Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Shelter from the Storm

[First Draft]

1. Sometimes terrible things happen in our lives that are beyond our power to control. However, one person can harness the power of love to make wonderful things happen. Focus on what is within your control to make the world a better place in small ways. It is enough.
2. It isn’t what happens to you but how you handle it that counts. You can be defeated or empowered by your troubles. Remember that broken hearts are still capable of great love.
3. Ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to face your problems alone. Besides, the one who helps you may need your help someday.
4. Take extra good care of yourself during crisis times. Try to eat nourishing food and get plenty of rest (as much as you can get away with). And don’t put off going to the doctor or dentist. You don’t need anymore to deal with than you already have.
5. Take regular showers with your favorite soap—it’s a good place to cry where no one can hear you and it refreshes your senses.
6. Treat yourself to small luxuries during hard times since that’s when you need them most. A quiet cup of tea, a bubble bath, a nice pen to write with, or a long chat with trusted friend can lift your spirits.
7. If you don’t already have a firm sense of spirituality, allow yourself to believe in a benevolent, divine power supporting the universe. If you live your life as though the force that created the heavens and the earth loves you more than you can imagine and you reflect that love in all that you do, your life will be much richer for it.
8. Follow God’s divine plan for you and have faith in spiritual support. When you believe you have the power of the universe behind you, you won’t give up. You’ll keep looking for ways to keep going, even when everything seems hopeless or impossible.
9. Don’t be afraid to rebel against the idea of putting your dreams aside. If your deferred dreams will not give you any peace of mind, then you are meant to follow them.
10. Don’t blame yourself or anyone else for your troubles. Blaming others or yourself never makes a bad situation better. Ask yourself what you can learn from your problems or how you can make things better.
11. Have faith in your talents. If you are good at something and it brings you joy, then it is a gift from God. You deny it at your own peril.
12. Get up and do something—anything to get your energy flowing. Bake cookies, mop the floors, heat up a can of tomato soup and make a grilled cheese sandwich, change the lightbulbs that have blown out. Fear and depression often masquerade as overwhelming fatigue, and if you keep giving in to your desire to spend your free time napping you’ll end up paralyzed with inertia. Stir yourself up a bit and you’ll feel you’ve earned your rest.
13. Write things down—goals, affirmations, feelings, petty thoughts, things to remember or do. Doing a brain dump relieves stress, and writing down your thoughts helps to spot patterns and bring clarity to your situation.
14. Listen to your fears. Then gently and lovingly move through them. Facing challenges directly and on your own terms is easier than having them hunt you down and find you.
15. Make small positive changes, one at a time. Write down several small changes you can immediately make in your daily life, then choose the one or two that will make the most difference. You can transform yourself one good habit at a time.
16. Allow yourself the time and space to grieve for your losses, whether it is a loved one, a hometown, a marriage or romance, a job or career. Whatever you do, don’t tell yourself you should be over it by now. You don’t get over overwhelming losses, you get through them and in your own time.
17. If you can, try to get up and go to bed at the same time each day. This helps regulate your body clock and allows you to get the rest you need.
18. Build routines that bring true comfort into your life. Four drinks before bedtime creates an illusion of comfort that evaporates into a hangover in the morning. Sticking your feet into a small tub of warm water before bedtime creates a feeling of bliss that won’t haunt you the next day.
19. Be flexible in your approach to everything, from following your daily routines to pursuing your fondest dreams. Not every strategy works all the time, and situations have a way of changing just when you think you’ve figured them out. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
20. Take frequent breaks. No matter what you’re going through you need to stretch and rest your body, clear your mind, and refresh your spirit. You won’t do anyone any good if you’re burned out.
21. Sometimes you will feel discouraged when working through difficult times, and sometimes these feelings have nothing to do how well you’re working though a problem. Whether things are really falling apart or whether it just seems that way, remember that discouragement is only a feeling. Be compassionate with yourself as you guide yourself through your low moments. This, too, shall pass.
22. If you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, wash a load of dishes or laundry, then put your feet up for a while. You’re going to need clean clothes and dishes sooner or later, and you definitely need the break.
23. Expect to feel sadness, resentment, discouragement, disappointment, disillusionment when going through difficult times. You won’t always feel upbeat and optimistic, and that’s fine. Accept your down moments with prayer, journaling, and compassion. Gently guide yourself through these valleys, knowing that your ability to feel joy will return.
24. When your pain seems too much bear, reach out to someone else who may be hurting. You can pick up the phone and call a friend or family member who is having a rough time also. You can volunteer and help a stranger in need. Extending a helping hand to someone else in pain can make you both feel better.
25. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself from becoming bitter—as long as it isn’t dangerous or hurtful. Allow yourself to be angry, to be self-indulgent, to feel rebellious. Hang on to your sense of yourself and your mission in life, and don’t let yourself be absorbed or identified by your problems.
26. Let your negative feelings bubble up and release them. Go ahead and open Pandora’s box and let the nasties float up and away like helium balloons. Keeping them locked up isn’t going to make them disappear. Acknowledging them and letting them go allows you to feel peace. A private journal is a really good place to do this.
27. Always get dressed when you get up in the morning, whether or not you plan on going anywhere or seeing anyone, especially on those mornings when you have to drag yourself out of bed. Just the act of washing your face and putting on clean clothes can chase away the doldrums and give you a bit of momentum. And even if it doesn’t, at least you won’t be embarrassed if the doorbell rings.
28. Make an effort to bring some discipline into your work. Set modest goals and keep working toward them, even when you don’t feel like it. Steady effort does pay off in the end.
29. When looking for solutions, tap into your intuition. Write in your diary, doodle on a sketch pad, pray, meditate, practice yoga, keep a dream journal. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, knitting, and even beating egg whites with a fork can be meditative, a doorway to your subconscious mind.
30. Don’t neglect your looks, let your hair grow shaggy, forget to shave (wherever), or go around in your sloppiest outfits. You don’t have to be impeccably dressed at every moment, but you want to treat yourself kindly enough to take care of your appearance. Do it for you.
31. Don’t neglect your home or current living space, let the dishes and the laundry and the mess pile up, and forget to sweep and vacuum. You don’t have to be a clean freak to create a home environment that nurtures and supports you—you just have to keep yourself comfortable. Treat yourself regularly to a loving home space, even if you’re living in temporary digs right now. Do it for you.
32. Always, always make decisions and take actions based on love. Especially in conflict, treat others with love and respect. Even when they don’t deserve it. If you live a life grounded in love, you will live a life without regrets.

Word Count: 1,488
© 2006 Allyson Denise Walker. All rights reserved.

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