If Your Life Feels Like it’s ‘Missing Something,’ September’s Got a GIFT for You

Do you ever feel like there’s something missing in your life? Or that you don’t always feel on top of your game? Maybe you’re like me – out here hustling your way through the gig economy, which brings a certain level of stress, along with the freedom of working for yourself.

Or maybe – you’re in a rat race that feels it never (ever) ends.

Or maybe, your home life is full of the boisterous activities of children and you never seem to get a break.

Or maybe – ALL of these!

Regardless, September’s got a little gift for you. A huge reminder that if you don’t prioritize your own needs you’ll suffer, no matter what your life looks like on the outside or how well you think you’ve got everything managed.

You see, September’s a special month: Self-Care Awareness Month. And as a freelance health and wellness writer, I’m all over this. Clients are ordering blogs that fit in nicely with September’s focus on self-care and I’ve been covering some of these topics in my personal writing as well.

Here’s a little of what you can do to take full advantage of this gift of September, this month, and from now on! See the 3 links below to start right now getting your life back into balance.

Note: If you’re not a Medium member you’ll only be able to view a limited number of articles each month. If you want to read more than that – or if you want a killer side hustle just by telling your own stories! – then here’s where you can join for a tiny fee each month. Part of your fee will come to me as the one who told you about this wonderful opportunity! (Don’t worry – you get the same opportunity when you join this interactive reading and writing community!)

1. Investing in yourself and your talents

2. Taking excellent care of your body

3. Taking excellent care of your mind

Now, go forth and take the best care of yourself that you can! Share with us your favorite ways to self-care yourself to success by leaving a comment for other readers. And to stay in the know on this and other topics of interest for your personal journey – whether you’re a hard-working freelance writer or not! – then plop your email right here:

F & F on Substack – The Free Newsletter that Helps You Stay on TOP of Your Life!

I’ll leave you with one more thought to help you on your journey today:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

― Henry David Thoreau

Thanks for reading today. I am Christina M. Ward a full-time professional writer. Yes! I make a living doing this very thing! There’s no greater day than one spent behind the pen…pushing words out into the universe and getting paid to do what you love. Join here to get started.

Domestic Abuse on a Good Friday

20 Years ago today was the worst day of my life

https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-black-and-white-body-dark-271418/

Twenty years ago today was the worst day of my life.

Three days later as I stood in church with my children I remember very clearly a few things:

  • My throat was damaged from being choked and I could not sing the hymns. I could barely speak in a hoarse voice.
  • My children, two small boys, were wearing their suits; I do not remember who got their suits out of the closet, ironed them, or got them dressed.
  • My hair was very short; I always cut my hair when I got upset or had been abused to the point of hating myself and wanting to punish myself.
  • Strange things were happening; people appeared in front of me and it surprised or frightened me. I suddenly would realize where I was without knowing I was there. Blocks of time seemed to be missing. I learned later at the hospital that I had a concussion. When the kind doctor tried to feel my neck I completely freaked out and had to be sedated.

The events of the abuse that night before Good Friday are so fresh in my mind that I could recount them to you in great detail even now, 20 years later. 20 years ago today I went to work in a dazed, traumatized stupor and took my lunch break to drive to the courthouse to get a 50-B restraining order against my husband (now ex-husband.)

“I need to have my husband removed from my home and get a restraining order. (insert details of attack here.)” said a devastated and nearly destroyed me.

“But where will he live?” the lady asked me.

–things you should NEVER say to an abuse victim.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD.

The diagnosis came 18 years later.

Enough about the worst day of my life, the details of which I carry inside my gut like shards of glass…I want to share with you the poem I wrote about that day in church 20 years ago, with my two boys, both also traumatized, standing next to me. I have sometimes used poetry as a healing force in my life and this was perhaps the most important poem I have ever written. I very rarely share it. But with Easter Day looming, my memories get the better of me and I find myself wrestling with the inner turmoil all over again, no matter how much distance is put between me and that day. Here is the poem:

Three Days After

Three days ago
I heard you screaming.

I crawled through darkness
to find you.

Today I heard you
singing hymns that save
and lift me off the floor.

I don’t have to crawl anymore.

I stand
in the rising of
my Savior.

Lift your eyes my son,
flowers grow from crosses
everyday.

We don’t have to cry anymore.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from Domestic Violence, help is available to you. There IS HOPE. https://www.thehotline.org/


Chronic Pain: Just DEAL With It??? 10 Ways HOW

A friend of mine recently said to me while we were discussing my experiences in living with chronic pain and how difficult it can be for others to understand, “well, it is a “thing.” Yes, chronic pain is a “thing,” and it is something many of us live with daily. Maybe you power through and […]

 

A friend of mine recently said to me while we were discussing my experiences in living with chronic pain and how difficult it can be for others to understand, “well, it is a “thing.” Yes, chronic pain is a “thing,” and it is something many of us live with daily. Maybe you power through and keep on working, or you find yourself parked on the couch day after day, feeling like life is simply passing you by.

Life does not have to just pass you by.

We all do our best to “just deal with it,” a phrase we hear more often than comfortable. And in the throes of a nationwide opiod epidemic, some of us do so without medications that would have been a standard treatment. Other medications, not necessarily pain medications, are often prescribed, counseling or physical therapy recommended, or occasional steroid treatments.

 

The source of chronic pain often goes undiagnosed, which can lead to anxiety and unease. “What is wrong with me?” becomes a dominating thought.

There is hope.

But managing chronic pain is more than doctors, pills and therapy. It is developing a support system and a lifestyle that allows you to continue living your life to the fullest that you are able and having people around you that love you in spite of your limits. Here are a few tips to managing the pain and living life off the couch of despair.

 

 

Managing Your Pain

 

  • Yes, see your doctors and follow their advice. It is not a final solution to what you are going through, but they can offer medications, therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic, or possibly surgical options. Do not carry a shame or guilt about pursuing these options. You are taking care of your health the same as you would any other disease or condition. Understand that they may not be able to cure you of your condition.

 

  • Be honest with your family and friends. Let them know you are struggling with pain and that it is affecting how you go about your daily activities, how you participate in social engagements, and how you feel from day to day. Try to understand that they cannot feel what you are going through and some skepticism is understandable. Be careful not to burden them with complaints, but he honest. If there are people in your life who criticize you, berate you, or abuse you for what you are going through, perhaps it is time to distance yourself or burn a bridge with those people. You need a supportive community, not one that makes you feel less of a person for what you are going through.

 

  • Develop healthy coping skills. This is not the time to abuse alcohol, pain killers, or other unhealthy means of dealing with your pain. Self-abusive activities will only worsen what your body is already trying to manage. Find things that alleviate your pain and listen to your body. Understand that our approach may have to be alleviating or tolerating your pain, not ending it. Chronic pain is just that, chronic. If walking helps the pain in your hips, then make the time to do it. If Epsom salt baths or using your TENS unit bring you relief, then make the time to do it Taking care of yourself is crucial to living a more comfortable life.

 

  • Don’t beat yourself up over your limitations. Pain changes people. You realize you have limits, but this does NOT mean that you do not have purpose, value, and deserve to live proudly. While your pain may limit you, it does not define you. Try to focus on what you CAN do, not on what you can’t.

 

  • Ask for help. This may seem simple, but some people try to do everything they used to do and make living with the pain much harder than it could be. Let some things go if need be and ask others to pitch in a little more and lighten the load where it is most cumbersome.

 

  • Find joy wherever you can. Joy, smiling, laughter, even in small doses can help you to feel alive, content, and change your perspective on having a bad day. Embrace these moments and cling to them!

 

  • Try to accept that there will be good days and bad days. Maximize on your good days and be patient with yourself on the difficult ones. You didn’t ask to be in this position, and you may have no control over the circumstances, but you do have control over how you respond to it, how much mental attention you give it, and how you can stay positive.

 

  • Listen to your body and respond to it with kindness. Sometimes pain signals are for us to slow down, stop using that are of our body and let it rest and heal, or the signals are simply misfirings that will fade on it’s own. Do not ruminate or inflate problems that may be temporary. Focus on something else the best you can until it passes.

 

  • Say NO. There are times you just, cannot. It is ok to be present when you can, but you know that you can’t always be at that meeting, or that party, or get-together. It is ok to be absent, without guilt. If you were sick, you’d have to bow out and this is no different. Sometimes you just can’t be there…and this is OK.

 

  • Finally, if someone tells you to “just deal with it,” tell them: I AM.

 

It’s Time to Take Back Your Life
Life can be difficult, but it does not mean it is impossible.

 

Living with chronic pain can be difficult, isolating, embarrassing, and debilitating. If you know someone experiencing this, try not to judge or be unkind, or worse, to gossip about them to others. We ALL have our burdens to bear and we handle them in vastly different ways, the best that we can. And again, to those of you living with this condition: Stay positive, you have VALUE, and your pain does not define who you are.

AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

 

 

 

How Keeping bullet Journal Can be Excellent for mental Health

I decided to start a bullet Journal after seeing it come up in conversation on a penpal group that I frequent on Facebook. Well, if there is a buzz about anything in a crafty department, then I MUST INVESTIGATE.  I have been thoroughly obsessed with looking through Pinterest, Instagram, all sorts of Google searches so that I can see what the buzz is all about and I am HOOKED. What an insanely great idea!

After exploring this unique form of self-expression, I have come to a few conclusions regarding how this journey is helping MY MIND. It appeals to all of those little OCD corners of my brain that shout when something isn’t quite right and urges me to make a list, clean a room,  organize a bookshelf or stay up all night jotting down ideas. It allows me to reign in my SQUIRRELY BRAIN and put it into little neat boxes that helps me feel grounded. I look forward to being able to compare my sleep patterns to the patterns of my headaches, compare my exercise patterns to see if on those days I notate better sleep or happier mood… organizing my pen pals, and notating some of the harebrained ideas that bounced around in my head. You never know when those ideas may come to fruition!!

First, let me detail the parts of a personality that bullet journaling would appeal to and a few benefits of starting your own Bullet Journal…so that you can decide whether or not this could be THE THING for you. I will make a few suggestions for pages as well. Feel free to comment pics of your favorite pages if you are a fellow Bujo-er.

What Bujo can do for you…

* Bullet journaling is super ORGANIZE-Y. Seriously who doesn’t need a little bit of help keeping their schedule organized? Yes, I do keep a calendar in my cell phone, and I am not knocking our super-techy norm, but one day this week my phone wouldn’t charge and there was a brief moment of absolute panic. It helps to have a calendar in my cell phone but there’s something very special about writing an activity down that makes it real for me. I am often saying to someone that if I don’t write it down,  it does not EXIST in my world.

* Bullet journaling appeals to your inner list-maker. Is there anything more satisfying really than to check off a box on your to-do list? The feeling of accomplishment when you can scratch off an item from your to-do list will continuously feed your self-esteem, while the list-making itself will help you organize those racing or disorganized thoughts. If you are a list-maker like me,  then get your pen (or in my case multiple pens, containers of markers, metallic, gels, etc.) ready!  Because the bullet Journal is yours… designed by you and for you. Your list can be whatever font,  length,  or topic you choose. And it won’t get lost in the car,  buried in the bottom of your purse, or misplaced in your stack of mail as easily perhaps as your phone. And let’s face it, your phone already has UMPTEEN tasks going on and doesn’t give you that nostalgic, smell-the-paper experience.

* Bullet journaling  helps you take a look at your life and set goals. Your bullet journal combines several things in one place to help you compartmentalize, and look over your life stats according to YOU…not according to likes, comments, and the often unkind online community. It is an organizer, a tracker for anything that you would like to keep track of,  a creative outlet, a reference tool for all sorts of important information that you want to keep track of, a dream journal, A Prayer Journal, a mental health tool,  a scrapbook, a memory keeper… the list goes on. It a place to organize both your life and your thoughts into one awesome place where you can go to get your head together. It is helps you to achieve your goals and focus on your strengths. It is an excellent resource to use for self- improvement in any area of your life.

* Bullet journaling is, quite frankly, the cheapest hobby I have ever adopted. All you need is a blank journaling notebook of your choice and your favorite pen and you are all set!  I would suggest a few other things… but I will get to that in a moment.

* Bullet journaling allows you to be your own best cheerleader. Encourage Yourself, be good to yourself, collect favorite scriptures and quotes all in one place. Does the color yellow make you happy? Do yellow! Whatever inspires you, fills you, and makes you do YOU more fully…embrace it in the pages of your Bujo.

* Bullet journaling is perfect for the obsessive mind. If you are a worrier or over-thinker this is the perfect hobby for you. It helps you to simplify things that you are mulling over and over into something that looks organized, neat, and efficient. I have often told my children that worrying is a symptom of mental boredom, and that getting creative is the perfect way to relieve that boredom. Worry is merely creativity gone wrong. Capture that mental energy in the pages of your Bujo and organize those wandering thoughts into charts, or doodles, or plans.

* Bullet journaling is easy and can be personalized to your taste. It can be as simple and minimalistic as you want it to be, or it can get crafty,  go all out and be covered in washi tape,  polka dots and accordion style pull outs! (Warning here…looking up bullet journal page ideas on Pinterest is a WORMHOLE).

* Bullet journaling allows you to work on your handwriting,possib ly learn some new fontsor doodles, or maybe learn to do calligraphy. It gives you an excuse to use those fun colored pens that you’ve been storing up in your desk drawer. (Another warning here, new pens can become an addiction!).

* Bullet journaling DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT. And neither do you!  This is YOUR LIFE IN PROGRESS so make your journal any way you want.

* It is created BY YOU… FOR YOU!!! THERE ARE NO RULES!!!

 

Does any of this appeal to you? Well it certainly does to me. It appeals to all of those little OCD corners of my brain that shout when something isn’t quite right and urges me to make a list, clean a room,  organize a bookshelf or stay up all night jotting down ideas. It allows me to reign in my SQUIRRELY BRAIN and put it into little neat boxes that helps me feel grounded. I look forward to being able to compare my sleep patterns to the patterns of my headaches, compare my exercise patterns to see if on those days I notate better sleep or happier mood… organizing my pen pals, and notating some of the harebrained ideas that bounced around in my head. You never know when those ideas may come to fruition!!

So with that as a brief introduction to Bullet journaling, here are a few notes about how you can get started with your Bullet Journal.

Getting Started

° Step 1: Get a notebook. You can use a plain journal with no lines on the pages, a gridded journal with a dot grid (which seems to be popular in the bullet journaling Community), or a plain old spiral notebook that’s been sitting in the back of your desk for three years. It doesn’t matter what Journal you choose to use as long as it’s one that you like!  I, personally, will not be carrying my bullet journal with me as I will continue to put my appointments into my cell phone calendar, for later relaying into my bullet Journal. But if you choose to carry it with you,  as a lot of people do, keep in mind the size of your bullet journal and the weight so that it will fit in your purse or your pocket or your computer bag/book bag. (My first Bujo was a vintage Journal given to me many many years ago by my mother and it is covered in a floral fabric.)

° Step 2: Writing supplies! Collect your favorite pens in the house and get them all into one place. I have all of mine in one of those $1 baskets from the Dollar Store with a couple of organized sections in it. I have them sorted by regular pens, gel, metallic markers, highlighters and markers and fountain pens. Some markers,  colored pencils or fountain pens may bleed through your Bujo pages so you may want to use a test page in the back of your Bullet Journal. Use this space to write with each utensil before you use it to make sure that it does not bleed through the paper too much and it looks satisfying to you on the paper. I keep my pens together because if you set up a color guide on any of your pages, you will want to make sure you stay consistent with the colors of pens that you are using throughout that “spread”. Some people create an elaborate color scheme and then later minimalize it to use less colors. The good thing is if you don’t like the way you’re doing something,  YOU CAN CHANGE IT!!  If you absolutely lose your mind over mistakes then you may want to have a pencil and eraser to map out your pages before you put them in ink. Also if you are a Washi tape junkie… this is the thing for you!! Other supplies include a small ruler for making straight lines, clear tape if you need it for attaching little inspirational card,  etc.  I would suggest some stencil sheets.  I have some left over from scrapbooking days and I use them on nearly every page.

° Step 3: Create an index in the front of your Journal. You will want to notate every entry that you make into your book and what page those entries are on so that they can be found quickly. ( If your Journal does not have numbered Pages, then you will want to number them.)

° Step 4 Create a key. There is a way to use the standard original symbols that are recommended for bullet journaling, however I just made up my own. Put a key in the front of your book so that you can reference it and pretty soon you will remember all of your symbols and colors and dots and you’ll know what it means. This gives you a way to prioritize your notes, find things quicker, and relocate to-do items to other days if you need to carry them over.

° Step 5: Create a year at a glance page if you choose. I did not do this. If you think it would be helpful you may do that in the beginning of your book. You will want to create month at a glance pages, and I would just do the month you are entering… don’t skip ahead and do a bunch of months at one time. That way you have the option to change your format if you like. Make sure to leave space for notes and to-do lists. I did not do a year at a glance  but I just went straight into some collection pages and then my month at a glance page and weeks at a glance pages. These are the pages you will use to stay organized in all of your activities and keep up with your to-do list for each day, possibly your dinner menu list, and shopping list for each month and week.  There are many, many ways for you to set up your calendar. I did Google searches and look through Pinterest and Instagram and found lots of ideas on how to do this. If you are not a super busy person and don’t have many appointments, you can do a monthly spread and then just have fun with customized pages. Mine is a lot less appointment oriented and a lot more personal growth oriented.

° Step 6 Get creative with your pages. Are you a shopping fanatic but can’t remember what you buy and where you buy it? Make a shopping page!  Are you a pen pal-er and want to keep up with your pen pals? Make a pen pal tracker! Make a page to track your exercise program or smoking cessation program. Make a page to brainstorm ideas for birthday presents for your spouse. Make a sleep tracker page to track how much sleep you are getting and how well you slept. Create a mood tracker system with cute little doodled emojis!  The possibilities are endless.my favorite spreads are my books to read spread,  gratitude Journal, prayer list,  and helpful scriptures for areas I am trying to improve in my life. This is called a collection. It is a certain topic that you make a page on that you are collecting information about or listing about Etc.

Make a Brain Dump page!!  This is exactly what it sounds like. On those days you have too much running around in your mind,  dump it out on your Brain Dump page. The good thing is you can make as many of those pages as you would like!

Get creative and Bujo your life.

 

I hope you’ve learned something new or found some inspiration. If you love Bujo, share what you love about it and how it helps you stay sane. Share pics of your favorite pages or ideas. Thanks for stopping by!!

 

°°°christina°°°

 

 

 

 

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