Ep 88: Take care of your own “at-bat”

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Okay, I managed to go 87 episodes without bringing up baseball…until today! ⚾😀 I was hoping for a comeback win in today’s Yankees game, but alas, it was not to be.

But if they had pulled it out, it would have been because each player owned his turn at the plate. You can find some parallels for this in your life outside the ballpark.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 88: Take care of your own "at-bat"

Photo credit: Me! Derek Jeter taking one of a bajillion at-bats at a game in Yankee stadium on April 10, 2010. I sure did love taking pictures at Yankee Stadium. 😊

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

If you’re a fan of baseball, or any sport, you know the feeling when the game’s almost over and your team’s down by a lot.

It’s not a fun feeling, and usually at this point of the game the concession stand is closed so there’s no way to distract yourself.

Your team’s down by six runs and it’s the bottom of the eighth inning. You appreciate your pitcher’s efforts to keep the other team where they are, but you have low expectations for that ninth inning coming up.

The other team’s lead looks insurmountable. I mean, physically a comeback in the bottom of the ninth could be possible, but not likely.

Heaven and earth would have to move to make that happen.

You wonder if you should join the trickle of fans you see heading towards the exits.

Maybe they’re right. It might be more practical to get out of the parking lot without a hassle than to witness the inevitable end.

While you’re scanning the expanse of empty seats around you, suddenly you hear that unmistakable cracking sound.

You whip your head around to see that the ninth inning started while you were doing all that looking around. And your team just got a hit.

You’re on base, yes!

Still, you’re not too pumped up. There’s a lot of room between where you are now and actually winning this thing.

There’s still a lot of baseball that has to happen in a short period of time.

And besides, how can the players even get themselves in a position mentally to do that? Don’t they see the bleak picture here, too?

You watch in stunned silence while your team racks up hit after hit, brings in a few runs, and works a few walks. Finally, the winning run walks up to the plate.

  • Now your expectations have come up.
  • Now a win seems doable and real.

But this player isn’t your big bopper, your clean up guy, or your superstar. It’s a utility player. A solid player for sure, but not the one that has the pitcher shaking in his cleats.

And then, CRACK! He gives that ball a ride! Right over the wall!

Game over and your team just came from being down six runs in the ninth to win this thing.

The remaining true fans like you rise to their feet, high fiving everyone in sight and saying how you knew it all along.

Your team just moved heaven and earth apparently.

While you were gazing around trying to figure out when to leave the ballpark, your team was focused on winning.

Kind of.

All teams would say they focus on winning.

But your team understood that winning is simply the result of each player taking care of his own at-bat.

What does that mean?

First of all, let me give credit to former Yankees pitcher David Cone for using that phrase a lot; which is ironic since he knows more about pitching a perfect game than focusing on at-bats.

Anyway, an “at-bat” is simply a player’s single turn at the plate. An at-bat could result in an out, a strikeout or a hit. If the player gets his bat in perfect position to the incoming ball, he might hit a home run.

Now he’s a hero.

But that doesn’t happen often. Statistically he’s more likely to strike out. That’s just the reality of baseball.

But if he’s a decent player there’s about a 25% chance he’ll get a hit that can put him in position for a run.

If he focuses on all that while standing in the batter’s box, though, he’s going to add to his strikeouts for sure.

He knows that his task is simply to keep his eye on each pitch as it comes.

Not the next pitch and not the one that came before.

And he’s certainly not thinking about his teammate’s at-bat just before him or whether or not the next batter will bring it home like a hero.

That’s not how you keep your head together when it looks hopeless.

He’s focused on being in HIS box with HIS pitch in HIS present moment.

He’s doing his very best to take care of what HE’s responsible for.

He’s taking care of his own at-bat.

The winning part isn’t really up to him.

How do you handle your days when you’re in a deep hole with no way to win outside of heaven and earth?

Do you trust in your ability to take care of what you can take care of? To keep your eye on what you know and trust your training?

Do you focus on what you bring to the plate in this moment for this situation and just execute that?

It’s easy to lose sight of all that when you feel like there’s no way you can win.

When things look pretty hopeless, it’s so easy to want to look outside of our own box.

We look for other people to blame and desperately grapple for any solution that doesn’t require us to just focus on our one part.

You can’t control how others play the game.

And you certainly can’t control how others standing behind you are seeing the pitches.

You can only focus on where you choose to place your attention right now and how you respond to each situation that comes across the plate, as it comes.

If you can relax and stay focused on what’s in front of you right now, you may look up and realize that you put yourself in a position to actually win.

Now you just need a little extra effort to get you over the wall.

Find ways today to focus on your own turn at the plate.

Do what you can do to inch this thing forward and stop worrying about the result.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
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Ep 87: 895 ways to find impact and purpose

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We want to have a great impact in our lives. But sometimes it’s not as hard as we think. It’s less about grand actions and more about just being consistent and steady in the small things.

I found some great lessons on impact and purpose in a documentary about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. 🚋

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 87: 895 ways to find impact and purpose

Photo: David Pinkerton

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

When you’re in the thick of your life, it’s kind of hard to see the impact you’re making.

  • If you’re a stay at home parent, you don’t always connect the one million dots in each day with some greater purpose.
  • At work, life can take you down some pretty jagged paths and it’s hard to see exactly how your good work is really moving any bars at all.

It’s easy to think it’s just not leading anywhere. Maybe you feel like you’re in the world’s biggest roundabout and you keep seeing the same signs over and over again.

How can you change the world if you just keep going in circles and doing the same things?

Last week I watched a documentary about Fred Rogers called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

If you’re old enough you will remember Fred Rogers as Mister Rogers. For more than three decades he hosted a children’s show called “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

The show featured Mister Rogers and his friends — humans and puppets alike — as they lived and supported each other as part of a close-knit community.

The show was in its prime during a time of constant cultural change in the world.

Fred used his show as a platform to help kids walk through some difficult concepts, like:

  • war,
  • racial segregation,
  • divorce and even
  • death.

What struck me about the documentary film was that it wasn’t a typical documentary about his early life and his motivation for creating the show.

It focused mostly on his impact: to his audience, to his show crew and ultimately, to the nation.

Mister Rogers wasn’t flashy or larger than life; he was that kind neighbor who likes to wear a sweater.

He modeled what it looks like to be engaged in the lives of others around you. And his message was kind, simple and clear.

He demonstrated these concepts over an astounding 895 episodes through stories, music and illustrations.

I’m sure at times he felt like he’d been on that same roundabout with you.

Telling the same stories, repeating the same messages. Did it really help? Should he be more like everyone else?

Should he still be doing this at all?

I’m sure it was tempting to think beyond the neighborhood or expand into something more attention-getting.

But the basic format of the show didn’t change too much. Fred didn’t try to compete with the more complex animation that eventually came on the scene in children’s entertainment.

He didn’t resort to the game of capturing eyeballs for eyeballs’ sake.

His impact came from his steady pursuit of his principles and convictions in the same way, day after day after day.

What can we learn from Mister Rogers about impact and purpose?

You don’t need to be someone else to be effective.

Fred’s show started at a time when other TV shows were using clowns and comedy gags to spread their message. Mister Rogers was never anyone other than Fred.

He didn’t create a persona that others thought would be more interesting or that would appeal to his audience’s insecurities.

He was authentic and purely himself.

How else do you explain a guy in a sweater and sneakers talking about being worthy of love and being capable of loving becoming a national icon?

Mister Rogers also taught us that you can show others what a life of healthy pursuits and meaningful purpose looks like with everything you do, even the small stuff.

Much of his show centered around the tiniest tasks like feeding the fish, taking care of plants, and talking to neighbors.

He knew the children in his audience were watching him consider life’s larger issues while at the same time taking care of everyday stuff.

He showed them that even though there are challenges in our world, the basics of life do go on.

We’re so focused on having a powerful impact on the world. But It’s just as much our responsibility to change our neighborhood and take care of our homes even if no one sees it.

He showed us what that looks like 895 times.

He also knew that complexity doesn’t give birth to purpose.

The most powerful things in life are usually the most simple ones.

Mister Rogers had a clear, concise message that never wavered over all those years.

You are worthy of being loved and capable of showing love to others.

He knew exactly what he wanted his audience to know, and he used that as his GPS for 33 years.

Anything more than that would have just muddied the waters.

I think that’s an important distinction because we find so many ways to complicate our lives, don’t we?

We always think more education is the key or taking on more responsibility or crafting some image that we think others want to see.

In the end, our simple, consistent approach is usually what gets us through.

The biggest takeaway from the film for me was this: even when you have great impact, you still aren’t going to have all the answers.

Fred’s last show aired just a couple of weeks before 9/11. In the days that followed he was asked to record a public service announcement to speak to parents about the importance of talking to their kids and showing them safety and trust.

A member of his crew talked about how overwhelmed Fred was during that shoot. He wondered what he could possibly say that would help in the wake of such an evil event.

Despite all the years of guiding kids through some pretty scary and tragic days, even Mister Rogers didn’t have the answer for THIS one.

You aren’t always going to get the answers, and the dots may not seem to ever really connect despite all that you accomplish.

That is one of the bigger mysteries in life and it’s not easy to accept.

But it doesn’t lessen the impact of staying in that circle a bit longer, taking care of those who need you and modeling kindness where you can.

Mister Rogers may have taught us about kindness and love, but his life showed us that impact comes from consistency and faith that what we do really matters.

How will you impact your neighborhood?

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
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Ep 82: The trappings of a small life

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It’s easy to think that what you’re doing now is all you’re capable of. That’s how we get stuck with small visions.

This episode came out of a little motivation for myself earlier this year. I’m always challenged to think bigger and more expansively, because I get so comfortable with where I’m at.

Maybe this helps you a little, too.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 82: The trappings of a small life

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Sometimes I feel challenged by the smallness of my life.

I don’t mean that I Iack resources, blessings or opportunities. I am beyond blessed. 🙏

But if I’m honest, I push back kind of hard against a wide open, spacious life. A life where anything feels possible and I’m not limited by what I can see right in front of me.

That kind of life requires enormous commitment and sacrifice.

I know what I’m capable of, and I have these super inspiring and confident moments. But the security of what I already have keeps me in such a small space that it’s hard to see the vastness of what lies ahead.

Have you ever experienced this?

You can see adventure and accomplishment just ahead. You see others doing it so you know it’s possible.

But you also know that it requires you to live with such narrow focus. Isn’t that ironic?

In order to live a life that is wide open and adventurous, you have to have a narrow field of vision.

Living a wide open, spacious means trading something that feels more sure in the moment for the fog of the mountain in front of you.

We hide behind our ability to bring order to our days. We very much like that each week we have some idea of the outcome.

And we surround ourselves with enough comforting distractions to keep us from letting that vision of a wide open, spacious life take root in our hearts.

How do we cut through the noise and engage this wide open, spacious life?

Is there a portal door for this thing?

How do I tap into a spiritual sense of adventure, significance and impact?

Well, the first step is to let go of the past.

The past can be painful and shameful. We all have things we wish we could’ve done differently.

And it’s no secret that the past is history and cannot change. But the past is so comfortable to us.

We know exactly how certain chapters ended and we take comfort in the predictability of that.

That’s why we play the past over and over in our minds. It’s a way to try to work it out again and maybe this time feel better about ourselves.

It’s kind of like watching Gone with the Wind yet again, hoping that Rhett Butler doesn’t leave Scarlet this time.

We resort to the drama of our memories and fantasies about different outcomes to try to make sense of the past.

But this leaves you stuck in that story, and places an enormous amount of drag on your energy as you’re trying to move up that foggy mountain.

If you let it go, then what will then replace the excuses and justifications for why you’re not living your wide open life?

Adventure requires that you step up and trust that your painful past equipped you to move into the open.

It’s your move.

Living a life of wide open adventure means serving with joy.

Serving takes me outside of myself. I can’t easily worry and ruminate about my own life while I’m busy helping someone else.

I can tell you that in my work in therapy I have honed my ability to focus purely on my clients in that session. Helping others walk through all of the details of their struggles pushes my own fears and worries aside.

I absolutely have to be fully engaged to make sure I understand and hear my clients.

If I can’t do that, then I really can’t help them.

Serving others in this way challenges me to consider perspectives outside of my own. It conditions me to not always ask myself how something affects me.

If I’m serving others, then I am helping to expand someone else’s life.

In turn I also expand my own life.

Serving with joy means choosing to find hope in spite of my own challenges and shortcomings, even if all I feel is cynicism.

Joy always opens things back up and creates space and room for growth.

Finally, living a wide-open life means embracing discipline.

Fill each day with tasks and activities that move you a little closer to your adventure.

You know what those things are.

And you also know the things that waste your energy and let you avoid stretching yourself.

Do less of those things and more of the things that have a direct line to where you want to go.

You kind of have to become a disciple of your own adventure.

When we think of a disciple, we think of someone who trades their previous existence for a completely new and uncertain life.

We might even think of a disciple as a fanatic of sorts. Someone who has sold out completely to a thought or an idea.

Selling out sounds negative in today’s culture because it paints the picture of what you have to give up. To sell out to something, you may have to lose part of yourself.

But becoming a disciple of your adventurous, wide open life may mean that you gain yourself with what you decide to lose.

That is always the trade-off in every adventure.

How differently can you engage this week with more intention and purpose?

What do you need to focus on that will create the rhythm and purpose you need to live your adventure?

What simple choices can you make that will clear the path in front of you and reveal the openness of what’s possible for you?

What can you do today to step out of your limited vision and into an expansive adventure of significance and impact?

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 81: Fail to plan, plan to fail, but you’ll fail if you don’t start

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Do you struggle to just get started on your plans? Maybe you’ve given your goals and plans a lot of thought and consideration, but you may just be missing one thing.

How do you just get started?

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 81: Fail to plan, plan to fail, but you'll fail for sure if you don't start

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”
— Ivan Turgenev

I don’t know Ivan Turgenev but I think he and I might have had a lot in common when it comes to starting things.

I adore planning. I get my ho-ho’s in life by taking a jumble and mess of unrelated details and creating order from it.

To me, much of work and life is like a puzzle just waiting to be put together.

My biggest challenge, though, is that I spend so much time creating and revising a beautiful plan for something amazing.

But then I’m terrified to start actually working that plan.

The internal magpies start almost right away.

  • This is a pretty big plan, sister. What if you don’t finish it?
  • What if you do get there and it doesn’t work?
  • What if other people have better ideas for your plan?
  • What if you get going and have to change the plan?

Fear sets in. Everybody says you have to fail a lot on the way to success so that could definitely happen.

Analysis paralysis tells you putting together just one more set of numbers will give you a tighter goal.

Before you know it, you’ve shut yourself down before you started.

Do you have a plan for something that you just haven’t been able to get moving?

Maybe writing a book, or finding a better job, or improving your public speaking skills, or starting a side business.

There are a lot of moving parts to any of these things so having a plan is definitely an important first step.

But what happens when half a year goes by and you haven’t even started?

It’s not like you don’t want to start but you’re resisting pulling the trigger.

What can you do to finally explode off that starting block?

When I look at others who manage to bring their plans to life, I see a few common threads.

Go after the low-hanging fruit first

Productivity gurus say to start first with the hardest things, or the stuff you’re really dreading. This way it’s not hanging over your head. You can just get it out of the way and the rest will be easier.

In my experience, that can sometimes be the quickest way to a Netflix binge.

Tackling the hardest stuff first requires a mountain load of energy and motivation you haven’t stored up yet.

Your internal Tony Robbins will have to spin out of control just to get you to sit in the chair.

That’s a good waste of Tony Robbins.

Now you’ve made starting a “thing.” And you’re also bringing a fair amount of overthinking into play.

Instead, going after the easy stuff first serves to get the ball rolling in some way. Seeing that ball move, even slowly, builds confidence.

Taking action always comes before motivation.

Years ago, they used to tell writers who had writers’ block to simply start writing out the phone book.

This simple and boring exercise helped connect the hand with the brain and got the creative process started.

It’s as if your brain realized, Hey, look at that, we’re writing something!

I’m not sure who Bob Smith on Topeka Avenue is, but I feel like we’re on our way to a great story.

Movement begets movement.

Find the things in your plan that you can easily color code, highlight, strikethrough, checkmark, pin, whatever, so you can see some forward motion and create excitement and confidence for the hard stuff.

Acknowledge and make peace with resistance

Steven Pressfield explains this a lot better than I can in his book, The War of Art.

Pressfield beautifully personifies the resistance we feel in starting anything. He conceptualizes it as a fierce dragon that is hell bent on stopping us.

A dragon that breathes the fiery vapor of excuses, lies and justifications.

Distracting you is this dragon’s sole purpose, and he’s very good at his job.

No one is exempt from this creature, not even crazy productive writers like Stephen King.

People who work their plans well anticipate the dragon’s arrival and have their swords already drawn up when he arrives.

They set up their environment and routines in a way that make it harder to wiggle out of the commitment.

Plan your schedule in ways that will make it more likely for you to get things done.

If you do your best writing without your offspring wildly enjoying life around you, you may need to get up earlier in the morning to ensure you have that time.

If you’re easily distracted by social media, put your phone out of reach for an hour and use that time to start something. Even better, give your phone to your wild offspring; you may never get it back.

Problem solved.

If you have a hard time getting your work done at the office because of the constant flow of visitors, come in before everyone gets there, or set some boundaries with your coworkers. Or stop being so helpful (I’m kidding, don’t do that).

Prepare for the resistance you know will be there, and you’ll be less likely to go down in a blaze of smoke for the day.

Trust your plan

On some level, in order to get a good start on your plan, you have to be a bit agnostic about all of it.

When you put a plan together for anything, it becomes your creation. You brought it to life, and now it’s a part of you.

But if you’re judging or second guessing every single objective as you’re working on it, you’re going to create a terrifying new mashup of tasks, metrics and new ideas in your head.

Now your plan just seems confusing. You might even be tempted to trash your existing plan and start building a completely new one.

Now you’re way off track. And you haven’t even really started.

I’m not saying don’t reassess or measure your success along the way.

But if you know you have a good plan, then trust the experience and insight you brought to the initial planning.

Make yourself stick to what you’ve already put down on paper and start doing the work.

Have someone hold you accountable

Knowing someone is counting on you, or at least knows what you’re supposed to be doing, counterbalances some of the fear of starting.

I don’t know about you but I don’t like to be embarrassed because I missed a deadline that I bragged about in front of my peers.

It takes a certain amount of humility to allow someone to speak in to your life’s work in a meaningful way. It means you need help and can’t do it all on your own. That’s a bitter pill for many of us.

But knowing someone expects something of you, and believes you can do it, can be the catalyst to get you started.

Don’t be afraid to share your plan with someone who is not afraid to challenge you in a kind and respectful way. If you don’t have a friend or coworker like that, find a coach. They are literally everywhere now.

Let others run with you at the starting line

Sometimes the deepest regrets happen when we start seeing our plans actually working, and we realize we could have started sooner. It’s hard to swallow that the only thing keeping us from moving forward was actually…moving forward.

Make it difficult for yourself to find excuses and not start.

You don’t need the perfect plan. You just need to work the plan you’ve got.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 78: The most wonderful time to have a new year

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The back-to-school frenzy has begun. But did you know you can model your own goals and plans around an academic year?

It may be a bit more effective than setting goals right after the holidays, when we’re still in sticker shock over all that spending and eating.

Here are a couple of ways to piggyback on all that energy you’re spending getting your kids ready for new school adventures.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 78: The most wonderful time to have a new year

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

I was at Walmart earlier this week to pick up a few things. It was abundantly clear the time of year we currently find ourselves in.

School is definitely about to start!

On my way to the office supply aisle, I had to pass the school supply aisle. It looked like a war zone in there.

Crayons were scattered like skittles, notebooks were stacked helter-skelter, most of them upside down, and Hello Kitty peered out at me from every shelf like some cheery Chucky doll.

The only indicator of summer was a random pack of bubbles sitting precariously right in the middle of it all.

It was like the last gasp of summer bidding farewell.

Just blow some bubbles, please, and maybe this all won’t actually be happening.

I was so happy to make my way to the nice 90° angles of copy paper packs, post it notes and stackable office trays. I said a prayer for those scattered crayons as I quickly rolled by with my head down, and I tried hard to avert my gaze.

It’s definitely a busy time of year, where parents bring their best organizational skills to the plate to make sure their adorable critters get back into the routine of school.

All the focus is on what this year will bring for students.

Amidst all of the anxiety and chaos, this is actually the best time of year to set new goals and start your own new year.

I read an article from a CEO of some company a few years ago who said that he had long ago ditched the idea of starting new goals in January.

You know, the time of year when we’re all worn out from the holidays and socially overextended.

Instead he found he could engage his goals with more focus at the same time his kids were preparing to go back to school.

He had learned to piggyback on the energy and effort he and his family were expending to prepare his kids for new and challenging goals.

So when they started off with anticipation and adventure on their first day, so did he.

This makes sense.

From a practical standpoint, you actually get more workable time by starting new goals in an academic year than right after the holidays.

And you don’t get slowed down by summer distractions that take you off course right in the middle of your work year.

In this academic kind of setup, you can enjoy the relaxed pace of summer while also making it your planning time for your new year.

Now you’re ready to start your new year full of energy and motivation.

So here are a few ways to make the shift to making a new school year your new year.

First, use this remaining time of summer to really dig in to what you want to achieve.

What January goals did you mull over on your summer vacation that you were wishing you had moved faster on or that you’ve completely pushed aside?

Now’s your chance to push the restart button on those goals.

Set aside some time to think about where you want to end up next May.

What achievements will you want to graduate this year?

Make yourself a syllabus of sorts to get you on track and keep your milestones right in front of you.

Second, have yourself a little orientation.

Take some time to think through some of the working parts of your goals and ask some questions.

What kinds of guidelines do you want to have in place so that you meet your objectives?

What resources will you have available to you this year and how do you find them?

Who can you reach out to when you need help?

Familiarize yourself with your goals so that when you show up on your first day you can just get going.

Finally, back to school is back to bedtime – for you and your kids.

You don’t think twice about a strict bedtime for your kids. It gives them the routine and structure to make sure they can keep this whole thing going.

But you need this too. Maybe more than your kids.

Start looking at your own bedtime and your rituals just prior to bedtime.

If you don’t have a bedtime ritual it’s probably time to get one.

Your body is built on sameness and rhythm.

If you do the same things on the same schedule every night before bed, your body starts to get the point and learns when it’s time to bring this thing in for a landing.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, not having well established sleep rituals may be a big reason why.

Sleep is you’re most important school supply and it’s your number one weapon to fight stress as you meet new challenges and transitions.

So don’t skip this one. Put your whole house on a back to school bedtime bonanza.

Hopefully your summer was good to you and gave you some perspective on where you are so far in the calendar year.

Use that insight to create some action and momentum for yourself in a new kind of year.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 77: What are you running from?

, , , , ,

We find all kinds of ways to avoid discomfort, don’t we? We’re kind of wired to find ways to run away from pain and uncomfortable feelings.

I don’t care how early you get up in the morning to start your uber-productive day, we all fall victim to avoidant behaviors.

Learn how you can use your scary thoughts and feelings to stop running and keep moving.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 77: What are you running from?

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

When was the last time you ran toward your problem?

When was the last time you embraced your difficult feelings and just powered through something?

Yeah, if you’re like most of us, you find it easier to run from uncomfortable feelings and see if you can avoid confronting your problems head on.

How’s that working out for you?

When we struggle with our emotions and face difficult decisions, we can find great comfort in just avoiding these experiences altogether.

  • Maybe it’s easier to put off actually starting on that challenging project if you tell yourself you still need to do more research and planning.
  • Maybe it feels better to demolish that pint of ice cream instead of dealing with how you’re not handling the strain and stress of work very well.
  • Maybe it’s just easier to stay home than put yourself out there and get rejected.

We perform these kinds of avoidant behaviors all the time because we think it gives us what we need.

They do give us momentary relief from our pain and fears.

But unfortunately they also keep us from getting to the other side of our pain. And most of our victories are just on the other side of discomfort.

If we’re not careful, we can look up and realize that we’ve spent much of our time just trying to keep from feeling bad.

But not feeling bad isn’t the same as moving toward healthy goals.

And how long do you think not feeling bad will last anyway?

So what’s the alternative?

Well for starters, it’s important to accept that we have uncomfortable feelings at times.

We all do. It’s okay to not feel okay.

And it’s okay that you don’t want to feel that way.

That doesn’t mean you’re not being a positive person or that you lack leadership skills or that you’re emotionally deficient.

It means you’re exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen, like all other humans.

You’re one of us.

Welcome to the show, and please enjoy the complimentary refreshments. 😂

Second, stop playing the psychological version of “stop hitting yourself” with your thoughts.

Your thoughts are not the only thing that make you who you are and you can’t outright control them, not in a significant way.

Your thoughts are the symbols you can point to that help create the mental visual of you. A visual only you can see, by the way.

But guess what? You’ll have something like 80,000 thoughts in a day. Do you seriously think you can make a dent in that kind of traffic?

So why do you impale yourself on the sword of giving your full attention to every single thought that pops in your mind?

No wonder it’s so easy to slide into a Netflix binge instead of journaling your thoughts. That sounds exhausting doesn’t it?

You can find the courage to run toward your problems and embrace your uncomfortable thoughts when you realize that your thoughts are best consumed like fried chicken at a picnic…while the crust is hot and crispy and never after four hours.

You do yourself no favors by chewing on old, negative thoughts until they’re unrecognizable.

  • Accept your thoughts as part of your experience,
  • take from them what you can,
  • then let them wander on by like your rowdy nephews at that picnic.
  • Those little guys are never a problem until you start pointing out how loud they are.
  • All you’ve done is give them energy and the motivation to keep being loud.

Nice going.

If you can do this, if you can start to view your thoughts as less of a judgement about who you are and more as a simple measure of your experiences, you’ll find you may need less to escape from.

Instead of focusing on all that your thoughts are not doing for you, you can focus on doing stuff. Meaningful stuff you really want to do and that takes you closer to your goals.

Last, you can choose to commit to what you believe in, commit to your values.

I talked about this in episode 76. Your values aren’t the things you feel you should do or that you’re expected to do or that everyone else is doing.

Instead, it’s that deep inner voice that keeps dropping you back to the same exact place. If you know how to look for them, there are some common threads in your life that tell you a lot about who you are and where you want to go.

But you can’t hear that voice over the roar of a multi-episode Middle-Earth battle scene and a mouth full of Chunky Monkey ice cream. 😋🍦

This requires some soul searching and a fair amount of imagination.

Once you connect with that vision, though, it becomes less important to find ways to pass all this time and more urgent to just get started.

Running toward your problems won’t necessarily solve them, and you may still have days when you feel like a loopy and wide-eyed emoji. 😵

But at a minimum you’ll be engaging in the very days that make up your life instead of just trying to distract yourself.

And all that engagement and action will empower you to keep moving forward.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 76: What do you want on your plate?

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We’ve gotten pretty good about identifying priorities. But how do you know those priorities are the ones that will take you where you want to go?

You need to understand your values first to know how to load your plate each day. Learn a few ways that better values can help you set your priorities and make decisions.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 76: What do you want on your plate?

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Do you focus on your priorities?

We definitely focus on making sure we’re not just doing unimportant tasks, things that don’t really lead anywhere.

We sit down and look at the activities that will give us the most value, maybe even putting them in a quadrant or matrix, if you roll like that.

But what happens when those priorities in their worthiness still don’t seem to be leading anywhere?

Maybe we haven’t really examined our values.

Not the easy stuff to identify like being a good parent, or being an accessible leader or serving the community.

Who doesn’t want to be those things?

But the harder stuff.

  • Like how do I develop self-control?
  • How do I become more assertive so that I have a voice in everything I do?
  • How do I live my life in such a way that I build trust and integrity?
  • How do I develop patience and persistence to power through my challenges?

Values are the driving force behind everything we do.

We don’t often write them out or memorize them.

And when life presents difficult challenges, we don’t stop and analyze whether or not our situation fits in with our overall values.

But this kind of analysis can actually make decision-making a whole lot easier.

Life today has evolved into a race to finish something that feels undefined.

  • We complete stuff.
  • We cross things off our list.
  • We accomplish.
  • We feel pretty good about all that.

But at the end of the day, sometimes we’re just not sure what all this is adding up to.

So we feel like we’re always struggling to get our priorities swimming in the same lane as our values. And we’re starting to get a little tired of all that moving around in the pool.

Maybe you need to be more productive and focused.

Or…maybe you need better values.

How do you define better values for yourself?

Values that you can point to in a pivotal moment that will light up your path forward like a summer carnival?

It’s really no different than breaking a project down into smaller chunks.

Instead of just wanting to be a good parent, what does that look like?

Close your eyes and imagine yourself being the parent you envisioned when you were waiting for this little creature to arrive.

Are you available to run alongside them as they learn the simple basics?

Are you patient in coaching them through challenges instead of just delivering a set of instructions?

Can you practice the humility to truly hear what’s in their heart as they navigate their own values, even if those values are a little different from yours?

If you want to be a more accessible leader, have you learned how to be an active listener?

Have you learned the skills to navigate conflict in healthy ways?

Do you know how to follow others in order to demonstrate your own respect for leadership?

What about serving your community?

Many good people value their ability to participate in keeping their community healthy and being a powerful force in the face of so much that seems to be going wrong in our communities.

But that can easily become another list of tasks and activities that compete for attention.

How can you better define this value to keep it from feeling like another drain on your time and energy?

  • Do you want those most vulnerable to better connect with their financial independence as a result of your work in this space?
  • Are you focused on helping others develop a spiritual practice that will help them through their own difficult times?
  • Do you want younger generations to have access to some well travelled knowledge to reach their own goals in a constantly changing world?

These are a lot more prescriptive than “serving my community.”

Find a half hour sometime this week to consider all the different areas and domains of your life.

Determine one or two values in each of these areas that speak to your skills, experiences and desires.

Where do you want each of these areas to end up?

If you are successful, what does it look like for you to be operating well in each of these areas?

See what interesting things you can come up with, things that excite you.

There are no right or wrong answers because other than math and some delicious bakery cookies in New York City, life isn’t always black-and-white.

You get to decide what you pay attention to, even if you’ve come to feel a bit trapped by ill-defined priorities.

When you put your focus on concrete values, values that are focused on specific skills and actions, you may find is that it’s easier to decide what stays on your plate on a Monday morning.

Because now you have a better picture of where you’re headed.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 75: Go ahead and be the square peg

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We spend so much of our lives trying to fit in. But there’s great power in just rolling along with being that square peg. Here’s a sad tale from my adolescence to illustrate this. 😂

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 75: Go ahead and be the square peg

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

When I was in the seventh grade, the one thing I wanted the most was a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt blue jeans. This was the early 1980s and designer jeans were all the rage.

The pair I wanted was a beautiful, dark indigo color, with that signature dark gold stitching on every seam.

The swan logo Gloria Vanderbilt was known for was prominently embroidered on the right front pocket, with her signature squarely on the back right pocket.

I begged for those jeans at every holiday, birthday, back to school time, you name it.

Brooke Shields may not have let anything come between her and her Calvin Klein’s but I was all about the Vanderbilt’s.

But alas, we weren’t a Gloria Vanderbilt home. We were a Wrangler’s home.

You know, Wrangler’s jeans, the friend of every rancher since Teddy Roosevelt and available everywhere for less than $10.

There’s nothing wrong with Wrangler’s. But I felt like I was the only one wearing them.

I was relentless in my impassioned pleas to my parents to buy me those jeans. I poured it on pretty thick.

In my innocence, I thought those Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, named after an heiress of American industry, would somehow make me fit in.

Well, I’m happy to report that I did get those jeans.

  • In the eighth grade.
  • When no one was wearing them anymore.
  • By then everyone had moved on to Calvin Klein.
  • Well played, Brooke Shields.

And even when I got the jeans, they were a size too big because there was no way my mother was gonna let me wear skin tight jeans in the eighth grade.

And because they were too big they were also too long, which meant I had to turn the bottom hem up a couple of times into cuffs.

I looked like I was ready for the spring floods.

What a delightful little picture of eighth grade Lori in her baggy designer jeans rolled up to her ankles.

Even though I had the tools to fit in now, and by all accounts I should have looked like everyone else, it still wasn’t working.

I STILL didn’t fit in.

I felt like the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

I know that’s a pretty common experience for an adolescent. You can substitute those designer jeans for any other popular piece of clothing in any decade.

We probably all have similar stories.

But how has that experience transferred over into your adult life?

Are you pushing hard to get that one thing that will make you finally feel like you fit in?

And then when you realize that experience or accomplish that goal, do you still feel like a square peg?

That’s so not fair.

You have your designer jeans. Why isn’t this working?

You’re frustrated because you may think you will never fit in, that you won’t have what everyone else has or be what everyone else seems to have become.

Here’s what I know about fitting in.

First of all, you may be fitting in more than you think.

For all your perceived awkwardness and feeling like a fish out of water, research shows people most likely have a positive perception of you.

In a study published last year in the journal Psychological Science, researchers found that college students routinely underestimated how much other students liked them after the first conversation.

They named it “the liking gap,” and it persisted even as students got to know each other better through the semester.

What’s interesting is that participants rated their conversation partner higher than themselves, meaning they were kinder to others than themselves.

This just shows you how much others are inside their own head wondering about how they’re coming across to you to notice whether or not you’re fitting in.

Remember, it’s not what others think about you. It’s what you think they think about you.

So there’s that.

Second, being a square peg lets your talents and abilities shine through because you can’t hide in a hole somewhere.

Round pegs walk around all day fitting neatly in their nice, little round holes.

What’s so special about that? There are a lot of round holes in the world, ya know?

But you’re holding out for the square hole.

They’re not plentiful so that means you have to work a little harder to find one.

Sure, you’ll see a few holes that you think will be just the right fit. They’ll be more oval-shaped and you’ll think, “Okay, yeah, maybe.”

But you’ll quickly realize, “Nope, dude, an oval hole is just a round hole with style.”

It’s disappointing, but look at how much you will learn along the way about round holes AND square holes.

People will recognize this kind of special knowledge you bring to the table because all they’ve ever seen is round holes.

So that actually means you’ll stand out. But, on your own terms.

Most importantly, trying so hard to fit in uses a lot of good energy.

It’s exhausting to try to be someone you’re not.

To put up a facade and wear a mask just to blend in isn’t a good use of your valuable resources.

And it’s a quick road to stress and anxiety because it constantly consumes you with worry and fear and puts your focus on what you don’t have instead of what special use your squareness just might serve.

So, let’s review, we’ve got:

  • designer blue jeans from the 1980s,
  • square pegs and
  • oval-shaped holes.

This episode doesn’t seem like it fits ANYWHERE, does it?

Yet it probably speaks to some of you.

You see, once you accept your squareness, it’s so much easier to just relax and serve others.

Because then your squareness isn’t about you. It’s about what you can bring to the world around you.

Go ahead and be the square peg.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 70: Three practical ways to believe in yourself

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So many songs and movies preach the virtues of believing in yourself. But what does believing in yourself look like?

I think our idea of belief in what we can do has been a little hijacked by hero movies. Learn some practical ways to believe in yourself that doesn’t require big life moments.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

 

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Full transcript 👇

Career woman with superhero silhouetted behind her

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

How many times since kindergarten have you heard that in order to succeed you just have to believe in yourself?

We have no shortage of success stories today of people who did just that. If we believe the movie versions of these stories, we may think that believing in yourself is a one time thing that happens in a grand life moment with a John Williams soundtrack playing in the background.

Last weekend at my church, our pastor talked about the movie “42,” a recent biographical film about the great Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues.

  • Who knew more about the struggle to achieve a goal and persevere more than Jackie Robinson?
  • Who needed the power of believing in yourself more than him?

He was faced with a monumental task during a time when racism in the U.S. was still very much front and center.

There are certainly many lessons to be drawn from his experience, about the power of conviction and belief in something greater than you.

There are some very emotional moments in this inspiring movie, and you will want to clap at the end.

But I think sometimes we use this same hero-style movie template and try to apply it to how we can achieve our goals in life.

I don’t know about you, but most of the time my life doesn’t move to a great soundtrack.

I mean, I’ve had a few pivotal moments of empowering belief here and there, but they’re mostly punctuated by more routine things like unloading the dishwasher and picking up deli chicken for dinner.

There are no movies about that.

The reality is that believing in yourself is not really an event you can point back to.

It’s a series of actions that you take over and over and over again. And when you’re tired of doing that, guess what?

You get to just keep doing those actions over and over and over again.

This is what makes success so hard.

Because you still have to move and take action even when you don’t feel any particular inspiring feeling or motivation.

Like Jackie Robinson, you just keep showing up at the plate, no matter what happens or what you hear going on around you.

When you struggle with achieving something new for yourself, like learning to handle your anxiety for example, the habits and forces that have kept that problem in place will fight tooth and nail to keep you from believing in yourself.

You may say out loud that you’re going to conquer this thing, but the working part of this show is in how you live this out in your actions every day.

Not just in your declarations to yourself with your fist raised to the sky.

Believing in yourself is about showing up every day for yourself.

But we find all kinds of ways to shatter that belief, don’t we?

  • We let defeating self talk steal the scene inside our heads.
  • We allow second rate characters who have nothing invested in us to tear apart the fibers of our belief.
  • And we let fear become the villain that keeps us from challenging our beliefs about what we can do.

Somewhere in there our daily script has to change in some actionable ways.

Here are a few things you can consider while you set about believing in yourself.

First, focus on making your thoughts work for you.

You’ve heard me talk about this before, this isn’t having positive thoughts. I’m not against positive thoughts. But you need thoughts that help you create the next step for yourself instead of just making you feel good about yourself.

You need adaptive thoughts.

“I am awesome I’ve got this,” becomes “I’ve been here before and I’ve demonstrated that I can handle it. I have what I need to do it again.”

This kind of thinking helps you bridge yourself to the next step you need to take and gives you a little prescription to follow.

Second, qualify the feedback that you get from others, even if you asked for that feedback.

How much has this person invested in your success? What does it mean for them if you succeed or if you fail?

Use the feedback that helps you take specific steps to get to your goal.

Don’t feel obligated to take advice just because it was offered. And don’t NOT take good feedback to heart just because it wasn’t your idea, if that makes sense.

Consider it all, but at the end of the day you have to be the one to believe that those actions will get you where you want to go.

Lastly, challenge yourself but do it in believable ways.

Nothing crushes your belief in yourself more than setting an unreasonable challenge in front of you.

I know, I know we’re always being challenged to step outside of our comfort zone. But if you are afraid of heights, jumping out of an airplane is not stepping out of your comfort zone. That’s just crazy.

You may believe you can fly and you may believe you can touch the sky, 🎵 but you’re going to blow yourself out in the process.

Instead, go up to the top story of a multi-story building and see how you feel about that. Then go from there.

Start with things that you know will be difficult but that you can actually picture yourself doing in the moment.

I’m raising my hand on this one, because I love to set huge goals for myself. But I’ve learned through the years to temper that a bit with what can really be done with the resources I have now and the steps that I can easily take in this moment.

If I have lost belief in myself in the past, it’s usually wrapped around goals that were just too much for me at the time.

So if you’ve been keeping score at home, believing in yourself is not an event but a process.

A process that you work day in and day out.

The inspiration comes not when you knock it out of the park, but when you look back and see how far you’ve come.

Now you’ve demonstrated to yourself that you have what it takes, which empowers you to believe in yourself to keep moving.

You’ve just proven to yourself that you can do it.

Now just keep doing that.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 69: Pear trees in Tulsa

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You don’t know how much you’ve grown until you have to step up and do something useful. Here’s a little lesson about growth from two little pear trees in Tulsa, OK.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 69: Pear Trees in Tulsa

I don’t think these trees are in Tulsa, but you get the idea. 😜

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

The first house my husband and I lived in was in Tulsa, OK. It was a small house, just a smidge less than 1,000 square feet, but it had pretty much what we needed at the time as a young dual income, no kids couple.

There were a couple of floor to ceiling windows on the front of the house that let in some nice light. They were my favorite because they made the house feel bigger than it was. So I was always pulling the shades up.

While those windows were the house’s best feature, in the afternoon they were the absolute worst feature.

You see, the front part of the house faced the west, which means we got some brutal sun and heat in the afternoon — right in those windows. If you’ve experienced Midwest summer heat you know what I’m talking about.

The best shades and blinds were no match for the hellish heat waves coming through that glass. In the afternoon I felt like Woody in Toy Story under Sid’s magnifying glass. It was a real bear cooling that house in the summer.

When we first moved in, we noticed two, awkward young trees planted in the front yard.

Two non-fruit-bearing pear trees I was told.

I couldn’t imagine why you would not want pears from your pear tree. I’m guessing maybe the landlord didn’t want the mess from uncollected ripe fruit.

Anyway, these two little guys were planted about 20 feet apart from each other. They weren’t impressive in any way and to be honest, they were pretty scrawny.

They offered no protection from anything really, you couldn’t sit under them, and honestly they weren’t even that pretty. And apparently they weren’t going to even produce any pears.

But they did grow.

Pear trees in my Tulsa yard

Sadly, this is the only picture of the little pear trees from those days. There’s another little tree just 20 feet to the right. This picture was taken about year three or four. Check out me and my pickup truck! 

Not quickly mind you, but you could see some new growth every year. And they did withstand the weight of Oklahoma ice storms.

So while they were unimpressive and kind of useless in their non-fruit-bearing state, they were hardy.

They became such a part of our yard that honestly I didn’t notice them too much anymore.

I think one year we hung some Christmas ornaments from the branches but that’s about it.

But over time, their canopies did slowly start to fill in and they took on a healthy roundness.

We had lived there about seven years, and I had now taken on a healthy roundness of my own. I was pregnant with our son.

One afternoon I was so exhausted I remember laying down on the couch for just a few minutes. I realized that I should probably close the blinds before I fell asleep so I wouldn’t wake up in the blistering heat. But I was just too exhausted to get up again, so I drifted off.

I woke up about an hour later to hear the sounds of sweet birds singing in those two trees. I laid there on my pillow and peacefully watched the branches sway back and forth in the wind. It was all very nice and Little House on the Prairie.

And suddenly it hit me.

Holy cow, there’s SHADE coming in the window.

The sun was completely blocked! I wasn’t sweating or anything.

After all those years, the canopies of those two trees had finally grown together to form a complete block against the sun coming in those windows.

Our little trees had matured to the point that they were now… useful.

The process of slow, steady growth that we didn’t even really notice that much had ushered those trees into a new phase that didn’t even seem palatable seven years ago.

But just because we couldn’t see their growth or find their usefulness right away doesn’t mean that potential wasn’t there the whole time.

We’re all so super focused on getting where we want to go and finding our purpose and manifesting an abundant life and all that sexy stuff.

But that’s not the point of it all.

At all.

The point is in the growth.

Your growth through the process is what allows you to step into your usefulness and your purpose.

But good, solid growth takes a long time.

A long time. Those two trees didn’t have the experience or the structure to shade my house in those early years.

They had to wait years to build the root system and longevity to support bigger branches with more leaves and ultimately….shade.

Those trees had the simple task of relying on nature to provide the resources for growth. And it wasn’t overnight.

Growth isn’t always noticeable to you until you need it.

You don’t always realize how much you’ve learned and assimilated experiences until you have to call on that stuff in a pivotal moment.

Like those trees, you don’t realize that your canopy is growing because you’re busy just trying to keep things going.

And you don’t always see how the specific shape you’re taking on is going to be useful to anyone, until the opportunity presents itself.

I needed shade that day, and those trees were in a position to step up and provide that.

No one saw that coming.

Here’s the fortune cookie part of all this:

Growth can serve you and others around you if you trust the process.

Isn’t that the point of growth? Not to heap on yourself but to provide the cooling shade of wisdom and hope to those who need it? To others who are blinded by the heat waves coming into their life?

Maybe you look at your life and don’t think that anything you’ve been through serves a purpose.

Maybe you feel like those trees.

Someone hangs an ornament on you from time to time but honestly you just feel like you’re existing. You’re going through stuff, but why?

Nothing is wasted and every experience matters.

You are growing. And one day you will step into your true role and some of this just may make sense.

Until then, keep growing.

Check out one of the trees today! 👇

It looks like one of the trees didn’t make it, but look how big our little friend is now!

Pear trees today

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