Category Archives: importance of rest

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 

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

Laundry Room as a Spiritual Retreat

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14-15 ESV

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Two days after I posted my previous blog entry Spiritual Desert of a Laundry Room I had a breakfast with a couple of girlfriends. As we were having a great time catching up one of the ladies mentioned a beautiful red lamp she recently purchased for her laundry room. Laundry room? Did I hear her correctly? I was not the only one surprised. We were curious why she decided to decorate such a place in a special way. The answer was unexpected as well as eye opening. For this woman her laundry room has become her spiritual retreat. She loves coming there at night not only to wash clothes for her family of five but also to enjoy some solitude and prayer time. She decorated it with splashes of color and items she likes to make it cozy and inviting.

Listening to her I thought how a change of perspective could completely switch one’s attitude. Decorating a place you spend a lot of time at and leaving negativity at the door can be revolutionary in a sense how you perceive any task you complete in that space and possibly affect your overall satisfaction with life.

I remember praying for my loved ones on numerous occasions as I did household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry. My least favorite was ironing. I disliked it since childhood. We did not have a dryer when I was growing up, clothes came out wrinkled after being line dried and it was my responsibility to iron piles of clothes week after week. I became an expert at ironing, but I hated it. Later on even with a dryer there were still things that needed to be pressed. I used to set my ironing board in front of a TV and watch spiritual shows because not even sitcoms worked to sweeten a pill of this task… I also learned to pray more for my husband as I was pressing creases out of his dress shirts. Can you imagine my huge sigh of relief when I was able to send stuff to the cleaners where someone was doing laundry for me? Halleluiah!

Most people I know can easily identify their most and least favorite house chores. For me ironing tops the list of least favorite and it took a lot of prayer not to spiral down into resentment and self-pity when I was doing it.

What I do like is washing dishes by hand. There is something soothing about warm soapy water running through my fingers. It brings me to an almost meditative state of mind and it feels like a mini-retreat. I think that is what my friend experiences when she does laundry in a quiet room at night. Nobody interrupts her thoughts there and she can just be. Often this is as much “me” time as she allows herself.

Having downtime to unwind is necessary for everyone and there are many ways to do it. Often we think it is necessary to allot special time and find a place. But it can be as unorthodox as one’s laundry room or a quiet time by a kitchen sink.

It is funny how house chores can become uplifting spiritual experiences regardless if you like them or not. It’s all in a mindset.

 

Here we go again

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Often when I am stepping in obedience to complete a task Lord assigns to me strange things begin to happen. Often I am forced to be still and reflect- like a dormant tree, only to bloom again in due season.

Yesterday I was supposed to speak in front of a group of women in Malibu. When I got up I found a text message on my phone saying that a friend who was supposed to join me had to cancel. What a pity, I would miss her…
A few minutes later I realized that it was one of THOSE mornings:
the document I was working on wouldn’t show up on the computer screen;
All of a sudden I had a bout of allergies with non-stop sneezing and watery eyes for about an hour- I had not have it in years!
When I finally got a printer to work there was a paper jam, next it promptly ran out of blue and yellow ink- I only need black but nevertheless the machine refused to print…
It took me about five attempts to finally open the document on my iPad so I could refer to it if needed during the presentation. 
A sweater I was going to wear was not there- quite frustrating but a reminder to prepare my clothes the night before…
After the second mishap I thought there was something very strange going on and started to pray feverishly. Please believe me- I am computer literate! It was beginning to look suspiciously like a spiritual warfare when you are doing something to glorify God and there is a strong force opposing your every step. So I prayed every step of the way. 
Thank God my allergy miraculously cleared out without medication and was completely gone, I found something nice to wear in no time-accessories and all, my car started and I got to the place on time. Yeah!
As my girlfriend wasn’t there to film I was trying to get to work a camera I haven’t used in a while. I did not remember where was the record button on this high-tech thing, so it took me a few minutes to figure it out. After a quick prayer thankfully it worked and another friend kindly agreed to do the job. Thank you, Lord!

The presentation went well. Actually after I prayed and asked God to speak through me- I didn’t need my notes after all!
Often after even a shortest speaking engagements Lord sends me Divine Appointments to encourage to go on and to witness what He can do when I rely on Him. English is my third language, I am a former math teacher- I can’t speak publicly unless He takes care of it!
A woman came up with tears in her eyes and told me that a part of my testimony was an answer to her prayers from years back. We talked for quite some time and were amazed how many things we had in common – another god-incident. Glory be to God!

As I am writing this I am lying in bed sick with a food poisoning or a flu. I was ill a week before as well. I am also have been very sad about the news I get from my native Ukraine… There is a spiritual battle going on, seems like a big one. I truly feel like a kitten it in a dumpster right now… 

Ok, Lena, let’s try to be grateful under any circumstances:
I am at home, not sick on a trip;
I have freedom to cancel or postpone all engagements and appointments;
I can focus on praying for my family, friends and everything that comes to mind that needs to be covered in prayer, including governments and political situations;
I am blessed to have above said family and friends.
Is my body feeling much better after this exercise? Nope. But my spirit is soaring a little higher now. Thank you.
Like so many times in the past I rely on Him for healing and guidance. I will complete my studies and become a Certified Christian Life Coach in a matter of weeks. I am asking for divine healing, clear head and abundant strength . Amen.

“If Mama ain’t happy nobody’s happy!”

“If Mama ain’t happy nobody’s happy!” I’ve heard this expression multiple times and happen to agree with it. Many women are programmed to be people pleasers. If we don’t make everyone around us happy that means we fail. Not so! Everyone cannot possibly like you anyway. So don’t put on unrealistic expectations for yourself, setting a ground for inevitable failure. Moreover, when you try to please every one around you, even you own family members they may begin taking you for granted and even stop giving you respect you deserve for your hard work. Instead of being grateful they begin feeling entitled and expect your services and care. You may feel as underappreciated slave on many occasions. You may be positive you family loves you but their ignorant attitude hurts your feelings. When you feel run down and tired they do not run ahead of each other offering help. Why? Human nature. We get used to good and become expectant of it.  You need to recharge your batteries because you can’t run on empty for long.

An attitude of pleasing everyone and neglecting your own needs can backfire when you least expect it. Especially when your children or husband anticipate you to take them places or wait on them when you are exhausted. Snapping back when you are at your wit’s end would only hurt everybody’s feelings. You need to prepare your way to a more pleasant life, better than a one of a hamster in a wheel! I do not mean that you just should neglect your family, I am talking about a healthy balance. You can not give out of yourself if you do not get refilled. I love to take care of my family but there are times when I simply need to rest, recharge and reflect.

Your loved ones might complain at changes that you need to implement. If you let things go for too long by putting everyone’s needs first they are most likely to complain. It is up to you to setup rules and follow them. Make sure to set your boundaries and sat “selfish me” time. It may be a walk, girl’s night out or bath. Many of my girlfriends complained that finding solitude in their own home is very challenging: everyone seems to need something exactly at the very time when mom is taking a bath or resting in a bedroom. When you are resting put a sign on the door “Do not disturb. I will not talk to anyone or come out till…” Fill free to put a time there. Or don’t. The thing is to set the rules and to follow through. Your kids will most likely test the waters and knock on the door or try to talk to you through the door regardless of what you said before. Don’t allow yourself to be provoked to do what they want- if it is not a real emergency it can wait. At first it may not be as relaxing as it should, but don’t give up. Turn on some pleasant music, close your eyes, smile and do not say a word. There were times when I retired to my bathroom simply to write. It was my solitude place, my time alone after a day of a full-time job, cooking, cleaning, running errands and taking care of my family.

Many women find it very beneficial to find uninterrupted time to think, to write, to dream. Regardless of the size of your family or your situation you can find time for yourself to rejuvenate. “But you don’t know what I have to face every day!” You’re right, I don’t. But God does–he gave you life and free will to make choices about that life. Choose wisely and enjoy your life to the fullest. You are a precious daughter of the King, after all.

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