Category Archives: Christian Women

Permission to Rest

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“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…”” Psalm 46:10, NIV

I am closing down my office till Tuesday. Did not work much this week, but it was very important to spend a few days with my mom before she leaves for Ukraine.
I finally realized it is ok to have time off to spend with family and friends. We get so busy! For years I did not give myself permission to relax, delegate chores and just be and breathe.😥

Yesterday I was blessed to receive numerous messages with birthday wishes via text and FB posts and I appreciate all my friends reaching out and showing their love. But there was only one girlfriend who actually called and sang “Happy Birthday “… 🎂

It made me think that we must be reminded to slow down, unplug and be fully present with the ones we love.

I came to realize that at least one day of rest per week has to be a nonnegotiable. For me it is Saturday. Regardless of my busy schedule it is a must. I am also going to unplug this weekend–no email checking or FB posting. 📖

Do you have a day of rest you keep? Do you unplug on occasion? Do you go to spend some time at the park, 🌳by the ocean, river or lake? When was the last time you got lost in a good book? Would you like to share your thoughts on this matter?

Blessings 

Love is in the Air

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It is all about love! We should remember it not only on February 14, but every day. We were created for love, but somehow we still get lonely, resentful, frustrated, and pessimistic. What is wrong with our perception? How can we refocus on what our ultimate calling is? How can we remind ourselves that loving others as ourselves is  the first and foremost task for every single person? I think the answer is in capturing our negative and distractive thoughts and in renewing our minds daily. Even though it takes a lot of concentration and work it can be achieved. Practice daily purification of the mind, begin each day with focusing on what you choose to think about, ask yourself how you can please your Creator with your thoughts, words and actions and spread love around you. Be blessed!

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.

Spiritual desert of a laundry room

Return to Joyful Living

 

imageIt has been a long day and you are very tired. You cooked and fed your family dinner, cleaned up the dishes and checked kid’s homework. All you want is to go to bed. After a week of work, taking care of family, cooking and cleaning, checking homework and running errands almost everything is done and the house is quiet. Resentment is building up as you are folding laundry. There you are, in a quiet house, feeling so sorry for yourself. It is late at night and you are exhausted. You are physically, emotionally and spiritually spent…

Does it sound at all familiar? Very likely it does. At times like this you may just want to sit down and cry, feeling sorry for yourself. Or you may get angry, harboring resentment towards ungrateful or innocent members of the household. You may begin questioning: ‘Lord, why do I have to…

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Greatness

image“Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”

Job 8:7 (ESV)

Have you ever thought that you were created for greatness? Not the pompous kind, but the one that reflects God’s one-of-a-kind design for you, your Destiny. Greatness and perfectionism are quite different when you look at achieving from the angle of pleasing your Creator, not yourself or others.

If  what stops you from achieving something for the glory of God? Are you afraid that you’re not enough? Are you concerned what others  might think? Do you question what that greatness might me comparing to seemingly small everyday tasks you need to complete?

Striving for greatness can be tricky. What does it mean to you- to be great? Focusing on achieving to bring glory to God is the way to go- even in things that seems small and mandane at first glance. Pray, ask God to give you a vision, decide to move in that direction and go forward. He got you, baby!

True friends

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“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”.

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

 

Embracing Imperfection

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
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Embracing imperfection is a center of Japanese art form/technique of kintsugi.
Kintsugi stands for “golden repair”. A few hundred years ago when a valuable bowl or a vessel was broken it was sent to be repaired. An artist mixed resin or lacquer with gold and used it as glue. The result of such restoration? A “new” piece of art with unexpected and intricate veins of gold running through it.
God can use our imperfections and brokenness just the same. He has the power to restore our lives and make them beautiful again, even if in a different way. When our lives are repaired and sins are forgiven our stories become examples of God’s handiwork, when something broken is masterfully restored. Now not only we can be used again but we become true masterpieces according to His perfect will.

Are you in a weight-loss information overload?

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Recently I went to a bookstore. Not surprisingly there was a big section of books and videos devoted to weight- loss. People keep writing about it, various titles show up each year, but are we getting any healthier? How many of you bought a few books on healthy lifestyle just to promptly put them on a shelf and… never actually read most of them to the end? I tried to find statistics on what percentage of people actually read past the first chapter of self-help books they purchase. I was not able to find it today, but I am sure it is very low.

Regardless of how much information is out there it is hard to find time to learn something in depth. I often read a dozen non-fiction books simultaneously and switch between them. It usually depends on what I work on and what extra information I need for myself and my clients. I read magazine and internet articles, listen to audio tapes, peruse library books as well as take classes on subjects of interest. Healthy lifestyle, fitness and relationship with food have long been on my radar and I did study it, but how about everyone else? Do you have time to study it in depth? Do you need to?
I begun to think: may be short articles and posts are actually more useful for most of us? Following short workout videos on YouTube may be a much better tool for many than buying a workout program just to put it on a shelf or use it only once or twice. After all it takes effort to take a DVD out of the box and put it in the DVR, you know… Actually there is a psychological factor:  It is easier to buy a book or a DVD and pretend that the action is already taken!
There are numerous programs available, backed up by studies and testimonies with great results. I can choose one and stick to it or peruse numerous advice and come up with my own, that fits my needs and schedule. One rule- I have to be committed and disciplined. I need to eat less calories and burn more than I consume. Bottom line- I need to be committed to my health. After all being able to fit in a smaller pair of jeans is only a visual, the real reason is to be healthy and have more energy, to be ready for what God has in store for me. I must eat better and move more. Drink plenty of water. Have a good attitude. Rejoice, pray and be grateful.

Challenge of a Caterpillar Metamorphosis

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A friend of mine shared a joke:
It’s good to be a caterpillar: all you do is eat, eat, EAT, EAT, than roll yourself up, sleep, sleep, sleep, than wake up as a beauty!
Don’t we wish it was a case for all of us?
I want to share methods I successfully used in the past. All lead to weight loss. I love to eat, so as many I often gained quite a few extra pounds in winter. I accumulated a few go-to strategies when I need to loose some weight and stay healthy for the future. Now I would like to put them on a list. I did that for my anxiety remedies and I am glad I did. Over time I have tendency to forget things I used in the past. When someone reminds me I am very grateful. Many of my friends who love food and are not blessed with super-fast metabolism have tried many of these methods. Please remind me if there is something I missed but you like. Here is what I remember I successfully tried in the past:
– Calorie counting. It was a good approach to realize how much I was actually eating. It helped to learn calorie contents of my favorite foods and I still remember some of them. I have a book with lists of food and calories and there are apps for it. Some restaurants provide calorie contents, but I try to avoid eating out when I diet- too much temptation. When I first tried to count calories I realized how Much I underestimated the amounts I ate! I need to consume no more than 1500 calories in order to loose weight and 2000 calories a day to maintain healthy weight. This method is very time consuming and a few people told me it causes them anxiety. We don’t want that! But for others it was a very good tool.
– Food and exercise log/ journal. I pulled it out to look at my old notes and see what I did and how it worked. Even if not journaling every day making entries now and then are beneficial. For a few days now I have been writing what I ate, keeping an exercise log as well. I am also back to weighing myself every morning. I thought I will not do it this time, but it was a habit for so long- I think I’ll keep it- I like numbers after all.
– Cleanse/fasting. This method worked, but I don’t want to do it again now- it is too harsh, I think. I may go on a liquid diet one day a week or at least for half a day- I’ll see. I like juicing and drinking water with lemon or apple cider vinegar. Or I mix powder of dried vegetables into a drink (green powder). I am back to rotating between a green drink, water with lemon or apple cider vinegar in the morning. Sometimes I sip it throughout a day. They are alkaline and because my stomach is very acidic I try to counteract that.
There is also different kind of fasting for spiritual purpose, but I will write about it some other time.
– Juicing. Various juices are beneficial but some can be harmful in large quantities. Actually any dieting can be harmful- I did consult my Naturopathic doctor in the past. I like to juice fresh organic fruit and vegetables but not every day. I remember my mother saying to be very careful with beet juice- I’ll need to look up why. There are numerous books on juicing and receipts on the internet to choose from.
– Smoothies and shakes. I like them only need not add too much fruit, protein powder or nuts- it all adds calories event though healthy overall. I’ll make them richer in the main tangency phase, but not yet.
– Green powder- a good substitute for juicing when I don’t have time.
– Adding more vegetables to my diet in all forms: raw and cooked is a great way to healthier eating. My favorite comfort food ingredient is potato, but I mix it with plenty of non- starchy veggies and some meat in a stew or soup with lots of spices-yum! I often share recipes on Facebook, as many of you know. Please share your healthy recipes.
– Psyllium husk. On occasion I add it to water for a filling drink with basically no calories. It also is a good way to eliminate toxins. To avoid constipation I use a tea spoon of powder in a glass of water no more than once a day. Some detoxifying kits are sold with laxatives in them but I am not a big fan, even though I used them in the past.
– Desserts. Apples, blueberries and oranges is what I switched to last week. Good-bye chocolate candy, I’ll miss you! But I still crave chocolate. Dark chocolate is better, but now I am not going to have even that. Today I mixed cocoa powder with some hot water with stevia ( I also used a little honey in the past). The mixture was quite bitter and some would not like it, but it was a good enough substitute for me.

Fundamental for success is self-discipline. It is also good to have accountability.
Joining Weight Watchers or another group is a great option because it gives support, accountability and the feel of the community. I have not tried it personally but heard good things about them. A few times I joined my friends in weight-loss competition and it was fun and got competitive.

Good luck on your quest for health and vitality. I am praying for my friends and readers.

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