Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Take on Lent

This being Ash Wednesday and reading lots of posts on my Facebook regarding what people are "giving up", I just had to post a few thoughts on Lent and what it means to me to prepare for the Easter season.

I've decided not to give anything up for Lent. This is why. In the past when I have given something up for Lent, I stay focused on what I've given up, fighting whatever urges I have to give in, feeling like a loser if I give in. Basically it's all me, me, me. I actually don't get better as a person, to be honest.

So this year I'm not giving anything up. I'm going to add something to my life that I think will truly help me become more like Jesus. This year for Lent I'm going to focus on gratitude, appreciation, encouragement, and not worry about keeping a promise to give something up. This year for Lent, I'm going to send a note of gratitude, appreciation, or encouragement to someone in my life each day leading to Easter.

The whole idea of a Lenten practice, as I understand it, is to open my life more fully to God, to become more like Christ. There are few things in my life that connect me to God like a spirit of gratitude. When I realize I'm thankful, I realize there is Someone to whom I am thankful. The essence of Christ's life seems to be to have been love, sheer love. As I engage in my practice, I will be living in love, open to God.

So I'm not giving something up. I'm adding something meaningful to me. I am curious what will happen.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

BLT Strategy

This morning I talked to Jewelers, Hostesses and Guests at a Premier Jewelry Designs Appreciation Brunch. It was very, very nice. Some of the guests asked for the notes from my presentation, so here they are in shortened form.

I talked about the BLT Strategy for self-care, given that women especially seem to be in need of rest, nourishment, love, and a sense of well-being. The beauty of the BLT Strategy is that it encompasses the whole person, knowing that when our spirits are healthy, our minds are more healthy; when our bodies are healthy, our emotions seem to be more healthy. All of our parts support each other.

So here are the three points of well-being:

B ~ Breathe

When God breathed, life came into being. Breath is life. And what we know from physiology and psychology is that breath nourishes our brains and our minds. Good breathing, good brain function. Good breathing, good mind function.

When we get anxious, scared, or angry, our breath gets quick, shallow, and noisy. What we're shooting for is deep, slow, quiet and regular.

I encouraged the guests to take five deep, focused breaths every hour on the hour. In just 30 seconds, we can clear our heads and get re-energized.

L - Laughter

Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart is like good medicine." And the ancient Hebrews didn't even know what we know physiologically today. Here's what laughter does for us physically:
  • awakens endorphins
  • eases muscle tension
  • stimulates the heart and respiratory rate
  • increases circulation
  • exercises stomach and chest muscles
  • boosts immune system
  • decreases levels of stress hormones
  • increases interferon-gamma, fighter of viruses and parasites

Zig Ziglar said, "If you can roll with the punches and laugh when you could just as easily get angry, it will be to your advantage 100 percent of the time."

I encouraged the guests to be ready to laugh even if they don't find anything to be funny on a bad day. Just the act of laughter triggers a good response in our body and makes us feel better. So laugh anyway.

T ~ Take a Sensory Break

Our senses are the first five gifts the Creator ever gave us. Psychological research has shown that being in touch with our senses intentionally does indeed increase our sense of well-being by lowering our stress levels.

I asked the guests to take one minute and think about their favorite sensory experiences in each of the five senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, smell. Then I asked them to think about how they could intentionally get more of those favorite experiences into their lives, then do it.

One of the most nourishing aspects of this strategy is that attention to our senses seems to naturally produce appreciation or gratitude. And when we are grateful, we realize there is Someone to thank.

So that's the BLT Strategy. Use it for increased well-being, zestiness, and nourishment of body, mind, and spirit.