Monday, January 26, 2015

New Year New You!!

Happy 2015!  I know I have been literally non-existent for some time now.  I will confess that part of my absence has been due to the fact that I am in the process of building a home.  It has always been a dream of mine and my husband, being the loving, wonderful man that he is, has granted me my wish. So that is where much of my time is going.  Forgive me if I am sporadic over the next while.

It's the beginning of a new year!  It can be an exciting time, filled with hope, direction, and purpose.  It can also be depressing and discouraging because January and February, in my opinion, are some of the toughest months of the year.  Seasonal depression during these months were something I dealt with yearly.  So because of personal experience, I want to give you a little hope, maybe open your eyes to a different way to focus on your New Year's goals and resolutions.

I've been very curious about New Year's Resolutions so I did a little research to find out some statistics.  I came across a study done in 2014 by the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology (table from the website   Here are the results of their study:

RankTop 10 New Years resolutions for 2014
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family
News Years Resolution StatisticsData
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions45%
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions17%
Percent of Americans who absolutlely never make New Year’s Resolutions38%
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution8%
Percent who have infrequent success49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year24%
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions
Type of Resolutions (Percent above 100% because of multiple resolutions)Data
Self Improvement or education related resolutions47%
Weight related resolutions38%
Money related resolutions34%
Relationship related resolutions31%
Age Success RatesData
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year39%
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year14%
Length of ResolutionsData
Resolution maintained through first week75%
Past two weeks71%
Past one month64%
Past six months46%

Pretty crazy right?  The statistics that stood out to me are first, the #1 New Year's goal is to lose weight.  Does that show you where our minds are at?  It's all about the physical.  It's sad actually.  It's sad that some of the goals that came lower on the list are not in that #1 spot.  I understand if the goal is for health reasons, which hopefully it is for most of us.  I understand if we just want to feel better.  But I would dare say the pressure, in America in particular, to be thin and have a "perfect" body has driven a lot of us to become obsessed with our bodies.  Then because of that, we lose sight of our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and we become unbalanced and unhappy.  You know how I feel about this so I won't go on. ;)

The other statistics that stood out to me were that only 45% of Americans usually make New Year's Resolutions and out of that 45%, only 8% are successful in achieving their goal.  Now 8% is definitely better than 0%, but it caused me to ask the question why.  Why are New Year's Resolutions almost unattainable?  Where are we going wrong in the making and keeping of our goal?  What are we missing?  It really caused me to think . . .  and this is what I came up with.

We often go about making a goal without realizing that the habits we want to replace are more than just outward behaviors.  Our "bad" habits or really any behavior that we want to be rid of are not just going to change by starting a new exercise program or a new diet or any outward program that solely deals with the body.  We may succeed at our goal for awhile, but as it shows in this study, the percentage of people that maintain their resolution dramatically drops as more time passes.  Why?  Because behaviors will not permanently change unless we change the belief they came from.  Behaviors become behaviors due to our beliefs.  It's like a tree.

A tree is made up of a root system, a trunk, and then there are all kinds of branches and limbs that grow off the trunk.  The root is our belief.  The trunk is our behavior and the branches are all the different experiences we have due to that behavior.  If we want to get rid of the behavior, we need to dig deep down and yank out the root.   

I believe and know because of personal experience that in order to maintain a new goal, it has to be done from the inside out, not the outside in.  We will never permanently rid ourselves of habits and behaviors if we don't first ask the question of why they are there in the first place.  Only when we eliminate the root of the existing problem will we be able to move forward, onward and upward towards a new, more positive habit or behavior.  If you want to lose weight, well then the first step would be to ask yourself, "Why am I overweight?"  And don't just stop at I eat too much sugar and carbs.  Why do you eat too much sugar and carbs?  What do those foods do for you?  What reward does eating those things give you?  When I started to ask myself these questions, I realized one of the reasons I would go for sugar was because I needed "sweetness" in my life.  My mind was so filled with negative.  I was so hard on myself and life felt so heavy that I just craved sweetness.  There is always an emotional, inward reason behind our physical, outward behavior. 

A habit consists of 3 things - the trigger, the actual habit, and the reward.  If we want to change the habit, we have to change the things associated with it - the trigger and the reward.  So let's first talk about the trigger.  I'll use myself as an example.  When I was trying to change my emotional eating addiction, I remember becoming aware of the triggers as well as the thoughts I had as I went to eat.  Have you ever heard of BLAST?  It is an acronym for the different triggers we are faced with that drive us to addiction or negative behaviors.  Here's what it stands for:


At first, I might have been aware that I was going to food because I felt one of these things, but I still didn't care.  My thoughts were, "I have no idea what to eat!  I only know how to eat crappy, unhealthy food because its fast and easy.  I don't want to take the time to make something healthy.  I don't know how to eat well and I'm too (fill in the blank with one of the BLAST) to care."  Geez!  Do you see how I was shooting myself in the foot right there?  No wonder I didn't know what to eat or didn't eat well.  I was programming myself to act in a certain way through the thoughts I was thinking.   So when I recognized that, I did some digging into the reasons why I was having all those thoughts.  I had many "A-ha" moments in that process.  I then did some Write and Burns to let go of all that baggage that was holding me down and keeping me back.  I became more and more conscious of my thoughts and started changing them to "I know how to eat well.  I love eating healthy clean food because it makes me feel good.  And more than anything I want to feel happy and good physically, mentally and emotionally."  I will not say that my behavior changed over night, but it did change.  In fact, I realized sooner than later that I was no longer obsessing over food.  I ate when I was hungry and I stopped eating when I was satisfied.  I could eat one or two pieces of chocolate instead of eating the whole bag.

I absolutely love a quote by James Allen about diet and our thoughts.  He says:

“Change of diet will not help a man who will not change his thoughts.  When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food.  Clean thoughts make clean habits.  If you would perfect your body, guard your mind.  If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.”

My friends, it is all about our thoughts.  If we want to change our bodies, our behaviors, and our lives, we need to change our thoughts.

We also need to think about the reward we are getting from our addiction or behavior.  I know the biggest reward I was getting was complete distraction from the pain I was feeling or from any one of those BLAST reasons.  Addiction = escape.  That's why we do it right?  That's our subconscious reasoning at least.  However, for those of us who have suffered with addiction or negative self-sabotaging behavior, we know that that escape is only temporary.  It doesn't take long before all the pain and heartache returns, and it returns with even more power and force because we have once again acted out on the behavior that we so desperately want to be freed from.  Addiction is an alluring yet deceiving snare is it not?  We are fooled into believing the addiction or behavior will help us forget or escape, but when we act out on it, we are actually just adding more links to the chain that is pulling us down and under.

So how do we change the reward?  How do we convince ourselves that the temporary escape is not worth the long-term bondage?  Well, we start programming our mind to want a different reward.  For so long, all I wanted was a skinnier, better looking body.  When I began this process, I remember thinking that if I stopped wanting a skinnier, better looking body then I would stop trying at all to achieve that end goal.  I really couldn't even conceive of letting go of that desire.  I believed that having a perfect body was what was going to make me happy.  However, even when I had hit my goal weight in the past, I still wasn't happy.  Apparently I hadn't learned my lesson because I allowed that to happen time and time again.  Isn't it funny how we do the same things over and over again thinking we are going to get a different result?  That is the definition of insanity my friends!  No wonder we sometimes feel like we are going crazy or that we are losing our minds.  Louise Hay put it this way:

"You've been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked.  Try approving of yourself and see what happens."

We've got to completely shake it up.  We've got to do something totally different than we have ever done before.  We've got to change the reasons and motivation behind all that we do.

I realized I had been going about it all wrong.  As James Allen said, if I wanted to "perfect my body" then I had to "guard my mind".  I became solely focused on identifying all the negative thoughts I was allowing myself to think and believe.  Remember the Thought Cycle (in my post "Becoming Aware")?  Sometimes I wouldn't identify that I had had a negative thought until I had experienced some negative results, but the more I stayed aware, I was soon able to identify my negative thoughts as they surfaced.  Then I would immediately go use my tools of my Little Black Book or my Write and Burn (talked about in my post "Tool One and Tool Two").  My life started to change dramatically as I paid attention to my thoughts, let go of the negative, and let the positive work its natural magic in my life.

"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results."

Just by letting go of the negative, positive was the natural result.  Happiness, peace and joy started to flow into my life.  And my negative, self-sabotaging behavior disappeared.  We often feel we have to work so hard to create positive results in our lives.  It's almost as if we are forcing the positive upon ourselves sometimes because we want it so bad.  We also worry about letting anything go because we fear the unknown.  We don't know what will become of us if we let go, even if the thing we need to let go of is negative and causes us pain.  But if we will just trust the process, focus on letting go of the negative, then positive is what we will get back.  It really is the most amazing experience!  Please just try it!  Test my theory for yourself and you will be amazed at the positive results you will start seeing in your life simply because you paid attention to your negative thoughts and got rid of them.

This is how we get our New Year's Resolutions to stick.  This is how we create permanent, lasting change in our lives.  It's all from the inside out.  I lost 30 lbs because of this approach and I have kept it off.  For me, that is a miracle because every time I lost weight in the past, I always gained it back plus some.  I know these things are truth.  I know that introspection and honesty with ourselves leads to inward change, and that is how we get the things we want out of life.  Change your thoughts, change your life!

So have a new goal this year!   Make your focus your inward health and happiness!  Let go of the negative thoughts and feelings that drive your behaviors and you will be on your way to positive, permanent change and true joy!  New Year New You!  Go make it happen!  Go . . .


Monday, October 20, 2014

What Are We Doing?

Hello friends! Yes long time no write.  Sorry.  Life has brought about some new opportunities for me that will be taking much of my time, so forgive me if my posts are sporadic.  In pondering what to write, I have had an issue present itself several times recently so I figured that was a cue to address it here in my blog.

My two teens, ages 16 and 18, had the opportunity to go to Fiji this summer with HEFY, Humanitarian Experience for Youth.  They spent 2 1/2 weeks there building septic tank toilets for families in a particular village.  They got to know the local people very well and even had the opportunity to bond with local teenagers creating friendships that will last forever.  They had a life-changing experience!

As we picked them up from the airport, their first two comments were, "I want to go back!" and "Fiji is the way the world should be."  I was curious about that last comment in particular.  They proceeded to tell us that everyone was so kind and loving there.  When they arrived at the Fiji airport, they were greeted with "hello" and "welcome" by locals who didn't even know them.  The Fijians first reaction to these Americans was immediate acceptance and love.  On the last day when my kids left the village that they had worked in, villagers they hadn't even met came up to them and hugged them, thanked them and told them they loved them.  These Fijians were just grateful to this group of youth who had served them, even if they hadn't been served personally by them.

In complete contradiction, my kids said that as soon as they stepped off the plane back into America, no one would look at them or say hi to them. They felt immediately judged and distant from the people in America. Why is our initial reaction to people one of judgement and categorization?  Now of course I am speaking generally not specifically here.  You may not fall into this generalization, but I think it is a big issue within our society and culture as a whole.  What are we doing and why?

My 14 year old daughter transferred from a public school to a charter school last year.  She was very scared and nervous about doing it, but decided to give it a try.  Within the first few weeks at the charter school, her comment to me was, "At my other school I felt that I had to be a different person for different people in order to be ok.  At this school, I feel like I can just be me and that's ok."

You can imagine how grateful and happy I was that she was ok just being herself.  Now I'm not bagging on public schools by saying this, but the point is clear.  Why are our children dealing with this kind of pressure to fit in and be what everyone else wants them to be?  Why are our children dealing with the kind of pressure that is driving them to cope through addictions, even driving some of these amazing kids to suicide?  Why do kids think bullying makes them look cool?  What's going on in our schools?  What are we doing?

I had a conversation with a mother just a day ago and she said that her 6 year old daughter was in her dance class and another girl came up to her daughter and said, "You're too fat to dance."  Again, what is going on?  These are 6 year olds!!  What are we doing?

You know my story.  The need and pressure I felt to be perfect, to please and impress those around me drove me to an eating disorder.  And that addiction and coping strategy remained with me well into my adult years.  I have met several women in their adult years who are still dealing with eating disorders, let alone girls and teenage girls who are dealing with it.  Now I don't believe the pressure I felt was strictly self-induced.  I believe society played a role and it is still playing a role today as is evidenced by the increase in those dealing with addictions, in the suicide rate, in the percentage of those getting plastic surgery on all different areas of their bodies, and of those on medications for depression.  These numbers show that we are becoming more and more obsessed with pleasing the world in order to feel accepted and less and less happy because of that.

My kids who went to Fiji would tell you that as a whole the people in Fiji were a happier people because they were not dealing with these pressures.  They accepted each other as they were and did not place any qualifications on their love for one another.  My daughter at the charter school would tell you that because of uniforms, kids at her school see each other for who they are not for what they wear or how they look.  And let me mention that this daughter at the charter school suffers from a skin condition called vitiligo where she loses skin pigment and patches of her skin become white.  She could have been crushed a long time ago thinking that she was ugly and not acceptable because of her skin.  Friends at her school tell her that her skin is awesome and it doesn't deter their love and acceptance of her.  Isn't that the way we should all be?  Aren't we all brothers and sisters here, trying to do the best we can with what cards we have been dealt?  Why are we making it harder on each other?  What are we doing to each other by buying into this mentality that how you look, what you do, what you've achieved or what you have is more important than who you are?

As I have traveled around Utah, sharing my story and speaking to different groups, as well as sharing my thoughts worldwide through this blog, I have been amazed by the comments I have received.  I have realized that I am not alone.  I was never alone.  Girls and women of all ages are telling me they can relate to my story because they too have experienced or are experiencing feelings of self-hatred, self-doubt, low self-esteem and low self-confidence in some way, shape or form.  They say how much they needed to hear my message, that beauty is not attained by meeting certain qualifications of the world, but that beauty is an inheritance.  That we were created beautiful, we are beautiful, and we will forever be beautiful simply because we exist.  These girls and women were yearning to hear a voice of light and truth amidst all the darkness, telling them that they are ok just the way they are, that they are loved and accepted regardless of how they look, what they do, what they have or what they have achieved. It truly breaks my heart that because the world is shouting so loud in our ears that we're not enough, we are having a hard time hearing that soft, gentle voice of truth tell us we are beautiful just the way we are.

I wonder if the prosperity we experience here in America has an adverse side effect.  Because we have so much of the world's goods, is it easier to judge others for what they do or don't have?  Is it easier to compare because we are so aware of what it means to have and to have not? Believe me I am guilty of judgement.  I think it is a very natural man tendency and it becomes so easy to do when we are presented 24-7 via tv, social media, the internet, magazines, etc, about what is cool and what is not, what is socially acceptable and what is not.  I suppose this is where we decide if we are going to be of the world or not.  It's a choice.  Are we going to let the world's standards and the world's qualification of beauty and acceptability determine how we treat others or how we treat ourselves?

I believe we can take a stand against this kind of societal brutality because it truly is brutal.  People are crushed every day by what someone else says or does to them.  I'm fully aware that my blog is about not playing the victim, taking back our own power and not letting what the world or what other people say and do affect how we perceive ourselves.  But I also believe there has to be a push from the other side.  There has to be a reality check on what we are thinking and believing, doing and saying to others that may drive them to believe that who they are is not ok.  I believe taking a stand begins within our own hearts and minds.  It doesn't begin by telling other people how to change and be different.  It begins by changing ourselves.

You've read my posts about the thought cycle, that what we think and believe is the root of all we feel and do, and even determines the results we receive in life.  So what do we think and believe?  What kind of pressures are we putting on ourselves?  I challenge you to be real and investigate your own mind.  Are you falling prey to this worldly mentality that beauty is what the world says it is?  That to be ok you need to be what the world says is ok?  If you have bought into that mentality, don't beat yourself up.  Acknowledge it and then use one of your tools, or use mine that I have talked about in earlier posts, and get rid of it.  Let go of it!  Not only does that mentality negatively affect you, but it also affects those around you.  Your children, your relatives, your neighbors and friends, your coworkers and associates.  Our inward beliefs and thoughts are more outwardly visible than we think.  Our beliefs are seen in all we do and say.  James Allen said:

"Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life.  Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance."

So take care of you first.  Deal with your own mind first, then when you are clear you will be a powerful tool to help those around you become clear.  That is how we take a stand.

Now I am fully aware that there is a flip side to this coin.  I know that Satan is real and I know that he is waging an all out war against all of us in this day and age.  Because he doesn't have a physical body, he uses whatever means possible to get us to destroy ours or to place overemphasis and hyper-focus on the body.  He is using our physical body and natural man tendencies to create the belief that we are not ok unless the world says we are.  He says we are not ok unless we fit a certain mold--a certain body type, certain talents and gifts, certain personalities and characteristics, certain likes and dislikes.  We have to look the part and act the part or we're not good enough.  So if we are not becoming aware of how Satan attacks us personally, we will lose this battle.  It wasn't until I recognized and faced my weakness that I learned how to turn it into a strength.  With God's direction and guidance, strength and help, I was empowered to make my weak things become strong.  Now I have forced Satan to come at me head on instead of allowing him to sneak through the backdoor or side window where he would catch me fully unaware.  Being aware is the key.  Identify your weakness and turn to God for strength.  Let go of self-defeating thoughts and embrace the positives of who you are and what God created you to be.  What are your strengths and talents?  Where and with who does God need your influence?  Let that be your focus because when we focus on the positive, that is what we get back.

Remember these verses in the New Testament:

"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:36-39).

Three things stand out to me from these verses.  First of all these are commandments not suggestions.  If we want to be happy then we need to love and obey God.  God obviously knows more than us and He has given us countless opportunities to trust Him and follow Him.  He gives us commandments because He loves us and wants us to be happy.  I know that when we obey God, we will be led to that peace and joy we are seeking.  Please go read or listen to Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk from the Women's General Broadcast of the LDS church.  It is inspired of God and speaks to this topic.  Click here to either read or watch it.

Secondly, Christ talks about the heart, the soul, and the mind.  If you've been reading my blog, then you know everything we do begins with what we believe and think in our heart and mind.  So what do you believe and think?  Is it in accordance with the first great commandment?  Your acts reveal where your heart and mind is at.  Thirdly, how can we love others if we don't first have love for ourselves?  We can't give that which we don't have.  If you are filled with judgement and criticism for yourself, then that is what you will give to others.  If you are filled with love and forgiveness for yourself, then that is what you will give to others.  What are you giving to others?

I encourage you to examine how you feel and what you believe about yourself.  Through that understanding and awareness comes the key to not only loving yourself more fully, but loving others more fully.  Remember we are all here on this earth trying to do the best we can with the lives we have been given.  May we give ourselves a break and then extend that benefit of the doubt to others.  May we love each other more, accept each other more, and extend more kindness and service to each other more.  That is how we create more peace on this earth.  And it all begins inside each one of us.  This is truth my friends.  So go be.YOU.tiful and let's change the world!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Take a Stand Against the World and be.YOU.tiful!!

I was inspired to write this post when I saw an incredible song and video by Colbie Caillat called "Try".  Go here to check it out!  It's amazing!

I love music, especially music that empowers us to be true to ourselves and happy with who we are.  That's why I am just so impressed with singer/songwriters who are speaking out against the pressures of the world on girls and women to be other than what they really are.  Being in the limelight that they are in and in the career that they are in, heaven knows there must be tons of pressure to epitomize what is "beautiful" as defined by the world.  I'm sure they have had to take a stand in their own way to even get these songs recorded and released.  And as hard as it may be to get these songs out there, they tend to be the most popular songs because girls and women everywhere are seeking for and yearning for validation that they are good enough, that they are beautiful enough, that they are acceptable enough.  So props to you Colbie Caillat for speaking up and speaking out against the philosophy of the world!  Against all the pressures to put on tons of make-up, get fake lashes, get permanent make-up, change our hair color, increase the size of our breasts, decrease the size of our waists, get rid of cellulite, be tan, be skinny, wear only designer clothes, wear revealing clothes, be sexy, and on and on.  It really is sad because when we hear it all of the time, we then start believing that in order to be ok or pretty we have to meet those qualifications.  It's a lie my friends!  Please see it for what it is!  It is Satan trying to drag us all down and stop us from making a difference.  He wants to stop us because he knows how powerful we really are!  He also knows that not only will we never meet all the expectations of the world, but we'll never find joy doing it.  Finding joy does not come by matching up to the standards of the world.  If we are constantly trying to be what the world says is "in", we will constantly fall short.  The world's standards will forever be changing because Satan directs the ways of the world.  He wants us all confused, discouraged, depressed and miserable.  He wants us to always feel less than and not good enough, therefore his ways will always be changing so that we will ceaselessly compare ourselves to others.  He is always trying to convince us that we need to change something about ourselves in order to be ok because he knows by doing that we will become increasingly more miserable.  The ways of the world are the ways of despair.

On the other hand, God's ways are unchanging.  His law and His truth is the same always and forever.  When we listen to God, not only do we find truth, but we find joy and we gain power.  Joy comes by liking ourselves and being true to who God created us to be.  I love that line in Colbie Caillat's song where she asks, "Do you like you?"  That is the question!  That is what your happiness begins with!  Approval from the world does not bring joy.  Only approval from God and yourself!  Do you like yourself?  When you can accept who God created you to be, you will find joy.  When you believe you are enough just because you're you, you will find happiness.  When you are true to you, you will be powerful!!!

So stand up and stand against the ways of the world!  Speak up for the worth and value of girls and women who are beautiful, unique, and invaluable simply because they exist!  Stand against the world by being true to you!  Be an example to the young women around you, to your friends, to your daughters, to your neighbors' and friends' daughters, to your nieces, to your sisters.  Be a bright light in this dark world that says, "Be you and be happy!"

Here is my list of other empowering, girl power songs by pop singer/songwriters who have spoken out against the philosophy of the world to "fit in", or fall in I should say.  Because that's what happens when we succumb to the pressures of the world, we fall.

Props to these singer/songwriters for using their talents to proclaim "Just be your beautiful, real you!"  And please make a comment on my post and let me know of other songs you have found that speak out for the worth, beauty and value of girls and women.  I want to know them all!!!

"Perfect" by Pink (Please disregard the bad word in the song title.  Get the clean version.  It's
              nowhere in that version.)
"Firework" by Katy Perry
"Roar" by Katy Perry
"Brave" by Sarah Bareilles
"King of Anything" by Sarah Bareilles
"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield
"Pretty Hurts" by Beyonce
"Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato
"Who Says" by Selena Gomez
"Let it Go" by Idina Menzel (Frozen)
"Dig a Little Deeper" by Jenifer Lewis (Princess and the Frog)
"Video" by India Arie
"Beautiful Flower" by India Arie
"I Am Not My Hair" by India Arie
"I Choose" by India Arie
"There's Hope" by India Arie
"Who You Are" by Jessie J
"Price Tag" by Jessie J
"Happy" by Leona Lewis
"Wings" by Little Mix
"I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross
"I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor
"Defying Gravity" from the play Wicked
"Beautiful for Me" by Mercy River

Use this music to empower, uplift, motivate and inspire you on your down days.  Remember you are beautiful simply because you are you!  The only qualification you need is to exist!
So go . . .


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Video Presentation

Wowsers!  School is out and we're already weeks into summer!!  Where did that year go?  Life has now officially slowed down a little so I hope to resume activity on this blog.  Thank you for your patience!  I'm so grateful to all of you for reading my posts!  I plan to continue with this blog and hope to have valuable things to share with you in the future.

I had the amazing blessing and opportunity to speak to a large gathering of around 700 women recently.  This presentation was what kept me busy for 4 months which is why I didn't post anything here during that time.  My presentation was entitled "What is Grace?"  You all know that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints so yes my talk was geared towards Jesus Christ and how His grace takes us from surviving to thriving.  I have a firm belief that embracing who we truly are while also uniting with God is how we create the peace and happiness in our life that we are searching for.  If you are not LDS, please don't turn away.  The truths I talk about can help anyone heal from anything because it is truth.  I was able to video it, so I invite you to check it out by clicking here.  Be prepared for my leaky eyes as well as a leaky nose. ;)  My emotions and feelings surfaced because of the nature of what I was speaking about.

Please open your mind and heart to the things I say and pay attention to how you feel as you listen.  Positive, good, powerful emotion comes when you open yourself to really hearing truth.  I know that the things I say are truth because they are the things that set me free from a 22-year-long eating disorder.  "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).  Truth can set any of us free if we are willing to embrace it and do what it takes to make it work for us in our lives.

There are a couple slides that are in my presentation that get cut off a little so I am including them here. You will recognize them because I have used them previously in my blog, but I have changed them a little.

So go watch my presentation and please let me know what you think!  Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions!  And most importantly …


Monday, March 24, 2014

Back to Basics Part Two

So in my previous post, I discussed the first two truths that need to be understood and incorporated into our lives not only for permanent healing to occur, but in order to create true peace and happiness in our lives. Truth #1 was becoming aware of our thoughts and Truth #2 was identifying the negative and letting it go.  So here's the next step.

Well, what is truth?  All truth comes from God which is why . . .

That is absolutely the truth!  Understanding, believing, accepting and acting on truth is what makes us free.  There is so much truth out there in this world and I believe when we hear or understand truth, we feel it in our soul.  But I think we sometimes fail to understand basic truths.  For example, do we know who we really are and where we came from?

I grew up knowing I was a child of God.  I read my scriptures.  I said my prayers.  I went to church.  But I don't think I "understood, believed, and accepted this truth and lived by it."  Because I despised myself so much growing up, I was basically throwing this truth back in God's face.  I was literally saying to God, "I hate who You made me to be.  How could You have made me so terribly awful?"  I did not truly understand, believe, and accept who I really was.  What is so interesting is that after all those years of believing I was so imperfect therefore I wasn't loved or accepted, I have come to realize that God really did make me perfect.  He gave me my weaknesses and strengths, my flaws and my gifts for a particular reason and purpose.  And all of the experiences I have had and will have in my life, good or bad, happy or sad, are for a particular reason and purpose too.  God's plan for me and my life is perfect because it is designed to give me every opportunity to become the greatest version of me possible.  Opportunity is the key word there.  It is up to us whether we look at life, the good and bad, happy and sad, as opportunities for growth and progression or as justifications and excuses to feel like a victim.  I can choose to be mad at God for my life and who I am, or I can choose to accept it, run with it, and become a better, happier person because of it.  The problem isn't in my creation, it's in how I view my creation.  In the words of one of my favorite books:

God did not mess up when He created us.  Quite the contrary.  In His omniscience and unconditional love for each one of us, He gave us everything we would need, weaknesses and strengths, good times and hard times, in order to help us become our brightest, most brilliant, beautiful, powerful self.  The analogy of us to a diamond epitomizes this truth.

The creation of a diamond has so many similarities to our own creation.  Read this description of a diamond's creation and think about how it applies to our own.

The natural flaws that are found in diamonds are actually the inclusions of trace minerals and composites that were present in the area during the time of the natural formation process of the precious gemstone millions of years ago.

Just as diamonds were created millions of years ago, so were we.  Just as these "precious gemstones" had weaknesses included in their formation, so did we.  But their flaws don't make them any less beautiful.  Read this next description of a diamond's flaws and think about how it relates to us.

Many natural flaws can be discovered inside the formation of a diamond. Under the inspection process, these precious gemstones are considered imperfect. Most diamond flaws that occur during the formation of the diamond naturally are not visible to the naked eye and will rarely hinder its market value.  Rarely, is a diamond graded as 'no flaw' and, to find one on the market would be an even rarer find.

Isn't it so true that we magnify our own weaknesses and flaws when in reality most people don't even notice or pay attention to them?  In fact, most people are looking at our strengths, talents and gifts.  I love this quote:

We wouldn't worry so much about what people thought of us if we realized how little they do.

We are our own worst critic.  We judge ourselves by our flaws instead of our strengths.  We compare our weaknesses to others' strengths and then feel not good enough.  We can work on and try to improve or change our flaws, but making them our focus is not what we want to do.  This is one of Satan's tools to drag us down that negative spiral.  Our worth is not dependent on any worldly scale.  No matter how much we magnify our flaws in our own eyes, that doesn't change our "market value".  Our flaws don't negate our worth!  In fact, our flaws add to our worth because they make us different and unique from anyone else.  We have value and great worth simply because we exist and because we were created by a divine, perfect Being.  Our existence further proves God's limitless love for each one of us.  It means He used His precious energy and time to create us all different and unique from each other.  None of us are without flaws and none of us are the same.  We were born to be different!  Aren't we grateful for that?  How boring would this world be if we were all the same and we were all flawless?   We are all imperfect, and yet our flaws are part of the reason we are each precious, beautiful, special, and highly valuable!

There are many other ways that we are similar to a diamond.

What do you see in this picture?  All these diamonds are different . . . sizes.  Would we look at the smallest diamond and say it isn't beautiful?  I don't think so.  Yes, most of us want the big honkers on our finger, but I believe most of us would say that the smallest diamond is just as beautiful as the big one.

Here we see diamonds come in different . . . shapes.  We all have our preference of what shape of diamond we like, but I don't think any of us would say the teardrop diamond is any more or less beautiful than the round.  We too are all different shapes and sizes and we are all beautiful and perfect just the way we are because that's the way we were created by a perfect God.

Diamonds are also all different . . . colors.  Are we not too?  Not only can our skin, our hair, and our eyes be different colors, but aren't our personalities all different colors too?  These differences were given to us by a divine, all-knowing God on purpose, for a purpose, with a purpose.  So let me ask you:

Why are we letting the world define what is beautiful and what is not, what is "in" and what is not?  Why are we trying to fit the mold the world tells us is acceptable when we are quite literally not of this world?  We can't be a teardrop diamond when we were created to be a round.  We can't be a pink diamond when we were created to be a blue one.  We can't be a small diamond when we were created to be a large one.  And yet we get it into our heads that in order to be ok, we have to be what the world tells us to be.  We try and we try to change who we are physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally in order to be accepted in this world.  But does that endeavor ever make us happier?  Does that effort ever give us peace and joy?  Please be honest with yourself.  I believe I can accurately state that the answer to that is NO!  Why?  Because I did it for 22 years and it never brought me happiness, peace or joy.  We are not of this world!  We are not our bodies.  We are not our jobs.  We are not our houses or our clothes or our cars.  We are our spirits!  We were created spiritually by a loving Heavenly Father long before we were created physically.  And in that creation, we were each made different from each other.  There is no one mold to try and fit into.  There isn't only one version of beautiful.  The world wants to tell us there is by saying Jennifer Lopez or Gwyneth Paltrow is the most beautiful woman in the world.  But God doesn't say that.  He says for as many children as He has created, there are that many versions of beautiful.  I've had the opportunity to travel to a lot of places in my life and I've had people ask me what is the most beautiful place I have been to.  In all honesty I reply, "I can't say which place is more beautiful than any other.  There's no comparison.  They are all just different kinds of beautiful."  So now you know why my favorite word is "be.YOU.tiful".  The sooner we learn to embrace and accept our own beautiful, who we were created to be, recognizing the lies the world and Satan are trying to deceive us with, the sooner we will find happiness and peace.

So let's focus on our strengths, the positives of who we are, instead of magnifying our flaws.  What are your strengths?  What are your gifts and talents that were given to you spiritually before you were born physically?  Take time to identify them because that is who you really are!  For those of you who are LDS, a great source for identifying who you really are is your patriarchal blessing.  You can also ponder and meditate, taking time to be quiet and think about who you are.  What do you love to do?  What are you passionate about?  What do you get excited about?  Those things define who you really are!  And when you choose to act on who you really are, the joy you will feel will be out of this world!  There is no earthly, worldly, temporary, or momentary joy that can ever compare to the true, lasting, real joy that comes as a reward from God for being who He created you to be.

Through God our joy is full, not through the world.  God asks us to not let our focus be on our body and the things of the world, but on refining and beautifying our spirit, our soul, because He knows that's where real joy comes from.  And that's what I am suggesting to you too.  When our focus is outward at the body or our status or place in the world, we draw away from God and become more susceptible to the enticements, temptations, and deceptions of Satan which only brings us misery and sorrow if we succumb to them.  True joy and peace comes from looking inward at the soul, letting go of the negative while embracing and acting on the positive.  As we take care of the soul, we draw closer to God who created our beautiful soul and then He rewards us with His true, lasting, real peace and joy.  And isn't that what we are all searching for?  Isn't that what our ultimate desire is . . .  to be truly happy and at peace?  This is the way my friends.  This is the way.

In that last scripture, we are also told to "seek the face of the Lord always" which leads right into the final key truth.

In seeking the face of the Lord always, we unite with Him and when we unite with God, "all things are possible".  I love this next quote:

God is not focused on our past deeds or mistakes.  He only sees where we are now and then looks for a willing heart that is ready to team up with Him and trust Him in order to move forward and accomplish incredible things.  Let me illustrate this for you.

So often in our lives we do what is shown in the above diagram.  We want what we want and we feel that the only way we are going to get it is if we work tirelessly, using our precious time, energy, and resources to make it happen.  Now I'm not saying we're not supposed to work.  I'm just suggesting a different kind of work.  There is a better way which allows us to use our time and energy much more productively.  A way which is much more efficient, rewarding and fulfilling.  This is how it looks:

Instead of working so hard to get the money, resources and people to come our way, God asks us to trust in Him to make that happen.  And that's why the arrow is now pointed up towards God instead of towards the money, resources and people.  Notice if we are willing to do our part by working one side of the triangle, God is willing to work the other two sides.  Talk about mercy and grace!  So what is our work?  What do we need to do to make this happen?  The first element of our work is that of letting go of the negative, just as I've stated before.  The beauty of this is that when we have the faith to let go, trusting in God's timing, in His perfect plan, and in His omniscience, He sends the money, resources and people to us.  Then the second part of our work comes into play.  When we receive these things, or when we receive inspiration or direction from God, we go and do.  We act on the positive again just as I've stated before.  All He is asking us to do is trust Him and instead of being focused on getting what we want, be focused on saying, "Thy will not mine be done".  But I think we get confused as to what this really means.  God is not asking us to give up who we are and what we love.  He is asking us to give up what's keeping us from being who we really are.

God has asked us to give to Him "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (3 Nephi 9:20).  This is absolute vulnerability.  Having a "broken heart and a contrite spirit" means we are humble and teachable.  It means we have done the work to look inward, to face the demons inside, to let go of the negative in our past or present.  It means to give up whatever it may be that is protecting us from our past, keeping us safe, or helping us escape our present painful reality whether that's addiction in whatever shape or form it may be, anger or resentment, guilt or shame, etc.  Anything and everything!  Then it means we recognize the power God has to fill the empty spaces that are left behind as a result of letting go.  It means we recognize that He knows a whole lot more than we do and that if we are going to make it, we need His grace and mercy.  It means we are willing to trust in His desire for our happiness, and in His perfect plan not only for all of us as His children, but for each one of us personally.  It means we give up the control.  We let go and we let God.

I love that quote!  We are not surrendering who we are or what our dreams and desires are.  We are surrendering the control of them.  And when we have the faith, the trust, and the willingness to do that, we will be absolutely amazed and blown away at the outcome!  I cannot even express how in awe I am at the detailed, precise, beautiful way God has granted me the desires of my heart.  In sacrificing my will for His, I have been blessed with amazing opportunities and experiences.  Not just in a spiritual way, but also in a temporal, physical, monetary way.  Everything has just fallen into perfect place.  Another favorite quote:

If you put God first in your life, everything else will either fall into place or fall out of importance in your life.

The result of having the attitude of "Thy will not mine be done" has had nothing to do with God trying to make me someone other than I am.  Rather, He has magnified, enhanced and made me more ME than I could have ever been through my own effort or will.  I am more ME than I have ever been in my life and it's because I have surrendered my will to His.  Together we are doing some amazing things!  And I don't say that to boast.  I say that fully acknowledging that I could not be who I am today without the grace and mercy of God.  Now I am not saying I am perfect.  I am not saying my life is perfect and without pain or trials.  I still slip and fall.  I still have my hard times.  But despite what may happen to me or around me, because I have incorporated this way of thinking and acting into my way of life, I experience peace and joy the majority of the time.  And that's the goal.  As you make this new way of living YOUR way of living, you will experience peace and joy the majority of the time. God is so good and I know it is His greatest desire to grant each of us every righteous desire of our hearts.  He says, "…prove me now herewith…if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (3 Nephi 24:10). But we have to be willing to let go, to trust Him, to give up the control, to follow Him, and to do and be what He has created us to do and be.

I see it like this.  Back to my diamond analogy.  My absolute favorite characteristic about a diamond is its ability to refract light.

Pure, white light comes in from above and a beautiful array of colored light refracts out.  The exact same thing can happen with us, but it can only happen if we allow it.  If we are dark and filled with negativity then our light is dimmed and we don't shine.  It's like we've taken our beautiful, sparkling, brilliant diamond and rolled it around in the mud of this world, covering it with layer upon layer of dirt so it no longer shines or can even be seen at all.  Only when we look inward and allow ourselves to shed those layers of mud will we uncover and reveal our beautiful diamond again.

God wants us to shine!  He wants the real, beautiful, unique, special diamond that we are to not only be seen, but to be brilliantly bright and powerful!  He wants us to receive of the joy that comes from being true to who we really are!  But I also believe that we can't be the most beautiful, brilliant version of ourselves without the pure, white light of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  His light is the white light that comes down from above, but His light can only penetrate us when we are open and have made room within our souls to receive it.  I believe that when we are filled with positive and are open to receiving His pure, white light into our hearts and souls, then we have the ability to refract that light to all those around us in a beautiful array of colors that represent who we uniquely are.  And when we do that, when we couple our beautiful, sparkling diamond with Christ's pure, white light, the power we will have to shine and make a difference in this world is beyond anything we could do or even imagine doing through our own efforts or devices.

And that's exactly what happens!  I have experienced it in my life and it is awe-inspiring and humbling!  God wants us to be happy!  He wants to bless us with joy and peace!  But it is a choice.

"But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.  Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
2 Nephi 2:24-25

The key phrase is "might have joy".  The word "might" shows our agency and our part in creating joy in our lives.  We have to choose the path that will make it happen.

There is no way to happiness.  Happiness is the way.

And that way is being true to the glory of God that is within us, letting our light shine so we can then help others allow their own light to shine.  That is where true peace and joy comes from!

So uncover your beautiful diamond!  Be aware of what's going on in your mind.  Let go of all the negative thoughts and feelings that are trying to drag you down, hold you back, and cover you in the dirt and mud of the world.  Remember you are not of this world!  You were created by God who loves you and wants you to be happy!  So identify who He created you to be!  Identify your gifts, your strengths, all the positives of who you are and then act on them.  Embrace your own beautiful and let it shine!  Couple your unique, special, brilliant diamond with the light of Christ and not only will you find unimaginable joy and peace, but you will be a powerful force for good, bringing a rainbow of light into this darkened world!

Go shine on you crazy diamond!  And . . .


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Back to Basics

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and holiday season!  2014 is now here!  A new year and maybe a new you!  I feel January and February can be two of the hardest months of the year.  There is not much to look forward to and its just back to the daily grind.  Depression can set in after coming off such a huge holiday season with so much of family, food, friends and festivities.  How do we stay positive and happy despite what may be going on around us?  What can we do to keep depression from overpowering us this year?

A new year is also a time of new beginnings.  We set goals for the new year getting ourselves back to doing what we really want to do and being who we really want to be.  So what are your personal goals for the year?  Do you have a desire to change something in your life in order to be happier, more content, and more at peace?  If you do, let me exclaim from personal experience that the only way to permanently change yourself is by looking inside.  So many of us begin each new year with the goal of losing weight, getting more fit, or eating better.  These are great goals but we often go about accomplishing them in the wrong way.  Three months down the road we give up because we are not seeing the results we want or it's just too hard.  Soon after that we start gaining the weight back and reverting to old habits.  So how do we change it for good?  How do we create a new lifestyle without feeling such intense resistance to change?

The answer to all of these questions is to look inside.  Permanent change and lasting happiness comes from the inside out.

I had the opportunity of speaking at a women's conference a couple weekends ago sharing what I have taught on this blog, but in a very concise, basic way.  A sweet woman commented to me that I should put my presentation up on my blog.  I thought that was a fantastic idea.  I have used this blog to dive into each of the different concepts and truths of healing which of course I feel is needed, but I would like to take this post to bring us back to the basics and refocus us on what really needs to happen if we want to have positive, permanent change and happiness in our lives.  For those of you who have been reading my blog, consider this post as a reminder and a refresher of HOW to be on the path of true healing.  And to all of you, my friends, at the beginning of this new year, let's get back to basics - back to the essential, core truths that allow us to permanently heal in order to have the peace and happiness we are searching for.

The title for my presentation was:

I love that title because it is so true!  How many times have we felt we had to be superwoman in our lives in order to get everything done that was expected of us and how many times did we feel like it was impossible?  Well it is impossible because Wonder Woman isn't real!  We need to be asking ourselves a different question.  Instead of how can I be superwoman, the question needs to be what expectations and pressures am I placing ON MYSELF that make me feel like I am not good enough or that I can't do it all.  We need to simplify our lives AND simplify our minds.

At this point in my presentation, I told my story.  If you've been reading my blog, you know my story.  If you haven't read my first post entitled "My Story" please go read that before reading on here.  Basically, I put a ton of pressure on myself to be perfect because I believed that I had to be perfect in order to be loved and accepted.  And who doesn't want to be loved and accepted?  It's a basic need we all have.  However, I went about trying to satiate this need in the wrong way and that wrong way drove me into a 22 year long eating disorder filled with depression and despair.  I tried so many things during those 22 years to escape my addiction and the constant self-sabotage I inflicted upon myself, but none of those things brought me the freedom, peace and happiness I was looking for.  At the age of 37, I was led to a mentor who taught me that nothing outside of myself was going to give me that peace and happiness.  The only way to fix me was for me to fix me - to go inside, face the darkness and the demons that held me in bondage then let them go.  These next two quotes are some of my favorites because they are two of the things I had to recognize in order to start the process of true healing.

So are you ready?  Do you acknowledge these things?  As soon as you are ready to accept your role in your own peace and happiness, then you are ready for this path of true healing.

The truths I learned that allowed me to heal were very basic, but very powerful.

Truth #1:

This is absolutely critical which is why it is #1.  Let me ask you a question.  Do our thoughts define who we are?  In many of my presentations, I have gotten both yes and no answers.  And they are both right.  Let me explain.  I love this following quote:

This is truth!  We are not our thoughts because our thoughts come from everywhere.  They come from Satan and God, but also from friends, family, the media and the world.  Just because a thought comes into our head does not make it true about us.  So how do we reconcile the truth that we are not our thoughts with this following scripture:

When a thought comes into our mind, we immediately have to make a choice either to accept it is true about us or dismiss it.  When we accept a thought to be true about us, it becomes something we believe in our hearts.  This scripture says "in his heart".  It doesn't say "as he thinketh in his mind" or just "as he thinketh".  That phrase "in his heart" is extremely important to understand.  We are not our thoughts, but we are the thoughts we choose to accept and believe in our hearts to be true about us.  Another amazing quote:

I love that last phrase that we will be "what we consistently allow to occupy the stage of our minds."  It is a choice.  It is our choice.  Here's another one of my favorite quotes about our thoughts:

We control who we become through our thoughts.  So how does this happen?  How do the thoughts we choose to believe become who we are?  This illustration shows the process:

A thought leads to a feeling which leads to an action which leads to a result which leads back to a thought.  If I wake up and look in the mirror and I have the thought not only come to my mind, but which I also believe of "I am so ugly", what am I going to feel?  Probably ugly.  Probably a bit depressed and discouraged.  Well, what will my action then be?  I'll use an example from my own life because I definitely believed I was ugly.  I would then act ugly, being impatient with my kids and rude to my husband.  So what would my result be?  I pushed the people away from me that I wanted to be loved and accepted by the most.  Why would they want to be around me if I was irritable, snippy, and mean?  Then of course more thoughts started to rise of "Nobody loves me" or "Nobody wants to be around me".  And this cycle just continued as I spiraled down to my pit of depression and despair.  That spiral looks like this:

Obviously it can also happen in the opposite direction.  With a positive thought, we spiral up to joy, enlightenment, freedom and love.  The nature of our thoughts drives the direction of our spiral.  Negative thoughts lead us down to depression, grief, and despair.  But the beautiful thing is that we have the power to stop that from happening.  We have the power to spiral up in a positive direction, but we have to choose to do the work in order to make it happen.

So to sum it up:

Why will we perish?  Well, because if we don't watch our thoughts, negative thoughts will have free rein and soon we will find ourselves spiraling down and down to that pit of depression and despair where Satan takes hold of our souls.  I know it sounds very doomsday-ish but it is true.  Satan is real and he is waging an all out war.  We have to watch our thoughts or Satan wins.

It really is up to us.  The only way Satan gets control is if we let him.  How can we defeat him if we are unaware of how he's attacking us?  One of the things that has occurred to me lately is that it is quite obvious how Satan is attacking us on the outside.  With all the different issues that are out there in the world, we can see how Satan and his minions are trying to degrade and corrupt all virtue, morality or standards that exist in the world.  The war he is waging on us through the media and the internet can be easily seen.  But the war he is waging in our minds is not so easily seen.  We can be fairly oblivious to the thoughts that Satan plants in our minds that cause us to then feel and act negatively.  It is up to us to be aware and only then can we win this war being waged in the privacy of our own minds.

Truth #2:

I love that quote!  Because we live in this mortal, fallen world, we will always have negative influences coming at us.  Many of those influences we may not have power to stop, but we absolutely have the power to choose what we do with those influences and what thoughts we will allow to take up permanent residence in our minds.

This following diagram shows a typical person who is fairly balanced with positive and negative.  But being balanced is not necessarily ideal.  When asked how life is, this person would respond, "Oh life is fine.  It's ok.  Not super great, but not terrible either."  I promise you life can be better than just ok.

This next diagram shows the negative influences that are continually coming at us.

Logically, if we are constantly letting more and more negative come in, then something is going to happen to that +/- line.  It rises because we are being filled with more negative.

At this point, the +/- line has risen to this person's shoulders.  Her arms have dropped a little with that increase of the negative burden within her.  She might say "I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders" or "I feel so burdened with life." This signifies that her negative level is at her shoulders.

If the negative continues to flow in, her negative level will continue to rise.  Now it's at her eyes or her forehead.  She might say "I can't even see straight" or "I'm losing my mind".  Her arms have continued to fall.

And now she has gotten to the dangerous point where her negative level has completely engulfed her.  At this point she may say, "I'm completely overwhelmed that I can't function" or "I'm drowning".  Her arms have no life or energy.  They are completely down by her sides because life is too heavy.  This is also the point where some may consider suicide.  They are completely filled to capacity with negative and they don't see a way out.

At this point, one of three things happens.  I love analogies so here are three analogies, all having to do with water, that can help us understand what happens when we are drowning in the negative.

Obviously, this is a dam.  What has to be built into a dam in order to keep the water pressure from building up to a point where the dam would rupture and burst?  There's an outlet right?  If you look down at the bottom right of the dam you can see the small outlet that is constantly letting water flow out to keep the water pressure from becoming too great.  Do you see the connection?  We have to have an outlet!  We have to constantly release the negative that comes at us or we will get to a bursting point.  I have been there.  Because I let negative pressure continue to build inside of me, I would lose it.  I would rupture and burst.  The negative had to be released somehow and because I didn't do it myself through a healthy outlet, it came out in bursts of anger and rage.  Not a point we want to get to.  We need an outlet.

Analogy #2 - This is a picture of the Dead Sea.  I've had the opportunity to visit the Dead Sea twice in my life, most recently in February of 2012 with my husband and my parents.  As you can see, it's a beautiful lake.  The water is so blue and calm.  But I think you know enough about the Dead Sea to know that it is extremely salty and that no living thing can survive in its waters.  Go read my post "Letting Go" to learn of some interesting facts about the Dead Sea.  Here is a close up of the shore:

The salt in the water has completely covered everything touching it.  So why is the Dead Sea dead?  Because it has no outlet.  The Jordan River flows into it, but no river flows out.  Everything that comes into the Dead Sea sits stagnant and gets more acidic and more toxic.  So can you see the parallel?  Another thing that can happen to us when we are drowning in the negative is that we die inside.  We become apathetic, depressed and have no energy or desire to do anything, even to live.  We need a way for the negative to flow back out instead of sitting stagnant within us disabling any positive emotion or energy from having the chance to thrive and grow.  We need an outlet.

This final analogy has to do with an experiment done by a gentleman named Masaru Emoto.  He took bottles of water and spoke to the bottles using positive and negative words.  He also played positive and negative music to the bottles or just taped positive or negative words onto the bottles.  He then froze the water bottles after they had been influenced by either positive or negative energy.  Finally, he took microscopic images of the frozen water crystals to see if water reacted to positive and negative influences.  What he discovered was amazing!  Take a look at this following slide:

Amazing right?!  Whether words were spoken, sung, or written, water physically changed at a basic cellular level in reaction to the positive or negative energy it was influenced by.  My friends, this world is over 70% water.  Our bodies are over 70% water.  If we are allowing negative influences to fill our minds and hearts, then we are damaging our body at a cellular level.  I have a very strong belief that our bodies and spirits are one.  If we are hurting one, then we will hurt the other.  Our negative thoughts about ourselves or our world are affecting us physically whether we think they are or not.  So the other outcome from being filled with negative?  The negative is then released as sickness, malfunction, disease, pain, weight gain, etc. within our bodies.  Now I know that some illnesses just happen.  I am not saying that there is nothing to be said for genetics and heredity, but I am saying there is a huge correlation between how healthy our mind is and how healthy our body is.  We need an outlet for the negative because if we don't release it, it can come out adversely affecting the health and wellness of our physical bodies.

So in order to prevent one of these three outcomes from happening, we need to let the negative go.  These next slides show what happens when we use an outlet (represented by the green arrows) to release the negative pressure building up inside of us.

The negative level starts to lower thus making room for the positive.  Arms lift a little.

A little more.

A little more.

We gain more and more positive until we are filled to overflowing and our arms are raised up high because we feel full of life, energy, joy and peace.  It is possible my friends!  I testify it is because I am living it!  That doesn't mean I don't have my moments.  Satan will never stop trying to tear me down and there will still be times that he succeeds, but it is up to me how long I let him keep me down.  Because I now know how to deal with those moments, by using my tools and letting go of the negative, I can cycle through those difficult times in as little as 7 minutes.  Now that is a big deal to me because I used to spend months down in that pit of despair.  I believed I was doomed to a life of depression and sadness, never permanently pulling out of it, never feeling lasting joy and peace.  But I was wrong.  Because I was willing to do the work, I enabled myself to feel that joy and peace I so desperately yearned for.  It takes work.  It requires our constant commitment to being aware of our thoughts and being willing to face the negative no matter how hard or painful it may be.  It is not an easy path, but it is worth every effort, every heartbreak, every tear, and every ounce of strength and focus we can muster.  Just because Satan gets us down doesn't mean we have to stay there.  There is a way out and it's up to us to choose that way, to walk that path and work to make peace and happiness become a reality in our own lives.

Now I wanted to point out one more thing about that last slide.  Notice what happens to the arrows of the negative influences coming at us - they bounce right off.  Because we are so filled with the positive, the negative has a much harder time getting in.  Now like I just said, the negative will still get in every once in awhile.  We are human and that's going to be part of our human experience until the day we die.  We need to expect that to happen.  However, we can live in this positive place the majority of the time.  Those arrows of negativity can bounce off of us the majority of the time if we are filled with positive by using our outlets to let go of the negative.  Now just as a reminder, this same concept happens in reverse too.  When we are filled with negative, it's the positive arrows that bounce off of us and have a harder time getting in.  Think about it in your own life.  Can you remember a time where someone paid you a compliment about how nice you looked and your reply was, "Oh no!  I look terrible today!  I'm having a total bad hair day!  I didn't have enough time to get my makeup done the way I should have.  I'm breaking out all over and I really hate this outfit.  If only I had more time and money I would dress as cute as you do."  Remember my quote at the very beginning, "Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have."  We make peace with who we are by letting go of the negative, by constantly being aware of what's going on in our mind and using our outlets to get rid of the lies and the untruths that Satan is trying to get us to believe.

This scripture sums it up:

What this scripture tells me is that it is our natural condition in this fallen world to be affected by mortal feelings of hatred, jealousy, anger, etc.  Feelings are just feelings.  Those feelings are part of our earthly experience.  But Satan plants thoughts into our heads of judgement, shame, and guilt for having those feelings.  We hear the thoughts, "I am so terrible for feeling this way.  I am so bad.  How could I think and feel such a thing?"  And we believe them.  Then our belief takes us down that negative spiral I talked about earlier.  We have to guard our thoughts.  As this scripture says, we have to yield "to the enticings of the Holy Spirit."  Well, what does the Holy Spirit entice us with?  TRUTH!  We have to yield to truth!  And then put off the natural man, which I believe can also be phrased as letting go of our negative, natural man feelings and thoughts.  We need to let go.  We need to use our outlets if we want to escape Satan's chains that pull us down into sorrow and misery.  Remember, Satan wants all of us to be miserable like himself . . . and he will try every trick to get us there.  But we were born with the power to defeat him.  We just have to recognize that and access that power.  Being aware of him in our heads and letting go of his deceptions and lies is how we do it . . . plus a couple of other things that I will get into in my next post.

One more analogy about this truth of letting go.

How fast do you think this gal is moving when she is attached to this big trailer full of negativity - past hurts, past offenses, past negative experiences and beliefs?  Not very fast right?  Another one of my favorite quotes is:

Those strings keep her attached to the negative baggage of the past.  Those strings keep her tied down and hold her back from progressing.  Well, she is the only one that holds the scissors.  She is the only one that has the power to clip those strings.  And if she chooses to clip those strings . . .

she will start sprinting forward into a life filled with peace, joy, direction, passion and purpose.  It's the most amazing journey and process my friends!  And you can experience it too because it is truth!

I am not going to go into detail here about the tools that I used to let go and clip those strings.  Please refer to my blog post entitled "Tool 1 & Tool 2" if you would like to learn about the tools I used to let go.  They changed my life!  In essence, the tools I talk about are a physical way for me to work the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my own life.  Now you know how I feel about God.  You know I believe that Christ suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross so that I could repent, change and become whole again.  The Atonement is not just for gross crimes and sins.  The Atonement is there for each one of us to access and it is there to help us change and overcome anything and everything in our lives that we want to change.  It is simply the means through which we can change.  The tools I use are a way to use the Atonement.  I invite you to try them.  I know there are so many other wonderful tools out there that can help us.  There's music, prayer, meditation, any form of exercise or sports, laughter, scripture study, church attendance, temple attendance, etc.  And I still use all of those too.  But I personally needed a physical tool of letting go that I could immediately access to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper so I could then get rid of them.  So experiment.  Discover what works for you and what doesn't.  However, please be aware.  You don't want any tool or outlet to turn into an escape as opposed to a means of letting go.  Any outlet, whether it's "healthy" or not, can become an addiction or an escape from the negative instead of a way to face it and let it go.  If you find yourself feeling like you HAVE to do something, then what may have been a healthy outlet has now moved into the realm of addiction.  We lose our power of choice with addiction.  I am going to talk about addiction in a couple of posts so stay tuned.

Because this is getting long I am going to stop here and bring you the second half of my presentation in my next post.  I hope you have gained a greater understanding for the need we have to be aware of our thoughts and let go of the negative.  It really is crucial and essential to our joy, peace and contentment in life.  I challenge you to take the time today to let go of some negative that is in your life.  Again, refer to my post "Tool 1 & Tool 2" to read about the tools for letting go.  I testify that these tools work!  It has been proven again to me recently in the life of a sweet 18 year old young woman that I mentor.  Two weeks ago I met with her and I challenged her to use the tools to let go of some of the negative in her life.  I met with her again today.  Over the past two weeks, she used the Write and Burn tool several times and has been writing her negative thoughts in her Little Black Book.  She jumped right in and worked the tools.  Today she was no longer crying because of sadness and discouragement.  She was crying because of joy.  She had let go of so much negative making room for the positive that negative was no longer spilling out of her eyes, but positive.  She said she had never cried before from feeling so happy, but today she did.  It is truth my friends and it will work for anyone who is willing to do the work.  Do the work and reap the rewards of joy, peace, and contentment!