Blogging…The New Front Porch

new year pic(1)

It could be argued that today’s American society is lacking in community compared to previous generations or other countries/cultures.  Young couples commonly raise their families without the benefit or support of having family living in the same town.  We don’t have barn raisings to help each other get started in life.

Blogging is an accessible tool that can connect people with common interests, goals and expertise.  What a person does with that connection is up to the individual.  People can choose to enhance the connection beyond the computer screen to include more personal, face to face time together.

Blogging is a way to share not only your experiences, thoughts and feelings but also your knowledge.  We all have unique talents and skills that we can teach or share with others.  It can be a format for mentoring others as well as learning from others.  We are relational beings that thrive within a community.  Social media allows us to have access to our community no matter where we are.  It has certainly helped me this past year living in a new town at a new job to have a virtual community at my finger tips.

It was only at the urging of my friend Kate that I reluctantly started using Facebook and LinkedIn years ago.  I guess my preconceived notions about these “tools of communication” were that it only serves for impersonal experiences.   It’s kind of like the old “party line” on steroids.  I have to remind myself that they are powerful tools that can lead to greater involvement with people from the past, present and future and that it is up to us where we go from there.

Privacy is an issue with on-line media.  We have to consider that when we share personal information that a wide net is cast and not everyone seeing it is open-minded or seeing us with unconditional positive regard.  The same consideration for self disclosure in the counseling setting should take place when we are blogging as professionals. That is a tough lesson to learn as part of maintaining rapport.  An experienced successful therapist in Houston told me during a career search interview that “the first seven years of counseling are all about rapport.” At first I thought, that’s a long time to take to master a basic skill.  I now understand better that rapport can be broken at any stage of the counseling relationship long after the initial rapport is established.  Being comfortable in a certain role or relationship may lead us to share more than what is purposeful for the client or community.

Some basic tips to keep in mind while preparing a blog:

The title and first few lines of text have to clearly state the purpose of the blog and catch the reader’s attention.

The same aspects that apply visually in other modes of publishing apply in formatting a blog.

Create a visual map or outline of the content to make the content appear quick to review with use of formatting and headings.

Formatting includes use of space and short paragraphs that are visually appealing.

Present content in the form of lists that are numbered or bulleted verses written in essay format.

The ideal length of a blog is 250-300 words based on general opinion.

 

Communication

 

Communication

The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well-being of others.–Sharon Anthony Bower

Sometimes we are un aware of our own power and influence on others.  Our professional roles and personal roles as parents or elders in the family create a power differential with others.  I wonder if God determines our level of power and influence on how we manage our current position personally and professionally.  How does being a Christian influence how we approach even those that seem to be against us?  It is against the cultural grain to show love towards people that we may be in opposition to.  I am praying God will help me to be more aware of how my words and actions affect my communication with others.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Safety

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Safety

Once someone has obtained physiological needs, the next step up in Maslow’s hierarchy is to achieve safety.  Safety refers to physical, psychological and spiritual stability.  The ladies that enter the program that I work for usually do not have safety upon entering, but do after completion of the program.  When checking to see if someone has obtained this need, ask the following questions:

– Where do you stay?  How long have you stayed there?  Consistency is the key for stabilization.  If someone has moved around multiple times (i.e. couch surfing) in less than a year, they probably have not felt safe to settle down.

– When do you feel safe?  When was the last time?  Most individuals that report they haven’t felt safe in a while may still be running on fight or flight mode.  Acknowledging that there was/is safety available can lessen anxiety.

– Who do you feel safe with?  Are you currently in an abusive relationship?  Check and see what the person’s support system looks like.  Not everyone is considered safe… especially if there has been abuse in the past.  The person needs to find someone who will be physically, emotionally and spiritually supportive of them.  The more positive and supportive individuals, the more the person will feel safe.

– What does safety look like to you?  Have the person describe what safety looks, feels, smells, hears and tastes like to them.  Using all the senses to describe safety can assist the person in recognizing when they feel safe.

Safety can take all different forms – from staying clear from an abusive relationship to freedom of speech without penalty.  Once safety is obtained, the person can then focus on the next need: love and belonging.

F.E.A.R.

FEAR

The F.E.A.R. acronym that I grew up to was Fudge Everything and Run (non-explicit version).  It was plain and simple… run and hide from anything that was hard and possibly life transforming.  After all, I was comfortable in my bubble of no hurt or pain.  Was I being realistic though?  Of course not!  Who can run away from everything in life?  Sooner or later I was to experience something unpleasant, whether it was a failing grade in school or a harsh break-up.  I had to pick myself up and move forward somehow.  I can’t run from every problem and neither can you.  These problems or obstacles (as I now like to view them) that we encounter are just another way of God showing that he would not give us more than what we can’t handle.  We are meant to rise and overcome any hurt, pain and/or FEAR.  After all, we are HIS great people!

A colleague of mine provided me with two new F.E.A.R. acronyms which I now use.  The first one is commonly used in a 12 step program: Face Everything and Recover.  This acronym represents the strength that each of us have in overcoming and recovering from addiction.  Practically when you work the 12 step program, you place everything – negatives and positives – on the table for review.  Realizing you have an addiction is the number one step and the last step is when you practice what you have learned via the steps in your daily affairs.  Everyone is able to recover, as long as they are willing to face their fear.

The other F.E.A.R. acronym is: Future Events Appearing Real.  Have you ever stopped yourself from placing a phone call or greeting someone because you all ready KNEW what would happen?  For example, I may avoid placing a phone call to my sister, because I all ready know what she will say and how she will react to some news.  So, I might tell myself “why even bother placing that phone call”.  When we mind-read how others are going to react, think or feel, we have all ready stopped ourselves from acting upon what we need or want.  The point of this FEAR is all ready predicting what is going to happen to the unknown.  Sounds crazy, right?  However, it is not uncommon for us to create future events in our mind on how others will react.  When we let go of the “what if’s” we can surpass our fear and be present.  Being present with what is here and now.

So, in the end FEAR is just a coverup that the Devil places upon us to avoid some amazing outcomes.  Unveil your fear and know that you are covered and taken care of by God.  Walk through the fear and be amazed at the blessings that are shone upon you.  Be blessed!

Healthy and Unhealthy Ways to Manage Stress!!!

What do you do?

In a previous blog I discussed the signs/symptoms of stress.  While perusing the web, I came across this interesting article that discussed positive and negative ways of coping with stress. The article is on Helpguide.org titled Stress Management and written by  Melinda Smith, M.A. and Robert Segal, M.A.

The article uses life stressors to make it point. The overall point, stress will occur but you are in control!!!

How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with stress.

It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your career and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management. Managing stress is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems.

Identify the sources of stress in your life

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

  • Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
  • Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).
  • Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

Start a Stress Journal

A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

  • What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure)
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally
  • How you acted in response
  • What you did to make yourself feel better

Look at how you currently cope with stress

Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.

Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

·       Smoking·       Drinking too much

·       Overeating or undereating

·       Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer

·       Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities

·       Using pills or drugs to relax·       Sleeping too much

·       Procrastinating

·       Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems

·       Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

Learning healthier ways to manage stress

If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

The Warrior Reminder

The Warrior Reminder

The Warrior Reminder

i am awake
my mind is free
i am creative
i love myself
my willpower is strong
i am brave
i practice patience
i don’t judge folks
i give, not to receive
i don’t expect
i accept
i listen more than i talk
i know i’ll change
i know you’ll change
i”ll hold on one more day
i start over when necessary
i create my own situations
i am cosmic
i do not have the answers
i desire to learn
i am the plan
i am strong
i am weak
i want to grow
i know i will
i take on responsibility
i hide myself from no one
i’m on my path
warriors walk alone
i won’t let my focus change
taking out the demons in my range

that’s mama’s gun

by: E. Badu

(Taken from Erykah Badu’s Album)

A quick reminder that even though life can sometimes feel like a battlefield,  there is a warrior inside of you  —  courageous, brave, and strong,