Category Archives: anxiety

De-stressing The Holidays

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Today I want to talk to you not about the reason for the season, but about your relationships with your friends and family during this time of the year.
I am writing this blogpost after spending a beautiful afternoon in Malibu with a girlfriend.
A splendid California day with its bright sunshine in December was such a wonderful winter treat. Beautiful sunny day, blue skies and shimmering ocean—ahhh.
After going to church we chose to spend this day with each other, doing nothing “important”, catching up after months of being busy and not making time for a deep meaningful conversation. It was time to cancel shopping and running errands and talk “soul to soul” instead. Thankfully, with children all grown-up we can easily go for a stroll on a beach and drink hot tea on a porch overlooking the ocean— uninterrupted. For us this day it was time to slow down and spend time connecting, not consuming.
This time of the year we often get extremely stressed and overwhelmed, busy trying to do everything on our lists, run multiple errands and buy “perfect” gifts. We overlook importance of slowing down and “recharging”- with a book or a good movie, or by spending time with a friend without going shopping together and multitasking. Many of my girlfriends slow down in December only if they get sick… At times we have to be reminded to slow down, spend some quiet time in prayer and meditation, nurture our bodies and our most important relationships: with our Creator and loved ones.
Some women spend days and weeks planning and trying to throw “perfect” parties, especially during this season of festivities. I think it is a true gift—to be able to pull together a great gathering and enjoy all aspects of the proses. I am not writing about those, who breeze through holiday preparations with ease and grace. Not that many women do. Majority are trying to prepare for the holidays while juggling careers, kids and running regular household tasks.
Often the idea is great—it will be so nice to get together with friends and family. But somehow, regardless of initial good intentions of having a great time with friends, many ladies exhaust themselves in preparation, while making sure guests have a wonderful time. Occasionally they even force their family members out of their comfort zones in order to impress others, sacrificing peace and joy at home to please guests. Hospitality is important, spreading good cheer and happiness are important, but we need to ask ourselves: what are the true reasons for all our actions, especially in holiday preparations? Do we try to buy gifts, attend events and host people at our homes to enjoy each other’s company and please God, or do we try to fill up our need to be loved by pleasing people we barely know? Do we ever switch from doing things to bring joy to those around us, to doing to much and becoming overwhelmed?
What are our true priorities and motives? Is it God, our families and “other people”- in that order? We can enjoy the holidays to the fullest when we focus on joy, not our todo lists. Planing and writing down what needs to be done helps to give us a sense of control. Writing down on our lists why we are doing all those things and how we want to feel in a process is a good reminder of why we are scheduling all these activities. In my line of work as a life coach I help women to handle stress and challenging situations. I encourage clients to write down motives for their action, which helps to reflect on true reasons we do things.
When we are willing to carefully examine our motives for various actions we take, we can learn to break old patterns of wrong priorities and toxic overthinking in our lives. With enough practice it will become easy to focus on what means the most for us. For majority it is happy loving family and healthy caring relationships. We can start each day by praying and quietly asking: Dear God, how may I please you today in my actions and my words, how can I fulfill my purpose?

I wish you to have truly amazing holidays filled with love, while surrounded by true friends God put in your life.

Merry Christmas!

Lena Giffoni

My book “Return To Joyful Living: Reclaiming Life From Fear, Anxiety and Toxic Overthinking” will be available in January

How To Declutter You Life And Declutter Your Mind

I am no stranger to “spring cleaning” regardless of time of the year. End of August and beginning of September are the best times for “back to school” organizing. For many moms whose children are still living at home it is a welcome move from unorganized chaos of the summer to a schedule-based school year. For those empty nesters whose children just left home it is time to stop crying and begin enjoying the freedom- and space. Trust me.
Regardless of what your situation is decluttering may be just the thing you need to get a fresh start. By doing so you undoubtedly will gain a new perspective on your surroundings and future actions. It is hard to approach new beginnings when weighted down by baggage and clatter, be it physical or emotional.
When you are facing changes in life, are scared and vulnerable sorting things out may need to start in your closet.
Do you hold on to emotional baggage? How about stuff in your closet? Do you keep a few thing with tags still attached because you just can’t let go of them? Are you also afraid to let go of friendships that don’t make you feel good any more? Did you accept hand-me-downs you didn’t really like (and never wore!) because they were free and you could not refuse the temptation? How about other temptations in your life, do you give in easily? Can you say no to requests that will sure put you over the top? Are you afraid to express your true feelings to your family members because you don’t want to hurt them? Do you still have that skirt you got on clearance three years ago? Even though it was a little too tight it was cute so you got it hoping to lose weight soon. Does it fit you now or have you gained a few? Do you still hope to lose weight? That’s good, but a thing you don’t realize is that a skirt is a silent reproach of your conscience: you can’t do it, looser!
Can you recall everything you own? How about in just one category? Do you remember every pair of jeans you own? Every blouse and dress? Can you access them easily? If the answer to every question is yes than congratulations, you are a minimalist and you may stop reading now. If, on the other hand, just reading about clatter in your closet makes you anxious it is high time for you to do something about it.
This month I will walk you through a few simple steps. Please don’t get carried away and try to clean and organize everything at once- you may burn out and quit altogether. That is not what you want, right? Let’s start with clothes. Decide what you will do with the things you will let go of. Give away? Donate? Sell? There may be people who appreciate vintage and want what you no longer need. You, on the other hand, will learn what you truly need.
You may be blessed to afford beautiful expensive designer clothes. Even if you spent a lot of money on such things do you still love them? If not, one by one separate them from the things that still bring you joy. You may choose to donate them. In this case you may want to locate designer boutiques that may give you better tax credit for you items than regular donation places. Another option is selling them. But only consider selling if you definitely WILL do it! Don’t create a pile of things you will eventually sell if it will never happen, it only creates more baggage and clatter that will weigh you down emotionally. image
After you made a decision about what you are going to do with discarded things let’s have some fun! First I suggest locating and bringI got in a same place every skirt or pair of pants you own. If you have dig for it, that’s ok, just try not to get distracted and start organizing your photos or other non-clothes items, that’s a no-no at this step. This is a week to deal with clothes only. After you have all your pants and skirts in a same spot look at each item by pulling it out, not just looking at it on a hanger, crammed between other things. Take it in you hands and ask yourself if this thing still excites you. What are the reasons you may want to keep it? If you think “It may fit me eventually if loose weight”, ” I can wear it to work in the garden”, ” You can barely see the stain, I’ll wear it around the house”, ” It’s sort of cute”or “I wore it in 1982” that is not it. Does it make you happy? Do you want to wear it tomorrow? This week? To a next party? You have to love it to keep it, otherwise it should go into a “letting go of” pile. May be someone would love it more than you do. Count your blessings that you were able to afford clothes that gave you please to wear them. Then free yourself from them with gratitude. After you are done with all skirts and pants by using this approach you will move to a next category: sweaters, dresses, scrubs, dress shirts. At the end you will most likely cut your belongings in half. Bag the items you don’t want to keep. Nearly organize the things you chose to keep so they are easily reachable. As for the things you bagged- get them out of your living space within a week. The sooner the better.
Good luck and happy cleaning!
Your coach Lena.

Challenges of change

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Just a week ago I received a message that an update was available for my cellphone. I went ahead, pressed a few buttons and shortly after discovered that now it looked quite different than what I was used to. I was somewhat disappointed at first. I liked the way the screen looked like before the update, I even thought that if I can go back I would, I did not think now it was an option.
The following morning I told my son, who was home from college, that all apps on my screen looked less “sophisticated” and more like video game images. My son, quite surprised that I updated my phone ahead of him ( go Mom!) inspected my screen and announced his verdict :”Cool!” That was youth talking. It reminded me how I embraced change when I was younger. I really did welcome it. Now I realized how much I changed. A couple years back I learned (oh horror!) that my Pastor and my primary physician where moving out of state just within a month of each other and that my hairdresser was retiring in a few weeks. I was so upset- how could they do it to me! But, of course, the did not do it to me, it was I who was reluctant to change.
When I just moved to the US I had to learn and discover so many things! I can say for sure those first 8 months were the most challenging in my life.
I can relate to many people who face various challenges after relocating. It does not matter if it is a move across the globe, across the country or across the state. All of them have their similar challenges, namely: leaving behind family and friends, familiar places and services. You will have to start all over again: finding doctors, dentists, hairdressers and simply you way around town. You will feel like a new kid on a block and it may remind you much if changing schools when you were a kid and all the insecurities it may bring. We all want to be loved and to belong. Remember all the crazy things some of us did in High School trying to fit in with the hip crowd? Entering a new well-established group, a new church for example, may feel like a Middle High all over again, but it need not be. Lord alone is your strenght and guidance and He will lead you in a right direction bringing right people into your life through what I call “Divine appointments”.

Thank God for technology! Now we have e-mail and Skype available on a cellphone! We can easily be in touch with those we leave behind. Can we please count our blessings without complaining? Some of us remember when a computer or a cell phone was such a novelty and it was very scary to use at first? How about switching from PC to Apple for some if us? It was scary at first and there is so much yet to learn, but I try to manage one little step at a time. We can learn to rely on God in all we do and all challenging situations we may face. He wants and welcomes our complete surrender to His will. Only then we can have our joy and our song restored.

“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

Your life is not a random occurrence

“Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’?” Isaiah 45:9

“No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” Romans 9:20

“I was raised to believe that God has a plan for everyone and that seemingly random twists of fate are all a part of His plan.” Ronald Reagan

When you or the loved one does not get healed on a spot as an answer to prayers you feel grief and even anger with God. It seems unfair and unjust.

About a month ago my husband’s business associate was diagnosed with last stage of pancreatic cancer. For over a year her condition was not diagnosed. When she finally was diagnosed she received a very grim prognosis- only weeks to live. Why? Could Lord cure her on a spot? There is no doubt in my mind of his omnipotence. And it is hard to accept that He has his reasons for everything.

When recently the result of an MRI showed that I had a tumor in my ankle, I could not believe it. I became frightened and devastated. The word “oncology” is a scary one… Having my husband’s business partner diagnosed with late stage of terminal cancer left me anxious, my heart was going out to her and there I was, uncertain in my own future. Once again I was asking ”Why, God?” questions, that usually are not answered right away. Lord does not cure terminally ill patients all the time. It is especially difficult to witness someone die young, before their time. It is always scary to receive a frightening diagnosis. When we get a cure, and I consider all cures miraculous, how do we evaluate what we learned and how can we apply those lessons to the rest of our lives? Lord created the Universe and has a plan for everything and everybody. We all are destined to depart to be with our Heavenly Father forever and we never know when our time will run up.

As I am writing this, it has been almost four weeks since my surgery. I can have to stay in bed and can move only on crutches or in a wheel chair. I was recently reminded about the time I was crushed by devastating panic attacks. Pain was so real, so excruciating- I was completely distressed and wiped out. I remember thinking then: it was probably the only way Lord will grab my attention without giving me something really awful to deal with. I also thought He has something for me to do and I am learning through pain. I was learning to be silent for one, because I was crashed and could not move. I was on disability and stayed in bed for days at the time. I remember thinking that if something was to happen to my foot, I would still come to work, even if in a wheelchair. I also realized when I worked full-time I was not giving my full attention to God. I had to learn to be still and completely rely on my Creator, trust and listen. I will never know how many people prayed for my healing but I know they did. Why was I not healed on the spot, why did it take three long years to overcome severe panic attacks? It is only for my Creator to know. I learned to trust God and I am glad I did not doubt Him through my ordeal.

Here I am now, working again, even if from a wheel chair. What kind of teacher should I be, what have I learned in past years? Would I focus more of delivering the subject I teach in the most professional way? What is it that I need to share with my students? Shall I send them messages to remind that our Lord really cares about them and loves them? Shall I pray with my students before every class or would it be too legalistic for some? I began praying for them and will continue to do so. I also was reminded of being undisciplined writing this blog. Lately I have been thinking about words discipline and disciple. Is it a coincidence or there is a deeper truth to a fact of a word “disciple” being a part of a word “discipline”? How should I discipline myself to be a true disciple of my God? What lessons did I learn through pain, what was impressed on my heart? There were many. If you are suffering now- ask Lord to reveal what lessons he want you to learn.

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