ReConnections Blog

By Melinda Brett on 6/8/2017 1:20 PM

Sleep Tips

By Melinda Brett on 9/16/2014 2:25 PM

I have been playing scrabble online.  I love scrabble.  I have found myself, however, getting very focused on trying to get the big points.  Efforts to line up the “Z” on a triple letter space using the word “zebra” on a triple word space.  As those of you who play scrabble know, that doesn’t happen very often.  In the process, I note how many other words I could have used that would in the long run earn me a steady number of points.

So those of you who know me, know I am going to use this as an analogy, so here we go.  How many times in our lives, do we spend our energy waiting for that big moment?  That promotion, that vacation, that love affair, that time when our financial lives will be stable.  In doing so, we miss all the small joys that happen every day.  The kicker is that our sense of well-being is never satisfied by those big events.  They are great, but they too, pass and we are on to the next.

We feel content and peaceful in our lives when we stay present in the NOW of our lives. Iyanla Vanzant wrote a book with one of my favorite titles.  “In the Meantime” stressing that though we are always waiting for that big moment, in the meantime our lives are in session.  Goals are great, but don’t miss the little things because the little things add up to define the quality of our lives.

What are the little things you appreciate in your life today?

By Melinda Brett on 9/8/2014 2:22 PM

Fear, it robs us of serenity quicker than anything I know.  We can get scared about almost anything.  The worry and fear about all the awful things that could happen can take over.  All the “what ifs” hijack our nervous system.  The more we become fixated on the worry, the greater it becomes.  The real kicker about worry is that when it comes to things to worry about we never deplete the supply.

I have found worry is driven by three core thought patterns: feeling out of control, believing you can’t handle something, and being invested in things staying the same.  If we identify which thought pattern is driving the worry and can challenge that thought, we can diminish the worry.

We all like to believe that we are in control of our own lives, but the truth is all we are ever really in control of is our own perspective and actions.  When we are confronted with the reality that we are not powerful enough to stop weather, death, job loss, the economy it sends us into a tailspin.   Most of the time what I have observed is that all of those painful experiences usually create an opportunity for us to learn more, discover strength in our character and connect us to others more deeply.

Our ability to handle things in our lives is continually tested and it never ceases to amaze me how much people really do get through in this life.  When we are panicked, however, we forget this.  Reminding yourself of how strong you are, how much you are loved, and how much the universe supports growth can help.

The third is that we hate change.  There are times in life where it’s not even about what is changing that causes us distress, it is just the fact that change is occurring.  We can get lost in the distorted belief that things are supposed to stay the same.  All of life, nature, the planet is constantly changing.  Most change is for the good.

What I have found as a mantra that helps with fear coming from any of those three thoughts is “trust the process.”  It is a balm that reminds me that things are unfolding and that it will all be used for good and I will grow and be enhanced by the experience.

Tell us about your experience getting past fear.

By Melinda Brett on 9/1/2014 3:30 PM

When someone asks you about your stress level, do you respond to the question with the list all of those pressures you feel from the outside world.  Work deadlines, family responsibilities, financial concerns, health concerns, too much to do and not having near enough time.   Venting about all of those overwhelming life events can help, but venting alone doesn’t really solve the problem.  The idea of stress coming from things outside of ourselves actually creates more stress.

Stress is real.  It has huge physical and emotional consequences if prolonged, intense stress is experienced.  It causes headaches, digestive problems, sleep disorders, along with more serious medical problems as a result of the chronic “dis-ease” of feeling under the gun all the time.  It also makes us restless, irritable, less productive, and not very fun to be around.

So what if the stress was actually internal vs. external?  What I mean by that, is what if the stress is not really coming from the outside pressures but from the way we experience and even create our lives.  I say this not to be accusing or blaming, but to encourage you to view it from this angle because that's where your power really lies to bring yourself relief.

A lot of things we percieve as causing us stress are a result of the pressure we put on ourselves.  WE say yes to things because we don't want to let anyone down, or we feel it will bring us something positive.  We may feel obligated and can't imaging saying no to a request.  We may many times even feel like we don't have a right to say no.   In these cases, the idea of the tool of boundaries, is usually a great solution.  Setting boundaries encapsulates the idea of understanding that we all have limits.  It is saying no.  It is not saying we don't want to help, assist, be of service, it means we own that we just can't.    It’s tough because sometimes what we have to say no to is something we really enjoy or feel would be meaningful.   Deep down, we have to accept that we all have finite amounts of time and energy and that no is not mean, it's an act of self love to preserve our overall well being.

Sometimes stress comes from our emotional life hijacking our decisions.  We let those sides of ourselves that are tough to look at run the show.  They may include our need to people please, be perfect, be important, have status, have glory or reap financial rewards.   It's tough to look at that sometimes, but when we can take our egos out of the equation we find that the drive to take on more subsides.  I'm not suggesting we don't have responsibilities or tend to those responsibilities, I'm suggesting we really explore if they are OUR responsibilities or  things we take on for hidden motives.  There is an expression...am I a victim or a volunteer?

Often, the solution to stress is spiritual.  We get caught up in the pressures and pains other people are experiencing.   We also can believe we must be the one to save, rescue and fix the problems of those we love and the world around us.  It's as if we tell ourselves "if I don't do this then awful things will happen."  I’ve been around long enough to know that isn’t the case. Sometimes we have to tap into the universal energy that everything will get done and unfold as it is supposed to without us intervening.  The other side of that coin, is that when I jump in I rob the other people in my life of getting the benefit that comes from meeting a challenge and finding their own solution.

Stress is here but we really do have options in how we deal with it all.  Let us know your thoughts and ideas/tools for how you manage stress in your life!

By Melinda Brett on 9/19/2013 2:05 PM

Most people I meet tell me that their primary romantic relationship is incredibly important to them.   For people who are not in a significant relationship they often share that it is what they long for the most.   Self-help books line the shelves telling us how to find love, how to flirt, how to be romantic, how to improve our sex lives and how to communicate.  Movies, television and books almost always include a love story as either the main plot or at least a significant secondary part of the script and plot.  It’s virtually impossible to listen to any radio station that plays music and not hear lyrics of love filtering through the speakers.

 Love appears to be what most people seek and yearn for and yet when they actually find that relationship they relegate it to the ordinary.  I have said that we often spend the same amount of time and energy working on our relationships equal to the amount of time and energy it takes to open a can of beans when preparing dinner.  Everything seems to become more important than tending to your partner.  School, work, children, time commitments, friendships, shopping, etc. all seem to get more emotional energy in any given day that the relationship that would devastate you if you lost it.

From my point of view and from listening to people, I have found that relationships are often one of pain and frustration due to the lack of work being put into making them what both partners want; a successful and fulfilling relationship.  People often share with me that they do not feeling heard or cared about, and feel unsatisfied.  They are irritated about not having enough sex or their partner wanting it too often.  They are angry about not having enough help and support from their partner.  I listen and I hear how upset and unfulfilled they feel.  Curiously enough, though, when I pose the question, “Have you talked to you partner about this?” most people answer “no” with exasperation. They either expect their partners to just know what they need, are afraid that their request will fall on deaf ears, or are concerned that it will cause conflict and another episode in a cycle of never ending, never resolved fighting.

What I have come to observe is that people often feel the least confident in their ability to create a healthy relationship than any other area.  They feel they are capable at their jobs and in their careers.  They believe they are able to parent their children.  They can manage all of their appointments and social commitments.  When it comes to their relationships, however, they often feel powerless and that their efforts are futile.  As human beings we tend to do what we feel we are good at and so we ignore our relationships because at the end of the day we just feel it won’t help.

We are offering a workshop in October to help you and your partner begin the process of learning how to create a relationship that fulfills and satisfies you both.  We are asking you to dedicate a day to improving the thing in your life that likely most affects the quality of your days.  I guess the question is why wouldn’t you do this?

Call the office for more information concerning the Authentic Relationships workshop taking place on October 26th, or about couples counseling.

By Melinda Brett on 8/7/2013 12:00 AM

“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.”
-Carrie Snow 

I had a good weekend. Got to spend time with my son, went to the beach and a shorebirds game and spent time with friends. By one o’clock Sunday afternoon, however, I was absolutely exhausted. I then took a three hour nap. Best three hours of my weekend. 

For anyone who knows me, even those that do not know me well, they usually are aware that one of my, if not my favorite, thing is sleeping. When I lay my head down at night onto my pillow I think I am the happiest I am all day. I love completely melting into my bed and knowing I have hours ahead of me of sleep. 

 Because of my love of sleep, I would like to extol the top eight benefits of getting adequate sleep: 

  1. Sleep improves both your memory and your ability to learn 
  2. Sleep ensures your body can restore and rejuvenate itself and improves your overall quality of life and life span 
  3. Sleep allows your body to restore your immune system and fight inflammation/disease. 
  4. Good sleep spurs your creativity 
  5. Sleep Improves athletic and physical performance  
  6. Improves your reaction time especially when driving 
  7. Best stress reliever I know 
  8. Bolsters and improves our mood. 
Sleep Tight!
By Melinda Brett on 8/5/2013 12:00 AM

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”
George Bernard Shaw

This quote made me smile. When we talk with each other there are so many factors that influence what we hear. First, the person has to be paying attention. We assume that if we are talking and the other person is capable of hearing, then they are listening. However, they may be thinking about what they are going to do about lunch or what just happened with someone else before you began talking. Then, when we listen, we tend to try to figure out what the person is saying and are already filling in the blanks. It’s just human nature and how our brains work. 

To truly listen, we need to slow down and take in what is being said. That means not leaping to conclusions, interpreting what is being said, or interrupting. Listening with the intent of understanding can take practice. Next time you are in a situation where you are required to listen try this exercise: listen to what is being said like you are a recorder. Your goal is to remember everything the person is saying as if you had to repeat it all back. 

When they are done, reflect in your mind what they said and ask yourself if you really heard and understood. Summarize what you heard and ask the other person if you got it right. It’s actually amazing at the amount of information we miss because what we are usually doing is trying to think about our response to what the person said first, and we end up missing the majority of what was said after the first sentence.

By Melinda Brett on 7/30/2013 12:00 AM

The Yogis teach that we are all born with a certain number of breaths to take us through our lives…so breathe deeply and slowly.

I remember when I was first introduced to the idea of meditation and relaxation. It seemed so foreign and something I never imagined I would be able to do. I always believed that if I was relaxing I was being lazy. I embraced the idea that being productive and accomplishing goals was the measure of success. Today I have come to realize that I was so wrong.

What I have learned is that when we are frazzled, rushing, trying to get a million things done we are actually not at our best. We all have a zone where our thinking is the most rational and we see things clearly. It falls well below the level of stress. It is good for us to be a little keyed up because it makes us motivated and interested in our tasks but if we get too riled up we leave that zone and our ability to concentrate and reason becomes compromised.

Every system in our body goes on high alert when we are stressed and it exacts a physical toll. We get headaches, stomachaches, have problems sleeping well and suffer from fatigue. Untreated stress can also lead to overeating, low sex drive, irritability and a depressed mood.

The opposite of stress is relaxation. It is the panacea we are all looking for. Relaxation allows your body to return to a state that it is meant to be operating. It counteracts all of the effects that stress is causing.

Deep, slow breathing is the best place to begin when trying to relax. Though our bodies are designed to relax for most of us it is a skill that we need to learn. Have you learned to relax?

By Melinda Brett on 7/25/2013 12:00 AM

Dogfish 

by Mary Oliver

Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing
kept flickering in with the tide
and looking around.
Black as a fisherman’s boot,
with a white belly.

If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile
under the perfectly round eyes and above the chin,
which was rough
as a thousand sharpened nails.

And you know 
what a smile means,
don’t you?

*

I wanted
the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was

alive
for a little while.

*

It was evening, and no longer summer.
Three small fish, I don’t know what they were,
huddled in the highest ripples
as it came swimming in again, effortless, the whole body
one gesture, one black sleeve
that could fit easily around
the bodies of three small fish.

*

Also I wanted
to be able to love. And we all know
how that one goes,
don’t we?

Slowly

*

the dogfish tore open the soft basins of water.

*

You don’t want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen

to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

And anyway it’s the same old story – - -
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
to survive.

Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
or mean,
for a simple reason.

And nobody gets out of it, having to
swim through the fires to stay in
this world.

*

And look! look! look! I think those little fish
better wake up and dash themselves away
from the hopeless future that is
bulging toward them.

*

And probably,
if they don’t waste time
looking for an easier world,

they can do it


By Melinda Brett on 7/23/2013 12:00 AM

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” 
― Dalai Lama XIV

To know something is different than to practice it.  I find myself getting anxious about things before I stop to think about it.  I may start out the day fine, but then a problem develops that needs to be dealt with, then another, then another, and I begin to feel bad. 

My day started at 5:30 a.m. waking to the sound of the new puppy jangling in her playpen.  I come downstairs to find she’s had diarrhea in the night; not once, but twice.  I know today that I need to call about a repair  to fix one vehicle, while driving another to work.  I don’t have a parking permit on the truck I am taking to work so will have to fill the meter with quarters, or park in the big lot and pay. 

At 9:00 a.m. I get a call from the automobile repair shop.  Last week I found out that my 20 year old farm truck will need $600 in repairs to fix the brakes and we have sworn not to put any more money in that vehicle.  The guy who had agreed to buy it for the engine backed out and the garage wants the car moved or they will start charging storage.  Meanwhile, I have all my regular morning chores and getting ready for the day.

I begin by opening the playpen door, while holding the puppy to the side with one hand and rolling up the puppy pads with the other hand.  The puppy licks my hand.  I smile and realize that it’s all manageable.  After I take care of the puppy problem I take a minute to relax, take a deep breath and make a plan.  Half of my problem is that when I start feeling overwhelmed my brain tends to shut down and I don’t feel like doing anything.

I tell myself that there is nothing happening that I can’t handle and there is no reason to panic.  I review my problems and decide on a plan to solve them.  I feel better already.

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Recent Posts

Sleep is everything or I am nothing!!
In the Meantime
Trust the Process
The Internal Tools for Stress Management
Relationship Satisfaction
The Benefits of Sleep
Listening
Breath! Deeply, and Slowly
Dogfish by Mary Oliver
There is No Help in Worrying