Tag Archives: resilience

Take Ten. Really, It’s Okay!

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“O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” (Psalm 55:6 NRS)

One of the greatest gifts of back-to-school is that parents have just a bit more time for themselves.  Gone are the long days of summer, which may be pretty empty for families with special needs.  All of that time and creative energy put into filling a child’s day can leave Mom and Dad with little time for themselves.

Yes, we are all still busy this time of year, but everyone can find ten minutes a day for a bit of self-care.  But can ten minutes really make any difference?

Yes!

Ten minutes a day in meditation can improve sleep, increase willpower and reduce anxiety according to health psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal of Stanford University.

Ten minutes a day of exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and reduces stress, per Dr. Timothy Church, director of the Laboratory of Preventative Research.

Ten minutes a day invested in talking with your spouse improves satisfaction with your relationship per American Psychological Association.

Clutter driving you crazy? Setting aside just ten minutes for some quick organization can go a long way in reducing perceived chaos, which in turn can improve mood, sleep and health, per Darby E. Saxbe and Rena Repetti in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Ten minutes engaged in a favorite hobby relieves stress and nurtures creativity, with the added benefit of reduced blood pressure and lower levels of depression, per a study by National Center for Biotechnology Information. Plus another study shows it helps improve problem solving, a skill we all need when dealing with challenges.

What is the power of ten minutes? How about a better marriage, better sleep, less stress, better organization, and improved mental and physical health.

Be intentional and find ten minutes for yourself.  I’d love to hear back what you did and how it helped in the comments.

Restoring God, thank you for the gift of renewal. Even as we care for others, remind us to care for ourselves.

Rev Doc Lorna

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com via Pexels

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Feeling Impatient to Become More Patient

Sandra Peoples at Not Alone Minsitry invited me to write a blog sharing tips for improving patience from my book Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving.  You can read that original blog by clicking here, or read the repost below.

“Meditation By Young Women” by tiverylucky couresy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Love is patient; Love is kind.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4a

The irony did not escape me.  Years ago at the first session of a six-week support group I outlined the topics I planned to cover.  Then I offered that if there were other topics folks would like to discuss we could add those as well. I decided to grease the skids of the group’s creative thinking by offering some suggestions, “We could talk about siblings, resilience, patience…”

“Yes! Patience! I need that!” one participant exclaimed.

“Me too!”

“Same here!”

I offered, “Would you like me to rearrange lessons and do that one sooner rather than later?”

I got an enthusiastic, “Yes!” from every participant.

Why so impatient to talk about patience?  Maybe because it is something that is hard for everyone. Virtually every special needs parent I know has commented about how they have more patience than they ever thought possible, but that they also wished they had even more.  Patience encompasses so many aspects of life related to parenting a child with extraordinary needs.  Coping with insurance and the medical minefield, scheduling therapy, the (for some) unending quest for diagnosis, and over-committed schedules all contribute to a losing patience.  Is chronic lack of sleep a familiar companion? Let us not forget the “homework wars” looming large right around the corner with the new school year.  Any one of these reasons, plus many others as well, may push patience to the breaking point if reserves are low.

As Christians, we are meant to strive for patience. It is a virtue to be cultivated. The Apostle Paul writes of patience in several of his letters to churches he founded or planned to visit. In his letter to the churches in Corinth, he expounds on the characteristics of love. The first attribute of love is that “love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4). Paul writes to the churches in Galatia listing the fruit of the Spirit, the qualities cultivated in your life when living as a follower of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things” (Gal. 5:22–23). To the Colossians he writes, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col. 3:12-13).

Paul writes of the importance of cultivating patience because even two thousand years ago people struggled with patience. I suppose some comfort comes in knowing it is a universal area for personal growth, but how do we cultivate it? How do we learn to become more patient people, especially in the midst of long-term stress and difficulties? When I think of what it feels like to lose my patience, there comes a tipping point and beyond that patience is broken.

In my book, Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving, I included a chapter about patience that includes strategies about unlocking each person’s triggers for losing patience.  Here is an excerpt from the book offering a few strategies to combat those triggers:

Breath prayer/mantra. Breath prayer involves picking a word or short phrase and repeating it silently or aloud in conjunction with the pattern of breathing. Breathe in to the thought “Love is patient.” Breathe out to the thought “Love is kind.” Alternate phrases include: “Breathe on me breath of God,” “Create in me a clean heart,” or “Let there be peace.” Any phrase that is peaceful and centering for you is appropriate to use in those moments when patience is at the breaking point.

Exercise. There are physical symptoms that come before a loss of patience: fidgeting, tensed muscles, some describe a tingling sensation. Hard exercise releases pent-up tension. Make regular exercise a part of your routine. In the heat of the moment, if appropriate, do some push-ups, crunches, or lunges. Run around the block. Play racket ball against the garage door. At times I would ask my son to run to his room as fast as he could to get something, and I would time him. I would be very impressed by how fast he was and then ask him if he thought he could do it even faster. By the time he raced up and down the stairs five times, he was tired, his frustration was gone, and he was in a great mood from endorphins and playtime. If running in the house is against the rules where you live, a trip to the car in the garage or the mailbox could serve the same purpose.

Journal. Emotions and tension need expression in order to be processed and released. Some find journaling a great resource for sharing feelings of frustration, resentment, and impatience. Through that process you can gain a deeper understanding of self. If you have concerns about a person reading your journal, use electronic media that can be password protected or secure a written journal in a private place.

Prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer. It does not have to be a long prayer, and it does not have to be out loud. Simply pray, “Loving God, I am at the end of my patience. I am overwhelmed and I don’t feel I can hold it together right now. I need you to strengthen me. I need you to calm me. I need you to give me peace. Most of all, I need you. Amen.” What a powerful lesson for a child who struggles with behavior to hear you pray a prayer like that, or for you to pray together.

Communicate. Talk to someone about your frustration. It helps! If a person is the source of your frustration, have a conversation with him or her at a time when you are calm and have a clear perspective. Opening channels of communication is likely to help alleviate the strain. If the source of frustration is not a person, but rather a situation, confide in a spouse, good friend, or pastor who can be objective and help you look for solutions or simply provide a sympathetic ear.

Find support. Being part of a community of people on a journey similar to your own is helpful. It provides a forum where you can be easily understood because others live with situations similar to your own. Find a place where you feel that you belong and can connect in a meaningful way that is rejuvenating. Others living your with similar experiences may have resources and helpful tips that will provide a solution to your problem. Even if others cannot offer a solution, it is healing simply to be heard and understood.

There are no perfect parents and everyone will lose their patience at times.  Give yourself permission to be human. With intentional practice and anticipation of situations that will test patience it is possible to improve personal patience.

Patient God, We are so grateful that your capacity for patience far exceeds our own.  Help us find ways to tap into your infinite reserve of calm in those moments when we feel we may lose it. Forgive us our human failings when we fall short and help us find grace  and forgiveness in others.

Rev Doc Lorna

“Meditation By Young Women” by tiverylucky courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

May God Bless You and Keep You

Time For Family

Peer pressure, bullying, and simply trying to fit in can lead any child to make wrong choices.  When you add to the mix our kids who can struggle socially due to their differences, the desire to be part of the crowd (or just have one friend – PLEASE!) can pull our kids in directions we certainly would not choose. How do we raise kids who are grounded? At a recent lunch and learn event, Rabbi Ranon Teller of Brith Shalom Congregation talked about Jewish traditions and how they are effective in raising young people who are grounded.  He had my undivided attention. He pointed to three pillars that are part of Shabbat (Sabbath): ritual, Sabbath rest and blessing.

Ritual

On Shabbat, the family gathers for a meal Friday night beginning at sun down.  In this tradition, all family members are present and seated at the table together enjoying a meal without interruptions. No excuses accepted for other things that need attention. A key piece is simply the ritual, the intention and practice of making it a priority to be together. In this, the family disconnects from the outside world and reconnects with each other.  Studies show that over time American families eat together less and less. Conversely, families that do eat together are more resilient and have improved communication between members.  A healthy body happens with intentional regular action. We can say we want to have a healthy body and that it is important to us, but for that ideal to become a reality we need to develop regular practices of healthy eating and exercise.  A healthy body comes through regularly repeated activities. And so it goes for the health of the family. Building family closeness and connection requires regular practices as well, such as the ritual of a gathered meal and time that is set aside just for the family. (Family game night, anyone? Pizza and a movie? Build the best ice cream sundae contest?)

Sabbath

Sabbath is the practice is disconnecting from the business and work of everyday life and setting aside a time of rest.  In the Jewish tradition, part of that rest includes disconnection from technology.  (I hear wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some of that noise is coming from me!)Engaging with technology draws focus and energy away from those gathered together.  Rabbi Teller told of families placing technological devices in a basket and intentionally setting them aside. Disconnecting from iPads, gaming devices, and cell phones encourages deeper connection within the family. I tried it and it really works. On a recent date night my husband and I did something we had not done in years. We left our phones at home. On purpose!

Blessing

In the Jewish tradition of Shabbat, parents bless their children in prayer, often with the priestly benediction:

May God bless you and keep you.

May God shine light and be gracious to you.

May God show you kindness and grant you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26 NRSV)

 

Showering your child with the gift of regular prayer and blessing teaches them of God’s love, as well as your love, for them. Also, the power of prayer is an amazing thing in the life of a child.  Never under-estimate what God does through prayer.  Prayer itself can become a ritual.  I used to pray with my son every day before he got on the bus to go to school. It was just a brief prayer about asking God to protect him, bless him and give him the ability to handle the day.  Several years into this tradition I started attending seminary.  As I was leaving that first night for class my son came bounding down the stairs and said I could not leave yet because we had not prayed.  He offered a blessing to me, a simple prayer that left me blessed in more ways than one.

What are your family rituals?  Are there ones you would like to start?  How do you take a Sabbath rest and disconnect from the demands of the world?  When and how do you bless your child and family?

 

“Time for Family” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net