by Christa Hardin, MA, owner and director of Reflections Counseling & Coaching
It’s a popular saying that there is no such thing as balance.
That you must and will always feel guilty for the things you aren’t doing.
That you will never feel “good.”
That isn’t true.
And no one can impress feelings on you unless you allow them to.
In response to that saying, I have created 10 Tips for Feeling Great that will help you to thrive again or for the very first time via personal adventures and self-care!
And rest assured, balance does exist.
It doesn’t mean you are perfect or that mistakes don’t happen.
But no matter what, both your productivity and your peace are invaluable!
Invest in yourself and you will both live with quality and produce quality!
So here are my top ten tips for self-care and feeling great in both your activity and your rest!
When you make plans to get active refreshment, keep them. Activity is a major stress relief as long as you aren’t going way too hard. Work with a trainer a few times if you need to gauge it or talk to your family doctor about your ideal plan.
Then, don’t allow little things to get in your way once your plans are set. Hold on to those plans as though they are a non-negotiable and just as important as getting to school or work on time for the truly are.
Find Beauty in Nature.
Setting is uber important for refreshment. When I was getting total F as in Fail for self care (or possibly Fake) I was literally running like a rag on a treadmill listening to music that wasn’t feeding my soul. Ugh.
Find a place at least weekly where you can relax or workout outdoors in a beautiful setting.
If your setting is anything but beautiful, take some time to find a small space out there and make it beautifully yours, even if it’s 4 feet by 4 feet and in your backyard or a patio.
Combine Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Self-Care.
If you’re a true multitasker at heart even in your most relaxed moments, you may even now be sipping coffee and interrupting your reading to give each child your undivided attention.
No judgement if so, we may be friends.
And you especially will love hearing me say that your physical, emotional and spiritual can be all had at once some days.
Get creative to make that happen. Try sitting on the beach or at a park one breezy evening with a devotional book you’ve been wanting to dig into and your jogging shoes on. You rest (emotional), read (spiritual) and run or walk (physical) all at once and your day is complete!
Don’t Defy A New Season.
Seasons, my friend, seasons. I used to try so hard to defy seasons but I am learning to embrace them.
When a door needs to close for awhile, stay busy doing something else wonderful.
When my body isn’t up for jogging or decent workouts, I focus on even healthier eating and I try to get extra rest.
Listen well to what works and what doesn’t so you feel refreshed even when things don’t go according to your plans.
Defy Limitations. Dream Big.
If tennis is your gig, plan a big trip for one year from now with your bf playing tennis on clay courts in Cali or join a local tennis group for weekly challenges.
If you love cupcakes, make a dream come true by planning a trip to visit the on-set Cupcake Wars show or to make a new recipe every week ( I just got to see the first Sprinkles cupcake ATM with my little cupcake entourage).
If your budget is tiny, considered free but awesome body workouts. Sign up for a triathlon, a Couch to 5K program, or get physical therapy for that hip that’s been stopping you.
The person who lives in a confined, completely limited world has never felt the thrill of making the perfect cappuccino, reading an epic book, creating a sweet graphic, writing the most beautiful poem that just perfectly described everything you were feeling in that ache, (yes, even aching poetry can be self-care), or making money doing something you absolutely love doing!
Don’t let ANYTHING or ANYONE stop you from experiencing the vibrancy of adventure and rest that is yours for the taking.
I bet you groaned when you saw this drab title follow the last but before you get too upset, remember this:
You can get into deep trouble if your adventures take you much much farther than you really wanted to go. Once my friend invited me to her wedding. It was on the top of a mountain along the beautiful Pacific coast.
Funny thing, I was driving my rental car over literally the most gorgeous and picturesque setting I have ever seen (huge, huge ocean and Cali buff here). Problem was, I couldn’t enjoy it, because there were no guard rails and I literally got dizzy LOOKING DOWN THE CLIFF. I never expected this.
I have driven the Golden Gate Bridge, Atlanta, Chicago, and all over so I never thought that would stop me. But it did. And ya know what, I had to accept limitations. I am ultimately glad I turned around that day.
Because since then I have had another child, have written three more books, have poured into people, have had countless joys and laughs and made amazing memories with my family, friends and clients.
Be you, be tough, but don’t put yourself or others at risk even if it means turning around and changing your plans. And learn from these trials.
I love walking, driving, taking a train or jogging through trails by myself but it’s important to take precautions. As many of my clients know, I had to shut down one of my offices because there was a drugged up person trying to get to me after hours downtown and I realized what people had told me: Don’t be in the office downtown at night on your own.
My office is in a different Pleasantville-like town now (Lakewood Ranch) and I love it. Love it! (There is a cute little downtown nearby and that helps!)
And I still go to downtowns obviously but I don’t go along at night typically unless I have some form of protection on me.
Speaking of which, self defense classes are also an awesome idea and I have done those as well! If you can, take a tough pet, a tough human, or be a tough human so you can be safe as you adventure in strange or unsafe places.
Don’t let the routine become too commonplace. Sprinkle something new and fun into your mini-adventures at least once a week.
It can be small things like trying a new type of flavored bottled water to doing big things like vacation-planning for a trip of a lifetime.
It could be planning to go for a walk around sunset, taking a photo shoot in a new place, or to restaurant hop to a new place on your date night!
Download fun photo apps and take some selfies doing the things you love!
Invite a Fellow Adventurer.
Who would be a fun and willing partner in your adventures?
Be thoughtful, don’t just invite anyone along. If you want someone who is hyper, adventurous and fun to go along with you on your self-care adventures, go for it.
I love my extroverted friends don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I need someone quieter, such as when I want serenity and peace or I’m drained or sometimes I prefer to go alone.
Find people like this who won’t be drama when you need some peace and quiet.
Listen to Your Body.
When your body tells you you need rest, take it. I have gone past my body oh so many times and I regret it but God has been so faithful in helping me to stay clear of that in the recent years.
Writing my devotional for busy mothers Messy Buns and Cartwheels helped tremendously in that season.
So if you too need a lesson in learning to respect your body, take my advice. Slow down.
Your job, spouse, kids, and health are enough for you to worry about so anything besides what can and should wait sometimes so you can get replenished.
In fact, the job, kids, and spouse should wait sometimes too! God loves you so much and desires you to get rest, sweet child. Make sure you take Him up on it. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
To work with my staff or I, visit us at www.ReflectionsCC.com. Don’t forget to take advantage our our current freebie, The Overflowing Life: A Life Hack for the Overwhelmed & Overloaded, while you’re at it!
If you are struggling in your marriage, it’s time for a marriage makeover!
Marriage woes cost more than you think. A Lack of productivity at work, emotional health, wasted time that could have been spent laughing gets spent arguing, and mainly doing negative things ARE expensive to your health and to your pocketbook!
Investing in your marriage is one of the best things you can do in the short term to produce lasting and long-term results.
Instead of simply complaining about your spouse, give yourself the affordable and life-lasting gift of the R & R Relationship Repair Program with Reflections Counseling & Coaching!
You’ll see new life in your marriage, waste little to no time having senseless arguments, and have WAY more fun together.
The program is fast, simple, and although hard work, it’s shaped so you can have fun learning and grow! See what clients are saying, too on our testimonials page for marriage coaching! Call 941-301-8420 to book your appt in-person (Skype or phone coaching also available)! www.ReflectionsCC.com
“I can’t help the way I feel. I just don’t love him anymore. We’re never going to change. I can’t do this anymore.”
I hear these dramatic words slip off tongues all the time in a first session. Once someone is in this mode, it takes some convincing for them to see any hope.
As you know, many of the movies we watch, pop culture books we read, and stories we’re told portray spousal love as a heart-throbbing, wild, thrilling, and even sadistic roller coaster type of experience (and all at the same time if you’re in the drama genre).
However, it’s not the kind of love that’s found in 1 Corinthians 13. The Bible spells it out so well:
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
Should there be any doubt after reading this all-inclusive verse on love’s definition, God mentions love in the Bible around 500 times. He probably does this so there will be little doubt as to what really defines it.
God also takes painstaking efforts to let us know just how much He loves us, having allowed His Son to die on the cross for us. He gives us the definition and is the definition of love, be there no mistake. But why did have to God go to these lengths to show us how to love?
Well, for starters, since the Fall in the Garden of Eden when our race first sinned, love doesn’t always come naturally to us. And of course, Christ was the perfect sacrifice for sin, once for all. As we know it now in our fallen bodies, Christian love defies nature. When the “fight” or “flight” feelings arise in a relationship to warn us of a problem compounded by our sin, we are naturally cued to leave one another, to fight it out, or to sin in some way, whatever our own guilty pleasure.
Some of us turn to gluttony, others to alcohol, and still others to yelling, gossip, slander, or many other awful coping mechanisms we have picked up along the way.
Unfortunately, as much as our desire to stay emotionally safe is a gift from God so we can act in true emergencies of abuse or neglect — a separate but important topic — often we allow it to be activated in situations where we could be turning to God for help. “He lied to me. I’ll spend money.” “She won’t give to me sexually. I’ll view pornography.”
Sometimes these reactions are so fast that we try not to see the connection, and we act so quickly in sin that we don’t even stop to process.
I’m asking you this week to so something important.
Defy the natural idea to sin, to leave, to fight, to act harmfully toward someone made in God’s image.
Some of you may be thinking that the love mentioned in this week’s verse sounds imprisoning.
Contrarily, this true love allows you to be free from the agony of hate and the victim mentality altogether. It offers the choice to care, not only for another but for yourself. Get emotional, spiritual, and physical self care and I promise you, you will shine for Christ in amazing, thrilling, and heart-throbbing ways you never even dreamed of. Even though they may be a far cry from Hollywood’s definition.
But remember that true love isn’t always fun, even when you do love yourself well. Sometimes it looks like helping someone through their grief or pain when you’d rather be on the golf course or tasting martinis at the local happy hour.
Love sometimes means scrubbing toilets as a second job so you can afford to pay the rent as a single parent. And sometimes love means being lonely, since others at times take advantage of a kind soul.
If our treasures were all earthly, this wouldn’t make any sense, would it? But when you consider that our treasures are in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and we don’t receive the full reward of them till then, you know that loving is always the answer, even when life’s circumstances would warn you to do other things.
The voice of culture tells you, “If you love her, she’ll take advantage of you.” “If you love him, he’ll take everything and leave you high and dry.” The voice of God is clear and strong, telling you to love others and yourself well, and that God Himself will fill you.
You see, those who don’t love carry a far greater burden than those who do.
They carry lust, deceit, revenge, hate, malice, selfishness, and far worse positions than those who choose to love despite the cost.
I for one, don’t want to carry this load around.
I want to trust God to meet my every need, and ask you to join me in loving your family and friends, your enemies and your neighbors with the love of God this week and always.
Love is enough.
To work with me more directly, contact us here!
“I forgive you.” Those may be the three hardest words you ever have to speak to someone. I would challenge that with the counter question of, “Will you forgive me?”
Recently, I saw the much acclaimed movie War Room, which highlights prayer and stories of forgiveness and redemption. I was moved and envious of the main character, Clara, as she freely and willingly went to her prayer closet to pray for people, pray for her own messes, and forgiveness. Then she paid it forward and taught another woman how to do it.
If you think long and hard (or maybe it doesn’t take that much effort), you will most certainly identify at least one person you want or need to forgive for an offense. Easier said than done, right? Pain and loss take time to process and even more time to heal. We are human, made with emotions and hearts and when our heart aches, or we feel offended, almost nothing can relieve us. We try to numb it at times. We try distraction. We try busyness. We try substances. We try to forget. Forgiving is miles away…or is it?
Once, long ago, I had a choice to make. I was the offended one, and I had every right to be angry and it was mighty difficult to forgive the one who hurt me. I did not bring the offense upon myself and I did not fight it. I allowed the person to inflict the pain and I suffered greatly. However, I found myself with a choice to make. The choice to forgive or not to forgive. I certainly would not forget what happened to me or the effect it would have on me for years thereafter. However, I remembered the words of Christ when He said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, then your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV). Whoa! That was a game-changer. Not only did I instantly forgive the person, but many times in later years, I was once again convicted to do the same in relationships.
What about reversing the choice? How many times do we take the initiative and go to someone who we know we have hurt and ask their forgiveness? How often do we even discern that we have hurt them? Wouldn’t our relationships, our friendships, marriages or parenting be different if we could only humble ourselves and take that step of asking? Sadly, pride gets in the way. Time passes. Anger resumes. Distance grows. Fortunately, there is no statute of limitations on forgiveness, and we can do it freely when we are ready. My dad had an argument with his father and they didn’t speak for years, until my dad’s heart softened and one year before he became ill with cancer, he reached out to his father and asked for forgiveness. He was freed. You see, forgiveness is not only for the person who initiated the offense. Forgiveness frees us. It allows us to live with peace, to move on, to let go. What about the adage, “Forgive but don’t forget.” I don’t buy it. If we truly forgive someone, we do forget the offense. And isn’t that what Christ did for us? He paid the ultimate ransom and died on a cross for our sin, our offense. No questions asked.
What about you? Is there someone whom you need to go to, to ask for forgiveness? Don’t hesitate. Do it today. I’d love to work with you on your journey! To learn more about me, visit me here!
Read this blog aloud with your spouse at the dinner table. Guaranteed you will be laughing at my awkward early-marriage moments as well as adding some of your own to the table. More importantly, you will be challenged to grow together! Happy Reading!
Money Matters by Christa Hardin, MA, LLP, BCLC – excerpted from Table for Two: Mealtime Devotionals for Couples
My husband and I were newly married twenty-one year olds, and needless to say, we still had stars in our eyes.
We had just counted out the money in our wedding envelopes and were headed off with loads of cash and checks to the land of plenty – California.
We didn’t have money mentors in our lives who could help us to start out on the best financial journey. I’m sure you can guess where this is leading.
We spend almost our entire wedding cash on our honeymoon!
We thought since it was a honeymoon we should be eating at only the finest establishments, so even when we were tired and worn out, we ordered from only the most exclusive and expensive cafes in Santa Barbara.
Besides one of two sluggish games of tennis, a tandem bicycle ride gone wrong (we Midwestern folk weren’t used to hills and arguments that came on that ride! I can’t wait to tell you more about that little tandem journey in a future blog), all we did besides the obvious, was eat, eat and eat!
Thinking back, a cruise would have been a better plan for us, since we would have eaten to our heart’s content and still managed to come out with some dough in our pockets, but naive as we were, we wanted California where we had gotten engaged, and nothing could stop us from meeting our dreams, even if they were unwisely laid out. It reminds me of this verse,
“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” Proverbs 20:21
We definitely devoured, quite literally, our brand-new savings for a home or our upcoming graduate school bills or even our future family which was only a few years down the road. Since hindsight is twenty-twenty, we don’t condemn ourselves and have God’s grace, but along the way we have learned that saving a portion of our money for emergencies and future plans is wise, and that trying to get immediate gratification isn’t.
A major foodie, this still gets me from time to time, but now that we do our budget together monthly and have since taken the advice of wise financial advisors, we are on a much wiser path and enjoying the fruits of a comfortable dwelling and savings even as we give and try to keep outgiving ourselves! God has shown us that by giving over our time, talents, and treasures in this case, we can truly find wisdom.
I wonder if you have ever felt this way in your financial story together? If you have, you are not alone! Most couples tell me in our marriage sessions that financial stress is one of their biggest areas of concern and many times, spouses don’t even discuss it because there is so much fear around the topic.
As a brief activity, take some time to talk about three simple ways you can fine-tune your finances to get them more in line with God’s plans for your family. Be brief and not blaming with one another.
Thank You for the provision of meals to us each day. Sometimes we have more than other times, but you have faithfully provided us our daily bread and for that we are so thankful. Help us to look at our finances wisely, with logic and wisdom. Help us to recognize when we are spending emotionally and fill us with Your precious and free gifts so that we are not tempted to fill the voids with material things which do not satisfy anyway! Help us to come together as a couple to discuss our finances regularly and consistently. Help us to know where to give and now much, to have passion to give in places that will honor you! In Jesus Name, Amen.
“What’s cooking? Apparently, not Americans. For the first time ever, people in the U.S. are spending more money dining out then buying groceries.” FoxNews.com April 15th, 2015.
For future study: Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover program is an excellent beginning or even advanced financial spending program, and Suze Orman has a wonderful book entitled, The 9 Steps to FInancial Freedom that will help you to find healing and hope in this area! Commit to beginning one of these programs or talking to a financially wise mentor or advisor (non-family if possible) about your next steps.
A La Carte
On your next date night, set a ridiculously low budget (so long as it’s not an anniversary or your spouse’s birthday!). If you’re used to spending sixty dollars, for instance, between the meal, a sitter, and drinks or dessert, try aiming for twenty-five, by swapping childcare with a friend as well as eating at a local upscale(ish) cafe (like Panera Bread or a pizza joint) and taking a walk together afterwards!
Anger Outbursts in Marriage, excerpted from Release.
Although some couples can make up with movie star quality after a fiery ordeal, most couples who seek me out for help don’t actually enjoy the makeup process as much as they would actually like to avoid a fire-extinguisher-worthy battle in their marriage.
Typically, when one or both spouses have a bad temper that is easily riled up, someone in their life (often in childhood or early adulthood, or even the other person in this relationship) has allowed themselves to do this without setting a boundary.
This pattern may have gotten a start as early as infancy (picture a mother cooing over a tantrumming toddler).
You do, in fact have your work cut out for you if someone has been permitted to both engage others like this and receive affirmation or coddling for having done so.
If you are a spouse who often gets injured from your partner’s anger outbursts, you are probably aware that trying many different angles can be very frustrating when none of them work.
You may even now be involved in a pattern of apologizing when someone else loses their temper even when you aren’t sorry since you don’t want to have them get riled up too much, or especially in the case of feeling your own safely is at risk.
In the latter case, you need to run, not walk to your nearest counselor and get help since this endangers you and your family.
There is never a time when it is okay or acceptable for a spouse to push or hit another, or to violently call you names. T
his is the exception to the rule when it comes to telling others about the battles and getting help, even if you don’t start with a counselor but a caring friend or outside family member.
On the other hand, if you spouse is “just” getting engaged, blaming, cajoling or emotionally manipulating you in fights, try communication tactics and being a scientist of the relationship to see what works as a first step.
Do you push at someone and disrespect their boundaries when they are clearly agitated and need a cool down?
Someone who engages in anger outbursts may not have insight into what will help them but you can be a student of them, and try to talk it out with them when they are in calm mode.
Find out together what precipitated the outburst both generally and specifically? Were they exhausted? Did their boss make them feel badly? Are there any big red flags such as that they are not getting proper self care?
Some people, when they feel emotionally threatened, have anger outbursts and they don’t mean to hurt others, they are simply used to it, and need someone else to set a boundary with them so they are forced to act different.
They won’t like it, to be sure. But guess what?
Life is about to get a little uncomfortable for them momentarily, which will bring increasing lasting and truer comfort than they have ever known.
If you are the one with an anger outburst issue, imagine having a very bad toothache and then being told a dentist was going to give you a shot and drill a larger hole that will be filled into your tooth to fix the problem.
At first glance, the procedure sounds terrible but we know the lasting effect is pain-free bliss and before you know it, you are flossing and back to steak dinners and an occasional treat. In marriage, when you truly fix anger outbursts, it will have a similar joyous effect.
Offended spouse, here is one great way you can confront the person before an outburst has taken place and say (if necessary, in front of a counselor)…
“I realize you get your temper up when we fight, to the point of yelling and … (whatever else they do). I don’t mind if your voice raises a little since that’s very normal but when you go off the handle and.. (be specific), I have decided to walk away and try again later. I respect you and myself too much to be part of that any longer. I realize I may miss out on getting to the bottom of an important issues with you, so I will try other methods, such as resolving that when you are calm or speaking about it to a counselor or coach together, or if you are not willing, I will talk to a counselor or mentor about my issues with you myself so I can figure out what to do. What I do know is that I can’t be subject to fits of rage. We both know there are tips and tools to talk things out so we don’t get to that point of escalation. If you are becoming escalated, let me know that. (Discuss a way to say it) and then I will back off. I make that commitment to you now, that knowing that you tend toward outbursts, if I see the following nonverbal signals (turning green like the Hulk, smoke coming out of your nose, and basically other signals, etc), I will say, “I see you are getting agitated from our fight. We can talk later, and for now, I’m going for a walk, going upstairs, etc. I love you.”
In other words, set a boundary that also extends love and a chance to talk later.
Do this as many times as is necessary until they get the point. The old style of interacting won’t work any more, and the issues won’t go away either so they will eventually have to choose to fight things out on healthier terms.
Remember, the anger outbursts aren’t necessarily stemming from hate. Your spouse feels threatened and is looking for control through the outburst so they need to be reassured of love as well as told they cannot do this to you – just don’t let them stay there, don’t be part of the unhealth even if you don’t feel it bothers you because the truthis you wouldn’t even be reading this unless it did.