Defining Resilience: Step 2 – Seek Out and Nurture Supportive Relationships

A sneak peak at a portion of my upcoming Hope for Healing newsletter scheduled for delivery August 1st. Subscribe at Hope for Healing newsletter or on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com. Thanks!

Defining Resilience

Step 2: Seek Out and Nurture Supportive Relationships

Before diving into step 2, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 2: Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.

The day my therapist said to me, in reference to my then-BFF, “Teri, you need to put some healthy boundaries in place,” I just stared at her befuddled. I truly had no idea what a “healthy boundary” looked like. Growing up in a co-dependent relationship with my alcoholic mother, I had spent my youth playing the part of the peace-keeper and “good girl” in order to create some sense of calm within the chaos. My sister and I have discussed, on many occasions, the impact physical abuse and emotional abandonment had on our future relationships. We agreed we had no concept how to even go about putting healthy boundaries in place and why that was critical for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, friendships, and partnerships.

Here are five “healthy boundary” suggestions followed by five relationship-nurturing ideas to incorporate into your own life:

  • You are allowed to say “no”: Practice doing it. It may be difficult, at first, but you will soon reap the benefits of more time, less resentment, and empowerment within your own life and decisions. If you do not want to do something, then don’t do it. And if someone is upset by that then you know that relationship needs some boundary work!
  • Expand your circle: One of the first indications that I was in an unhealthy friendship with poor boundaries was when I was criticized by that friend for becoming more involved in my daughter’s school activities and developing new friendships. Broadening my circle and developing a tribe of supportive souls not only shined a light on the unhealthy patterns, but helped me create new healthier habits within those friendships.
  • Notice any unhealthy habits: I had a tendency to latch on with a death-grip, almost to the point of obsession, to those who loved me even after knowing all of my deep, dark secrets. I had such a deep-seated fear of abandonment that I would spend more time trying to keep the peace and play along, even when I disagreed with something, that I lost myself in the process. Once I started to become aware of my unhealthy habits, I was able to re-direct myself toward healthy boundaries.
  • Be honest: I kept quiet for far too many years because I was afraid that speaking up would result in being left. Once I realized that I was entitled to have not only my opinion but a voice to speak it, and that the reactions of others, whether they sent me packing or not, had nothing to do with me and everything to do with where they were on their own journey, I found solace. There is a release that happens in accepting “abandonment”. Knowing others might walk away when you put healthy boundaries in place is an indication that they still have work to do in their own lives. However, many will stick with you as you learn to speak your truth, and even more will gravitate toward you.
  • Know your worth: Knowing your worth on every level and protecting it are critical to maintaining supportive and healthy relationships. Your healthy boundaries include physical (no one should touch you in a harmful way), emotional (being ridiculed is unacceptable behavior from others), spiritual (you are most assuredly entitled to your beliefs), cognitive (mind-games can be a controlling aspect in particular relationships, especially those involving narcissists). Be sure to utilize positive affirmations and practice them daily (“I am worthy”, “I am kind”, “I am lovable”, etc.).
As you move away from toxic relationships, you will notice a shift occurring as those healthier habits attract more positivity into your life. Use this as an opportunity to create new friendships. Reach out to others in support and notice as they return the gesture. Some ideas to consider:
  1. Join groups that spark your passion or pique your interest – such as volunteering at an animal shelter, a rock-climbing club, your church choir, a car enthusiasts group, a small business association, etc.
  2. Reach out to those who allow you your boundaries – notice new people who come across your path and respect those boundaries.
  3. Engage in support groups (in person or online) – such as Al-Anon, parenting groups through mental health agencies, faith courses offered through churches, etc.
  4. Write thank you notes, texts or emails to those who offer supportive roles in your life – offering gratitude for the positive support not only keeps it in perspective for you, but helps others realize the impact they are having in the lives of others.
  5. Offer your support to others – by reaching out a helping hand you can start to develop reciprocal relationships in which you help one another when needed.

Blessings & Babble

Our daughter has been on a tweenage metamorphosis of late. Some days she’s clad in nothing but boys’ Nike attire and others she is lounging poolside in her cute little bikini sporting her Ray-Ban-esque Dollar Store knock-off shades. As she wriggles her way toward thirteen, a re-decorating of her cocoon was obviously in order. Out with the puppy calendar, pastel-colored name letters, and all things fru-fru-ish. In with a basketball comforter, tree lights strung about her walls, fresh white paint on the once-pink mirror, and a huge Nike swoosh hung proudly (next to the giant teddy bear . . . some things are a must keep no matter how grown up you think you are).

I was fortunate enough to inherit some inspirational decor in the process: “Live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Be fearless in the face of adversity. Never stop learning. Use your imagination whenever possible. Recognize the BEauty that surrounds YOU. Remember where you came from, but never lose sight of where you are going.”

Yes. So much yes.

I spoke to my mom this morning. About twenty-three times. Okay, only about seven, but still. She was drunk and depressed. I have avoided that combo since my childhood. She babbled on about my dad visiting her (scary thought considering he’s been deceased for nine years), wearing a winter coat all night because she couldn’t sleep, how my sister Katie was coming over to take Katie to lunch for Katie’s birthday (I’m still trying to figure that one out), hugging her new picture book and crying, asking me to call the Bureau of Motor Vehicles about my nephew’s car, needing me to call back and wake her up because she was still sleeping (um, no, Mom, you are awake and talking to me right now), and arguing with her dead friends.

You are right to tell me I should put her in a nursing home, have her declared incompetent of self-care. After all, I found out she had attempted to walk to the liquor store at eighty-two years old because she ran out of vodka. In eighty-something degree heat. But, she hitched a ride halfway there (insert eye-roll here).

However, in a day or two, my phone will ring and my bright and cheery mom will start in with her sober chatter, “Hi, TT! How’s my beautiful daughter today? If you have time, will you stop by and show me how to use this new vacuum you bought me? And pick me up some cranberry juice on your way. Did I tell you about the meal I’m planning for my party tonight?” And I’ll hear all about her social events for the next week . . . dinner parties with gourmet foods all cooked by her, movie nights with her old lady friends, rosary group, and noon mass at St. Rose. Sober and coherent and oh-so-self-sufficient.

Leaving me and my sister in that limbo land. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. A pendulum existence between she-is-going-to-kill-herself-with-booze-and-pills and why-the-hell-did-you-stick-your-obviously-fun-and-perky-mom-in-a-nursing-home?

So, here I sit. Contemplating my new office decor.

“Live the life you’ve always dreamed of.”

Is it my duty to spend my days scurrying about making sure sober Mom is nurtured and drunk Mom lives? The life I’ve dreamed of certainly does not include either.

“Be fearless in the face of adversity.”

Why is it easier to face my own demons and confront my fears than it is to make a decision about where my mom should live? Perhaps because it’s HER life and not mine. This should be my mom’s decision, yet the only choice she is making is the one that’s haunted me since my teen years, when she told the family therapist, “If you are asking me to choose between alcohol and my family, I choose vodka.”

“Never stop learning.”

Joining Al-Anon was not so much eye-opening as it was a spotlight into my soul. Listening to others speak my thoughts, cry my tears, and confess to my lifelong fantasy of walking away from the chaos wreaked by my addict mother. Learning to end my co-dependent relationship with my mother has left me feeling more battered than the days she’d scream for my dad to hit me. How do I let go of my deeply ingrained Catholic guilt? Is there a way to let an old drunk hit rock bottom without shouldering the fallout? Who else will be there to clean it all up? (asks the over-achieving peace-keeper in me)

“Use your imagination whenever possible.”

I have imagined chunks of my life away. Sometime I wonder how much time I squandered day-dreaming my escapes. As a kid, my sister and I would lie awake in her rainbow-comforter-clad waterbed, dreaming up our lottery-winning adventures. We would buy our parents the white house with the blue roof near Grandma and Grandpa’s place in Covington. Then we would buy a camper and never look back. Today I dream of living my island life with no desire to look back at the chaos of addiction. Is that an acceptable use of imagination?

“Recognize the BEauty that surrounds YOU.”

Be. You. In gold letters.

Be.

You.

I spend every day noticing something beautiful in my life. From sunsets to ladybugs (I noticed both of those today!) to peaceful moments after the babbling phone calls.

Is there beauty to be found in her nonsense? Perhaps by being me, in all of my glitter-shitter glory, I can recognize the beauty that is my mom’s lesson. She has taught me to appreciate the moments between the mayhem. In all honesty, she’s taught me to appreciate the blessings within the torment, as well.

“Remember where you came from, but never lose sight of where you are going.”

I look like her. Especially as I age. I act like her, too. That’s mostly a good thing. She’s kind-hearted, likes to throw parties, loves to laugh, has deep faith, appreciates the value of friendship, and cries over sappy birthday cards and the Budweiser dog commercials. Yep. I’m my mom. In so many ways.

However . . . I really hate vodka.

Confessions & Coffee

My eighty-two year old mother has told me five times in the past three months, “I have secrets I am going to take to the grave.” When I’ve prodded her for more info, she’s informed me she will keep the secrets into death and that was the end of the discussion.

After recording an amazing podcast interview yesterday for The Healing Place Podcast with Cissy White of ACES Connection and Heal Write Now, where we discussed the healing power of releasing our stories, our truths, I realized perhaps my mom needed an opportunity to shed herself of the burdens she’s been shouldering.

This morning, I headed off to visit this sweet little old lady I call Mom, promising myself I would do all I could to help ease the pain of these secrets. She was super excited by the new mini boombox I bought her for $29.90 on Amazon. We popped in a Patsy Cline CD and tears welled in her eyes as a memory swam up from the depths of her soul. She mumbled, “I love Patsy Cline,” and I allowed her a moment in the past.

I gathered her garbage and recycling. Paid some bills and shredded stacks of envelopes asking her for charity donations. Then I sat in a chair and said, “Mom, I want to talk to you about something important for just a minute.” She put the newspaper down and gave me her full attention. Unusual for her.

I proceeded to talk to her about the podcast I had recorded and the studies surfacing on the healing powers of releasing our truths. I told her I believed she kept mentioning her “taking certain secrets to the grave” because on some level she wanted to set those secrets free. I asked about her childhood and she opened up about a long-carried traumatic incident and I thanked her for sharing after acknowledging her pain.

Then I pushed a little more. It was as if someone was tapping me on the shoulder, whispering in my ear. I started to ask questions which opened us up to a conversation filled with brutal honesty, tears, compassion, understanding, love, support, and forgiveness. It turns out, I already “knew” her deep, dark secret. It had surfaced in one of my EMDR therapy sessions as a memory for me from a very young age. I was there when it all transpired. We were able to connect over something she had let haunt her for almost fifty years.

My mom had released her secrets. And I released tears and understanding.

As I left my mom’s today, after giving her a kiss and an “I love you”, she told me, “Your dad was here this morning. I couldn’t hear what he was saying though.”

Today would have been my dad’s 81st birthday. Now I know who was whispering in my ear. We’ll keep working together to help mom heal as much as possible in this life before she comes to join you, Dad. Katie and I hear you. We’ve got your back.

 

She called after me as I was headed out the door, “TT! I need more coffee!” So, off to Kroger I ran for her favorite Gevalia K-cups.  We’ve got her back, too.

The Angry Saint

I recently received a coupon for a free 8X8 Shutterfly photo book. Coolio! I was going to make a memory book of kid pics for my son who moved to Denver earlier this year. Then I realized I had made him one this past Christmas. (Darn menopause brain!) I looked up to see a black and white photo of my dad hanging on the cork board next to my computer. Perfect. I decided, I’ll make Mom a memory book of Dad’s life.

I started by adding photos of him from his childhood, years in the Jesuit seminary, and wedding photos. Then I filled the remaining pages with pics of his daughters and grandchildren. Easy-peasy.

One of the pages, however, prompted me to write memories of my father. I started to type out my happy memories, but they were interrupted by flashes of his outbursts. I sat there staring at the computer screen, contemplating how I am currently in the process of finishing up a book about my adverse childhood experiences, including a violent history with my dad during the first ten years of my life. How hypocritical of me to write a happy paragraph about my Dad for a photo book, right?

So, I did what I always do and called my sister to talk it out. She gets it. She lived it. Right alongside me. Kind of. I was usually cowering behind a locked bathroom door while she was being hit with the belt, but the terror was still the same.

She brought up some valid points. It’s okay to focus on the happy times, the heart and soul moments. Dad and I had reached a place of forgiveness and had made our peace before his passing. Reliving his violence in the book is a tool for teaching. I am painting a picture of repeated trauma exposure in order to enlighten others on overcoming and conquering past demons. Yet, I can choose to highlight his many positive parenting traits alone in this  photo album . . . soccer dad, best cinnamon toast maker ever, our good-night story teller, defender against a fifth grade bullying nun, teacher of raisin-counting math skills, piggyback riding muscle man, and more.

My dad was a man of deep faith, praying his rosary almost daily, wearing his scapular, engaged in reflection and prayer in a little nook in the back bedroom of Mom and Dad’s apartment. He grew up witnessing moments of violence, married a severe alcoholic who demanded he silence the children whenever she was too tired to deal with us, and used his belt and frustration to obey her commands.

So, Dad, in honor of you, here is the brief summation of happy memories I wrote in the photo book I am gifting to mom: “Saturday mornings, after soccer, Dad would take us to ‘Burger Chef and Jeff‘ for a treasured Fun Meal. I loved it that he tucked us into bed at night, telling us fanciful stories about German Shepherds, aliens or flying cars. His imagination always at play, he would scare us by tying a glove to the end of the vacuum hose, having it appear around a corner as he’d throw his voice, or have us look for the “river sharks” as we’d pass over the humming bridge, or turn off all the lights during a slumber party and grab our ankles, dragging us screaming and laughing from our fort. He taught me to count with raisins, always picked me up from a friend’s even at 3 a.m. if needed, engaged in deep philosophical conversations, and gave the best hugs ever! Thanks most of all, Dad, for believing in me.”

I miss you.

I love you.

I forgive you.

 

 

 

 

 

Defining Resilience: Step 1 – Focus on the Positives

A sneak peak at a portion of my upcoming Hope for Healing newsletter scheduled for delivery July 1st. Subscribe at Hope for Healing newsletter or on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com. Thanks!
Defining Resilience
Step 1: Focus on the Positives
 

Before diving into step 1, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 1: Focus on the positives.

I love when my memories pop up on Facebook. I can glance back at my life over the past nine years, since joining that social media platform, and re-live the joys. Sure there is an occasional post where I set a gripe free, but it’s mostly happy-sunshine stuff.

However, it has not always been that way. This glitter-shitter stuff took a lot of effort. I had to completely revamp my habits in some areas. Here are eight suggestions to incorporate into your own life:

  • Surround yourself with positive energy: I made a concerted effort to remove toxic people from my life, or at least, how much exposure I had to their toxicity. Those energy vampires are draining. Emotionally, spiritually, even physically.
  • Create positive affirmations: I made mine using a Word doc, incorporating heart shapes into the doc, then filling the heart with nature photos I’ve snapped. Here is one of many I’ve created:
  • Practice mindfulness: This is a way to be present with all of your blessings in the present moment. Let your past worries go. Do not focus on future “what ifs”. Just be here. In this moment. With everything peaceful in the moment. I like to practice mine in nature settings as I find tranquility in that space.
  • Re-direct your negative thoughts: I will purposefully stop myself mid-thought and say, “Nope. Let’s think about this in a positive way, T.” Example: my eighty-two year old mom was taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R. strolling through the grocery store. My own to-do list was nagging at me and I found myself becoming impatient with her. I stopped myself right there in the condiments aisle and just looked at her little hand reaching for the hot sauce. I smiled in the moment, knowing I am blessed to still have her with me.
  • Smile: It sounds simple enough. But, seriously. It requires effort sometimes. I try to remind myself to connect with others through a smile. It truly is amazing how people respond. Sometimes they actually look surprised to see someone smiling at them! But, almost always, they smile back.
  • Look for the light in the darkness: This can seem an impossible task. Especially if you are hurting or struggling. But, I promise, you will help yourself recover your footing if you find that light, that thing, whatever it is in your dark moment. Focus on it, treasure it, remind yourself of it as often as needed. Purposefully seek out a positive force, solution, or beacon.
  • Share the positivity: Put your happiness out into the world. I keep a happy thoughts journal. I also share my joys on social media. I write about things that make my heart happy. I try to offer positive solutions to others. Through radiating joy, I bring more joy into my life.
  • Give of yourself: I ran into a teacher I used to work with while pumping gas earlier today. She made my heart smile when she said, “It’s not been the same since you left. We miss you. The kids really need you.” She was talking about the job I had as a mental health specialist working in various school settings. Helping those kiddos, offering them coping skills and a chance to talk about their struggles, sharing my positive energy, helped bring positivity into my life. I knew I was making a difference in their lives. I still do this though our therapy dog services, meeting with kids to discuss anxiety and the important role of therapy animals in healing.
Coming up next month: Step 2: Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.

Funks & Punks

I’ve been in an on-again-off-again relationship with a case of the funks for the past few weeks. So, of course, the universe throws a reminder onto my Facebook feed. A friend confessed her woes on a Mom group page and a slew of other moms joined in to concur . . . there is quite a bit of treading going on, just maintaining in order to keep our heads above water.

Photo by Manuel Meurisse on Unsplash

I have prayed on it. Meditated through it. Tried connecting with the trigger through journaling and mindfulness exercises. Some stuff flitters on by, but nothing has given me the AH-HA! goosebumps.

Yet.

Perhaps it’s a combination of stuff, slowly heaping up in the corner of the room while I try to pretend all is right with my world. I’m the glitter-shitter, after all. Must focus on the positive. Stay motivated. Be that beacon of light. However, the more I try to ignore this funk, the quicker it is turning into a punk-ass bitch, obnoxiously interrupting my normally chill demeanor on a more frequent basis.

 

I even pondered returning to therapy. A little talk session about my woes just might be the answer. Then I remembered . . . oh, yeah, I blog! Cheaper than therapy, right?

Therefore Dr. Blog Reader, I am dumping on you. Maybe you have some insights that will help me kick this punk, Funk, to the curb.


Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

I had an energy healer tell me once, “You are trying to keep too many plates spinning. You need to decide who you really want to be. It’s okay to say ‘no’ and let some of these things go.” Ugh. But, I am passionate about them all. Blogging, writing my books, The Healing Place Podcast, Sammie therapy dog work, running InvizaShield, and speaking. Not to mention the mom, wife, house-project-pro roles. However, I feel as if my friendship needs are waning. I used to connect with my peeps on a much more frequent basis. Now that has been back-burnered.

(A little AH-HA! goosie just appeared on my left arm.)


  • But, then again, I’m still harboring some ill feelings toward people in general. I experienced a burn a few months ago and I’m still
    Photo by Sebastien on Unsplash

    irritated by it. I want to expose the entire situation, but, just like in my youth, I am having to keep my mouth shut in order to protect others. I donned the peace-keeper role in my co-dependent family. And I’m doing it again. Only this time with a larger group. All in the name of peace. And that is seriously pissing me off.

(Must find a way to set this free without exposing those who could be hurt by the threatening authority figures. Golly I despise protecting the power-wielders.)


  • I was on a serious mission, headed in the right direction, the stars aligning, promises were being sent my way . . . (insert spike strip launched onto my path) . . . then crash. Right into that brick wall. It became painfully obvious that the entire motivation for those promising me the world was monetary. I was advised that I needed to focus on “monetizing” my mission in lieu of “helping others” as my driving force. Suddenly people who were “here to help” were asking for more money in order to do so. Money, money, money. I was being indoctrinated into the world of dollar signs and sales pitches. But, that’s not me. That’s not my goal. Do I want a beach house? Uh, yeah. Do I want to reach a million people with my story of hope and messages of positivity and healing? Absolutely. However, monetizing my mission for the sole purpose of just making money . . . nope.
  • Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

(My goal is to figure out the best way to share my story on a grand scale. Publish my book. Obviously. Online courses? Blogging? YouTube videos? Speeches? Sammie’s Bundles of Hope? Podcasting? Free e-books? My list is huge.)


So, there you have my top 3 funks right now.

The glitter-shitter is needing some sparkle. So, if you feel inclined, grab a handful and toss it my way!

Love and hugs,

T

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

www.teriwellbrock.com

You Are Magical

This writing space of mine feels like a hug every time I step into it. The walls smile at me from angel paintings, kid pics, inspirational quotes, and decorative reminders of treasured friendships. Today, as I sent up a prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for some inspiration for this blog, I found myself drawn to my “YOU ARE MAGICAL” cup.

Therefore, thanks to this Zen-looking unicorn, I am going to share with you ways in which you can whip up some magic in your life. I went with my spirit-inspired gut on these. There are thousands more I could choose from, but let’s start here:

  1.  Play.
  2. Dance.
  3. Sing.
  4. Paint.
  5. Swim.
  6. Hike.
  7. Call.
  8. Doodle.

Play: My daughter tapped gently on my office door about an hour ago, creaking it open enough to say, “Can you help me with this?” I paused from my ponderings and turned to nod her in. She held up the drone she had received as a Christmas gift. Flown once. Into a tree.

“Sure,” I semi-sighed . . . my to-do list already delayed by a few hours after an unplanned trip to the pediatrician for her sore throat.

We decided a second attempted launch from the cul-de-sac might work best. It still ended up in the tree. Oh boy. Swimming pool pole to the rescue! A few tries later, we had it hovering. After a crash landing into the neighbor’s garden and one bounce off of mom’s car, we had figured out the thumb-controlled-do-hickey-thingys (can you tell I’m a serious gamer?).

We laughed, ducked, screamed in fear as it careened toward us (okay, that was me), and had a fun mommy-daughter moment figuring out how to maneuver the drone over driveways and around mailboxes.

Get out there and play. A board game. A card game. A video game. Monopoly or Spades or Wii Just Dance 2018. Or toss a football, grab a hula hoop, jump on a trampoline. Having a twelve-year-old around helps!


Dance: I have a friend who teaches an amazing dance class. I’m hoping to get back to it as soon as this old-lady knee of mine strengthens. Be sure to check it out, if you are in the Cincinnati area. Amanda is ahhh-mazeballs!

But, this knee won’t stop me from popping in those Wii dance games and getting my groove on, battling it out with my kiddo for first place. Or dancing in my car. My middle child loves it so when I car-dance at red lights < – – – sarcasm font! And sometimes, I just blast a good song from my Pandora station while I write, push my office chair aside and get down with my bad self right here in my Zen space. Zen and disco can co-exist, right?


Sing: Sometime I can hit those Mariah notes. Sometimes not so much. But, I can ALWAYS belt out “Lady” by Little River Band. Every. Damn. Time.

My oldest son can rap like no one I’ve ever heard. Brilliant. My youngest son is moved (like his momma) by the lyrics, the singers’ stories, the tales behind the rhymes.

Music touches me on a soul level. And I let that move me.

Sing it out, people. Whether you are Harry Caray or Mariah Carey. Release your soul’s music.


Paint: My dad was an artist. My sister has had her artwork featured in galleries. Me? Not so much. I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler.

So when a friend invited me to one of those painting parties at Cheers to Art, I literally laughed out loud. But, I decided it would be fun to at least drink the wine that was part of the package deal. I was completely blown away by the fact that my “sunbeams coming through the trees” painting actually ended up looking like sunbeams coming through the trees.

Grab a brush (and possibly some wine) and set your inner-Rembrandt free.


Swim: I have combined “quality kid time” and “exercise” with this one. My daughter and I have a little contest going every night, barring thunderstorms obviously, seeing who can finish our laps in the pool in the quickest time. She keeps bumping the goal by five laps each day. We are up to fifty-five as of yesterday.

My dad was not a swimmer. He was terrified of it. And not much scared that six foot six inch papa of mine. So, my advice is this, if you fear the water, grab one of those donut rings, stay in the shallow end, make sure another person is always with you, and just float. Let your hands skim the surface, watch those little bugs swoop in for a drink, let your soul dance with the sunbeams glistening on the splashes, allow the weightlessness of your body to float peacefully through the water.


Hike: My favorite place is anywhere I can hear a bird singing or a wave crashing, smell the sweetness of the forest or the saltiness of the ocean air. So strap on those hiking shoes or beach trekkers and hit it.

There is something magical that happens when we put the to-do lists away and allow ourselves permission to immerse ourselves in nature. I find my greatest peace when I find a bench at our local nature preserve and just sit. With no agenda. I merely allow it fall upon me. The sounds, the smells, the sights, the creatures, the sensations, the energy, and the tranquility.


Call: Reaching out to a friend, a family member, even a business acquaintance, via a phone call to check in can brighten our days with some much needed connection. I am a texting fan. It’s quick. It’s easy.

However, I know, for me personally, I also need some depth. And I find that through my chats, whether face-t0-face or phone calls, with others. I love my hour long catch-up calls with my son who lives in Denver. I treasure that time together.

Check on a friend today. Even if it’s just five minutes while driving to the store (using your hands-free feature . . . safety first, pumpkin!).


Doodle: Again, not an artist. My doodles always look somewhat toddlerish. But, I love doodling in my journals. Hearts, flowers, more hearts, smiley faces, hearts again, sunshine and trees, and possibly another heart. And angels.

Drawing can be a way to express something we might be struggling to find words to release it. I have used this coping skill with kids struggling with anxious feelings.


I look at this list, now that I’ve finished typing, and I realize that magic is created by setting our inner child free. Play, dance, sing, paint, swim, hike, call, and doodle.

Well, I’m off to let the kid beat me at some pool laps. Then maybe I’ll challenge her to a game of Battleship. She’s going down!

Angel Whispers and Neon Signs

Photo by Dalal Nizam on Unsplash

I am one of those folks who pay attention to the subtle whispers of my angels. I used to tell God, “Listen, Big Guy, I need some neon signs sent my way. Big flashing arrows pointing me in the right direction, if you don’t mind. Thanks!”

It’s taken years of practice, silencing the hum of my own insecurities and quieting my own directives, but I now notice the gentle taps on the shoulder, “Hey, T, look,” turning my head to notice the heart-shaped leaf on the ground.

Ah, thanks, God.

I’ve come to realize those sweet little nudges ARE the neon God-signs I had been asking for all along.

Lady bugs crawling on my manuscript, sunbeams radiating onto a crappy day, little kid giggles interrupting my mental chanting of shopping list items, unicorn fart coffee mug gifts from a friend “just because”, cardinal songs outside my window as my dad’s memory flutters through the room. Angel whispers filling my days.

As I sent up a little prayer this morning, feeling a bit melancholy over an old loss, I received a beautiful text: “I truly think you are an amazingly beautiful person.” Tears welled in my eyes, the timing of that message impeccable, as the sunlight beaming into the room caught my attention.

I turned to see the beams radiating through the glass sign I have perched on the window sill, the words “be brave” illuminated in a joyous reminder.

photo credit Teri Wellbrock

I’ve been looking for inspiration for this latest blog. Waiting to be prodded by some spirit-movings. I’d say this qualifies.

5 Ways to Awaken Your Awareness of Angel Whispers and God Signs

  • Look for hearts.

 I find them everywhere. Every day. I just walked downstairs to let the dogs back inside and laughed as I found a chewed remnant of a dog toy . . . in the shape of a neon orange heart on the stairs. Love is all around us. All we need to do is open our hearts (and our eyes) to notice. I will be posting a free downloadable e-book on my website some time in the next few weeks. It will be filled with heart pics I’ve snapped along with quotes and stories about love. Be sure to download it on my Teri Wellbrock website once it’s available. Until then, there is other free downloadable content available as a resource.

  • Meditate. 

I started out using a simple 2-5 minute meditation I had found on a phone app. Learning to meditate in short intervals was a much needed boost of confidence that I could actually do it.  I had always struggled with any attempts to meditate. My mind would wander repeatedly and I’d throw in the towel about thirty seconds in. Several different apps I found actually encouraged letting my mind wander, so I could practice utilizing my breath to reign it back in. I have created a few simplistic meditation videos. You can practice by listening in on my website or directly on YouTube.

I eventually worked my way up to 30-minute meditations, using apps and various YouTube guided meditation videos. I now make meditating a part of my daily routine. It has opened up my senses to everything beautiful. Including those angel messages.

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash
  • Practice mindfulness.

This is a favorite technique that I will talk about often. Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

It is a gift to yourself. Being aware of the space you fill in this present moment and all that surrounds you in the now can be more difficult than it sounds . . . hence the need for practice. I like to hike at Cincinnati Nature Center, reminding myself to absorb the sensations of the moment (the sounds of scurrying chipmunks, the sweet scent of honeysuckle blossoms, the tickle of the sweat bee landing on my arm). Those moments, after all, are filled with angel whispers.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash
  • Welcome balance.

Another concept I struggled with throughout most of my life was that of allowing myself the gift of relaxation, “me” time, without the weight of guilt sitting heavily upon my shoulders. I would try to kick back, but my to-do list would nag at me. All of the “shoulds” poking at me. You should be writing. You should be cleaning. You should be studying. 

Once I realized the benefits of giving myself permission to relax, unwind, let go, and enjoy the moment, I quickly learned to put those to-do list bullies in their place. Now I remind myself that my angel gifts come to me in those letting-go moments. They appear within the pauses.

photo credit Teri Wellbrock
  • Be gentle with yourself.

A huge lesson learned. This was one of those Ah-ha! moments in my life. A true awaking. On so many levels. I can honestly say that learning how to accomplish this seemingly simple mindset was life-altering.

When you find yourself being self-ridiculing or slamming yourself over a mistake, stop. When you find yourself doubting your abilities, stop. When you start to question your worth, stop. When you pick on your weight or your wrinkles or your knack of crying at all things sappy, stop.

Instead . . . be gentle with yourself. Remind yourself you are trying. And you are worthy. And loved. And beautiful. Give yourself a hug. Be your own best friend. Hold your own hand. That’s when you’ll hear the angel whisper, “I believe in you.”

Photo credit Teri Wellbrock

 

 

 

 

Thirty Tranquil Ponderings for a Murdered Girl

Thirty years ago today. Wow. That just dawned on me as I sat poolside, journaling today’s ponderings. May 23, 1988. A day I thought would forever be burned upon my soul. Branded by a cruel and searing experience.

As I turn my head to the left, sitting in my writing space, I glance upon a file folder holding newspaper articles, court documents, and everything cold and factual about that day.

I feel the tingles of a presence beside me. The spirit of a girl whose earth-life was stolen. Marsha Burger, age twenty-eight, engaged to be married, my new after-work bowling league teammate . . . shot with a gun that had been held to my head only three months prior on February 19, 1988 in a previous bank robbery. Our lives forever entangled in the cold steel of the revolver and the thick, callous fingers of a thief.

Video: Raw News Coverage May 23, 1988 

I find myself joyous in the fact that it took me until 4:00 p.m. to realize the significance of this date. I used to dread the anniversary’s approach for years, decades really. A reminder of all of my broken pieces showcased on displays labeled “Panic Attacks” and “Overwhelming Anxiety”.  

Here I sit, oh-so-serene, thirty years after running terrified from the gun shots, staring down the barrel of a Luger semi-automatic weapon, as I froze in fear behind a house in the neighborhood just beyond the bank. I am calm. I have made my peace with the ghosts.

Today, in honor of you and your thirty years transitioned to another life, Marsha Burger, I share thirty tranquil thoughts:

1. There is peace in the stillness where there used to be overwhelming fear.

2. There is freedom in forgiveness.

3. There is clarity in the space between thoughts. 

4. Each breath in is a gift, each breath out brings more relief.

5. God sends love via nature hearts.

Do you see the heart?

6. There is comfort in  musical melodies

7. Being surrounded by angels, both real and through treasured collection of paintings, figurines, and calendars brings contentment. 

8. Life is celebrated through laughter.

9. Prayer is meditative.

10. Writing heals the soul.

11. Friendship is a gift of spirit connections. 

12. Cardinals visit to share messages from beyond this world.

13. Carrying a child’s heartbeat is a treasure beyond measure.

14. Trinkets of hope bring joy to others.

15. Unicorns are real . . . well, at least their shadows are!

Unicorn Shadows

16. Being a glitter-shitter is a great #lifegoal.

17. Magic is experienced in helping others.

18. Smiling instills calmness. 

19. Hiking is good for the body, mind, and soul.

20. Creative outlets release negative stored energy. 

21. We are all our own heroes. 

22. Self-care is a necessary component of healing.

23. Hugs are therapeutic . . . so are dogs.

24. Positivity radiates from within. 

25. Sharing stories of triumph offers hope. 

26. Resilience stems from having a supportive hand to hold.

27. Photos capture essence. 

28. Kindness equates the greatest wealth of all.

29. Love truly IS the answer.

30. . . . and finally . . . God is love.

 

Peace to you. Peace to us all.

 

Boundaries, Beatitudes and Besties

I was chatting with a friend today and confessed that the first time my newfound therapist (back in 2013) suggested I put “healthy boundaries” in place in regards to my then BFF, I truly had no clue what she was asking me to do.

Really.

No clue.

As an empath and lightworker, I have always found myself drawn toward the broken heartbeats in the world. As an adult child of an alcoholic, still trying to figure out the meaning of codependency as it applies to my life, I have also found myself desperate to save those I thought were drowning in a sea of despair. I would throw on my super-hero cape, the one with the Good Daughter emblem on it, and swoop in to save the day.

Photo by Steven Libralon on Unsplash

Having grown up more Catholic than the pope himself  (Dad was a Jesuit brother for eight years, Mom spent her recess time in grade school sneaking into the chapel to pray, and my parents spent their honeymoon saying the rosary together instead of attempting some procreation stuff), I was indoctrinated into the faith. My main goal in life, according to my mother, was to “find a good Catholic boy, marry him, and make little Catholic babies.” In that order. Obviously.

I was instructed, on a nearly daily basis, how to be a good Christian and follow such teachings as those dictated by Christ during his Sermon on the Mount, as shared in the Gospel of Matthew, The Beatitudes:

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
     for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
     for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
     for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
     for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean in heart,
     for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers,
     for they will be called children of God. 

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the peacemakers. My self-imposed role. Straight A student, conformist, good girl, avoider-of-conflict-at-all-costs. One of those eye-opening realizations when I read “Codependent No More” by Melanie Beatty, was my unhealthy role as peacekeeper in my family. A peacekeeper mentality can actually be a good thing when we have healthy boundaries in place and are cognizant of the driving force behind our desire for tranquility. Where I was up until 2016 was donning the unhealthy peacekeeper role.

A recipe for chaos: 

No clue about boundaries.

Unhealthy peacekeeper mentality.

Drawn to hurting souls.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Then, boom, March of 2016, it all became painfully obvious. I was brought to my knees when my bestie disappeared from my life without warning at the exact moment my alcoholic mother was fighting for her life in a state of detox, seeing little boy ghosts and hearing songs not being sung, in her month-long hospital and rehab stay.

After crying for, oh, I don’t know, a year, I did what I always do when confronted with chaos . . . I researched the shit out of it. I read books and articles, listened to podcasts, watched videos, joined online groups, tormented my friends with hours of contemplation, self-reflected through journaling, and prayed. A lot.

Somewhere along the way I learned how to forgive. And I learned about loving from a soul perspective in lieu of ego-based. Most importantly, I learned how to let go. In the process, I put some healthy boundaries in place (it’s still a work in progress and some of the lines are squiggly, but that’s alright). I also maintained my role as peacekeeper, as I am a huge fan of tranquil living, but with the realization that I can say “no” and stand up for myself at the same time. Respect for myself and my own needs has been a key component.

Utilizing ho’oponopono Hawaiian healing practice has been crucial, as well. For instance, I might silently say to someone who has been curt, “I’m sorry I don’t understand your anger. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” Then I move on.

Now when my eyes meet the knowing eyes of another soul who has dwelled in the darkest of spaces, I offer a hand to hold, as always, but with this knowledge in place:

  • Healthy boundaries are crucial to a healthy relationship.
  • A peaceful existence is possible, even with a volatile past.
  • As a lightworker and empath, my role is one of empowering others through  “I get it” connections on an emotional and spiritual level, while honoring my own space.

I’ve been thinking about the girl I used to call my “best friend”. There are days I miss her. Tremendously. When she comes to mind, I send off a little prayer. And in it, I wish her peace.

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash