Hi sis, how are you today? The answer isn’t really my business but i still care. By the way, guys who are subscribed to this blog and reading now, y’all are always welcome here. No offense intended when you see ‘sis’ ok?
All of us have been through something – a challenge, encounter or storm of some kind and measure. Coming out of that season can cause us to tip-toe our way around certain people and similar environments, become defensive, turn into workaholic fanatics, pump up the volume on our set apart (‘introvert’) nature, develop unhealthy habits or worse yet – plant a seed of bitterness (which we don’t want to encourage at all.)
Overcoming tough times can also help refine our character, build a stronger sense of patience, cultivate compassion, apply new healthy boundaries, strengthen faith and usher us into a life of prayer.
Some rough seasons end with a near-instant breakthrough to brilliance while growing beyond others is a journey made up of a series of steps.
The fruit of this post isn’t meant to be a one-size fits all template but more of a snippet from my path to healing, as encouragement for others who are more on the quiet side. These steps have helped (a) my smile return after months of mourning a close friend whose life was taken while she slept – a few years ago (b) restore a sense of calm after years of trying to protect a relative from a violent person and (c) usher me through a challenge that nearly snuffed the zest out of me. Sharing with you in case you find these activities helpful too.
Joy might seem like a flowery and frivolous thing to many, but we realize its incredible value in the absence of it.
Stress can wreak havoc on the mind, body, will, sense of purpose and interactions with others. Make a conscious decision today that you.will.not.give.it.that.power.
You had better flinch a finger, nudge your knee or twitch an eyelid if that’s all you feel you can do when you sense that dark cloud, decipher an enemy attack or see those vultures hovering over you. Live like you’re alive.
Onto 7 steps to being refreshed after enduring a tough season
- Regular Walks
Stretching, getting some fresh air, exercise, walking, spending or sharing time in creation is nourishing for our state of mind and body. Purposefully slowing down to observe the vibrance in colours, tones and textures of trees, plants and flowers inspires deep breaths without much or any external guidance needed.
Today, i went to a massive public garden and took a few conscious moments to be still and listen to birds sing and watch bees pollinate flowers. Walking in beautiful places gives us a front row ‘seat’ to things that driving by in a vehicle doesn’t. That doesn’t mean it’s ‘better than’ but it is different from.
Invitation: What pretty place do you frequently drive past that you can make an effort to walk to and enjoy? If walking around your neighbourhood isn’t practical right now for you, how about a stretching series at home a few times a week?
Whether it’s writing verses on the borders of each page, pouring out poetry, walking through each day with words, chronicling answered prayers, art journaling or practicing hand-lettering, the tactile action of writing is therapeutic. It helps the mind to slow to a peaceful pace since the writing hand has to keep up with the brain. Chances are, you type faster that you write so journaling is helpful in the sense that it doesn’t rush our thoughts but walks in step with them.
Journaling isn’t like blogging where any of us ‘has’ to share what we write. You may not even choose to keep your journals, but pouring out on paper can help you discover thoughts or patterns that were tucked into the cracks or need to be addressed and resolved.
3. Calm cooking
Being in the kitchen isn’t necessarily a relaxing thing, unless you’re determined to let it be that way. Some genuinely seem to like moving at high pace while cooking. Though there are those moments when multiple pots are on the stove or one thing is boiling while another is baking, peaceful prep and calm cooking is more enjoyable to me.
You don’t have to be the most skilled cook or have a repertoire of a million dishes to look forward to being in the kitchen; those things can blossom in time. But setting the ambience of the space where you prepare meals to feed yourself or your family can be something special.
Your kitchen or outdoor cooking area can become a place where your thoughts automatically become well-paced as you slice, dice, sauté, steam, dish out and serve meals made with love to yourself and loved ones. i’m not a fan of eating meals made in environments where people are rude or rushed, and that goes for me too.
4. Growing Food / Gardening
Being witness to creation in motion is humbling. Growing food, flowers and plants from seed, cutting or seedling can be exhilarating, therapeutic and insightful but it’s also pretty amazing. We like to (or tend to) take credit for things we’re blessed to be able to participate in (kinda like how i feel being a songwriter for songs gifted from above) and though gardening is a skill that some seem to have innately bestowed on them, it’s a miracle mankind has been given anything at all to take care of given our collective track record.
Planting seeds or giving seedlings a home in good soil then watching them grow and bring forth fruit, veg, flowers and lush leaves is more healthy than binge watching tv while enduring commercials pitching products or listening to a playlist of moody music that doesn’t consider your well-being. Like cooking, gardening doesn’t have to be done in a way that’s overwhelming; set a goal and pick a pace that suits you (but don’t be afraid of the challenges that come with learning or doing something new. In that, muscles develop, endurance is built, lessons are learned and character is enriched.)
5. Prayer & Praise
The privilege of being able to make heavenly calls through prayer is amazingly gracious. The fact that that we can press in and reach out through prayer to confide in and confess to our Heavenly Father…receive reminders of His presence, comfort and promises…to ask for help and wisdom – wow. i don’t know what words can even finish off that sentence in a way that fully describes what i’m trying to say, but i hope you understand. If this sounds foreign to you or you don’t know where to start – a gentle note with lots of love – begin by softening your heart.
Relieve yourself of pride, make friends with tenderness and cast your cares on The Most High who cares for you more than anyone else can. No fancy script or big words needed. Prayer and faith make all the difference to a journey of healing. They can easily override any and all of the other steps mentioned in this post. Knowing Whose hands your life is in can fill you with the peace that surpasses all understanding and a hope that has a guarantee like nothing else on earth.
6. Good conversations
Not chit-chat or small-talk but purposeful, honest, healthy and edifying conversations with a close (or) like-minded someone. They don’t have to be lengthy or verbose (or even in person) but meaningful and ideally with someone who can gently correct if or when we say unkind or untrue things, even about ourselves whether as a ‘joke’ or not. Just last night, i had the gift of having a deep conversation (as a facebook call) with one of my most cherished friends and it was spiritually nourishing, refreshingly vulnerable, fun and intellectually revivifying.
Note: You’re gonna wanna avoid connecting with anyone who has a tendency to flirt with gossip, dabble in debates, press with nosy questions, critique your every word and decision, or consider themselves wise in their own eyes. Not everyone who ‘likes’ us loves us. That might sting a bit, but that doh make it any less real. And so, especially when emerging from a tough season, please please please be discerning and protective over your thoughts, words, company and confidants.
You might be not much of a ‘dancer’ but that’s alright. This isn’t an onstage or on-camera moment but more a freedom celebration. You don’t have to take this one literally, but some sort of movement that stirs up bubbles of joy is healthy for the mind, soul and physique. During this movement, if you like, commit your thoughts to being thankful for breath, life, limbs, time, rhythm, shelter, hope, purpose – a heartbeat, lungs – whatever. Ideally, do this to inspirational music; nothing too hot and spicy to lead the mind astray. i’m not your mum – of course listen to what you like, but sounds, tones, chords, tempo and intention all matter. If you doubt that, think (honestly) about what genre or style of music you’d play for someone in hospital or in recovery.
I could have added hair-or-skin-care marathons, spa days, workout sessions and high-volume outdoor excursions to the list and you probably can come up with other ones that match you more. These activities may bring soft or radiant smiles, burst of energy, healthier skin, intermittent laughs and compliments from others, but joy that springs from things that expire is risky business – a lot like trying to ride a bicycle on balloons instead of wheels. When joy springs from the everlasting, there resides true strength that endures through and beyond all seasons.
You may have come out of that storm a bit or a lot more tender – don’t be discouraged. Tenderness isn’t a bad thing; in fact it’s becoming a rare gem of a trait in a stone-cold world.
You still have breath and there’s a purpose for your life. Don’t grieve who you were. That’s a trap. Instead, choose to embrace, celebrate and be thankful for whom you are being moulded to become. Activities are topical – like make-up on skin….they can help us take steps forward but it’s the inner work that matters most and will shine forth.
Take your time, but rejoice that the storm has passed and don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Enjoy the blue sky and give thanks in every season.
Thanks for reading. Hope this helps you on your journey to healing, remembering your essence and rekindling precious joy.
Love to you, sis.
P.S: Shared it quite a few times on this blog that i’m not a counselor or life coach and the steps/info shared here aren’t meant to replace any medical advice. This is based on having personally overcome (by the grace of God) what i now understand to be trauma and just considered as ‘life’ and on interacting with people who have reached out at the cusp of giving up and whom have since decided to embrace a hope-filled life. i’m nothing without God so in all things, gently recommend you seek Him above all.
‘7 STEPS TO BEING REFRESHED AFTER ENDURING A TOUGH SEASON | ENCOURAGEMENT’ was first published on itsjoywithin.com