Category Archives: Spiritual

Spiritual wellness is a personal dimension that involves possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one’s life. It involves a high level of faith, hope, and commitment to your individual beliefs that provides a sense of meaning and purpose. People can express their meaning and purpose in life through nature, art, music, religion, meditation, or good deeds performed towards others. Spiritual wellness may or may not involve religion. Although religion is an integral part of spirituality for some, one does not need to be involved in organized religion to be spiritual.

Is THAT what You call Commitment?

Throughout your day, if you really think about it you commit to a lot. You commit to the outfit you’re wearing. You commit to wearing your seatbelt on the way to school/work. You commit to riding your bike or walking to work. You commit to your responsibilities at work. You commit to cooking supper or maybe choosing where to pick up something to eat. You commit to taking the dog for a walk or going to the gym. You commit to sleeping at night.

Do you think of it that way? Do you see your life as a series of choices to commitments you make?

Maybe I’m off… maybe your car is broken so you HAVE to ride your bike or walk. Maybe your favorite shirt is dirty so you HAVE to wear the other shirt. Maybe it’s raining out so you HAVE to find a different way of exercising. But really, don’t you still have a choice in committing to these things at a certain level?
I mean, you could call for a ride, you could pick your 2nd favorite shirt, you could embrace your exercising alternative… do you see what I mean?

I’m not saying that you need to walk around and high five everyone you pass on the street because you were “tasked” with picking up all of the dog poop at a recent volunteer event… but you could at the very least remain a pleasant human being. I think most people would agree that isn’t the best job in the world, but you are greatly appreciated for doing it. Pull up your big kid pants and put a smile on your face- after all, it’s only temporary!

There are other times when you choose to do things- like attend an after work event with coworkers. It’s up to you to be mindful and respectful of all of the others present with your conversation… meaning, you aren’t bashing those who chose not to come. And you aren’t negatively simmering over the fact that you showed up. You are simply there and enjoying whatever unfolds. Choosing to see the bright side of your choice and only worrying about yourself.

Commitment… what does it look like? In my mind, it looks strong. It looks reassuring. It looks positive. It looks attractive.

What does your commitment look like?

example

You are Allowed.

Dear Self,

Sometimes you push too hard. You forget to take a break for fear of failure. You let those silly voices tell you that ‘you are not worthy of rejuvenation because the person next to you must be working harder. You have to keep going. Even allowing one hour or one evening of rest will undo all of your efforts. Get up. Get going. Keep going’.

Do you ever find yourself feeling this way? It might be at work, or at the gym, or at your place of residence… this overwhelming sense of guilt for daring to listen to your body and take care of yourself by breaking for a nap to to watch your favorite show or read a chapter in your book. I do- like, all the time. I found myself in this predicament last week. The previous week at work had been pretty crazy and I don’t think I ever did recover. You know, because there’s always a house to clean, a dog to walk, clothes and dishes to wash… the list never ends. Every time I thought about sitting down I would feel like I was just wasting time.

I could feel my body telling me I better slow down “or else” on Monday, but once again ignored it; I had stuff to do!

And then it hit me. HARD. By mid-afternoon Tuesday I felt physically and emotionally exhausted. It hurt to sit. And think. And function. By the time I got home I was going back and forth from tearing up to yawning. All I thought about was taking the dog for a walk and picking up the house and finishing the dishes and cleaning off the counters and all of the other little things that I felt like I HAD to get done that night or risk total failure as a human. (I know, I know… totally ridiculous, right?!) But … my body had officially had enough.

So I stopped. I allowed myself permission and space to just sit, and then just sleep. After a 2 hour “dead sleep” nap plus a full nights’ sleep, I woke up the next day feeling human again.

In a go-go-go world, it’s easy to get caught up in a rough cycle that will eventually lead to breakdown. It’s important that we remember that the majority of people feel this way- that we are all “competing” for that “I’m the busiest person” trophy… and yet, you don’t win a prize for that.

Slow down.

Allow yourself to sit and enjoy life- whether it’s through a hobby, a phone call to a friend/family member, or even taking a little bit of time to catch up on your favorite TV show. From my experience, the police won’t show up on your doorstep because you chose to take care of yourself… and the dishes/clothes/messes will be there tomorrow.

How will you slow down this week?

slowdown

Restoring Meaning

There seems to be a struggle between perceived expectations and reality in the wake of social media.

America just celebrated Memorial Day, and people seem to have different interpretations of what it means: a sign of summer, the perfect time to fire up the grill, invite your friends over, and hopefully bask in the sun vs. a time to remember our Fallen Soldiers and honor all those who gave and give so we could enjoy all of the freedoms we have today.  I see the same thing happening to Thanksgiving (overeating, parades, and football vs. being Thankful for life’s blessings), Christmas (presents, shopping, Elf on the Shelf, Santa, parties, decorations vs. Jesus being the Reason for the Season), Weddings (the “perfect dress,” over-the-top decorations, showers and parties before the party, invitations, flowers, pictures, food, music, attendants, schedules, presents, registries and favors vs. Celebrating the Love that has brought 2 people together into a Lasting Union), Easter (dressing up, Easter Bunny, candy, egg hunts, and more presents vs. Jesus dying for our sins to Save us)* and even Birthdays (pinterest-worthy recipes, decorations, and presents vs. Celebrating Life with loved ones).

Too many people are competing for the “biggest and best _(insert celebration here)_,” but seriously- what is it all for?

When I was in 3rd grade, we loaded up our family suburban with a bunch of friends and went to the Winnepeg waterslides and Old Spaghetti Factory to celebrate my Birthday. Do you know what I remember about that day? I remember the Border Patrol ripping the heads off of my brand new Troll dolls, probably checking for drugs. (If you don’t know what Troll dolls were- Google it. They were AWESOME!)

I can’t even tell you what I got for Christmas last year… but I do remember all of the awesome family gatherings- just sitting around and sharing stories and memories.

OK fine, I guess I’ll admit that there are times I remember a recipe or food from a holiday- like the almost-entire delicious popcorn cake I consumed at Easter this year; but to be fair, I’m kind of obsessed with food sometimes. 

Popcorn cake aside, my point is this: I think we can all do a better job of restoring- maybe even discovering- meaning in our celebrations. Stripping away the expectations to out-do the neighbors next door, to spend all of the money (or even more) than you have, to win the perceived invisible trophy among human beings for throwing the best celebration. Sometimes it stresses me out just thinking about all of the thought, time, and planning that went into some of the celebrations I’ve attended.

I’m challenging you in the next year: strive more for meaning than the perceived societal expectations. Take note of the warm fuzzies that come of just being with loved ones. Cut yourself enough slack to enjoy a celebration rather than stress over a timeline or making sure “the perfect memory” was made. Know that you’ve done a wonderful job. You’re doing a wonderful job.

I recently heard a story from a mom who had pulled out all the stops to give her daughter the BEST birthday party imaginable. A few months later she asked her daughter what the best part of the day was, to which the girl replied “shopping for last-minute supplies with you in the morning. I liked the ‘us’ time.”

simplify2What kind of memories are you making?

Will you join me in Just… Being?

*Full disclosure: I’m a Christian and believe in God and Jesus, so you may have other beliefs or celebrate other holidays. This is just my story. 

You still have a Choice.

When it rains, it pours… you know what I mean? raincloud

Like, when the clouds fill the skies for more than a day, people accidentally grab their grumpy pants when they get dressed in the morning. Without knowing it, they are claiming victims right and left- simply by forgetting to be kind. Or forgetting to be thoughtful. Or forgetting that we are all human and we all make mistakes.
You know what I mean?

It can be rough to survive one of those days. But then sometimes it happens for 2 days. Or 5 days. Or an entire week.
And at the end of each day you start to look forward to shutting out the world and hiding under the covers… and sometimes when your alarm goes off the next morning you plead with God that it’s actually Saturday and you forgot to shut your alarm off.

I’ve been there. Have you?

It’s really easy in those moments to slip into pity party mode and pass the negativity on to others… BUT… do you really want to do that?

You still have a Choice.

Just like so many other things in your day, you get to choose the path you’re going to take when the dust settles from the raincloud people. You can become one, or you can be the Sunshine- perhaps it’s what that person needs to flip the switch in their own world.

We’d be lying to ourselves if we said that we’ve never been raincloud people. I speak from experience when I say there have been days when I couldn’t stand myself. Sometimes I figure it out by myself, usually in the moment when I’m freaking out over a very minor thing- like having a total meltdown because my hairspray didn’t set correctly and I now look like I have bedhead. (Don’t lie- you’ve been there.) Sometimes I figure it out because other people let me in on the reality of my attitude. There’s a general rule in my house that my husband isn’t allowed to ask me if I’m crabby or call me crabby, because in all honesty that makes everything worse. But there are key phrases and words that alert me to the fact that I might just be a little hard to handle- like “are you tired?” “do you need to eat?” or simply “how was your day?”

Whether you figure it out on your own or find it out in the reactions or statements of others… You still have a Choice.

Upon hearing/figuring it out, you get to decide whether you’re going to sink into a deeper funk, making the world even more miserable, or you’re going to reset your attitude in that moment. I get it- it’s not always easy to “snap out of it.”. Try one of the following:

  • go for a walk/run, or do your own favorite exercise
  • deep breaths… remember that You still have a Choice
  • write down 3 things you are thankful for, and then spend a few moments thinking about those things
  • SMILE. at yourself in the mirror. at the strangers on the street. for no reason in particular- just fix your face
  • if possible, hug someone. the power of human touch is incredible
  • take a bath, read a book, meditate… something relaxing and enjoyable

I cannot promise you that these things are the magical cure, because remember: You still have a Choice. If you go for a walk but stew on all the crappy things your friend said to you that day, it might not be so effective. If you make your thankful list but follow up each thing with “BUT,” you missed the point.
Channel your mind into knowing that you are working towards the goal of happiness and contentment.

Of being Sunshine for others.

you are my sunshine colored

 

 

You still have a Choice today.
Make it a good one!

Let It Go without Letting It Go

psst… Did you get the title? I guess I had to be a part of the cool kids and reference the latest craze. Truthfully- I haven’t seen the movie yet. I only heard John T butchered Idina’s name. (And to be fair, I would’ve probably said something similar. Wouldn’t you?)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Mostly about weight loss, self image, and the journey that I’ve been on for a dozen years (WOW- it’s been that long?! I feel old). When I was 16, I tipped the scales at over 300 pounds. I didn’t see a “big person,” and it was honestly confusing to me to hold up my clothes and accept the fact that I not only filled them, but I challenged many of the seams’ thread power.

As I said, those days are long gone. A lot of hard work and much better lifestyle choices have helped me maintain my 100+ pound weight loss. I’d be lying if I told you that it has been easy. I think at some point it did get easier, but I.still.struggle.every.day. If I’m not finding it hard to say no to a pound of peanut M&Ms, I’m daunted with the task of looking in the mirror and not only accepting, but loving my loose skin and remnants of stretch marks.

Did you know that we all have bad days? Mine might look different than yours, but even the most successful people run into challenging moments that sometimes end in defeat.

The age of social media has somewhat muted our ability to accept that it’s OK to be anything less than perfect. There’s a funny picture I recently saw that has a couple happily posing while on a hike; underneath was a picture of them fighting with the title “3 seconds earlier.” Social Media allows us to share our highlight reel with the world… and if you’re anything like me, it also creates an unnecessary perception of pressure to continue “one upping” yourself or those around you.

A few weeks ago, I sat and at a pound of peanut M&Ms. Yes, an ENTIRE POUND. By myself. Just watching tv, relaxing (OK- well maybe it was a combination of stress and emotional eating a little bit, too). Anyway. When my hand hit the bottom of the bag, I was MORTIFIED at what I had done. I couldn’t believe that “I was so weak”…  in my head there were much harsher adjectives I was using in reference to my moment of weakness. Let’s just say- I was not being a nice person, and I went from a moment of pure bliss and enjoyment in the form of sweet and salty crunchiness to complete defeat and horror.

The next day I woke up still mad at myself and began plotting the things I would HAVE to do to make sure that pound of peanut M&Ms didn’t end in a 100 pound weight gain. I would HAVE to spend at least 5 hours at the gym. I would HAVE to eat one meal and nothing else. I would HAVE to not see anyone because they would surely smell the chocolate and peanuts seeping out of my pores…

HOLD UP. STOP THE BUS. 

Do you hear how ridiculous that all sounds? Reflecting back on it, I do! At the time it seemed very rational though. (And for the record- I did my normal time at the gym and ate my normal 2 meals and 14 snacks, and I saw several friends/family members. haha!)

Here’s the thing. Sometimes you’re going to have a moment of weakness. A bad day. A tough decision. And sometimes the best option won’t be the one that you choose to make. But that’s OK. Just as important as it can be to make a good choice, it is equally as important to forgive yourself for being human. As I read in a book the other day,

“Don’t let a Lapse become a Relapse.”

As both an emotional and stress eater, I know all-too-well how easy it is to fall off the tracks. One “bad” bite can lead to a “bad” meal can lead to a “bad” day can lead to a “bad” week… and pretty soon I’ve given up the gym and my 10 heads of lettuce a week.

Now I’m working on a different mindset. For too many years following my weight loss, I had a “good or bad” mentality. Everything was black and white.
Good= lots of exercise, fruits, vegetables, no fat, smaller clothing sizes…
Bad= ice cream, peanut M&Ms, not exercising, a plateau or increase in clothing sizes, marshmallows…

I was missing out on SO.MUCH. and it finally got to the point that I felt deprived and was ready to rebel by eating every “Bad” thing in sight. I’ve since learned to Let it Go once in a while… to enjoy a nice treat. I put in a lot of effort into eating healthy and exercise.  And now I’m working on loving what I see in the mirror. After all, I’ve worked really hard for the body I have for a really long time, and considering what I’ve put it through, it DESERVES love!

Think about your own life. Do you allow yourself to fail lovingly? Are you willing to forgive yourself, learn from the situation, and move on when things don’t happen according to plan?

Winter: You WIN.

I’m going nuts. (Like, even more crazy than the norm.)

This winter is breaking my will. Yesterday I did so many “laps” around my house trying to find something to occupy my time that I started crying- CRYING!! After a series of questions from my husband and tissues, we determined that I’m stir crazy and just tired of being so cold.all.the.time. (Seems like a logical reason to cry, amIright?!)

My story is not unique. I think pretty much all have nearly reached breaking points in what has turned out to be a long, polar-vortex-ridden winter. It’s March and we’re still waking up to ridiculous-below-zero temperatures.

My friends… as much as we hate to hear it, to think it, or to believe it… we must press on and hold on to hope that warmer weather is on its way. And not just a “temporary warm up,” I’m talking about lasting above zero temps. In the meantime, I think it’s important that we take care of ourselves and each other.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and perhaps even more prominent this year. People suffering from SAD often feel tired, moody, or depressed for a length of time on an annual basis. It’s more common to see SAD around the winter months, but it may also be experienced in Spring/Summer. Treatments include light therapy, psychotherapy, and medications.

If you aren’t diagnosed with SAD, you might still feel the symptoms (and if you’re like me, you can add stir crazy and anxious to the list). This is the part where taking good care of yourself becomes really important:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep flushing out your body and avoid dehydration. Establish and then keep a consistent sleep schedule- even on the weekends (make sure it’s enough).
  • Fruits and vegetables are also an important part of staying healthy; vitamins and minerals from these foods will help you- inside and out, head to toe.
  • Get off the couch and MOVE. When it’s -50 outside, the last thing anyone wants to do is jump in the car and go workout, but trust me on this one: just get there. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to take a days off because of the cold, but I can tell you I’ve never regretted going. I’ve also “treated” myself to some new workout DVDs (dancing ones are my favorite, because we’re all dance stars in our living rooms) for those days where it is absolutely impossible to go anywhere (we’ve had our share of those as well).
  • Do what delights you. Find your creative outlet and go wild. I’ve gotten quite a few puzzles put together this winter, and I couldn’t be more excited every time I open up a new one. (And if puzzles don’t scream “go wild,” I’m not sure that anything does!)
  • Think positive. I know, this is one of thee HARDEST things to do when you live in a place where it hurts to breathe… but do your best. Surely there are GOOD things in your life that give you reason to be thankful and smile? If not- look harder.
  • Make sure you are keeping in contact with the people who make you happy. Find fun reasons to get together and laugh (gym dates? trying a new sport like cross country skiing using equipment from the Outpost? lunch dates? book club?). Talk about life, or the Olympics, or the latest award show, or whatever you enjoy. Even though I’m a self-proclaimed social butterfly, there have been long spurts of time in the past few months when I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone besides my husband and our dog- and even that was a struggle. In those moments, I’ve been thankful for the gentle nudges and lunch dates with friends and family- something that I could look forward to.

I’ve given you a few things to help you get through the final stretch of this crazy winter we’ve been having…

Now tell me: What would You add to the list?

 

But how do I know?

Last time you heard from me, I talked about change; specifically, why I resist it with everything inside of me. I’ve never really been a risk taker, and so far it’s led me down a pretty decent “safe” path.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more I have moments of “Let’s do this!” They come out of nowhere, leaving a giant pit in my stomach, and shortness of breath, and a desire to move. Sometimes those moments are for little things, like deciding to workout when I don’t feel like it or trying a new recipe. And sometimes those moments are for big things, like zip lining through a rainforest* or starting a new job. (*Full disclosure: I’ve never ziplined through a forest. Let’s be real.)

A few months ago, I decided to try something new in my professional life. I have a very unconventional path when it comes to the workplace. I graduated with a degree in Dietetics (the science of food) after dabbling in secondary English education. My first “real job” was as a NDSU Extension Agent in Benson County, focusing on things like youth development, living on a budget, overall health, and 4-H. It was a great mix of teaching and wellness.

About 2 years later, I took the job as the first Executive Director of the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals. This was a brand new arena for me, filled with new obstacles and experiences. I joked that I was still using my degree, because I had many coffee and lunch meetings, so I was still involved in the “food part.”

Two weeks ago I started a new position as Events Coordinator for Scheels in Grand Forks. A much larger store is opening in June, and it’s my job to find fun and useful ways for our store to be a part of the community. I have to be honest; this is another BRAND NEW place for me to be. As Executive Director, I did get some experience in event planning and execution, but I have a feeling this will be a bit different.

While attending a pretty intense job training recently, it hit me:

This feels right.

We all wait for that moment after deciding to try new things because of that possibility of failure. Sitting in the unknown can be almost unbearable, so when the moment of “ahhh…” hits, it’s pretty awesome.

I feel fortunate for my newest professional opportunity, and even more for that “ahhh…” moment. For several months I’ve thought “I THINK this is the right move… But how will I know??!” It has taught me patience, the beauty in courage, and confidence in myself and my abilities.

I can’t promise you every ending to a new adventure will be smooth or comfortable or even pretty. But unless you take a chance every now and then, you never have the opportunity to grow!

When was the last time you had an “ahhh…” moment?

We broke it off.

After almost 7 months of marriage, the time finally came for my hubby and me to take our honeymoon in a tropical paradise. It’s no secret that this winter has been a rough one, so we were looking forward to it with great anticipation- even maintaining an hourly countdown to departure. 3 days before we left, almost-record low temps blanketed the area, leaving us stir crazy to say the least.

Before we left, I told my husband we were taking a break…

from technology, that is.

iphone-slide-to-power-off-ogrady

I asked him to commit to a whole week without carrying a cell phone or iPad around, tuning out the noise of the world. He reminded me that the cost of using phones were nothing less than outrageous for “being connected,” so the temptation to cheat would be greatly reduced. When we arrived at the resort, there were wi-fi hotspots and computer stations set up all over the place, but we remained committed.

We woke up each day not knowing what the weather would be doing.

We had no clue what was happening past the next 3 beach chairs.

Sports scores and Facebook statuses were forgotten and irrelevant.

It… was… AMAZING.

At first I was a little uneasy at the thought of leaving everything to chance, and we decided to keep a phone on for emergencies, but it stayed in the room and was rarely checked.

One of the first and most profound things that I noticed was how much TIME you have when you aren’t “connected” around the clock. We showed up early for most activities (and I tend to run at least 5 minutes late), and had plenty of time to really stop and enjoy our surroundings and talk about everything.

People say that our generation has lost the ability to converse. If you want to test yourself, leave your phone at home for a few days and rely on face-to-face conversations. Yes- it was challenging to come up with things to talk about at times, but in those moments, we learned how to be comfortable with silence- another Lost Art.

Being back home has been a bigger adjustment than leaving. I found so much enjoyment out of disconnecting that I’ve had a hard time forgetting to carry my phone! I’m setting a goal to continue consciously shutting out the noise of social media for a time each day in order to connect with loved ones and unwind.

I challenge you to join me- put down your phone and close your laptop for even an hour a day.
Trust me: YOU HAVE TIME.

And once you develop a routine, you may even look forward to it!

So… are you in?

I’m not Resoluting.

I’m done with the whole “New Year, New Me” thing. Saying something like that would make me a liar. The truth is, I woke up the same on Wednesday, January 1st as I did on Tuesday, December 31st… well, I did pick up a nasty cold. But you get what I mean. My name was still Stacey.

For too many years, I told myself that I was going to make some sort of positive change on Monday (mainly to lose weight). Oddly enough, Monday never came. I would just allow myself to make a few extra less than healthy decisions the weekend before, digging a deeper hole, and never doing anything to reconcile it. I’m not sure why it was too hard for me to believe that I was capable of a happier, healthier life. I guess it was too easy to stay stuck. And so the weight just kept coming, week after week and year after year.

Sometimes I would actually start exercising or cut out a candy bar here or there, but by the end of day 1- MAYBE day 2- I was done. It was too overwhelming to think about the bigger picture- how much weight I really needed to lose, or NEVER eating chocolate again, or dealing with 2nd day exercise soreness… excuses were my easy out.

Every year around this time, gyms and produce aisles are flooded with eager “Resoluters.” They feel an awakened sense of determination to really make it this time. And to those people I say: “GO YOU! Welcome to a better way of life!” I encourage you to stick with it, even if a negative voice in your head starts to creep in and whisper lies and excuses. Know that you are stronger than that voice, and every.little.bit counts. It took me 16 years to get to 300+ pounds, and I assure you it will take me working at it the rest of my life to stay healthy.

Instead of thinking about all of the ways I need to change myself in 2014, I spent my New Year’s Eve celebrating the blessings that 2013 brought. I married a wonderful man, moved into our first home, fell in love with a black lab named Abby, welcomed my first nephew, traveled to new places, got to know some great people, and faced some health problems head-on. Good and bad, it all helped to shape me into who I woke up as this morning.

Let’s try something new this year. Let’s not wait for 2015 to work on that goal. Let’s not wait for Monday. Let’s just start now. Believe in yourself enough in this moment to take the first step… and then keep walking. (or skipping)

Mr. & Mrs. Dimmler-423

Gobble til you Wobble?

I ran across this saying while looking for a festive picture this morning and had to laugh. It wasn’t long ago that I lived by that motto throughout the holidays. From the time I woke up to the time my head hit the pillow, I thought about what bar or cookie, side dish, or “main event” I was about to indulge in. I ate until I was ready to burst, and usually had one more bite- JUST to be sure I wouldn’t feel hungry in 10 minutes.

Yikes.

I think about that mentality now, and I just think: Yikes.

Although our society often makes this time of year about the food, the expanding waistlines, the food comas, and the once-a-year delicacies we are about to indulge in… I challenge you to do a little reframing this year. For me, Holidays have become more about the togetherness, the fun traditions (like digging out my “Festive” Thanksgiving sweater vest), and love of others, rather than the food on my plate. Don’t get me wrong- I have my favorite foods that I enjoy as well, but now I try harder to concentrate on the conversation rather than the fork-to-mouth ratio.

One of my favorite things is now a bundled up brisk walk around the block with my aunts and cousins mid-afternoon. I know, it sounds crazy when you consider the temperature and quite often the wind, but it’s a great way to catch up with each other, get energized and burn off some of those extra almond bark pretzels I’ve enjoyed.

I want to hear from YOU!
Have you made any changes to the way you approach the Holiday season? How do you stay on track?

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