“Mind the gap” is a warning phrase issued to rail passengers in the United Kingdom (and elsewhere) to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform. There were many factors as to why this phrase was selected but among them was the need to communicate a concise message quickly and effectively.
The technology we have available to us today allows us to communicate very quickly! We carry our phones with us everywhere we go and we text, post comments, email, or call each other whenever we want. I do love that capability!
Yet I fear this same technology is actually helping to make us more ineffective. The technology itself is not to blame. We are choosing to interact face-to-face less often. We’re even choosing to talk to each other less often while using our phones to type our messages instead. Our electronic messages are becoming shorter and shorter. Their meaning becoming less and less clear.
Important pieces of what we are truly trying to convey are falling into the gap. Because of this we are misunderstood, we become frustrated with ourselves and others, and we begin to make up stories in our head to try to fill in the gaps of what we think is missing.
We may even take things a step further by not communicating at all with those closest to us. We take advantage of our closest relationships as if they should be able to read our minds and know what we are thinking or what we want. We get upset when they don’t guess correctly and we begin to make up stories in our head about how little they must care about us.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It’s as if we are beginning to forget how to sit still, look at someone, and talk to one another. Is it time to stop looking at our electronic screens for a second and “mind the gap”?
In The Journey Training, we talk about the importance of being present with other people. It’s not that hard! We simply need to sit down with someone, look at them, and talk. Use simple questions or statements like: How can I help you today? What do you need from me? How can I love and support you? You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll receive if you’ll only ask the questions.
Life is about relationships and we should constantly strive to create a win-win situation whenever we can. Remembering that we can choose to slow down a bit, sit down and talk, will do just that. Choose to stop allowing things to fall into the gap!
Have you ever noticed how a baby who has learned to sit up sits up so straight? I can remember noticing even as a kid how straight some women sat. To me, it made them even more beautiful.
I wish good posture came naturally for me, but because of a prenatal stroke it’s much harder for me. The most commonly used definition of posture is “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting”. Participating in band, through high school and college, taught me to be disciplined with it. When in a concert ensemble and playing an instrument, you are expected to sit up straight and on the edge of the chair. This helps your breathing and playing. When marching, I had to work not only at standing up straight, but also with proper horn angle, while moving AND playing! Talk about discipline! Over time, I found myself doing these things naturally.
Many years after marching band, I found another cardio exercise I love – the elliptical! It’s much more suited for my body than running! I can remember noticing one time how balanced I’d become on it! I was standing up straight, not holding on, dancing away! My posture was great and my whole attitude had changed!
This reminds me of a tool I gained in The Journey Training. It’s called Ground and Center. When I carry myself in a grounded and centered posture, I feel tall, centered, and ready.
That brings me to another definition of posture: “a particular way of dealing with something: an approach or attitude”. This posture helps us react to life. Trials and tribulations happen. The better the posture, the better we approach or react to them, and the better outcome we will have.
Are you critical of yourself in pictures? One of the worst pictures I perceive of myself is a picture from college, at my heaviest weight, pretty much leaning against the guy behind me. As I began losing weight, not only did I start to appreciate my posture physically in pictures, my attitude had also changed. My confidence skyrocketed and it showed!
I was remembering this recently as I looked at myself in the mirror. I’ve dealt with plenty of shame regarding my weight and how I look. Carrying the shame burdened my posture. The Journey Training taught me to change my perspective. Rather than holding onto the shame, I let it go, I chose to look in the mirror, stand up straight, shoulders back, and see the real me. There, now you look better, Alison!
Posture equals attitude. Change your attitude and you’ll change your outcome!
Plenty of people have compared the weights we can lift to the weights we carry in life, whether we call them weights, trials, or maybe even chains. This blog will look at how I lift weights a little differently, in the gym and in life.
I’m taking a Strength and Tone class on Monday nights. This usually involves a step bench, weights (“light” and “heavy” as designated by each individual), and sometimes a bar, resistance band, or ball. I always have extra weights handy, because my left side is weaker than my right from a stroke. Needless to say, I work out to the best of my abilities. I can do everything I’m asked to do (try telling me I can’t – I dare you!), but it usually looks different or takes my muscles a minute to coordinate themselves.
Recently, I was doing overhead lifts and I could feel my left-hand over-flexing, bending back too far. I didn’t have to drop the weight. I just had to change my grip!
The beauty of taking a class like this is that there’s always freedom to do what works for me.
Let’s look at some of the choices I can always make:
- Do the exercise as it is prescribed – Sometimes, I can do exactly what I’m given to do. That’s great!
- Change the way I do it – One of the best ways I’ve learned to do push-ups is with a hand on a weight – it takes pressure off of my wrist. Maybe you can’t do something the same way as another person – so do it your way!
- Do more – I can lift more on my right side, so I always have a heavier weight for that side or I do more repetitions with that side. Sometimes we can do more in one way than another! I can listen and give advice way better than I can cook.
- Alternate – Sometimes I can’t do both arms at the same time, but I can focus on one at a time. How true in life is this one? If there’s more paperwork to be done, my house can stay messy until I can finish the paperwork and then pick up the cleaning – unless there’s something more fun!
- Drop the weight – Oh, I do not like this option! Well, maybe I should. Maybe I need to rest for a few seconds. Maybe, I need to reclaim my balance. I’ve come to realize that if I’m going to be any good later, sometimes I need to take a break.
We all have trials in life that aren’t as simple as managing hand weights during a workout. Sometimes we don’t have all of the choices available to us in every situation. For example, if you’re a single mom, there may be weights you cannot drop, but you can move them around. You can lift them differently. We always have choices that we can make, if we will learn to slow down and consider them.
The Journey Training is like weight training for your life. It can train you to identify your weights, equip you with exercises, and help you lift more effectively, all while strengthening you in your life! Are you ready? Enroll in the next class and get pumped up!
My school does a huge Art Day in the Spring and it’s amazing! This year we had painters, a potter, a whole cafeteria of activities for the kids, even a bagpiper and Vincent Van Gogh showed up! What was really amazing though was how one drawing could remind me of a very important lesson I learned in The Journey Training.
One of the artists was a caricaturist. If you’ve never seen a caricature, it’s a cartoon-like drawing that magnifies the most obvious features of the person or subject. I had one done years ago and was excited to have another. The teacher was the subject and the students got to watch. Despite my eagerness, I knew what the artist would pick up on because I remembered it being distinct from my last one. I knew when he finished, I would see a very large forehead and striking jaw. I’m self-conscious about this, but wanted to participate anyway. To involve my kids more, I had them tell the artist what I liked. One said coffee and another said football.
Then came the unveiling. Sure enough, he did a great job! I had a coffee cup and yes – a large forehead and jaw.
As I said, I predicted it, so it was an easier pill to swallow. I struggle with self-image issues, but my experiences with The Journey Training continue to teach me I don’t have to live there. We all have parts of us that are striking. It may be a jaw or large thighs. It may be a tall height or type of hair. It may be a bad temper or the tendency to hide behind happiness.
Those characteristics don’t define us. They just reveal aspects of ourselves that we are giving off. People may notice my chin, but that doesn’t make me ugly. People may see that I’m trying to be happy even when things aren’t good. It’s not bad, it’s just an experience.
The Journey Training gave me the freedom to receive and embrace feedback. It’s like a caricature, but this one can draw you into a better life!
Over the past few months I have had to deal with some physical issues that have led to the doctors putting a lot of limits on what I can and cannot do. I’m the type of person who loves being around others and usually hates having to depend on others for anything. In fact, for the last 5 years I’ve generally faced life with a “God and I can do anything” attitude, staying strong for my kids, family, and friends. So when the doctor said, “ You can’t drive for at least 2-3 weeks. You can’t lift heavy objects or even walk without being attached to a tank of oxygen,” it kind of threw me for a loop.
At first, I was tempted to go into a dark place, feeling sorry for myself and wondering how on earth I was going to get my kids to and from school, pay bills (without working), and basically keep life going at all. I felt like I was being given a sentence of isolation and being punished for something I had done. Fortunately, I had friends and family that reminded me of some things I learned through my experience with The Journey Training.
In The Journey Training I learned that I always have a choice and I was challenged to see circumstances that I face from a different perspective. Even the Bible says, “My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways…” (James 1:2) In every situation, we have a choice on how we view it and respond to it.
I was seeing the restrictions placed on me by the doctors as a sentence of isolation and a form of punishment. I was dwelling on the fact that I couldn’t get out and do all the things that I enjoyed and be around those that added to my happiness. I saw myself as weak, stuck in the house, alone and broken.
As I was talking to a friend about my situation, they gave me a different perspective that I could possibly choose to see. They brought to my attention that there are people who pay large amounts of money to go someplace where they can be alone, have time away from everything and to refocus. They told me that I was being given this kind of opportunity for free.
A light bulb went off in my head and made me say “hmmmm”. How could I look at my situation differently than a sentence of isolation? How could I turn this situation into a window of opportunity? What could I do during this time of limitation that would take me closer to my dreams after this season of rest was over?
As I contemplated these questions and realized, I actually had a choice, new thoughts came to me. I could: spend more time with God, journal about where I wanted the next phase of life to look like, allow myself to get the rest I needed to heal properly, spend time dreaming more, and a multitude of other things. Instead of focusing on the “bars on the prison window”, I could focus on the light of the sun that was shining through it and all that the light could possibly represent.This brightened my attitude, increased my energy level and allowed me to enjoy the season I was in instead of dreading it.
What are you facing right now? Are things that are beyond your control placing limits on what you can do? How can you turn your focus from the prison bars to the sunshine? The Journey Training and the friends I made there have truly changed my life and given me tools that help me in everyday life continue to reach for my dreams and actually live life rather than just exist in it.
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