Building (and rebuilding) Balance

Balance in our lives is NOT a destination, meaning that once we arrive, we are done.  It is not a static goal we achieve and then maintain forever.

I like to call it “building” balance; as opposed to “achieving” balance—because like building a house, it is a work in progress, it requires maintenance, and occasionally needs reworking.   So how do we “build” this elusive thing called balance?

1)     Stay Present.  Live in the moment instead of fretting about yesterday or worrying  about tomorrow.  If you feel angry about something—feel the anger and work through it.  When you feel joyful about something, embrace the joy fully.

2)  Stop the “Spinning”.  Learn to recognize an manage your internal conflicts. (Anything that disturbs your inner peace, such as unnecessary guilt, excessive worry, unhealthy people pleasing, etc).  Be honest about who you really are and don’t be afraid to stray from the norm.  Live life according to your core beliefs.

3)  Simplify Your Life.  The more “stuff” we have and the more activities we have to manage, makes it more difficult to find just the right balance.  Learn to set appropriate and healthy boundaries for yourself.  This means allowing yourself to say “no” when necessary without feeling guilty!

4)  Know What You Want.  Take time to know WHO you are first.  Figure out what you value, by examining each aspect of your “self.”  Make active choices that lead you toward balance.  If your choices don’t line up with who you are and what you value, then you are not holding fast to your own integrity and your life will feel out of balance.

5)  Nurture Your Spirit and Embrace Love.  We all have a spiritual element to our being and with that comes an innate need to love and be loved.  With all the ups and downs in life, love is the gift that balances it all and brings us back toward a more peaceful state.  Exercise your faith.  Enjoy nature.  Keep your soul filled with positive and inspiring activities.  Be brave enough to let go of activities and relationships that squelch your spirit and prevent you from being your authentic self.  It is then we will be able to give generously of ourselves.

Balance is a fluid state that changes from day to day.  Just like the ocean tide moves in and out, look at whether your life is moving away from or toward balance.

Assess it over a period of time—one or two stressful days here and there does not mean your life is out of balance.  BUT, if chaos is the norm for you, try some of these ideas!

Hopefully, it will be a good “jumpstart” toward building better balance in your life.

Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce

Divorce is difficult  – for the couple, for their friends and family, for the children, for everyone involved.  The effects of a divorce have a significant impact on you and those around you.   No one can really understand how difficult it is until they experience it personally.

There are many ways to grieve and many ways to heal.  Following this outline and learning the tools to walk through each step of the emotional rebuilding process will help you through those difficult stages by offering genuine hope, assurance of forgiveness, and restoration of your sense of self.

Look at it as an insurance policy that you can choose to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again!

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

An architect’s blueprints represent the project goals. The builder’s plans are the sequential steps necessary to complete the project. To begin our personal remodeling, we first need to develop a blueprint (what we want to accomplish) and a plan (how we will achieve those goals) to get us from where we are now in our grief to where we want to be in the future.

WHAT NEXT?

Realize that “Remodeling”:

  •      Has a cost – time/energy/money
  •      Causes discomfort/there is a labor involved
  •      Is inconvenient
  •      Requires tearing down the old structure
  •      Is a process that does not happen overnight
  •      Requires a personal investment – How much will you invest?

Get a Vision:  Map out a plan and prepare for inconveniences to the best of your ability.

Get the Materials Together:

  •      What resources will you need?
  •      Consider people, tools, books, manuals, and/or videos
  •      Where will you get help or will you try to work alone?

Divorce, like other loss, brings with it significant life changes, and Divorce Recovery can be a daunting task. But, with good planning, the right tools and professional guidance, you can successfully complete your personal “remodeling.”

If you would like more information on Julie’s Divorce Recovery Program, please click here.

The Freedom of Authentic Living

There is SO much freedom in living authentically.  What does it mean to live authentically, you may ask?  Being real with yourself is hard, but necessary if you are going to live authentically.  We have to be honest with ourselves first; and then with others, as appropriate.  Living from the core of who you are requires spending some time with yourself to really KNOW who you are and what makes you tick.  These ten guidelines will help you begin your journey toward experiencing the FREEDOM that comes with living a more authentic life.

Know your purpose.   Do you sometimes feel like you are wandering rather aimlessly through life, wondering at times what your purpose is—hoping that you’ll be lucky enough to stumble upon happiness, health and prosperity?  Identify your life purpose or mission statement, and you’ll have your own unique compass that will lead you to your true north every time.   For example, “I believe I was created according to a Divine design, with a combination of strengths and quirks, to accomplish something for the greater good.”

Know your values.  
What do you value most?  Make a list of your top 5 values.  Some examples are security, freedom, family, spiritual development, or learning.  As you set your goals for the next phase of your life—check your goals against your values. If the goal doesn’t align with any of your top five values, you may want to reconsider or revise it.

Acknowledge your needs. 
 Unmet needs can keep you from living authentically.  Take care of yourself.  Choose not to cling to people, projects, or things that are holding you back or causing you to lose your balance.

Be aware of your self-talk.
  Are you blocking your potential?  Check out your first thoughts when you wake in the morning.  Are they supportive, encouraging or positive? Listen to the chatter that goes on in your mind.  Pay attention to the negative messages and turn them into positive statements.

Live your passions. 
 Honor those things that make your heart sing.  Whatever it is, do more of it.

Live from the inside out.  Tap into your inner awareness by regularly reflecting in silence.  Breathe deeply to quiet your distracted mind.  Meditate or pray. Try to manage your life from the inside out, focusing on “clean living” and nurturing the relationships that are closest to you first.

Honor your strengths. 
 What are your positive traits?  What special talents do you have?  List three—if you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help identify them.  Are you imaginative, witty, good with your hands?  Find ways to express your authentic self through your strengths.

Take time to play. 
 Give yourself time to recharge doing things you love to do or by just doing nothing.

Count your blessings.   Write down everything you are thankful for, keep your list in a journal or post it where you can see it for a little more inspiration.  Don’t edit the list!!  Include EVERYTHING you can think of, both big and small.

Prioritize relationships.  When you are true to who you are, living your purpose and giving of your talents to the world around you, you give back in service what you came to share with others—your spirit—the very core of who you are.

The Building of Balance

Balance in our lives is NOT a destination, meaning that once we arrive, we are done.  It is not a static goal we achieve and then maintain forever.

I like to call it “building” balance; as opposed to “achieving” balance—because like building a house, it is a work in progress, it requires maintenance, and occasionally needs reworking.   So how do we “build” this elusive thing called balance?

1)     Stay Present.  Live in the moment instead of fretting about yesterday or worrying  about tomorrow.  If you feel angry about something—feel the anger and work through it.  When you feel joyful about something, embrace the joy fully.

2)  Stop the “Spinning”.  Learn to recognize an manage your internal conflicts. (Anything that disturbs your inner peace, such as unnecessary guilt, excessive worry, unhealthy people pleasing, etc).  Be honest about who you really are and don’t be afraid to stray from the norm.  Live life according to your core beliefs.

3)  Simplify Your Life.  The more “stuff” we have and the more activities we have to manage, makes it more difficult to find just the right balance.  Learn to set appropriate and healthy boundaries for yourself.  This means allowing yourself to say “no” when necessary without feeling guilty!

4)  Know What You Want.  Take time to know WHO you are first.  Figure out what you value, by examining each aspect of your “self.”  Make active choices that lead you toward balance.  If your choices don’t line up with who you are and what you value, then you are not holding fast to your own integrity and your life will feel out of balance.

5)  Nurture Your Spirit and Embrace Love.  We all have a spiritual element to our being and with that comes an innate need to love and be loved.  With all the ups and downs in life, love is the gift that balances it all and brings us back toward a more peaceful state.  Exercise your faith.  Enjoy nature.  Keep your soul filled with positive and inspiring activities.  Be brave enough to let go of activities and relationships that squelch your spirit and prevent you from being your authentic self.  It is then we will be able to give generously of ourselves.

Balance is a fluid state that changes from day to day.  Just like the ocean tide moves in and out, look at whether your life is moving away from or toward balance.

Assess it over a period of time—one or two stressful days here and there does not mean your life is out of balance.  BUT, if chaos is the norm for you, try some of these ideas!

Hopefully, it will be a good “jumpstart” toward building better balance in your life.

Gaining Compliance with Your Child

How do you keep your child from going “Mommy or Daddy deaf”?  Often, it can seem very difficult to get your child to pay attention to you, or to get them to do their daily chores, or to do their homework, or eat their vegetables.  The list seems infinite!  But not to worry… gaining compliance with your child is possible. Try some of these helpful strategies and you may just see an increase in the percentage of cooperative behavior in your household.

  1. Specific Commands – State specific, one-step, 10-words-or-less commands to the child.  For example, “Pick up your shoes now, please” or “go brush your teeth now.”
  2. Use Effective Warnings – After the child is non-compliant to a specific command, give him or her one warning.  For example, “If you don’t [do specific command], then you will [have specific consequence].”
  3. Use Natural/Logical Consequences – If the child doesn’t comply with the warning, give a consequence. The best consequences teach, rather than punish, the child.  For example, if the child leaves his/her bike in the driveway, then they lose their bike privileges for a specific time period.
  4. Reinforce Compliance – Offer praise or other forms of positive attention when the child complies with your command.
  5. Pick Your Battles – When trying to change several behaviors, do not ask the child to comply with too many new things simultaneously; choose those things that are most important and work with the child on those.
  6. Increase Positive Reinforcement – Pay attention to and reinforce neutral and positive on-going behavior.
  7. Don’t give in – Avoid allowing your child to get his/her way by escalating his/her aversive behavior.
  8. Ignore – Don’t pay attention to mild attention-seeking behavior (e.g. whining, pouting, etc.).
  9. ACT—DON’T YAK! – No need to threaten or yell.  Avoid escalating your behavior to get the child to comply.
  10. Stay cool.  Remember:  YOU DO NOT WIN A POWER STRUGGLE BY HAVING ONE.  Don’t get emotionally involved (angry, frustrated, etc.).

Remember that getting your child to be more cooperative may take some time.  Add in lots of love and a little patience, and you will have the key ingredients to make this a successful endeavor.

Is There a Tornado in the House?: Recognizing ADD/ADHD

What is ADD/ADHD?

When many people think of attention deficit disorder, they picture an out-of-control kid in constant motion, bouncing off the walls and disrupting everyone around. But this is not the only possible picture. 
Some children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive, while others sit quietly—with their attention miles away. Some put too much focus on a task and have trouble shifting it to something else. Others are only mildly inattentive, but overly impulsive.

The three primary characteristics of ADD/ADHD

Children with ADD/ADHD may be:

▪    Inattentive, but not hyperactive or impulsive.

▪    Hyperactive and impulsive, but able to pay attention.

▪    Inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive (the most common form of ADD/ADHD).

Children who only have inattentive symptoms of ADD/ADHD are often overlooked, since they are not disruptive. However, the symptoms of inattention have consequences: getting in hot water with parents and teachers for not following directions; underperforming in school; or clashing with other kids over not playing by the rules.

Is it really ADD/ADHD?

Just because a child has symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity does not mean that he or she has ADD or ADHD. Certain medical conditions, psychological disorders, and stressful life events can cause symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD.

Before an accurate diagnosis of ADD/ADHD can be made, it is important that you see a mental health professional to explore and rule out the following possibilities:

▪    Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills, or language.

▪    Major life events or traumatic experiences (e.g. a recent move, death of a loved one, bullying, divorce).

▪    Psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

▪    Behavioral disorders such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

▪    Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, neurological conditions, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.

Positive effects of ADD/ADHD in children

In addition to the challenges, there are also positive traits associated with people who have attention deficit disorder:

▪    Creativity – Children who have ADD/ADHD can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can become a master problem-solver, a fountain of ideas, or an inventive artist. Children with ADD/ADHD may be easily distracted, but sometimes they notice what others don’t see.

▪    Flexibility – Because children with ADD/ADHD consider a lot of options at once, they don’t become set on one alternative early on and are more open to different ideas.

▪    Enthusiasm and spontaneity – Children with ADD/ADHD are rarely boring! They are interested in a lot of different things and have lively personalities. In short, if they are not exasperating you (and sometimes even when they are), they are a lot of fun.

▪    Energy and drive – When kids with ADD/ADHD are motivated, they work or play hard and strive to succeed. It actually may be difficult to distract them from a task that interests them, especially if the activity is interactive or hands-on.

Keep in mind, too, that ADD/ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Many children with ADD/ADHD are intellectually or artistically gifted.

Helping a child with ADD/ADHD

Whether or not your child’s symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are due to ADD/ADHD, they can cause many problems if left untreated. Children who cannot focus and control themselves may struggle in school, get into frequent trouble, and find it hard to get along with others or make friends. These frustrations and difficulties can lead to low self-esteem as well as friction and stress for the whole family.

But treatment can make a dramatic difference in your child’s symptoms. With the right support, your child can get on track for success in all areas of life.

Don’t wait to get help for your child

If your child struggles with symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD, don’t wait to seek professional help. You can treat your child’s symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity without having a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder.

Options to start with include getting your child into therapy, implementing a better diet and exercise plan, and modifying the home environment to minimize distractions.

If you do receive a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, you can then work with your child’s doctor, therapist, and school to make a personalized treatment plan that meets his or her specific needs. Effective treatment for childhood ADD/ADHD involves behavioral therapy, parent education and training, social support, and assistance at school. Medication may also be used, however, it should never be the sole attention deficit disorder treatment.

A Note From Julie: An Attitude of Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude allows us to live abundantly. Gratitude unlocks our ability to live life to its fullest each day. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. A spirit of gratitude helps us makes sense of our past, it brings us peace for today, and creates a sense of hope for tomorrow.

This year, may you live with an attitude of gratitude on the other 364 days as much as you do on the one day set aside to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

– Jules

A Thanksgiving Prayer for You

My prayer for you is that this life becomes all you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too.
If you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
If one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walking till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
You find GOD’S GRACE in every mistake,
And you always GIVE more than you take.

– Unknown source

A back to school thought from Jules: The Man Who Thinks He Can

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win but think you can’t,
it’s almost certain you won’t.
Life’s battles don’t always go
to the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins
is the man who thinks he can.

– Walter D. Wintle

Thanks to Coach Edd Burleson, this inspirational poem, painted in large purple and gold letters, lived on the locker room doors of our small Central Texas school gymnasium. I saw it every day for 12 years. Under the strong leadership of several wise administrators and numerous compassionate and gifted teachers, that small town school has a long history of athletic, academic, and artistic successes.

More importantly, I left that educational environment with a strong sense of who I am; passionate about pursuing whatever might lie ahead, confident that I could try anything (at least once), and a desire for lifelong learning. PLEASE HEAR ME— without parents and educators instilling (and sometimes insisting on) strong values, this would not have happened.

As another school year begins, we want to encourage you to be involved in setting your children, and the children around you, up for success. This month, Jill offers insights on adjusting the parent tool box, using her expertise as a former classroom teacher. Additionally, Samantha shares some helpful tools for maintaining healthy communication within your family during this often chaotic season, and Patrick discusses very practical guidance regarding concussion safety for our student-athletes.

Our Best to You and Yours,

Jules

A Note From Jules – Freedom

Can you imagine what it might be like to be FREE? …I mean, really FREE??? Thankfully, and as a result of those who have and continue to fight for our peace, we still live in a country that offers us much freedom.

Just as our heroes count it an honor to serve this country, we feel it is such a privilege to be chosen to journey with someone on a quest for freedom from emotional bondage. Through exploring such things as relationship patterns, a history of abuse, family of origin issues, and painful emotions, we look at feelings, attitudes, habits, and beliefs that may be inhibiting your personal growth and success.

Although little of it may be conscious, emotional baggage can hurt you and the people you love. Entangled relationships with parents, grandparents, and unhealthy people can cause chaos and suffering. These enmeshments can diminish your ability to enjoy your life and your relationships – they are ways in which you can lose identity.

Most healthy people explore and organize their emotions, attitudes and beliefs. They know what they want, how they feel and why they feel that way. They find solutions to problems quickly. They have similar challenges as less happy people – but healthy people deal with them much more efficiently. Healthy people don’t get stuck for long… they try not to sabotage themselves.

Do you feel bad about your past relationship(s), or remorse about lost opportunities? Do you respond emotionally to your past?

We have developed many ways to help people safely open their luggage, untangle their emotional baggage and sort out their stuff. We want to help YOU replace your legacy of limiting beliefs, irrational emotions and unwanted habits with a healthy heritage of intimacy with your own feelings, improved communication, healthy self esteem and continued personal growth for yourself and your children.

Be safe, be FREE, and let the fireworks fly!

Jules

Spring Cleaning – Clearing the Clutter

Oh my goodness! Have you ever cleaned out – as in removed every single thing in preparation for a move or a remodel – your closet?!?!? HOLY COW. How do we acquire all that STUFF??

“Spring has sprung”, as the old saying goes, and many of us become obsessed with cleaning out closets, drawers, books and clutter. This is a lot like life. All that clutter weighs us down and drains our energy at work, at home and in our relationships. I find it interesting that we are not as excited to embark on a road to an “emotional clearing of the clutter.”

We put up with, accept, take on and are dragged down by things that we may have come to ignore.

Situations, people’s behavior, unmet needs, crossed boundaries, incomplete items, frustrations, problems, and even your own behavior can drain your energy and increase your stress levels. Perhaps we have gotten really good at excusing or minimizing certain things that get in our way of living life to its fullest.

Emotional cleansing is an art form: It takes practice as well as a deep commitment to shifting your thinking. But you can clear out unproductive thinking, negative self-talk and the clutter of past experiences. Just like cleaning out a closet, this kind of cleaning requires a sorting process (what to keep, what to release, what to give away).

Emotional Spring Cleaning Checklist:

1. Clutter. Yes, we’re talking about physical clutter! Messy surroundings are a definite source of stress because cleaning it up is constantly on our “to do” list. Our goal in emotional spring cleaning is to get rid of the excess baggage that’s needlessly occupying space in our brain and holding us back. A great place to start is by getting organized in our living and work spaces.

2. Resentments. Make a list of the people in your life you haven’t forgiven yet, and work on letting go of this negative energy. When you allot negative energy towards people and situations and do nothing about it, it festers and grows, and gets in the way of you being (and sharing) your best self. Try to understand why you’re holding on to it and what the payoff is aside from having something to occupy your mind and keeping your focus off of what’s really important. Do you hold onto resentment because you’re afraid of moving forward? Don’t be afraid to get real with yourself.

3. Excuses. Do you make excuses as to why you don’t go after the things you want in life? When someone suggests something to you that’s out of your comfort zone, do you make excuses as to why it’s not feasible or possible? This is your fear talking. Ask yourself: “Whose voice am I listening to?” Life is about opening your eyes to the opportunities that are available to you. Ignoring or dismissing them will only result in stagnation and lack of growth.

4. Procrastination. Procrastination is the physical result of denial. When you choose not to live in the present and you put things off until “someday”, which inevitably never comes, you’re again using valuable space in your brain and body as a storage space for stress. Abolishing procrastination and taking care of your business in a timely manner sometimes takes willpower and discipline, which may expend more energy in the present moment, but ultimately saves you tons of energy and stress in the end.

5. Wishing/Regrets. When you wish for something, or say, “If only…”, you’re focusing on the future, but in a very passive way. It does absolutely no good to wish for things or to express discontent about the way things are, if you do nothing to change them. The same goes for the past – having regrets about your actions only expresses your inability to see the potential growth that could come from every situation you’re in, positive or negative. Not to mention – you certainly can’t re-write the past, so dwelling on it without reflecting on the lessons is another pointless energy waster. If you find yourself unhappy about your current circumstances, figure out what you can do to change it. If you can’t change the situation, then perhaps choosing to view things differently will help you learn to accept that reality and not stress as much about it.

Why not take some time this weekend to inventory old behaviors and patterns that keep us in a constant state of drama – and clean them out along with the dust bunnies?

As a place to begin, let me encourage you to make a list of what you are putting up with at home, at work, or from outside activities that may be limiting you right now. There is no time like the present to identify those items. You may or may not choose to do anything about them just now, but becoming aware of and articulating them will bring them to the forefront where you will naturally start handling eliminating, fixing and resolving them.