The Smorgasbord


I cannot think of one single thing to blog about so I’ve decided to create a smorgasbord, so to speak, of things that have been on my mind this week.

Joyce Meyer
One of the things I have always appreciated about Joyce Meyer is her willingness to be transparent. People love hearing what she has to say. It is because of this willingness to be transparent that people can relate to her. I have been reading her books and watching her on television since 2009. She has overcome many things, but one thing she talks about often is how she was able to rise above things that happened to her as a child: she was continually sexually molested by her own father while her own mother stood silently by. Wow! What a major hurdle. She hasn’t always lived an exemplary life, even as a church going believer. Her past attitudes often mirror some from my own past, and occasionally some from my current times. Her transparency gives me hope for myself in affecting a real, and genuine change and transformation.

One of Joyce’s best-selling books is “The Battlefield of the Mind.” I’ve owned it for years, as well as the e-book edition. I mention this because everything she does and says goes along with what I have been blogging about these past few weeks. Meyer’s message of transforming and renewing our mind is faith-based. Dr. Caroline Leaf’s research involves faith as well, but is scientifically proving what the Bible has been saying all along about this topic.

A recent addition to my repertoire of books and studies is Brene Brown, who speaks of making ourselves transparent and vulnerable to others. These all fit neatly together.

Comfort and Joy and Hurting People
Yesterday, while driving to Thanksgiving dinner with family, as is my tradition, I listened to Christmas music. As I sat at a red light, I began to focus on what was playing. The chorus of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” singing “tidings of comfort and joy” filled the air. I thought, “Comfort and Joy?” I’ve heard these words all my life. So many, many people are hurting in this world. How on earth can the cold and hungry have comfort and joy? Families morning the loss of loved ones, can they have comfort and joy? Their loss is only highlighted on holidays. What about the lonely? The bedridden invalid? Broken relationships? I don’t have any helpful answers other than to make myself available for anyone in need of comfort and joy. If only all families on the planet were like those in the Christmas commercials, right?

Black Friday – the Frenzy
I generally don’t enjoy shopping. I certainly have no interest in Black Friday shopping. However, last year I waited until the frenzy was nearly over and went late in the evening of Black Friday (2014) to Best Buy for one specific purchase. It really wasn’t that bad. Today I shopped online for a Black Friday price special. Again, one specific item was purchased. That is the extent of my Black Friday shopping in an entire lifetime. I don’t feel deprived or that I am missing out –I will patiently wait a couple of days for Cyber Monday to score more great deals from the comfort of my couch, while in pajamas.

The Table
Many families have a tradition at the Thanksgiving table of having each one state what they are thankful for. We did just that at our Thanksgiving feast A reoccurring theme was on everyone’s lips: Everyone was thankful for their family and I am no exception. I am very thankful my parents are still alive. I’m thankful for my grandparents, my two siblings, my 50+ first cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, 4 children, 2 sons-in-law, 16 grandchildren, a grandson-in-law and one great-grandson. Whew!

Lamentations, Lamentations

A few weeks ago I was lamenting to my therapist about how mortified I was to learn of the many grammatical and punctuation errors in my blog. Our conversation went a lot like this:

“I am an English major, for goodness sake.”

“What is the purpose of your blog?”

“Well, aside from being a classroom assignment, I was hoping I might be able to help someone who may be dealing with the same issues.”

He then opened a book and proceeded to read a passage from Daring Greatly, written by Brene Brown. The gist of the passage stated that it was better to have attempted to accomplish a goal, fraught with error, than to have a perfect blog that is never published.

Having often been counseled by him (my therapist) from Brene Brown’s perspective, I finally broke down and bought the book. It is the first physical book I have purchased in a few years, except for textbooks. I usually buy digitally-formatted books, but I knew this was something I really wanted to get my hands into with underlining, handwritten notes, etc. Besides, there is something utterly delicious about holding a hardcopy and turning the pages.

The title of the book is taken from a famous speech by Theodore Roosevelt delivered in Sorbonne, France, in 1910. The speech is titled “Citizenship in a Republic,” but is often referred to as “The Man in the Arena.” A portion of it states, “… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly ….”

The premise of the book is transforming our lives by making ourselves vulnerable. The degree to which we protect ourselves from vulnerability reveals our level of fear and disconnection. “We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be­–a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation–with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sit on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.” – Brene Brown

I hardly wait to dive into this book: Just as soon as I put the pencil down after the last final exam of the semester.

Brown, Brene. Daring Greatly. Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House, New York, New York. 2012. 1-3

My Shameful Foe

For the past few months, I have been participating in Dr. Caroline Leaf’s 21-Day Brain Detox online program. I’ve had some amazing successes in replacing harmful internal messages I’ve been believing for years with truthful thoughts. The standard of truth, for me personally, is the Word of God. Do my thoughts agree with what God’s thoughts are about me?

One of these internal messages regarded shame, which led to a deep-seated belief that I was unworthy: Unworthy to be loved; unworthy to be treated well; and unworthy of respect. I am confident that I am not alone in this and many people face this exact battle.

Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, defines shame (I am paraphrasing) as the belief we are flawed and unworthy of love and belonging, due to something we have done, failed to do, or experienced which would make us feel unworthy of connection.

I will be giving an example of how I have been working on defeating this shameful foe, but I want to explain a few things first.

Although Dr. Leaf initially claims 21 days are all one needs to begin dissolving toxic thoughts, but this is only a beginning. In order for the new healthy thought to become your default mode – and into the subconscious – it takes three cycles of 21 days, for a total of 42 days.

This daily process involves introspection and some journaling. It it designed to take only 7-10 minutes a day, but I often spend much more time than this. At the conclusion of the session you design what she refers to as an active reach. This active reach should not be time consuming and be meaningful to you. Determine an image to visualize and say the new thought out loud simultaneously. At least 7 times throughout the day repeat this active reach. The goal is to displace the unhealthy thought, placing the healthy thought in its place.

I have almost always paired my visual image with a scripture from the Bible. It is completely personal and it is important to find what works for you. There were times I sang a few lyrics from a song that meant something to me with a scripture. One very critical element to this process is to include God. Dr. Leaf begins each day with three minutes of thanking, worshipping, and praising God.

The following is an excerpt from my journal and an example of the process:

Shame- my whole life has been wrapped around shame. Like a pig-in-a-blanket – shame, shame, shame, more shame. People who “love” me were not there for me – therefore, I must have done something to deserve that. This is so engrained within me that the shame is inherent in my thoughts and subconscious. My therapist said that the definition of shame is the same as saying who we are. Guilt and shame lead to thoughts of un-deservedness and has been the driving force behind my entire life.

Active Reach: Today I choose to believe that I have value. I visualize I am center stage in the spotlight. God spotlights me because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. God does not spotlight quilt and shame. “Grace, mixed with faith and love, poured over me and into me – and all because of Jesus . . . now he shows me off . . .” I Timothy 1:14-16 MSG

Here’s a Thought . . .

Modern science is revealing that the power of our mind (our thoughts) has the ability to change the physical landscape of our brain; our brains are malleable. This is in contrast to previous theories just a few decades ago, when scientists considered our brains to be hard-wired and fixed.

Breakthroughs in neuroscience are confirming that what we are thinking brings real, physical changes within our brains, changes that can affect our mental and physical health. It is more than positive thinking. Our thoughts collect to form our attitude – our state of mind.

Our state of mind is a real, physical, electromagnetic, and chemical flow within the brain that switches genes on or off – positively or negatively – based on our choice of thought. The brain responds to the mind by sending neurological signals into and throughout the body: Thoughts are turned into physiological effects, the physiological transforms into varying states of emotional and mental health.

It is astonishing to know that something so seemingly trivial as a thought can create real, physical change within the body’s cells.

I am focused on changing the way I think for one simple reason. I seriously need to!