Monday, February 28, 2011

HUGE tip for a more positive outlook

I may be calling myself out, but so be it:  I am in therapy.  Teeehee.  It’s true.  I’ve had lots of time in therapy, and I find it quite helpful.  So helpful, in fact, I’m showing my true blue colors and bloggin’ about it.  One of my biggest issues - Clinical Perfectionism.  For those of you who want the hoytie-toytie definition, it is as follows:
It is suggested that the defining feature of clinically significant perfectionism is the over-dependence of self-evaluation on the determined pursuit (and achievement) of self-imposed personally demanding standards of performance in at least one salient domain, despite the occurrence of adverse consequences.
It is suggested that such clinical perfectionism is maintained by the biased evaluation of the pursuit and achievement of personally demanding standards. Specifically, it is suggested that people with perfectionism react to failure to meet their standards with self-criticism. If they do meet their standards, the standards are re-evaluated as being insufficiently demanding. (Behavior Research & Therapy, Volume 40, Issue 7)
Since February 2010, this is one of the significant issues on which I’ve been working.  My biggest breakthrough came by way of a fairly new psychological method:  dialectical behavior therapy (Thank you, Daniel Rozdial).
A key aspect of DBT, as it is known, is a technique called “reframing.”  Here’s an example...
When I trip over my won feet - as I do often, I might add; sort of Miss Congeniality style; my reaction used to be “You are such a freakin’ retard.  Can’t you even walk, idiot?”  I thought nothing of this kind of self talk.  It was common place; every day.  I cannot even count the number of times I would call myself stupid, retarded, dumb, dimwit... you get the point.
Broken down on a logical level - here are the questions one must ask:
-Do a lot of people trip over their own feet?
-Are those people human?
-Do humans by their very nature make mistakes?
-Is it okay for me, as a human, to make a mistake?
-Can I forgive myself for being imperfect - for being a human?
In a word, yes.  When you put it like that, of course.  It sounds preposterous to even ask!  But how, then, was I to get my heart to realize what my brain already knew?  Enter the DBT skill “Reframing.”
Now, when I trip over my own feet, my reaction is “Teehee, that was silly!” Now bear with me for a second, because I know ti seems so simple, but do you see how much softer it is to say to oneself, “You silly girl!” than it is to say “You retard!”  The sting, judgement, and condemnation are no longer there.  Being silly is okay; acceptable even.  Being stupid, retarded - is not.
And in making a habit of removing the words retard, idiot, stupid, dumb, etc. from my lexicon and replacing them with words like silly, goofy, quirky, zany, etc. and being mindful to do so on a daily, hourly, and sometimes minutely basis, I have begun to learn not to be so harsh on myself; to allow a bit of forgiveness for mistakes, and to relax those super standards of PERFECT it is in my nature to hold myself against for comparison.  
And honestly, if I have to publicly broadcast that I’m in therapy to help just one reader along the way to breaking the perfectionist yoke they bear, it’s worth it!  For more info on DBT, click here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diva Downtime: Scrub-a-Dub-Dub

Every Diva needs a little bit of down time.  One of my favorite “downtime” pastimes: good old fashioned soak in the tub.  I almost make a ritual of it: candlelight, drop in a bath bomb, soak for at least 20 minutes with my eyes closed and gentle music playing in the background.  To make it even more relaxing - I make my own salt scrub and give myself a truly spa-like experience right in my own bathroom.  
Salt scrubs are surprisingly easy - and amazingly cheap - to make.  Here’s my recipe:
-1/2 cup either pure almond or jojoba oil
-1/2 cup epson salt
-1/2 cup fine sea salt (or sugar, if you have sensitive skin)
-15 drops aromatherapy essential oil of your choice
A word about essential oils: They’re pretty much awesome.  They smell yummy and can soften your skin like no other.  You only need a little bit - in fact, be sure to use no more than 15 drops, because if not properly diluted, they can irritate instead of soothe!  You can use an uplifting sent like sweet orange or neroli (or for a really nice scent, blend them).  Nice calming choices are Lavender or Ylang Ylang.  If you’re dealing with allergies or a cold, Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint oil can be mixed to create a blend that is sure to open your sinuses.  Your local health food store will have a wonderful selection of essential oils, ranging from $8 - $40, depending on the scent you choose.  And they will last forever, because all you need is a few drops to make your scrub smell oh-so-perfect.  
They also make super fabulous voguish diva homemade gifts!
If you try this recipe and have a Nirvana type experience, please let me know!!! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 8

How to Pray, By R.A. Torrey

Chapter 7: Abiding in Christ
“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7).  The whole secret of prayer is found in these words of our Lord.  Here is prayer that has unbounded power:  “Ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.:
There is a way then of asking and receiving precisely what we ask.  Christ gives two conditions of the all-prevailing prayer: 
The first condition is “If ye abide in Me.”
What is it to abide in Christ?
Some explanations are so mystical or so profound that many children of God think they mean practically nothing at all.  But, what Jesus meant was really very simple.
He had been comparing Himself to a vine, His disciples to the branches in the vine.  Some branches continued in the vine - in living union - so that the sap or life of the vine constantly flowed into the branches.  They had no independent life of their own.  Everything in them was simply the outcome of the life of the vine, flowing into them.  Their buds, leaves, blossoms, and fruit were not really theirs, but the buds, leaves, blossoms and fruit of the vine.  Other branches were completely severed from the vine, or the flow of the sap or life of the vine was in some way hindered.  For us to abide in Christ is to bear the same relationship to Him that the first sort of branches bear to the vine.  That is to say, to abide in Christ, is to renounce any independent life of our own.  We must give up trying to think our thoughts, form our resolutions, or cultivate our feelings.  We must simply and constantly look to Christ to think His thoughts in us, to form His purposes in us, to feel His emotions and affections in us.  It is to renounce all life independent of Christ and constantly look to Him for the inflow of His life into us and the outworking of His life through us.  When we do this, our prayers will obtain that which we seek from God.
This must necessarily be so, for our desires will not be our own desires but Christ;s.  And our prayers will not in reality be our own prayers, but Christ praying in us.  Such prayers will always be in harmony with God’s will, and the Father always hears Him.  When our prayers fail, it is because they are indeed our prayers.  We have conceived the desire and offered our own petitions, instead of looking to Christ to pray through us.
To abide in Christ, one must already be in Christ through the acceptance of Christ as an atoning Savior from the guilt of sin.  He must be acknowledged as a risen Savior from the power of sin and a Lord and Master over all the believer’s life.  Being in Christ, all that we have to do to abide (or continue) in Christ, is simply to renounce our self-life.  We must utterly renounce every thought, purpose, desire, and affection of our own and continually look for Jesus Christ to form His thoughts, purposes, affections, and desires in us.  Abiding in Christ is really a very simple matter, though it is a wonderful life of privilege and of power.
Christ’s Words in Us
There is another condition stated in this verse, though it is really involved in the first: “And My words abide in you.”
If we are to receive from God all we ask from Him, Christ’s words must abide in us.  We must study His words and let them sink into our thoughts and heart.  We must keep them in our memory, obey them constantly in our life, and let them shape and mold our daily life and our every act.
 This is really the method of abiding in Christ.  It is through His words that Jesus imparts Himself to us.  The words He speaks unto us, they are spirit and they are life (John 6:63)  It is vain to expect power in prayer unless we meditate upon the words of Christ and let them sink deep and find a permanent abode in our hearts.  There are many who wonder why they are so powerless in prayer.  The very simple explanation of it all is found in their neglect of the words of Christ.  They have not hidden His words in their hearts; His words do not abide in them.  It is not by moments of mystical mediation and rapturous experiences that we learn to abide in Christ.  It is by feeding upon His Word, His written word in the Bible, and looking to the Spirit to implant these words in our heart - to make them a living thing in our heart.  If we thus let the words of Christ abide in us, they will stir us up to prayer.  They will be the mold in which our prayers are shaped.  And, our prayers will necessarily be along the line of God’s will and will prevail with Him.  Prevailing prayer is almost an impossibility where there is neglect of the study of God’s word.
Mere intellectual study of the Word of God is not enough; there must be meditation upon it.  The Word of God must be revolved over and over in the mind with a constant looking to God and His Spirit to make that Word a living thing in the heart.  The prayer that is born of meditation upon the Word of God is the prayer which soars upward to God’s listening ear.  
George Mueller, one of the mightiest men of prayer, would begin praying by reading and meditating upon God’s Word until a prayer began to form itself in his heart.  Thus, God Himself was the real author of prayer, and God answered the prayer which He Himself had inspired.  
The Word of God is the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works.  It is the sword of the Spirit in more senses than one.  The person who wants to know the work of the Holy Spirit in any direction must feed upon the Word.  The person who desires to pray in the spirit must meditate on the Word, so that the Holy Spirit may have something through which He can work.  The Holy Sprit works His prayers in us through the Word.  Neglect of the Word makes praying in the Holy Spirit an impossibility.  If we seek to feed the fire of our prayers with the fuel of God’s Word, all our difficulties in prayer will disappear.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Voguish Diva Tip #3

You know those mornings.  The one where the alarm went off and you thought you hit snooze but you must have hit dismiss because it’s one hour and thirteen minutes later and oh-my-gosh-you-have-to-leave-RIGHT-NOW-but-you-haven’t-showered-in-two-days-and-oh-my-gosh-what-are-you-going-to-do?????
Introducing - La Shower La Prarie (teehee... the “French” Shower)
Baby wipes or face cleaning wipes will do; hit those important-to-wash spots with them.  If you have dry skin, put on some sweet smelling lotion.  If you’re the oily type, spritz yourself down with water and pat some baby powder onto your skin (using  your hands, deftly rub it into your hair roots if your hair is oily too.)  Put on your deodorant, then shave your underarms, to avoid razor burn.  Dab perfume at your neck, wrists, and behind your knees.  
Voila.  In five minutes or less, you’re sweet-smelling and dry; no one will know you weren’t able to shower!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 7

How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey

Chapter 6:  Always Praying and Not Fainting
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus emphasizes the lesson that men ought tot pray and not faint.  The first parable is found in Luke 11:5-8 and the other in Luke 18:1-8.
“And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight and say unto him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he from within shall answer and say, ‘Trouble me not:  the door is now shut and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.’ I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” (Like 11:5-8)
“And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint; saying “There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded men: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him saying, ‘Avenge me of mine adversary.  And he would not for a while, but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I fear not God, nor regard men, yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ and the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge saith.  And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily!  Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
In the former of these two parables, Jesus sets forth the necessity of importunity in prayer in a startling way.  The word rendered importunity literally means shamelessness.  Jesus wants us to understand that God desires us to draw nigh to Him with a determination to obtain the things we seek that will not be put to shame by any seeming refusal or delay on God’s part.  God delights in the holy boldness that will not take no for an answer.  It is an expression of great faith and nothing pleases God more than faith.  
Jesus seemed to deal with the Syro-Phoenician woman almost with rudeness.  But she would not give up that easily, and Jesus looked upon her shameless persistence with pleasure.  He said, “o that thou wilt” (Matthew 15:28).  God does not always give us things at our first effort.  He wants to train us and make us strong by compelling us to work hard for the best things.  Likewise, He does not always give us what we ask in answer to the first prayer.  He wants to train us and make us strong people of prayer by compelling us to pray hard for the best things.  He makes us to pray through.
I am glad that this is so.  There is no more blessed training in prayer that that which comes through being compelled to ask again and again, over long periods of time, before obtaining what we seek from God.  Many people call it submission to the will of God when God does not grant them their request at the first or second asking.  They say, “Well, perhaps it is not God’s will.”  
As a rule, this is not submission but spiritual laziness.  We do not call it submission to the will of God when we give up after one or two efforts to obtain things by action.  WE call it lack of strength of character.  When the strong man or woman of action starts out to accomplish a thing and does not accomplish it the first or second or one-hundredth time, he or she keeps hammering away until it is accomplished.  The strong man of prayer keeps on praying until he prays it through and obtains what he seeks.  We should be careful about what we ask from God.  But, when we do begin to pray for a thing, we should never give up praying for it until we receive it or until God makes it very clear and very definite that it is not His will to give it.  
Some people like us to believe that it shows unbelief tho pray twice for the same thing.  They think we ought to “take it” the first time we ask.  Doubtless there are times when we are able, through faith in the Word or the leading of the Holy Spirit, to claim the first time that which we have asked of God.  But, beyond question, there are other times when we must pray again and again for the same thing before we receive our answer.  Those who are beyond praying twice for the same thing are beyond their Master. (Matthew 26:44)  George Mueller prayed for two men daily for more than sixty years.  One of these men converted shortly before his death, I think at the last service George Mueller held.  The other was converted within a year after his death.  One of the great needs of the present day is men and women who will not only start out to pray but will pray for things on and on until they obtain what it is they seek from the Lord.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mama's Little Baby LOVES Shortenin' Bread

Especially on Valentin'es Day!  I confess - I am a SUCKER for shortbread cookies.  SUCK.  ER.  That’s me.  Here’s a fabulous recipe (courtesy of - shameless plug for the best recipe website on the face of the planet!!)
Shortbread Hearts
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place the hearts on an ungreased sheet pan and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Note: The edges of the shortbread are ever so slightly sharper if you chill the cookies before baking them.

Cook 'em up, serve 'em to your sweetie, and have the most fabulous Valentine's Day Ever!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Color Me Decorated

When my hubby and I bought our home, we had the great pleasure - and nightmare - of redecorating.  I say great pleasure because we got to choose whatever we wanted... I say nightmare because it was extremely difficult to do that!  We redid the floors, and chose paint for the walls, all the while keeping in mind the big picture of what our home would look like and what kind of furniture we would purchase after the immediate renovations were completed.  
We chose our floors first, keeping our color choices neutral; dark walnut stain for the hardwood that would cover the entire upstairs, and light tile with tans and browns laced through ever so slightly.  Because our flooring was so neutral, we went with neutral paint in most of the house, choosing variations of brown ranging from a very light tan to a deep chocolate for our living room, reading room, kitchen and dining room, stairway, and master bedroom.  The darker chocolate tones served as accent walls in the master bedroom and the reading room.  And we chose a dark, scarlet red as the accent color for the kitchen and dining room.
The base color scheme for our home was SO neutral, we could go with almost any accent color(s) we wanted.  We chose earth tones - olive greens, deep oranges, golds, maroons, etc, giving our home a very pleasing warm, welcome feel.  
Let’s say however, we wanted to go with a different color scheme.  How would we have chosen it?  What colors go with what?  How do you know if you can use pink and blue together?  What about pink and yellow?  Does it work?  
There are some general rules of thumb, and having the teensiest bit of experience, I’d like to help you out.  (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
As I’m sure most of you recognize, this is the color wheel:

How does it relate to home decor, you might ask?  What a fabulous question.  You have several different options when choosing a color palette for decorating.  You can choose a “quadrant” of the color wheel and play with the colors in that quadrant only.  For example:

These rooms utilize this quadrant:

Another option in home decor is sticking with varying shades of one color pallette; for example, this room utilizes neutral grey and a few different hues of orange (note the light peach shade of the wall and curtain, different fabrics on each furniture piece, the shade off the art's frame on the wall above the couch matches the corner table's wood accent piece, and the vase in the corner with buds on the sticks that are orange hues as well:

A third, most daring alternative, utilizes colors that are across the circle from each other.  For example, look at this room:

The decorating master mind in the above picture went with greens and pinks, which are directly across from each other on the color wheel:

But remember, all “rules” are made to be broken.  Check out this room, with the main color, red, accented by green:

This room breaks all kinds of home decor color rules, but it works!  The shades of red and green are beautiful together, and somehow manage NOT to scream “Christmas.”
Perhaps the easiest decorative possibility is to stick with the neutral base tones, like my darling and I did, and dress it up with whatever colors you choose.  This is very versatile, and allows for the creation of several different looks.  For example:

Black, white, and grey form the neutral color palette for this room, and a splash of yellow livens things up quite a bit!
And in this photo, the neutrals are used as accent colors, while the main color scheme are variations of blue tones:

As you can see, there are many different ways color can be used to create mood, feeling, and depth to your home.  If you have photos of your own home decor choices, I’d love to see them!!