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SAD

I know you’re probably thinking from the title that this blog has something to do with some type of sob story. Nope! Actually, SAD is an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. What is Seasonal Affective Disorder you might ask? SAD is a form of depression that affects about 5% of adults, with 20% of people having some of the symptoms of this condition but not enough to actually be diagnosed for the disorder. SAD is a disorder that is seasonal and usually sets in around the fall and winter months when the days are growing shorter and there is less sunlight. Some people refer to it as the “winter blues.” If you are curious as to whether you have SAD here is a good website that gives you a checklist of symptoms: www.webmd.com. Although most people experience this only during the fall and winter months, there are some who experience it year round which is usually due to chemical imbalances in the brain.

Not too long ago, sometime around the first part of August of this year, I was sitting in a restaurant eating while waiting for my husband to pick me up. The restaurant was empty except for an elderly lady who sat down to eat a salad about three or four tables from me. I really can’t recall how the conversation got started but she struck up a conversation just commenting on the weather that day and how nice it was considering how hot it had been all summer. The temperatures were somewhere in the 70s and it was a really nice cool but sunny day. As the conversation went on she also mentioned how she was not looking forward to the fall and winter months because she always has a tendency to hibernate during these times. I expressed to her that I have had my bouts with wanting to hibernate as well and that a lot of people struggle with this. She also stated that she was taking medication for depression. I mentioned to her that after doing a lot of research and studying I learned that the reason people are so energetic and in such high spirits during the spring and summer months is because of the sunlight. And it’s actually due to good affects that sunlight gives us. Believe it or not we actually get vitamin D from the sun. I was shocked by that a couple of years ago when I found this out because most of the research regarding the effects of the sun in regards to your health is in relation to skin cancer and advising people to use sunscreen to protect themselves. Although this is definitely necessary, yet and still, since most of the attention is given to protection from the sun’s rays, most people would never really consider the fact that there could be health benefits to getting sunlight. There are many health benefits to soaking up the sun’s rays! Making sure you use plenty of sunscreen protection of course.

Here are some of the things that this wonderful creation of God (our sun) can do for you. Sunlight helps the body in the production of vitamin D that is necessary for calcium absorption and it directly affects our mood. Not only does sunlight help the body in producing vitamin D, it also helps to keep your neurotransmitters in good working order. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send signals from cell to cell in our body, from one neuron to the next. Although there are numerous neurotransmitters, (neurological research has identified over 50 of them) there are four types of neurotransmitters that most people are familiar with that are most significant and directly related to mental health. They are: seratonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and endorphin. Without getting all technical and too detailed in describing them, (believe me, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to neuroscience. In case you didn’t know, our bodies are like a machine.) I will just give a brief description of what each one is responsible for in the body.

Seratonin is basically our mood regulator and is involved with our emotions, our perception, and how we feel. Too little seratonin can lead to depression, cause irritability, anger issues, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a host of other emotional issues. People also tend to crave carbohydrates (typically ending up eating the wrong kinds) due to the fact that the body is really trying to increase seratonin levels in the brain. What carbohydrates do is raise the level of insulin, a hormone in the body, which in turn activates an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is then “ushered” into the brain. And guess what? Trytophan is a precursor to getting our seratonin juices flowing. Aaahhh!! No wonder we crave those bagels and that pizza so much during the fall and winter months. That’s our body’s way of trying to increase our seratonin levels to make us “feel good.” Um-hum! Also, when you are in very stressful situations, whether it’s job-related or whatever, this causes you crave carbohydrates (“raiding” the vending machine while at work…does this sound familiar?). Your body is looking for a way to relax. Seratonin does this for you. No wonder it’s so hard to stick to those diets when we’re all stressed out. It’s not so much appetite suppression that we need, it’s finding ways to keep our hormones in balance by involving ourselves in things that relax us. Exercise is one of them. Personally, I just happen to be one of those people who inherited genes that dictated that I would naturally have low levels of seratonin and have to make sure that I do everything that is necessary to boost this hormone. Maybe that’s why I love working out. A lot of people don’t like to exercise but there are times that I actually crave those workouts (mostly during stressful times in my life). Speaking of exercise, this brings me to the next neurotransmitter endorphin.

Endorphins function as neurotransmitters. This is our body’s natural morphine which is produced by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus during exercise. No wonder I love exercise so much. When you are in stressful situations, the body looks for ways to get those neurotransmitters working for you whether it’s through food or exercise. The body knows what it needs. By the way, in speaking of food that increases seratonin levels earlier in the blog, I looooove chicken. Always have. I can actually say that I am a bonafide chicken addict and according to my husband a chicken hawk ((laugh)). Most everybody in my family knows that I am the “chicken queen” because I can eat chicken for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost everyday. I may take a break for a few days but after my separation from chicken, I just gotta have it! After years and years of my love affair with chicken I decided to do a little reading about this meat source derivative of a walking bird and found out that chicken has…drum roll…..tryptophan!! I’ve been telling my husband for years that there was a scientific explanation for my chicken addiction after being ridiculed and teased for my love for it. ;-) By the way, if you’re going to eat chicken, which is a good source of protein for those who are trying to lose weight, make sure you are getting good quality chicken that hasn’t been injected with hormones and chemicals. (That’s a whole other topic of discussion.) And while I’m speaking of healthy things to eat, going back to carbohydrates; there’s nothing wrong with eating pizza or any other carbohydrate as long as we make sure that we are taking in healthy carbs like whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, fruit and raw or steamed vegetables. It’s better to make the pizza yourself from scratch using whole wheat flour or unprocessed flour and throw some spinach or finely chopped broccoli on the pizza to make it even more healthy. There are even some vegan restaurants nowadays that make healthier pizzas and other foods that allow you to eat out and choose healthier options. Ok now back to the hormones.

Let’s talk a little about melatonin. Although this is not a neurotransmitter but a hormone, it’s something that needs to be discussed as well because it is directly related to other hormones and helps to regulate other hormones. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for controlling our sleep patterns. It regulates our circadian rhythm which is an internal 24-hour “clock” that tells us when to fall asleep and when to wake up. Without this we would all be insomiacs!! During those dark hours your body produces more melatonin, during the daylight hours your body produces less. This is the reason why people get jet lag or struggle with sleeping during the day when they have 2nd and 3rd shift jobs. It throws the body’s sleep cycle out of whack. Now on to norepinephrine.

Norepinephrine functions as a neurotransmitter and a hormone. The difference between a neurotransmitter and a hormone is simply that neurotransmitters are released from nerve cells whereas hormones are produced by the endocrine gland. Norepinephrine is secreted and released by the adrenal glands and by the noradrenergic neurons. It is a stress hormone that the brain releases during times of stress. When norepinephrine and its pathways are not functioning properly in the brain, a number of disorders can occur, including depression and attention disorders. Dopamine and norepinephrine are transported along the same pathway in the brain so if norepinephrine production is constricted in some way, dopamine production will also be affected. That takes us into a discussion about dopamine.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that controls our brain processes, movement, emotional responses, and our ability to experience pleasure and pain. Dopamine is a precursor to norepinephrine. It plays a crucial role in both our physical and mental health. People with Parkinson’s disease have lost their dopamine producing ability. The neurons that transmit this hormone have died, thereby adversely affecting muscle movement. The brain of a person with Parkinson’s disease contains almost no dopamine. Parkinson’s patients are typically given drugs that can be converted to dopamine in the brain to help relieve their symptoms. Other disorders with dopamine production can cause a decline in neuro-cognitive functions such as memory and attention. This is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s.

Now that I’ve discussed a few of the main neurotransmitters and how these work to help us maintain a healthy state of mind and healthy bodies, I just want to end by saying that in regards to SAD and other mood disorders, a lot of times it is unrecognized by both the person who is experiencing it and family and friends. It is so much easier for people to recognize and acknowledge a person with a physical disorder or disability opposed to someone with a mental or emotional disorder because most people are not educated in regards to the neurological function of the body. Outward signs of illness can be responded to more readily because we can see them and therefore we are more compassionate toward those who have a physical illness. When it comes to brain disorders or emotional disorders such as depression, ADHD, autism, alzheimer’s, and bipolar disorder, people typically don’t understand what’s happening and therefore are not as compassionate with people who experience it. Sometimes these type of disorders are silent killers, if left untreated, that people often attribute to a person’s personality. They consider the person who is suffering from it to have a personality or character flaw because of the negative emotions that are displayed as a result of it but the negative emotions are usually the only signs and symptoms that are displayed. People don’t attribute these type of symptoms to brain disorders or mental illness since they so easily seem to be linked to personality issues.

SAD is something that can be managed with proper nutrition, healthy eating habits, and exercise. If it’s something that persists long-term beyond the seasonal period, you should seek the advice of a doctor and get medical attention. Make sure you are getting plenty of vitamin D from milk and/or supplements and try to get as much sunlight everyday as possible by going outside (even in the cold). During the winter take time to even enjoy the snow. Winter is one of my favorite seasons because of the “white stuff” that I love so much! Make sure you are getting plenty of exercise to boost those endorphins and stimulate the production of other vital hormones in your body that directly affect your mood. Also, don’t neglect much needed time for nourishing your spirit. Meditation through prayer, scripture reading, or yoga can have a tremendous positive effect on the mind and body.

What makes a seed grow? We do know the basics from what we learned as a kid in science class, that a seed needs water and sunlight to grow and mature. It was always very interesting to me to learn about cells, biology and science is an amazing study. The process of photosynthesis was one of my favorite fascinations regarding plant life. But if you take the growth of a seed further from just the basic watering and sunlight you will find some amazing discoveries and insight into a physical process that God introduced to his creation before man was even made. Take for instance germination. Germination is defined as the growth of an embryonic plant contained within a seed. No one can see the blueprints of what the seed contains. You can’t crack an apple seed open and see an image of the apple. You can’t see its color nor can you see what shape or form it will take. When flower seeds are planted you don’t know how much beauty is contained inside of that flower seed. You have no idea just by looking at it how colorful it will be and definitely have no idea that it can even have a pleasant smell to delight your senses. This is the same with the things that God plants inside of us. God has a plan and design for our lives. We are not here on this earth for no reason. If you are still living and breathing then there is purpose for you and your purpose lies inside of you, those things that you have a passion for. Sometimes we don’t know all that we have inside of us and God has to show us by taking us through the germination process.

The germination process is a matter of various phases. One of the phases of germination is the period of quiescence. What is quiescence? This is a plant stage where there is no “active” growth. It is a quiet stage where all is still. There are spiritual seasons that we go through as christians and just as we go through our spring and summers, we also will experience some fall and winter seasons as well. There will be times in our lives when all is still and quiet and this quiescence phase is just a part of the process of our spiritual development. Although there seems to be no outward or active signs of growth in our lives whether it’s in our personal lives, our business, our finances, our dreams or goals, there’s still life, there’s still growth. Maybe not “active” growth that is visible to the eye, but development is underway.

In the life of a Christian, as we grow from being a baby Christian into a more mature stage of spirituality we first learn about salvation then discipleship, we learn about obedience and sacrifice, and we learn what it means to take up our cross and follow Christ. We are willing and eager to do any and everything to follow Him. We want to learn more about God. We ask God to use us, not really understanding the full potential of what that means. But if God gave us a picture of the entire roadmap of our spiritual journey, most of us wouldn’t even go. We would resolve to just being a “regular” Christian and being content with just salvation and the thought of making it into heaven. But life is much more than that. God has a plan for His people. There are things that He planted on the inside of us.

During the time of germination a seed can survive adverse climate conditions until circumstances are favorable for growth. Spiritually there are seasons that we go through as Christians where all is quiet. We are wondering what is going on, where God has gone, why He’s not speaking to us, and what is happening. God what are you doing is what we often ask. Where are you? Then when go into a stage where we sometimes wonder if there’s something that we did to cause us to not hear from God or bring about our storm. Everything that happens to us in life is not always the result of sin. When you know that you are living right and following God’s laws to the best of your ability and it seems like all hell still breaks loose, and then you are just going through. We go through tests and we go through storms. There are tests that are be performed on a natural seed to see if it is viable; moisture test, purity test, seed weight, and germination testing. When you go through tests in life it is not meant to crush you, it is meant to strengthen you and cause you to exercise your spiritual muscles and it is meant to see how viable you are so that it can be visible what is going to come out of you under pressure. You get a little rain (moisture test) and then after some testing you need to be purified so you go through a purity test. Once you’ve gone through the purity test your weight can be determined. After all of this testing then comes germination testing. Various plants require different variables for successful seed germination. Water is required. It is interesting that in the natural, mature seeds are often extremely dry and need to take in significant amounts of water, relative to the dry weight of the seed before cellular metabolism and growth can resume. Spiritually speaking, to whom much is given, much is required. The greater the test, the more God has implanted inside of you that He wants to get out of you but also, the greater the blessing when you are in your season. There is seedtime and then there’s the harvest. Once germination has taken place that seed breaks starts to swell and break open, it then starts growing roots and then starts to bear fruit. One thing that is also interesting is that temperature affects cellular metabolic and growth rates of a seed. Depending on the seed variety, there is a temperature range within the seed by which they will germinate and break dormancy and they will not do so above or below this range. Many seeds germinate at temperatures slightly above room temperature, while others germinate just above freezing and others germinate only in response to alternations between warm and cool. There are some seeds that even require exposure to the prolonged cold temperatures of winter before being able to fully produce in the spring. In the spiritual realm, God knows how much we can bear and He will not put more on us than we can bear. He will only allow so much pressure. He knows when to turn up the heat and when to cool things down to get us to the place where we can bear much fruit. Sometimes it seems like we may go through a long winter season where all is still and quiet, you are praying and fasting and doing everything you know to do but still haven’t seen the fruit just yet and you’re wondering if your day will ever arrive or if you are even on the right track, but if you hold on a little while longer you will bear fruit in your season.

Eccl 3:1

We hear the saying all the time “Beauty is skin deep.” Now what does that mean? If you were reading the statement beauty is skin deep your first thought would probably be that if you’re not pretty or handsome you somehow have less value than people who are more attractive. Though we all know this isn’t true there are some superficial people in the world who actually feel this way but everybody’s beautiful in their own way.

There are several ways that a person can look at the statement beauty is only skin deep. One being that the outward appearance is the only thing that counts (which would be taking it literally, that beauty doesn’t go further than the skin) and another meaning that beauty is something that is somewhat of an illusion or in other words something that’s superficial and fleeting. Just because a person is beautiful on the outside doesn’t mean they will be beautiful on the inside. They could have the most unattractive personality. That’s not to say that people who are a little less attractive have the best personalities either, depends on each individual. You just have to take a look inside to see what’s there. A lot of people who are not as attractive typically do have really great personalities more so than those who are more attractive. My explanation for this is simply because beautiful people sometimes feel that their beauty will carry them in all aspects of life so they have a tendency to not work so hard on the inward stuff and developing their personality. They rely too heavily on their looks to get them through life. A free ride so to speak. For people who know they are not as attractive, they take the time to develop themselves in other ways to make themselves more appealing and therefore create more personal assets aside from the superficial stuff like beauty. If you look a little deeper you will find beauty beyond what’s on the outside. Because we have our minds set and trained on what the standard of beauty is, sometimes we find difficulty in seeing past that outer shell which will eventually fade away as we age. We have to learn to look beyond what is in front of us. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. People should be judged by their character, not their looks. Now I’m not at all saying that beauty is not important. Beauty is one of God’s creations. It’s a wonderful thing! And of course you definitely want to have someone in your life that you are dating or married to who is as equally attractive as you are because it’s important to have an equal partner in the area of intellect, looks, financial status, spirituality, etc. but of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You just don’t want to be the kind of person who constantly judges people based on their looks and picks their friends based on status as far as outward things like looks and material things because you never know what kind of inward beauty you are missing out on all because you didn’t take the time to get to know someone.

Everybody has their own definition of beauty. There is a standard of beauty in our country with specifics and partiality to nose sizes, eye shape/color, hair type, face shape, and the overall body proportion. It is said that there is a Universal definition of beauty. What that means is that there is some scientific theory of Divine Proportion. Divine Proportion advocates that everything in the universe is based on the proportion 1 to 1.618. Someone took the time to study numerous things in the world in art, architecture, advertisement, music, birds, flowers, and even the human body and discovered a Divine Proportion law that is consistent in everything. Don’t know if this is particularly true or not but hmmm…something worth studying because it’s very accurate. For example, regarding the human body, each succeeding finger bone is 1.618 the length of the preceding finger bone. This theory also states that all beautiful faces regardless of race, age, and sex, conform to the Divine Proportion. When you really think about it, how many times have we thought after looking at someone with a huge nose or crooked teeth, humongous oversized lips or elf like ears have we thought to ourselves or even said out loud…wow that’s an ugly person right there. That’s not such a nice statement to make, but even if you see a wilted flower or some other things in art, fashion, clothing, etc. out of proportion or not quite right according that standard of “beauty” we don’t really find it appealing do we? Well I say beauty is ONLY skin deep or superficial.

When I was a little girl, somewhere during my early teen years from the age of 13 and throughout my adolescent years, I had this nagging thought that because I was pretty, which I was often told by people quite often, I would somehow have a horrific accident of some kind that would steal my beauty. Either through a car accident or some other type of tragic incident. This is a thought that developed after years of experiencing jealousy from various people in my life. I never could understand why it was so hard for females to give another female a simple compliment about their hair or clothes or something so simple as “those shoes are really cute.” I never had a problem giving compliments. But I guess when an individual is lacking in a certain area and desires something that another person possesses, human nature is to be envious or jealous. Fortunately I never experienced any of this from classmates. Maybe because I had classmates who were just as pretty, talented, smart and confident and secure enough within themselves to not have to be jealous or envious in that way, I don’t know. Anyway somehow, (not exactly sure when) these negative twisted thoughts got planted in my mind as a child and since at that time I did not have the tools to be able to dispel these thoughts that were in my head, they lingered and affected my relationships in a negative way because what began to happen was, I became a people pleaser. I even went so far as to try to downplay my gifts and talents so as not to “outshine” others that I was around.  This is a dangerous thing because you end up losing yourself and allowing people to manipulate you. I knew these thoughts were wrong and of an evil nature. Although I didn’t have the tools to know how to dispel the thoughts, what I did possess was the ability to pray. So I took my concerns to God in prayer and asked Him to deliver me from these thoughts. The things that we cannot do on our own and don’t have the power or knowledge to do, God does intervene in our lives to bring about the desired and necessary changes. And if we ask Him to give us the knowledge and wisdom, He will also do that as well. Fortunately, I was delivered from those horrible thoughts of losing my beauty and finally realized after snapping out of this disillusionment that God blessed me with beauty and talent and it is something I should never be made to be ashamed of or made to feel guilty about expressing. Why in the world would I think that because I possessed beauty, something that is God-given to begin with ‘mind you, that I would be punished for it? This is somewhat similar to the emotional trauma that a woman who has been stripped of her virginity and/or personal security goes through from the awful experience of being raped or taken advantage of by a man. Of course the two experiences can’t be compared, but what I mean by this is that there is a mindset and a little bit of emotional turmoil happening on the inside that strips a person from the freedom to be who they are because another person has taken a piece of that away. When you have people who hate on you for being talented, smart, pretty, handsome…they are basically telling you “I want what you have and you don’t deserve it.” Who are you to be talented, smart, pretty, handsome?

I remember listening to a story on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) in which Mandisa from American Idol was being interviewed by a christian talk show host regarding her new album after her experience on American Idol. She shared a story about something that she experienced when she was younger that caused her to get to the weight that she was at when she appeared on American Idol. She was raped as a young child and ever since that experience she became an emotional eater because of it. What she didn’t realize until just a few years ago was that there was a connection between her emotional eating and the rape incident. It wasn’t until she sought God about specific things in her life that it was revealed to her that what she was doing by emotional eating was creating a physical shield or wall so to speak by allowing herself to get heavy and overweight. The weight was a protection of some sort. The emotional aspect of the rape experience caused her to subconsciously think that if she was beautiful and attractive, she would be an easy target for men to harm and hurt her. This is where I compare her experience from an emotional aspect to mine. Even something as simple as people hating on you can cause a person to develop emotional issues that subconsciously cause them to want to hide a part of themselves so as not to become the point of attack.

Everybody handles their pain and tragedy in life differently. Some people become prone to alcoholism, some drug addiction, some choose food as their comfort to help them cope with life struggles which also leads to addiction, and some choose to smoke. Food addiction is usually chosen because it is safer than drugs and alcohol and the individual feels that since it doesn’t harm others or affect other people’s lives the way alcohol and drugs do it’s not as bad. But actually food addiction has it’s own harmful consequences that spill over to other areas of our lives and affect the people around us because we are not really taking care of ourselves. And when we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not able to take care of the important people in our lives in a positive way, like our children and give to them or our spouse our best self. It’s amazing the thoughts that our subconscious mind thinks without us even realizing that those thoughts are there. Our mind is so powerful that the human brain can think a different thought every 1.2 seconds. Our mind is thinking 86,400 seconds in a 24 hr day. The human brain has been compared to a computer. Wow!! So, you see why there can be sooo many things going on (on a subconscious level) that you are not even aware of unless you get to the root of the problem and try to figure out why you are displaying symptoms (Ex. drinking excessively, getting high, overeating, shopping excessively and overspending, sexual addictions, etc.). This is the reason why the bible tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If you could understand the way your brain and mind works and how much of a powerful tool it is, to allow us to think, create, problem solve, etc., you would be able to see, understand, and respect the importance of renewing your mind daily. Let me give an example of this: since our brains are likened to a computer processor, the same way that our computer gets clogged with information and starts to slow down because of broken or fragmented computer files from constant activities like deletion, rewriting of files, or resizing, it requires defragmenting to undo what has been broken which helps the computer processes to speed up and get back to normal speed. We have thousands of thoughts per day. Most of the time these thoughts are a large percentage of the time negative and we do not monitor what we are thinking. Sometimes it’s very hard to monitor your thoughts if you haven’t learned to control and train them. It is possible to train your brain. We have a tendency to think that we have no power or control over our thoughts but that is far from the truth. Thinking is a process that is influenced by outside stimuli and also inside stimuli such as our nervous system and the neurons and hormones that regulate brain activity. Although we get many of our thoughts from many different outside sources, that doesn’t mean that we can’t control how long these thoughts stay inside our heads. We can choose to focus on a thought or choose to eliminate it so that it doesn’t become a part of our inner beliefs or storage system. If you are told you are stupid and accept that thought that was verbalized to you by someone else, (accepting it by choosing to believe it and furthermore focusing and meditating on it continuously day in and day out) then it becomes part of your belief system. You’ve allowed a negative thought to be stored in your subconscious data file to be accessed over and over again thereby causing you to react outwardly or express this negative thought in various ways through your behavior. It’s like a tape or movie being stuck on repeat and playing over and over. How do we react outwardly? Overeating to comfort ourselves when these negative thought reappear in our mind. Drinking excessively even to the point of alcoholism because we have thoughts that we are not even aware of that randomly pop into our heads at any given moment that make us feel emotions like anger, fear, sadness, inferiority, or insignificant. If you were to monitor your thoughts throughout the day, you would be shocked at the number of negative, non-supportive thoughts that run through your mind. And if your hormones are out of whack and out of balance (which influence our thoughts as well) then you really have a larger percent of uncontrollable thoughts that are hard to get a handle on. This spills over into anxiety attacks and other stress related issues. What is a computer monitor for? So that you can see what information is in the CPU or processor. Imagine not having a monitor and just placing your software into the processor to receive data. You wouldn’t have any idea what was being put into it nor have a way to access the information and control any potential negative data that may have been placed on your hard drive.

I would compare the process of defragmenting a computer to reading a book, particularly the Good book or the bible. What defragmenting does is take computer files that are broken or fragmented and fixes the broken files. This is why reading is very important. Not only reading regular books but most importantly the bible which is the knowledge of truth written by man but inspired by God. Hebrews 4:12 states: For the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. When we read, it is like taking software and placing it in a computer’s hard drive for the computer to access and read the data. When we read the word of God it is similar to defragmenting your computer. The word of God will clean up your mind and do the work that needs to be done to correct things that have been stored in your mind. This is why you hear people talk about the mindset. Mindset is a way of thinking, whether wrong or right, that creates a person’s belief system. Not only is reading important and crucial to mental health but receiving positive, life-enriching information through not only your eye-gate, but the ear-gate too, is something that you must monitor as well (the music you listen to and the environment you choose to dwell in – people you choose to hang around).

Computers process information that is stored on a disc or dvd and stores it for future reference to be accessed when needed. If we don’t read and fill our brains (which is our storage device) with positive things, we allow ourselves to be continuously bombarded with negative outside stimuli that gets stored in our subconscious because we neglect to monitor it. Let’s defragment what unintentionally goes into our storage think tanks by reading positive books, listening to positive music and dvds, meditating on positive things, exercising positive self-talk, and renewing our minds through the word of God daily. Lest we, like our computers, get sluggish from all of the junk that clogs up our thinking and potentially spills over into other areas of our lives.

If you are a person who struggles with your weight, maybe you are an emotional eater and don’t know why you can’t “stick to your eating program” and “exercise more will power”, there are reasons behind all of it that you will be able to understand once you can successfully get to the root problem. The eating, smoking, drinking, or whatever other behavior you take part in to try and self-medicate is only a symptom of a deeply rooted problem that needs to be addressed. Let’s not focus on what’s on the outside more than what is on the inside for what’s on the inside is really what matters the most. Take the time to invest in yourself and as you do you will begin to see your health (mental and physical health), your weight, and your life become better and more in balance and in tune with who you were meant to be. Make an investment in YOU!!

The Journey

There’s nothing you can do about where you’ve been in life, roads you’ve traveled, paths taken that you shouldn’t have. The only thing you can do is follow a good path from here on out.

Life is about learning and growing. Let God be your guide. Enjoy your journey. Pack lightly, too much baggage will prevent you from pressing forward. Take your Bible for it is your spiritual roadmap for life.

Regarding those who are moving slower than you, be patient, go around them, pass with caution. Don’t be rude, don’t honk your horn. Wave and flash a friendly smile along the way!

When it gets dark in your life, when the nighttime comes, you will have your light which is the word of God. The word is a lamp unto your feet and a light for your path. (Psalm 119:105) For those darkest hours, when it’s midnight, switch to high beam to access your internal power source which is the Holy Spirit. It will comfort you and give you direction and lead and guide you. And when it gets stormy & rain is in the forecast, make sure before your trip your windshields are ready to operate. Your shield is your faith. The bible speaks about putting on the whole armour of God. (Eph 6:11) It will protect you during the storm and rain.

This life is not easy with it’s twists and bends, peaks & valleys. Sometimes we may wander off onto the wrong path. Sometimes we may give up and just pull over to the side of the road for a moment, sometimes we find ourselves crashing from going too fast and not paying attention and heednig the signs, and other times we try to take detours and shortcuts only to find out that we’ve wandered further from our destination only making our journey even longer than when we started and we now have to find our way back to where we started.

But stay in the race. It’s not given to the swift nor the strong but to He that endureth until the end. Keep progressing forward moving steadily to your destination.

Your new journey awaits you!

Alignment

It’s imperative to every once in a while take inventory of your relationships and re-evaluate relationships that you have with people who are no longer serving you. Sometimes we spend a lot of time trying to make relationships work without realizing that we’ve either outgrown them or just that both parties in the relationship have changed and have grown apart. When you find yourself in a strained relationship and find yourself constantly working to keep it going and find it to be exhausting, it’s time to take a look at the relationship to see where it really stands.

It’s important to eliminate people from our lives who are not supporting us or no longer serving us. By eliminate I don’t necessarily mean cutting off the relationship completely, but not spending the majority of your time with these people, and when I speak of relationships not serving you I’m not talking about people doing things that we want them to do, I’m referring to those things that no longer have a purpose in your life or fit in with where you are trying to go in life. They don’t support your goals, your vision, or contribute to helping unlock your potential. If you choose to be in relationship with people who don’t align with your values and beliefs you open yourself up for a lot of frustration and heartache. People that we are closest to have great influence on us. We value their thoughts and opinions. We place value on the words they speak. If this person is someone who is not positive and supportive those words can take effect on us and slowly erode our self-confidence and self-esteem. Even for someone who is very confident and has a healthy self-esteem, you can find yourself second guessing your thoughts and actions based on the non-supportive or negative feedback from a friend. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that you are spending your time with people who value you, where there is mutual respect, people with whom you share common interests with, people who support you and people who foster your growth and add to your life, not take away.

People come in and out of our lives for a reason. Some are meant to stay, some are not. As we journey through life, we go through phases and stages. Some people are there for the long haul, some are meant to be temporary relationships. Why do we hold on so tightly to people who aren’t good for us? People who aren’t right for us? One of the biggest reasons is fear. Fear of being alone. But sometimes it’s because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of family members and old friends, sometimes because the bad connections are connected to some of our good connections and because of fear of losing those good connections, we continue in the relationship even when it is hurtful or unhealthy for us to do so. Learning to let go and release is essential to learning how to move into the realm of abundance that is always present and waiting for you. Realize and recognize that as you let go, what you are telling God and the universe (by universe I’m referring to the universal laws that are at work in our lives that GOD created) is that you are ready to receive this abundance. It’s kind of like being in a romantic relationship. A lot of times people stay in bad relationships hoping and wishing for someone else better to come along. But as long as you continue to spend your time and energy in a relationship that isn’t working for you, you are keeping the doors of opportunity closed for a new relationship to come into your life. The relationship is not that great but you continue to stay in it because its comfortable or because of fear, all the while you are miserable inside. You are bonded to this person and as long as the two of you are together there is really no space for anyone else.

Also, it’s imperative that you eliminate negative, toxic people from your life. The same way that we need to eliminate toxins from our body, toxic relationships need to be eliminated as well. What is a toxic relationship? Well first of all, according to Merriam-Webster, Inc. ( 2011), “[biologically a toxin is a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable.]” ( para. ). Metabolic activities are basically anything having to do with metabolism which is the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. [Metabolism is also defined as the sum of these processes] ( Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2011). During the process of metabolism sometimes byproducts are produced. When you eat healthy whole foods that provide the cells with vitamins and other nutrients that it needs to thrive, you allow the body to function the way it should. On the other hand, if you eat unhealthy foods that are laden with chemicals, preservatives, additives, and other things that are foreign to the body, the body cannot function properly and there are toxic byproducts and substances that are produced as a result. We are encouraged to eat foods rich in antioxidants. Why? Because during metabolic processes, oxidation takes place during normal cellular function. The body metabolizes oxygen very well but 1% – 2% of cells will get damaged in the process and become free radicals. This is what is called oxidation. Since these free radicals are damaged, this makes them harmful to other cells. Why are they harmful to other cells? Because they are missing a critical molecule, and since they are missing a critical molecule, they then go looking for other cells to pair up with. Nothing wrong with pairing up, it’s the way they pair up. When free radicals (or damaged, unstable cells) pair up they do it by attacking the nearest stable molecule to steal its electron. When the attacked molecule loses its electron it then becomes an unstable, damaged molecule itself or free radical. This then creates a chain reaction of free radicals which can cause other cells to die if there aren’t any antioxidants available. Free radicals are kind of like wounded people. Wounded people have in some way been damaged, and although not every wounded person lashes out at others, it’s typically hurting people who hurt people. Sometimes these kind of people have the attitude that “Since I”m not happy, no one else is going to be happy.” And so they try to steal the life and joy from those who are closest to them. In essence what this person is doing is trying to bring people down to their level of unhappiness, in other words, trying to “pair up” as free radicals do in order to stabilize themselves and feel more grounded.

People who are negative are very toxic to the relationship. So where does negativity come from? A lot of negativity comes from dissatisfaction in some area of a person’s life. Whether it stems from dissatisfaction with a job, problems within a relationship, or some other issue, just like a molecule becomes unstable and toxic, a negative person is unstable and can be very toxic to the relationship. Being highly unstable, free radicals have to bond with other molecules, thus damaging these other molecules as life is literally leached out of them. Sometimes you can have negative, toxic people in your life who literally suck the life out of you and drain you of energy. They don’t add to the relationship, they take away with their constant complaining, constant backstabbing and gossiping about you and others, never having anything positive to say, never having anything good to contribute to the relationship, and they bring you down and put you down whenever they find the opportunity to do so, always fueled by that green-eyed monster called envy and jealousy. They are like leeches. Parasites that prey on you and attach themselves to you just to sustain their own life. And instead of spending their time bettering themselves and working on improving their own lives, they choose to spend their time analyzing and tearing down other people’s lives. This type of relationship must be cut off. Unstable molecules (free radicals) not having an even number of electrons, continuously seek out extra electrons that they can “steal” to help stabilize themselves so they attach themselves to other molecules. In the human body, this process of free radicals robbing the life from your cells results in destructive damage to your cells. Negative people sometimes behave in this manner, although they really don’t realize that they do. Their unstable condition causes them to seek out people with whom they can attach themselves to for stability. You have something they don’t. Be careful who you attach yourself to and who you allow to attach to you. Everybody who is trying to bond to you is not doing so to share with you as this is the behavior of atoms (which form molecules.) Some people are looking to attach themselves to you for what they can get from you or “steal” from you.

Have you ever had an encounter with an angry person who’s negative disposition somehow rubbed off on you? Everything was going fine until you came in contact with this person who lashed out at you. These type of situations usually happen when either the negative person has had an argument with someone (maybe a spouse or maybe they got chewed out by the boss) and they don’t know how to release the negative energy. So you are the next person (yay for you!) who comes along and happens to stumble along their path and because they were not able to dump their negativity elsewhere, they dump it on you. This happens so quickly that sometimes you don’t even realize what has happened until it’s over. Now you are the one who is angry. And typically the person who dumped on you then walks away free and clear of all negative energy that was dumped on them. There’s been a transfer of energy, and you weren’t even prepared for it.

Another reason that you need to eliminate negative toxic people from your life is because whatever we place value on, we focus on. Sometimes people place value on a title, and because of the title, we give more value than should be given to the person even when that person doesn’t value you or add value to your life. Some of those titles can be mother, father, sister, brother, etc. If these relationships are dysfunctional but you feel you must maintain close ties because of the titles, you are putting your own emotional health and welfare in jeopardy. If you allow toxins to stay in your body they eventually erode away all the good stuff like weeds choke the life out of healthy plants, so why do we do so with personal relationships?

Whatever you value you focus on
Whatever you focus on you align yourself with
Whatever you align yourself with becomes your world
Whatever becomes your world becomes the center of your universe
Whatever becomes the center of your universe becomes your reality

This is where alignment comes into play. Alignment is key in relationships. It’s important to have healthy relationships that involve give and take by both parties. If one person is always giving and the other person rarely or hardly ever reciprocates then the relationship is lopsided and imbalanced.Think about a car that’s out of alignment. The car wobbles along the highway because the gears and joints are off-centered. If you take your hands off the steering wheel for one second the car will steer off the road. When a car is in alignment you can take your hands off the wheel for quite a good length of time before it starts to veer off because everything is balanced and working together to keep the car centered. Relationships are suppose to be bring balance in our life. There is a mutual sharing of positives in a healthy relationship. Whenever there is an imbalance, it causes us to lose focus. It becomes a serious distraction.

In life you have a variety of relationships with parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, coworkers, etc. In these relationships each one serves a purpose in your life. Our parents are there to guide us from the time we are babies until we grow to become adults. Our friends are in our lives to share with us and us with them. When one of these many relationships are not serving or supporting us causing problems in our life, and are negative and toxic, it throws your life out of balance. Why? Because everyone has a set of values and beliefs that steer us in life. These core beliefs are what drive us. If you are constantly around people who’s values and beliefs are not aligned with your own values and beliefs it will cause much friction in your life. Alignment is all about balance. Misalignment on a car comes from uneven tire wear but it’s not only because of the tires but suspension as well. Are your relationships uneven? Like uneven tires, uneven relationships (or relationships with people who do not line up with your core values and beliefs and even relationships where you are doing more of the giving and the other person is doing most of the taking) can cause friction which creates wear and tear on your relationship. Parts of your car’s suspension may become worn and springs can be stretched out. Think about some of your own personal relationships. Out of all of your personal relationships, how many of these are causing you to feel like springs that have been stretched out? There are some relationships that can wear us out and zap our energy because of the never-ending negative impact that these relationships have on us. Some people that we allow ourselves to be in close relationship with don’t even add to your life, they only take away. How do they take away? You are the person they turn to only when they need something, you are the one they call up when they need a listening ear. Your relationship with them is one-sided where you are constantly giving and they are constantly taking. It’s okay if this relationship is a mentoring relationship but when we consider this person to be a friend this becomes a problem. If this is a relationship that is suppose to be a mutual friendship you may want to consider re-evaluating the relationship. Is the relationship a two-way street or a one-way street? Are you giving more than you are receiving or is it mutual give and take? If you are doing more of the giving and hardly ever receiving there needs to be an adjustment made.

In reference to alignment, bumps and other things like dents in the road can cause a car to become misaligned. In relationships we can hit quite a few bumps in the road of life as well. Sometimes these bumps (or friction) never get fixed or adjusted. Sometimes people overlook things in the relationship that need to be addressed yet all the while holding feelings inside and just going along without properly addressing the issue. Even relationships need maintenance. Are there any things in your relationships that need adjustments? Think about some of your relationships that may be strained. The thing about relationships is that unlike cars that you can take to a mechanic to get fixed or fix yourself, you can’t fix people unfortunately. It takes two to work on a relationship and two to make the relationship work. When a relationship hits a specific bump in the road and throws your relationship off-balance (out of alignment), what steps do you take to realign your relationship? If someone says something to you out of anger, how do you address these issues? If you don’t go to the person honestly and openly about your feelings you are allowing friction to build up in the relationship. Friction can build up causing wear and tear and unless it is addressed it can cause the relationship to suffer.

One of the benefits of alignment is ensuring that your car drives straighter and smoother [in your personal relationships this is compared to focus]. You get better gas mileage [are able to go further in life] because your tires will be properly aligned with the road thereby decreasing resistance. Is there resistance in your relationship that could use some fine-tuning? Maybe it’s time for an alignment. There are some relationships that are not going to get fixed no matter how much you try and repair and re-align. Maybe the other person is unwilling to change or adjust. Sometimes people grow apart and move in different directions. Sometimes one person in the relationship has grown and the other person hasn’t so this can also create friction. Re-evaluate those relationships that are no longer serving you and get your life back into Alignment!

References :

Davis, J. L. (2005-2011). How Antioxidants Work . WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-antioxidants-work1

Merriam-Webster, Inc..(2011).Metabolism .Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metabolism

Have you ever looked at someone else’s life, someone you are friends with, a close family member, or work associate and felt jealous about where they are at in life, their success in life. Or maybe not even jealous, because you desire for them to be happy and blessed, but maybe you just felt saddened by the fact that you life is not where you expected it to be in terms of the dreams and goals that you had set for yourself and you just haven’t arrived yet. You may have even started out together, collaborating together, working on the same projects, moving in the same direction during a certain period in your life, and somewhere along the way during your journey in life you went down another path. You don’t really know how you got there. It’s not a wrong path or a bad one, it’s just that it’s foreign to you. You are having a wilderness experience. How did you end up in the wilderness of life? What is the purpose of the wilderness?…..life lessons and a time for processing. You tried to stay along the same path, fought that wayward path tooth and nail, but no matter what you did you couldn’t hold on to that place. And no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t go back. No matter how much you tried you just seemed to keep getting pulled in another direction. Things that were comfortable to you were seemingly stripped from you. God doesn’t want you to be comfortable. He’s trying to shake up some things in your life to get to higher ground. This requires a different direction, one that you wouldn’t normally take on your own volition. He’s moving you into another place, He’s taking you somewhere. You’re in a foreign land (spiritually speaking). Wilderness experience.

I just want to let you know that no time is wasted with God. Sometimes we feel like we’ve lost time because we are not where “we” had planned to be, or that we are not as far along as we thought we’d be or because our dreams have not yet been realized. Know that God has not forgotten you. Every thought, every prayer, every dream, every desire that you have brought before Him in prayer is in His hands, His timing, in due season. When I say in His timing I don’t mean that you have no control over bringing your desired goals and visions to pass. You do have an active part in this. You do control your destiny. We are taught that God is in control and it somehow gives christians the perspective that we have no power to do anything and just sit around and wait for God to do everything. That’s not true. While the truth is that God is in control, He always is because He has ALL power in His hands, but He has given us power too. We’re not helpless. Not that we should be forging ahead doing things on our own, but we should be active participants in our destiny. God is there to help us, lead us, guide us to the promised land. We are provided covenant blessing, that means as a covenant partner with God, we have a responsibility too. He is not going to do everything for us. He’s already done it when He died on the cross. It’s already done. We need to speak the word and activate our faith to bring those things to pass. That’s our participation. The bible says that faith without works is dead being alone. If we were not supposed to take an active part in the plans and visions that God has for us then we would not have need to be active and work our faith. We have a free will. God is not going to invade our lives. He doesn’t do anything without our permission, this would not honor our free will. We have a choice, daily, to take an active part in God’s plan for our lives. We have the power to choose death or life. We have an active part in learning and knowing the truth because the truth is what sets us free. Knowledge is power. The more you are aware, the more knowledge you have, the more knowledge have, the more power you have.

If you are on a different path as a christian, other than the path that you intended, this is just part of God’s plan. You don’t know where God is taking you, you don’t know the fullness of the plans that He has for you but know this, no time is wasted time with God. Also know that while you are in your wilderness, all things are working together for good to those who love God and called according to His purpose. There are times when you may even veer off the path a little bit but if you come to God with a repentant heart He will be faithful and just to forgive you and get you back in right standing again. No time lost! Whether you feel like you’ve wasted years or not, those years helped to process you, develop you, teach you, enlighten you, strengthen you, and mature you. This was necessary to prepare you for the blessing that God has in store for you. And God said He would restore unto you the years that the caterpillar, locust, cankerworm…..have eaten. The locust and cankerworm were in that wilderness experience. If God brought you to it, He will take you through it. He will give you double for you trouble. Those blessings have been stored up for you. God has just been waiting for you to spiritually get to a place for you to be able to receive them. Waiting for you to get in position for your blessings. The place that you were at before, you were not ready for them at that place in your life. He was ordering your steps and leading you onto a different path, a path to your blessings, to your destiny. He could have allowed you to get those blessings before the time was right but what kind of spiritual parent would God be if He wasn’t looking out for your best interest and didn’t have your best interest at heart? Would you have been able to KEEP those blessings is the question. Can you maintain your blessings? Sometimes as people we go out and buy things whether it’s a high maintainence car, house, clothes, jewelry, whatever, trying to keep up with the Jones’ and end up killing ourselves financially because of an image we are trying to maintain knowing full well that we are living way beyond our means. Then we end up in debt, on the verge of losing everything when we could’ve saved ourselves the trouble from the get go. That is not God’s plan for your life. Most parents would never give expensive gifts to their children knowing full well that they are not mature enough to handle them. They are just not mature enough and not responsible enough to have them yet and definitely don’t know how to handle money. No parent in their right mind is going to allow their child to get in the kitchen and have control over cooking meals until they are responsible enough and have enough knowledge about the stove, the cooking utensils, and the equipment. Otherwise, they may get burnt!! That’s not God’s design for us either as His children. We have to be prepared and preparation requires going through a process of learning. God’s gifts are not expensive they are PRICELESS! That means they are way beyond the value that we could ever put on it. And when He gives it to us (or finally releases our blessings, after we are ready for them), His intentions is for us to keep them, maintain them, and enjoy them to the fullest extent, and for them to increase even more, not just staying at one level but even more blessings. Neither eyes have seen nor ears have heard the things that God has in store for His people. The bible says that we can’t even imagine (our mind can’t even fathom the things that God desires for us). We can barely even believe or conceive the simple things of God, His laws, and His principles. He takes us faith to faith and from glory to glory, little by little, through a process. That’s the school of life. Lessons to be learned and test and TRIALS to pass to prove what you think you’ve learned. Then you move on to the next level.

Don’t ever be jealous of someone else’s blessings. If you do feel that emotion, which is only human to do so, just take it to Jesus. Know that God is working things out for your good. Whether it looks like it or not, if your heart is right and you are doing those things that He desires of you, walking in the way that He commands according to His laws and ways, you will eventually walk into your blessings in due season. While you are waiting for your blessings, make preparations for them. Make sure you are learning every lesson that you need to learn in life. For every experience, every bad thing that happens to you or every failure, don’t let the anger from it turn to bitterness. Don’t get bitter get better. With every experience there is something to learn. Sit back and evaluate the lesson and find out what you should be getting out of it. Then you will be on your way to success. Celebrate the success of others, knowing that your time is coming too!…for God is no respecter of person.

Clutter

January is that time of year when new beginnings are in the air. Everyone’s still excited from the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, then New Year’s. Now it’s the beginning of the year and a time of reflection on the previous year regarding what has been accomplished, what hasn’t yet been completed (or even started), and what new paths to take. Usually during the month of January, a few weeks after taking down all of the Christmas decorations and the tree, I take a look around the house and review all of the stuff that I have. I see things lying around in the closet or the bedroom that haven’t been used in six months or longer. I have my “spring cleaning” and my “fall cleaning” sessions but there’s something about the new year that motivates me to take inventory and declutter. Typically I like to keep certain things “just in case” because you just never know when you might need it. And, I have had situations where I’ve thrown a few things out only to have a situation to arise when I actually could have used what I threw away. But, it really doesn’t kill you to have to go to the store and replace an item.

I was cleaning out one of my closets and some of my storage containers today that I keep things in that I don’t use everyday and just decided that I wanted to throw almost everything away. I just wanted to get rid of all of it. I don’t really like to keep stuff because I hate too much clutter but I also don’t like to throw everything away because to me that’s just wasteful and I feel that you should be as resourceful as possible and take care of the things you have. But too much stuff collected over time is just a mess. So usually after pouring my buckets of stuff on the bed and looking at it I struggle with what I will throw out and what I should keep. I usually want to just throw everything away just to clear it out, but I know I can’t do that.

There were two things that I had been keeping of my daughter’s that took up too much space: a poster board project and a stack of poster-size artwork that she made in kindergarten. Just didn’t want to part with them for sentimental reasons. One declutter tip that I learned years ago was to take pictures of your kids’ art and school projects. I thought that was the best idea. You still have the memory of it without the clutter of it all. So that’s what I did, I took pictures of these things and now I feel better about throwing them out.

Sometimes in life you experience a lot of stress and agitation and there are moments when you just don’t know why. If you were to take inventory of not only your personal space (your home, your car, your desk at work, etc.) but your personal relationships as well, then you could see why there is so much stress in your life. Clutter produces stress. It’s amazing to me how clutter in a home can make you feel uptight. When you have a well organized, clean home you automatically feel more relaxed and at ease. There have been times during the early years of my marriage when my kids were babies and during the toddler stage I felt so overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking care of the kids, changing diapers, feeding them, doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc., etc., etc. and worked a forty hour a week job on top of that. Some things just didn’t get done. If it didn’t get done one particular day I would try to get to it the next day or the day after that, or the day after that lol!. Fortunately I have a husband who was and still is very helpful around the house. He’s not the type to think that housework is “women’s work” which many men do even when their wives work a full time job. Hey I have mowed the yard on many occasions. Actually I would rather mow than cook – go figure lol!. I think it was just my attitude about being in the kitchen and that old “barefoot and pregnant” thing that I didn’t like so much so mowing the lawn to me was a little more “liberating”. Those were the early years. Now that I’m older and have been married for thirteen years I have come to enjoy cooking (after many years of praying to God to help me find enjoyment in this mundane task.) I have actually discovered and experienced that feeling of love and contentment in preparing meals for my family that I’ve heard other women talk about. Finally!!

Those times when the housework was lacking due to my inability to keep up with the SUPERWOMAN routine, my husband and I would find ourselves in petty arguments and just stressed about the smallest little things. Then we’d both mention to each other after the argument that we thought it had something to do with the clutter in the house. Whenever the housework piled up, it always gave us that feeling of uneasiness. And, whenever the house was neat and clean it gave us a feeling of peace and tranquility, we were more relaxed, nicer to each other and more affectionate toward each other. We would notice a major difference. It even affects you emotionally and many times physically when your finances are unorganized and maybe you’ve overspent and neglected certain bills by going out to eat too much or spent the money elsewhere. Bills pile up and you find yourself having to double up or find yourself not having enough money to buy all the groceries you need or other things. You go in the grocery store with the kids and usually that’s the time when they ask the most. Any other time when you have the money to stock up on everything they don’t say much, but as if you aren’t stressed already due to the fact that you slipped in the area of your finances, now the kids are adding to that stress by begging for almost everything in the store. Thank God I don’t do that anymore. I’ve learned from many experiences and know the difference between want and need.

Declutter your life. It’s such an important thing to do. Clutter creates anxiety and stress in so many ways. Some people are so attached to their cluttered lifestyle that they don’t even realize how it has an impact on their emotions. Too much stress can lead to physical ailments if not controlled. Our emotions directly affect our physical body. Sometimes it can be something as simple as procrastinating. When you have things that you need to take care of and you keep putting it off, it lingers in your mind and even this small thing can create a little bit of stress in your life. Headaches are produced from worrying too much. Worrying about a task that you keep allowing to linger. There’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you take care of your responsibilities and have your life in order. To be able to mark a few items off your to do list gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

As I was throwing stuff away it just felt good to get rid of things that were no longer of use to me and no longer had any value. Holding on to things that no longer serve you just makes you stagnant. Sometimes we hold on to relationships that no longer serve us and support us for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons being that we’re too afraid to let go of the familiar, codependency issues, just because it’s family even if the family member is negative and the relationship is toxic, and not having faith to believe that God will replace people that you need to release and let go of. It’s a wonderful thing to have old friends that you have built a relationship with for years that are still positive and thrive. What a blessing that is. But sometimes people hold on to negative relationships that are not beneficial and don’t add anything of value to their lives. Some doors must close before others will open. While you’re spending all your time and energy trying to make that relationship work with a man who’s not pulling his weight and no good for you because you may be afraid that you won’t find anyone else, you’re wasting opportunities to allow the right person to come into your life. Find ways to build your self-esteem and increase your self-confidence. Spend your time and energy improving yourself instead of wasting your time and energy on negative relationships and people that pull you down. Be selective about the people you choose to spend the majority of your time with, surround yourself with positive people who motivate you, inspire you, support you, and add to your life. Time to prioritize, organize, and declutter your life! Out with the Old, in with the New!

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