Love me a good Kevin Costner movie. And who will ever forget “The Field of Dreams”? “If you build it, they will come!” Classic movie, classic line, classic tale! Well, this tale is a little bit like that. And a little bit not.
A week ago, I was feeling incredibly low. I had been for over a month. I actually told my husband that if he didn’t help me, I was afraid where my head was taking me. I felt like I was sitting in the bottom of a 6-foot pit, dirt piled on top of me until I couldn’t breathe through the dust, more coming all the time and no escape from it. Why? Well – a long story, all surrounding money, postpartum difficulties, lack of sleep with a newborn and four kids age four and under. A summer of moving, paying two mortgages, and getting a 20% pay cut with the government sequester didn’t really help, either. Months of struggles that left me tired of saying, “I can’t come, I can’t afford it, maybe next time, not this year, I have to cancel that, etc.” The problem was, the more I said I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t, hadn’t . . . the worse I felt, the more trapped I felt, the more buried I felt, the more I wanted to break free from my bondage, run away from my reality, or retaliate like a spoiled teenager!
Then one of my dear friends sent me a tender mercy reminder through this Cherokee Tale:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
To say this hit me like a ton of bricks would be an understatement. What was I doing? I didn’t even recognize myself any more! Why was I letting a few, temporary, “hard-knock-life” moments literally tear me up inside and destroy me? Why was I feeding anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, pity, resentment, regret, and envy and burying hope, gratitude, love, faith, joy, compassion, and humility? I was truly feeding the WRONG WOLF in my life; and everyone in my family was suffering for it.
So – that night, I sat down and wrote some resolves. The next night, I went to sleep at a decent hour. I woke up rested and rejuvenated. I spent time with my kids, just because I really do love spending time with my kids. I took them to the park to keep from sitting around, waiting for an update to our condo crisis or for one more thing to fall apart. I baked bread and took some to a friend who was struggling. I wrote another friend to tell her all the things I love about her. And guess what? I FELT BETTER!!! *GASP*
I wanted to share with all of you FIVE things that you can do to FEED the good, even in hard times; to push a literal RESET on your life even if nothing else in your life changes; to take CONTROL over your life today, right now, this minute:
1) Gratitude – flood 3 people a day with gratitude and love and keep a gratitude journal at night with 5 things every day that you are thankful for.
2) R&R – Stress and anxiety release cortisol in your body – and cortisol literally shuts your body down! So the answer is to REST and to RELAX in order to RESTORE. Schedule in YOU time. Seriously. Do it today — do it RIGHT NOW! And don’t move it for anything or anyone. Remember the analogy of the oxygen mask on the airplane? THAT IS TRUTH, my friends! Solid. Plain. Simple. Truth. If you don’t have it yourself – you can’t give it to those who constantly demand it from you! Schedule in your sleep. Listen – I KNOW it is hard with little children (did I mention I have 4 ages 4 and under — I pretty much haven’t slept ten whole nights for the last 5 years – LOL!). BUT – get with your spouse if you have one or with a family member or friend and schedule in SLEEP. If you are over-the-top (OTT) stressed and short with your kids and snappy and crabby and drowning in OVERWHELM — get away, send your children somewhere, or bring someone in. You will be amazed what ONE FULL NIGHT OF SLEEP and ONE DAY AWAY will do for your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual state! The best sleep happens between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. – and you really DO need about 8 hours of sleep at night. Finally – take some time to meditate! Meditation is amazing – 15 minutes a day turns off 2,000 inflammatory genes in your body. 30 min.-1 hour a day is better. Deep spiritual prayer does the same thing – turns on the feel-good chemicals in the brain, increases the production of the human growth hormone at night, lowers cortisol levels, and removes stressors. Just 15 minutes — ANYONE can find 15 minutes!
3) Feed the POSITIVE! You are your own worst critic! Every time you tell yourself you “can’t” or you “aren’t” or you “don’t” or you “shouldn’t” — even if it’s just your thoughts in your head — you are creating that negative life! I had a friend tell me once that he put a rubberband on his wrist and every time he thought a negative thought – about himself or someone else – he FLICKED it to remind himself to change his attitude/thoughts. Every single day, write down 5 things that you ARE – repeat them 50 times in your head throughout the day! Take your can’ts and turn them into can’s! Instead of saying, “I am not organized enough to do something like that.” Say, “I am the organization QUEEN! I can totally do a great job at that!” Instead of saying, “My hair is always a mess!” Say, “My hair is my FAVORITE physical characteristic. I rock FRIZZY!” A little silly – but you get the idea. Instead of saying, “I’m on a diet – I can’t eat that cookie!” Say, “I love to give my body solid nutrition! I choose to feel clean and energize my body and soul!”
4) Serve. I promise you that, no matter how hard your life is right now, there are 10 people within arm’s reach of you who have it 1,000 times worse than you do and who you, even in your difficulties, can bless the SOCKS off of! What would make your entire day fill up with sunshine, really light you up inside? Flowers? A nice note? Someone taking your kids for a few hours? Dinner magically appearing on the table? A worry-free date night with your spouse? A friend to go out to lunch with? A comment on your Facebook Post or Blog? Whenever you find yourself saying, “I sure wish that . . . . . I wish someone would do _________ for me,” find someone to DO IT FOR!!! Forget YOURSELF and go to work to create JOY and PEACE and LOVE and HOPE in someone else’s life! Trust me – Karma can a beautiful thing (or, as a college friend said, a real WITCH); what you give will come back to you! Give GOOD . . . always!
5) Exercise and Eat Healthy. Yes, these are ONE thing: taking care of your body. And I’m not going to say that these things are easy or give you the million tips for doing them — at least not in THIS post. But I will say — JUST DO IT! Find 30 minutes every single day — look up a workout video on YouTube and get ‘er done! Or turn up the rock and roll and have a non-stop dance party with your kids in your kitchen. Better still, take them to the park and let them play while you run laps up and down the street in front of them. Then go play with them on the toys for your cool-down. No excuses — your body BEGS you to get in at least 30 minutes a day/6 days a week. THEN: Get rid of all of the processed, unhealthy, artificial junk in your trunk/pantry — it is SUCKING life out of you!!! For real! Food and exercise are in your control! And having things in your control when the rest of your world feels like it is spinning out of your control is a VERY EMPOWERING THING that will definitely feed the good in your life and give you LIFE in your living.
6) I know I said 5, but I feel a need to add a 6th. Forgive. Forgive yourself – you are only human! Forgive others. If you hold onto their faults, you deny them the ability to forgive and move past them. Holding grudges, holding faults, holding pain in only hurts YOU! Let it go! Release the pain, release the negative, embrace the love and hope and joy and NEW BEGINNING of every single day. Forgive. Move on. Free others as you free yourself.
Feed the good in your mind, in your relationships, in your body, and in your heart — especially in your thoughts and actions towards yourself, your life, your blessings, your spouse, your job, your boss, your children. Feeding the good in our lives will result in having more GOOD in our lives! Why?
Because the one you feed is the one that will WIN!