others this Thanksgiving falls right in the middle of a challenging season.

  • Maybe you recently lost your job, experienced a painful break-up, or are battling serious health issues?
  • Or maybe you’re knee-deep in a season of disappointment that doesn’t fit neatly into polite Thanksgiving conversation?

If that’s how you feel this year, take heart – you’re not the only one.

In fact, I’m kind of in that boat myself…

Don’t worry, there’s no huge catastrophe going on in my life. Yet for a combo of reasons I’m just not feeling all that yippy-skippy about the holidays. Sometimes life just deals us challenging cards to play that don’t always fit neatly into our cheery “holiday calendar.” In those seasons, a day of mandatory gratitude can seem like like trying to lift a thousand pound weight up the side of a mountain.

Yet this year I’m starting to wonder…

Maybe starting our gratitude inventory EARLY could help us find some hidden treasures in the midst of our holiday blues?

I figure it’s worth a try. And I’m game if you are.

Here’s today’s gratitude countdown question…

What about your current situation is actually EASIER than your normal circumstances? 

EXAMPLE: Not near family this year  

WHAT’S EASIER: Don’t have to cook enough for an army – who knows, maybe you’ll go out?  

And what will you actually MISS when this season is over? 

EXAMPLE: Lost job / Out of work

WHAT YOU’LL MISS:  Don’t have to ask for time off for the holidays – and no grumpy boss on Monday!

(Okay, now it’s your turn…)

I look forward to hearing your answers…AND pondering mine!

KEEP CALM & GIVE THANKS (orange)

November 24, 2014 at 11:16 AM Leave a comment

DAY 23: WHAT TO SAY WHEN A LOVED ONE IS DEPRESSED – part 2

SPEAK LIFE - woman and man

“The tongue can bring death or life…” Proverbs 18:21

This is the second of two guests posts from my friend Dr. Michelle Bengtson, a neuropsychologist who writes extensively on the subject of depression. If you missed it, check out yesterday’s post called “What NOT to Say When a Loved One is Depressed.”

Scripture tells us that the words we speak can produce life or death. As a practicing psychologist, I find this to be true with respect to mental illness as well.

The words we speak over our loved ones can built them up or tear them down. Just because we haven’t experienced the same suffering, doesn’t mean that their suffering isn’t real. Yet what we say may communicate just that.

In my practice, I often hear people saying things to or about depressed loved ones that only serves to knock them down further. Often I don’t believe that is the intent, but comments are made because they don’t know better. Even the Bible says “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

If you aren’t sure what is inappropriate to say to a depressed loved one, read my post entitled “What Not to Say When a Loved One is Depressed.”

People who suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses often struggle with self-esteem, guilt, and shame. What they long for is to know that regardless of their suffering, they are loved, accepted, and not alone.

As you wonder what to say to help a depressed loved one, let scripture be your guide: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

The Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue

Here are a few things TO say to someone struggling with depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness:

-I love you. You may have said this 1000 times before, but to the depressed individual, there is no better time to hear such words than when they are struggling to love themselves and wonder if others will give up on them and stop loving them too.

-I’m here for you. This sounds like such a little thing, but to the depressed individual who feels alone in their pain, this can be amazingly comforting.

-You are important to me. It’s vital to the depressed person to know that they are still acceptable, accepted, and loved.

-I’m sorry that you are going through such a painful time. It is frequently communicated to the person with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness that they should be able to just get over it. But expressing your sorrow for their pain communicates that you really do care, even if you don’t fully understand.

-Is there something I can do for you? This communicates your willingness to help. Sometimes a depressed loved one won’t be able to think of anything specific you can do to help, but just your offer will lend comfort and encouragement. On the other hand, often the little things weigh heavy on the depressed person’s mind. Your offer to help may really lighten their load. But as an aside, don’t offer if you don’t intend to see it through. That would make things much worse.

-Depression doesn’t mean you are losing your mind. When you suffer from depression, you can be more susceptible to believing that something is “wrong with you” and that you are the only one who suffers. Depression often has chemical roots just like a thyroid disorder. Having depression makes someone no more crazy than does having hypothyroidism or diabetes.

-You may not believe this now, but you won’t always feel this way. This might seem obvious to the nondepressed loved one, but to the depressed individual, they often need reminding that there is hope. The Bible tells us that “joy comes in the morning” and that’s a reminder that the depressed need to hear.

-What do you think might help you feel better? Asking this question helps reorient the depressed individual to think about those things that help them feel better rather than focusing on the negative.

-Who do you have as a support system? Asking this question helps the depressed individual think about who they have to lean on through this difficult time. It also lets you know to what degree they are really alone or perceive themselves to be alone.

-Is there anything that might be making your depression worse? This question can help the depressed individual begin to think about those thoughts, attitudes, or behaviors that perpetuate their depression that they may not otherwise be aware of.

-Is there a time when your depression is worse? This question will clue you in to when they are most likely to need your support more. For some, mornings are difficult when it entails facing the whole day ahead with no change in their condition. For others, night time is the loneliest time.

-We will get through this together. This communicates your acceptance, and your love.

-Nothing. In this case, it isn’t just a cliché. Actions often do speaker louder than words. I’m reminded of the passage in the Bible when Job encountered great hardship. In Job 2:13 it says that his friends came and sat with him for seven days and nights. During that time, they didn’t speak a word because they saw how great his pain was. Words could do nothing to help his misery, but their company spoke volumes.

Remember, when you are speaking to a depressed loved one, your goal is to encourage and uplift them. “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief” (Job 16:5 NLT).

Keep Calm and Speak Life

How can you encourage a loved one today?

To read more practical insight and advice, be sure to follow Dr. Bengtson’s blog at www.Dr.MichelleBengtson.com. 

November 23, 2014 at 12:29 PM Leave a comment

DAY 22: WHAT NOT TO SAY WHEN A LOVED ONE IS DEPRESSED – part 1

WOMAN SIDE VIEW - michelle bengtson blog pic (1 of 2)

“The tongue can bring death or life…” Proverbs 18:21

The holiday season can be a tough time for those struggling with depression, and for those who love them. Today’s guest post is from a dear friend of mine, neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Bengtson who writes extensively on the subject of depression. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for PART 2: “What to Say When a Loved One is Depressed.”

Scripture tells us that the words we speak can produce life or death. As a practicing psychologist, I find this to be true with respect to mental illness as well.

The words we speak over our loved ones can build them up or tear them down. Just because we haven’t experienced the same suffering, doesn’t mean that their suffering isn’t real. Yet what we say may communicate just that.

The words we speak can help another ease their suffering, or they can dig a pit just a little deeper. The words of Toby Mac’s song, “Speak Life” ring true. For all of us, some days are wonderful, while others bring so much despair we can hardly imagine. But the words that are spoken over us can magnify our current condition.

Here are a few things NOT to say to someone struggling with depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness:

-It’s all in your head.

-Snap out of it.

-This too shall pass.

-What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

-You can always find someone worse off than you.

-I know how you feel (unless you really do know how they feel, and they know it)

These comments are derogatory to a person suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. You wouldn’t say these things to someone who has cancer, epilepsy, or paralysis.

By and large, these comments have become cliché in our society, and really reflect a lack of understanding, empathy, and acceptance. But even more importantly, they do not build one another up (“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

These comments can leave a person with mental illness feeling worthless, unvalidated, and minimized. Such comments communicate that their pain isn’t serious or isn’t important, or that you believe they choose to suffer. People who suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses already often struggle with self-esteem, guilt, and shame.

What can you say to speak life over a depressed one? If you’re unsure, read my post entitled “Things to Say to a Depressed Loved One.”

To read more practical insight and advice, be sure to follow Dr. Bengtson’s blog at www.Dr.MichelleBengtson.com. 

SPEAK LIFE - michelle bengtson blog pic (2 of 2)

November 22, 2014 at 3:48 PM 1 comment

DAY 21: LEAVING THE HOUSE

hands holding house

Here’s another bit of rhyme from the poetry archives…slightly revised. Thankfully this isn’t my experience EVERY day, yet we can all relate to good intentions gone astray.

I’m not agoraphobic
Of that you can be certain
My domicile and I for miles
Have parted without hurtin’

Yet some might still mistake me
For such a timid mouse
Because it seems that lately…
I cannot leave the house!

Every morning I awake
With plans to go outside and play
Yet some evenings I regret
I haven’t left the house quite yet

I start out for a walk to find
I’ve left my keys or hat behind
Or haven’t had my breakfast yet
Or made my bed, or fed the pet

Or checked my email or my texts
Or read the news to see what’s next
Or cleaned or dusted in a week
By then it’s noon, and time to eat

After lunch I need a rest
They say a brief nap is the best
I reach to flip on the TV
They say it helps you get to sleep

At three I wake up with a start
A sinking feeling in my heart
I haven’t made it out the door
And pretty soon it’s pushing four

With panicked step I grab my gear
I really must get out of here
I find my hat, my keys, my glasses
But my feet move like molasses

My hand is on the doorknob when
I pause to stop and think again…

You know the heat this time of day
Can cause a stroke I’ve heard them say
Perhaps an after-dinner stroll
Would not take quite as big a toll?

There’s plenty I could do til then
Like post a tweet or call a friend
Or write a blog post for an hour
Or do my nails or take a shower

Or cook a meal or order dinner
I hear that new restaurant’s a winner
A Netflix movie, maybe two
I liked the last one best…and you?

And pretty soon it’s time for bed
My hubby nods his sleepy head
And asks me as he toddles off
“Hey did you ever take that walk?”

Which stops me in my tracks
As I realize once again
I’ve failed all day to make it out
And instead spent the day “all in”

No, I’m not agoraphobic
Of that I’ll never grouse
Cuz what I’m most afraid of

…is NOT leaving my house!

November 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM Leave a comment

DAY 20: BE INTENTIONAL


LIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!

LESSONS LEARNED WHILE WAITING TO LIVE…

 

DON’T: 

Let this day slip through your fingers

DO: 

Give this moment your FULL attention!

 

Have you ever noticed that some days seem to evaporate before your very eyes, while others feel weightier and more satisfying?

Yet no matter how our day goes…the clock keeps moving forward at the rate of 60 seconds a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As the saying goes, “Time waits for no man.”

This isn’t exactly great news. Especially when most of our days don’t turn out anywhere near perfect. Like a baseball player caught off guard by a tough pitch, we tend to think: “Hey, I wasn’t ready. I need a do-over!”

 Yet that last moment is gone forever.

TICK-tock, TICK-tock, TICK-tock…

Again, not great news.

Yet here on planet earth, that’s how it works.

Even if we get a do-over, we’ll never get that particular moment back again: NEVER. Pondering that idea for even five minutes is enough to discourage the most sanguine of optimists!

So where’s the answer? Is there any hope?

I believe there is. Because just as constant as the “tick-tick-tick” of the clock is another abiding truth.

Our very next moment is always up for grabs! 

It’s a gift just waiting for us. Unspoiled. Mistake-free. And available in fresh supply at the rate of one per second for as long as we live in this time-bound world.

Each new moment gives us a chance to…adjust an attitude, make a healthy choice, say a kind word, face that fear, pray that prayer, do the next right thing.

And amazingly, those little choices tend to snowball like seconds on a clock…one after the other, after the other. Why? Because inertia works backwards too. A dollar wasted can lead to ruin…yet a penny saved is a penny earned! So those small choices add up over time, giving us the chance to make increasingly better choices – every single day.

Time is not our friend…yet thankfully God is.  He has worked His mercy into even the dailyness of life, which we are free to grab hold of at any moment – if only we have eyes to see.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today'” HEBREWS 3:13

 

CHALLENGING TRUTH: 

Today’s 24 hours will be GONE tomorrow

HAPPY TRUTH: 

Each moment is a fresh chance to be INTENTIONAL!

 

November 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM Leave a comment

DAY 19: GRIEF vs. REGRET (oh what a difference!)

NO REGRETS yellow post-it

LESSONS LEARNED WHILE WAITING TO LIVE…

 

DON’T: 

Waste time regretting yesterday’s losses

DO: 

Embrace today so you won’t regret tomorrow

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent an awful lot of time in my life obsessing over what DID happen that I wish DIDN’T…or what DIDN’T happen that I wish DID. Either way, it’s a vicious cycle.

Regret is an awful companion. It takes and takes, and never gives back. Obsession is even worse company. It blinds you to anything and everything but the one thing you don’t have. Put the two together, and they’ll eat your insides out and suck away every possibility of being present in the here and now, where life actually has a chance of happening.

Of course, grief and mourning are a necessary part of life when we experience a loss. At times grief can look strangely similar to regret, yet with one important difference: grief eventually takes you somewhere, while regret takes you nowhere but down, down, downHealthy grief helps us accept and adjust to a loss, eventually making room for new experiences and growth, while regret and obsession never give up their space in our hearts and minds – thus making new growth impossible.

A wise man once said, “If you don’t like your past, build a new one.”

 

HAPPY TRUTH: 

Living today well paves the way for a regret free tomorrow!

 

November 18, 2014 at 11:20 PM 2 comments

DAY 18: GOOD GRIEF TUESDAY


FRUSTRATED BLONDE GIRL cartoon (cropped)

Here’s a little ditty from a few years back. That’s not to say that under “the perfect storm” of wrong circumstances I’m not fully capable of accomplishing this same feat today. But at the moment…so far, so good! 

 

I’m feeling a bit like Charlie Brown today.

A little chubby. Somewhat listless.

And convinced I couldn’t have messed things up worse if I tried.

After all, who misses four appointments in one day?

Who does that?

  • Who, out of four potential meetings with other human beings at a prescribed place and time, cannot, at a minimum, manage to make at least ONE of them?
  • Who, in a day overflowing with possibility, manages to actually accomplish LESS than if there had been no appointments made in the first place?
  • Who, by sheer ineptitude, manages to stumble downhill in such a way as to miss or be missed by four separate, unique individuals, all having virtually nothing in common except their membership in the human race, the fact that they draw breath, and their individual ill-fated attempts to connect with this particular person on a specific date in history?

And to think, it’s only Tuesday.

Good grief…

 

November 18, 2014 at 7:30 AM 2 comments

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KIM ALDRICH

Writer... speaker..."growing edge" seeker

ABOUT ME

Each new day offers a fresh opportunity to learn or languish, stagnate or grow. Like all sincere Christians, I face the ongoing challenge of finding THE GROWING EDGE.

FOLLOW KIM ON TWITTER!

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WORDS TO GROW BY

TEN WAYS TO LOVE

1. LISTEN without interrupting
(Proverbs 1:8)

2. SPEAK without accusing
(James 1:19)

3. GIVE without sparing
(Proverbs 21:26)

4. PRAY without ceasing
(Colossians 1:9)

5. ANSWER without arguing
(Proverbs 17:1)

6. SHARE without pretending
(Ephesians 4:15)

7. ENJOY without complaint
(Philippians 2:14)

8. TRUST without wavering
(I Corinthians 13:7)

9. FORGIVE without punishing
(Colossians 3:13)

10. PROMISE without forgetting
(Proverbs 13:12)

2014 NaBloPoMo!

NaBloPoMo November 2014