Friday, April 17, 2015

Happiness is .... an Inside Job

Make your life count, help someone in need, care for the helpless, feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, for that is where true happiness lies.  I learned that the road to happiness is not something you seek; it’s something that happens when you are willing to choose it over any circumstance.   The more you look for ways to make yourself happy, the worse the detour.  Seeking happiness is a dead end street. No “one”thing on earth can give it nor take it away.  It is through God and through making a daily decision to be happy, that we can achieve it. 
In my last post I started to share with you about the time I experienced depression for the first time in my life.  This happened after many months of horrific events, constant stress and on top of that, the death of my brother.  I reached a breaking point where being or staying strong wasn’t an option.  I cried all the time, could barely get out of bed, had to force myself to eat and could barely sleep.  Hours turned to days, days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months. I was desperate, I wanted to be myself, and I missed me.  If there was one thing I learned from that experience is never to tell anyone that is going thru something like this “get over it” because as much as I tried, I couldn’t.  I did absolutely everything I knew to do, pray,read the bible, hear sermons, and meditate everything except VOODOO!!!! LOL

This is a time when only your true friends remain and your family becomes your life line.  Because the recovery requires so much support and understanding; you must surround yourself with people who believe you will get better. My husband became more than a husband, he became my hero.  He didn’t believe for one moment that I would stay there.  He constantly encouraged and loved me in the midst of this dark time. I never felt rushed, misunderstood, or as if I was a burden to him.  He loved me thru it. My sisters, nieces and nephews were my life lines; I drew what little strength I could muster from them.  They didn’t leave me for one minute;I felt their love and support all the way thru. 

I wish I could tell you I used a magic wand to get better but I can’t. It took hard work, time and persistence.  I was determined to get better.  I allowed time to heal, I rested, and I started to exercise, just walking at first.  But probably the most helpful was talking; talking to my family and good friends. I went to a Christian counselor that helped me put things into perspective.  Slowly but surely I began to feel better.  Because my depression had passed the three month mark, my counselor recommended meds.  As apprehensive as I was to taking them, I was desperate; my kids needed me, I could not remain in this state. For the sake of myself and my family, I was willing to do whatever it took.  Within a week or two I began to see color again.  I felt as if a tiny window had opened up inside my dark place from which a ray of sunshine was peeking through.That’s when my journey to wellness began. I won’t tell you I don’t have bad days, because I do.  But they are rare and far in between.  I choose happiness,joy, and peace every morning. And yes there are days when every one of those is tested and I fail miserably, but I pick up again the next day. 

            Your road to wellness might be completely different than mine, everyone has their own path.  But the one thing we must all do is persevere.  Do whatever it takes to get better. We have to realize that we are not the only ones being affected. Our kids, our families the people who love us, are all affected. The longer you wait to seek help, the more precious time you lose with those you love.  Those months felt like a lifetime to me; don’t waste another minute of your life being unhappy. 
That is not the life God intended for us to have; He came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lets Spice It Up...10 Ways To Keep Love Alive!

Thank you so much for your feedback to my last two blog posts, your comments have been inspiring.  It’s good to know that my life experiences are helping someone.  I’m excited to tell you that because of the feedback I have gotten from you, I was able to get a Professional on matters of the mind to blog for us on Friday.  Yolanda Velez is a good friend of mine, she is a pastor, working on her masters in psychology and has been counseling for many years. She was the one that after giving me an extensive evaluation, officially diagnosed me as “out of my mind” LOL jk she has helped me with some very difficult times in my life and I know she will be a blessing to you also.  On Friday she will be giving us some tools on managing stress, anxiety and depression, I can’t wait.  
On a lighter note, today I want to give you a list of 10 things you can do intentionally with your spouse to shake things up. Lol these are things that appear odd at first, but the more you practice them, the more natural they become.  Everyone likes to feel appreciated, loved, cared for and valued.  Your spouse is no exception; the problem is we are too busy waiting for the other person to give those things first.   Keep in mind that I’m talking about a healthy relationship, one in which both parties love and respect one another.  If there is no love or respect between you, you have to seek healing before you can do these things genuinely. Before we can be good parents we should be good partners.  It’s not just about self satisfaction it’s also about modeling healthy behavior for your children, showing them how relationships should be.  Kids will do what we do, before they do what we say.   
I call my top five “the magic fives” lol
1.      Give your spouse at least 5 compliments a day.
2.      Give them at least 5 minutes (preferably more) of your undivided attention.
3.      Make an effort to be affectionate, to touch them at least 5 times a day.
4.      Make them laugh at least 5 times a day.
5.      Flirt with them at least 5 times a day.
6.      Have date nights (even if it’s in the house, after the kids have gone to sleep)
7.      Surprise them once in a while with something you haven’t done before; dance, sing, pillow fight, wrestle… you get my
8.      Give each other space.
9.      Plan a day where you will do what the other enjoys doing.
10.  Pray together
This list may appear simple enough but trust me, when you are out of practice, have been married more than 15 years and have little ones at home. It’s a challenge to even get to number two! LOL Take baby steps, you don’t have to do all ten the first day.  Believe me if you do, your partner might call the mental hospital to pick you up thinking you have lost your mind. LOL
These are some of the ways my hubby and I
have implemented some of these:
             * Every morning when he is home, he brings me coffee in bed. 
* Every night before I go to bed, he brings me ice water with a squirt of lime to bed. LOL
* As soon as I wake up, I look in his eyes and tell him “I love you today” we have been doing this for almost 20 years, its second nature.
* I brag about his coffee every single day. LOL
* I thank him for every little thing he does. Take out the garbage, pull weeds, take the kids to school, and fix something around the house. I really do mean everything. LOL he does the same for me. He even has the kids thank me too. So sweet lol
* He travels often so almost every time he comes home, I make sure I have a surprise for him. Even if it’s something simple like his favorite meal. One time the kids and I organized his closet. Lol another time, we waited for him at the airport holding up a sign that said “the best dad in the world” lol
* I love to make him laugh, a sense of humor it’s very important to have.  Laughter really is medicine for the soul.  I text him jokes I come across on the internet. I do spontaneous things like sing out loud with my horrible voice. LOL
* We touch each other almost every time we pass by each other. We hold hands in the car, even in bed while watching TV. I know it’s weird but we really do. LOL
* We understand the importance of giving each other space to grow as individuals. I do things with my friends and he does things with his.
* Once in a while do something the other one likes to do. For instance my hubby loves soccer so I accompany him to the games. I love nature walks, sightseeing, so on occasions he accompanies me on my ventures. Lol
* Last but not least, we pray together.  We pray for wisdom to guide our kids through the right path. We pray for our marriage to continue thriving during trying times.
Do we have a perfect marriage? Far from it! We face the same challenges everyone else faces.  Our marriage has been through rocky roads, roller coaster rides, thru hell and back… but survived. LOL Many times we have had to CHOOSE forgiveness, mercy, love, compassion, in spite of what we feel.  That’s why I believe commitment comes before anything else in a relationship.  When separation is not an option; we become creative to live in peace. LOL So if I’m committing to live with this person for the rest of my life….
 I want to be happy, therefore, I will do whatever it takes!!! LOL

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Catch Me If You Can...10 ways to keep your kids alive!

Have you ever felt like running away from home? You know that feeling that you can’t do anything right?  Those days that you feel overwhelmed thinking that parenting is way above your head? Well, I have….. LOL I have had days where I literally want to run like a track star while screaming "catch me if you can". lol You know, that day when your kids aren’t obeying, your husband is getting on your nerves, everything in the house is behind; laundry, cleaning, cooking…. I have to tell you, when I have those days I want to scream “why do I have to be responsible for your clean clothes, for what you eat, and for having a clean house, DO IT YOURSELF!!! hahaha This is probably the topic I feel least confident about, not because I feel I’m not doing enough, but because I have to wait quite a few years before I know the results.  That being said, I have to tell you that for now, I’m only writing from theory not based on results. My boys are only 9 and 10 therefore, I can only pray that it will pay off. 

I have noticed that kids are very intuitive, even if you and your spouse don’t argue in front of them or cry in front of them; they can feel something is not right.  I have had moments when I felt sad and tried my hardest to keep it from my boys; it's strange how that’s the day when they are most clingy to me. They feel something is wrong but they don’t have the maturity to understand what it is.  According to Dr.Phil children have a tendency to feel that things are their fault or that they had something to do with whatever fails.  As I thought about that, I became more intentional about what I do and say and feel.  I realized that I can’t fake my way through motherhood.  I must do my best to become my best.  It wasn't their choice to come into this world, It was mine.  So this is a time  in my life when I have to put their needs ahead of mine.  This is a list of ten things that I strive for in my journey of becoming a better mom;

1.      Truly listen and try to understand things from their perspective.
2.      Make them feel loved for who they are and not for what they do. Don’t say bad boy or bad girl. Say that they made a bad choice or a good choice. That way they understand that what they do is not who they are.
3.      Respect them as you respect anyone.  Sometimes without realizing it we show strangers more respect than we show our kids.
4.      Be honest about how you feel instead of hiding things from them.  Taking their age into consideration of course; sometimes just reassuring them that your mood has nothing to do with them, is enough.
5.      Take at least one moment in the day to talk to them about anything at all.
6.      Help them understand consequences instead of just inflicting punishment.
7.      Play with them without distractions; no TV or cell phones allowed.
8.      Be realistic about your expectations.  Dont expect them to clean the way you would, if they are only three years old. LOL
9.      Tell them you love them and that you are proud of them every single day.
10.  Pray and read the Bible with them.

 I know this does not apply to everyone but this is the way we decided to do it.  I wanted to stay home with my kids while they were small.  I understand that there are many moms that work outside the home and are amazing parents. When it comes to kids and time what matters is quality time not quantity.  For us, this took some mayor sacrifices; one car to share between my husband and I, go without shopping for SHOES months and months (that’s a tough one) and many other things that I have to cut back to be with them.  I love every minute of it, now that they are in school, I can dedicate myself to other things. There is a time for everything in life. If you live in the moment you will be able to enjoy every step of the way.

The time for me to be a mommy is very short; I can only parent them for a short time.  After that, I have to stand back and watch them grow on their own.  So while I’m blessed enough to still be in that stage I want to make the most of it.  I have heard way too many people have tremendous regrets about how they parented.  I am far from perfect but I am conscience that I’m doing the best I can.   Do I make mistakes? EVERYDAY! Lol but I recognize them, apologize and change. 

Some of the best things I’ve hear my boys say are “mom, stop loving us so much” lol “Mom, I can’t never get enough of your hugs” “mom, calm your spirit, I’ll only be gone for ONE day” hahaha “mom, your favorite time of the year is coming up; SUMMER” lol because I tell them I love to have them home. As crazy as this may sound … I truly do get sad when they have to go back school. Lol  

I will end with this…. My mom didn’t follow any list, yet she raised amazing kids. Which makes me wonder, how did she do it? So I sit back and think about my childhood. I remember the way I felt when I walked into my house. There was a feeling of acceptance, love, peace and happiness. I remember the smile on my mother’s face when I walked into a room.  There was always laughter; we shared lots of conversations as a family.  So I walk away thinking that, how we make our kids “feel” far outweighs what we give them or say to them.  Let’s make it our goal to make our homes a peaceful haven for them.  A place that when they walk in the door they know they are safe, welcomed and accepted.  We got this!! LOL

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ain't Nobody Got Time For Dat ...

I can’t believe the things that go viral …. “Ain’t nobody got
time for dat”  LOL as funny as she sounds, she is speaking truth! Ain’t nobody got time for worry, stress, grudges, hatred, and negativism, period. Lol….  As I have mentioned before, I work in hospitals as an interpreter. During the three years that I have been doing this I have met some pretty interesting patients. lol One 88 year old lady in particular comes to mind. She wanted me to ask the doctor if he could fix her hunch back, refer her for laser eye surgery and give her a letter stating that she is able to drive. Her license had been taken away because of the cataracts in her eyes. At almost ninety years old she was not a candidate for any of the things she wanted done. Lol When the doctor tried to explain why she was not a candidate, she became furious. With a "ain't nobody got time for dat" look, she looked at me and said “I’m getting a second opinion” haha I have to say although I admire her perseverance, at some point, we just have to surrender to old age Lady! I hope I have her will to live when I'm 88! LOL  
This week I will speak about 10 ways we can live intentionally as people, spouses, and as parents; in that order. ;) I learn many life lessons from the older patients, they open up to me about life and what really matters in the end.  I can tell you with complete confidence that not one of them ever told me that they wish they would have spent more time at work.  Not one said to me that if they could get their youth back they would buy more things, get a bigger house or better cars.  Instead every one of them said they wish they would’ve spent more time with their kids, family and friends; every last one of them. Also, on the top of that list was that they would’ve taken better care of themselves. 
As I heard them speak, I made up my mind that I will not be saying that when I’m older.  I don’t want to have that regret. Taking this to heart I have devoted myself to living in the moment.  I made a short list of 10 things we can do to get us started on that journey:

1.      Exercise- walk, jog, run, stand up!…. Do anything but sit. LOL
2.      Eat healthier- make better food choices. One thing I do is carry snacks so I won’t be tempted by                    a juicy yummy big mac!!! Lol
3.      Be intentional about planting a positive thought in your mind as soon as you wake up. Say it to yourself … I’m loved by God.
4.      Wake up to your favorite music, play it while you are getting ready in the morning.
5.      Think before you speak, choose to use words of wisdom not emotion.
6.      Be intentional about creating a positive atmosphere everywhere you are. Bring the joy with you instead of trying to find it.
7.      Don’t stress about things you can’t control; traffic, weather, OTHER PEOPLE lol
8.      Try something different; eat lunch outside, buy a sweet smelling plug-in for your office, cubicle or home.
9.     Put something that makes you smile where you can see it often; a picture on the fridge or in your car, a special gift, a sweet note (even if you wrote it for yourself) lol
10.   Be kind, do something special and unexpected for someone. Bring them coffee, a chocolate bar or even a smile.

We must do whatever it takes, whatever works ….living in the moment however, didn’t come easy; the journey to it was long and hard.  A few years back I remember being in a bad state of mind. I allowed the things of this world to steal my peace. I gave all my power away to negativism. I drowned myself in sorrow.  I could think of nothing else but negative things.  I have been a happy person most of my life; it takes a lot to upset me. But during this period in my life I fell into a deep depression. If you have never experienced this, it is very difficult to explain.  

According to PudMed health:
“Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. True depression is a mood in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.”
I didn’t understand what I was feeling, I thought I was sick.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night feeling the deepest sorrow I have ever felt.  The only way I can describe it is an abyss. Life lost its purpose, food lost its flavor, flowers lost their fragrance, and everything around me lost its color.  I have to tell you that this was the scariest time of my life. I prayed, read the bible constantly, and heard sermons on TV and radio. I didn’t know what else to do to find the peace and joy I lost, I couldn’t find myself. 
Things got worse before they got better. I will fill you in on my journey to recovery tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What's Wrong With Me ??

As promised Counselor Yolanda Velez shared some of her expertise with us today.  She answers some of our questions like, "whats wrong with me? lol Its good to know that there can be other  explanations to our emotional state than; demons, sin, over reactions, too sensitive, etc. Riding on the topic of stress, depression and anxiety; she began by giving us an example of what the dangers of extreme "spirituality" can cause.  She quotes "I was helping a woman that expressed how depressed she was and how anxiety had over taken her heart.  She wanted to be a mother more than anything else in the world.  She was advised by spiritual leaders that if she really wanted a child she must fast and pray.  She was told that she didn’t have a baby because she needed “more faith” so then she got into a 40 day fast.  While under this 40 day fast, she suffered a chemical in-balance in which she ended up in a psychiatric hospital.  The sad thing was that when I saw her, it was well after a decade of the incident and she was still under the impression that she didn’t have her child due to her lack of faith and prayer.  When all along, her depression was due to a chemical imbalance in her body." I don't know about you, but that story sounds familiar to me, during my upbringing I recall many times when we were told to fast and pray for something that we simply needed to take action on. 
Mrs. Velez continues  by saying; 
" it is not always a spiritual thing!  There are times in our lives where we suffer from stress and anxiety because of a death of a love one, lost of employment, financial downfalls, health, and simple day to day issues that become hard to handle.  Which could cause depression and anxiety.  These are real problems and we must work with them.  In Proverbs 4:23 it says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”. 
I agree with this 100 percent, not only because Mrs. Velez is an expert, but because it's what I experienced for myself.    These matters of the mind can completely debilitate you to the point where you are not functional.  Therefore require immediate attention; if we are adamant about living a fruitful life.
 In her article Mrs. Velez provides us with some great tools to consider when going through depression, stress and anxiety. She quotes;
 "I do believe we must spiritually evaluate our lives.
This evaluation will help us put in perspective our life.  I recommend a check list. 
  1. Prayer
  2. Reading of the Word
  3. Check if there is any sin evident in our life.
  4. Begin a healthy eating habit
  5. Begin a Exercise routine 
  6. Meet with great people that will partner with you in prayer and will not leave you alone.
  7. Fellowship with positive people (small groups)
  8. Meet with a christian counselor
Steps that I recommend outside of the spiritual aspect:
1. See your Physician for advice (Advice him about your depression and anxiety)
2. Start seeing a mental health specialist

Just by taking a small dose of an anti-depressant will give you the energy to start living again. It may only be for a short period of time. But you will have energy to start working with the issues that overwhelm you. Please be careful on not becoming depended on this medication. It is only for a time, so that your emotional energy gets restored. God loves you so much, that He doesn’t want to see you in a depression that is not always a spiritual thing."

by: Yolanda Velez
Licensed Christian Counselor

I want to thank Mrs. Velez for taking the time to provide us with this necessary information.  When we know better, we do better.   What do I mean by this? that we no longer have an excuse to walk around feeling miserable and making others miserable. LOL 

Love you, thanks for reading.... please SHARE, you never know who may need to hear this. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Blind Leading The Blind

I can take very little credit for the good choices I have made in my life up until this point.  It would be deceiving for me to tell you that they have all been made from pure intellect, common sense and spirit leading.  The truth is that my choices have come from painful experiences and great advice, but mostly from mentorship.  My bad choices on the other hand have been made completely by my stubborn nature. LOL

In the past few years I have focused on living life to the fullest and enjoying my family’s every breath; while at the same time pleasing my God and bringing glory to His name.  This has been a decision made from painful experiences like the death of my brother, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, and many others. 

There has to be a deciding moment in our lives. A moment when we realize that what we are doing is no longer filling us.  No matter what we do, we have no joy, no peace, no drive or even focus. We feel like our life is going around like in a merry go round making the same stops every few years.  That moment came to me after many life crises.  I learned that to do things differently I had to find people to teach me how to do it.  But in order to allow this process to take place I first had to let down my pride and admit to myself that I didn't know how to make it better.  That I needed to embrace the help of other people; not an easy task for an independent thinker like myself.  

After that realization I devoted some time in finding different mentors for the different rolls I play in my life.  There are people I look up to as Christians, as parents, others as spouses, in ministry, as citizens, students… No one has it all together, that’s why we need one another.  When the bible says “in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom” that’s what it’s referring to.  We all have something we have done well but I also believe that not all married couples could be marriage counselors or mentors.  Not all parents could be mentors… Everyone can be a mentor in one area or another, but we are certainty not an expert in everything.  

Five things I look for in a mentor:
1.       God fearing people. People that love God with all their heart and have devoted their lives to His service.  (in our case, preferably in ministry because we can relate to them)
2.       People that have accomplished something from beginning to end with great success. Ex. Raised Godly children that are serving God even after they are grown and out of their parents’ house. 
3.       People that have been married longer than I and have been able to preserve a healthy relationship with their spouse throughout the years.
4.       People that are trust worthy and live with integrity.
5.       People that are willing and able to be transparent in order to help others achieve what they have achieved.

This can easily become a “blind-leading the blind” fest only because when you go through tough times you become consumed in your quest of finding people that are going thru similar circumstances. However, don’t get caught up in a pity party.  These people can help you but at the same time they are struggling with the same issues.  Although they can most definitely  understand where you are coming from, you can be triggers for each other.  My mentors are the complete opposite of me.  For instance, some are border-line OCD. Hahaha Why?? Because I need organization in my life! So I learn from the way they carry themselves and by the way they live. 

What would I like for you to take away from this? Choose your mentors wisely, but choose them! We can't do life alone.  Someone out there has accomplished what you so desperately want to accomplish and can lend you a helping hand, especially by example. Get off the merry-go-round and start paving a new path.  YOU CAN DO IT!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Denial- Fear of Living with our eyes wide open

If there was no lesson learned from a mistake, it will most likely repeat itself in one way or another.  

Many times we ask ourselves why we continue to fall into the same crisis over and over again. We don't understand how we end up exactly where we started emotionally, regardless of how the situation began. Sadly, it takes longer for some  than for others to finally get it.

Here's a good example of this. I know of a person who has been married and divorced three times.  Throughout his life he has had many failed relationships,  including with his children, siblings and friends.  

In my quest to get to the bottom of why this person could not form healthy relationships; I learned that he never took responsibility for his toxic contribution toward each failed relationship.  He blamed the other person each and every time.  I actually remember hearing even his mother justifying his bad choices, "my son has been dealt such a bad hand in life.  He continues to meet the wrong people." SERIOUSLY??? You mean to tell me that your son had the wrong job when he was fired for getting into fights with everyone that didn't agree with him? or That he met the wrong women because they wouldn't put up with his drinking, verbal abuse and womanizing?? Or that he had every right to stop talking to his sibling for years because he felt inferior to them for making better life choices?  He actually believed that their sole purpose of  succeeding was to ridicule him. or that he doesn't get involved in his children's lives because they are the ones that should pursue him? 

He will soon be in his 80's and still believes he has been a victim, "everyone leaves me." Other times he justified his hostile reactions by blaming the other person for pushing his buttons. He has even referred to his life as cursed or unlucky.  This is a perfect example of how we can go through our entire life in denial.  The results, at this time in his life, he is alone.  

Face and resolve is my new motto. 

Just like this man we ourselves use those same excuses to resist taking fault.  We see denial as an easier route than facing the fact that our lives are not what we want it to be because of our own doing.  Some of the most common excuses I have heard:

* I'm not married because I keep meeting the wrong person.
* My relationships fail because I have not been as lucky as other people. 
* Everyone leaves me and betrays me that's why I can't trust.
* I don't see my kids because they don't look for me.

It isn't until we take responsibly of our part in the matter and make a conscious decision to do it differently,  that we are able to see the cycle break.  The only person you can control is yourself.  If your life is not where you wish it would be.  If you are lacking what you have dreamed of having: a spouse, children, career etc. then its time to open your eyes wide and stop living in denial.  The truth will set you free; free to see where you went wrong and fix it.

On my next blog I will give you some steps towards experiencing a breakthrough in your life.