“Drink a beer!” At least that’s how my dad used to sing it anyway. He often parodies songs and makes up silly choruses to pop music. (It’s something funny and quirky I’ve always loved about my dad.) But let’s be honest, who here hasn’t had a hard time associating drinking with the holidays?
The commercials want us to do it. “Pair the perfect wine and cheese tray!” The stores cater to us from an early age. A quote from my own son, “Mom, please can we get some of this sparkling juice in the fancy bottle?” (I enjoyed buying that stuff when I was a kid too. Though I’m not insinuating that drinking sparkling apple juice will turn you into an alcoholic.) Our Christmas parties and co-workers are “living it up” at the office party. “Open bar? Yup, I’ll be there!” And don’t even get me started on the crazy drinking situations that happen when people go back to their hometowns for the holidays.
Being a non-drinker during the holidays can be tough if you don’t have a solid foundation of principles and a support system for which you can lean on. I know many of these things aren’t even a figment of our imagination anymore, but you can bet your bottom they were terrifying that first year of sobriety. It’s okay. I think it’s part of the process.
If we didn’t struggle with these situations, how could we help others later who struggle through the exact same thing? So whether it’s your first sober Christmas or your 52nd, I encourage you to be aware of how the holidays make you feel. Maybe there’s someone out there that can learn from your situation this Holiday Season.
Do you have days when you have no self-confidence? Are there times when you wonder how anyone even likes you? Do you have times in your life when you look in the mirror and don’t like the person staring back at you?
These days happen. I’m not saying they are in regular rotation in my mind, but they do tend to happen. I doubt myself. I forget why I’m trying to accomplish the things I once had a burning passion to achieve. I become crippled under fear and forget that I can create wonderful things.
I pray every morning. One addition I added to my prayer list a few months ago was “self-image.” Previously, I had a self image that was probably overly confident, but I wholeheartedly believed in my self. I had a determination that nothing was going to hold me down or knock me off my game. But as I’ve gotten older, my confidence in certain areas of my life have been shaken.
For example, I struggle with my physical appearance some days. Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m at a healthy weight and that I’m managing my body as best as I can with three small, energetic boys. However, some days I can’t help but see other women my age (sans kids) that have these killer bodies. What kills me even more is when they do have kids and they’re still rocking a rock hard body.
This is when I have to step back and let God step in. I’m not those other women. I am me. God knows me. And He loves me just the way that I am. He knows my heart. He knows my soul. He knows how hard I’ve fought to get into the shape I’m in today.
So when I pray in the mornings for my “self-image”, I ask God to give me the strength and power to love myself the way He loves me. Unconditionally. Inside and out. With no questions.
Prayer is something I’ve mentioned here several times. When I pray, how I pray, and what to pray for are just a few aspects I’ve shared. Today, I’d like to tell you about realizing when God has answered a prayer.
This may sound hokey to some people, especially if you are new to prayer or a skeptic in general, but the easiest way to know when a prayer has been answered is to daily write your prayers down.
I write the same prayer list every day. Most of the time its contents are identical to the day before, but sometimes I add people’s names who may be struggling with something I just found out about. Sometimes I add tragic events to the list, asking for God to guide the people affected when they aren’t quite sure what their next move should be. And then, sometimes prayers are answered.
My husband found out yesterday that he’s going to be getting a raise at his job effective at the first of the year. I was extending my gratitude in prayer this morning as I was working my way down my prayer list and then I stopped and started laughing. The item on the list that brought me to laughter was the debt line item I’d been praying for.
You see, my husband and I have been trying to pay our student loans off so they are gone forever! I’ve been praying very specifically for the amount that I thought would help us put a huge dent in that goal. His raise was just shy of the amount I’ve been praying about for almost six months!
Had I not kept track of this specific prayer and the exact number, I’d probably chalk his raise up to a boss’ kindness or giving in the holiday spirit. But that’s not correct. This is an answered prayer.
I encourage you to write prayers down, even if it’s only on a weekly basis and you keep the same list throughout the week. I’ve seen time and time again where God has answered our prayers. You’ll be amazed at how awesome this process can be!
It’s come to my attention, through the mouth of my husband, that I’ve been more irritable than usual lately. Now before you start making any assumptions about women and the changes our bodies goes through in a 28 day time period, let me just agree that yes I can be the most impatient and unpleasant woman in the world for a day or two every month. (Or maybe even a week or two every once in a while…)
But that’s not what we’re talking about here. I’m talking about the irritability and frustration that comes from not following my daily prayer, gratitude, and writing routine.
When someone (usually the hubby) points out that I seem a little out of character lately, I go down my health checklist. (Yes, I’m a total nerd and have lists and checklists for everything. I even have pros and cons lists too, but that’s for another day.)
- Have I worked out lately? Yes, a few times this week.
- Have I been eating foods that me feel like crap? Some pizza and birthday cake…oh yeah, and a donut and kolache the other morning (Getting warmer)
- Have I written my Gratitudes lately? Yes, but I missed two days this weekend
- Have I been doing my daily prayer? Yes, but again I missed two days this weekend
- Have I been doing my daily reflection writing? Yes, but I’ve missed a few days
*Obviously, I need to work on eating better and making time for my daily writing and prayer.
This may sound silly, but I’ve learned to rely heavily on this checklist to determine what in the world is wrong with me and how to remedy my mood. Most of the time it’s poor diet choices and lack of prayer. Sometimes it’s not being able to workout for a week. Sometimes all of these boxes have been checked and I’m still out of whack. When that happens, that’s when I really dig deeper to figure out what’s going on.
I hope this helps you evaluate your mental, physical, and spiritual health. We all go through cycles of ups and downs, but staying in the “down” too long can lead us on a dark path. Please take care of yourself today!
I want to be perfectly transparent here, I don’t follow the Twelve Steps program. I don’t go to meetings regularly. I haven’t check-listed things that I need to do on a personal inventory. Maybe I should, but I haven’t to date.
The reason I tell you this is because I want to be honest here. As much as I speak about recovery and being a better version of myself, I don’t know the ins and outs of the AA program. I know what my husband has been through and what he continues to practice on a daily basis. Other people in the program have also shared with me their life changing stories.
I may not have a first hand testimony of someone whose life was changed from the program, but I guarantee you I am an advocate for AA. There are so many people I know who have been touched by the program that it would be silly not to endorse such a strong recovery organization.
There are also people I know who have entered into rehabilitation centers and saw incredible results. The seclusion from the influence of the world helped them gain the perspective they needed to get sober.
Whatever your need is, or the need of someone you care about, I urge you to look into your options. There is no need to suffer alone. Even if AA or a rehab center isn’t for you, please talk to someone.
One day at a time…
There are multiple posts about “Being Real with People” so I thought I would expand on what I believe that means today. My definition of being real simply means raising the curtain. Taking away the facade that we all have to be perfect and that we are living Pinterest perfect lives.
Here are the top posts I suggest for being real today:
Needing to Take a Step Back
When All You Can Do Is Love Them
Awkwardness Meeting New People
Let’s be real today.
In. Out. Deep Breaths.
This is how I get through tough times throughout the day. This may sound silly, but don’t discourage the idea until you’ve tried it. I’m amazed by how often this one simple thing completely calms me down or at least distracts me enough to chill-ax a little bit.
Many stress factors affect us daily. Our jobs. Our kids. Our families going through a tough time. Taking time to care for ourselves. And many other situational stress points that keep us tightly wound if we’re not concentrating on breathing.
The metaphorical sense of taking a deep breath is just as important as the physical one. What I mean is that sometimes we need to a step away from the situation more so than we need to take a breath. Maybe your “deep breath” is walking into the other room and sitting quietly for a minute or two. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block. Maybe it actually is stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
There’s a reason why “I need to get some fresh air” is a thing. Removing yourself from a situation and taking in a deep dose of oxygen can invigorate your brain and help you think more clearly.
Be aware of your own self. Know when you need a break. Know when removing yourself for some fresh air will do everybody good. Take long and slow deep breaths. Fill your body with energizing air that will clear your mind. Remind yourself to be present in the moment. Allow yourself to admit you need a break. Then, come back recharged and ready to go.