Category Archives: Hope

Is That You?

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My Dad loves to drive. Except, he’s dead.

This is why my experience of him driving my car the other day gave me collywobbles.

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Dad, my brother, me, the car

Growing up, all bikes, skateboards, baseball bats, and badminton nets could not cross the two-foot invisible barrier that surrounded the family car in the garage. My Dad was a little obsessed with the safety specifics and monitored the inches between our kid stuff and the paint finish on his car.

God forbid a baseball, or any object for that matter, bounce off the car. I swear he had some hidden CIA radar for such occurrences. He could be two houses over in someone’s backyard, and he would hear the thump when a foreign body hit the metal on the car. There would be scoldings and lectures from him every time this happened.

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Dad, Mom, and the car

No matter the terrain or weather, he was your man on the street. My Dad took pride in his skillful art of maneuvering through the snow on any road, even no road. The rest of us in the family weren’t so unafraid of that skill. There could be a blizzard warning, and my Dad thought nothing of throwing all of us into the car and driving 70 miles to Wisconsin to visit family in Clinton or Beloit. “We can make it,” my Dad would say with confidence. My Mom would think about it, all of one minute, and call him crazy.

As he got older, he still made car care a priority. He was a State Farm man, after all. Every couple of years there would be a new car to pamper with pride. I’m sure his military experience of managing the care of the equipment he was entrusted with contributed to his viewpoint about other possessions. In WWII, it was a rifle he pampered. Home from the war, it was a car.

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My dad at 88

My Dad drove his car until a fracture in his foot sidelined him at age 90. Before that happened, dad gave anyone who rode with him something comparable to a cardio workout. He would drive: s-l-o-w. I chuckle now just remembering a few of those adventures. Every driver knows that when you’re clear to proceed across two lanes of traffic that you don’t dilly dally. My Dad would pull out quick enough, but then he would just peter out and linger while oncoming traffic was getting closer and closer. Inevitably, my brother or I would yell “Dad!!”

When he died in 2006, there were a handful of noticeable dents and dings on my Dad’s car. Something he would have never tolerated some 50 years earlier. All the dents were signs that his driving ability was reaching its limit.

So on that day, I was driving on the road my Dad would always take to get home. I was looking at the sidewalk where I used to ride my bike as a kid. I drifted off in thought. I was riding in the car with my Dad. He was driving us home. There was a warm and comforting light that filled the car, the way sunlight does but brighter. There was a stream of energy that rippled. There was no sound.

Then suddenly, it was gone. The radio returned to its bellow. I was driving again and realized I had just felt the presence of my father–driving my car. Wow! Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t recall driving the last mile. Did that just really happen? I looked down to see how fast I was going and realize it had to be my dad; I was driving 10 miles under the speed limit!

Thanks for the visit dad. Glad you’re still driving, and you were not here to pick me up!

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

What The Muppets Taught Me

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Is it odd to love The Muppets more than the average bear?

While it’s true, my family thinks there’s something seriously wrong with memuppet when I express overt enthusiasm for this peculiar gang of characters, I can’t help the goofiness they bring out in me. And I’m flat out gaga over the return of The Muppet Show this fall on TV. But more than their whimsical antics that string along my amusement, The Muppets have meted out some good horse sense.

Here’s what The Muppets taught me:

 

1. Stay playful

The Muppets peddle humor. Stress has no audience when I allow the child in me to be her goofy self. Any weight on my shoulders disappears at the arrival of laughter and silliness.

Laughter is the best medicine. In addition to helping the mind to stay positive, laughing triggers the release of endorphins in your body–the feel good chemicals and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Stay merry my friends. Engage in laughter is what the muppets taught me!

 

2. Use encouraging words

kermit-54237_640Kermit, the philosophical frog and ringleader, isn’t your typical skipper. He cares so deeply for his buddies that he thinks of ways to be helpful and encouraging, especially if any one of them is in a jam.

He’s the wise guru for a gang of seriously off-beat oddballs. He believes in the genuine goodness of the world. And that reminds me that I do, too. His consistent quest keeps me more aware that people need encouragement and compassion. And, being different is a rare and good thing.

 

3. Rock outmuppet3

Music makes my soul want to dance. It’s a power that lifts my spirit. It moves me. And who can go wrong with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem? A band stuck in the 60’s. Me, too!

muppet2When it comes to tickling the ivories, Rowlf the Dog plays piano like my good friend David Longo. He also has a pretty good singing voice. Rowlf, not David.

But nothing beats Kermit sitting on a log in a swamp, playingkermit1 the banjo and singing The Rainbow Connection, for lovers, and dreamers, and me. La da da di da da dum da duh da da dum di da ohhh

 

4. It’s okay to suck as a cook

I’ve pored over most of the gibberish cooking advice from the Swedish Chef. I’m relieved that food and utensils flying through the air is not as bad as I muppet1previously thought.

Thank goodness jogging back and forth along the kitchen counter is perfectly normal.

And to make a word salad, you simply talk to yourself or hum a nonsensical song. At last, a chef I can relate to! Bork! Bork! Bork!

 

5. Spread love. Pass it on.

It’s impossible to look at a Muppet and not feel some goodness in life.muppet5

Jim Henson created The Muppets in 1955 with a visionary passion. When he died in 1990, Disney eventually bought the rights to The Muppets in 2004. I’m thankful for the vision of love, morals, humor, and hope Henson played out with all his created characters. All the qualities of a well-played life, human and otherwise.

In 2006, Kermit the Frog was credited as the author of the self-help guide “Before You Leap: A Frog’s Eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons” — an “autobiography” written from the perspective of the Muppet himself.

Life’s greatest lessons. That’s what The Muppets taught me.

 

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

What Do You Deserve?

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Do you pause with this question?

What do you deserve? Do you even know? Do you feel guilty for craving more in life?

First, let’s get that guilt out of the way. God, through Jesus, has liberated you self-confidence2from your own guilt and has provided your freedom.

God does not want you living in guilt, self-condemnation, despair, or sabotaging His blessings for you. That is not what He desires for your life. He wants you to have joy, affection, and achievement with your endeavors. God has given each of us talents, skills, gifts, and abilities for use to better our lives and help the lives of other people.

What do you deserve? You deserve happiness, love, and success. You deserve shelter and sunlight and shade and warmth. Done. You deserve to determine your destiny. Fini. You deserve the moon! And you have it. You deserve a universe! It’s all yours.

10433864_10153254889623908_6471637140694356733_nBut, any negative thoughts you have about yourself can cause you to sabotage your relationships, success, and happiness. If you do not treat yourself with love and respect, you can not experience the love and respect of other people.

What do you deserve? If you do not believe you deserve success, you will not experience it. If you do not think you should be happy, you will not find happiness.

What words do you use every day? Critical words? Ones used to complain? Judgmental phrases? Sarcastic tones? Encouraging expressions? Caring speech? Words of gratitude?

Your words reflect your character. Your words reflect what you believe about yourself. Where you are today can be attributed to the words you tell yourself.

Stay aware of the words you choose to verbalize. Do they match the character IMG_0862you want to role model to others? Are they in agreement with the integrity you want to be associated with?

Jump on any negative thoughts about yourself. Refuse to criticize your mistakes or degrade your limitations.

Pay attention to your inner critical voice that degrades you. Realize it represents voices of those who criticized you in the past. Those voices don’t represent the truth today.

What do you deserve?

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

A Life Altering Experience – Part 2

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A Life Altering Experience – Part 2

So many losses. Mercy. Words painted gray with disappointment in my head. What was wanted didn’t come. What came wasn’t wanted. We’re left with shattered lives. In the dark, there resides a pounding and persistent uncertainty between us. Ron isn’t who he was. I’m not who I was. The lost parts of ourselves are vast. How do we proceed with a life altering experience? Good Lord, what’s next?

With a blood clot still in his brain two years after his stroke, Ron, tried to settle 10888736_945259278841328_7498673198762713532_ninto the reality of a different life, and so did I. Physicians had decided that the episode of dizziness that Ron had at work was actually his first stroke, not a pinched nerve. Well, that pissed us off. You mean he was misdiagnosed? How do you miss a stroke? A little more than a week later after his “pinched nerve” on that September day, a major stroke turned his life upside down.

There were many activities he could not do. I was sad for him. He hated taking blood thinners to prevent additional clots. He hated the caution he needed to take so he wouldn’t bleed out from unintentional cuts or injuries. He hated me pushing him to do more than retreat to the sofa. He was quiet, withdrawn. Depression was a companion. He battled to accept the many losses of things that were once routine: his job, playing sports, being able. Now he was disabled with no job, and could only watch sports.

It was about this time that I noticed a tremor in my hands. Like that jitter when you’ve had too much coffee. Except I didn’t drink coffee. Maybe it was a fluke. When I saw my PCP, she thought it was anxiety–stress from Ron’s condition and the stress of my job, and stress of medical bills, yeah, stress. No doubt. I had that!

Anxiety medication did nothing, the tremor remained. Then one day at work when providing an oral report in the daily meeting that takes place, the paper I was reading from was quivering. It was quivering because it was in my hands.

IMG_1027Now I was having anxiety over this alleged anxiety!! Then, while in treatment to determine the cause of my hand tremor, on January 18, 2012, my employer of ten years, suddenly and without warning, “eliminated my position.” What? I was devastated. Wait, what? Crushed. Hurt to the core. I laid in a fetal position betrayed. No one could console me. I didn’t understand. I did nothing wrong. Why did they do this? Was it my hand tremor? Because I was unable to hold paper still?

Ron was on disability and I had no job. Fear pooled in all the spaces left in me.

There were many tests of my nerves, muscles, brain, and blood. There were second and third opinions from the best movement disorder clinics. In April 2012, a month before Ron’s third stroke, at the leading Movement Disorder Clinic in the country, I was diagnosed with Parkinsonism at Rush Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I have the symptoms of PD, but it has not progressed into the full-fledged disorder.

I must seek a way to put myself back together because I feel like someone dropped me on the floor. I’ve broken into pieces. What was God doing? God broke me. He dropped me and I broke. What was I going to do?

I didn’t have much time to reflect on that question. Ron came to me saying he had a headache–that’s kinda a big deal when there’s a blood clot lodged in the brain. He also had sudden vision problems.

Back to the hospital where they again tried to remove the blood clot stuck in his brain. No go. It’s still in a location that they didn’t want to mess with. The physicians agreed he should be transferred to Northwestern Memorial in Chicago where leading neurosurgeons were having some success with cases like Ron’s. Well, that could be a life altering experience.

Nope. After a gazillion tests at Northwestern, they weren’t going to touch it either. But they did discover that Ron’s left carotid artery in the neck is 50 percent blocked. Wonderful. Ron’s lodged blood clot is on the left side of his brain. Oh, AND, he’s diabetic. He’ll need insulin injections, twice a day. Okay, so now I know this was some kind of joke, right?

No.

So that’s the story of the past six years. This is how I became a Life Coach and IMG_1267blogger. Ron does a lot of volunteer work at church and it’s given him a purpose in life and it makes him happy. He gets tired quickly, his speech is off, his attention span is non-existent, and he forgets things most of the time. But he’s stable.

We’re both on disability. Oh, and, we’ve lost everything.

I know there are many people with disabilities that are in even worse situations, I empathize. Tell me how you make it through the day. I want what I don’t have. I wish things were different–the way they were before. I play moments the way I want them to be, not as they are. Damn Reality! A life altering experience.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

My Counselor by Dr. Sandy Nelson

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The Lord is my Counselor

I shall not wig out.

He makes me aware of my gloom and tainted motives.

He leads me to reality.

He restores my heart and mind.

He guides me on the path of
self-respect,
purpose,
and concern for humanity.

He teaches me to
think clearly,
be helpful,
and take responsibility for my choices.

He makes me calm and passionate.

He enables me to remember the people I am not to control,
and to control myself.

Even though I walk through the valley of
frustration,
pessimism,
and indifference,

I am not influenced,

For thou art with me.

Thy devotion and goodness encourage me.

He prepares a table before me in the presence of daily enemies:
pride,
dishonesty,
self-pity,
fear,
and helplessness.

He anoints me with
gratitude,
self-confidence,
and acceptance.

No longer am I defeated; neither am I unsupported.

My cup runneth over with
enthusiasm and determination.

Surely, peace and blessings shall follow me all the days of my life.

And I will dwell on making a difference in this world forever and ever.

Amen!!

 

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Who are you now?

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“You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.”¹

sign2Are you defining your life today past on mistakes made a month ago, a year ago? If all the past errors in judgment were erased and all expectations from others were invalid, who would you be today, right now? Your future will be filled with negativity from the past only if you allow it to be poured into your current thoughts about yourself. Instead, take the wisdom—the positive—available from every mistake and from every heartbreak, and mold that into who you are at this moment forward.

“One of the best ways to educate our hearts is to look at our interaction with IMG_0108.JPG (2)other people, because our relationships with others are fundamentally a reflection of our relationship with ourselves.”²  It’s impossible to have a dysfunctional relationship with others unless you have a dysfunctional relationship with yourself. If you struggle with fears of disapproval, that fear will play out in all of your relationships with others—not just some relationships—all. Everything you do or say will be filtered through a fear of their rejection of you. That fear prompts you to be dishonest with others, to withhold your true opinions and needs, and to become whatever others want you to be. Look at how any unhealthy fears contribute to the status of your relationships, to the status of your life.

Stop at that crossroads. Today, make that powerful decision—who have you decided you really are? Share who you truly are with the people who matter and stay true to your real self.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

¹Anthony Robbins

²Dr. Stephen Covey

You won’t be happy until… until what?

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You won’t be happy until… until what? Until you make a certain amount of money? Until you’re loved? Until you’re offered a different job? Until your parent’s are nice to you?

What if instead you said, “I’ll be happier if I …” and you took responsibility for your happiness? The first statement has you waiting for something to happen IMG_0953 - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copyoutside yourself before you will be happy. The second statement requires you to do something to meet your need for happiness. Elizabeth Carter said, “Not to be happy is not to be grateful.” Making your happiness dependent on what other people do or don’t do will keep you from the very experience you seek—happiness! It’s like you expect someone to make up for what is missing and make you happy. To have your happiness dependent on yourself means you’re more likely to obtain it. Dr. John Grey says that when you’re attached to wanting more, then you create a mind-set that “has to have” something to be happy. When you blame others for a lack of happiness, you give up happiness. If you make people or situations not in your control responsible for how you’re going to feel, you’ll never be happy. As long as you believe incorrectly that someone else is responsible for how you feel, you’ll never have happiness. You believe the lie that you can’t have what you want because of so and so, or this or that. When you make someone or something the reason why you’re not successful, you stop your ability to have that success.

DO YOU HAVE GRATITUDE? LET’S FIND OUT…ASSESSMENT ON GRATITUDE 
Count the statements that describe you. Please be honest with yourself!
__Life doesn’t seem to get better as I get older.
__I’m lacking things I need to be happy.
__Most of the stuff I do is boring.
__This is a bad time in my life.
__I expect to be doing in a year exactly what I’m doing now.
__It’s more common for me to focus on what I lack than on what I have.
__I was a lot happier when I was younger.
__I feel old and drained.
__I don’t spend time each day listing mentally or otherwise my blessings.
__Compared to other people, I’m worse off than they.
__I tend to take people I care about for granted.
__In an average day I say “whatever” more than I say “thank you.”
__My moods would be better if my life was different.
__I haven’t obtained most of the important things I want and that bothers me.
__The financial resources of the average person seem to be getting worse.
__It’s difficult to appreciate good things in life when I have so many struggles.
__If I’m to be a worthwhile person I need to achieve a certain status.
__I don’t usually feel grateful about my average day.
__I can’t be happy if I miss out on many of the good things in life.
__If I don’t do as well as other people it means I’m inadequate.
__It’s impossible to gain another person’s respect without being talented.
__I’m not a joyful person.

If you have checked four or more statements as being true, then you could use more gratitude in your attitude.

You can now see why the opposite of self-pity, and its components of negativity and complaining, is gratitude. An ungrateful person is an unhealthy person. They can be found in a prolonged self-induced “poor me” depression hanging on to unfairness and tough breaks excusing any responsibility. Of course, the IMG_0946 - Copy - Copy - Copymore you focus on any state of mind, the more of it you create for yourself. Individuals who are ungrateful for what they possess create more ungratefulness, more unsuccessful results, and more negativity. The very
prize they seek—happiness, success, some good breaks—are kept from them because of an ungrateful attitude for what they possess now. An attitude of gratitude in life leads to a sense of contentment, and focusing on what is lacking in life leads to resentment, jealousy and unhappiness. It’s healthy and good to want success and happiness, and more of everything only if you’re sincerely grateful for what has been given to you already. If you’re not grateful for what you have now, you won’t be grateful for more.

Happiness comes from what you already have or what you have the power to make happen.

Wise people enjoy what they have—they enjoy their blessings. People who are IMG_0944 - Copy - Copy - Copynot thankful for what they possess, are not likely to be thankful for more. You’ll never be happy until you learn to enjoy what you already possess. Measure gratitude not by things, but by things for which you would not take money. Henry Ward Beecher said, “A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” The poorest person in the world is the one who is always wanting more.

Thank you for your time and replies. -In caring, Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

What’s your level of wisdom?

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Seneca said before his death in 65 A.D. that “No man was ever wise by chance.” Throughout history that proclamation has remained true.

Intelligence may have genetic factors but wisdom does not – is voluntary. Intelligence is knowledge of educational subjects. Someone can obtain exceptional intelligence and a high I.Q., but possess no wisdom.

Wisdom is insight and repose learned from the experience of living. There’s no aptitude necessary before wisdom can be attained. But wisdom will not emerge in our lives unless we seek it—it doesn’t occur by chance—it’s a deliberate decision.

IMG_0682When we admit and learn from mistakes we attain wisdom. When we can feel remorse for a past encounter, we obtain wisdom. When we acknowledge our limitations, weaknesses, and flaws and can embrace humility, we gain wisdom. When we seek to love instead of criticize and to forgive instead of resent or hate, you capture wisdom.

A painful lesson is often an opportunity for wisdom. Some people see its light and receive the growth. There are times that wisdom is merely an open mind with a willingness to accept with faith the unknown.

The complexities of life teach us wisdom.¹ What level of wisdom have you reached in your life thus far? -Dr. Sandy

¹Karen Casey, Each Day a New Beginning, Daily Meditations for Women, by Hazelden Foundation

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

What causes anxiety attacks?

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There is no emotion more deadening than the anxiety that evolves out of the fears in life. Anxiety comes from many places within you. It arrests your life as it steals possibilities and deceives your competence. It would have you think little of yourself and even less of your potential.

Anxiety wants you in a corner, hiding in a heap of paralyzed stillness; not attempting, not pursuing, not deciding. Episodes of anxiety attacks can be mild or severe and are marked by trembling or shaking. You feel like you can’t breathe and your heart is pounding out of your chest. You feel dizzy or faint. You start to sweat and may feel nauseated. You fear a loss of control of yourself or that you will die, or both.

IMG_0884Although you think you will not survive these attacks, you will, you do. You must try to breathe through it, keep breathing as deeply as you can. It will pass. The attack will end.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The symptoms of anxiety are often the result of fears that possess you – fear of embarrassing yourself, fear of appearing stupid, fear of not being able to stand up for yourself. You may avoid situations you fear. Persistent anxiety may signal unresolved issues in the past or present. It can occur when new situations alter your current life.

Bryon Janis, the American Classical pianist said, “The first thing I had to conquer was fear. I realized what a debilitating thing fear is. It can render you absolutely helpless.” Fear can only dethrone you as the ruler of your life if you permit it. Don’t succumb to its deception that you’re weak and worthless. Promise to restore yourself, befriend yourself, and rally support. There are many successful treatments today for persistent anxiety and anxiety attacks that I can point you in the direction of, just ask.

If you have suggestions or aids that have helped you manage fears or anxiety, please share them. Your comments may help others. –Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Where do most people who want to change their life get stuck?

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Where do most people who want to change their life tend to get stuck in the process? Choose the answer you believe is correct:
A. They get stuck because they don’t know how to change others so their own lives get better.
B. A snow-bank.
C. They get stuck because they don’t know another way to handle things or people.
D. They get stuck because some people in their life just don’t get it.

Correct answer is C.

Author E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Many people desire to make positive changes in their lives but get stuck because they don’t know how to handle things differently. It’s scary to think of life any other way IMG_0211than how we’ve been living it, even though it’s been far from a picnic. It’s scary to examine what we learned in childhood surroundings that may be incorrect. It’s scary to take a look at what we assumed to be normal. It’s scary to face what’s wrong and not working for us.                                                                                                                           But when we blame other people for our unhappiness, keep doing things we firmly promised not to, fail to do what we decided to do, then we begin to understand that we don’t know how to fix the mess our lives are in. We realize that we’re no longer able to soothe our fears and hurts. There remains nothing left to pull out of our hats. And we’re left stuck because we know no other way to think, feel, and act.

We know we’re unhappy, but we don’t know what to do differently. With all we’ve done with our attempts to be in control, we can no longer control our own sadness, which has no doubt reached a miserable level. We focused on solving problems that couldn’t possibly be solved with the ways we were trying to solve them. And when we failed to fix these problems, feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and even anger multiplied. All our inadequacies and all our hurts joined our self-doubts which we spent an enormous amount of time hiding because we needed to appear competent and in control. Marriage and Family Therapist Robin Norwood writes, “Most of the insanity and despair you experience comes directly from trying to manage and control what you can’t.”

So what would you do? Please share your suggestions on improving situations and making positive changes. –Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net