choice, coping, covid19, divorce, Quarantine, Uncategorized

Fear, Choice and Death

Ever have somebody want to kill you? I mean actually plan and plot and tell your daughter how they were going to do it?  Someone who made it their mission to destroy you. Now imagine walking around every day knowing that there was someone out there who’s sole desire was to kill you.  

I remember they day I made the choice.  I had spent months walking around in fear of my soon-to-be-ex husband. Constantly looking over my shoulder. Unable to sleep because of every creak and squeak in the dark.  And one day I decided to stop.  I decided I had already given eight years of my life to someone who didn’t deserve them.  I wasn’t going to give one more day.  I understood the reality. “Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship,” the Domestic Violence Intervention Program reports. I was taking a risk by leaving. I was taking a bigger risk by staying.  I was tired of being afraid. Tired of giving control to someone who had been controlling me for 8 years. I wanted my control back. And that day I took it.  If I was going to die, I was going to die without giving  him one more day, one more minute, or one more second of my life. I choose to let go of fear and trust my fate.

I never looked back.

Twelve years later I realize what a defining moment that was for me and how it would affect my life and my choices forever.

This morning I woke up to a headline that read, “US Reported More than 10,000 Covid-19 Deaths in Four Days.”  Crap, that’s a lot of people.  That sounds scary. So, I ran the numbers.

  • 14,400,000 have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
  • 279,000 have died
  • .019 % of people diagnosed have died
  • We have 331,000,000 million people in America
  • Only .043 % of the population has had COVID-19

Ok Tara, back into your rational brain.  Take a deep breath and repeat, “I will not be afraid.”

I know that’s easy to say when I’m not a nurse or doctor overworked, exhausted and surrounded by death. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not one of the 279,000 families that are celebrating Christmas this year without someone they love. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not over 65 and that stat doesn’t apply to me.

My mom and I argue on this. She’s afraid to leave the house. I get it, she’s 74.   So far she’s missed all 3 grandkids birthdays, Mother’s day, her birthday, my birthday, my brother’s birthday, our Annual 4th of July BBQ, a trip to Cali to see my brother, Halloween with her grandkids, her annual Vermont trip, and Thanksgiving. Well not completely missed, if you count the occasional outdoor social distancing visit where we have sat 20 feet part and passed cake through an elaborate system of who touched it last.

I’m hearing about nursing homes that are in full shut down mode. We have a close family friend in one. I asked my mom if I could send her an Advent gift. Her year has been even harder than my mom’s because she doesn’t get to do backyard 20 feet apart distancing dates.  I figured an Advent calendar that gave her a fun gift to open might give her something to look forward to each day. My mom said no packages are allowed in. Apparently, I have more access to a local inmate than my grandma-by-choice.

I try to think how I would feel if situations were reversed. If that was me. I wonder if I was at an age where I might already be celebrating my last holidays, what would I want to do?  It leads to me to the ultimate question: is life about living or about being alive?  I mean, what’s the point of being alive if I’m living in a paid Medicare version of jail?

I’m reminded that fear is unbiblical. (Isaiah  41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, Philippians 4:6-7, just for starters)

Common sense is biblical.  God says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV 2 Timothy 1:7) and a personal favorite when I feel my thoughts running wild.

So where is the line?  I mean, even after I decided I wouldn’t let fear of my ex rule my life, I was still cautious. I kept my alarm system on.  Parked in my garage so no one knew I was home. Stayed off posting where I was on social media (something to this day I am still aware of, and will often post only after I leave a location) and that’s just for starters. I didn’t just say, “Well I’m not afraid and so I’ll walk down the train tracks with the train coming!” (Back to that whole “sound mind” thing.)

I still don’t want to eat inside a restaurant and my daughter thinks it’s crazy.

I admit, I still wash all my groceries which I also know the “experts” are saying we really don’t have to do anymore, but for some reason it makes me feel better thinking of all those people who touch my  food.

Neckgators make me nervous because they are COVID sieves and might be the equivalent of wearing nothing.  Like everything concerning COVID-19, the data on this changes weekly.

And I may or may not be the person who complained at Physical Therapy because no one was properly wearing a mask, including the receptionist who took her’s off completely to walk around prompting everyone else to think it was fine to do the same. And I may or may not now book my appointments at the end of the day so I am usually the only one there and the receptionist who was reprimanded after my complaining is gone for the day. (I have been warned by caring friends…if she ever offers me a coffee I should politely decline.)

With all of this though, I know that I won’t see my mom.  God forbid I am the one who unknowingly gives her COVID and she dies. My sister would never, and I mean never, forgive me.  Openly, I think my mom has a high likelihood of dying from COIVD. Not because of her age or because she has zero underlying health conditions and is probably healthier than I am, but simply because she believes it will kill her.  What we believe is powerful.  What we fear is more powerful. ( Job 3:25) And science proves to us fear destroys the immune system. So yeah, I’m not gonna be the one who kills off mom.

But it still hurts my heart.  Not just for my mom but for our country.

I think of the long-term financial devastation for small business owners. Restaurants that are closing, families that are behind on their mortgage, rent payments and utility payments.

I think of the child who just shot himself on a live zoom class during virtual school.  I guess school shootings still happen even if you’re remote.

I think of the vendors who rely on the holiday selling season for their craft shows which have been canceled. Those people who lost their income to Amazon and Cyber Monday.

I think of all the nonprofits who rely on 5K’s and in person Gala’s to raise money for very important causes in our country, ones that affect more than .019%.

I think it’ll be a few years before we see the mass financial devastation our choices have caused.

And I wonder if it’s worth it for .019%?

I know it’s worth it to the almost 300,000 families who lost family members. It matters to them.

But it also matters to the families of the 10,000 children that die every day from starvation. (Everyday. That’s 40,000 in four days.) Nobody has invested $9 billion dollars in the last eight months to change that. But, I guess that’s because the majority of those children we don’t know and they’re a different color.

I guess it matters of the families of the of the 261 alcoholics that die every day.  But on election night, “Where is the nearest liquor store” was the number one searched  Google term.

I bet it matters to the 97,966 business owners and all their employees who (as of Sept 2020) have permanently closed their businesses. An according to Kevin Kuhlman, VP of the National Federation of Independent Business,  “If economic trends continue at this rate, one in five business owner anticipates they won’t be able to make it until the end of the year.”  That’s a lot of employees out of work and a lot of money relocated to a handful of large corporations as consumers take their shopping elsewhere.

I think the biggest thing this virus should cause us to do is stop and think. Think about our choices, the way we go through life, the way we treat other people and just what we prioritize.

Just like my ex-husband, I don’t know if COVID will take my life, but I do know that it won’t take my peace. I do know I won’t let it control me with fear. Regardless if I live or die, I will not be afraid.

The choice is ours.  


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

coping, Quarantine, Uncategorized

I Might Not Be Motivated Anymore

I feel like when I was younger it was easier to be motivated. I secretly wonder if other “‘grown ups” feel this way or if it’s just me. Sometimes, I think maybe I just “used up” all my motivation in my twenties simply getting through the complete chaos of my life at that time. Like, maybe we are born with a certain amount of motivation and over time we deplete it like the gas gauge in our cars and after a while we just run on empty until we come to a puff-puff and stop.

It’s funny, because I have spent over two decades coaching hundreds of women and I hear it over and over again, ”I don’t feel motivated and I just don’t know why!”  So that makes me think maybe it’s not just me. Women who are stuck in a rut, wanting to change, but finding themselves procrastinating, and avoiding doing the actual work that is required for change.  Over the years I’ve watched big dreams and goals die simply because the dreamer was waiting to, “feel motivated.” 

Unfortunately, I get it. As I’m writing this I am remembering I promised one of my favorite nurses I would do a video for her (God I hope she’s not reading this) and literally every day I say, “Em we have to do that video!” It’s a month later and alas no video.

I also have a desk I want to repaint. It’s my grandfather’s, one of the bigger projects in my “redecorate my home saga” and I keep avoiding it. Because truth be told, having to pick out a “light shade of gray paint” starts to bring on an anxiety attack simply because we all know there is at least 50 shades of gray and probably more like 50,000 shades of gray according to Lowes.

I could go on and fill up this whole page with a list of things I’m “planning” on doing as soon as I start to get going to get motivated….

In my head, I know this stems from a basic misunderstanding of motivation.  In my work life, I have found motivation always follows action.  Sure, we might be briefly motivated by an inspiring speaker, a hyped up video or a mind shifting book, but those tend to be fleeting temporary moments of motivation. Only when we start in action and see results, does motivation last.  It’s like this crazy diet I’m doing. I’m not motivated to eat a salad for lunch or drive 20 minutes to my yoga class.  Sure, I want to lose weight and fit back into my jeans, but when that donut is calling my name and it’s raining outside motivation is hiding warmly tucked into my covers exactly where I want to be. It’s only when I put on those skinny jeans after weeks of calorie counting, it’s only after I can do a perfect one armed plank and I see tangible results from my actions that I get a deep lasting motivation… and think, “Hey this is worth it!” (Ok let’s be real. I’m still trying to master a 20 second plank with two arms much less one…but one can dream….)

I was recently asked how to “get motivated.” So here’s what I came up with based on what I see works in business.

  • Choose one small action that you can do in the next 24 hours that would take a tiny step in the direction you want to go.
  • Choose to do just one small action each day for five days without concern for the results or the feelings. Just the action.
  • Start with the end in mind. Think about where you ultimately want to end up. Break that down into small realistic steps and commit to 90 days of action only towards this goal.  You can change anything in 90 days if you stick with it.

So I guess it’s time to take my own advice and find one small project I want to complete and take one small action each day towards this. Which brings me back to procrastination…I mean I have a gazillion projects which one am I motivated to do first? So if I have to choose just one I’ll choose getting Making Cancer Fun ready for our next product launch because openly it feels 100% overwhelming.

So here’s to hoping if I commit to just the action, then maybe, just maybe, I might feel motivated after all….

* I’d love to hear your thoughts on this? Anything you are feeling unmotivated about too?*

PS if you want an updated on the Gigglers, they are back this weekend and this is the current conversation at my kitchen table while I’m writing.

Giggler 1: Do you know how much personal shoppers get paid? $70K! That’s like $18K more than teachers. We need to ditch the teacher idea and become shoppers!

Giggler 2 : I have a better idea let’s still be teachers and then be personal shoppers on the weekends!

Giggler 1: Or ice cream testers ,we can make $60K a year.

Giggler 2: That’s not a lot of money.

Giggler 1: Yes it is!

Giggler 2: No it’s not. Your house is probably like $300K (side note how does she know what houses costs?) It’s not a lot of money. But it depends where you live (and then goes on to explain housing costs and salaries nation wide….. ok confession giggler #2 is my giggler….)

Other ideas they are actively considering:

  • food stylists
  • ice cream testers
  • water slide testers
  • panda mommies
  • professional bridesmaid (apparently you get paid $1K a wedding)
  • Private Island Caretaker ($150K a year)

*UPDATE* They have decided on a professional bed warmer. ($200K a year) to take naps in other people’s beds.

And in other news I now may be changing careers…..

Photo by Zhang Kenny on Unsplash

Home Redecorating, Quarantine, Uncategorized

Stairs and Self Esteem

In my quest to “decorate” my home I started with the stairs. They seemed less intimidating. I mean, everything else involved multiple steps (kitchen counters need kitchen floors, dining room chairs need to match living room and involved way to many options that gave me a headache). Stairs? I can handle stairs.  They were also horribly disgusting and scuffed. So my choice was to paint them and just watch them get scuffed again…which ok, how do stairs actually get scuffed to begin with? It’s not like I’m kicking them as I walk up them. I don’t have a toddler coloring on them.  It’s like socks missing in the dryer…how does this actually happen???

Anyway, I saw some place (a place I wish I could now give credit) an easy stair fix that involved ZERO paint. Stair wallpaper!  Or at least that’s what it looks like to me.

I read a bunch of reviews. Funny how those work.  The same item has a five star review and a one star review. Again, like the socks and the scuffs, how is that possible?  Since Amazon and I have become BFF’s this COVID19 year, I searched for a few different patterns and found one that seemed to have more fives than ones so ….winner winner chicken dinner! (You can view the winner HERE.)

Seemed easy enough. Count the stairs. Six rolls per package and twelve stairs. PERFECTION.

Whole project took about an hour (maybe more, but that’s because I got bored half way through and finished them later). I’m learning this about myself. I like the idea of re-doing things but then the actual re-doing becomes tedious and boring after about 15 minutes. I expected it to be the opposite. That I would experience a meditative – disconnect from technology hour of joy. I pictured a very zen like stair- papering experience. Not…even…close. The only zen thoughts I had were, “How fast can I get this done, just get through this because I’ll be happy when it’s finished.”

Anyway, I cleaned all the stairs with straight rubbing alcohol and used scissors (which actually worked better than a straight edge) to cut and stick. (Yup, they are basically giant stickers!)

Super easy, and as I was laying on the last one…Taa Daaaaa….crap!  Apparently twelve stairs actually translates into thirteen steppy-ledgy-things (have no idea what they’re called). I was ONE SHORT!  So my cheap-o project now meant I needed to buy a whole other set for one stupid stair thingy.  Ugh!  (Ok so it’s like $19 bucks but still …)

I also saw on the reviews that when people bought packages in separate orders (yes it appears many people make exactly the same mistake) the second order colors don’t always match the first (I blame China).

I briefly contemplated just painting the bottom step white.  I also briefly berated myself that I didn’t place them out first because then I could have just painted the most inconspicuous step white.  And finally, I acknowledged that every time I saw this white painted step it would slowly destroy myself esteem because it would be a constant reminder that nothing in my life is perfect, finished, or looks the way I want.

Off to Amazon’s BUY NOW button I went.

And guess what? The colors matched PERFECTY! And even better? I posted the remaining five strips on Facebook marketplace for $12 and they sold in a hot second. So that second stair really only cost seven bucks and made someone else happy at the same time.

And now, every time I see them I think how they are perfect, finished and look exactly the way I want.

The Scuffy Before
Boredom Sets In
The Finished Project
Cancer, coping, podcast, Quarantine

Going Big After Starting Over ~ New Podcast Post!

This was one of my most favorite podcasts I’ve been interviewed on! We went where the conversation led us and it really gave me some “ah ha” moments!

You might enjoy this episode if you:

Have overcome hardship in your life but still find joy

Are currently going through a hardship and need a silver lining

Believe that everything happens for a reason and you love seeing things come together for a greater purpose


If you are struggling this season or finding yourself stuck in life I hope this will bless you!!


You can catch it on the podcast link below or or watch it here on you tube:

Real Talk with Krysta – Episode 2: Your Weight Doesn't Determine Your Worth Women Going Big

Happy Thanksgiving! Today's episode is brought to you by diet culture telling you to not eat those mashed potatoes tonight. I'm here to tell you to eat the damn mashed potatoes! But for real, your weight doesn't determine your worth. Don't give numbers so much power. 
  1. Real Talk with Krysta – Episode 2: Your Weight Doesn't Determine Your Worth
  2. Real Talk with Krysta – Episode 1: Let's get Real
  3. Women Digging Deep: Rising Above Against All Odds
  4. Women Going Big in Business: Taking Care of Yourself First
  5. Women Digging Deep: Finding Your Personal Power

Alittle bit about Krysta!

Krysta Paffrath is the owner and founder of Women Going Big, a podcast dedicated to sharing the stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things from around the world. She is also the owner of her own social media agency, and co-owner of a full service marketing firm. In her journey through small business and entrepreneurship, she discovered the need for women’s voices to be heard in a true and authentic way. Thus, Women Going Big was born. She is on her second season of the podcast and is looking to expand the platform to create a community of strong women who are “going big” in some aspect of their life. I encourage you to connect with her on Facebook, @Krysta Paffrath (personal or page) or find her podcast on Instagram @WomenGoingBig

Cancer, Quarantine, Uncategorized

Fear, Faith and a Facebook Post

be afraid meme

What I have learned from Covid ……. the superhuman power of FEAR.
I always viewed fear as a both positive and negative motivator.  My eyes have been opened. If I wanted to destroy a person, their family, their livelihood, their future, their nation I would use fear.

Linda Toupin.

I woke up this morning to this post by one of my favorite and most influential mentors. Openly, I was surprised that she had previously viewed fear as positive (and relieved to hear her heart has changed on this stance).

I have learned a lot about fear over my life and what I can confidently say is, fear keeps us from our best self. It cripples us. Paralyzes us. It stops our brains from working and puts us in reaction vs response mode. It causes health issues and, in some cases, can even kill us. As a Christian, I believe fear is the tool Satan uses to keep us from living and experiencing all the blessings God has planned for us.

We are told Satan can’t change God’s will for us, but we can. So, what’s the best way to get to us? Fear. (and fear that is usually based on lies)

  • Don’t quit the job you hate because what if you never find another one?
  • Don’t donate that much money to that cause because what if you are short on cash next month?
  • Don’t say “yes” to trying that new business because what if you fail?
  • Don’t speak up against the wrong you see because what if everyone turns on you?
  • Don’t break up with him/her even though they treat you poorly because what if you never find anyone else?

I wonder how many of us (myself included) have missed out on huge blessings simply because we were afraid?

The word “fear” comes from a number of root words but the one I find most interesting  is from the Old Norse word far which means, “harm, distress, deception.DECEPTION.

Fear is used to deceive us. (From a biblical standpoint Satan is referred to as “the deceiver of the whole world” Rev 12:9) Fear stops us from thinking logically and rationally about a situation. And it has dire consequences.

Some might argue there is “healthy fear.” We are afraid to stick our hand into a fire, (keeps us from getting burned). We are afraid of heights, (keeps us from falling). We are afraid of creepy crawling things, (keeps us from getting bit or stung). I would venture to say that’s not the same fear we are talking about. Are those examples of fear or simply examples of common sense? I don’t want to get burned, fall, or stung, so my brain logically tells me …hey don’t do that.

That’s entirely different than my body being in a constant state of fear with unnecessary adrenaline running around throwing off my nervous system, switching my brain into my non-rational flight or flight mode, and disrupting my immune, endocrine, and nervous system (and that’s just to start).

No wonder why Satan uses fear to cripple us. It weakens us mentally, physically, emotionally and most importantly spiritually. The famous saying, “faith and fear can not exist together” now makes more sense. We can’t hear God when we are deaf with fear.

What’s worse, is most of us use fear daily to control those around us. I admit I currently use the fear of losing her cell phone to “control” my daughter. (Things like, “If you don’t do XYZ you are losing your phone for a week!” may or may not be heard in my home on a regular basis). Maybe a boss uses fear to control his/her employees. Or a teacher uses fear to get his/her students to pay attention. And certainly fear is used in intimate relationships at an alarming rate in our country (https://ncadv.org/statistics)

Today’s world surrounds us with fear. Fear that is being used to manipulate and control us. (long before Covid, the election, or 2020). The daily news, in my humble opinion, is the greatest source of fear-feeding. I recently posted that waking up and looking at the news is like waking up and asking, “What’s all the horrible stuff going on in the world today?

Now, I’m not saying we should live in ignorance. I am saying we need to balance that fear with faith. Faith in humanity, in each other, in ourselves and in God. For every scary fear-filled news story there is one of hope, love and faith. (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/)

I wonder what would our lives be like if we didn’t live in fear? If we truly stepped into faith every day? Would we walk haphazardly down the street into oncoming traffic? Swim in the ocean when the red flags are up? Start collectively telling off our bosses? Probably not. Faith doesn’t mean we are stupid. In fact, it’s the opposite. We are told “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7). Some versions translate sound mine as “good judgement” or “self control.” All things I want.

God tells me he has plans for me …plans to plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future, (Jer 29:11 and the verse I claimed for my daughter during her cancer treatment). And guess what? That’s His promise to YOU too!

So we get to choose. Will we stand in the TRUTH of God’s promise to us or the FEAR of Satan’s lie to us?

I’ve lived through fear. Fear my ex-husband was going to kill me. It wasn’t “perceived fear” or “fake fear” it was real logical fear of a man who graphically described to my daughter how he planned to kill me. I slept with my windows locked, security system on and adrenaline running through my body 24/7. I also experienced “real fear” when the doctors told me my daughter probably was going to die and had one of the lowest cure rates in the childhood cancer world. And even recently another “real fear” I am not ready to go public with just yet. So yes, I get fear can be “real.”

But, here’s the thing. Fear is also a choice. Faith is a choice. And like resiliency, it’s a muscle we can exercise and build. It was much easier for me to move from fear to faith with my daughter’s cancer (like a 2-minute turn around!) because I was already building that muscle super strong during my divorce. Now, was it a one-time decision? I regretfully admit, no. There were more times than I can count where I was dealing with her cancer and my ex-husband endangering her life that my “lizard brain” took over, I went into full reaction mode, and would physically shake with fear. Now, looking back, I realize how much power I gave away in that reactive response. And how much of a foothold I gave the devil.

I’ve seen the power I have when I choose faith instead. The energy around me physically changes. My mind becomes clear. My heart peace filled. My feet grounded. I feel strong, capable and competent. That is the power of faith. That is the power of a God-filled spirit moving through me…or you.

As we move into what will probably one of the most difficult seasons our country has faced in many years (between Covid, the election, the reopening or non-opening of schools and a looming financial crash) we each have a choice on how we will wake up every morning and face our day. We will choose faith or fear? (Remembering that fear is usually based on lies, deception, and manipulation.)

It is up to each of us to choose wisely.

Quarantine, Uncategorized

Thanks

IMG_7985[21233]

A simple conversation on financial stress during COVID19 turned into a feature on CNBC!  How cool is that?  It just goes to show you never know where one conversation will lead!

I’ve been sharing with you my current mantra (one of the ways I am coping through quarantine). I wake up and say, “Only good things happen to me. I basically say this all day long anytime I start to feel anxious or stressed. I started back in March when COIVD was causing shutdowns and I wasn’t sure how my business would be affected and if I was going to end up a single mom, unemployed, moving back into my mother’s house because my company was closed and I had no way to work. (Yup that’s the rabbit worry hole my brain went down).  It’s actually one of the coping tools I’ve developed over the years. Go to the worst place…for a minute.

What I’ve discovered, is usually our worst case scenario really isn’t as bad as we imagine it will be.  My worst case is: I lose everything, move in with my mom, and have to rebuild my life post COVID.  Well, I’ve done that before so I know I can do it again. As long as my daughter and I are alive and healthy worst case isn’t really all that bad. Then I can breath again. *Note none of this has happened and my company never shut down so my imaginary rabbit hole never happened.

So after my worst case scenario minute I decided I needed a new mantra. See my grandfather was one of the few people who made money during the Great Depression. In fact, he started investing in the stock market while everyone else was scrambling to get out.  Much of their wealth came from that season.  My family story reminded me during this season the same thing will happen. New businesses and industries will boom (think of Zoom, Instacart, and the toilet paper companies!)  others will struggle and maybe even close.   What I choose to focus on will grow (another lesson from childhood cancer). So I am choosing to focus on only good things happening to me.  And guess what? The crazy thing is….that’s what’s happening!

Someone is going to be the success story that emerges from this season so why not me? (Same mantra I used during childhood cancer…someone’s child is going to live so why not mine?)

I’ve decided in my world (or at least the one in my head) that only good things happen to me. I wake up each day in anticipation of what those good things are. It’s a pretty fun way to start my day.

So yesterday’s “good thing” was waking up to this beautiful video and article by Michelle Fox on CNBC.  I’d say that’s a pretty good thing!

You can catch the full article HERE

I wonder what other “good things” will happen today? I wonder what “good things” can happen for you?  I’d love to hear your quarantine cave mantra and the good things that are still happening in the middle of a global pandemic! So please leave a comment…let’s spread a little (or a lot!) of “good things”….

Quarantine, Uncategorized

The Spiritual Cave

madison-lavern-4gcqRf3-f2I-unsplash

Today we are tackling the third piece of how we want to emerge from our “Quarantine Cave.” First, we explored our emotional & mental choices. Then we considered our physical health & wellness.  (We took a detour with the barking dog). Now today we will dive into our spiritual health, because during this season we can choose to become spiritually stronger or spiritually weaker.

I saw this a lot while immersed in the childhood cancer world. The devastation of a child’s cancer diagnoses can really rock even the strongest faith. When faced with such a crisis there is a tendency to ask questions like, “Why me?” “Why did God let this happen?” or “Where is God in all of this?” I believe these are natural questions and crisis can shake our faith.

For me, one thing that served me well while I was going through my crisis with my daughter was I never asked the question “Why me?” I’ve always felt it was a narcissistic question because the answer is, “Well, why not me?” When we ask, “Why me?” we are really asking, “Why not you?  Why did this happen to my family and not yours?”  Yet, what makes us think we are so special that we get to go through life unscathed?

We all have loss, sadness, grief and trauma, it’s all part of life.

I never thought that God “gave cancer” to my daughter. Instead I thought, this is part of life. Kids get cancer and it just so happens my kid is one of them. Instead, it was my faith and my connection with God that helped me through that season.

So you may or may not have the same faith as me. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is that all of us have a spirit, a soul. Whatever it is that you’re connected to, this is the season that will either draw you in closer or push you farther away.

Maybe you’ve said in the past, “You know what? The real reason I don’t get up and pray every day is I just don’t have the time!” or “The reason I don’t sit and meditate every day is I just don’t have the time!” Well for lots of us, we now have plenty of time, and we no longer can cling to that excuse.  What if during this quarantine season we developed a habit of getting up and actually doing what we’d say we’d do if we had the time? What if we actually used our time to meditate or pray? How would that change our life?

Maybe you have the Bible sitting in the house somewhere and you’re thinking, “I’ve never actually read it.” Maybe you know passages, know a few scriptures or remember the stories you learned in a church service but never actually picked up the book itself to read it firsthand. Maybe you’ve never participated in a Bible study.  Could it be that after weeks of being at home it actually comes to, “You know, I’m kind of bored; I need something to do. Like there’s only so much Netflix I can watch; let me do a Bible study?” Plus, there’s tons of online Bible studies that you can join that are interactive and give us a chance to connect with other people (fight boredom and loneliness all at once!)

Even better, we now have access to all sorts of great apps to grow our spiritual health. I mentioned in a previous post two great meditation apps Head Space and the Oprah App. There’s also a few great Bible apps (I like Bible Hub) or Bible study plans (I like Jesus Calling and Holy Bible)  If you don’t read the Bible then find an app that supports your book of choice.

This is also a time for us to read.  Years ago I heard a quote from Charlie Jones that has stuck with me since then. He said,  “You will be the same person five years from now except for the people you meet and the books you read.” It reminded me that books can have a powerful impact on who we become.

Studies show that the average American reads 12 books a year. However, that number is impacted largely by avid readers. The most common answer was actually just 4 books a year. So, could this be a season that we go back to reading and impact who we become? Could simply reading a few extra books this season impact who we become in the long term?

Another way we can connect and grow our spiritual health is with journaling.  This can really make a difference during a season when we are already feeling angry, frustrated, and out of control. (Hey why do you think I started blogging again?)  It’s therapeutic! Sometimes I write for myself and sometimes I write to God.  In true transparency I usually write to God more when I’m angry.  Now, I know there are some people who are afraid to go to God when they are angry.  There’s lots of opinions about bringing your anger to God. Mine is that He knows me, He knows my weaknesses, He knows my strengths and He knows my frustration. He made me after all. I have full confidence He can handle me at my worst.

I feel fortunate that I had a strong faith in place before I had to exercise my resiliency muscle.  My faith didn’t waiver. If anything, it was during that season, when I felt so out of control and unsafe that my faith is what grounded me. There was a point where I just had release control. Start to live the saying, “Let go and let God.”  I had to come face to face with the fact there was very little in my control.

If you have read my book, “Making Cancer Fun: a parent’s guide” you might remember one of the last chapters where I share an excerpt from my journal during that time.  The book is about how I used fun as a coping tool during childhood cancer but this particular chapter is about having to come like face-to-face, on my bathroom floor, on my hands and knees in tears crying out,  “God, what if my kid doesn’t make it?” It was on a day when I had a reason to believe she had relapsed.  At that point there was not going to be a survival rate, a relapse would have meant focusing on extending her life not curing her cancer. In that moment I had to come to terms with how I would cope if she died. How would I get through something beyond devastating and couldn’t control. I can’t control cancer.  But the truth is, I can’t control what’s going to happen to her when she’d older either. I can’t control if she’s an adult and gets in a car accident or has a stroke long after cancer, right?

What’s difficult about this season in quarantine is we can’t control a virus or it’s impact. We can’t control whether our jobs are laying us off, whether businesses are going to be closing, whether a business is considered an essential business or not. Most of us are not the ones making state and public policies. We have no control on shutdowns, re-openings and CDC guidelines.

Some of us even feel very out of control in our home too. Trying to take care of kids, work from home while kids are home, keep a schedule when there is no schedule, have to homeschool/crisis school when we never even wanted to be a teacher, I mean even getting groceries and paper towels can make up feel powerless. Our “normal life” is gone, the comfort of our routines are gone, and with it goes our feelings of safety and security.

We also know that during seasons or crisis or disaster abuse goes up. Domestic violence and child abuse go up, because when people feel out of control, they look for “What can I control? Where can I feel a sense of control?”

Years ago during my life crisis I had to come to terms with, “Well there’s not a whole lot that I can control. I can trick myself and I can pretend I have control, but at the end of the day, I really don’t”; and none of us have control of this season. A season we don’t even see an end to.

Even today, my daughter said, “Mom, I just wish I knew when the end date was. I just wish I knew if I was  going back to school or not?  When is this going to be over?

I replied, “Em, I think that’s how all of us feel. We all want to know when, right?” It would be so much easier if we knew on this date, life will go back to “normal”, right?

But just like childhood cancer, I don’t think there will be a “normal” to go back to. We will all be changed because of this experience. And we will choose, each of us individually, will choose if we’re changed for the better or for the worst.

It’s when we become spiritually grounded, we understand and accept there’s so little we have control over.

Yet we are all connected. We are all made from energy and our energy is interconnected. We were created, from God, we come from one. We’re not individual people. We are a community. We are a whole world of interconnected people. This can be a beautiful season for us to grow in our faith, to be present to be with God, to ask difficult questions, and to have some difficult conversations.  

I wasn’t always ‘sure” of my faith. Remember how we mentioned books can change us? One book that changed me was Lee Strobel’s, “The Case for Christ”. I went through a season where I was raised in one religion, and as a young adult, really didn’t know what I actually believed.  It was a five-year period of questioning, studying different religions and faiths and when I stumbled across that book it changed me,

What I love most about the book is that Lee was an atheist when he started out. If you’re really questioning what you believe or what you don’t believe, this is must read. Especially if you are like I was and would think, “I don’t care what your book or Bible says. I want to know what history says. Secular facts that are available to me.” This book hit the mark.

Another book that I love is “Battlefield of the Mind”, by Joyce Meyer. Especially during this season it’s extra appropriate. We started the first day on this series talking about the battle is here in our mind, right? Not letting fear take over. I’ve actually read it multiple times in different seasons throughout my life.

The third book that has most impacted my spiritual life is, “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson.  Another life-changing book for me.

Those are my top three and if you have a favorite one, comment, and share!

Again, you may not share my faith, and there maybe other books which are a better fit for you right now. That’s okay. The goal is to grow spiritually, regardless of where your get your connection with God.  Use this season to build those roots in your faith which allow you to stand strong during difficult times.

So later this week we will continue on in our quarantine cave…and this time we will be looking at the cave itself!  So comment, like, subscribe, share or whatever…just hope to see you back again ….thanks for being part of my world!

Photo by madison lavern on Unsplash

 

 

 

Quarantine

The Physical Cave

physical cave

 

Today’s topic is one of the harder ones for me to tackle. Today we’re diving into how we want to emerge from our quarantine cave when it comes to our physical body and health. Straight up I know what to do, that doesn’t mean I actually do it!  We each have strengths, and we each have weaknesses. For me, when I get stressed or I’m at home a lot…I start craving chocolate and I want brownies…this is my weakness.

Recently, my friends from high school and I were doing a “Zoom Happy Hour” (I know many of us are doing this now to feel connected) and I said to them, “Now that we started this, I expect this on a regular basis!” because it was so fun. But I also ate a box of donuts for dinner with a glass of wine.  I thought, “Ok Tara, this cannot continue.”

I keep thinking, as I emerge from this cave what will I look like? Remember, I live at the Jersey Shore.  I picture all of us at home binging on quarantine snacks while the gyms are closed and think….it’s going to be an interesting sight at the beach this summer. Not good.

So, in the midst of taking yet another donut bite, I had an interesting thought. I can use this time to become physically stronger and healthier…. or not. This is my choice and let me tell you, I’m battling with this choice.

It is a choice. I choose what I eat. I choose what I add to my online shopping cart. I can stock up on comfort foods (brownies, cookies, donuts) or I can choose to say,  “You know, this is the season since I’m stuck at home anyway I’m finally going to start cooking.

In my non-quarantined life I would always say, “I don’t have time to cook.” Now that excuse is gone. I have to come face to face with the fact that I can choose to pull out some of those cookbooks I’ve never used and cook healthy food or choose to continue on my sugar binge. Even I can’t fool myself to believe it’s because I don’t have time.

It gets worse.

As I was complaining about my expanding waistline, my blunt-will-tell-it-like-it-is precious daughter said to me, “You know, Mom, you have that treadmill you never use. This would be a good time to use it.”

In full disclosure about a year ago, I had purchased a treadmill in a fantasy moment of “I’ll start walking at home!”  Oh I used it…for maybe….a week? (I’m thinking I’m like most people, right?) It’s still sitting there. So maybe there’s some old exercise equipment that needs some dusting off during this quarantine time.

Always wanted to do yoga but could never afford it?  I’ve seen a lot of our local yoga studios start pay-what-you-can virtual yoga classes. (Damn another excuse gone.)  Maybe you’ve always been intimidated to go to a yoga class in person, and this gives you an opportunity to join in virtually from your home. You don’t even need to have a fancy yoga mat.  Just a carpet or towel and you’re ready to go.

I have a friend who’s offering virtual Zumba classes and I thought, “Oh, how cool is that!” Plus there’s a gazillion YouTube or on demand videos available to take a virtual exercise classes.

Then there’s meditation.  I mean, I know our physical health is interconnected with our mental health. And I  know I always feel 100x better after I mediate, but do I do it as much as I want to? Nope. Why? Because I don’t have time of course! (Isn’t that our go-to excuse for almost everything?) Well now we do. It’s the perfect season to create a mediation habit. To take time every day to meditate, pray, get centered, and to become really aware of our energy and our anxiety. There’s a lot of really great meditation apps out there and some are even free!  Maybe now’s the season, in the cave, we really commit to a mediation practice. (Here’s a a few of my favorite apps: Headspace, Insight Timer, Relax, Oprah & Deepak)

Another way we can invest in our physical bodies is learning about nutrition. For me, I grew up with a mom who I jokingly call a “recovering hippie.” From the time I was little, I knew words like “BHT” and “nitrates.” I wasn’t allowed to eat white bread or drink soda. Ironically, since I had all that information, I was on the mom who literally pureed all of my daughter’s baby food…organic…every week….by hand. Imagine my surprise when she was diagnosed with cancer. I was left thinking, “Are you kidding me? This kid’s never had a piece of sugar in her life!

When it comes to nutrition I might have a lot of education, (Thanks Mom!) but I am shocked how many people simply don’t.  They don’t know about processed meats and the direct correlation between nitrates and cancer. They don’t know about the dangers of diet soda or what sugar does to the body. (However, sometimes ignorance truly is bliss. I mean I know what it does and yet I eat it anyway in a very, “Do what I say, not what I do” sort of way.)

So maybe, in the cave, you choose to become educated. There’s so many amazing documentaries out there to watch, books to read, and courses to take. You can even rent free books online from your local library without ever needing to leave your home! During this season many places are offering free books, free courses, free learning. Maybe you take a nutrition course or try Whole 30. Maybe you choose to say, “Hey, this is the season. I’m here. This is the time. Let me do this!”  Just imagine all those new healthy habits we can develop now that will last even after we emerge from our quarantine cave.

With technology at our fingertips there a lot of great apps that we can use to support developing new healthier habits. (Personal disclaimer, I’m not affiliated with these apps I’m just sharing ones I know or have used).

One of my besties started using an app called Noom and has had really great results.

I have used the Fitness Pal app to track my food and macros so I can really see what I am eating every day.

I’ve also heard that if you want to change your eating habits, one of the easiest ways to do it, is to literally take a picture of everything you eat throughout the day and look through them each night. The idea being, that when we are hit with a BAM -in-your-face visual of what we are really eating it’s a wakeup call moment. I’ve heard its’s super effective but openly I have never tried it because I think it would horrify me!

Even little healthy habits like drinking enough water is one we can choose to develop in the cave. Just the other day I was snuggling with my dog and I looked down at my arm and it was all dry and flaky! I though, “Oh my gosh, I must be really dehydrated. I’m drinking a lot of coffee and I’m not drinking enough water!Since we’re home and close to the bathroom maybe now is the time to up our water intake (because when water goes in it has to come out!) Maybe now is as good a time as ever to our bodies adjusted.

It’s our choice how we will look when we step out of the quarantine cave. Remember, hibernation is the active passing. It’s not just sitting there and letting this season pass, but it’s who we choose to become during this time, and what are we actively doing during this season. The best part? I believe any healthy habits we choose to create now will last long after this season is over! Won’t that be great?

Some questions to ask ourselves:

  • On a scale of 1-10 how satisfied am I with my current health & fitness?
  • What would make the biggest difference in this number? Changing my eating habits? Exercising more? Learning about nutrition?
  • What’s one thing I can do this week to increase my health & fitness level?
  • How do I want my body to look and feel when I leave the Quarantine Cave? Why is this important to me?
  • Is this a wish or will I make this happen?

 

I always love your feedback so please leave a comment and make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next post…#3 the Spiritual Cave…

As always thanks for being part of my community 🙂

Quarantine

The Emotional Cave

 

tengyart-_VkwiVNCNfo-unsplash (1)

 

During this time of “active hibernation” in the Quarantine Cave, I have to keep reminding myself,  I get to choose who I will be when I leave “my cave”….. and guess what? So do you.

I believe there will be two types of people emerging after this is all over. People who will come out stronger, and people who will come out weaker.

I say this because I’ve noticed an interesting pattern.  Have you noticed when there is trauma/crisis in a person’s life or in the world at large, two types of people begin to emerge? During times of crisis in my own life (domestic violence divorce and childhood cancer) there was a choice; I could come out stronger or I could come out weaker. Both times I choose to come out stronger.

In the childhood  cancer world I see so many families who deal with long-term PTSD. Parents who are suffering years later because of the trauma they experienced. After COVID19 I believe we will see something similar with medical workers.  There will be people who are currently out on the front lines, working with people who are infected, watching people die alone without family by their sides, and who will experience real trauma from this season. They will need support, therapy and counseling. We need to pray for these people.

There’s more of us, though, who aren’t going to experience that kind of trauma. More of us, who have a choice as to who we are going to be emotionally during this quarantine season.

We need to be responsible and guard our own emotional well-being. That starts with being cautious and limiting the noise around us. What do I mean by that? It might be limiting how much news we’re watching, how much social media we’re engaging in, what we are listening to, particularly as more families we know are being personally affected.

I have learned I have to be careful as to what I continually allow my mind to dwell on, because unchecked I can find myself becoming anxious and worried. I can let fear creep in.  Remember, we already know when we’re in a state of chronic fear, we weaken our immune systems.

More importantly, if we have children at home we definitely don’t want to transfer this fear to our children. This active hibernation is a season that can strengthen our emotional resiliency muscle, if we let it.  A season where we choose to become hyper aware of our emotions. Learning to control our emotions starts with the six inches right between our ears… our brain. Who we will become emotionally, will be highly dependent on what we allow ourselves to think about all day long.

This is also a season where we can choose to invest in our own personal development. Are there books you’ve been wanting to read, but just never seemed to have the time? One my favorite personal development books, (I call it the “Bible” of personal development) is Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles.” It is the bare-bones starter book for anyone who wants change his/her life and just needs to have the tools to get started!

Maybe there’s a podcast you’d like to start listening to. Some of my favorites are The One Thing, The Mindvalley, & Self Improvement Daily.

What could you be listening to, watching, or filling your brain with? Who are the people who can inspiring you during this time? Stop and ask yourself, how will you grow emotionally?

This is also the perfect time to start a grateful journal either by yourself or as a family exercise. Practicing gratitude is a powerful gift to give our children. I started a grateful journal almost a decade ago on the oncology floor in the middle of my daughter’s treatment (well more like the beginning). During that season everything in my life was falling apart, but I knew what I focused on got bigger, so I began focusing on the small things I could be grateful for.

Want to know the secret as to why it was so powerful?  I didn’t list the same things every day. That’s the easy way out, and it won’t change us. For example, right now I could say I’m grateful my daughter is healthy, I’m grateful I’m healthy, I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful for my home. Each night I could list those same four things over and over.  That will never build my emotional resiliency. To build a muscle we have to stretch it. Make it work harder than we think it can.  It’s about digging deeper, finding the things that were seemingly insignificant and appreciate them. Sometimes they are very insignificant (I remember one time I was grateful for the inventor of coffee!!) but in our practice of gratitude they become significant. We begin to see our lives as a series of blessings we previously overlooked.  That’s when the power of gratitude starts to resonate and change our lives.

There are different studies on whether journaling once a week is better than once a day.  In my option, during this season, a daily practice is needed.  Follow my reasoning …

When I was in the hospital with Emily, I did a gratitude journal every single day since day by day life was changing rapidly and there was so much uncertainty swirling around us.  When life is steady and easy, it’s easier to pick up a gratitude journal once a week to reflect.  However, right now, our world is changing day by day just like mine did in the hospital. Do you find yourself like me looking at the news each morning to see what happened over night while we were sleeping?  Did a Governor or the President make a big announcement? Did a city shut down or start to open back up? Jobs are unpredictable. People are getting diagnosed. Every day is just a little bit different. With so much uncertainty, I think there’s power in asking every day, what in the last twenty-four hours, can I be grateful for?  (If you are interesting in diving deeper into the life changing practice of gratitude you can check out my course HERE).

This is also the perfect time to send cards to those people who might really need it. Are there people who could use a note of thanks? A note to remind them how important they are? Someone who is lonely? Are there people who you just want to let them know how much you appreciate them? A handwritten card is like spreading a little sunshine. Even better, did you know when we serve others, it fills us back up? Some of that sunshine might just get on us!

Have you decided yet how you want to come out of your Quarantine Cave? Are you going to choose to emerge emotionally stronger or weaker?  By not making a choice, you actually are making a choice. We will not come out the same as we went in.

By choosing what we allow our minds to think about, we then control how we emotionally feel.  Did you know your feelings start with your thoughts? The thought circle works like this.  We have a thought, that sparks an emotion, we feel that emotion, and our feelings reinforce our initial thought.  See how powerful our thoughts are?  It’s up to us to be mindful about what we allow into our thoughts.

So today how can we choose to grow emotionally and emerge from our cave even stronger than before this all started?

Here’s some questions to help you get started in your process:

  • What Can I Control?
  • What Can’t I Control?
  • When have I had to exercise my resiliency muscle before?
  • How do I want to emerge from the Quarantine Cave emotionally? Why is this important to me?
  • What example do I want my children to see? Why is this important to me?

I’d love to hear your thoughts so comment below and I’ll be back soon with more as we continue our active hibernation #2 – Our Bodies!

 

*Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Quarantine

Active Hibernation

Hibernate

I keep calling it the Quarantine Cave. I’ve retreated into my house and am waiting till COVID19 passes to “emerge” again.  Like a bear hibernating for winter who is waiting for spring.  Fortunately, I’m not in the medical field and I’m apparently non-essential (doesn’t that make you feel great…what a term!)  I don’t really have a reason I have to leave my house.  I’ve decided the single best way I can support our medical workers and those “essential works” who have to leave their homes, is for me to stay home. There’s really no reason for me to be out unnecessarily if I don’t need to be.

So here I am two months into quarantine, and I have completely lost track of time.  Days, hours and weeks all meld together.  I had a virtual event this week that I actually got showered, dressed, and even did make up for. Just as I was about to go “live” someone from y team texted me asking, “Isn’t the event on Wednesday?”  I quickly responded, “Yes!” only to realized it was Tuesday. I was a full 24 hours early. That’s how disorienting the cave is.

For many of us this is an opportunity to hibernate. We are hibernating at home, each in our own attempt to help “flatten the curve.”  To keep ourselves healthy and out of the hospitals that are already overcrowded and running low on PPE (personal protection equipment) for their staff. So, we do our part, stay home, and hibernate.  The hard part is, unlike a bear that knows when spring comes, we don’t know how long this hibernation will last.

If you know me at all you will know I love words.  I especially love the root meaning of words, and the energy behind its original intent.  (I was the President of my high school’s Latin Club after all!) So, I looked up what the word “hibernate” actually means, and it’s really interesting!  It’s from the 1600s and it means, “an action of passing winter”.   I find this interesting for a couple of reasons. One, because it’s an action. Hibernating isn’t something that’s passive, it’s something that’s active. Plus, just like the idea of passing the winter, we’re hibernating to pass Coronavirus. We are all trying to pass this season.

I have found myself thinking a few times, “Can we just wake up and have it be Christmas? I would like to just pass this season.” What’s interesting about hibernation though, is that it’s an active passing. We actually have a choice of what we’re going to do during this season of passing when we’re quarantined. We can be active in quarantine.

For the sake of true transparency, there have been days where I have been on point with this and then there have been just as many days where I feel think, “It’s four o’clock in the afternoon? Where did this day go?” because I’m still in my pajamas.

I’m not going to sit here on a soapbox and say, “I’ve got this” and “I’m doing this great”. Instead, it’s to share how I am processing this quarantine cave in a hope it will help you process it to.  I find myself thinking, “Okay Tara, who do you want to be when you leave this cave? How do you want to actively pass this season?”

The phrase that keeps coming to my mind is, “difficult times create determined people”. We can choose to be determined this season or not. We can choose to be watching the news constantly, stressed out, lowering our immune system or not. We can choose not.

Let’s be clear. This will be a mental challenge. As a global community we are more connected now than ever before.  Being this connected (especially on social media) means that our newsfeeds may become flooded with posts and pictures from friends (and friends of friends) who are in the hospital, people who unfortunately will be fighting for their lives in ICU.

I remember when my daughter was in the hospital going through cancer and I felt like every family I knew was losing their child. I remember finally asking one of our doctors in fear, “Is there anyone who survives?!?”  I confided how painful it was for me to watch my child suffer through cancer treatment. If she wasn’t going to survive I didn’t want to continue treatment.  It seemed like every child I met was dying. If she was going to live it would be worth the horrific treatment. If she wasn’t, well, it wasn’t worth it was it?

Her doctor quietly said back to me, “We don’t know. That’s the problem. We just don’t know.”

So, I chose to become very “mentally cautious”. My heart was broken for friends who were losing their children. However, I had to put blinders on, I couldn’t let fear overtake me. I had to stay focused on my child. Her victory.

Ten years later, I’m finding myself in that same position now. I can log into Facebook and see post after post of who’s in the hospital, who’s got family in the hospital, and who’s lost family members. Yet, each post reminds me, “Tara, you’ve got to put your blinders on. You can feel sadness for these families, and sympathetic towards their pain, but you can’t let fear overtake you.”

Our world is small and with technology we are all interconnected.  It can feel like everyone is vulnerable, everyone is sick and everyone dying. Yet that’s just not true. The medical stats show us that most people will survive. Most people will have mild symptoms.  Most people will be ok.  Even some of those in critical care will still survive.  That is the hope. That is the light we need to stay focused on. Because what you focus on gets bigger, so I’m keeping my blinders on.

During this season of hibernation, I need to be extra cautious as to what I’m feeding my mind. I also need to decide how I want to actively hibernate, and so I’ll share with you, five different ways I’m choosing to actively hibernate and what you can choose too.

Check back soon  (or subscribe!) because we’ll start with #1 – The Emotional Cave ….