Updated: Mar 26
There will always be difficult days in life, and those moments take your breath away. You realize your life will never be the same at that moment. Sunday, January 24, 2 021, was that day for me. In a matter of minutes, everything changed. That morning started like any other Sunday morning. My husband, Jay & I had coffee together, and we sat and talked about the day. Then, right before lunch, I left to go to the drugstore on the corner to pick up an online order, and when I returned just fifteen minutes later, Jay was gone. He was still sitting in "his" recliner when I entered the house where I had left him. We later learned he had a heart attack.
I can honestly say I spent the next year in shock. There were days when I didn't shower or get dressed. There were many days I didn't leave the house. Thank goodness for grocery and food delivery! As months passed, I began to walk among the living, but I didn't feel like I was one of them. I still felt numb. I still looked to see if Jay was going to walk through the door. A year without my husband and best friend had come and gone, and I still looked and felt like a walking zombie. Thankfully my sister and best friend loved me enough to be honest with me. "Your grief is worse now than it was in the beginning. You have to do something to get help." They were right. The first thing I did was sign up for Griefshare. Then I continued to remind myself of the daily motto I used to tell myself, Jay, and our kids when times were difficult or the day was filled with worry and stress. Without these two critical steps, I would still be stuck in my grief and not working on moving forward.
This month, let's focus on Staying Positive.
Change Your Environment to Change Your Perspective
I've often said through this process of loss and grief that our dog, Jaxson saved my life. I still
consider Jaxson "our" dog because Jay picked him out at the rescue.
I'll never forget that day. Jay picked him up, and Jaxson put his paws on Jay's shoulders. Jay said, "He smiled at me. He's the one." Jay was right; Jaxson was the one.
Without him, I would have stayed in the dark and under the covers. I would have given in to my grief, but Jaxson made sure I got out of bed to let him out. He made sure I got dressed and went outside. He even made sure I went for walks. Jaxson helps me step outside the house and take on a fresh perspective. It is difficult to ignore him. He is not afraid to let me know when it is time to get up and move. Although I get frustrated at times, I enjoy our walks and playtime in the backyard because they not only help Jaxson but they help me to refocus my mind and thoughts. Jon Gordon **, best-selling author and keynote speaker, suggests: “Take a Daily Thank You walk. Take a simple 10-30 minute walk each day and say out loud what you are thankful for. This will set you up for a positive day.”
I take Gratitude Walks. I put on my headphones, listen to worship music, and as I walk, I think of three to five things I am grateful for. Listening to worship music helps me to be thankful and keep my eyes focused on Jesus. Then, after my walk, I write my thoughts in my Gratitude Journal*. Here is a sample of an entry in my Gratitude Journal:
Coffee in a big mug
Family to spend time with
Family & friends staying connected with me & checking in on me
Making new friends to have lunch with on a Saturday
Someone to cut my grass for me
It's essential to write down the things you are grateful for so you can look back, especially when grief, anxiety, and sadness creep back in. It's an easy and powerful way to shift your thinking and remind yourself to focus on the positive. You have to make a conscious effort to change the way your think. "Yes, it is hard at times, but God says, 'I promise I will protect you both mentally and emotionally."' ~ Dr. Crawford Loritts.
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." ~ Psalm 34:18
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding." ~ Proverbs 3:5 NLT
Remember that your environment doesn’t always mean geography but can also relate to people, situations, and things in your life.
Is something in your life causing stress and taking up space in your mind?
Are you allowing toxic people to create drama in your environment?
A favorite quote from Mahatma Gandhi says, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”** Changing all aspects of your environment will allow you to stay positive.
Permit Yourself to Take Care of Yourself
Schedule & Take Breaks Throughout the Day
Life is hectic. I don't know about you, but I find myself longing for "the good old days" that my parents and grandparents talked about. You know the times when families sat around the table for dinner instead of eating in the car, driving the children from one afterschool activity to the next?
It doesn't matter if you work outside your home or from home; it can get a little crazy. My children used to call me "crazy mom," lovingly, of course. Even in their twenties, sometimes they still do. So whether you work outside the home, work from home, or are a full-time stay-at-home parent, you owe it to yourself to take a break during the day. Then, give yourself permission to take a fifteen-minute morning and afternoon break. Then, schedule and take a forty-five-minute lunch, and promise to refrain from “work” during your lunch break.
I understand. It is challenging to begin taking care of yourself. As a parent, we usually spend our breaks running errands or making appointments for our spouses or children. If you are like me, taking care of myself hasn't been a priority since I brought my babies home from the hospital. If I'm being honest, when I focus on myself, at times, it's a reminder that my children no longer need me the way they used to need me. But, of course, taking care of yourself doesn't come naturally. When have you ever spent time doing absolutely nothing? You will have to train yourself to take a break. Set a daily reminder on your phone or set a timer to remind you to take a short break for yourself. Here are some simple ideas:
Do nothing. Just "be" and "shut down."
Take a few minutes to stretch.
Eat a healthy snack.
Take a power nap. (20 minutes or less)
Listen to worship music.
Remember, you can also take a break from people in your life, especially those who always seem to focus on the negative.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust to the New Normal; Don't Be Hard on Yourself
How often have you heard the saying, “Everything happens for a reason?” I believe that saying is true, but it is more than thinking everything happens for a reason. It is also about trusting and expecting amazing things to happen. For example, one of my life verses is Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
It isn't easy to trust the process. It is more challenging to trust that where you are right now is where you are supposed to be. Why is that? Fear. I learned from living through my story: "Don’t let the fears of others become your fears.” I’ve learned that the people in your life will try to place their fears on you. Don’t accept them!
Stay true to your story.
Stay true to your purpose.
Stay true to your passion.
Trust that where you are is where you are supposed to be.
What if you are not happy with where you are? Give grace to yourself and when you fall, get up and move forward. Jon Gordon ** said, “The next time you “fail” remember that it’s not meant to define you. It’s meant to refine you.” Give yourself time to adjust and be kind to yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself, and allow yourself the opportunity to succeed by setting realistic expectations. Setting yourself up for success will help you to stay positive.
Staying positive is not always easy, especially in the world we live in today. It's important to remember the following:
Staying positive stops fear, anger, and anxiety from stealing your joy.
Staying positive stops the enemy from wrecking your life.
Staying positive puts you in a better state of mind so you can work through and process your grief, anxiety, etc.
Staying positive allows you to heal and move forward.
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." ~ 1 Peter 5:8.
As a believer, keep your eyes focused on Jesus. It's difficult for non-believers to stay positive during difficult times because they don't understand the hope of eternal life. But, as believers in Jesus, allow the hope of eternal life to comfort you and help you to stay positive.
Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." ~ John 5:24
As you move forward, you will still face challenging days. During those times, remind yourself of the simple motto: Stay Positive, Stay Prayerful, and Stay Focused to help refocus your mind and spirit.
What is your plan to stay positive? Share your plan and thoughts in the comment section below. I'd love to hear and learn from you.
Remind yourself and others to Stay Positive, Stay Prayerful, Stay Focused
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