Friday, December 28, 2012

Who Switched Off My Brain?

Book Review: Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions by Dr. Carloline Leaf

This book was recommended by a MOPS speaker I heard a couple years ago and I finally got around to checking it out from the library. It's GOOD. Or I should say the last chapter is GREAT. The first 4 chapters are very medical with lots of good descriptions and illustrations...and A LOT of medical jargon. Chapter 5 is all about kids, a must read for parents and Chapter 6 (at least it's a short book!) is the clincher for me and the reason I want certain people in my life (those plagued by pessimism and negativity) to read this book! Basically it's a doctor telling you that 1) toxic thoughts/emotions are actually bad for you- they affect your physical health as well as mental and should be/need to be dealt with and 2) that you actually CAN learn to control your thoughts and emotions. I feel like I learned these things during college somehow (I'm sure it was God and all the counselors I saw and support groups I was a part of) and it drives me nutso when people I love say they have no control over their thoughts/emotions. You do! You can learn coping mechanisms and change. It will not be easy or probably fast but your body and everyone who knows you (and yourself) will be so grateful you put the time and energy into it! And here's a very short, easy to read book that might just have some great ideas for you. Don't give up on the first 4 chapters, skim them (I did), but soak up chapters 5 and 6!! (Just for the record, I'm not even close to being perfect or even great at controlling my thoughts and emotions but I am way (way, way, way) better at it than I used to be and I would love it if everyone could experience the same freedom!)

Some of my favorite quotes:

"The worst thing you can do for your health is to deny, block, or suppress emotions whether they are good or bad. This makes them extremely toxic.

"Therefore one of the coping mechanisms you can develop to detoxify your brain involves not responding immediately to emotions you may feel strongly. Rather, acknowledge what you feel, and if it becomes clear an emotion is toxic, you can begin a process of learning to let it go."

"Remember that perceptions are emotionally based and unreliable. Emotional perceptions are designed to create alertness, to guide but not to rule. You need to take them captive, tame and control them, take the opportunity to evaluate them thoroughly before believing them and acting upon them. If not, you allow your emotional perceptions to take over and rule you. If they happen to be negative or destructive emotions, you set the scene for irrational behavior, bad decision making and harmful reactions in both body and mind."

"Emotions by their very nature are meant to be felt and expressed. They are a moving, dynamic, pulsing mass of electromagnetic and chemical reactions. They do not disappear or die. Somewhere, sometime they will erupt unless given an outlet. You must deal with them, because the more you may try to suppress them, the harder they will try to be heard."

"Society constantly gives us opportunities for toxic thoughts which take root in our minds and spread their poison through our bodies."

"The next time you think you don't have time for exercise or relaxation, think again. The reality is simply that you have chosen to fill your time with activities and things other than exercise and relaxation. Focus on what is good for you. Like many of us, you manage to fill your day with an endless list of things, small or large, which are not vital to your interests. If you constantly focus on the little things, you may ignore the big things that ultimately determine your health, success and happiness."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


For years now, I've set goals (not resolutions) every January 1st. I've had ranging levels of "success". Ultimately I would say every year has been successful because I've achieved some of what I want too that I wouldn't have if I hadn't written it done and set the goals. But something feels different this year. I feel motivated to be the person, the wife, the mom, I want for my kids- instead of just wanting to be her.

I've been re-watching some really motivating talks I watched/listened to this summer from The Willow Creek Leadership Summit and I have a "plan". I'm going to try and live life this year focused on 3 things: 1) to grow in my relationship with God, 2) to love my husband and kids better, and 3) to simplify my home and life. I say try, because I think there will be a learning curve and I know myself, I'll forget what I'm aiming at and have to re-calibrate occasionally throughout the year. I also say try because I know what God has done with my 'plans' before and since my biggest priority this year is to grow my relationship with Him...I know I need to be open to Him shaking things up!

I'm going to pair my 2013 focuses with Bill Hybels 6x6 idea, only changing it to 4x4. (He chooses the 6 most important things that he needs to focus on for the next 6 weeks and the pours everything into those priorities, letting others go or delegating, etc). And I want to coordinate this with my church's 2013 calendar. This is something new this year where all members received a calendar with prayer requests for each month. I'm so excited to see what God does when our whole body is praying in unison!!

2013 Focus Statement:
To grow in my relationship with God, love my husband and kids better, and simplify my home and life.

To grow with God:
  • I want to pursue God daily, alone and with my children. Weekly with women and my church. 
    • In order to do this I need regular and sacred quiet times. I will make this happen, by getting up early, staying up late, letting other things go, whatever it takes. This is my top priority in 2013.  
    • Read my Bible regularly, aiming for 5+ days/week with no specific goal (like read the whole thing in a year). Although I'd love to read the whole thing this year, I haven't had much success with that since kids entered the picture and don't want to let 'falling behind' keep me from any reading at all.
    • Continue prioritizing the Monday night women's studies at AC3.
  • I want to incorporate God into my daily routines with kids. Praying before meals, etc. 
  • Read the 'spiritual' books I've collected but have never gotten to, prioritize these before "for fun" reading. (See my list here)
To love my husband and kids better:
  • I need to make sure I'm taking care of my physical and emotional needs. I think I easily fall into the trap of taking care of everyone else first and then having nothing left over for myself. Then I snap or break or breakdown, and that's not good for anyone! This is more like my traditional 'lists' of goals for a new year. 
    • Get my haircut more than twice this year! I'm aiming for once a season with the ultimate goal of taking care of my hair enough to donate to Locks of Love again. I just need a couple more inches before I have the minimum 10 inches. 
    • Regularly take time for myself: massages, pedicures, etc. My insurance will pay for 10 massages a year...why have I not been taking advantage of this??! I'd like to get my toes done at least once a season too. Starting with green in March before Baby arrives!
    • Lose the baby weight! Baby is due mid-March, if I'm cleared to workout by the end of April I'm planning on a 5K in the summer and a 10K in the fall. Lose weight has been a goal of mine for at least the last 5-ish years. This year has to be different, I have to be a healthy mom to set an example for my kids and feel healthy for myself. 
      • Start by walking on the treadmill at least 3 times/week for at least 10 minutes through rest of pregnancy. This seems reasonable and achievable. 
    • Schedule 1 day/month to stay home alone to clean or be crafty or even just read. Arrange child care, trade child care, ship the husband and toddler off to the in-laws, whatever it takes! 
    • Write more. Blog more frequently- quit waiting for 'inspiration' or the perfect topic. This really helps me clear my head and process things. 
    • Get a tattoo...maybe two. The first one will be a Griffin...the second one is still waiting to be named. 
    • Plan and execute two 'girls only' weekends. One pre-baby, one post-baby. (Post baby one will have to be with baby in tow, but that's okay. No husband or toddler though!)
    • Read the marriage/parenting books sitting on my shelf. (See list here)
To simplify my home and life:
  • Decorate house with pictures and art! We've lived here 6 years already and Pumpkin Pie is two years old, it's time to get some pictures on the walls! (And I have pinterest to thank for inspiration!)
  • Simplify. Get rid of stuff we don't need/use. De-clutter.
  • Finish (start) organizing and scanning Grandma's pictures. Mail to Carolyn.
  • Make shutterfly (or something similar) books...before I fall even further behind with two kids!
  • Craft more- finish projects I've been holding onto, or scrap them. (See list here)
  • Visit Grandma Ruth- introduce new baby.
  • Read the books I own but have never least one shelf of the three. At the end of 2013, donate any books I know I'll never get to (the ones that have been on this list for years and years).  If I haven't read them at this point, chances are they're never going to be high enough on my priority list and I should just quit storing them. (See list here)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I must be turning into a girl/woman...or getting older...or be pregnant.

I'm incredibly emotional tonight.

Moved by THE story of Christmas.

Moved by time with family and their generosity.

I'm reminded of just how much I've been given. And how the only requirement is to go and do the same.

I've been forgiven, how can I not therefore forgive.

I know a lot of people who don't understand this whole personal-relationship-with-Jesus-Christ- thing and don't feel like they can have faith when there is so much evil in the world. Especially after last week.

I get it, I really do.

All I can say is...when you've been saved, you can't not have faith. And I don't use that term lightly. I mean literally saved. Like a drowning person who is rescued. Like a person in a burning building is rescued.

I've been saved, and tonight I'm thinking about a very young girl and her young fiance, bravely facing the scariest thing imaginable...labor and delivery alone in a stable. And I'm thinking about how God says He did all of that because He loves me. And He would do it only for me. Just for me.

Blows my mind.

Makes me want to press into this God and His word. Grow closer to the one who loves me so.

I hope you check Him out. Or ask me about Him. Or ask someone you know and trust about Him. You'll never be the same.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I love this time of year. I love the colder weather, sweater, and scarfs. I love the lights, the Christmas spirit, and of course all the treats! I'm actually not a big gift person- as much as I love giving gifts, I really don't like receiving them. It makes me uncomfortable and I don't know why. But what I love MOST about this time of year, is NEWness. I am looking forward to January and a new year and fresh starts. I'm prepping for my 2013 goals (resolutions) by doing a couple things:

1) Watching the DVD's from some of the speakers at this year's Leadership Summit.
2) Reading The Peacemaker with hopes of repairing a lost friendship and learning to 'fight better' deal with conflict in healthier ways.
3) Reading Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward with the hopes of making a solid decision about selling our house or staying put.
4) Reviewing Experiencing God the Bible study I just finished with an awesome group of women at my church to see trends and big ideas God brought to my heart and mind for 2013.
5) Hanging up my church's calendar! I'm so excited for this in 2013- an entire year with everyone praying for the same things each month. God is going to do big things, I just know it!

I know January 1st is just another day but there is something about the idea of fresh starts and new beginnings that gets me so excited every year!

Now I just need to get me a 2013 day-planner :)