How to Get a Spiritual Boost After a Tough Work Week

I am pleased to present this guest post by Julie Morris, a life and career coach. She blogs regularly at juliemorris.org. I have a feeling her post is not just helpful for us who feel overworked but also for those of us who just feel that life is one crashing wave after another with no relief. Julie offers some wonderful practical advice. Let us know what you think with your comments!

Photo by jarmoluk
Photo by jarmoluk

Many Americans feel overworked and underpaid. We work 50+ hour weeks, hardly ever use up our vacation days, and never seem satisfied with the success we’re able to receive. All of this hard work makes for stressful work weeks, especially when your work day is spilling over into your time away from the office via constant email checking. If this is the way you’re working and living, chances are you’re exhausted. So, what can you do to boost your spirits? Here are a few tips:

Get some rest.

yoppy sleep, Flickr Creative Commons
yoppy sleep, Flickr Creative Commons

This may sound pretty basic, but the reality is many of us get far fewer than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. When you get on a healthy sleep schedule, you’ll feel less fatigued and more focused, and a more focused brain means you’ll obsess over negative thoughts less often.

Change your surroundings.

A little change in scenery can go a long way toward replenishing your spiritual self after a tough week. Go camping. The fresh air and time away from home will work wonders for your mood. Or if camping isn’t your style, get a room for the weekend at a hotel. Even if it’s in your own town, the time away from home can help you get unstuck from the rut you’re in. And if you have a four-legged family member, not to worry. Many of today’s hotels are dog-friendly. Here’s a great selection:

Embrace gratitude.

Viewminder Gratitude, Flickr Creative Commons
Viewminder Gratitude, Flickr Creative Commons

When your job is making you stressed and exhausted, it can be difficult to be grateful, but do make some time for gratitude. If you pray, say a little prayer offering your thanks for having a job that helps you provide for yourself and your family. If you don’t pray, spend a quiet moment thinking about what your job enables you to do. Spending a little time on gratitude can provide some much-needed perspective when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Find a spot for outdoor yoga.

Yoga is great for your physical and mental health. It’s also a great excuse to get outside. No, you don’t have to practice yoga outdoors to get its amazing benefits, but when you do, you’ll probably find that you get an extra energy boost. For example, outdoor yoga will allow you to get some much-needed vitamin D. If you spend most of your day sequestered away in your cubicle chances are you probably don’t get much time in the sun, especially in winter. By going outdoors for some end-of-the-week yoga, you’ll get some vitamin D and the mental health boost that comes with it.

Don’t let your work deplete your spiritual self. When that happens, you’ll be more stressed, less innovative, and most likely less productive. Remember, working more doesn’t necessarily make you a better employee. If you aren’t able to do your best work, then you aren’t doing yourself or your employer any favors. Make time to replenish your spirit. When you do, you’ll also be refilling your passion for your work.

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Another great discovery right under my nose!

Remember when I posted about discovering a little piece of heaven across the street from my house? After living there for twelve years?

Looks like I’ve found another treasure in my town. Continue reading “Another great discovery right under my nose!”

Changing your Outlook: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel (John 6:1-15) by Father Steven LaBaire

father steven labaireI am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

In preparation for mass this Sunday:

This morning the U.S. Surgeon General was interviewed on the radio. Not surprisingly, he was talking about medicine and health.

He said, “People tend to think that healthy people are happier people… That might be true.”

“But,” he added, “ so much science and research is pointing to the fact that happy people are healthier people.

People who choose to be happy, end up being healthier overall. So it works the other way around. Choose happiness first and health follows. “

Riccardo Cuppini Happiness, Flickr Creative Commons
Riccardo Cuppini Happiness, Flickr Creative Commons

That’s an interesting way of looking at it: Happiness is a choice we make. It isn’t something that just suddenly “happens.” A person’s chosen outlook can often change the course and outcome of things.

That goes to the heart of this week’s gospel: Jesus feeding an immense crowd of people with very few resources, some bread and a few fish.

Some argue that Jesus simply got  everyone in the crowd to share what they brought with them. Who would bother to leave home and travel in the wilderness without food in the first century? If people saw Jesus and his disciples sharing a few loaves and fishes with others and by that were inspired to share what they had brought themselves, isn’t that miracle enough? Good point.

On the other hand, if humans can fly to the moon and defy the laws of gravity, why couldn’t God defy the laws of nature and “miraculously” multiply loaves to feed a huge crowd in order to teach a lesson about how we ought to live? Can’t God do more than our minds can imagine? That’s a good point too.

Either way, there is a lesson here about life: God begins to work in us when we focus on what we have rather than what we lack.

BK Gratitude changes the way we look at the world, Flickr Creative Commons
BK Gratitude changes the way we look at the world, Flickr Creative Commons

Start your day, start your next big project  focusing on what you have been given, blessed with.

Focusing on what you lack, on what you don’t have will leave you disappointed and afraid.

Jesus got people to be grateful and use what they had. He dared them to trust that what had would go much further than they imagined.

And somehow,  they ended up dealing with the challenge at hand: everybody got fed.

Outlook can change a lot. Jesus knew that.

Our way of looking at the day can leave us feeling happy or starving.

You choose.

I choose.

We all choose.

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My unexpected miracle healing (part three): healing inside and out

Holy Family Parish from www.flickr.com
Holy Family Parish from http://www.flickr.com

When I walked out of Holy Family church that Sunday after having my throat blessed (see previous post), I had no idea what to expect. Over the past four years I had come to accept that my loss of voice was permanent.

That loss became a part of who I am.

Yet the blessing moved me, especially when Fr. Steve said my name. I cried while leaving the church, surprised yet again at the depth of my grief. I still missed my voice, but I did not miss the old life that was attached to that voice. I had moved on to a new life, beyond music into writing, a life of creativity that was new, exciting and fulfilling. Music, on the other hand, was old and stale and I thought, dead.

God had other ideas.

My son the musician
My son the musician

A few days after the blessing my son, also a musician (see previous post) texted me about the songs I had written when I was his age. I had a large catalog, all recorded on cassette tapes. He wanted me to digitize the collection and send it to him via the computer.

I am in my late fifties; these songs were written when I was in high school, college and young adulthood. They were often autobiographical in nature and full of the angst of youth. I cringed at the thought of even listening to them. But he urged me on saying, “Mom, it’s your legacy!” How could I resist?

Through this intermediary, the healing began.

joni mitchell blueI listened to the songs before digitizing them and found that they weren’t so bad after all. The exercise awoke old memories of why I had loved music in the first place. It reminded me of the wonder of listening to Joni Mitchell’s classic “Blue” and how her lyrics had pierced my soul. Mitchell was the icon of confessional singer/songwriters and I crafted my songs after her model.

I began to see a thread of connection between the lyrics I wrote forty years ago, the writing I used to do as a kid and the writing that I am doing now and realized that in fact, I had always been a writer at heart.

The pieces of the puzzle of my creative life started to come together.

from tap4him.blogspot.com
from tap4him.blogspot.com

It acted as a soothing balm. I began to put my arms around my creativity as if to say, “Welcome home.”

For years I had been pushing music away because it hurt too much to be near it. I had not only lost my voice but my soul as a musician. Thanks to that blessing, and my son, I found my way back to the self that had gone astray.

Entering Holy Family church two weeks later for mass, it struck me like a thunderbolt: I had been healed! I couldn’t wait to tell Father Steve. All during the mass my heart overflowed with gratitude. I understood for the first time the many layers of healing.

God heals the whole person, not just the symptoms. He heals us from the inside out.

from pastorblog.cumcdebary.org
from pastorblog.cumcdebary.org

When the paralytic man was lowered down from the ceiling by his four friends as told in Mark 2:1-12, Jesus first forgave his sins. He healed the inner man because He sensed this was the healing most needed. In ancient times, sin was thought to be the reason for physical troubles. Jesus relieved this man of that burden: the paralysis was not his fault. He then healed him physically.

He did that for me too.

I was free from the emotional paralysis that had locked away my love of music. All the grief, all the anger melted away. Even though my singing voice was not restored I felt whole again. I was back to being fifteen, playing the guitar and pouring my heart into my very first composition.

But the healing was not complete.

In the weeks that followed I began to notice that it became easier to sing the hymns during mass (see previous post). Although my throat still hurt when I sang, the notes were coming out stronger and clearer, like they used to.

Each week when I went to mass, I pushed myself a little more each time. It began to feel good to sing again. One week I took the long way home after mass so I could test my voice on some of the most challenging songs of my repertoire.

folk_guitarWhen I got home I belted out “Amazing Grace” just as I had recorded it and scared the cat with the volume! Buoyed, I pulled out my guitar and sang song after song. Yes, yes, I could sing again!

This the recording I had made a few years ago of “Amazing Grace:”

I could sing again. The healing was complete.

Now I knew how the sick felt when they were healed by the touch of the Master’s hand. Deep gratitude brimming over. An overwhelming desire to do a happy dance! The urge to rush out into the street and shout to the neighbors, “I’ve been healed!”

Another urge overtook me: the need to visit my church and kneel in front of the tabernacle to say thanks. I did that a few times, just pulling off the road for a moment to go into the church, kneel there and caress the tabernacle where the body of Christ resides in the form of bread and just saying over and over:

“Thank you. Thank you.”

There is still the acid reflux to deal with and I have to take care that I don’t strain my newfound voice as the stamina is not what it was. I won’t be singing in public except on rare occasions. Music is now a private affair with writing taking center stage.

But I can sing to God with a new voice. I can pray the way I love best.

How has God healed you? What is your healing story?

My unexpected miracle healing (part one)

My unexpected miracle healing (part two): openness to God’s way

Click to Tweet & Share: My unexpected miracle healing (part three): healing inside and out http://wp.me/p2D9hg-E8

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Thankful for simple gifts

This is a teaser to my monthly column on Catholicmom.com.

Some of the most wonderful gifts from God come in the form of whispers.

They are the small gifts. The gifts for a particular moment, not to be grasped at, but merely accepted. And if the taker is alert and awake, the heart will swell with gratitude.

On a Sunday not too long ago, I was the fortunate recipient of a bevy of such gifts.

First, a little background. For most of my life, I was a vocalist and songwriter …

The greatest joy as a vocalist was leading the singing at Sunday mass. My parish, St. Luke the Evangelist in Westborough, MA is a blessed community full of active, generous and loving people.

The church building is a minor cathedral, acoustically perfect with high concrete ceilings, carved pillars supporting graceful Corinthian arches, and shiny slate floors. Voices ring and linger in that sacred space.

Each Sunday I enjoyed the privilege of choosing the music and leading the congregation in prayer through song …

I led music for most of my adult life. In 2010, all that changed …

Click here to finish the post on Catholicmom.com. Feel free to post comments there.

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A Radical Scheme – guest post by Lori Erickson of Spiritual Travels

Extravagance in my neighbor’s yard (Lori Erickson photo)

“Nature is, above all, profligate. Don’t believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! …”

So writes Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I love that line about this deciduous business being a radical scheme, the brainchild of a manic-depressive with limitless capital. When I took a walk this morning, I stood beneath a neighbor’s maple in a shower of shimmering leaves, each one the product of a hundred sunny days, watching as they twirled and tumbled about me, drawn toward earth in a dance they will take just once. Extravagance indeed.

Click here to read the rest …

Click to Tweet & Share: Guest Post by The Holy Rover: The extravagance of Autumn http://wp.me/p2D9hg-f5

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