Late last night I found out that someone I cared deeply about had passed away earlier in the day.  Her passing wasn’t so much of a shock as the timing (Mother’s Day) and the feeling that I’d somehow been cheated.  See, I was going to visit her soon.  I’d been saying that for over a year… but something always “came up”.  Now I won’t see her again until Heaven.  When I cry today (and I will cry), it will be as much for that missed opportunity as it will for missing her.  I could have gone, just once.  Woulda coulda shoulda…

However, I am working on not dwelling on woulda coulda shoulda.  I have spent too much of my recent past (last five years) living in the past.  This is a waste; I can’t change it.  The very fact that I fantasize about a time machine instead of working on doing better now is a sign that I don’t have a very healthy connection to this aspect of happiness.

On the other hand, to keep saying that I’m going to do something “in the future” is just as vain.  As I was just forcibly reminded, tomorrow isn’t promised.

Far too often I waste my right now with regret or empty hope.  It’s time to change that attitude, step-by-step.

First, when the past rears its ugly head, I’m not going to dwell on it.  I’m going to make sure I’m not repeating a past mistake.  If not, then I’m going to move on.  If I am, then I’m going to make a plan to change what I’m doing.

Second, I’m going to stop waiting for tomorrow to do things.  “I’m going to start eating better… tomorrow.”  Why not start eating better today by putting down that cookie?  “I’m going to do more things with the kids when I have more money.”  Why not find things I can do with them for free right now?  “I’ll do better about being positive once I’ve fixed these other things in my life.”  Why not make a small change to improve my attitude along the way?

Third, I’m going to make a plan every day.  It’s okay if the plan isn’t perfect (I have a bad habit of spending more time in research and planning than in doing), but I need a roadmap.  Plans are there for guidelines; it’s okay if they’re altered.  It’s like taking a cross-country trip (I’ll use this analogy a lot).  You plan ahead of time, figure out where you’re going, etc.  But when you take the actual trip, you enjoy each moment and (hopefully) every little detour.  That’s how I want my life to be.

Finally, I’m going to stop complaining about things.  If I don’t like what’s happening, change it.  Can’t make an immediate change?  Take five minutes to make a plan (no more than three steps) to change it and then let it go for now (you know you just sang a Disney song in your head).  If I can’t change it at all (like divorce orders, for example), then I’m going to have to change how I think about it.  Period.

“If  you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  — Mary Englebret

If you see me complaining on this blog, call me to task!  Ask me for a plan to fix it.

I’m going to go make a quick plan for my day and then I’m going to spend a day off social media in honor of living in the moment.  My reader, Alice, has been leaving me comments about how she’s doing better off social media and I’m feeling challenged.

What will you do today?

I missed my post yesterday, so I’ll be doing two today.  I don’t want to get behind and I think each step is important enough to not miss.

Today I’m taking an emotional inventory.  Over at the UCR Wellness Center, there are several items listed in their inventory:

  • Am I able to maintain a balance of work, family, friends, and other obligations?
  • Do I have ways to reduce emotional stress in my life?
  • Am I able to make decisions with a minimum of stress and worry?
  • Am I able to set priorities?

I would add a few of my own:

  • Am I able to be emotionally vulnerable to someone (anyone)?
  • Have I forgiven those who’ve hurt me in the past?
  • Have I asked forgiveness from those I’ve hurt in the past?
  • Does the slightest stress send me into a tailspin?

I’ve always been an emotional type.  I’m highly sensitive and I have more than my share of hormones to boot.  In an emergency, I shift gears, but outside of emergencies, little things can send me into a complete funk.  I’d say that means I’m lacking in emotional health.

I don’t have a balance of work/family/friends/life.  My life consists of work, Facebook, and weekends with my kids.  That’s about it.  No balance.  I need to start making friends.

I do have ways to reduce stress in my life.  One thing that having ulcerative colitis has actually been good for is that I work pretty consistently at reducing my stress.  I read, write, watch movies, go for a run, workout… it’s not perfect (where’s the bubble bath?), but it helps.

I can set priorities, but I’m not very good at keeping them.  I’ll need to work on that.

I’m not emotionally vulnerable to anyone and I really don’t trust people.  I can name four people in my life over the last five years who hurt me badly enough that I still cry myself to sleep over it a few nights a month.  Obviously, I haven’t forgiven them either.  I’m trying; I make a point of forgiving them daily.  But it’s not sticking.  I’m not sure about asking people to forgive me.  I’m sure there are people I need to ask, but I’m not sure who.

So… I have some work to do.  I’m not even sure where to start.  Two of the people I need to forgive have completely blocked me out of their life.  I’m pretty sure there’d be a restraining order if I went to talk to them (or even tried to call or email them).  The forgiveness is going to have to come from me without any outside help.  One of those people says he’s forgiven me, but makes it clear that not hurting me is not anywhere in his priorities.   There’s only one person I can actually do anything about.  I guess I’ll need to start there.

Here are my three short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals for emotional wellness:

Short-Term (3 Months)

* Talk to person #4 about forgiveness and open the lines for healing

* Do Beth Moore study “Get Out of That Pit”

* Count to ten before I react emotionally in times of stress

Medium-Term (1 Year)

* Make stress relief a daily part of my life

* Spend more time on the good things in my life than the bad

* Open up to someone and be vulnerable

Long-Term (5 Years Plus)

* No more crying to sleep

* Either heal my damaged bridges or leave them in the past

* Balance work, family, friends, and life

 

Are you coming on this journey with me?  Go do your honest assessment, then make your three goals in the three areas.  You can do it.  We can heal emotionally.

I follow a few male bloggers who regularly bemoan their inability to understand women.  (Actually, they regularly bemoan women’s inability to be understood, but since the flaw is obviously a male one, I decided to rephrase that.)

Here’s the thing: men aren’t meant to understand women.  Women are meant to teach them how to deal with an unknowable God.  We will never fully understand God; we’re not meant to fully understand Him.  Men will never fully understand women; they’re not meant to understand us.

Newsflash:  Women do not understand women either.  You didn’t think only men get an insight into not being able to fully know God, did you?

Even though I certainly don’t claim to understand women (hey, most of my closest friends are male or females with lots of male friends), I do understand how they think.  (You hush… we do think.)

By way of example, I offer Eve in the Garden of Eden:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:6

This is the story of when Satan (successfully) tempts Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and thereby curses the earth for all humanity.  But it does tell how women think.

“… the fruit of the tree was good for food”

Contrary to what men think, 90% of a woman’s decisions are based on practicality.  They have to be, or we’d be overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there and weeding through it can be confusing, so our “practical” decisions don’t always work.

One week we are eating low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb, processed diet shakes with every meal… the next week, we’ve discovered we need good fats, low-calorie causes our bodies to hang onto calories, low-carb for long periods taxes your liver (I think… see, even I get confused about this stuff and this is one of my passions), processed food is generally bad, and artificial sugars make you want more sugar.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

In spite of the confusion, behind all this is a desire for a practical decision: wanting something that is good for us.

“… and pleasing to the eye…”

It’s funny.  Men are thought to be the more visual half of the species while women are the more verbal (again, hush).  Yet it is women who worry over the aesthetic of beauty.  Decorating the home, staying in shape, trying to look young, dressing for success, wearing just enough makeup to look polished but not so much that we look easy… even the most tomboy-ish of us (yours truly) occasionally gets caught up in the “pleasing to the eye” aspect.

Men throw mismatched furniture into a room, build up a beer belly with pride, and never have to worry about makeup.   Honestly, men have it easy.

“… and also desirable for gaining wisdom…”

I think this is the aspect of how women think that men get the least.  Women need to know details.  Whether it’s following the Brangelina drama, finding out why Kari and Kim aren’t talking to each other, knowing why we aren’t supposed to be going South Beach any longer, or just understanding how a man’s mind works, we want insight, wisdom, and understanding.  We just want it in a way men don’t understand.  Really, we don’t understand it either.

I’d like to be able to just take something my boyfriend tells me and file it away, face-value, for the long-term.  But my brain instantly starts thinking about the reasoning behind what he said.

Okay, he said he really liked the lighting in my picture.  Does that mean he thinks I used to light it poorly?  Or maybe he thinks that the rest of the picture blows chunks and the lighting was the nicest thing he could say.  Or maybe…

Note one: my boyfriend has not, to this point, made this comment (and probably never will now).  I made it up to protect the innocent.

Note two: women don’t like being this way.  We’d like to have everything work out in our brains the first time.  Men being frustrated over us being this way just makes us more frustrated and irrational.

So, there’s why you don’t understand women in a nutshell: you don’t get Genesis 3:6.  Okay, so there are other bits to us, like hormones and spaghetti memory, but these three basics tend to drive most of how we think.

Now when men don’t understand us, they only have themselves to blame.