When the Christmas Season Doesn’t Go as Expected

Do you ever have the feeling you just don’t do holidays as well as other people? Or maybe the holiday season hasn’t gone as you wanted it to? 

We’ve had a difficult fall, as I’ve been dealing with some heavy past trauma I didn’t know I had. My Christmas spirit has been minimal. I don’t decorate like crazy anyway, but this year was half-hearted at best, featuring an old artificial tree with busted lights, a couple nativity sets.

I ordered a few presents on Amazon when I was sick in bed with the flu, and we took our kids to Six Flags for an experiential gift, instead of loading them up with more toys they won’t play with more than once.

I waste a lot of time scrolling social media. I look at other people’s decoration pictures, the baking reels, the cute creative reels, the smiling kids in their matching Christmas clothes… and I worry my kids are missing out on something this season. We didn’t do enough. They’ll resent us.

But then I offer myself a different perspective. Our family has spent many evenings in the last month cuddled up on the couch together, watching The Chosen. Richard and I have spent numerous nights, practically every night we can, connecting and sharing – often with hard conversations, but mostly making memories I will treasure forever.

See, I might have made a mistake sometime in September. On a morning walk, I asked God to show me His love in a new way. And boy, has he delivered. I’ve seen his love through the raging tornado of my past trauma, because out of my brokenness comes his promised wholeness. I’ve seen his love through friends who have checked on me and offered a listening ear. I’ve seen his love through the unconditional love and support of my husband. I’ve seen his love through the three very chill, very laid back kids I’ve been gifted.

And I see his love through the gift of Jesus.

As Paul David Tripp writes in his Christmas devotional, Come Let Us Adore Him, “What sense would it make for God to go to the extent of sending his Son to be born for our sake, and then abandon us along the way? Since God was willing to make such a huge investment in his grace, isn’t it logical to believe he will continue to invest in his grace until that grace has finished its work?”

It’s okay that I don’t have an Instagram-worthy living room. It’s okay that my kids didn’t decorate Christmas cookies, that they didn’t see lights, that they didn’t get the usual amount of cousin and grandparent time this year. It’s even okay that they got more screen time than I’d like (it pains me to say that one out loud).

What matters to me is the lesson I’m learning… THAT is the most important legacy I can pass on to my kids, something they can hold on to through any of life’s plot twists.

His grace and unfailing lovingkindness don’t run out. There is no limit. I haven’t reached capacity. I continue to pull from that well of living water, the kind that never runs out, because he can’t be anything other than who he is – a God who sees, who rescues, and who creates life from death. Over and over again. He did it for me. He can do it for you.

Oh, come let us adore Him indeed! 

Merry Christmas, 

Erin

Creating Mind-Body Balance with Ayurvedic Medicine

What the brain struggles to process, the body will store. When we have negative emotions and trauma that we haven’t been able to work through, we often receive symptoms in the forms of physical ailments. This episode digs into this topic from the perspective of Ayurvedic medicine.

Dr. Ram Tamang is an Ayurvedic Physician, Master Herbalist, Educator and High Performance Coach, based in Southern California. Dr. Ram was trained as a doctor at the esteemed Ayurvedic University, MGR Medical University in Coimbatore, India, gained his Master Herbalist Certificate from GCNM in the USA and is one of 700 in the world to receive his certification as a High Performance Coach (CHPC).

As a child of nature, Dr. Ram grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas in Kathmandu, Nepal, learning about herbs and nature-based medicines from his grandmother.   Dr. Ram works side-by-side Allopathic Doctors, providing his unique perspective of how Ayurvedic Medicine can be used along with Westernized and Modern Medicine for a truly holistic and holistic approach to healing.   

Download and listen to this episode here, or find wherever you get podcasts.

Continue reading “Creating Mind-Body Balance with Ayurvedic Medicine”

The Opioid Epidemic and Rise of Substance Abuse

Addiction doesn’t just affect the one addicted, but it affects everyone else as well – especially during the holidays, after a season of so much uncertainty and division. This episode comes at a perfect time.

Scott H. Silverman is a substance abuse expert, crisis coach (and former addict) with over with over 35 years of experience working with individuals and families dealing with addiction. Silverman is the CEO and President of Confidential Recovery and Safe Homes Coalition, and the author of several books including his latest, “The Opioid Epidemic: What You Don’t Know Will Destroy Your Family and your Life.”

Download and listen to the episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

Continue reading “The Opioid Epidemic and Rise of Substance Abuse”

Make Like a Tree and Let Go

There are less than 50 days left in the year. This inspires a lot of go-getters, influencers, self-help authors, and leadership coaches to call for some kind of goal-setting push to finish the year strong.

But I want to consider something else.

Instead of doing a hard push, forcing yourself to live up to some imaginary expectation for yourself only YOU are freaking out about, let’s acknowledge what you’ve been through and the coping mechanisms you’ve developed in effort to support you.

No judgment. No shaming.

I’ll go first.

When I’m stressed, I like to numb out with a bag of flavored chips that will make me feel like crap afterwards.

Do I want to do it? No. Is it “healthy” from a physical, mental, or spiritual standpoint? Probably not. But it’s familiar to me. It’s comfort. This coping skill worked when I was younger. It brought me temporary relief and comfort when I was depressed and couldn’t find relief or a way out of the dark hole I had fallen into.

By beating myself up for continuing to fall victim to my coping behavior, I make it worse, and cause more stress… making me more likely to repeat the behavior, perpetuating the cycle of unpleasant feeling, coping, shame, unpleasant feeling, shame, and coping.

So the worst thing I can do, in order to cope with my stress, is to add on more rigidity, more standards to live by, forcing an already stressed out and emotionally dysregulated brain into more dysregulation.

It’s going to backfire. My brain wants to keep me alive, and when things get hard, my brain will find the familiar way out. Every time. It’s what brains do.

Continue reading “Make Like a Tree and Let Go”

More Stories from the Mental Illness Memory Vault – My Surprise Pregnancy

My baby graduated high school this weekend! It brought up so many emotions for me. I can’t help but feel weepy and nostalgic as I reflect on her life – and who I was when she entered my life.

In case you don’t know my story… I found out I was pregnant with her my senior year of college.

I was not stable mentally and taking a pretty heavy dose of Depakote at that time – something you definitely should not be on if you’re going to get pregnant, due to major risk of birth defects. I was encouraged to terminate the pregnancy.

Continue reading “More Stories from the Mental Illness Memory Vault – My Surprise Pregnancy”

Acknowledging Trauma, 30 Years Later

30 years ago, I stood at the bay window behind my left shoulder, and I watched my grandpa die on our front lawn. This was a pivotal moment for me.

This is the reason that I freeze up when there’s an emergency – even a mild one, like when my child gets a nosebleed. This is the reason that I space out from time to time. This is the reason I can’t have a proper reaction to sudden loss and I dissociate (as if there even is such a thing as a proper reaction to loss).

I spent a good 25 of these last 30 years kind of thinking that watching someone die at a young age is normal, that it’s my life’s burden, and I should just get over it and power through.

But my body knows better. Spring carries an undercurrent of sadness within the blooming beauty. When I smell honeysuckles, I experience fear, betrayal, abandonment, and sadness all over again. Every year since 1991, I typically find myself teary at some point in the middle of the month of April. The tears come without warning. And then I remember what month it is.

I don’t share this simply to bleed vulnerability all over the internet and incite sympathy. I say this because I know many of you have also experienced trauma, something that makes you feel alone at times, or different, or a shell of who you are.

Just like with mental health and nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all to trauma. You may not be even be able to acknowledge it consciously. It may be showing up in ways you don’t expect; it may manifest as a chronic mental health issue or a physical ailment.

While 100% healing may never be a guarantee on this earth, a path to healing IS possible. Part of my path is sharing my story, hoping that it makes someone else who is struggling feel heard and understood. Even if our traumas are different.

Your pain is real. Your feelings are real. Your mystery symptoms are real.

April 16, 1991 was a cruelly tumultuous day in my childhood. While it’s a day that forever shaped my perspective of this world, it also brought restoration and healing and purpose I wouldn’t have had without it. It brought me to where I am today, fiercely advocating for wholeness and healing – mind, body and soul.

Are You in a Relationship with a Narcissist?

This is the first “listener request” episode! Many listeners asked for an episode on the topic of dealing with narcissists, and this one is powerful! Download and listen here or get wherever you get podcasts.

Sandra Beck is an author, coach, speaker, radio, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and also an expert on narcissism. She has done countless trainings and written much on the subject.

Continue reading “Are You in a Relationship with a Narcissist?”

21 Days to Body Image Freedom

No matter who you are or where you live, we can all agree that the year 2020 shook things up. For many of us, 2021 is already proving to be just as challenging. You may have started off with good intentions, resolutions, goals, plans, or a word of the year. You said you were going to exercise more, eat better, read your Bible every day, or cook more meals at home. But it’s so hard fighting back the negative beliefs, those lies that tell you you aren’t doing enough, you’re lazy, you’re unmotivated, or you can’t stick to anything.

Maybe you are sticking to your goals. Maybe you’re really killing it in 2021 and you feel motivated – but you know something is missing in your spiritual life. You’re still plagued with a need to be better, do more, and perform.

I’ve once again teamed up with my friend Heather Creekmore, author of Compared to Who and The Burden of Better, to bring you ReFOCUS 21, a 21 day wellness course aimed to give you a fresh focus. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, so our desire is for you to start renewing your mind in the way you think about body image, health, and diets. The group starts on February 1 – and each day’s content will be delivered straight to your inbox!

Upon joining, you’ll gain access to all the materials we’ll be discussing throughout the 21 days. Each day, you will receive two videos (one from Heather, one from me) to encourage you with a new perspective on physical, mental, and spiritual health. Topics range from nourishment, to balance, to habits, to movement, to satisfaction, and so many more!

Continue reading “21 Days to Body Image Freedom”

How EMDR Teaches Your Brain to Process Trauma and Find Healing

Everyone has experienced trauma in some form in their lifetimes. The fact that trauma is stored in the body is well-documented, and the various tools and therapies being developed for healing continue to amaze me. This is why I was so excited to take an entire podcast episode and devote it to one revolutionary healing method!

Zach Herrin is a Licensed Professional Counselor trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). In this powerful episode, we discuss how trauma impacts our lives, the affect of grief, and how EMDR can be a powerful tool for healing. Download here or find it wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

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  • Why is a trauma focus important in counseling?
  • How do you know if you have trauma?
  • The connection between grief and trauma
  • The history and science behind EMDR
  • Who can benefit from EMDR
  • The methodology behind EMDR
  • Kids and EMDR
  • The importance of emotional vulnerability

Learn more about Zach’s practice at solacecounselingcenter.com.

How to Break Through Trauma and Find Healing

I may sound like a broken record, but learning to handle and process trauma is such a crucial part of whole body healing. In the latest episode of the Sparking Wholeness podcast, I speak with Suzanne Simpson, owner of Renewed Life Counseling, all about the effects of trauma in our life and how to break free.

img_9649Suzanne is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Life Coach, author, and speaker who works with people to help set them free from emotional traumas so they can live a more victorious life.

Her newest book, Lost & Restored: Healing Your Heart with the Father, is a faith-based approach to digging into your life’s events that have significantly impacted you.

In this episode, we discuss the impact of trauma, how it is stored in the cells of the body, and how to find healing through a variety of new and different modalities beyond traditional talk therapy. Continue reading “How to Break Through Trauma and Find Healing”