How to Honor Your Mental Health

How to Honor Your Mental Health

With World Mental Health Day being this week, I’d like to share a story.

Exactly 4 years ago, on October 10th, I missed a cousin’s beautiful wedding to protect my mental health. Let me explain.

Four years ago, I was battling through my very painful divorce. During this specific time, in the 5 months between filing for divorce and our final court date, we had just tried to reconcile and it failed miserably. I was in a world of hurt – brokenhearted, angry, and just sad.

My little cousin was getting married and it was going to be a beautiful day of family, friends, and nuptials. I was looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time. After talking to my mom, sisters, and best friend, we all came to the conclusion that I probably should not go to this wedding. As sad as I was to miss the wedding, it was also a huge relief.

Had I gone, I probably would have gotten drunk and made some poor life choices. I was pretty good at that during this time. Not like fall-onto-the-stage-and-give-a-slurred-and-sappy-speech-drunk. More like overshare-personal-details-of-my-life-and-maybe-makeout-with-a-random-family-friend-drunk. Either way, not pretty.

During that time, my mental health was fragile. My heart was broken and I made plenty of bad decisions. But thankfully I had a tribe who was looking out for me and gave me permission to sit this one out. In fact, Facebook reminded me of what I did end up doing that weekend. I went up north with my best friend to her cottage to get away, drink a little wine, and break bread with my person and her family.

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The view from my best friend’s cottage.

But that’s not the end of this story. Fast forward 4 years and I am happily divorced, in a loving relationship, my career is thriving, I own 2 businesses, and I’m pursuing things I love. My mental health is in a much better place. I no longer have nagging thoughts of self-harm, which is something I have a history with. I don’t immediately reach for alcohol to numb my feelings. And I truly have respect for myself and my body.

It also hasn’t all been unicorns and rainbows. I’ve had struggles just like anyone else. I made sure to take time after my divorce to heal. Healing has to be intentional – not rushed. Intentional. I chose to heal. I chose to face my pain, bad choices, and insecurities. There’s still healing that needs to occur, but I’m always working on that. If you choose to heal as you go, then it is so much less overwhelming.

Healing looks like therapy, reading, journaling, crying, laughing, self-care, exercise, self-awareness, prayer, acceptance, connection, forgiveness, and love. All of these lend to your healing. Healing takes work, but it is so worth it. You are so worth it. And your mental health will thank you.

Now I look back and my cousin has beautiful memories of her special day. No one even remembers that I wasn’t there or why. And no one especially remembers how I made a fool of myself after getting too drunk, because it didn’t happen.

Life goes on and gets better – mine did. Yours will too.

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4 Truths About Creativity

If you’re a breathing human and on the internet, then you have probably heard about this thing called creativity. It seems like highly successful people have a lot of creativity. If you aren’t highly successful, maybe you don’t think you are very creative. You probably believe musicians, artists, writers, and the like are creative. But what if you don’t fall into one of those categories? Does that mean that you aren’t creative? I don’t think so.

In my experience, I’ve learned a lot about creativity. I’ve always identified as a creative person, but I haven’t always used it. In not using my creativity, I’ve caused myself a lot of internal anguish. Here are a few things I’ve learned that might help you on your creative journey.

Everyone is Creative

First and foremost, we are all creative. Every single human is creative. Creativity is innately in us. We’ve been sold this big lie that only certain people are creative or have the “creative gene”. That is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

We’ve been convinced that creativity equals art. There’s nothing wrong with this idea, as long as we are willing to broaden our understanding of what art is. If art means thoughts, ideas, and processes in addition to paintings, drawings, sculptures, music, and writing, then yes. Creativity means art.

I’m actually not opposed to this broadened view of art if it means that we believe we are all artists.

Creating Brings Inspiration

Creativity is not something we need to be inspired to do. Inspiration is not what we wait on to be creative. It’s actually quite the opposite. Choosing to create should be a practice, not something you do only when you feel inspired to do it. What if your inspiration never comes? When choose to create, then we are also creating inspiration. At first, what we create probably won’t even be that good, but the more we try, experiment, and learn, the more we will desire to create. Stay the course.

Creativity is an Unlimited Resource

And this leads right into this myth that creativity is a limited resource. As if when we use our creative energy on this thing over here, then we won’t have enough creativity to use on this other thing over there. Or we are one-hit wonders in the creative department. This is simply not true. Again, the opposite is true. The more we create, the more we will want to create. Creativity is an unlimited resource! When you use your creative energy, you breed more creative energy.

Creating for Attention Will Kill Your Creativity

The last point I need to make is one of the most important things about creativity. It’s something I never even considered until I watched this Ted Talk by Joseph Gordan-Levitt. It’s so good and I highly recommend it. It hit me hard, right in the gut. It’s something I realized I struggled with in a big way after watching the Ted Talk. It’s so important, that if we don’t caution ourselves against it, we will negate everything else mentioned above.

If you are creating for attention (accolades, awards, likes, shares), then your creativity will dry up. If your “why” is attention, it won’t get you very far. It’s a slippery slope that will get you wrapped up in other people’s opinions, which will eventually kill your creativity. The recognition you seek may never come.  The truth is, whatever you create may deeply impact someone, and you may never know it. You have to be ok with that reality. Your job is to create the thing. But you might never be recognized on the grand scale – or at all. You need to create it anyway. Someone needs what you have – even if it’s just you.

As a recovering people pleaser and perfectionist, I have fallen in love with the attention my work has gotten me. It has stunted my creativity and caused so much frustration with myself. I am learning to shift my perspective.

These aren’t new ideas and there are tons of resources that dive more into this subject. A few of my favorites are:

*Note – these are not affiliate links and I receive no compensation for sharing these resources.

Thank you for attention. I would have created this piece either way, but I appreciate you.

Stay creative, friends!

Divorce: The Best Decision I Made … In the Last 10 Years

Divorce: The Best Decision I Made … In the Last 10 Years

This post will probably rub many people the wrong way – especially my fellow Christians. Good. I hope it does. There’s a very important point to this, so keep reading.

First, let me make this very clear. Divorce is hard and painful. If I would have known my first marriage was going to end in divorce, I never would have gotten married. I’m sure that goes without saying, but I’m saying it. But I also believe that no time is ever wasted and God redeems everything, including time.

My first marriage was never what I would call “good”. Some people who know me might be surprised by this fact. Others, conversely, are not surprised at all. Perspective is a funny thing. There are several factors that play into this but I truly believe that even if we each would have made better choices, we would have eventually ended up in the same place.

Why do I believe that? Suffice it to say that I’m a problem solver and a fighter. I believe no situation is hopeless. That passion and perseverance were not reciprocated. A relationship like that will never last. And typically, after that pattern goes on long enough, there is a lot of resentment that eventually turns into an emotionally abusive relationship, at best.

In my first marriage, I became a person I didn’t know. Words that come to mind are weak, powerless, co-dependent, pessimistic, underachiever. Now, these words are far from the truth. They are lies from the depths of hell, but that is how I was living.

Here is the trick, though. I believed that if I tried hard enough or “gave it to God” enough, that it would get better and my marriage would be saved. I believed that if I pushed through and persevered that it would get better. And I honestly thought divorce would be the worst possible thing to happen. I wasn’t a quitter. And God is always faithful.

That said, God is always faithful – it just might not be in the way we want Him to be at that time. He works everything out for our good. We just may not be able to see it right now.

During the struggles in my first marriage, I had several well-meaning Christians give me advice.

“God honors marriage.”

“Give it up to Him.”

“God hates divorce.”

“God can redeem any situation.”

These are all TRUE statements. But I’m here to tell you something:

God does hate divorce, but not more than He loves you.

Let me repeat that for those in the back:

God does not hate divorce more than He loves you.

Our God is a personal, loving Father who loves you more than anything. He wants the absolute best for you. It breaks His heart to see His children suffer.

I will never tell someone that if their marriage is struggling, then go get divorced. Every couple and situation is uniquely different. But if the only reason you are still in your marriage is that you think divorce is a sin and you think you’re honoring God by staying, then I want to encourage you in knowing that God loves you more than that. I recommend you shift your heart posture from being sin focused to being focused on our loving, graceful Father.

But if you have a partner who is willing to really work from a place of love, then partner with God and He will honor that.

Remember, God loves you more than He hates divorce. I promise. God will choose you every time.

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My life is so much better since choosing divorce. I’ve let go of so much guilt and shame. I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been or thought possible. I am becoming myself again. Positive, loving, driven. And slowly but surely my big dreams are becoming a reality.

I know there will be people who vehemently disagree with this post. I’m good with that. I’m confident in God’s promises for me and that’s all I need. I’ve learned to let the opinions of others not affect me.

But I encourage you to really lean into whatever may be causing offense in your heart about this post. When something causes us to have an offended heart, it is usually God stirring up a wound that needs healing. So lean into that and ask God where you need healing.

Or you can call me a heretic. I’m fine with that too. While I truly hope you find healing, I won’t be offended if you disagree with me.

And for those of you in the tough situation of trying to figure out if divorce is your best option, I’m sorry. It sucks. But I hope you find it encouraging to know that God loves you and blesses you whether or not you make all the right choices. That’s why His grace is so beautiful. The decision is never simple or easy, but He will be by your side through it all.

Finally, for my fellow divorcées; I’ve been there. My prayer for you is wholeness. Full restoration and healing in your family are possible, even though that may seem impossible right now. There is hope and beauty and healing on the other side of divorce. I promise.

Wine: The Best Grapes Grow in the Rockiest Soil

Wine: The Best Grapes Grow in the Rockiest Soil

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A friend and I were recently talking and he asked me if I liked wine and I just looked at him. Yeah. Hi, my name is Morgan and I love wine. He laughed and asked if I knew that the best grapes for wine are grown in the rockiest soil. No, I did not know that.

He went on to tell me that Riesling grapes grow the best in the rockiest soil. Their roots have to grow very deep to find the nutrients needed to withstand the elements. So the roots of these vines grow deep and strong, and the result is producing the sweetest grape – perfect for wine.

What a beautiful metaphor for life. The sweetest moments in life are often born from the most barren situations or seasons. Those barren areas of our lives cause us to really dig deep for the good stuff – for the sustenance to keep going. We really have to be intentional about finding the good things during those times.

Often times, when we look back at the rocky times in our lives, we are able to see the difficulties in it all but the good parts shine brighter and taste a bit sweeter. Those good moments, like a refreshing sip of water, highlight our journey and give us the strength to keep moving forward.

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Sometimes our best fruit comes out of those rocky seasons. Whether it’s in losing a job so you can pursue what you truly love. Or losing a relationship so you find your true partner in life. Or receiving a blessing you can’t explain or didn’t earn – having a debt paid unexpectedly, or someone buying your dinner, or something beautiful being gifted to you.

Most importantly, though, the rocky soil in our life becomes a breeding ground for growth, truth, and life. We become the best versions of ourselves if we stay resilient and dig deep.

If you’re going through a rocky time in life, or maybe it’s just been a rocky life, and everything seems dead and barren, dig deep and find the good stuff. Dig deep and find gratitude for what is coming. Dig deep and be excited to know that the best grapes grow out of the rockiest soil.

‘Tis the Season … to Plan for Next Year!

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the new year just around the corner, now is the perfect time to gear up for 2018.

Okay, maybe now seems like a terrible time to be planning for 2018 because of all the hustle and bustle. But if you haven’t started planning 2018 yet, you’re running out of time. It’ll be here before you know it!

I am one to re-evaluate my goals often – roughly every quarter. So this falls right within with my timeline. I learned a long time ago that nothing happens by accident and what gets tracked gets done. This was not an easy lesson to learn and by no means comes to me easily, either.

The act of looking at my goals, readjusting, and replanning is quite relaxing and, simultaneously, invigorating for me. When I get things on paper, it empties my anxious thoughts out of my crowded brain. I start to really be honest about the things I want to accomplish over the next 3, 6, 9 months, and I start to get really excited. Excited at the thought of trying out new things – or retrying old things with new strategies. It gives me a fresh slate and shows me that I’m no quitter.

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At this particular time of year, I also don’t like waiting until after the New Year to get started on my new objectives. I actually start to form a few new habits right away so I’m not trying to make so many adjustments all at once. It’s also a little mind trick I play on myself so I feel like I have a head start in some imaginary race.

So in the spirit of accountability and giving you all some things to look forward to, here are a few things I am committing to in 2018:

  1. Weekly blog posts – Yay!!
  2. Eating clean and achieving a healthier body fat percentage – there are obvious health and cosmetic benefits that comes with eating healthier but also a potential health issue has come to light. As more information becomes available, I will be sure to share more.
  3. Becoming more organized – I will begin utilizing a weekly/monthly cleaning routine and sharing more about that journey.
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    Add me!
  4. Becoming more financially fit – including getting out of debt.
  5. Spending more time on Snapchat – I know. This seems a little indulgent, and maybe it is. I’ve really been able to cultivate some long-lasting relationships on Snapchat and I miss doing that on a more regular basis. So I’m giving myself permission to do it more and love it. Add me – @morganharrell85

While these are just a few, these are some lofty goals and I look forward to sharing my journey with you in the coming weeks and months.

Now it’s time for you to share – What are some of your objectives for 2018? Do you have a plan of action? Please share in the comments!

 

 

The Beautiful Winds of Change

On the slick drive from the chiropractor tonight, I decided to take the back way home because the roads are usually not as slick in bad weather on these roads. Another reason I love this way home is because of this spot on the highway that passes right along the shore of Lake Winnebago. There’s about a quarter of a mile that hugs right up alongside the shore and one particular place where the trees open up enough to see a clear view of the lake.

This view is always gorgeous and always different. Every single day the view is different. The sun is shining, or it’s not. The water is a blue color, or green, or gray. There are whitecaps on the water or it’s completely frozen over, like today. As I was driving along, a truck was coming from the other direction and behind it followed a cloud of snow. This reminded of something that happens on the lake every year, twice a year – the hatching of lake flies. At the peak of the hatching, the flies swarm just like that cloud snow behind the truck. So thick, you almost can’t see through them. It brought me back to summer for a moment…

Anyway, I digress…. change…

This ride home always reminds me that everything is in a constant state of change and that change is beautiful. It may not seem beautiful at first. It may seem scary or uncertain, but a slight change in lighting or a twist in the breeze and it’s something utterly breathtaking. It’s all about your reaction and perception. The sun still exists on the other side of the clouds.

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A photo I took during one of the hardest times of change in my life. One of the most beautiful times, as well. (c.2015)

Fighting change will never go well, because everything must change. Tomorrow can never be exactly like today. Learn and grow from today so tomorrow is better than today. When I look back at my hardest times – the times that really challenged me and pushed me to my edge – those were the times I grew the most. Those are the times where I learned the most about myself, learned more about God and His mercies, and learned the art of not just surviving, but of thriving.

Today, if you are struggling through a change, know that you are not alone. Take the time to reflect, meditate, write, read, pray, observe. Do whatever you can to let this time grow you, mold you, and teach you. It will be worth it. It will get better. And hopefully one day you can look back and see the beauty of it all.