Who are ” your people? “~

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Over the weekend I had the privilege to hear a profound speaker while attending Menlo Part Presbyterian church Sunday morning. The topic was about getting “Unstuck” and the theme was about adding the element of accountability/community to our ongoing spiritual health and growth.

How many of us have found ourselves at spiritual or emotional crossroads over the years?  Did you navigate these seasons in isolation or did you have individuals you trusted to help you find healthy and sustainable solutions?

Many people suffer in isolation, whether self – imposed orotherwise, and what we will find~every time~ is that those who live in isolation struggle greatly to have significant mental, spiritual, and emotional health!

Sunday, the Pastor shared a revealing study:

In a government study with rats, back in the 70’s, while in isolation, rats were given the options of water or cocaine from two separate spouts. Day in and day out they became more and more addicted to the cocaine; rarely if ever choosing to drink fresh water!  The finding here was that rats in isolation became addicted to the cocaine to the point of death every single time!

A professor by the name of Bruce Alexander  wanted another filter for this same experiment! He was concerned that the one consistant element in the study is that every rat was kept isolated for any others! The rats were in cages all alone. The rat has nothing to do but take the drugs. In isolation the rats never observed any alternate behaviours around them! What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It it was a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down, alternative activities, and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did!!

Hmmmm….what does that mean for us??

When we place ourselves amongst trusted friends and family, attend a regular small gathering of purpose minded people, check our thinking with those who are wise, and confess our challenges to individuals that have our best outcome in mind~ we will “choose better”!

God fully intended that we would go through the joys and challenges, sadness and loss, celebrations and surprises within “community”; never in isolation!

First Thessalonians 5: 11 says

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Galatians 6:2 says

“Therefore encourage Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Romans 12:10

“Therefore encourage Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.one another and build one another up, jus Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor as you are doing.”

Who are your people? What trusted individuals are in your posse? Where do you go to garner wisdom, balance, and encouragement? Or do you find yourself for the most part, basically alone?

My prayer for you is that if you are in some form of isolation, you will be intentional in the coming year to build a trusted team around your life!  For those with a posse, invite them in regularly so that you can soar above the challenges and temptations that would love to entangle you!  We do better TOGETHER!

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Being Mindful on Valentine’s Day~

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For so many, Valentine’s Day can be sweet, romantic, and full of warm remembrances of years of marriage or a meaningful relationship!!  Valentine’s Day can be a celebration of a marriage or a relationship that has weathered obstacles and stood the test of time.  These things are certainly “celebration worthy!”

However, there are those who walk into a very romantic holiday alone either by singleness, divorce, sickness, or loss!  I can only imagine the loneliness that is experienced by those facing these particular situations.  Valentine’s Day can, frankly, be a sad and lonely day! 😦

I am sensitive to the seasons of life that others may be in. I don’t have all the answers….solutions…or wise words. BUT I do know that in the midst of sadness or loss during a very Hallmark Holiday: I would wish all those feeling lonely or sad the HUGE knowledge that they have a Saviour who loves and adores them!! That they are fearfully and wonderfully made; they matter!!  This is my heart today.

imagesAppreciate and be thankful for what you have; be mindful and sensitive to those who are challeged~~reach out, include, invite! 🙂

Physical Touch~~

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I have the joy of working a few hours a week at a Premiere Athletic Club in my home town.  We boast the largest number of members and feel we offer incredible service to our members. Yes, I am biased~ yet I believe many others share this feeling! 🙂

This past week I had a couple interesting “aha” moments that touched my heart in a fresh way. Let me explain: Last week during my shift two elderly gentlemen (who are wonderful and kind) walked by the Front Desk and let me know that one of the men had turned 92, so I offered to sing him a birthday song and he said he’d rather have a hug.  I blushed and smiled as he went on his way.

Yesterday they passed by the front desk again during my shift and reminded me about the wanted hug.  I smiled and as they walked out the door I felt a strong sense that I really should walk out those doors and give that birthday hug.  Out the door I went, tapped the sweet man on the shoulder and hugged him tightly; with teary eyes he kissed me on the cheek.

I had a strong sense that he had possibly not been hugged in awhile.

At the tail end of my shift last night a man I have known for many years who is quiet and lives alone walked in. I was not behind the desk as I usually am, but rather I was walking around the front so I touched his shoulder, welcomed him by name and turned back to the task I had been working on.  The gentleman walked over to me and genuinely said ” thank you for the touch.”

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Perhaps this isn’t eye-opening to you but for me I was reminded how spoiled I am to be in a family that loves to hug; there is never a lack of affection between us. Yet, for so many who may not have an extended family or life partner, I imagine that there could be long gaps between hugs, hand holding, or just a gentle squeeze on the shoulder!  Makes my heart so sad.

I recently read a blog that expressed some tangible reasons why we all need physical touch:

“The need for constant touches may fade as we grow older but the feelings certain touches invoke do not. As we grow older, touch is a communication that transcends age and time. No matter how old we are, we all love to have our hand held, our backs rubbed, or the feel of a warm embrace.

Seniors who live alone often do not experience the simple act of touch on a daily basis. The reasons vary:  spouses and close friends have passed away, families live in other states, or physical limitations may affect activity and contact with others. Remember this when spending time with the senior in your life. A simple, encouraging arm around a shoulder or a momentary grasp of a hand conveys a message of affection. Feelings of affection can make a big difference in the lives of seniors.”

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All of us know people who are alone, far from family, or disconnected from a loving community. Perhaps we can risk a kind hug, handshake, or squeeze on the arm –even if it takes us out of our comfort zone.

Someone may turn and say “thank you for the touch.”