Hard times build and equip

Every human being that has travelled through life on earth have experienced some hard times. Take a moment and imagine the impossible with me.  What if we were able to put together a gigantic poster naming all the people that have ever existed in times past and present. Alongside their names we write down all the hard times they had lived through. I wonder what that would look like. Perhaps the hard times of those that existed centuries ago would be quite different to the hard times experienced by those of us existing in today’s world. We may also find that the hard times experienced vary for each person in the degree of difficulty.  Amongst all the names on this gigantic poster we find ourselves speechless as we read about the stories filled with incredible challenges.

How did they get through that, we wonder?

With the knowledge that there are different stories of hard times and different levels of difficulty within them, we know that to each person ‘that hard time’ was indeed hard!!!

We know that because of our own hard times.

When you are going through ‘a hard time’ hearing of other people’s hard times doesn’t take away the pain you are feeling. It may help you to feel thankful that you are not going through something as difficult, yet YOU are still going through your own journey!

Would life really be that great if we didn’t experience difficulties? Naturally we don’t like hardship and challenges. You don’t usually hear people saying “Oh I can’t wait to go through that incredibly difficult trial; it is going to be so much fun”.  Of course that sounds ridiculous as hard times are not fun they are HARD.

Personally I hate hard times! They are uncomfortable, painful and often scary. BUT I know for a fact that who I am today as a person is a result of going through difficult situations in life that have matured and strengthened me. These difficult situations have helped me to understand that I have ‘no control’ over certain aspects of life or people which has taught me to let go.

In my spiritual life it has taught me to trust! To trust more in the God that I know who loves me and has my best interest at heart!

It has given me a heart for other people. From my own pain I desire to share my life with others so that I can give them comfort and hope. It has helped me to understand how a person may be feeling when they are struggling with life.

Ultimately ‘the hard times’  shift my focus off myself onto other people.

The hard times have equipped me with tools that I can use to help others. It has built perseverance to keep going when the odds are against me!

Each difficult time that I have experienced has built in me a strength that has helped me get through the next difficult time. We don’t know what the future holds or what we may have to experience in life so my perspective is that these difficulties are times of strengthening and equipping so that when the really tough season approaches I have the ability to keep going.

These hard times give us an appreciation for when life is good as it is all too easy to take life for granted when things are going great!

When we are in the middle of ‘a hard time’ it is dark and lonely. It is very hard to see where one is going or how one is going to get out of it. Those seasons may feel like forever yet they do pass.

If you are in that season right now my hope and prayer is that you keep going! You will get through this situation.

If you are not normally a spiritual type of person I would suggest for you to take a risk and pray. What is Prayer? It’s just talking from your heart to a God that really loves you.

There are countless times that I have come through situations and then found myself looking back and realising how much I have changed as a person. These changes have always been good changes, changes in perspective of other people and perhaps attitudes that needed adjusting.

Something good always comes out of the bad. We may feel buried underneath a bunch of hardship yet eventually we come out of that place and shine. Just as a seed that is planted in the ground underneath the dirt eventually sprouts into something amazing!

You are amazing, you will shine too!

The day I thought I was dying….

It all began quite subtle….I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night from my sleep sitting up in panic and grasping for air. Eventually my body would settle down and then I would resume my sleep. Then it started to happen during the day while I was wide awake doing what every mum does, looking after her children. I had walked my eldest to pre-school and as I was walking back home with the other children suddenly I felt as though I was going to die. I noticed various changes in my body such as; a faster heartbeat, sweaty hands and tingling feet. All I could think about was getting home really quickly as the thought of dying on the pathway with my three children watching did not sound so good. Somehow I managed to get home whilst being in a state of panic!!!

To experience such a surge of panic was absolutely scary and overwhelming. It was as though it had just come out of nowhere. There was nothing unusual about my day which made the event even more confusing and distressing.

Eventually the panic passed and I settled down somewhat, however everything within me was convinced that I was dying, that there must be something physically wrong with me for that to happen.

These episodes of panic progressively got worse and I found myself in such a state one night that I rang my dad telling him that I thought I was dying. He was so cool, calm and collected. He kept telling me that you are not dying, just try and relax and go to bed. While I wanted to believe my dad the panic that I was experiencing had me such a state that to relax took for what felt like an eternity.

Once I had experienced several more episodes I decided that it was time to see the doctor as I couldn’t keep living like this.

As I sat in front of the doctor and explained everything that I had experienced over the past few weeks I was so surprised to find that she had an answer for me, one that didn’t involve dying. She went on to say that what I was experiencing is what you call “Panic Attacks”.  Panic attacks I thought? What on earth are they? I had never heard of such a diagnosis. The doctor got out a brochure explaining to me what they were and why people get them. Suddenly I felt such a relief that for one I was not dying and what was happening to me happens to others as well that there is even a name for it.

The doctor told me that if I didn’t get on top of the panic attacks these would get the better of me. Then she explained that often medication is used to treat people that have panic attacks. “Medication I thought”, that didn’t sound too good to me. I don’t really do medication very well. The only medication I use is either panadol or aspro for a headache. The idea of having medication for panic attacks scared me even more.

My mind was made up that day that I was not going to let these panic attacks get the better of me as I did not want to use medication. I found that knowing what was happening to me was the first step to overcoming.

Little did I know that I would go through several more seasons in my life in which I would be battling these panic attacks.

What causes panic attacks?

Research has found that genetics play a part in contributing to a person having a panic attack. So if an individual’s parents had this condition the children were more likely to experience them as well. Stressful life circumstances are also believed to be a trigger of panic attacks.

My doctor had explained to me that when someone experiences stress for an extended period of time the panic attacks are almost an ‘after effect’. Your body is reacting to the stress you had gone through several months ago. This aspect of them makes it difficult to associate the panic attacks to stress simply because when you are having them you are not necessarily experiencing that stressful situation anymore.

It is important to go and see a doctor if you are experiencing panic/anxiety attacks as sometimes they are caused by a medical condition such as; hyperthyroidism, inner ear complaints, and heart conditions.

For me the worst part about experiencing panic attacks is the shear fear and discomfort you experience. It becomes such a cycle; you start to fear having a panic attack so much so, that you have another one. I must say that the worst place that I had experienced panic attacks were when driving in a car. In a city such as Sydney, Australia the traffic is chaotic at the best of times. There were several occasions that I experienced a panic attack while stuck in the middle of traffic! The sense of fear was terrible. All I wanted to do was open my car door and just jump out!

Even though I had the knowledge that what I was experiencing were panic attacks the fear of having one would often keep me at home. There were times when I would say ‘no’ to going out just to avoid having the fear that while I was out I was going to have another panic attack.

Several years ago I visited a cognitive behavioural therapist. She gave me some strategies that helped me a lot. One of the strategies was that when I sensed a panic attack coming on to just breathe in and out slowly five times. That the slow breathing actually stops your body from running out of oxygen so you eliminate some of those symptoms such as a racing heart and sweaty hands etc.

I would recommend people that experience panic attacks to see a cognitive behavioural therapist for managing them by learning strategies that help to overcome the cycle.

While individuals are going to experience panic/anxiety attacks in different ways and perhaps decide to use other forms of treatment I am in no way telling anyone what works for them. This is just my story and journey in experiencing these horrid episodes.

As someone who has experienced them and can be vulnerable to having them again I do make sure that I take care of myself. Taking care of myself means that when I am exhausted I have a nap or don’t over extend myself in anyway. This can be hard to do when life demands so much of you especially when you are a mother! However, having experienced prolonged seasons off and on with these panic attacks has forced me to make sure that my life is manageable and that I am not putting myself into unnecessary stressful situations.

While life has a way of bringing stress to the table it is crucial to make sure that we do not add to it by creating any further stress. It is vital to always look after yourself physically and mentally. Often our bodies send us a warning. Panic attacks  or being on the verge of having them again are a warning to me that I need to either start going to bed earlier, or slow down and just have a day of doing nothing! We need to take time out.

I trust that this blog may be of some comfort to people that experience panic attacks. Remember though if you haven’t seen a doctor yet make sure you do.

And very importantly take time out for yourself and learn how to de stress!

 

 

Reference:

http://www.anxietyaustralia.com.au/anxiety-help/anxiety-attacks-anxiety-disorders/

 

Our Heart Beats to a Rhythm

It doesn’t surprise me that during the time that I have been blogging (which has not been for very long) there is a theme that beats a familiar tune finding its way into my stories. The theme seems to keep coming back to a person’s heart condition which I refer to as the emotional part of the heart rather than the heart as an organ. Every break through that I have gotten in my life has involved my heart. Life’s hurdles, battles and triumphs have been felt in my heart. I don’t know about you but my heart is like a sponge it soaks up every experience, the good and the bad, the hurtful and the comforting. In some cases there have been certain situations in which it felt as though another person had my heart in their hands to do as they pleased (mainly as I didn’t know any better).

Recently as I was thinking about the heart I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what the similarities might be between an actual physical heart condition and an emotional condition. My reasoning is that each heart condition whether physical or emotional can impact the quality of our life therefore it only deserves to be talked about and not ignored.

The organ ‘our heart’ is a vital piece of machinery we cannot live without. It pumps blood to all of the other organs in our body including tissue and cells. This process takes place through our veins and arteries. The blood that is pumped through our body carries oxygen and nutrients which is crucial for our cells. Dangerous waste is also eliminated. The heart truly is an amazing piece of equipment we are all born with.

Without getting too technical I thought I would just have a look at the most obvious physical heart condition known as cardiovascular disease. This condition causes a narrowing or a blockage of the blood vessels which can lead to heart attacks, angina (chest) pain or stroke. Research has found that many heart conditions can be prevented or treated with healthy life style choices. The heart as an organ keeps us alive literally. Our choices about what we eat, our lifestyle, and stresses, all play a role in the health of our heart. It is not something we have the liberty to take for granted.

Our beating hearts can also feel emotion. When we talk about positive emotions such as; experiencing love or joy for instance these emotions are felt in our heart. Negative emotions such as; rejection, hate, anger, unforgiveness, equally have an impact and are felt in our heart. Experiments conducted using different measures of psychological and physiological states have consistently shown the effect emotions have on the hearts rhythm and on the nervous system. Negative emotions effect heart rhythms. While positive emotions bring about harmony to the heart rhythm and a balance in the nervous system.

Going back to cardiovascular disease its effects on the body can be detrimental. Depending on the percentage of the blockage the doctors usually treat the patient with either prescription medication or with the more serious blockages they perform surgery by inserting a stent which opens up the blocked artery.  Doctors can also perform a bypass on a patient if that is what is more suitable for their individual situation.

Either way these blockages cause interference to the healthy functioning of the human body affecting the quality of a person’s life and wellbeing.

A few paragraphs earlier I discussed research which has found that negative emotions tend to cause heart rhythm problems. This tells me that our emotions are very powerful. As not only do negative emotions have the ability to alter our behaviours or better yet have the ability to keep us from enjoying life to the full,  there is also the very real impact these emotions have on our physical bodies. With this being said it makes sense to consider not only our diets and our lifestyles but to recognise when we have given permission for a negative emotion to over stay its welcome.

We cannot get away from the fact that we are going to experience negative and positive emotions for the rest of our lives. It is our choice how long we allow that negative emotion to live as a squatter in the home of our hearts. The longer it is allowed to stay the more interference we will be battling with. We can try and fix the problem by ignoring it, or making ourselves really busy so that we don’t have time to think about it. The trouble is that this squatter will stand in the way of your success to having healthy relationships with other people and can jeopardise your ability to move forward in life.

Just as cardiovascular disease results in blockages of the arteries negative emotions can cause blockages in your relationships and your overall sense of peace. Most of us have heard the statement that when you forgive someone it is about what it does for you not for them. This statement is very credible. Choosing to forgive someone gives you your rhythm back!

Choosing to kick that squatter out of your house eliminates the interference it causes in your life!

Healthy Hearts really are Happy Hearts

♥♥♥

References:

http://www.jumpropeforheart.ca/Content/Files/HomeworkHelp_Whatdoestheheartdo_ENG.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/basics/definition/con-20034056

https://www.heartmath.org/resources/downloads/science-of-the-heart/

 

Is there ever a ‘right time?’

We all need purpose in life!  Having a dream to do something significant with where your passion is gets you to the place of fulfilling your purpose. Having dreams and passions is not enough. It would be great if your dreams came knocking at the door one day and said “hey we are here to fulfil your purpose”.  How easy would that be? Obviously too easy! Life never happens like that. There are always steps we need to take to get there. The steps however small they are lead you to your purpose. Purpose is never all wrapped up and ready to go it takes time to piece together.

When I was younger I had a few dreams and it has taken a journey of a couple of decades to get to where I am today. Where I am today is still far from my dreams however I am closer to them now then a couple of decades ago.

Having had five children and being passionate about mum hood   was a priority that I valued and still value. Once upon a time I had four children less than four years of age. I was in my mid-twenties and at that age it was do-able. My husband worked and I stayed at home doing what mums do; taking care of little ones. YES it was very hectic and exhausting on certain days however I loved every bit of it. It is such a rewarding experience to be pregnant and then give birth to a gorgeous baby with a personality of their own. Each of my five children is unique and diverse in their abilities.

In the middle of the baby season in my life I still had dreams for myself. While I sort of stuck my toe out the door a little bit from time to time it was always the children that took first place in my life. It was something I couldn’t change if I wanted too! They were my priority and I loved it.

After the birth of my fifth child at the age of 37 I was still going through the ‘midlife crisis’ season. We moved to a new state that was incredibly hot and humid in summer and quite isolating from family. This probably did not lessen the pain in that season but perhaps made it worse, I will never know.

As I was coming out of the ‘midlife crisis’ I was aware that there was a dream in my heart still to be accomplished except I had no idea what it looked like as an older person. It was easier to dream when I was younger. When you are young the future looks bright and exciting! I had put my dreams on hold in my younger days to be a mum.♥

So here I was about to turn 43 and wondering what the next phase of my life looked like. I still had a young one to take care of and four teenager/adults living in the house as well. Plenty of housework and duties to perform kept me very busy. Within the busyness there was a nudging taking place on the inside of me. The nudge was begging for attention.

As an introvert and detailed person I usually like to have everything in place before I take something on. I am also someone who likes to feel, I’m very sensitive to emotion. So before taking a step it needs to feel right. A woman’s feelings change from day to day so to rely on those for timing could result in procrastination (which I was also very good at)!

When the nudging started to happen I was in my early forties and coming out of my ‘midlife crisis’, this perhaps put me into an advantage. In the forties one begins to realise that time is running out so there is no time to waste. Evidently this is what happened to me. All of my excuses for any delay in taking steps were no longer valid as I was faced with the realisation that I had less time to feel right. In other words I was not getting any younger.

While my dream was ultimately to help people  it had changed a little in direction. When I was younger the idea of studying psychology was as far away as the last planet is in the solar system from earth. Very average high school grades and a complete lack of interest in school was a true motivator against doing any further study!

One day as I was ‘googling’ options on the internet the words “psychology” came up. The idea of a psychology course was starting to spark interest. As I read more information about the course I decided that NOW was the right time to start. I recognised that if I were to put off taking the step another year then that would be another year I could not get back and that one day I would be able to say  I have finished the course.

Every step counts when you make a decision to head towards your dream. As you journey along you may find that the direction changes a little or you may recognise other areas of interest that perhaps would not have been highlighted to you unless you had taken that first step.

The psychology course has opened up an interest for me in ‘writing’. I recognise that I am not the best writer and have much to learn however I am passionate about connecting with people on a heart level and injecting them with inspiration! My writing is not intellectual head knowledge it is all based on heart. While my psychology course uses words that I have never heard of, my writing is simple and easy to understand on PURPOSE.  The inspiration comes from journeys that I have personally travelled through and have a desire to let others know that they are never alone and that in fact others have also been where they are.

What steps could you take towards your dreams?