Thursday, January 27, 2011

Childhood Conditioning and "The Snake"

Last night I crawled into bed, fluffed my pillows and then looked at the stacks of books on my nightstand.  "Hmm.....which one to choose.... I just need a little something to read to "center myself" before a much needed slumber."  I chose a random book and turned to a random page - and this is exactly what I read:

There's a great story about recovering from attraction to dangerous men.  It goes like this:  

     When you're really ill, you don't even know a snake when you see one. 

     Once recovery begins, you see a snake and you know it's a snake, but you still play with it.  

     Once you've landed in true recovery zone, you see a snake, you know it's a snake, and you cross to the other side of the road.

I took the above random book, random page as a sign from my inner divinity to write on the topic of my experience with "snakes"
Before I came to this place in my journey where I now automatically "cross to the other side of the road", those I held most dear tried desperately to warn me.  However, I wouldn't listen.  People would tell me the fire I was playing with was going to burn, it was going to hurt and scar me.  I would refuse to listen because I thought he would be different since he was with me and I was the one who would be able to "save" him from himself.  After all, even though he would have crazy outburst, was extremely jealous and would often play terrible mind games.....on the other hand he shared secrets, appeared very vulnerable and was very protective of me. However, not soon enough I did realize he was in fact, a master snake.  Even more ingenious at being a snake than all the other snakes I had encountered in my lifetime. (And just for the sake of one of my readers being from my past, not all of my relationships were with snakes.  At the time, I didn't even know what a snake was)

Was it me?  Was I the fool?

Was I simply obtuse and foolish?  Was I delusional to think I could make such a positive impression in someone's life whereas they would immediately transform all their evil into something of beauty?  Was it me?  Did I not deserve to be in a relationship whereas each person treated each other with respect, dignity and love?

I do understand there is no forcing the process by which we simply stop being attracted to pain.  It took a significant amount of research, work, courage and going deeper within myself than I had ever experienced. Today, I am surrounded on a daily basis by many who are indeed on this exact same path I took those few years ago.  I am truly liberated and agree there are not many excuses not to change with all of the information and resources available to us today to join in the work that will ultimately give everyone this incredible liberating freedom.

To answer my own questions:  No, I was not simply foolish or delusional and Yes, I deserve respect, dignity and love in all of my relationships.  Back when I was playing with "master snake", I was working perfectly.  I was functioning the way my subconscious had been programmed to function.  How is a subconscious programmed?  Let's take these two scenarios for example -

First Example:
On a typical day in the life of this child she comes home from school and is greeted by her father:  "Well hello my favorite girl!  How was school today?  Sit down and tell me about it!"

Second Example:
On a typical day in the life of this child she comes home from school and is greeted by her father:  "Listen fat ass, don't slam that door again or I will slam you!  Now get me something to drink!"

If your childhood was filled with kisses, nurturing, embraces, affection, protection and you were praised and encouraged - you will expect the same as an adult.

However, if love was taught through yelling, throwing things, trauma, silence, drama, dismissal and unattainable expectations, THIS will be your inner emotional connection as “love”. 

If as a child, you looked for love yet all you found was pain (snake), what will you find when you are an adult and you look for love?  Yes, more pain (more snakes).

In the event that today a snake is ringing my front doorbell - and even if he is holding a Publisher's Clearing House check with my name on it, I will not be answering the door -  for I am one to be pleased to announce a few years ago I landed in the true recovery zone.

© Copyright 2011-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grief: The importance of setting a beautiful and safe space for others

I'm sitting up in bed at 8:50 am working diligently to fight this chest cold.  I've taken my Ibruprofen, Zicam, placed a moist heating pad on my chest and perched my laptop on my knees.  In the next room my girlfriend who is staying with me for a few weeks is journaling - as she faithfully does each and every morning.  She has stacks and stacks of spiral notebooks where she has written her thoughts and dreams and shares her amazing stories of her remarkable journey on pages that I am certain anxiously await her and her pen each day.

Have you ever had a friend whereas their very presence seems to keep you flowing effortlessly down your own incredible path?  This is my friend.  Her name is also Lisa.  Lisa Donahue. (her artist name is "Chicago Mermaid")  We are known to many as "Lisa squared". (((Lisa²)))  Lisa isn't just my friend...she is a devoted friend to many people from all over the world....she is a magnificent human being.  

I met her approximately 3 years ago whereas she and I were both scheduled to work an event.  I had just driven 2 hours to the hotel where the event was to take place and I was flustered because I was running late. (I'm usually never late!)  My responsibility was to oversee the greeting/registration table - and when I finally arrived to the area - there she was..... standing with her long skirt and boots and sporting her amazing smile and fashionable glasses.  The first moment I was in her presence - I recall feeling calm and at peace.  Amazing how some people just seem to have that affect on us. Being introduced to her at that moment...I wouldn't have guessed in a million years all that she had endured in her life.  

Then it happened....someone must have said something funny because I hear the most amazing laugh I have ever heard in my entire life!  If the unique laugh of Lisa Donahue could be bottled up and sold - there would be millions of dollars made.  To this day people who know her love to tell her funny jokes JUST so they can hear her laugh!  I've been known to be driving alone somewhere and I would just think of her laugh and I immediately start to laugh myself! Yeah, it's that kind of magical laugh.

Lisa is an artist.  What kind of artist?  She is simply "an artist".  She writes, paints, creates, plays, acts, sings..... She has every aspect of an amazing "artist in general".  Her story in unique, as everyone's story is unique.  When people learn of "her story" I feel it gives them the desire to share their own unique story. Everyone has a story to share.  Everyone has a message within them to assist others.   I won't go into detail the many facets of Lisa's story here, I will leave that for her to do once her book is completed and released - yet I will share with you the short version regarding "who she is" and "what she does".  

Lisa is the mother of four children and six grandchildren.  Lisa lost  her 18 year old son a few years ago in a car accident and then lost her 3 year old grandson from an illness thereafter.  This woman works day and night on her emotional health - and one of the magnificent ways she does this is to help others who too are grieving.  I cannot imagine her pain.  I cannot begin to fathom how she wakes up every morning and goes throughout her day.  She is an angel to all who has the opportunity to meet her.  Her story is even more interesting in regards to "where she lives", "what she does" and "what her actual days entail"....yet again, Lisa will share her incredible stories in detail with the world when the timing is perfect.  

We talk often in regards to what she's been through so I can better understand her pain and she always replies "Remember, every person's deepest pain is their deepest pain".  I think that is remarkable for her to say.  My deepest pain is my deepest pain, and her deepest pain is her deepest pain.  As I have often said to her "Lisa, I cannot imagine what you've been through - I don't know if I would be able to survive that kind of pain" I then recall the many who have learned my own personal story and said the exact same thing to me. 

This past week I was given the opportunity to attend a Continuing Education course on "Grief".  Knowing my friend was coming for a visit - I made an adjustment in my schedule to be able to attend this class.  I wanted to learn more about "Grief" for the mere fact that my friend Lisa means so much to me.

What I learned was much more than I had anticipated.  One of the most important things I learned from the class what that "grief" wasn't necessarily just when someone who is important to you transitions or dies - Grief is actually "Total Change from what you've known life to be".  

There are 43 life events that produce feelings of grief including death, divorce, moving, major financial situations in either direction, birth of a child, a child leaving the nest, career, etc.  Grief is not just bad or good.  There have been many for example who have won the lottery and more than 90% lose all the money within 3 years - this could be considered a "double whammy" of "grief".  First your financial situation changes drastically....then if you are one of the 90% of the statistics - you experience a major loss.  

Different, Better and More ~ Hopes, Dreams and Expectations

No one needs help grieving - everyone does it in their own way and at their own pace.  However, there are very common immediate reactions when we experience a loss.  Three words:  Different, Better and More.  "We wish things would be "different", "We wish things were "better", "We wish that we would have said/did_______"more".  And three additional words:  Hopes, Dreams and Expectations.  We have unrealized hopes, dreams and expectations about the future.  

Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss and the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviors.  

Unresolved Grief is anything that is left emotionally incomplete for the griever as the result of death, divorce or any other loss.

Although grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss, most of what we learned about dealing with grief is abnormal, unnatural and unhelpful.

There are major myths that limits our ability to deal effectively with loss.  These myths are universal and bypass cultural and religious predispositions.

Before I explain these major myths - I want to share this little tidbit I learned from the class. 

"In order to grow up to be an adult, you must first be a child".  

I know it may sound funny - however it is so true in many areas of our lives.  During my career development and being recognized as "America's Inner Child Healing Expert", this tidbit isn't unrealistic to me at all.  If we have been taught to cope in a certain way to any of life's challenges that are not within the design of our human development, we may not be an "adult" in that particular area of our life...and it is very likely it will affect other major areas of our life as well.  

For something as important as experiencing grief, it is understandable of the impact of the major damage on the person, the family, the community....and the world.  In a crisis, we go back to how we were taught to cope as a child of 3-4 years of age.

1.  Don't Feel Bad:  Let's imagine a scenario such as this:  

A little girl comes home from school and is crying.  Her parent asks her what is wrong.  "The other children at school are making fun of me".  The parent says "Oh honey, don't feel bad.  Here, have a cookie - you'll feel better!".  

The cookie doesn't make her feel better - it makes her feel "different".  When this little girl becomes a teenager and experiences her first breakup - what do you think she will choose to "not feel bad"?  Food, a substance or another relationship?  What happens when she grows even older and experiences even more major losses like a loss of a parent, or a loss of a child like my friend Lisa has experienced or a divorce.  What will she choose to "not feel bad?"

In our culture, there are 23,000 inputs to the average human being by the age of 15 years old that say "Don't feel bad" and "Don't tell others you feel bad".  Every time we say "Don't feel bad" or repeat little quotes like "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" we are conditioning ourselves in a way we are not designed.

Grieving people NEED to talk about their loss.  If they are told "Don't feel bad" then they don't talk about it.  They feel they "shouldn't" talk about it because they are "not suppose to feel bad".  When someone voices they feel bad....allow them to feel what they feel for as long as they need to feel it - love them enough to listen, encourage them to share their feelings. If we were allowed to "feel bad" when we were a child in our culture...we would be allowed to feel appropriate feelings when we are an adult and thus be more emotionally healthy.  

2.  Replace The Loss:   Let's imagine these scenarios:  

A little girl's dog dies.  The parents do what they think is a loving gesture and immediately go out and buy the little girl another dog to replace the one she loved.  

A teenage boy's girlfriend breaks up with him and he goes to his parent for emotional support. "There's plenty of fish in the sea, son.  Go out and find another fish and you will be okay."  

The reality is - no one will be able to replace the loss of the unique bond of any given relationship.  There will never be another dog like "spot" to the little girl and there will never be a girlfriend like "Brittany" to the teenage boy.  Replacing the loss is impossible.  What happens when the teenage boy grows up to be a man - and a relationship with a grown woman does not work out - does he continue to replace a woman over and over again or does he learn relationships can not be replaced because each relationship is unique?  

3.  Grieving Alone:  You know the saying "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone"?  This is in fact how our culture views grieving.  Grieving alone is a learned phenomenon and not a natural phenomenon.  We may recall being told in our childhood "Go to your room and if you keep crying, I will give you something to cry about!" Human beings need to be able to communicate when they feel bad, or feel sad.  Grieving alone is very dangerous yet a learned trend in our culture and destructive to our human design and emotional health.

4.  Time Heals All Wounds:  NO it DOESN'T!  
Time does NOT heal all wounds!  Time cannot heal an emotional wound.  
If you had a flat tire on your car, would you pull up a chair and sit by the tire and wait for the tire to fill up with air?  No, you wouldn't.  You would need tools and you would need to take action to fill up the tire. A broken heart is that of a flat tire.  It is what you DO during "that time", not the length of time itself.  Unresolved grief can only get worse.  Tools and action are a must.

5.  Be Strong for Others:  You can "be strong" or you can "be human".  If a grieving person does not show their true emotions - those around them will not feel permission to show their emotions.  Especially children.  Many times if a spouse loses their spouse...the surviving parent will show they are strong "for the children".  This is actually detrimental to the children - for if they witness their parent not showing emotions of grieving - they believe their feelings are "wrong" or "bad".  

6.  Keep Busy:  In short, keeping busy does NOT heal a broken heart.  Most people are taught to "keep busy" to take their mind off of the loss.  All this results in is being busy WHILE we are obsessing about the loss - it does not "fix" or "heal"  the loss.

What should we say or not say to grieving people?

A study was conducted by The Grief Recovery Institute and the results astounded me;   

"Only a few of the 141 comments grieving people hear are helpful to them in the first 72 hours."  

That speaks volumes -it indicates we as a culture have very little knowledge on how human beings are designed and what our emotional needs actually are which leads to our inability to express comfort to our fellow beings.  

NEVER say:  "I know how you feel".  Because actually you don't know how they feel.  They feel what they feel - their relationship and bond was unique and will not be your same relationship and bond with a loss you have experienced.  

It is better to be honest:  "I can't imagine how you feel"  or even... "I don't know what to say....."  (because, you actually don't know what to say,..... because you don't really know how they feel).  

It is not helpful to compare and minimize.  As I wrote earlier, when Lisa Donahue expressed  "Your deepest pain is your deepest pain".  She was saying to me "Lisa, I am not going to allow you to compare your pain to mine - nor am I going to allow either of us to minimize your pain because it was different.  Your deepest pain mattered as does mine."  

The old saying -
"I was unhappy about having no shoes until I met a man who had no feet".  
This quote is an example of comparison as well as going back to the "Don't feel bad".  I work diligently on "not comparing" as well as allowing myself daily to "feel what I feel" - including when I feel bad.  I have been an advocate for "feeling what you feel" for many years now. It is so freeing and emotionally healthy to be able to actually express how we actually feel. 

All grief is experienced at 100% - no one experiences it at 50%.  There are NO "stages of grief as you may have been told - and there never has been.  When people believe there are "stages" it limits the recovery.  I've known of people who go to "grief therapy sessions" - the kind that promotes that they "assist with pushing them through the stages".  What stages?  There ARE NO stages.  

Grieving people do not lack courage or willingness, they lack correct information and a safe environment in which to take the actions that will help them complete what has been left emotionally unfinished by the loss of people who were important to them and other losses that affect our lives.  

The continued education class I chose to take did teach me a little more about grief than I knew before attending - however, just as importantly it also taught me that I am indeed an angel to my dear friend Lisa Donahue as she is to me - For I set a table for her within my space that encourages her to "feel what she feels" and "to talk about whatever she wants to talk about for as long as she wants to talk about it" - just as I would do if you were to come for a visit.  The same kind of table she sets for all those who have to opportunity to meet her - the same kind of table I hope every person in the world learns to someday set for each other.

© Copyright 2011-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.

Here is a picture of me and my dear friend Lisa Donahue.  I am so grateful I met her 3 years ago.  It's amazing those angels we meet when we become aware of the gifts presented to us daily. 

Upon completion of this latest writing regarding "grief", I was aware of the emotional bruise that is still slightly present in my own heart.  I don't feel the pain every day....yet it rears itself every once in a while.  I am grateful for the ability of awareness, for awareness is the first important step to total and complete change. 
Out of the many major losses I have experienced in my life thus far....I realize the slightly present bruise I feel from time to time is because of the fact I was expected to grieve one of the losses alone due to the complicated circumstances it entailed.  Regardless of relational complexity, I acknowledge the fact that I have been grieving this loss in isolation and have for a few years. With this recent mindfulness, I have already taken steps towards a more healthy and whole recovery.  I am simply that devoted to my own emotional growth and health.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saying NO

There was a time in my life it was extremely challenging for me to say "no". Much of this inability derived from my past conditioning and this incapacity played havoc in many areas of my life including the majority of my relationships as well as my self esteem.

In the past decade throughout my healing journey I am please to declare that saying "no" is a powerlessness I no longer possess.  In fact, those who are closest to me hear the word "no" quite often. I recall when I first began researching the many life skills I knew was imperative to my healing - and "Saying No" came up quite often in books and other programs I was fortunate enough to have introduced to me.

Stress Free Living by Dr. Trevor Powell was one of those books I recall quite well.  Dr. Powell is a clinical psychologist and stress management expert and shares ingenious strategies on an array of problems ranging from depression and insomnia to excessive behaviors and life skills.

Through the wise instruction of Dr. Powell as well as the works of other sources I learned saying 'no' openly and directly can assist to boost self esteem.  I knew that I had an extremely low self esteem during those initiative stages of my transformational journey, therefore I realized researching this particular area would be a foundational necessity towards healing and wholeness.

Many find it difficult to say "no", and most likely spend much of their time doing things for other people that they would prefer not to.  Often times this leads to a gradual buildup of frustration and even resentment that result in damaging the relationship.  They feel they have very little control over the time in their lives in general.

Dr. Powell uses the example of "It is like being flooded by water and not being able to turn off the tap".  Saying yes to the demands of others when you would rather say no can create tension and unnecessary stress in your physical body and much of the time it can bring on physical pain to the body as well with symptoms like headaches or backaches. I experienced headaches on a daily basis. "Saying "no" is equivalent of turning off the tap and stopping the flow of external demands or stresses."  

There are many reasons people find it challenging to say no.  These might include foundational beliefs such as: 

1.  "I want to be a nice person and this is what nice people do and if I would say 'no' it would be selfish and rude"  

2.  "They are really important to me, so I really have no choice"

3.  "I have to say yes otherwise they will be hurt, upset or offended and they won't care about me anymore"

4.  "I won't say no because I need to feel important and needed"

The inability to "say no" may often stem from two fundamental thinking errors:

1.  Thinking that saying no is rejecting "the person" and not "the request".

2.  An over-exaggerated estimation of the difficulty the person will have in accepting your refusal.

I have learned most people are happy to accept an honest and appropriately expressed reply of "no".  I know I do!  Often times it assists with deepening my relationships.  Since I am honest, it allows the other person to openly express their honesty as well.

The first time I said "no" - I am certain it was difficult for me - however, that first time was so long ago I cannot consciously even recall when it was or where it took place.  Today, it is like second nature to me.

This topic has been introduced as of late in the group sessions I have hosted and I must admit I was surprised at the discussions regarding the inability to "say no" including those who have shared the problems that are present in their lives by not possessing this ability.  Some say they weren't even aware that this was indeed a problem until this topic was presented to them.  The first step to change....... is awareness.  Ah...I love that.  I love it when we become aware of something and we can then take the next steps to change for the betterment of ourselves.

There is more than simply one way to "say no".  Different circumstances automatically will have different responses.  There are times when the way we are asked to do something will reflect the way we will respond.   For example: a pushy salesperson will receive a different response than from a relative who genuinely needs assistance.

For those who have no problem saying "no" - Good for you!  You've obviously been more fortunate to have been conditioned with this productive life skill.  For those who do not presently have this ability or who are now aware that they find it difficult to "say no" - please know you are not alone and even though somewhere along your life's path you did not have the opportunity or guidance to obtain this ability, you most certainly can acquire it.


1.  KEEP IT BRIEF.  Your reply should be short and to the point.  Do not ramble.  Avoid extensive justifications.

2.  BE POLITE.  "No Terry, I'm sorry, I can't make it, however thank you for the invitation."

3.  STAY IN CONTROL:  Remain calm, reply slowly and warmly when it is required you reply with a direct "no".

4.  HONESTY:  Always be honest.  You may reply with something like "I am finding this challenging....."

5.  MOVE ON"  Once you say "no" - if appropriate, move on.  Many may misinterpret you're staying with uncertainty.

6.  PRACTICE:  Role play, act out in a mirror.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

You may be surprised at the unique array of people who have admitted to having the inability to "say no".  We've had professional women in our groups who have presented themselves with strong, assertive mannerisms as well as those gentlemen who presented themselves with the "the tough guy mentality" and they have admitted to this inability of "saying no" on more than a few occasions.  Some initially expressed they didn't have a problem with "saying no" - yet further into the session - it was clear they actually did have a problem.

As with any type of change....change takes time - as it did for me.  However, change is possible.  Developing the ability to "say no" was one of the many skills I chose to master for a more fulfilling life.  Is life perfect just because I learned to "say no"?  Well, not exactly - however, tonight is perfect because I said "no" to babysitting a toddler and instead I am going out to enjoy an evening of dinner and bowling with my 22 year old son and his friends.  Perfect?  No.  Much better?  You betcha!

© Copyright 2011-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Magnificent Moment

Habitually worrying about what is going to happen in the future is simply as neurotic as worrying about what happened in the past.  When my thoughts are obsessing about the future or the past it is just another way the ego cheats me out of joy by directing my attention away from my present moment.

As I recall how I would continue to have apprehension about what my life would be in the future, I realize how much time I wasted.  Now I am here, right now, in that very moment I obsessed so often about.  I’ve learned a very important life lesson… never again waste any of my precious and treasured energy worrying about my yesterdays or my impending tomorrows – I am cognizant of the many occasions I did not live fully because of my focal direction.  I didn’t realize at the time how wonderful, peaceful and glorious the present was!  I now obtain this knowledge and I am so grateful for the eminent lesson I was fortunate enough to have learned.

Whatever it is, make a conscious choice to be in the present moment

Today, I strive to make it a vital habit to be IN the present moment.  Whether it be working on a presentation, writing about a challenging subject, spending time with friends or posting a comment on FaceBook….whatever I am doing at that moment…I am IN THAT MOMENT.  If I am having a conversation with you – I am IN that conversation with YOU. If I am writing a blog - I am IN THAT MOMENT writing the blog.  

Do my thoughts ever wander back to the past or worry about the upcoming days?  Yes, of course.  However, since I do work diligently regarding the “awareness” of my past mind conditioning… this results in not experiencing those obsessive thought processes for very long.  The more quickly I am aware – the more rapidly I may choose to bring my thoughts back to the present moment, for the present moment is where the serenity, peace and love reside. 

We all have a choice to come out of the cold

To me it is comparable to swimming across a frigid body of water and becoming aware that the boat is right next to me whereas I can choose to jump aboard, rest and bask with delight in the warm serene sun. 

Are you struggling right now, worrying obsessively about how or if you are going to make your way across the water?  Remember, the boat is right here, right next to you.  Come aboard... I’ve saved you a comfortable chair...  Sit and let’s enjoy the warmth, the respite and this magnificent present moment together, shall we?

© Copyright 2010-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.

The Hotel Chair

I'm sitting in a workshop and the lecturer is speaking to us about writer's block.  She is giving us 5 minutes to write something, anything, just put pen to paper and stop thinking so much.  She yells "GO!" so loud I literally jump and those around me start to giggle.

Here I sit with the worst writer's block I think I have ever experienced and I am in a darn writer's workshop.  God help me.  Okay, just write something ~ it will only take a few minutes ~ I wonder how many minutes I have left?  If she makes us read these in front of everyone I am going to be sick.  She says if we write from heart to pen and not think about grammar, typos or how others will react to it - it could be a very good start to a day of miraculous happenings....if I would just simply put a little "pen to paper".  

So I start.... Here I sit in a chair so comfortable I want to somehow take it home.  I imagine what I would say to the Hotel Manager when he tracks me down after my departure.  "Uh chair? I don't recall "a chair" in the room. Who was the person who had the room before me? Oh really? Pastor McGuillicutty? Hmmm.... well, perhaps you should call him...yeah, that's what I'd do."

I've never stolen anything in my life...funny how I am fantasizing about such a thing and writing about stealing a beige, trendy chair from The Westin in Chicago.  I laugh to myself when I think about my friend who is with me - how she would help me to get the chair to the elevator....disguise it from other guests...distract the concierge...carry it across the parking lot...running in uncomfortable high heel shoes...laughing hysterically, dropping it, picking it back up, slipping, sliding, breaking a fake nail ~ then determining it won't fit in the SUV.  Do we take it back?  Do we set it under that beautifully landscaped tree and enjoy sitting in it together as we "belly laugh" about our childish adventure?

Times up - Yeah, this exercise was fun.  Oh great, out of all the people in this workshop she has called on me. Not the lady with those glasses that have a funky chain going up to her ears  and balancing frames at the end of her nose - my God, she even has a #2 pencil in her hair bun!  Call on her! :)

© Copyright 2010-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.

Stick and Stones - Yet Word Can Hurt Too

I have this rule I try to follow - Do not share my words without leaving for an extended amount of time, return, proof and then share. My editors have taught me this for good reason. Well, there are no editors here at the present moment therefore I am going to follow my own instincts just this once ;)

I want to voice my concern about the manners of our youth. I have three sons who all have completely different personalities and interests. Many wouldn't even think they were brothers because of there uniqueness from one another. Yet one important quality they do all have is manners. My heart is so filled every time I hear one of them say "Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am - Yes Sir, No Sir, Thank You Very Much, I Appreciate it Sir, May I Help You Ma'am". This mannerism of theirs was taught by their Father, Step-mother and Myself and it has opened many doors for them in every aspect of their lives.

As many of you know, I am an advocate of self-discovery. (Sounds cool - doesn't it? Well it is!) Through social networking, leading special groups and the latest awareness of my book - I have been approached by an abundance of people from all walks of life asking for some guidance with their particular suffering - everything from spiritual guidance, depression and the ever so popular weight issues. I share regarding the balance of mind, body and spirit and I have experienced the theory if you work on one....the others tend to fall closer into place which tends to make it much easier to give each area the attention it needs.

I offer for those who would like support to meet with me at 6:30 pm and to join me in a powerwalk. I have a route I have walked for months and I know where 1 mile is, 2 miles, etc. for those who are working up to the full route. I've had some wonderful people join me - a really cool pastor, an awesome young woman who just completed chemo, a few college aged fellas (now THAT'S a trip!), a pharmacy tech who is FULL of positive light, a grandmother of four (that's you mom), a neighbor (hi Chris!), my BFF Michelle (we like to go alone so we can "talk about boys" lol) , an amazing artist and author (Lisa Donahue!), a woman battling depression who attends my church, a man battling depression and anxiety, a man who quit smoking and had gained over 50 pounds and tonight......tonight I shared the evening with a woman who is battling obesity. She is an amazing woman with so many talents and has one of those laughs that just makes YOU laugh - you know the type? Oh how I love that! Why am I ranting about my walking group when I titled this note about the manners of youth? Read on.....

As we were walking, I could see that she was becoming a bit winded - so I slowed the pace. We discussed "self-talk" and "self- care" and how those two things are so important for healing. We were picking back up the pace as we were approaching her one mile point where she would be turning around and I would be going on. At that moment, some young men drove by and one yelled out the most horrendous insults to her. She stopped, looked down and began to weep. This was a sad day. A very sad day. I am aware of the underlying reason this young man acted the way he did - (fear) yet I am so very sad tonight. After the sweaty hugging, holding her face and looking into her eyes and telling her "You Matter" over and over - we started to walk again - and as we walked, I prayed. I prayed for her, for the young man who acted so cruel, for all those who are suffering and I prayed for me.

There is evil in the world - yet I choose to focus on the good - however, tonight - I will weep for those who suffer and pray that something good derives from this pain. "Make your pain matter!" I told her. Tonight - I will make this pain matter. I hurt. I hurt for her. Needless to say - I didn't walk my full 6 miles tonight. I turned around and walked back with my new friend. She got into her car, looked up at me and said "I will see you tomorrow at 6:30 pm because.....I matter". I hugged her, bumped my head on her window (lol), she laughed her amazing laugh and I stood on my porch as she drove away with tears running down my face.

Friends, would you please do me a favor and if you have never done so would you speak to your children and young adults about the power of their words? Words can be so wonderful and they can also be so painful to someone's spirit. And I realize it's not just young people - there are many adults who have a very nasty attitude towards their own brothers and sisters - it's just that tonight, it happened to be a young man who caused some very unnecessary pain to someone who was already suffering.

In closing, I realize there may be some typos, graphical errors, etc - yet I just typed from my heart to my fingers and bypassed my brain for etiquette this evening. I thank you for taking the time to read this and allowing me to share. I promise - I am going to make this pain matter.

© Copyright 2010-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.

Visionary Road Map to the Life of Your Dreams

Many of you have heard about Vision Boards. A Vision Board is collage of images of goals and dreams you have for your life. It is a simple and powerful tool to assist you with visualizing your goals and to stimulate your creative mind. Whatever we fill our mind with is what we focus on. The visual reminders help us to stay focused and excited about our journey.

I created a Vision Board a few years ago of twelve pictures and captions. What I noticed during the actual creating of the board is that my soul began to feel extremely hopeful, excited and positive. Hopelessness and negativity were diminishing, and I was allowing myself to experience the joy of my goals and dreams coming true!

For sake of example, my personal Vision Board included some pictures and captions such as:

1. My spirituality is so strong. I love being a spiritual leader to help others.
2. I love how I look in these jeans.
3. Performing with a spiritual message is so fulfilling.
4. We have a very strong family unity.
5. My inner peace is such a rewarding gift.
6. It is so rewarding to take yearly missionary trips.
7. It feels good in my real estate profession to have broken the sales record in Coles County.
8. Jumping out of a plane was awesome!
9. I have found the perfect soul mate.
10. I love it when I take cruises with my best friends and family.

What would your personal Vision Board include? Remember, the board is to be designed with pictures and captions as if it was ALREADY your life. Use your imagination and pray for guidance.

Let’s back up for just a moment and discuss praying for guidance. We read in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart!” YOU were created for a purpose. YOU are unique! When I prayed for guidance before I began my creative project – here are some of the questions that He sent to my heart. What are your spiritual gifts? What are you passionate about? What are your natural abilities? What type of personality do you have? What do others see in you? I believe these questions were sent to me to ponder because I had a habit of always focusing on helping others achieve their personal goals and dreams and did not take the time to focus on what was meant for my own personal life. Sometimes we are so busy giving to others that we forget to take care of ourselves. When we are asked “What do you want?” we don’t even know how to answer because, well, we don’t know! I knew after praying for guidance that my finished project would be between God and myself and it would be the Visionary Road Map that it was supposed to be.
Have you ever been discouraged and think that you do not have a purpose? Believe me, you DO! Whatever your natural talents are, whatever your personality is, or whatever is in your past…. YOU have a purpose!
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:1).

Want to share this creative and fun tool with friends? This is a GREAT way to spend time with a group of friends - have a Vision Board party!

By the way, I know that you may find this hard to believe but most of the items I placed on my Vision Board have manifested and the others that have not completely manifested are definitely in the works. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! I created my Vision Board on standard sized copy paper and displayed color copies of it in places I knew I would see it often (next to my bed, linen cabinet where I grab a bath towel every morning, at my home office desk, at my business office desk, side of the refrigerator near the coffee pot, in my day planner, in my car, etc.). This helped to keep the visuals in front of me throughout the day. My mind was filled with positive thoughts – then I began speaking positive thoughts – then I became a positive person and all the while my life was manifesting as I had envisioned.

Are you skeptical? Yes? That’s OK, just try it! Let me know how you felt while you were creating your personal Vision Board, then be sure to let me know how your visions manifested. I have no doubt I will be hearing from you soon!

© Copyright 2009-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.

Understanding The Energy of Affirmations

Be CAREFUL! Whatever you say or think – your subconscious will hear! And when your subconscious listens it will obediently follow by granting you a life based on what you are “asking for”. It’s true! It happens EACH and EVERY time!
Think about your thoughts. There are times you speak your thoughts, and other times you simply keep them to yourself. Close your eyes and just “be” for a moment. What are the thoughts that are running through your mind? Are you surprised at what they are?
Do you recall what thoughts were running through your mind at any given moment of the past day? Try diligently to be very aware of what you are feeding your subconscious. Remember, whatever you are feeding it – is your life.
Affirmation is one of the simplest ways to reprogram your subconscious. How affirmation works miracles in your life is very simple. By consciously repeating and visualizing how you want your life to be, your subconscious will adapt to your conscious thoughts and be on auto-pilot for the life you envision. Really! It’s THAT SIMPLE!

There are two kinds of affirmation:
AUTOSUGGESTION affirmation comes from your very self. This can be in the form of writing down your affirmations, repeating them to yourself either through mental meditation or saying them out loud, and then mentally fantasizing about you living the life of your vision. Some who practice Autosuggestion affirmation even record themselves speaking their affirmation and then meditate by listening to their own voice stating the affirmation while visualizing the life they want in their mind.

HETEROSUGGESTION affirmation comes from other sources. Listening to the radio, watching television, surfing the internet, reading a magazine article, or even advice or opinions from other people are sources of heterosuggestion affirmation.
Where is YOUR affirmation coming from? When you have a challenge in life, who do YOU turn to? What do you do in YOUR spare time? Each and every day you have a choice as to what you must tolerate most of the time. Do you surround yourself with negative people who constantly complain about life or their circumstances? Do you listen to the news reports in the morning about such things such as a struggling economy or people killing people? These choices you are making are Heterosuggestion Affirmation and they are CREATING YOUR LIFE!

Some may say “But you don’t understand, I am having a problem with one of my children”, “It’s hard to try this when I know my spouse is having an affair”, “I’m a lost cause, I just lost my job and I am 50 pounds overweight”. STOP! This is exactly what I am talking about. Your subconscious mind IS your life. Think about some legends whose circumstances were far more difficult than yours who succeeded in living the life they desired. (Lucille Ball, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Mother Teresa……..I could go on and on) They programmed their subconscious to play on auto-pilot under ANY circumstance. No more excuses. Your subconscious mind has taught you that you can use excuses as your excuse for not living the life you desire.

Make a decision to train your subconscious by practicing Autosuggestion throughout your day. If you don’t learn to Auto-suggest you will become a victim of Heterosuggestion.
Whatever you are listening to on a consistent basis your subconscious believes it is true, and it then it becomes true. Today, make a decision to be the one who decides what your subconscious listens to.

The following are an example of some affirmations you can practice – practice this every day and before you know it – your subconscious will be on auto-pilot.
1. All of the resources I need are on the way to me.

2. I am unified with the Universe.

3. My intentions unfold with ease.

4. As I think a thought, energy is put in motion to create my new reality.

5. I am clearly pointed in the direction of my dreams.

6. I am attracting a positive solution.

7. Every day I am getting better and better.

8. I am a radiant being, filled with light and love.

9. My life is blossoming in total perfection.

10. Everything I need is already with me.

11. The more I give, the more I receive and the happier I feel.

12. God created me uniquely and for a purpose.

13. Abundance is my natural state of being and I accept it now.

14. Everything is coming to me easily and effortlessly.

15. I feel good and good is attracted to me.

16. I am supported and encouraged to follow my passion.

17. I can change my life.

18. I can make a difference.

19. I hold the key to my destiny.

20. Action is the energy that translates my thoughts into reality.

Take a moment and make a list of your own affirmations. Perhaps your list will be more personalized to your life with topics including Abundance, Anxiety, Grief, Fear, Forgiveness, Health, Prosperity, Weight Loss, etc. The key to success is to repeat your affirmations on a continuous basis either through writing them down or reading them daily. Some people practice their affirmations upon awakening or before they go to sleep. It won’t take long before your will notice a significant change in your life and before you know it – you will have the life you always dreamed of!

© Copyright 2009-Lisa Hardwick-All Rights Reserved.