Posts filed under ‘Boundaries’

Favorite Sunday Ritual

A ritual is a set of actions or words, or a ceremony, performed in a regular (customary) way. Rituals can be done mindfully or as a part of a rote habit.
Rituals can be spiritual or good for self-care. Spiritual rituals can include morning prayers,  forgiveness, or going to a religious service each week. Healthy living rituals include running each evening after work, having a smoothie for breakfast, or giving yourself a facial each Saturday night.
“I learned a few years ago that balance is the key to a happy and successful life, and a huge part of achieving that balance is to instill rituals into your everyday life – a nutritious balanced diet, daily exercise, time for yourself through meditation, reading, journaling, yoga, daily reflection, and setting goals.” Gretchen Bleiler

I’ve tried to institute various forms of Sunday rituals. They’ve included: prepare my meals for the week, clean out my purse, write a letter, go through my calendar and plan the week, and organize outfits for the coming work week. None of these have stuck long-term.

But I’ve discovered one Sunday ritual that is absolutely necessary for me to indulge in so I can have a great week. This ritual is free and doesn’t require a lot of energy or prep. It is an afternoon nap.

“Exercise, prayer, and meditation are examples of calming rituals. They have been shown to induce a happier mood and provide a positive pathway through life’s daily frustrations, ” Chuck Norris.

A 90-minute nap is best for me. It helps me to shed some of the past week’s weariness and gives me a bit of an energy-edge for the coming week. It feels luxurious and this bit of spoiling lifts my mood. This nap absolutely impacts the quality of the coming week.

Skip it and I pay the consequences. I won’t have as much stamina or happiness in the next seven days. When I don’t have a Sunday nap, I feel like I’ve cheated myself.

Your Turn . . .  What weekly ritual do you have that is indispensable in terms of good self-care? . . . What are some ideas you read here that you want to try this week?

Related Posts . . . 

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Lenten Ideas to Help Us Focus on and Become More Like Jesus

On Lent Eve (AKA Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras) I ate pancakes and decided my Lenten plan. And I wrote about the following: When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? What am I preparing for? (Question by Rachel Held.)

On Lent Eve (AKA Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras) I ate pancakes and decided my Lenten plan.  . . . .  And I wrote about the following: . . . . . When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? What am I preparing for? (Question by Rachel Held Evans.)

I dabble in Lent. For the past 8 years I’ve done various things: given something up (social media, unnecessary spending), added something (usually a spiritual discipline), donated (money and items) to a good cause, and prayed more. I don’t attend a liturgical church, so I don’t really know what I am doing.

In my past Lenten observances, I’ve never done well at fasting. I’ve never spent extra time in confession. And come to think of it, many of my other attempts were also lame.

But I did these “lame” things to prepare myself for Easter. And while they were done imperfectly and probably incorrectly, I did achieve my goal. By the time Easter came around, I was more focused on the Redeemer of my soul, Jesus. My thoughts & actions were a little more like His.

Here is a cool video about Lent. It is only 1 minute 15 seconds. “Lent is not a list of Catholic Resolutions nor is it a Catholic Endurance Test. . . . It is a campaign for holiness. Instead of giving up chocolate, how about giving up sin.” OUCH!

This year I am keeping it simple. The idea generator in me wants to add a bunch of things to this list. But I typically over-estimate my available time, energy, and resources. So there are only 3 things on my list.

(1) I am giving up negativity in all forms: pessimism . . . uncalled for anger . . .  criticism . . . complaining . . . worry . . . gossip . . . impatience . . . swearing . . . mean talk . . . pride . . . discouragement . . . hyper independence . . .  and victim- and scarcity-thinking. . . . I want to be purposeful about my thoughts and about what comes out of my mouth.

I don’t normally have a problem with negativity, but I think these next 40 days will show how well I really do or don’t do in this area.

(2) I am adding in Gratitude. I will write down one thing I am grateful for every day. And I want to be more purposeful abut looking for God’s presence in my life and in the world. I am sure this will give me many things to write on my gratitude list.

(3) I will read only about Jesus. I want my thoughts to be more focused on Him. Right now I have the following books in mind.

Here are some other Lent ideas. As I get the time and energy, I will pop into the following links and try one or two of their ideas.

40 Days of Prayer Doodling.  This is a visual, concrete,and different way to pray.

40 Days of Signs & Symbols.  Each day a different sign or symbol from Christian history or art and its meaning will be posted. Your challenge is to consider its meaning for you today OR post a picture of something you saw today with a similar meaning OR share a thought as you reflect on this symbol.

40 Ideas for Lent Rachel Held Evans has compiled a list of 40 ideas to help us in this season of reflection, penitence, and preparation. I especially like how she starts off the list with 5 questions. If nothing else, do the 5 questions.

A Lent Where #BlackLivesMatter: 10 Ideas for Black History Month and the White Church. Use the Lenten season to truly immerse yourself in Black history and the current reality of people of color… if a white congregation has truly observed Black History month, then it will have naturally found itself wading, likely deeper than ever before, into the themes of Lent, that season of self-examination and repentance.

Declutter 40 Bags. Focus on getting the unnecessary stuff out in one spot per day. Don’t go nuts and tackle five spots because you want to prove something. Don’t get all bummed out because you missed a day (or ten). Just focus on one. spot. per. day.

Do Lent Generously. 55,000+ people are doing 40 days of giving back, doing good and living generously.

An infographic list of 20 odd ideas for teens (or anyone really).

Lenten Wilderness Meditation Practice. Every day for 40 days, we invite you to spend 10-20 minutes OUTSIDE in prayer/meditation/just being (rain or shine)!

Photography. InstaLent Photo Challenge or this photo-a-day project.

Write 40 Encouraging Notes. 

Your Turn . . .

  • If you’re participating in Lent this year, what will it look like?
  • Have you tried any of the above ideas?
  • What would you add to the list?

Related Posts . . . Read about my 1st Ash Wednesday here.

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Are You Living as If God is Not Enough?


It’s a new year and therefore a good time to look at your thoughts and behaviors. Do you look at these on a regular basis?

I do so twice a year because it is easy for me to get off track. This reflection time helps me to see if God is the priority.

  • What are my thoughts and behaviors based on?
  • Do they show that I believe God is enough?
  • Have I allowed daily time to grow my spiritual life? Check out the following areas: (1) devotions, (2) church, and (3) relationship with God.

Too often I find the following things have crept back into my thoughts, calendar, checkbook, and behaviors.

  • I allow too many outings on my calendar so that the truly important things and relationships get overshadowed.
  • I allow too much clutter and stuff  into my life. Therefore my home tends to be chaotic and unorganized.
  • I allow too many things on my to-do list. This contributes to me being confused and having a hard time focusing and finishing things.
  • I allow myself to spend too much time on the internet. Playing spider solitaire and researching is fun and informational, but not always the best use of my time

I recently wrote 5 Things on my STOP List Help me Clarify Life. I want to make sure my life is one that follows God like HE is ENOUGH, because He is. His Hands are holding me ALL the time, whenever I call.

Listen to this song, By Your Side, by Tenth Avenue North. The lyrics are after the jump.

Your Turn . . .  As you examine your life, what does it says about . . . . your priorities? . . . . your relationship with God? . . .  Does your life show that God is enough? Do you have a STOP list you’d like to make?


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4 Items On Post Retreat Bucket List


In Summer 2011, I wrote my bucket list and displayed it like this. I will display my Retreat Bucket List in a re-purposed Altoids Tin. How will you display yours?

Have you heard of a bucket list? Do you have one (or more)? Usually the lists are a random hodge-podge of to-do’s.

I have many lists: : One for each season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall), a theological bucket list, and a Food/Technique Bucket List.

In short, it is an intentional (and fun) list of items I intend to accomplish before I kick the bucket (aka die).

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with what I learned at Retreat this past weekend. So I decided to take my to-do’s and take-aways and create a bucket list of what I will do this summer (which I hope is a longtime away from when I die).

Many bucket lists include goals from the following categories: Languages, Music, Travel, Books, Hobbies, Relationships, Personal Development, Educational, and Crafting.


ONE. TRAVEL “Traveling” to see God. Instead of going to a Wonder of the World or an exotic place, I am going to watch videos that show the grandeur, creativity, and power of God

Here are a few ideas I have now. I will update as I find more. Please share your good “travel” videos that showcase God.

TWO. RELATIONSHIPS. Enrich my relationships. Healthy relationships with people improve my quality of life, help me navigate the hard times better, stretch me into becoming a kinder, less selfish person, and make the journey more satisfying and fun.

I will concentrate on two types of relationships: new and old.

  • New(er). At retreat I had the opportunity to spend time with ladies I had never spent time with before. This was a great way to jump start a relationship. I want to make sure I am purposeful about following up with them.
  • Old(er). I also had time to spend with  old relationships. And with these ladies, I also want to make sure I spend purposeful time with them this Summer.

How will I do this? Going to the Drive-In . . .  Game Night . . .  Pray Together . . . Discuss a Book . . . Day Trip to the Ocean . . . Bake or Craft Something Together . . . Learn something from the Bible together . . . One-on-One Time at Starbucks . . . Walking . . . Share a trouble. What would you add?

THREE. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: Improve my View of Myself. What I think and feel about myself is a constant stumbling block. All that I think and feel aren’t true. (Thanks to Robin for sharing that tidbit at Retreat.) I need to experience them, but I don’t have to follow their lead.

I want to release my feelings of being unloved, unliked, and incapable. In short I want to release my feelings of inadequacies.

God loves me. I share St. Augustine’s belief: “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” I want to LIVE it more often though.

It is a process and I am better than when I accepted Christ 3 days before my 16th birthday.

In order to move move Truth from my head to heart and feet, I want to meditate and journal on the following:

  • Do I really believe that God is gracious, that He cares about me?
  • Do you really believe that He is always, unfailingly, present to me as companion and support?
  • What in my life is challenging my trust that God unreservedly loves and completely forgives me?
  • What would I say to someone if they told me s/he is unworthy of God’s love?
  • I write a cardboard testimony that shows how God has been in my life. I will share this with someone. Have hankies around as you watch this example of what a cardboard testimony is.

FOUR. SPIRITUALITY: Improve my View of God. “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (AW Tozer). As I improve my view about God, I will be improving myself.

How do I do this? I’ll take time to answer the following.

  • What was my view of God before retreat? Did my view change as a result of retreat? If yes, how and why.
  • Look up the names of God. Which aspect(s) of God do I need/want in my life? Study the verses connected with the names. . . . I am going to journal about the names and look for how God shows up as that aspect. I.e. I am starting with Jehovah-Jireh (aka Yahweh-Jireh), the LORD will Provide (because He sees).
  • Look at the Facts of God list. Write my own list.

Your Turn . . . What will you do? Don’t delay. “Most of us postpone a decision hoping that Jesus will get weary of waiting and the inner voice of Truth will get laryngitis.” Brennan Manning

Related Posts . . .  Fruitfulwords Bucket List Index

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9 Types of People I Don’t Need When Life Stinks

Stay away from folks who try to alter or destroy your reality.  "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." Christopher Robin Photo credit: Rough & Ready Media

Stay away from people who would try to alter or destroy your reality.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Christopher Robin
Photo credit: Rough & Ready Media

Sometimes life is very hard and sometimes it even stinks. It’s during this very hard, stinky time that I need to be especially careful about the kind of people I am around. Why do I say this?

Have you heard that each of us is a compilation of the 5 people we hang around most? That is how much influence our friends, co-workers, and family have upon us.

Their attitudes, words, and actions can help us transition through the traumas of life or they can help sink us under the waves.

We have a choice as to how and with whom we spend our time. Below are 9 types of people I avoid when life stinks.

I don’t need someone who will . . . 

  1. POUNCE and tell me I’ve grievously sinned.
  2. QUOTE Scripture as a blame tool.
  3. GLOAT that my life’s use is over because of the situation I am in.
  4. OVER-MEDICATE me with advise.
  5. URGE me to give up on God and/or people.
  6. GOSSIP about my situation.
  7. DESERT me in my time of need.
  8. PUSH substances as a way for me to cope. I.e.  alcohol, sex, shopping, gaming/TV, food, drugs,
  9. MINIMIZE my pain and/or circumstances.

However there are folks I do NEED. Go here to read People I NEED When Life Stinks

Your Turn . . . Please add to this list. What types of people don’t you need when your life stinks?


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9 Ways Chronically Ill/Injured People Benefit from a To-Do List


Healthy to-do- lists help organize, schedule, and corral our lives and thoughts.

Daily to-do lists are not created equal. Some lists are filled with so many tasks that it is impossible to get them all done in one week much less one day. 

Some lists are not written in any kind of order – listing the “must-do” right alongside the “would be nice to do.”

Some lists are not written for you. They state the goals and priorities of others or what you think others want you to do.

Finally some lists are too vague. Penning the word “exercise” doesn’t give you an indication of how to tell when you are done exercising.

Healthy to-do lists are what you need. They are do-able, precise, personal, and state what really needs doing today. And they must be S.M.A.R.T. A  healthy daily to-do list is not  a wish list, dump list, or bucket list.

Here are two links about writing effective to-do lists.

  1. 10 Tips to Create To-Do Lists Like a Pro!
  2. How to Make Your To-Do List Doable

Healthy to-do lists  . . .

  • help organize,
  • schedule, and
  • corral

A LIFE bursting with things to do.

It also helps corral, schedule, and organize A MIND bursting with thoughts.

But when I am ill or in pain, especially for a long time, I don’t have much on the to-do list nor is my mind bursting with thoughts. My main physical and mental goals are getting well, getting through that day. Can you relate?

But by using a healthy to-do list, you and I can do more than get through the day.  A well-written, healthy to-do list  is short. It takes into consideration the available energy for that day. It is okay and best to have only a few items on the list.

A healthy to-do list is beneficial in the following ways.

  1. Gives you something to look forward to
  2. Structures your day
  3. Determines YOUR priority for the day versus what others demand/expect of you
  4. Takes your mind off present ills
  5. Helps you create boundaries in your life
  6. Creates a sense of accomplishment
  7. Is a way to chart progress
  8. Automates your life so you don’t have to remember what to-do because it is written down
  9. Challenges you to do more or to do something out of your comfort zone

Want some ideas on what to put on your list? Look at the above benefits.  What would you like to do that would give you that benefit? Then choose one or two for today’s to-do list.

Your Turn . . . How have you found to-do lists beneficial (besides the obvious of getting things done)?

Related Posts . . .

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Memorable Posts from 2012 (Part 1)

last yearDo you ever look back at previous posts? I do for two reasons.

ONE. To remind myself of what happened in a certain year, month or week. 

TWO. To remind myself of what I learned.

Like me, are you ever surprised at what you wrote? Once in a while I say, who wrote that? That is some good writing!

Here are some posts from last year that tell a bit about my life or what I learned. I hope you are encouraged as you read.

January . . .

February . . . 

March . . . 

April . . . 

May – Nothing

June . . .

Part 2 (July-December) Coming Soon.

Your Turn . . .

  • Which of these posts are most meaningful to you?
  • If you have a blog, which post(s) are most meaningful to you? Share the title here and I will go read it at your blog and leave a comment.

Related Posts . . .

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Boundaries Benefit Me and Others

A well maintained physical fence insures that boundaries are respected. The same applies to life-fences too.

When you don’t set a boundary, you are doing that because it fulfils some need in you. However it is not typically in the best interest of the other person to do this. Your lack of action is not helping them long-term.

Think about what happens to the child who is not taught to be respectful towards others. Many times s/he develops a rude, self-centered, out-of-control attitude. People tend to stay away from and not like these types of people. So your inaction actually harms the child in the long run.

Boundaries are like fences around a yard (your life). They keep others’ problems out of your life (yard) and in the yard where they belong.

Boundaries . . .

  • Define what is me and what isn’t me
  • Show where I end and someone else begins
  • Lead to a sense of ownership
  • Are not walls or an excuse to avoid interacting with others
We need to keep things in our yards (our lives) that will nurture us. We need to keep out those things that will harm us. Sometimes we do the opposite: we keep the good out and keep the bad in.

This is why we need a gate. When the pain or the sin of boundary-less living affects us, we have a choice. We can either open the gate of communication (to God and to appropriate people) or ignore the pain and/or sin.

“Confessing pain and sin helps to get it out [of my yard/life] so that it does not continue to poison me on the inside” (Boundaries, p31).

What is my responsibility? My responsibility includes my . . .

  • Attitudes
  • Behaviours
  • Feelings

What is not my responsibility? Galatians 6:2 talks about helping others with their “stuff.”  This help is to take place during times of crisis and tragedy. This is not to be a day-to-day involvement where the other person abdicates their choices, power, and actions to you.

Think about this  . . .  “Satan is the great distorter of reality. He caused Eve to question God’s boundaries and God’s Truth” (Boundaries, p33).

NOTE: The book I am getting this information from is titled, Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This is my 4th time through the topic and I learn something to apply each time.

Your Turn . . .

  1. What is an action in your life that needs to be put out?
  2. Is there an area where you are questioning God’s boundaries or His truth?
  3. Are you taking full responsibility for your attitudes, behaviours, and feelings?
  4. Is there some action you want/need to take regarding a boundary with yourself or someone else?
  5. Are you neglecting a boundary because it is fulfilling a need in your life? If yes, what is the potential long-term harm to the other person?

Related Posts

I wrote this post (#4) for the 28-Day Blog Challenge for Authors.

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Can We Set Boundaries and Still be a Loving Person?

Boundaries are like a fence. I am responsible for what’s on my side of the fence. You are responsible for what’s on your side of the fence.

About once a month, in our Wednesday night small group the issue about boundaries is raised.  Many of us struggle about when it is Biblically appropriate to set limits. Sometime in 2012, I hope we can go through the Boundaries material.

For now I will post 9 points from my current reading.

  1. Setting a boundary is more than saying “no” to requests.
  2. Not having boundaries leads to a chaotic life with spiritual and emotional pain.
  3. Some other characteristics of a boundary-less life include . . .
    • Isolation
    • Helplessness
    • Confusion
    • Guilt, and
    • Feeling like life is out-of-control.
  4. When we don’t take ownership of our life, the following actions won’t work . . .
    • Trying harder
    • Being nice out of fear
    • People pleasing
    • Taking responsibility for others’ feelings and problems
  5. We need to know what is our “job” and what isn’t our job (in relating to others).
  6. The following are not part of our job description. Someone’s . . .
    • Chronic loneliness
    • Irresponsibility
    • Unending crisis’
    • Immaturity
    • Guilt ridden message of self-sacrifice
  7. Our inability or reluctance to set boundaries affects others.
  8. There are 4 types of boundaries: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
  9. Boundaries are Biblical and are seen in God’s character and in His Universe.

Your Turn . . .

  • How would you answer the question in the title?
  • What is the most important thing you’ve learned about boundaries?
  • If you’ve had a problem with boundaries, how did you transition to having godly boundaries?
  • What is a good first step?

Related Posts . . . 

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Grateful for Boundaries in Five Area (FFF)

A boundary is an action or internalized statement that shows what I am and am not responsible for in my life. Boundaries (or lack of them) affect all areas of my life: emotionally, spiritually, physically, relationally, financially, and intellectually.  They help me “develop my life, abilities, feelings, thoughts and behaviours” in a way that honors God and is healthy. (Drs. Cloud & Townsend, Boundaries, p 105).

I am rereading the Boundaries book and am pleased to see how I have grown. This week I am grateful for boundaries in five areas.

1. Work. My job feels like an active volcano with an unending lava flow of responsibilities. In fact, every job has felt that way. In past jobs I was responsible for getting it ALL done every day. I had unrealistic expectations and so did (some of) my boss(es).

BUT NOW, while I have a lot to do, I am not being asked to do more than I can do. My boss understands and stresses that I only do what is reasonable. I am grateful for his insistence that I take a day off no matter what my work plate looks like. See my post on Monday for how I will be handing this lack of good boundary enforcement.

2. Friendships. In my younger years my “friendships” were characterized by one side (me) making most of (if not all) the arrangements for our time together. My “friend” would either monopolize our time with her issues or never let me in on what was going on. That’s what I thought friendships were.

BUT NOW, I am grateful that today I have true friendships. We are balanced in our communication about likes, dislikes, hurts, and happinesses. We share the responsibility of calling one another and planning our time together.

3. Children. It was a privilege for me to be able to invest my energies into the lives of my two kiddos. It required a lot of consistency on my part in regards to discipline, schooling, and educating them in skills, relationships, etc. In short, I was training them in boundaries. However, enforcing those boundaries was the hardest thing I ever did. I wanted to be able to tell them once or even a mere 20 times and then not talk about or enforce it anymore. But that wasn’t how life went, especially with the stubborn child.

BUT NOW, I am grateful I do not have to enforce those kinds of boundaries anymore. Both “children” (now in their late 20’s) are fully functioning adults. They don’t throw food, are potty trained, and they manage their anger in appropriate ways. They are intelligent, capable of carrying on a respectful conversation, and meet the needs of others. They have marketable job skills and are valued by their employers. They care for others and they care for themselves. They turned out okay!

4. Myself. Setting boundaries here is sometimes the hardest one to deal with. But I am grateful that I am making head way with setting boundaries regarding food. While growing up food was used as a reward or bribe. It was offered for comfort, celebration, and just because. Food became a part of my identity and self-soothing techniques.

BUT NOW, I am grateful that food is becoming just food. I don’t eat three candy bars on the way home from the grocery store. I don’t wake in the middle of the night to eat a snack. I don’t binge-eat to avoid dealing with stresses in my life. I don’t go to food before going to God and other people.

5. God. Yes, I do need to have boundaries with God too. These boundaries include honesty in my feelings and thoughts toward God. But for many years I was afraid to tell God about the real me. I was afraid He’d get angry, disgusted, or turned off and then abandon me or at least severly punish me..

BUT NOW, I know it is more than okay to tell God my likes, dislikes, wishes and needs. I can and do tell God about my bad and ugly sins. Doing so does not turn God off or cause Him to ditch me as a friend or Savior. In truth, the opposite happens. God forgives and He reassures Believers (like me) that nothing can separate them (ME) from His love or salvation.

Why don’t you tell what five things for which you are grateful? Living to Tell the Story is hosting this weekly Friday Fave Five.  To join us in the conversation,go to this link.

Your Turn . . .

  1. How good are you at boundary keeping in the five areas mentioned above?
  2. What area are you the best at? What needs work?
  3. What are your thoughts about boundaries in general?

For more information check out the book Boundaries by Drs. Cloud and Townsend.

Related Posts . . .

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What Does it Take to be a Good Friend?

In order to be a good friend certain skills must be developed and used in the sharing of life with one another. These skills include . . .

  • Being genuinely interested in others,
  • Having fun together,
  • Trustworthiness (in actions and words),
  • Being positive,
  • Encouraging,
  • Merciful,
  • Focusing on the strengths of the person,
  • Minimizing weaknesses in your friend,
  • Setting and following good boundaries,
  • Sharing your own thoughts, feelings and needs on a regular basis,
  • and when necessary rebuking and forgiving others in gentleness and love.

This sharing involves having something in common beyond ourselves. These areas are location, interests, needs and feelings. I also look at the other person’s integrity and religious views. The more we have in common across these areas, the more intimate the relationship will be.

In the past my relationships have tended to be one-sided where I did most of the listening and helping. In other words, I was more like a counselor than a friend. People would say that I was their best friend, but I did not have reciprocal feelings because I had not equally shared my needs and feelings. I am no longer content with having these types of relationships for the majority of my relationships. So, I have been forcing myself to take my turn at sharing (with safe people of course).

Instead of always turning the conversation away from me, I’ve been staying on my topic (about a need or feeling) until I am done. Or I take a risk and come back to that topic until it is resolved. My safe people have surprised me with how much they love and like me and encourage me in truth-telling. I have shared my difficulty with some of  these people so they help me stay on topic as well. Not only have I felt much closer to these folks, I have found some resolution for some issues as well. In addition, they have said that they feel closer to me too.

Your Turn . . .

  1. Do you have good friends to share your life with?
  2. What do you think it takes to be a good friend?
  3. Which trait(s) do you especially value?
  4. What are you doing to grow in your ability to be a good friend?

Related Posts . . .

  1. 10 Things I Like About My Best Friend
  2. 15 Things Real Friends Do Differently (from Marc and Angel Hack Life)
  3. 25 Ways to be a Friend (From Chasing Blue Skies blog)
  4. Do You Have a Highlight in Your Life?
  5. Get Busy Making Some History With a Friend
  6. There Can Be No Trust When Perfection is Your Goal

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How to Be Happy, Healthy and Holy

I never expected to hear a nun, the speaker for the evening, say,

“Fat People Are Harder to Kidnap” (bumper sticker).

I never expected to be hugging strangers – 17 to be exact. We were only supposed to hug 12 but I got into a hugging conga line and I got carried away. I am more of a serious person than one given to laughter. And so I never expected to laugh a good portion of the 40 minutes Sister Anne spoke to us. But all that occurred.

I went with my long-time friend, Geri, to a women’s event at her church, St John the Baptist Catholic Church. Sister Anne Bryan Smollin, PhD was the instigator of the unexpected. She is a “popular international speaker on wellness and spirituality who receives enthusiastic reviews for her enormous energy, keen insights and sense of humor.”

Oh yes, words, laughter and insight tumbled onto the audience like the waters tumble down the cliffs at Niagara Falls. I definitely had to be in the moment in order to process her rapid-fire speech of jokes, experiences, and wise observations.

The main theme can be summed up in a three-part sentence: Seize each moment by paying attention to life as it unfolds, by taking care of yourself, and by choosing happiness. My lecture notes give a few details on how to do this. They are, obviously, lacking Sister Anne’s vocal energy, but I think you’ll still learn a useful tidbit or two.

Three Myths

  1. You are not supposed to enjoy work. Supported by the TGIF culture.
  2. People who laugh often are lazy, no-good, and un-focused.
  3. As you get older, it is inevitable that you will get sicker.

Two Things Needed For Health

1. Slow down to enjoy and live in the moment now.

  • Seize this moment.
  • Many live with blinders on and miss the holy in the moment, the surprises.
  • Look for the unexpected in each day.
  • Look for the things that will bring joy, and touch your heart and soul.
  • People of gratitude live in the moment. Before retiring each night, recount 3 blessings of the day. Doing this will help you sleep better and wake up happier.
  • We are called to be Resurrection people so live like you are alive.
  • Slow down and see the scenery.
  • Be connected with others. Rejoice in each other’s goodness.
  • Let go of the clutter of old hurts, memories, and whatever it is that is holding you back.

2. Make the choice to be happy.

  • You’ll have to do this (on your own) because this is a lonely culture. It won’t easily support your happy choices.
  • Give up the cross, we need the wood.
  • Many are rigid in their relationships and things. It is their way or the highway. You don’t need to agree but to accept others.
  • Make 3 mistakes a day on purpose. If you do more, you get bonus points. 
  • Choose to be happy, healthy, holy people.
  • We all need a hobby just for ourselves.

Take Care of Yourself

  1. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
  2. Written on a friend’s mirror: “You are looking at the face of the person who is responsible for your happiness today.”
  3. You need balance.
  4. Grab the joy and grace of each moment.

Four Ways of Healing

1. Laughter.

  • It bonds us together.
  • It helps us know we can deal with life.
  • Brings pain relief.
  • Helps us sleep better.
  • Research shows that memory retention is enhanced 250%-700% more when laughter is part of the learning environment.
  • Read the work by Norman Cousins . He prescribed 4 hours a day of laughter for himself. He healed himself of terminal cancer.
  • Home work – Find 2 laughing buddies.

2. Crying.

  • Don’t hold back the tears.
  • Both laughter and crying release negative energy and emotions.

3. Yawn/stretch/smile.

  • It only takes 15 muscles to smile.
  • Gets oxygen to the brain.

4. Touch.

  • We all need touch to survive and thrive.
  • 4 hugs – survive.
  • 8 hugs – maintain.
  • 12 hugs – growth.
  • Sister Anne had us get up and hug 4 people, then 4 more and then 4 more. Not only did we get our touch requirement met, there was also a lot of laughter, some of it nervous but most of it was joyous.
  • 13 calories a kiss. This is the kiss on the cheek type of kiss. She did not have us kiss others.

Two Skills We All Need

1. Smile.

  • Smiling lights up the brain and can help you remember what you forgot. Go in to room and forget why? Stand there and smile. It just might help you remember why you went there.
  • There are 80 ways of smiling.
  • Bless each other with our smiles.
  • Smiling, laughter and pounding on thymus gland plumps it up and makes it work. Stress will shrink it.

2. Eye contact.

  • Keep eye contact in our homes, schools, places of worship, wherever we are.
  • This shows respect and dignity to others.

Boosting Your Immune System

  • When we do a kind act for someone, it boosts our immune system.
  • When we witness a kind act, it boosts our immune system.
  • Give something away each day; kind word, note, compliment.
  • Whatever you give away comes back.

NOTE: Sister Anne has written three books. You can find them at

It seems that everything that is good for me takes work. I.e. jogging, flossing, keeping an organized schedule. I’m sure you can add to this list. Well, this night I engaged in something that was good for me. It was unexpected. It was fun. And it wasn’t work – at all.

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