Doing Life Together

IMG_3142Happy Father’s Day! I know not everyone has a great relationship with his or her father. However, this Father’s Day, I encourage to think about your father and find one thing he gave you as a gift. Some of you will think of many things, others will struggle. Our commandment is to honor our fathers in whatever way we can.

At this writing, my father is 94-years-old. It’s a blessing to still have him in my life. He gave me much!

So many fond memories flood my mind when it comes to my dad. Hardworking, steady, strong and fun, my dad taught me so much.

He taught me how to have fun, to relax, to go on vacation and see the country. Every summer, the family loaded up in our big Buick and discovered America. Some discoveries were a little cheesy, but most times, we were awed by our road trips and their adventures.

My dad had an upbeat attitude. He liked to explore, to see new things, and to meet people. In our small town, everyone knew him and greeted him by name. My dad gave me a love for people and connection.

My dad gave me security. He was always there and attended every recital, play and music competition in which I performed. He never complained, even though I often noticed him napping during long piano recitals. He endured nightly music practices of three children who turned out to be decent musicians even though he didn’t have much musical talent. Whatever we did, it was important for him to support us. And he always supported my mom.

My dad pushed me. Sometimes he pushed too hard, but I knew his intent was to give me more opportunities than he had in his life. Education was one of the most important things to him. It was the key to making a better life.

Finally, my dad gave me an appreciation for the church. He quietly served in whatever capacity needed. His humility and steady devotion marked his walk with God. And no matter the conflicts a church family presents, he taught me to love the body of Christ, appreciate their diversity and do my best to bring unity. And when we had differences with church leadership, we stayed and worked through conflicts.

All dads have their issues and aren’t perfect. But this Father’s Day, as you honor your dad with a special gift, a dinner out or a new tie, take a moment to reflect on the gifts he gave you. What did your Father give you? Yes, there is always baggage along the way, but the journey offers something to be appreciated.

divorce coupleTheir families were surprised. Don and Jackie were getting a divorce after 15 years of marriage.  Don’s sister believes Don will have a difficulty living alone. She fears the stress of the split could cause him serious emotional and health problems.

But new research says that Don’s sister should be worried about Jackie as well.

Divorce is never an easy road, but when it comes to heart health, women are more at risk than men. According to Duke University researchers, divorce may contribute to higher heart attack risk for women. The acute and chronic stress involved in divorce wreaks havoc on the body.

Researchers followed over 15,827 people for two decades and found that those who stayed married had a lower risk of heart attack. Emotional and financial stress of divorce, especially for women, are likely factors. So are taking care of oneself, losing friends and changes of lifestyle that come with divorce. Whatever the reasons (we don’t really know), the link between divorce and heart health was found to exist, especially for women. And going through multiple divorces further increases your risk of heart attack.

Men who remarried after divorce lowered their risk of heart attack to the same level as married men, but this was not true for women. Surprisingly, remarriage didn’t help women with this risk factor.

So if you are on the road to divorce, get help. Find a couples counselor and try to work through your issues. Your physical health might just depend on it.

technologyTechnology is a good thing, but sometimes it can stress you out. For example, your phone is vibrating. Should you look at it, stay in the conversation and ignore it? Do you feel a compulsion to check?

Ping! Buzz, Vibrate. I have to look, right? It’s addictive and I’m letting the primitive part of my brain grab that novelty–the never ending tweets, the stacks of email, the blue-green text boxes that pop up all day.

What I may not realize it that the constant stimuli is making me stressed and interrupts my work flow and creativity. I know I am losing information every time I stop what I am doing and look.

Maybe it is time to rethink the way I interact with technology, put down the phone, look around  and attend to the moment. Staying present could change my life for the better! Research tells me it will improve my sense of well-being.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my iPhone, a lot! But when it comes to my well-being, I might need to unplug and be aware of the person next to me–maybe smile or nod! It’s called being mindful of the moment. I might need to give my brain a chance to concentrate on one thing without constant interruption. Research says my creativity will increase.

So here is my challenge. I am going to work on one thing and no matter how many email alerts I receive, iMessages that pop on my screen and text pings I hear, I am ignoring them and staying present and on-task. The promise is that  I will accomplish more and my stress level will go down.

You might want to try the same for a day or two and see how you feel. Don’t allow technology to stress you out! Take charge, be more intentional and see if you notice a change.

ID-100234439It’s a term we casually throw around, “I’m so OCD.” But for those who suffer, it’s no causal matter.

It was 9:00p.m. Eric was rechecking every door in the house to make sure it was locked. He didn’t do this once, or even twice a night. Eric had to check the doors at least ten times before he headed to his bedroom. If he didn’t, he felt highly anxious and couldn’t sleep. His wife is concerned because she sees the distress this checking creates in Eric. Eric suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive behavior, a condition that is more than just worry.

Intrusive anxious thoughts called obsessions constantly run through her mind. These thoughts are more than normal worries about life, and difficult to give up. Typically obsessive thoughts are about contamination, self-doubts, the need for order, aggressive or horrifying impulses, or sexual imagery. Efforts to stop the obsessions fail and repetitive behaviors follow as an attempt to reduce anxiety over the thoughts. These repetitive behaviors are known as compulsions. Examples of compulsive behaviors include hand washing, cleaning, counting, checking, repeating words, etc. Compulsions are excessive behaviors and not successful in stopping obsessive thoughts. They offer momentary relief from anxiety.

Obsessions and compulsions interfere with living. Inordinate amounts of time and energy are spent trying to resist the obsessions and compulsive behaviors that follow. It is also possible to have obsessive thoughts, and not follow those thoughts with rituals that dispel anxiety.

People with OCD are not crazy. They know their thoughts and behaviors are strange and excessive. The problem is they can’t seem to stop. When they try, they often experience mounting anxiety.

The cause is uncertain, but we know there there are parts of the brain involved. Treatment involves a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavior Therapy that uses something called exposure plus response prevention. The idea is to expose yourself to the obsession (the thought to recheck the locks), then prevent yourself from rechecking (the compulsion). Medication is often used to help as well.

Treatment can make a difference and help in all aspects of your life. This is not something you can will away or hope you out grow. If you or a loved one, suffer from OCD, help is available.