Category Archives: mental health issues

Having Joyful Holidays on a tight Budget

This time of year things can get very stressful for those of us who live paycheck to paycheck or with very little discretionary income. All year we manage to squeak by each month by with lots of prayers and various thrifty methods, but then along comes the expensive months. Higher electric bills, sick kids, winter clothes, unexpected repairs and lots of things can make it very difficult to buy Christmas gifts and pay for the many related costs of celebrating the holiday season. Some years may be better or worse, but for some of us,  being poor is just the way it is. We don’t usually complain about it, we accept it, and we make it work, but this time of year can cause guilt, shame, embarrassment and depression for those who wish they could provide more for their families. More than one person has committed suicide for this very reason, feeling like a failure during the holidays, which is a terrible, terrible thing! So many are working so hard to provide for their families and yet inflation and taxes and stagnant wages and other uncontrollable factors keep them from improving the bottom line. Let’s get to the tips. Here’s some music to listen to while you read.

If we make it through December by Merle Haggard 1974

1.) For the married couples. In most couples, one person is a spender and one is thrifty, even if they are on a very tight budget. It is of utmost importance at this time of year that the couple come together and communicate. Is there any money AT ALL that is not budgeted for bills and living expenses? If so, how much? Then, being careful not to cast blame for the situation, discuss where the money could be spent so that everyone can be happy. This means you may have to be willing to compromise! Remember that at THANKSGIVING, we are to be thankful. And at Christmas, we celebrate Jesus, not presents or fancy decorations or fancy meals. If you really love your spouse, you will not burden them with guilt in these thankful, joyous occasions. You can also put your heads together and get creative with ways to celebrate and have fun.  If you are Christians, this is a great time to PRAY together.

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2.) Avoid using credit. Trust me on this one. You will regret it later. Better to save credit cards for real emergencies. I understand the temptation. Payday loans, title loans, high interest credit cards are a TRAP.  If you don’t have the money now, how will you have it later to make these payments? Something else will probably eat up that money you think you might get later. Then you will be in worse condition than before. Pay day loans are the worst and should be illegal. Instead, consider selling things you don’t need or things you make to sell, or maybe get a second or third job. I think that’s way easier said than done for most of us. But first see the next tip.

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3.) Don’t buy it. This is my number one tip. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. I should probably put it first in the list! How can you achieve this? Turn off the TV and radio and throw away all advertisements and catalogs! Stay far away from the mall or department store or craft fair (unless you’re selling and making money) or other places that call ‘Buy me! Buy me!”. Don’t even walk down those special aisles in Walmart! In a few weeks, all that stuff will be on sale, if you REALLY need it, or it will be dropped off at Goodwill by people who didn’t like their gifts or got newer models. That’s part two of this one, wait until after the holidays and then go buy a few carefully selected items if you have the money. But don’t buy stuff just because it’s on clearance!

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4.)Do not equate your self worth or showing love with giving the perfect gift. We all know that person who is so good at choosing, or even making, gifts that light up the face of the person receiving them. We want to do that, too! Those are the creative, crafty, and usually, more spendy, type of people. Good for them! They are important. But so are you. You have other good qualities! Share your sense of humor, your handiness, your listening ear, your musical talent, your cooking expertise, or just your friendly personality with those around you. Everyone appreciates a fun person, a good storyteller, a helpful person, a good cook, someone who makes them laugh. Some of my favorite people live very simply.

5.)If you do have a little money to spend, consider the following non-traditional places to shop. Goodwill or other thrift stores. Garage sales. Ebay and other online auctions. Craft shows. Facebook marketplace. Just be careful to check the price and make sure you are getting a good deal, including shipping. Dollar General and Family Dollar often have some low priced gift items if you don’t mind a lesser quality.  The modern tradition and belief  that we must give store-bought , new items was created by people that sell those items! Be independent. Give whatever you want to give. It can be fruit from your trees or flowers from your garden or pecans from the trees in the park (I would love that!).

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6.) If you have NO money and are barely making the rent and having gas to get to work, consider checking with some local charities or churches for toys for the little kids. Or, maybe barter with someone whose kids have extra toys. Wrap it up, they don’t need to know it’s used. For adults, most of us are fine without getting anything and especially do not want anyone to spend their bill money buying us things. I know I’d rather hang out and eat a festive meal with my family than anything else! Another idea is to look around and see if there might be something in your own house that you would like to pass on to someone, in other words, re-gifting. It’s okay! In fact, some things are really nice to give, like books, movies, CDs, household goods, nice clothes.

7.) You don’t need to spend a lot, but it’s more festive to at least have a wreath or tree and a few lights or some candles. Thrift shops always have holiday decorations. Garage sales are great for that, too, but it might be too late in the year for that if you are reading this in November.  If you have school aged kids, ask them to draw some pictures and hang them up. Or maybe they will bring home some artwork they made in school that you can display. Pick up some pine cones and coat them in glitter glue. Make paper snowflakes. One year we made a snowman out of bags of plastic bags! Another time we made long chains of construction paper rings.

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8.) You have to eat anyway,  so take advantage of the annual buy a ham and get a free turkey deal or whatever your store offers . One of our stores offers a bunch of free items with the ham. It’s worth the price of the ham. Buy two if you can and freeze one. Now is the time to do some pie and cookie baking and other treats and consider that part of your holiday celebration by letting the family in on the fun, even if they do make a mess! Rice krispy cereal treats are cheap and you can add red and green sprinkles or use the colored cereal if they have it. Be careful not to overspend on recipes that have expensive ingredients. Sometimes you can substitute cheaper ingredients or just leave things out. Home cooking is USUALLY cheaper but not always , so count the costs. But if the cooking is the entertainment, it might be worth spending a few bucks more than the bakery pie.

9.) Don’t buy gifts. Just get together with friends or family as much as possible during this time of year. Enjoy food, music, whatever you like to do. It is enough. Be thankful. Count your blessings! Love your family! Some will not be alive the next holiday season. Do not sit at home because you can’t bring gifts to the party! Go to church and community events, like parades and Santa visits. Choirs and nativities. Look on Facebook or in your local newspaper to see what is happening and just do it, even if you have to go alone.

10.)Remember the reason for the season. Jesus! https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/what-is-christmas-understanding-the-history-and-origin.html

Some of you probably have better suggestions than these. I did some internet searches before writing and I felt like many of the articles suggested spending a lot rather than saving a lot. My goal was to encourage those who might be feeling paralyzed with anxiety or depressed over not having a lot of spending money.  It’s easy to assume that everyone else is spending more than you, but remember there are millions of us barely making ends meet.  In fact, many of us on tight budgets are actually doing way better than a lot of people. Let’s encourage each other, take away the pressure to exchange gifts at family gatherings and be thankful for our many blessings.

 

 

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People Come and Go

Once there was a family who needed help. Child Protective Services had taken custody of their son and the parents asked the court if my family could take him in. We did. He was my nephew. I treated him like my own son. It was a very difficult situation that got worse and required a lot from me. I did my best. God helped me, but I wish I could have done more. Then CPS gave him back to his family. Today is his birthday and I haven’t heard from him or them in a few years. It makes me sad. I pray for him. I hope he’s okay.

My cousin’s ex-wife died in a foggy car crash last week. She was around 50 years old and left 4 kids and 3 grandkids that she was very close to. I remember her as a young mother with a newborn. I went to take her baby gifts. She’s gone now. So unexpected and so hard on those she left behind.

I dreamed about my dad last night. In the dream I knew he shouldn’t be there because he died in 2002. He was acting strangely. I asked him, “What? Do you have cancer again?” “Yes!”, he said in a wretched tone. I’ve thought of him several times this week. I miss him.

I had a close friend that I used to run and go to the gym with. She had a Xanax addiction. After several years, I just couldn’t deal with her lies and I had to distance myself. It was hard on both of us. Today I ran by her house. I miss those days of laughing and chatting and running.

People come and go. Be nice to them and love them while you can.

Me-No-Pause: Staying Young at Heart

I started worrying about menopause years ago because I have always suffered in various and often severe ways when my hormones go UP and DOWN. What does the future hold, I worried! Will I go crazy? Will I get a divorce? Will I get fat and lose all my hair? I had those thoughts because I’ve seen women do all of the above.  I know so many women who have become extremely intolerant of their husbands and gotten divorced, been put on anti-depressants after telling their doctors they had no energy and no motivation, gained a lot of weight even though they weren’t eating more and still exercising regularly, quit attending to their appearance because they quit caring what their husbands thought of them, stopped doing anything fun and just stay home ,and just generally changed in many negative ways. This all scared me !

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Knowing of the risks and causes of these life changes, I have been fighting hard to maintain those areas of my life. It’s not easy! I’ve had some very bad weeks and months where I was very focused on everything negative in my life, especially little things that my husband does that annoy me. As a Christian, I prayed hard and asked God to protect me and my marriage, and change my thoughts. It wasn’t instant, but I do see how God has been at work! I believe he used the race training as one means to keep us from going downhill, which I appreciate. As for the other stuff, it’s a daily battle to keep from gaining even more weight. I’ve gained about 10 pounds in the past year. That is a lot for a short person, but I’m still wearing the same clothes, although they feel tight . I recently caved and bought some bigger clothes. It was depressing, but necessary. My husband loves my rounder, softer body, so I guess that’s something. My mood swings and other bodily changes, have been rough to say the least. I don’t have hot flashes but I have long periods. It’s not fun.

But I know this is part of life and I am trying to maintain my sense of self while accepting the inevitable changes. I attempted the Keto diet but I just didn’t feel good . My sister has done great on that diet, lost a lot of weight, has tons of energy.  She is 7 years older than me and now weighs less than me. I was looking at some old photos of us hiking in Moab and she was chubby and I was skinny. The tables have turned! But she gives me hope that I can regain my body eventually. And my 77 year old mother is very petite, although I recall her going through a stage when she gained a few pounds when she had a hysterectomy. Now , my mom eats less than a bird, so that might be one reason she weighs 100 pounds. I know that all of this is vanity, worrying about my weight, but I worked hard to lose those 50 pounds in 2010 and I really don’t want them back! And I want to be healthy and strong enough to run and hike all day long, as well as take care of my family and whatever else needs doing.

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THAT is my awesome 61 year old sister in Moab! I admire her so much. 

 

So I guess I just want to encourage all you 40s to 50s women who are struggling like I am to stay young, vibrant,  and beautiful. I can’t say that I am really embracing this age, but I will say I am trying to accept what I have to and work at the rest. I just started taking a Maca supplement after reading that it is good for menopause. I’ll let you know how it goes. We need to support each other and share information about what helps with these issues. One thing I see happening that really bothers me is women encouraging other women to leave their husbands. I’m talking about women who say they ‘just aren’t happy’ , but their husbands are not abusive or cheating or anything like that.  I’d rather try to help her through her irritable times and get her to the other side of these changes, THEN let her make up her mind. Do not encourage selfish, short-sighted, impulsive behavior that may have serious consequences for them and their families.  I know at least one couple who divorced when she got a hysterectomy and had instant menopause, then they remarried a few years later. Save yourself the money and trouble by staying together! One thing I do is go hiking or running or go read a book if my husband is on my last nerve. Remember, you are probably annoying at times as well. Men tend to be pretty forgiving of (or oblivious to) our grouchy moods, so let’s cut them some slack when they won’t stop talking about sports or politics or whatever their annoying habit is. Last of all, I am trying to remember that selfishness never leads to joy. Joy comes from showing love and kindness, serving, helping, honoring, and giving ourselves to others. Protect your heart and soul from the worldly ideas that are constantly shared in social media, and please don’t LIKE or Share them. We older women are setting examples for the younger ones whether we like it or not. I’m thankful for my mother’s example.

God bless you in your journey! He will keep you safe as you trust Him

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

The Life of the Party

Do you like podcasts? I do and I listen to them regularly while running , instead of music. I often get blog ideas from them and that happened today while I  was listening to an East Coast Trail And Ultra Podcast  interview with Alex Ramsey, aka Barefoot Alex.  Alex was described as a person who NEVER says anything negative. I believe this because I met him once at a race and he was super friendly, positive, and happy. Even when the interviewer said something negative or somewhat rude about something, Alex would just laugh and make a joke and not partake in the negativity. This made me wish that I was that kind of person. Who doesn’t love being around super friendly, positive, happy  people? The kind who have witty comebacks, are very humble, but real, people, who don’t drag other people into gossip, negative conversations, politics, or boring subjects.

I then had to stop myself and say, hey, everybody has their own personality and contributes to the world in their own way.  We can’t all be cheerleaders or motivational speakers or the life of the party. Somebody has to do the other jobs and be the ones to laugh at the jokes. I am a teacher. My gift is sharing and explaining information. But I also try to encourage and build up people in my life with that information.  My personality type and gift is not always appreciated  and I could probably improve my skills and I want to do that. I need to learn from teachers who are able to inspire and encourage while they teach. I had a couple of those special teachers in my years of schooling and I still remember them. They didn’t take things too seriously and they were able to be flexible and also not get upset when students acted up or had trouble learning.

Other people, maybe you, might have the gifts I admire. I love smart people who can make funny jokes. I really appreciate someone who makes me laugh hard! Eddie Murphy was one of my favorites in my youth. He could never get away with some of those jokes nowadays.  I also admire blue collar workers and love to see them at work. My husband is a mechanic and basically an engineer as well. He can use all kinds of tools including a lathe and mill. If he needs a special part to fix something , he can MAKE IT! Pretty cool. I have not spent very many years of my life in paid work, so I find the whole work world fairly mysterious and interesting. I especially love entrepreneurs and salespeople, probably because my dad was a salesman. Some other under-rated people are the ones who do so much good in the world and never want or get attention for it, unless Mike Rowe finds out, the charity workers and good-deed doers and people who donate money, time and their brains to make these organizations successful.  That takes a special personality. These people have huge hearts, good organizational skills, and seemingly boundless energy. Yes, I feel bad that I am not like them, too. And let’s not forget the people who are very good at skills like keeping things safe, being  fair, executing justice, enforcing rules, protecting others, risking their own lives for others,  our police officers, firemen and emergency personnel. Not many of us are cut out for those essential jobs , and they may not always be the life of the party, and that’s okay!  I’d rather have the calm, quiet type in an emergency.

Don’t get me wrong, I do try to always be friendly, positive and happy, but it’s not my natural state. I’m more cautious, observant, and analytical. My point is that I need to be okay with myself, and you should be, too. It’s okay to admire others, but don’t ruin your own happiness trying to be someone you’re not. Find your special gift and use it to make your part of the world better.

Happy Sunday !

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My son, left, and my husband, working on a dirt bike motor. 

 

3 things you should stop being afraid of

In my experience over many years of trying to help people who are chronically anxious and afraid, I have seen many similarities in their fears. I’ve also struggled  with these fears and I have compassion for my fellow sufferers. But it’s good to put a name to them and to FIGHT them and CRUSH them even though it takes time to really KILL them. 

The most common fear is, 1. FEAR OF REJECTION.  This usually becomes an issue for people who were threatened with or felt that they were in danger of a withdrawal of love, approval, affection, praise, or even food and shelter if they did something that their parent or caregiver did not like. The adult in their life was probably simply acting out the way they were raised or taught and didn’t mean to hurt the child, but the child’s sensitive emotions were caught in a cycle of fear leading to either anxiously trying to keep the love and approval or outright giving up as a self-defense mechanism. For example: Billy’s dad is always criticizing how, when, what and with who Billy does things. Billy does not understand what his dad wants from him and becomes fearful and eventually decides it’s impossible to please dad. Billy generalizes this fear to other people in his life whose opinion and approval he values, such as friends and teachers and maybe even strangers. If things go especially wrong, he may even become paranoid that no one likes him and he is a total failure. This is tragic! And all because of a lack of proper communication with a sensitive spirit at a young age.

However, Billy can learn to change his emotional reactions, self-abasing thoughts, and push himself into new, healthy ways of thinking about himself and other people that are not so black and white. He can realize that SOME people DO like him , even if others do not, and that it’s okay if some people do not want to be his friend or even hate him. It’s not his problem. He can move on and still accept himself.

The second , usually co-existing fear is 2. FEAR OF FAILURE. This doesn’t require much explanation. A person is so afraid of making a mistake and being ridiculed or experiencing the emotions that come along with making a mistake when someone is overly anxious about such things, it can feel painful and awful and paralyzing, that the person will not try to do anything he is not sure he can do. I believe it is the internal feelings of guilt and shame that they avoid even more than the possible ridicule of others. Even if no one laughs or says a word, they will tear themselves down , sometimes using truly self-destructive methods.  I have seen people who seem to actually do this on purpose, makes mistakes and then self-abuse, but that’s a topic for another day.

How can you overcome fear of failure? The first step is to admit it, recognize that you have this fear, call it out, set it on the table and look at it. Ask yourself why do you care so much? It’s irrational and you know it . Begin to separate it from your identity. You don’t have to hold on to that way of thinking about yourself, that idea that if you make mistakes you are a terrible person and that everyone is judging you and talking about you and hates you. The truth is that after you graduate from high school, not too many people really care about what you do. Your parents might and that can be a problem for many people. It’s important to separate your self-worth from what your parents and others think of you. You have value. Your value is not dependent on other’s approval. Your value is not dependent on you being perfect. Fight those irrational thoughts! Replace them with true thoughts such as “Everyone makes mistakes. I am just like other people. I am not different or bad. Other people like me. ”

It’s hard to choose the last one, but I will pick 3. Fear of Conflict. Many people live their lives in fear of this! They will choose their words and actions very carefully to keep the peace even if it means not being true to themselves. Children who grow up in angry or overly critical or chaotic atmospheres can become so fearful and sensitive to the slightest disapproval or disagreement that they are constantly avoiding and seeking to prevent these things from happening. “Angry dad” is a stereotypical joke that is not funny. Children and wives/husbands should not have to walk on eggshells and limit themselves to only speaking about safe topics to avoid touching off dad’s/mom’s short fuse. This is a form of abuse in my opinion. Unfortunately, once the child is grown up this habit can remain strong even if they are no longer living in this environment. The fear of anger and chaos remains because it was never addressed. It can also lead to the person using those same tactics of control through anger, which is just as bad or worse.
This fear is closely connected with the other two and must be addressed in order to become a healthy, conscious, self-aware person who is capable of loving others and communicating honestly.  The technique is to identify whether there is actual danger or not and learn to self-talk yourself through the irrational fear of someone else’s emotions. If you are living with a person who is truly willing to hurt you if you step out of line (in their opinion), you should leave. But oftentimes, I find that verbal bullies are really wimps and will back down if you defend yourself calmly and regularly. Show no fear! Be willing to engage in a disagreement if necessary, but don’t argue with fools. If someone tries to scare you with loud voices or threats, evaluate whether you think they will actually back it up or is it just a little dog barking? People like that usually have a weakness. Find it and use it if necessary, but for your own sake, don’t stay in that atmosphere longer than you have to. Go where you can have peace and open communication and freely discuss ideas without being shut down. Your life is worth it.

In conclusion , fear of rejection, fear of failure and fear of conflict can totally paralyze a person and leave them stuck for years. But with awareness of your fears and willingness to change YOURSELF, you can regain your power. If you need professional help, get it. But don’t stay stuck.

Your thoughts and opinions about this article are welcome! Please check out my other blogs about anxiety and life.