nancy williams

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Archive for September, 2010

You’ve Got the Power!

Have you noticed how, more and more, we’re embracing a holistic approach to healing? We’re recognizing the powerful connection between the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our lives. And we’re learning how important it is to address all three areas if we want to fully embrace life and successfully manage its challenges.

Wander around a bookstore and you’ll find numerous writings intended to foster a sense of well-being. Items at the grocery store are being shuffled to make room for the vast assortment of health foods we’re told will boost our metabolism, improve our diet and cleanse our system. A closer look on those shelves reveals resources to help us improve our emotional health as well, from herbal supplements to relaxation CDs. Fitness centers and video programs help us shape up, meditation, massage and music calm us down, counseling and self-help books guide our focus, and Bible studies lead us to seek God’s direction toward a positive, hopeful approach to life.

As you consider each of these areas and stock your virtual medicine cabinet with tools to foster your own health, consider the therapeutic value of laughter. The Bible says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Proverbs17:22) and we’ve heard much about the healing power of laughter. I do believe it has a positive impact on us, physically, emotionally and even spiritually, because I’ve seen it’s power reflected in the lives of clients, friends and family members, even in my own life as we cope with life’s challenges. Laughter is, indeed, good medicine. Research tells us so and our own lives confirm it. It comes easily when life is flowing as we wish, but how can we find that laughter on those more difficult days?

We can begin with a smile. I’ve heard it said that the average adult laughs twenty-five times a day and the average child four hundred times a day. Out of the mouths of our little ones comes an important life lesson for us to heed. We see newborns smile sometimes as early as six weeks of age. Even children born blind or deaf have an intuitive smile response when they feel pleasure. And laughter often follows children’s smiles, flowing with freedom and abandon. Their simplicity and genuineness touch our hearts and sometimes even change our lives.

Just as a child chooses to smile, we have that same opportunity to experience joy and share it with someone else. Do you notice the effect smiling has on your overall disposition? Interestingly, the more you choose to smile, the better you feel—physically as well as emotionally. And a smile, like laughter, is contagious. When someone smiles and you return the gesture, you make a connection. Even if only for a brief moment, you experience the pleasure of exchanging a precious gift.

I treasure the time I spend with my little granddaughter. Of all the experiences we share, the ones that burn so brightly in my mind and heart are the smiles she gives to me—the sparkle in her eyes, the grin from dimple to dimple and the giggles that bubble up from within her. I can’t help but smile back. The smiles and laughter we enjoy together are such sweet expressions of the love we share.

Smiles and laughter lift our spirits and warm our hearts with a reminder that life has its difficulties, but it also has its joys. Look into the eyes of a child as she smiles. You see hope, joy, love and a desire to share a moment in time with you. You just can’t help but smile back. And that exchange is not limited to our connections with children.

So…smile!

Smile at your family and friends. Smile at the driver in the car next to you as you wait in traffic. Smile at your co-workers. Look across the yard and smile at your neighbors. Smile at the staff in the restaurant and the workers where you shop. Smile as you soak up nature’s beauty. Let your face light up as you listen to your favorite music. Allow pleasant memories to bring a smile to your face. And next time you look in a mirror? Smile!

A Case of Storm Fatigue

I’m sitting here with my eyes on the computer screen and my ears tuned to the weather channel, wondering if Tropical Storm Hermine will soon leave us here in the Hill Country or if we have more wind and rain yet to come. It has trimmed our trees and shrubs, filled our creeks to overflowing, uprooted a wonderful old chinaberry tree nearby and disrupted our electricity for a while as it travels up from the Gulf of Mexico through our state.

While I’ve been watching the weather the past few days, I’ve also talked with people who are facing some significant life challenges. I’ve been battling wind and rain while they’ve been battling health concerns, financial strains, relationship struggles, job loss, depression, anxiety and spiritual battles.

Storms. They’re all around us. In the Gulf of Mexico, in our businesses, in our homes and in our minds and hearts. Stirring. Challenging. Threatening.

I’m reminded of a phrase I first pondered as we dealt with the impact of past hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike. Storm fatigue. I think we experienced it then as we struggled with the aftermath of those storms and I believe many of us are dealing with that same kind of stress as we battle other storms in our lives.

Think about the way we deal with weather-related storms, particularly those that strike one right after another. We hear about a possible threat approaching and we quickly prepare to protect ourselves and deal with whatever is coming, whether we choose to leave or stay to face it head on. We consult with experts to understand what to expect and we gather resources. We’re ready.

Then the storm hits, or, perhaps it passes us by. And we breathe a sigh of relief, “We made it.” We put away the supplies and get on about our lives. Then, we hear about another storm approaching. “Oh, no. Here we go again.” Time to gear back up for whatever is coming next. Tiring. Stressful. Discouraging. We find ourselves wondering, “Can we fight another battle? Weather another storm? Deal with another challenge?”

Life is like that for many of us. Storms come. We find a way to weather them. We breathe a sigh of relief as things settle down. Then, we turn around and find something else approaching. “Now, what?” Do we gear back up and prepare? Can we? We want to deal with whatever comes along, however, we struggle to find the energy to fight again. Fatigue can easily set in. Will we give in and give up? Or, will we press on and face whatever may come.

How have you weathered storms in the past? I remember when we faced Hurricane Ike two years ago. We had a choice. We could ignore it. We could let our concern spin into fear and panic that might prompt us to make improper decisions or no decision at all. Or, we could resolve that with God’s help we would get through whatever was to come.

As much as the storm itself, the attitude we chose to embrace determined our steps. We had to look within for determination, courage and focus to assess and make wise choices. We looked around for information and support. Most importantly, we turned to the Lord for guidance and protection. We moved from uncertainty about survival to belief in recovery.

Then the storm came. We didn’t know how it would impact us, but we pressed on, placing our faith in God’s protection and provision. In that assurance, we found courage and strength. And we supported each other with our supplies, our physical help, our prayers and our encouragement.

Perhaps that’s a blueprint for dealing with whatever storms come our way. First, choose a positive attitude, confident we will get through whatever storms we face. Then gather information and seek guidance from experts. Identify support systems to give and receive help. Take care of physical and emotional needs. Most importantly: call on God and claim his promise to stand beside us, guide our steps and carry us through whatever life brings.

The thunder is rumbling, the wind is blowing, the storm is threatening, and I’m tired. But it will be okay. God will see us through.