Blues + Strings = BlueStrings

Blues + Strings = BlueStrings

~Janet’s Blog

Songs Are Memories

Every song on all of my CDs represents a moment in my life. Experiences that have made an impact on me that were important enough to put on paper and partner with a tune.

After experiencing a great sense of accomplishment producing my first two CDs (Strings Attached and Up & Strumming), I felt a tug to write some blues. I have always loved the blues. I was about 9 years old when I was introduced to the song, Stormy Monday. I fell in love with it immediately. I sang it all the time at home and at Girl Scout camp-outs. Whether people were listening or not I just loved singing that song over and over. Something about it was different. Something about it resonated with something deep inside of me. Blues spoke a special language. A language I needed to speak to. (more…)

Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery (Part 2)

Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery (Part 2)

~Joel’s Blog

Fear Of Debt? Crawl Before You Walk

It’s simple enough and requires no math skill. Spend more money than you make. You go into debt.

That was true for us, as we revealed in part one of this series. In retrospect, there really was no way to avoid that unpleasant money outcome, given our meager income versus the cost-of-living challenges we faced. Consequently, as soon as we could we sought out greater income opportunities. Things got better.

As we saw last time, having loads of money doesn’t mean you will feel secure. Kara and Ron taught me that, as a financial planner.

Many people around the world, especially in America, had been living very high until the Great Recession hit. Things were pretty good. Money was moving easily. Account values and home prices were rising quickly. The expectation of that continuing may have actually set us up for the crash.

Life is what happens after you make plans.

But that assumes that there was a plan. Many people, around 2007, didn’t have any plan. They were winging it. Things felt good. And making a plan felt like work. Even unnecessary. They found out the hard way that not having a plan feels terrible and creates much more work, headaches, and heartache.

5 Steps to Emotional Recovery

So, what does it mean and how do you “prepare for rain” in your life? Prepare For Rain is a place where people get “unstuck,” start growing again, and renew their dreams and passions. To do that, you must take these five key steps:

  1. Recognize that you need “rain” in your life. Because of the Great Recession, that’s not so hard these days. Of course, we’re not talking about physical rain. Too many people are stuck in the mindset and expectation of scarcity, rather than abundance, even with money. “Rain” here means renewal, restoration, maybe even rebirth.
  2. Honestly reflect on where you are right now. Is your work satisfying to you? Sure, it’s important to have income, but are you trading your time for too little money? Is there something else you could do to supplement your income? A part-time job? Better yet, a home-based business that involves something you love…something you are gifted at?
  3. Get serious Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recoveryabout your debt/income ratio. I’m all in favor of not having debt. But I don’t advocate people get out of debt as fast as they can—as many financial experts do. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally on board with the concept and the goal of becoming debt-free. The problem isn’t with the concept. It’s with people’s money habits. Many behaviors need to change, simultaneously, to achieve a “no-debt” status. Debt isn’t evil. It makes economies run and allows companies to expand, which includes hiring more people. The critical issue is how expensive is the debt: how much does it actually cost to buy the money. As an advisor—and then a leader of advisors—I saw many people work very hard at paying off their debt, using every spare dollar to do so. Often, I was advising and helping them to do so. While their goal was admirable, when life threw them a curve some stopped trying. Because every dollar had gone to debt-reduction, no money went to savings [not what I recommended]. So, what happened when life threw them a curve? They went back into debt to deal with the challenge. For some, this became a rinse & repeat cycle. They felt defeated. Therefore, I advocate that you continue building a savings account even while paying down the debt because it’s proactive and responsible.
  4. Re-engage your dreams. Chances are high that you put them on a shelf some time ago. Maybe a very long time ago. Why? Because you needed to work? OK, but why does it have to be one or the other? If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, then write. Get up a little earlier every day for a month…and write. See how you feel a month from now! You’ll feel awesome. Maybe you’ll have something to publish. Same thing for painting, music, poetry, whatever. It’s your dream. No one else can bring it to life besides you.
  5. Give back. Our perspective about things gets very skewed when we’re in our own little bubble. Volunteer somewhere. Lots of organizations need help, so find one that engages your passions.

Engage here. Does any of this resonate with you? Someone you care about? Have you downloaded our free guide yet?

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Depression Doesn’t Mean Broken

Depression Doesn’t Mean Broken

Depression Doesn't Mean BrokenDepression & Society

Society treats depression like a bad word, as if people who have it are broken.  Heaven forbid if you make any reference to possibly suffering from it!

About 5 years ago, following way too many days of crying I realized my world was in the midst of a storm and I couldn’t deal with it on my own.

I remember the day clearly, sitting in my doctor’s office.  “It’s like having this dark storm cloud hovering over my head all the time.  I just can’t seem to see the sun anymore.  I have anxiety attacks in the middle of the night that wake me up.  I find myself sitting straight up in bed thinking to myself, ‘Oh no!  I forgot to turn on the dishwasher before bed.’  I find myself in a cold sweat, shaking from head to toe, ready to go into fight or flight mode.  It’s awful!”

“If I am not stressing about messing something up, during the day I feel so low and worthless I can hardly function.  Going into public to run errands, I wished I was invisible.  That way, I wouldn’t have to put words together and sound like a normal human being.”

This anxiety/depression combo resulted in me being a highly reactionary and impatient mother and wife.  I hated myself for it, too.  I wanted to be free of my own company.  I loathed having to continue being me.

Depression’s Source

My doctor inquired about my relatives and mental health issues.  “Well yes, dementia on dad’s side and depression–that kept the person from speaking for days at a time–on mom’s side.”    The doc’s face turned to a look of, “ahaa!” on her face.  She then informed me that, at no fault of mine, I was struggling with anxiety and depression.  She then explained that they are like two sides of a coin and something that can be passed down genetically.   She clarified, ”You have done nothing wrong, there is just a slight imbalance in your brain chemistry.”

In my situation a mild anti-depressant for a period of time was all I needed to see the sun again.  I rediscovered my enthusiasm and passion for music plus the guts I needed to get in front of people again.

Now, of course, everyone is different. Sometimes the chemistry in your brain needs balancing out permanently. Again, you didn’t do anything wrong. Getting your brain chemistry balanced just helps the true you shine through!

My world is not perfect now, my anxiety pops up occasionally and I am aware when clouds are threatening to cover my blue sky again.  Once in a  great while my anxiety will get the best of me and a few thoughtless words will pour out of my mouth, like Harry Potter when he tried to smile at Cho with a mouth full of pumpkin juice.

I am always striving to do better at apologizing as soon as possible and then just moving forward instead of caring my mistakes on my back like a cross I must forever bear. We all screw up. We are human. Forgiveness is not just something we are to give to others. It’s something we need to give to ourselves.

What about you? Do you, or someone you know, deal with depression? Are there tools you’ve heard about, or discovered, that are helpful?

Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did. Check out this song for a little encouragement. For deeper resources (books, magazines, support groups), check these out.

photo credit: ashley rose via photopin cc

“Quiet Me Down” – A Song Blog About ADHD

“Quiet Me Down” – A Song Blog About ADHD

ADHD 2Bringing Quiet to a Busy ADHD Mind

A few years ago I learned that I have ADHD.  There are many different types of ADHD, so they don’t all look the same.  My flavor is one that is often overlooked.  Some describe it as the quiet, good girl version, however,  boys often have this version of it too.  I was one of those kids who either day-dreamed much of the time or was distracted by the movements and quiet interactions in the classroom.

Unfortunately, what also can come with that is a quiet lonely internal battle with anxiety.  Looking back I can now recognize anxiety in my childhood mannerisms.  I chewed my fingernails something fierce and often the inside of my lips.  When watching TV my mom more than once had to gently encourage my hands to open up from clenched fists.

As an adult, I felt like this monster was slowly taking me over, kind of like “The Blob”, one of my daughters favorite old movie villains.  I always had this underlying feeling of being uptight, but when I made mistakes my anxiety would increase exponentially!

New Forest, New Squirrels

Moving to Boise definitely pushed my anxiety level up a few notches.  We had been living in a small town, Yakima, in Washington state, for 10 plus years.  It was very easy to get around and family was not too far away in any direction.  My mother-in-law lived about 7 houses down so I had her support whenever I needed it.   Moving far away from everything familiar and everyone I knew shook me up.  To magnify matters, Boise was at least 3 times bigger than Yakima!  Yikes!

It was during Boise’s school system’s spring break that we moved. Within days of moving I had to take my precious little first grader to a brand new school filled with strangers…and then I was supposed to leave her there for the whole day!

When my anxiety would completely wear me out, then I would suffer from depression and loneliness.  This was a really dark time.

Before I came to understand that ADHD was the source of my troubles, I wrote a song to try to help quiet me down.  I would go for walks in the morning along the river and I would sing it to myself.  Some days it helped more than others.  At least for the period of time that I was walking and singing, I would eventually feel a little calmer.

I hope this song brings comfort to you as you listen to it.

Engage here.  Do you ever struggle with anxiety?  Is ADHD part of your life? What do you do to calm yourself down? Do you need help addressing this issue in your life?

Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did! Invite a friend to Prepare For Rain today!

Here’s a link to the “Quiet Me Down” video:

Quiet Me Down from Prepare For Rain on Vimeo.

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

In Defense of Losers

In Defense of Losers

Head in Hands

Dump the Losers!

Across the spectrum of social media, as well in business publications and self-help books, there’s a theme gaining traction: losing the losers.

The argument goes something like this:

Each of us has people in our lives that are, well, less than optimal. Their influence isn’t as uplifting as it could be. They don’t add much to the quality of your life. Perhaps they even somehow inhibit the direction you want to go in. Worst of all, they may even be conveying to you, from time to time, a negative message or attempt to exert influence on you.

That said, because there is a limited amount of time to spend with people—and life is short—therefore it only makes sense that we dump these loser friends. Right? We deserve better. Who wants to interact with a person who “drains”? You should surround yourself with people that make you happy and fulfilled. Without any drama. They should contribute to your life experience.

If not, they are losers and they should be dumped. Or if that sounds too harsh, you need to get real, grow up and distance them from you. It’s only right.

So, does this message ring any bells for you?

Losers Are For Losers

Like most things in life, nothing is quite as simple as it seems.

There are five problems with this position:

  1. Who all is included in the “loser” category? Maybe family isn’t included in the argument—maybe—but pretty much every human you could ever interact with gets lumped into this generic, probable “loser” category. Any principle built on such a wide focus needs some level of vigorous skepticism. Not mindless embrace.
  2. At what age does the principle become appropriate? Is a parent “less than optimal” by insisting that Junior clean his room, zip up his pants or earn his keep?
  3. In what setting does the principle work? For instance, is it unjust when an employer requires the employee to complete the tasks they were hired to do? Or does that “inhibit the direction” the employee thinks is best?
  4. Why does hearing a “negative message” from time to time qualify that conveyor for ejection into the realm of “Loser”? Isn’t that exactly what a true friend sometimes does—say something the other doesn’t want to hear?
  5. Why do “we deserve better?” According to whom? It smacks of raw narcissism to believe that everyone else—or at least those we interact with the most—should add to our “life experience.” Wow. What happens when illness enters into the picture? That’s kind of a negative, isn’t it? Dump them?

Losers ‘R Us

Seizing upon the idea that it is justified, even enlightened and spiritual, to dump the losers in your life, is a harsh position to embrace. Because someday, more than once, you will be that loser. Think about it for a minute. You already have been.

Being dumped as a loser is not going to leave you happy and fulfilled. It hurts. You are not going to be more inclined to uplift others. Quite the opposite. Your messages will lean more towards the “negative” and your willingness to support others in the direction they’re going will be diminished. At least.

Dumping the losers in your life is, eventually, self-destructive.

Rather, struggle through difficult conversations. Work towards understanding. Be brave enough to speak truth to influence (when is that not received as “negative”?). Whether the person is in a position of power or not. Whether the person is a friend. Whether they are family.

Engage in real living to experience real community. Embrace the losers in your life. Because you’ll also be embracing you.

What’s been your experience with this theme? Where have you seen or heard it? In the workplace? In the–gasp–church? Have you been the dumper? How about the dumpee?

Engage here.

Next time: How To Follow Your Dreams Without Dumping People Along The Way

photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc

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