SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

Find peace. Find happiness. Find yourself.

Tag: health (page 1 of 2)

Turning People Into Trees


When you go out into the woods and you look at the trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent and some of them are straight. Some of them are evergreens and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light and so it turned out that way. And you don’t get emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans you lose all that. You are constantly saying, “you’re too this“, or “I’m too this“. That judging mind comes in. So I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.  –
Ram Dass

This is easily one of my favorite quotes of all time. Do yourself a quick favor (pretty please) and read this quote again, soak it up, and think about how this pertains to your life.
Now what I need all of you to do is ease up…Ease up, people! On yourselves, on others, on the trees, on everything. Life is too short to live each day judging everyone. And most importantly, life is too short to live each day judging yourself. Nothing kills love quicker than judgement.

There is nothing more beautiful or worthwhile than discovering who someone is. Beneath it all. Everyone has a story, and we miss out on that by all of our preconceived assumptions and opinions. Everyone can teach you something, and we constantly lose out on the opportunity to learn. How boring would life be if everyone were just like you, if everyone thought the same way you did? If you allow yourself to let people just be without creating any immediate assumptions about who they are and/or treat them as such, they will blossom, and they will remember how kind you were. That is what makes life worth living. People are doing the best that they can in the best way that they know how. 

We all have our struggles and life is hard enough. Be sure to remind yourself each day why you are important, why you matter, and why you love yourself. We forget to be kind to ourselves because we are so scared of judgement. We care far too much about what others think about us and we care far too much about things that do not matter. We cannot control those who judge us, but we can control how we judge ourselves….

If judging others and yourself and making assumptions about people is something you struggle with, I challenge you to practice this skill and see how it changes your life. And let the trees be a reminder of how positive life can be.
Appreciate yourself, and appreciate those around you.

-keep shining

Eat The Popsicle That Turns Your Mouth Blue…

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Why is it that when we turn into full-time working, tax paying, house cleaning adults we forget to have fun? We take life too seriously and don’t laugh as much as we should. We lose our ability to be spontaneous and we forget the importance and excitement of being immature.
We were all kids once, and for some of us those are the best memories of our lives. We didn’t have an agenda, no ongoing stressors, and life consisted of having fun by using our imagination and acting impulsively. Being a kid consisted of enjoying the little things which made us happy. We were at our most simple and innocent selves.
The good news is we can still incorporate that mindset into our lifestyle as adults. We should never let go of our ‘kid-at-heart’ mentality. We all have a child inside of us that still wants to be carefree, laugh, and act immaturely. There is no reason we need to repress that kid inside, but instead should embrace what that brings out in us.
So how can we remember to play more and work less, you ask? Here are my thoughts…

First and foremost, don’t forget to do the things that brought you joy so many years ago. Whether you walk by a tree and have an impulse to climb it, or you want to eat the popsicle that will turn your mouth blue, paint a picture, or have an urge to dance in public…Do it! Those were the things that made us happy as kids, and we did them without thinking twice about it. As adults, we care too much about what others think of us, and focus too much on what needs to be done versus what we want to do.
Other areas we neglect as we get older is our creativity and imagination…. Creativity is why our world is so advanced, so never lose site of your imagination. Imagination is what helped you morph into the savvy, sophisticated human you are today. Our imagination is what motivated us to be creative, to make things up, to play things out, and to be curious. By using our imagination we learned about what we loved, what we were passionate about, and what we fantasized for our futures. We created so many incredible things by using our imagination; forts, drawings, silly jokes, games, lifestyles, costumes….The list goes on and on!
And in case you don’t recall…we forgot and forgave as kids. I do not ever remember holding a grudge against my sister when she forced me into blue jeans, frilly socks, and bows when all I wanted to wear were cowgirl boots and sweat pants (I screamed bloody murder every.single.time)…We moved on, and remembered the importance of still loving those in our lives who were important to us, even when they made us mad. As kids we did not judge people or talk badly about one another. We loved unconditionally, it was that simple.
And weren’t all of us annoyingly curious as kids? Always asking questions, and always exploring. Think about how much we learned by being curious and asking the “why’s” to everything adults said and did. But now that we are adults, we feel that asking a question makes us irrelevant or is something to be embarrassed about. We feel vulnerable when we ask questions and when we do not know the answers to everything. Asking questions and being curious is how we learned and grew as kiddos, and we cannot let our egos distract us from the importance of that. Nor can we judge one another for not having the answers. There truly is no such things as a stupid question, how would we know otherwise? There is so much truth to the simple saying, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Of course over time we have gained more responsibilities and stressors, but do not forget to be who you truly are. Who you are resides within the kid that lives in your heart; it’s where you came from, your passions, your curiosity, your endless love, your simplicity, your creativity and imagination. Our time is precious, and no day should go without doing something we love and being who we are. Make time to laugh each and every day, be impulsive, and eat that blue popsicle.

Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? ~

-keep shining

A Simple Bowl of Chili….

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Do you ever have one of those weeks where nothing goes your way? Like the entire universe is against you and laughing at you…
I was having quite a pity party last week. I was not feeling the best, worked long hours, traveled a lot for work, and had numerous unpredictable mishaps. Not to mention, when you feel you’re having a bad week it seems you stub your toe on every corner, bite your tongue a few times, and don’t seem to get quite enough sleep. You name it, and I was complaining about it.
This happens to us all from time to time, doesn’t it? We just get in this rut of ‘life is hard’ and ‘I can’t even”. But I will tell you about an experience I had last week that totally changed my mindset. It was a great reminder that life really isn’t all that bad.

We had a youth event at my place of employment last week where homeless youth could come in for a hot bowl of soup and a free haircut. Amongst the youth walked in a 52 year old homeless man who had a long ponytail and looked disheveled. But one thing I noticed about this man is that he was in great spirits.
He stated that he heard we were giving free haircuts today, and of course we welcomed him openly to the event regardless of his age.
Along with getting a free haircut, this man grabbed himself a hot bowl of chili and started eating in our conference room. I walked into the conference room to say hi and have a conversation with this man, however I felt awkward staring at him while he ate. A coworker suggested I grab a bowl of soup and sit down with him, so I did just that.
Now trust me when I say that this man did not come up for air when he spoke to me. All it took was me sitting next to him with a bowl of chili for the flood gates to be opened. It took patience and some active listening from me to sit through this man’s unending and repetitive stories for an hour, but I tell you it was the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. It was a beautiful thing to witness unfold.

The art of listening is so powerful, and not something we utilize often enough as a society. We would gain so much from being able to listen to others, and not just listen to them but also hear what they are saying.
The reason I was able to be such a good listener that day is because I knew that this man probably hadn’t had a single person listen to him in a very long time. He was alone, homeless, and an addict who was working towards becoming healthy again. All it took from me to make sure this man felt heard and loved that day, was to listen. And how simple is that? The simple act of listening and allowing someone to feel heard is so ridiculously powerful. Yes, it took an hour out of my day to do so, but what better way to spend that hour than to be sure you’re making a difference in someone’s life who is less fortunate than you. I have a warm home to return to, I know I will have food in my belly, and I know I have a huge support system of people who I can turn to. One hour is not so bad when you think about all the great things you have in your world.

Amongst being homeless and disheveled, this man was grateful, he was cheery, he was warm, he was harmless. Once I started listening to him, I did not even see what was on the surface.  I only saw his great spirited attitude. Once we give someone a chance, rather than focus on judging at first glance, we can learn so much. 
Without any prompting, he told me about where he was from, his past, his addiction, his health, his life goals, and his art that he is so passionate about. After he left, one of my coworkers said to me, “Wow, you did such a great job listening to that man, I would not have been able to do that”. That is when it dawned on me that it is really difficult for us in this society to take time out of our day to listen instead of talk. But not only to listen, but to hear what is being said….To take what is being said and apply it to our lives in order to better people. It truly is a difficult task that takes some humility and discipline to accomplish. But by doing this, we gain so much, and unfortunately it is so overlooked.

How often do we just wait our turn to speak next? Not listening to the one currently with the microphone, but just waiting our turn to say what we think needs to be said. How often do we have a question or thought while someone is speaking, and then make that our focus rather than continuing to hear what that person is saying? All to often, this is how we communicate in our society, thus not leaving any room to grow and learn as individuals. It is through others that we learn about humility, acceptance, and diversity. And I was so grateful to have that opportunity on the day that I met the 52 year old homeless man in great spirits.

When asked if my cup is half full or half empty, my response is always that I am grateful to have a cup ~

-keep shining
(Don’t forget to ‘like’ and share my Facebook page and posts at www.facebook.com/secretsofsw/ )

First Thought Wrong

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‘First thought wrong’ is a concept I learned from comedian Mark Lundholm. I first heard about Mark when working at a psychiatric and  addictions hospital where his motivational and comical videos were utilized in our treatment facility. I fell in love with  his concept of ‘first thought wrong’ as it pertains to individuals suffering with the disease of addiction and their impulsive mindset.  I also feel this concept can be utilized in many other aspects of our lives as it helps to remind ourselves to  s l o w d o w n  sometimes.

My definition of First Thought Wrong: Acting compulsively and speaking impulsively. Not taking the time to filter through our thoughts which leads to inappropriate responses. Speaking or doing too quickly. ‘First thought wrong’ is the concept of reacting too quickly therefore our responses may be wrong.

When I am using my emotions to think through a problem or disagreement, that is where I need to utilize this concept the most. How often do we respond impulsively using our emotions, rather than taking time to filter our thoughts and process our response before blurting it out loud?  It is when I am deeply connected to something that is being questioned that I get defensive and utilize my emotions to respond quickly, not giving myself any time to filter my words. ‘First thought wrong’ reminds me that typically in these heated and emotional moments, the first thing I plan to say may be wrong  and better kept to myself. It is a reminder that I should back up and count to 10 before acting or responding. This helps me to react logically and professionally rather than with my emotions.

One thing I have learned through social work is that silence is a good and helpful thing. Sometimes, no one has to say anything and we can all just be silent, process our thoughts, and take time to think things through. This is difficult, as sometimes 10 seconds can feel like 5 years! However, I have noticed that a little silence goes a long way, and sometimes not saying anything says a lot. Practice being comfortable in moments of silence, and do not feel badly about verbalizing your need to take some time to think through your response…. It is okay. You are benefitting yourself by slowing down and taking the extra time to formulate your responses.

Mark Lundholm states that sometimes his ‘first thought wrong’ can take many days to process through. It can take that long to remove ‘first thought wrong’ and replace it with the right thing to do. Sometimes it will take us days to replace  ‘first thought wrong’ to produce a  positive thought which leads to appropriate and calm  responses.

Think about a time when you could of utilized the concept of ‘first thought wrong’…. What would of have been different had you used this concept? What benefits could ‘first thought wrong’ have provided in this situation?

Take the extra time to calmly and correctly respond. You will learn more about yourself in the process, and that is something special!

First thought wrong becomes next right thing” – Mark Lundholm

-keep shining

2016, I’m Ready For You!

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Okay, it’s that time of year again… The time where we focus on all the changes we want to make, and how refreshed we will magically feel now that year 2016 has arrived. ‘New year new me’.

So how can we actually accomplish the goals we create for year 2016? And how can we be inspired to believe that the new year will be filled with great changes and a feeling of being refreshed?

Here are some helpful tips to assist in ensuring your new year is a healthy, more positive start. After all, the new year is a fabulous time to make changes and feel rejuvenated, so why not truly give it a shot?!

Focus on changing the behavior, not the outcome.
This is key to setting awesome goals for yourself. We cannot only focus on what we want, but focus on how we are going to get there. For example, let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds. If you only focus on that goal and the outcome you want, how on earth can you accomplish the weight loss and continue on this healthier path? We need to focus on what needs to change, not just the outcome. What areas of my lifestyle can be improved so I can reach that goal?
If we do not recognize and change our behaviors (eating poorly, too much sugar, not working out, etc.) our weight loss goal cannot be met and maintained long term. How can this be a lifestyle change and something we feel can be easily accomplished if we do not know and recognize the behaviors that lead to the weight loss?

Focus on recognizing and changing your behavior, and the rest will follow.

Create SMART goals.
Once you establish the goals/changes you want for year 2016, make sure that your goals can fit into all the categories below. And remember that a little trial and error is expected. Trial and error help us grow and learn.

SMART goals:

S-specific- Provide some serious details, people! This is key to meeting your New Year’s goals: who, what, where, when, why? You cannot go into the new year with a goal of ‘I want to lose weight’. Instead, get more specific by saying ‘I want to lose an average of 4 pounds per month for the next 12 months by joining a health club, drinking 100 ounces of water a day, and eating vegetables at each meal’. Know why and how to accomplish this goal, and write it all down;  focus on your behaviors in order get to that desired outcome.

M-measurable- How is your goal going to be measured? By simply saying ‘I need to lose weight’ is not nearly enough. How can you measure that? Instead start saying, ‘I am going to lose 4 pounds a month for the next 12 months, and lose ____ inches around my waist’, you can assess your progress and depict whether or not you’re reaching your goal. When focusing on your behaviors, decide the amount of water to drink each day, the amount of vegetables at each meal, and the amount of time you will spend at a health club each week. Ask yourself, ‘how much/how many, and how will I know if my goal has been met’? By keeping yourself accountable using measurement, you stay on track. Plus, it feels so much better to measure your goals and have a sense of accomplishment when you can visually see progress and results!

A-attainable- How can you be successful in this goal? By being aware of how to reach your goal, you begin to see opportunities that bring you one step closer to goal achievement. Choices and changes you make help you to grow towards your goals and understand them better along the way. It’s all about awareness here!

R-realistic- How feasible is this goal? Don’t schedule yourself at the gym 7 days a week for 2 hours if you don’t have the time to do it. You can start small to create those habits. Know your goals and the changes in behavior that need to take place. Then be honest with yourself- can I do this? Avoid setting yourself up for failure.

T-timely- Give yourself a time limit. If there is no time limit, goals seem to fizzle out because we have no end point. Timelines give us something to aim for and help to motivate us along the way.

Don’t forget to ‘fill your bucket’
What good are goals if we forget to praise ourselves along the way? ‘Filling your bucket’ is a metaphor for providing yourself enough positivity to feel good about yourself each and every day.  Fill your personal bucket with uplifting thoughts, motivation, and pats on the back each time you make choices to help in accomplishing your goals. Be aware of your progress as well as the adjustments you’re making to change your behavior, and give yourself credit for it. You are your best cheerleader!

Make mistakes, make a lot of them.
Say whaaaaat??? I promise I am not crazy! Mistakes help us to create new things, learn new things, attempt new things…By making mistakes you are living. Making mistakes helps us to push ourselves and make changes; you do things you’ve never done before. Make new mistakes. Make wonderful mistakes. Make mistakes that you never thought you would. Do not worry about not being good enough, or that you will be judged. Do not worry about being perfect. What ever you are fearful of doing….DO IT. Make mistakes in 2016 and forever.

Happy New Year, everyone!

-keep shining

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