Archive for the Freedom from Busyness Category

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “It all Goes Back in the Box”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, fUN, God' Love, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Laughter, love, Making Wise Choices, pornography, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Board games“Beyond our greatest fear and struggles lies our greatest power.” That is a Heidi-ism I have expounded on in my presentation to audiences for many years. Through each of my struggles God has unleashed greater power in me to help me embrace more freedom and greater clarity to focus on what is good and has meaningful value. Hence the reason for my blog being silent for several weeks. Two weeks ago I buried my sweet mother who loved God with all her heart soul and mind. During the time of your final days on earth I gave myself permission to withdraw from all social media and focus on that which I believed to be the most important event in my life; being at the beside of my mother.

During her final days on earth as I sat and held my mother’s hand, I experienced many long silent hours that gave me time to reflect all that is good and important in my life. Also during her last 6 weeks in Hospice House, our family had to box up all her belongings and empty her beautiful living accommodations because she would never return to all that was familiar and meaningful to her. Why am I telling you all this on a marriage blog? “We have to realize that all our material wealth, accomplishments, successes and stuff all end up in a box. In our families and marriages, we must have discernment as to what is really important in our lives.”

With Christmas just around the corner we are consumed with trying to find the right present so that we can see the expressions of joy and exultation on our loved ones faces. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. God created us for pleasure and the bible tells us that God wants us to enjoy the abundant life. But not when it costs us our soul and our marriages.
• Not when we work too many hours and are away from our families so that we can afford those things that are beyond our income and budget.
• In Canada the average person has expenses that exceed 64% of their income.
• Not when the credit cards are all maxed out and we lay awake at night wondering how we will make the next payment.
• Not when we impose expectations on our spouses to provide us with those expensive things that we think will bring us happiness.
• Not when we buy stuff because of a sense of entitlement or simply that we think we want it.
• Not when we demand things that we cannot afford and we end up in ugly arguments that leave us feeling diminished and angry.
• Not when it causes power struggles and destroys the harmony in our marriages.
The fact remains that one day everything we have will go back into a box.

When my children were growing up we loved to play the board game of LIFE. It was fun to throw the dice and eventually buy a house, car and fill it all up with a wife, children and lots of great stuff. Of course there is always a winner, but whether you won or lost, the game was folded up and it all went back into the box. That’s the reality of LIFE.

We boxed up all of my mother’s precious well cared for clothes, furniture and some simple jewelry. Today they are sitting in boxes in my basement. But what really mattered in my mother’s life was not the stuff left in the boxes; it was the time and experiences we enjoyed as a family, the laughter, the stories, meals and wisdom and love shared graciously and abundantly.

This Christmas season, and throughout the year, what will it take for you to be able to find your greatest power to help you embrace freedom and joy in the events and experiences that will have lasting value? My husband Jack and I do not give each other Christmas presents. Instead we focus on providing experiences throughout the year that will give us lasting memories that will give us joy and continue to reside in our hearts. Let’s help each other to be diligent and intentionally focus on those things in our marriages and families that will bring us joy beyond the Christmas season and not end up in a meaningless box.

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UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “Put Fun Back In your Marriage”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Boring marriage, Communication, companionship, Conflict, dopamine, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, fUN, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Laughter, Norepinephrine, Pleasure, Uncategorized, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Is your marriage fun
Laughter cuts tension and breaks down barriers. I observed this concept in my own children when they were little. I watched them play, and then fight, and then laugh hilariously about something silly. In the aftermath of that refreshing laughter, they completely forgot they were mad at each other. This concept still applies to us grown-ups. Life can get very serious these days and we desperately need to learn to laugh again. Yes, the butterflies of early romance quickly flutter away, but they can be replaced by something more substantive.

In a New York Times article i. entitled Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples, the writer concludes that “Simply spending quality time together is probably not enough to prevent a relationship from getting stale.” We’ve all heard the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt’ and I also believe that none of us want to become that “old boring couple”. I am passionate about the fact that we must intentionally put fun and laughter back into our marriages. We need to do this so that we can remember we really do still LIKE each other.

My husband and I have a lot of serious stuff going on in our lives. He is a pastor and I am an author, speaker and controller of a large car dealership; plus we have a large family. I also have an aging mother and we are that point in our lives where grandchildren are leaving home and travelling all over the world. But we both know that in order to keep our marriage fresh, vibrant and healthy, we must intentionally make time to have fun and laugh.

Our brains are created and wired for pleasure. The New York Times further states: “New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love, a time of exhilaration and obsessive thoughts about a new partner.” Frankly, if spouses don’t find the fun in their marriages, they will pursue it somewhere else.

Here are some tips to re-kindle the spark and re-activate the brain:
1. Be INTENTIONAL about creating some fun. My husband and I love to golf at different golf courses and we make intentional plans to attend football games in other cities. I hear of other couples taking dance lessons, hiking trips or something as simple as a different restaurant or a funny movie.
2. Be CREATIVE. Doing the same thing and re-visiting the same familiar haunts takes you down the same boring path. Try something new and tailor your date nights or activities with some novelty and fun.
3. BRAINSTORM together. The simple process of brainstorming together can be part of the fun factor. Be open to each other’s ideas and don’t dismiss each other’s different perspectives.
4. Protect your fun times from CONFLICT. If the activity is not working out the way you anticipated, protect is from conflict and agree to discuss the issue the next day. Take this opportunity to go out and just enjoy each other’s company.
5. Share FUNNY STORIES. My husband and I love to share funny incidents that occurred during the day. Look for the simple, funny things all around us and take the time to laugh about them.
6. Do the BIG SWITCH. Decide to have a happy marriage. Decide that you will not become that old boring couple that sits across from each other in the restaurant without saying one word to each other.

Marriage was created to be the most enjoyable and intimate relationship we will have in this life. This does not happen organically or automatically. It takes some work and I know you can do it.

i. http://www.reuniting.info/science/reinventing_date_night_for_long_married_couples

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “Loneliness”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, loneliness, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, power of words, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by hmclaughlin

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Nature abhors a vacuum. An emotional or spiritual vacuum is “destruction just waiting to happen.”In a marriage relationship, a vacuum is an alarming red flag. It defines a gnawing loneliness of the worst kind. Being attached to someone through the process of vows and signatures on paper, and then feeling emotionally alone and vacant, is worse than having been alone on the first place. It says in the first book of the bible in Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for man to be alone.” You and I were created for intimate relationship and when we feel disconnected we have a vacuum inside of us bigger than the Grand Canyon.

Here is why it is so dangerous to walk around with a vacuum in our souls. When there is a vacuum in nature, it will do whatever it can to fill it immediately. In a flood, the water will directly fall into those empty places and fill them. In a fire, when the flames find a vacuum they will explode with a vengeance. When you and I are hungry, we need food. In a marriage, a vacuum will fill itself with an affair, drinking excessively, over-eating, and drugs, shopping sprees, gambling or anything else that will bring pleasure in the moment to dull the pain. Even the strongest personality can cave into the most unusual temptations when loneliness creeps in. That empty space must be filled.

In this crazy, busy world that we live in today with all its demands and distractions we must be aware of the toxic enemy of loneliness. Just because we are running 18 hours a day and sitting together in one room with our i-pads and other technology doesn’t mean our souls are being fulfilled. Check the pulse of our marriage today. Ask your spouse, “Honey, am I being the companion you need?”
Men can function in an isolated stage much better than women. Women need relationship. Period! If a woman feels alone in a marriage, she is ripe for danger.

You and I were not meant to function in isolation and sometimes there are deliberate steps we need to take to re-connect with our spouse.
1. Ask yourself, are you spending enough time together?
2. Even in that time spent together, is it engaging and fulfilling…or are you just present without giving anything of yourself?
3. Is it time to cut out some outside activities so that your inside (house, marriage, children) activities have more value and intimacy?
4. Do you need to change jobs so that you can spend more time at home?
5. Don’t ignore the loneliness symptoms; they are a sign of danger.

Loneliness is a silent and subtle enemy that will creep into your marriage and you probably won’t know its existence until it is too late. Do whatever it takes to fill those empty places. If you don’t do this for each other…something or someone else will.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“Predictable Patterns”

Posted in Anticipation, Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Resentment, SEX, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , on March 14, 2013 by hmclaughlin

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Some predictable patterns evoke a sense of pleasurable anticipation. For example. My husband and I can’t wait for golfing season to start so that we can golf on every available Friday. This pattern is full of joy and freedom because it is something Jack and I love to do. But there are predictable patterns that turn into boredom, rob us of all freedom, suck away our joy and may leave us feeling depleted and even resentful. These are the patterns that evolve from repeated and endless duty and obligations. Once an obligation or duty becomes predictable…be prepared for the danger signs.

Let’s be realistic. In all marriages there are obligations that must be met every day. But there comes a time when we have to change our routines or pull away from them for a short time so that we don’t turn into time management robots. As I observe marriages these days, my heart aches for couples that are caught into the predictable pattern of work, driving children to activities, paying bills, going to meetings and the myriad of tasks that endlessly fill their days. We cannot experience the joy and fullness of marriage if we don’t break away from these predictable patterns and get reaquainted with the person we said “I do” to. Relationships cannot survive without eyeball to eyeball conversations and heart connection intimacy. Here are a few suggestions for breaking the patterns:
1.Unplug. Put away your phone, I-pad, computer, game boy and anything that resembles a piece of technology. Yes, those pieces of plastic and wire are important, but not more important than answering your child’s question, or your spouses plea for an important conversation. Pour your favorite drink, sit down, look each other in the eyes and talk.
2.Go away. Do something different. If you go to aunt Sophie’s house each summer, it may be nice visit, but over the years this may have turned into another assumed predictable pattern. Go to the mountains..the ocean…explore an area that you’ve never seen before. Try golfing, playing a new game, go to a different restaurant, try a new ice cream, buy coloured shoes, a different coffee shop or maybe it’s time to attend a marriage retreat.
3.Laugh. When was the last time you laughed? I mean belly laughed! Laughter has the power to heal wounds, it breaks down tension, and puts a new perspective on our relationships. Go to a funny movie..or download one on your tv or computer. A quick and easy fix is to watch some Brian Regan (the comedian) clips on utube…together. They are guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.
4.Prepare a Romantic night. Yes, get dressed up and go to a romantic restaurant where you have to sit across from each other and talk. Talk about your future. Dream about possibilities. Remember how funny you once were!
5.Give each other freedom. Tell your wife to go shopping for as long as she wants. Tell your husband to go golfing and not worry about rushing home. We all need to know that we are not TRAPPED into a certain time frame all the time. Because when we begin to feel trapped, we will find other means of pleasure.
We are living in a time in history where many marriages are struggling to survive the many demands that bombard us every day. Please do not be one of those that thinks it will be easier to walk from the marriage than to fight for it.

God made us to be fulfilled in our relationships. The only way we can thrive is to spend the most valuable commodity we have to succeed. TIME.
Please take the TIME to break some predictable patterns and change them into freedom finders. Freedom to be who God created you to be as your own person..and a successful spouse.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Skipping Christmas-Saving Tension

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Respect, Tension, Understanding each other with tags , , , , on December 1, 2012 by hmclaughlin

*temp*Five years ago my husband Jack and I “skipped Christmas”.  Quite simply, we wanted to know what it felt like to let go of all the Christmas expectations and self imposed tension.  What would a Christmas season be like without waiting in lines, looking for parking spots, finding the perfect gift and feeling exhausted from fulfilling all the traditions and obligations that are supposedly inflicted on us? 

 Just last week I was in a Christmas decoration aisle in a huge department store, buying ribbon for our office party. A young couple was pushing a shopping cart down the aisle and in the middle of an argument. I could see the tension and frustration on her face and the anger in her voice: “This is not just for me you know; this is for OUR Christmas. I am just trying to make it a nice Christmas for OUR family.” Sadly I saw the vacant look in the man’s eyes and I could see he just didn’t get this “Christmas thing.”

 I wish I could l have grabbed them by the shoulders and told them what my I, as a woman, learned about simplifying and enjoying the Christmas season. Here is what I learned the year we “skipped Christmas”:

1.         We have to realize we cram a year’s worth of shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating and entertaining into about 30 days. Realize how impossible this is to do is without tension.

2.         Many women, including myself, feel guilt ridden and responsible for creating the perfect story book Christmas.  The kind we see on magazine covers, TV commercials and then pulling it together like it happened in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Do whatever it takes to get rid of that guilt and those expectations.

3.         We don’t HAVE to send out Christmas cards. Our family now sends out a “Happy New Year” letter toward the end of January when life has settled into a more relaxed and manageable routine.

4.         We don’t HAVE to spend a lot of money on the perfect gift. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t need another new thing that might end up in a cupboard or drawer. We decided as a family to give to organizations that really need our support. The greatest gift we can give each other in this crazy busy life is the “gift of time.” The grandchildren still get presents but make it simple and not exorbitantly priced. Send the extra money to children who really need it.

 5.        Sit down and ask your husband what type of things he would like to do to make Christmas meaningful for him. If he’s not interested in doing all “that stuff”, don’t load yourself with all the self-imposed expectations of creating the story book Christmas. The tension is not worth it.

6.         Simplify the baking. Instead of 10-12 different items, chose 1 or 2 items your family really likes and get the children involved in the baking. Make it fun not stressful.

7.         Pack your Christmas decorations away each year so that the following year it is easy to set them up. For example, I label my containers “kitchen-foyer-dining room table” etc. When I bring the container up from the basement, I open it and plunk these items exactly where they belong. If you need to buy new decorations; buy them AFTER Christmas when they are 70% off the last sale price and there are no long line ups.

8.         It is more important to have harmony and love in our marriage and homes, than to buy into this new marketing scheme called “The Holidays.”

It has been a harsh reality for me to see that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ; yet we don’t invite Jesus to His own birthday party. When I see the Christmas season through this perspective, it hurts my heart to see what I am doing to commercialize this Holy Christmas Season. I need to do whatever I can to stop this insanity.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “Do You Feel Married”?

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Pleasure, Resentment, Respect, Tension, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued on September 16, 2012 by hmclaughlin

Do you feel married?” How do you feel when you are in a season where everything seems to be changing? When the last child is off to University, a change in careers and the marriage seems too predictable and comfortable.  I saw a movie a couple of weeks ago where the couple in the movie were considering divorce because “their marriage felt like a comfortable roommate”. Before I go any further let me just say that there are probably a million people out there who would love that “comfortable roommate.”

But for those of you who have been married a long time, we have to realize that we go through different stages in our marriages.

1.         The “drug induced” stage. This is where your heart is overflowing with love and you in a pleasure filled state because your brain is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals. We think this is what love should always feel like and we wish this stage would last forever. But struggles come along, tension arises and hopefully we go to the next stage.

2.         The “distress stage”. This is where you are bu

ilding your life through having children, careers, mortgage payments, car payments and trying to find love and balance. This is the stage where you will be disappointed, feel resentment, perhaps rejected, angry and at times desperately wondering if you should stay in this tension filled marriage. At times you feel like you are being rubbed like sandpaper and you feel raw, vulnerable and unlovable. All of this tension, if you can work through it, will make you and your marriage partner better, stronger and wiser people.

3.         The “stage of understanding”. During this stage of your marriage you may have read self help books, gone to counseling and been able to begin to understand how your partner thinks, reacts, listens and you have developed tools on how to function together.

4.         The “stage of sweet connection”. This is a stage of coming to terms with each other’s idiosyncrasies, faults and shortcomings and you have developed a deep respect and connection with each other. This stage arrives after you have overcome many disappointments, struggles and you have learned to accept each other the way God created you.  With this stage there sometimes comes a sweet contentment that may seem boring and predictable because you have outgrown the clashing, tension and different stages of both good and bad stimulation.  You have not fallen out of love-you have learned to take life and yourselves, at the worst and best that each of you has to offer.

 Perhaps there are health issues, extended family struggles, aging parents and financial difficulties that consume your energy and time and at times your marriage feels lifeless and boring. But you have learned through the different stages that “you have each other” and for this season in your life that may be just what you need.  But don’t make that the status quo. Work towards bringing new activities, fresh ideas, renewed learning, and creative thinking to build the kind of marriage you always dreamed of. You know it’s possible. You have come this far, don’t throw it away.

 

 

 

 

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – When we feel Mad and Mean

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, messes, Patience, Pleasure, Tension on August 26, 2012 by hmclaughlin

I find that the world is getting madder and meaner almost every year. Don’t you wish that some days we would all just hold hands, get along and sing kum-baya?

I stood beside a woman in a line-up at grocery store last week, smiled and made a casual comment about groceries. She swirled around and with a frown on her face shot a mean response. Why? If we treat strangers this way, it makes me wonder if we bring some of that meanness into our homes and marriages. In the last while I have also felt like shooting back some of those angry responses and it has actually startled me. I would never, ever want to be mean to my husband, family or anyone. And yet it creeps in.

If we feel mean and mad, there is a root to those feelings. I took a deep soul inventory of my own heart, and here is what I came up with.

  • For women, one of the greatest challenges is these days is that we are tired.  Fatigue leaves us depleted and makes us very vulnerable. When we are tired we want to scream at the world, “Don’t you see how tired I am, please don’t add another thing to my day’s activities.”
  • We feel mad and mean when there is no margin in our life. When our feet hit the floor in the morning and all we can think about is the endless list of things to accomplish that day…watch out when someone or something gets in our way to disrupt that agenda.
  • When our present reality does not match the picture in our head.
  • When we feel that we have not been heard.
  • We feel hurt when we feel unloved, pressured, taken for granted or overlooked.
  • We have had a poor upbringing or suffer from low self esteem. 
  • We may have grown up in an environment where this is how people treated each other.
  • You may not be feeling well, you may be in constant pain or you find that life is just simply hard.

Whatever makes any of us feel mean, we have to be careful not to punish other people with our meanness. In our marriages we have to be aware that “mean does not cancel out mean.” We can’t be mean back and forth and expect the hurt to disappear.

Our homes and marriages should be those safe havens where we can share our frustrations, hurts and fatigue. Instead of being mean we need to communicate our hurts so that it defuses the “meanness.” The bible says: “Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in our lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT).

The next time you feel mean words ready to slip off the end of your tongue, STOP and listen to your heart to discover why you feel this way. Maybe it’s time to look at some of that stress in your life, the tension in your marriage or the days that leave no margin for laughter and fun. It’s time to tell your spouse that some things need to change. Meanness does not just go evaporate. Ask God to help you heal those things in your heart so that you can have the kind of marriages that are kind, tenderhearted..and flourishing.