Monday Mayhem: What Are You Missing?

Have you ever asked yourself why?

Why am I here…?

In this town…

At this job…

At this point in my life…

Or, ever wondered when…?

When will I move forward?

Be more, do more, see more?

When will things change?

I have.

Then one day–consumed by papers, deadlines, schedules and plans,  the clock is frowning down on me as I lean into the computer screen and try to decipher my own thinking about this afternoon’s class, I hear a knock on my door.

“Come in!” I yell without looking up and a timid girl slips in without a sound.

I glance up, “Yes?” I notice she has a strange look on her face so I stop what I’m doing and wait.

“Ms.–” there’s a distinct lilt in her voice. It’s musical even though her face is drawn and sad. “I haven’t heard from my family since yesterday and I just don’t know what to do.” She swings herself into the chair next to my desk the way I swing my tote bag down at the end of a long day, exhausted.

Whatever was planned for class that day will have to wait. I turn to face her, wondering what I should say. News reports of historic Category 5 hurricanes hitting defenseless Caribbean islands is all we’ve been hearing about lately. None of the news is good. All of the predictions are “devastating losses” of life and property. The fact that this girl has not heard from her family is a sign that, as expected, the storms have hit her home and knocked out power. There is no way to know if they are dead or alive. And here she is thousands of miles away trying to “do school” and go on, be positive and pray, but it has become more than she can bear.  So she’s come here—to her English teacher’s office—a few minutes before class—and let the floodgates open.

I whisper a prayer to myself, but I realize I don’t need to say much. It is better for me to listen and be a sympathetic ear, to tell her it’s okay to cry and that I, indeed, understand how she feels. I, too, have family in the islands. This is a scary time. I also tell her not to feel guilty for being here “safe and sound” while they are down there in harm’s way. As a mother, I tell her, it would give me great comfort to know that at least one of my children is not in the midst of this storm and I’m sure her mother feels the same way.

Then she asks me to pray for her, and because we’re here, at a Christian school, it’s actually okay for us to do that! So we do, and I ask God to open our eyes the way he did Elisha’s servant when the enemies were surrounding them and it seemed their defeat was certain, so that we could see his army that surrounded the enemy, outnumbering them!  In that moment we needed to be reminded and encouraged that He who is for us is greater than all that is against us.

She thanked me and left.

And wouldn’t you know it? After class she told me she received a call from home! There was some damage to her house, but her family was safe. I later heard from my family members as well. So, our story had a happy ending!  But that’s actually not the end of the story…

I began by saying that I often ask myself “why am I here?” And I sometimes even sink into a pit of despair as I think about where I would like to be, but then I have experiences like this and I feel like Elisha’s servant looking out over the hills of Dothan–first feeling overwhelmed and defeated by the enemy of doubt and low self-esteem–and then dumbstruck by the reality that I am, after all, not left alone to face that enemy when he opens my eyes and allows me to see the vast host of God’s army standing behind them with chariots of fire. (2 Kings 6:17)

So, a few weeks later, I’m having another paper-filled, lesson-plan, meeting and worry-whirlwind kind of morning when there’s another knock on my door.

“Come in!”

It’s the sweet Caribbean girl again! “Oh, I’m glad you’re here” she says. “I’ll be right back,” and a few minutes later she reappears carrying these…

flowers_small

“I just wanted to thank you for praying with me,” she says, and this time it was my turn to let the floodgates open.

I was the teacher, but that day my student taught me a lesson.   So often my time and attention is spent looking elsewhere, but is my purpose right in front of me?  How often am I distracted by what’s not while I continually ignore what is? Like Elisha’s servant, my eyes needed opening and the gorgeous blooms gave me an appropriate jolt.

Why am I here?

For moments like this.

What about you?

Happy Monday!

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Daily Post: #enlighten

Monday Mayhem: Do the Right Thing!

Why are Mondays so hard? Is it because of Newton’s law—“a body in motion, stays in motion,” so a body that’s motionless remains so? I suppose, then, if you’ve spent the weekend mentally and/or physically in “chill mode” it will take an act of God to move you from chill to work mode, then, huh?

Yep.

Today is a Monday, for sure.

Literally, every class I walked into the faces staring back at me looked like this:

Student

So, it’s on me to bring the energy–no pressure–yeah, right!  As if I haven’t been laid up all weekend too. I have problems of my own! No matter. When all eyes are on you, you have to step to the plate. Mondays come whether we like it or not—whether we’re ready or not. We just have to zip up our big girl or big boy pants and decide:

what is the next right thing?

I thought about this when staring back at those less-than-enthusiastic faces and when I watched Mel Robbins talking about the 5 second rule that propelled her out of a rut and into her successful career. Lynn Cowell, too, echoes this sentiment in her latest book Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You, because this difficulty with figuring out what to do next starts when we’re young. But, really, it’s an age-old concept. Leo Tolstoy’s parable “Three Questions” lays out clearly how to handle hard tasks: one at a time.

You see, the secret to pushing past the Monday blues and don’t wanna-get-out-of-bed days that keep us stuck in dead-end jobs, in crazy-cycle relationships, in counterproductive mindsets is answering one simple question: what is the next right thing?

Not, “what is the answer to all my problems?” Not, “how am I going to solve all these issues?” Not, “how do I climb Mount Everest!” But just what is the next step? How do I make it through this next challenge—even if that challenge is getting out of bed!

The reality is, we will never know all of the answers or have everything figured out anyway. So, waiting for the full picture to be clear will only frustrate us. The only thing that’s certain and completely in our control is right now and although taking control of each moment seems so simple it can also be so empowering! If I take control of this moment and do the right thing right now—even the smallest right thing–then perhaps the next right step will be revealed by that action and I will know what needs to be done next! And after that? Well, I’ll wait for that moment to come.

Yes. Mondays are hard. But they don’t have to be. All you have to do is tackle them like every other day–one moment at a time.

So, do the right thing…have a Happy Monday!

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Revamp Monday: True Confessions!

I’m a workaholic. I have a hard time slowing down and unplugging from work obligations, especially when I have a lot to do. There’s a sort of adrenlin-rush that comes from busy-ness and activity and a bit of anxiety that comes over me when there’s nothing going on. I always feel like I should be “doing something”. I actually have to make a concerted effort to rest when work is calling. Crazy, huh?  But they say that recognizing you have a problem is the first step towards finding a solution, so I suppose I’m halfway there!

Of course, knowing what to do is a lot harder than doing what you know.  In today’s “Revamp Monday” Tanzy reveals her own struggle in “Confessions of an Abuser,” but I don’t mean for you to esteem her struggle in contrast to mine. You should see them as one and the same, for they both have one crucially common component: our health. My penchant for busy too often pushes me to the brink. I suffer from migraines, high blood pressure runs in my family, heart attacks and strokes are common risk factors. We both have to take seriously the lure of our addictions–even those that seem, on the surface, to be a good thing!

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It was a stressful day. Caseload at work was epic and I had paperwork to last hours. There was a mountain of laundry begging for my attention and a sink full of dishes that had been woefully neglected. My stress levels were climbing towards 7.9 on the rector scale, So I did what had become so natural to me. I pulled into the drive through at my favorite burger joint and ordered my usual sedative: a number 6 with a root beer and extra sauce. Only 5 minutes into my meal and I felt blissful stress relief come over me.

Later that night after rushing through homework, laundry, dinner time, bath time and bed time, a wave of overwhelming fatigue took hold and I reached to the cupboard for my rescue: a bar of chocolate that soothed my suffering. I repeated this pattern regularly. For years, but not just in hard times, in good times also. After completing that project at work that consumed many weekends, I decided a celebration was in order. Reservations at my favorite pasta restaurant. Appetizers, entrée, soda and dessert!  In fact, eating became my answer to many emotional callings: 

Stressed? Eat. 

Depressed? Eat. 

Happy? Eat. 

Overwhelmed? Eat.

Thankful? Eat. 

Worried? Eat. 

The practice of eating was closely integrated into every life experience. Every emotion. Every occasion. Food was my best friend. Like a toxic lover, my addiction lured me and always delivered the relief I needed–rich, high-calorie foods with little nutritional value, excess sugar, starch and fat–they were good to me, but not good for me. They made me feel better, but not without consequences. Years into the co-dependent  relationship, it bore fruit: weight gain, splotchy skin, worsening asthma, chronic fatigue, digestive upset, a sedentary lifestyle, insecurity and low self-esteem. While I had been exercising consistently I wasn’t addressing my diet in the way I needed to, and the mere thought of facing it, made me fearful! Food had become my best friend and confidant, my “blankey”, my “binki,” my counselor, my consoler, my relief, my medication.  I was terrified to fix it!

The relationship we had was twisted, toxic and abusive. I was both the abused and the abuser. I was the victim and the offender.  I was in the right and also in the wrong. We all need food to fuel our body, but I was using it to fuel my emotions. 

The effort it would take to rectify this complicated relationship would be constant and intense. It requires moment by moment mindfulness, regular prayer and accountability. It means learning to embrace the full weight of my emotions whether positive or negative. It requires finding alternatives for celebrating and mourning. It means going through crippling periods of withdrawal. It requires learning the ugly nutritional truths of man-made food, but also being enlightened by the glorious nutritional truths of God-made food. And it will likely take a lifetime to heal the bond between me and food–a lifetime to put food in its rightful place.

But it’s worth it. For the sake of my mental health, my children and grandchildren, an extended life expectancy and an improved quality of life. It’s worth it. Everything we put into our bodies is fuel. Either fuel for disease or fuel for good health.   I no longer want to indulge in things that rob me of the abundant life available to me. I want to live my life to the fullest. After all, you are what you eat!

Tanzy Chandler
Physical Therapist
Group Fitness Instructor
Founder of
REVAMP FITNESS
“Become a Better You”
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