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Episode 004: Strong

Transcript from Stirred By Words Episode 004: Strong

Chrissy Holm (00:05): Do you love words? Are you passionate about diving into meaningful conversations? Hi, welcome to Stirred by Words, a podcast that focuses on words and questions that impact our daily lives.

Chrissy Holm (00:22):

I'm your host, Chrissy Holm: health educator, writer, curious creature, and now, podcaster.

Chrissy Holm (00:42):

Today, we'll start with a health tip. This week, it's guided imagery. Allinahealth.org states that guided imagery can have many health-related physical and emotional benefits. It can help you feel less nervous or upset, be less bothered by pain, or achieve a goal.

Chrissy Holm (01:01):

The benefits also positively affect heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and oxygen rates, brain waves, temperature, and hormone balance. Guided imagery can help relieve symptoms caused or made worse by stress such as chest pain, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, headaches, and digestive and breathing problems.

Chrissy Holm (01:22):

You can use guided imagery to promote relaxation, help reach goals such as losing weight or quitting smoking, manage pain, promote healing, or even help you prepare for an athletic event or public speaking.

Chrissy Holm (01:35):

I'm going to walk you through a guided imagery that you can use now or on your own. If you're driving, either return to this exercise at a later time, or just unclench your jaw and keep your eyes open.

Chrissy Holm (01:51):

I want everyone to imagine that you're in your favorite place. Maybe it's somewhere that you visited, or somewhere you want to go. Now sit comfortably. If you're in a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the ground, and relax your muscles. Get comfortable and get those wiggles out.

Chrissy Holm (02:10):

Now take a few breaths in through your nose ... hold ... and out through your mouth. Again, if you're driving, don't close your eyes. But if you are seated at home, close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths in ... hold ... and out.

Chrissy Holm (02:39):

Now imagine yourself walking through the rainforest. The trees' green leaves float above your head. Colorful birds fly around you, and you hear many animals in the rainforest. The wind is blowing around you, and it's soft. The warm air is on your skin. Breathe in ... and out.

Chrissy Holm (03:07):

Then you walk out of the forest onto the sand. You feel the hot sun on your skin. The warmth of the sand is under your feet and between your toes. You walk closer to the ocean and hear the waves splashing on the shore. Breathe in ... and out.

Chrissy Holm (03:31):

The hotter the sun feels on your head, shoulders, and arms, the more the water looks calming and inviting. You see the blue water and you hear the birds singing their songs. The colors around you are vibrant.

Chrissy Holm (03:48):

You reach the ocean, and the wet sand sticks to your toes, feet, and around your ankles. You feel the warm water on top of your feet taking the sand away. The water is crystal clear and smells fresh. Breathe in ... and out.

Chrissy Holm (04:09):

Stay here for a while. Feel the warm water splash on your feet and legs as you walk a little bit further into the ocean, with the sun on your shoulders and the calmness around you.

Chrissy Holm (04:23):

Breathe in ... and breathe out. Let go of the stress that you're feeling, relax your muscles, and let your anxious thoughts float away. A few more breaths in and out.

Chrissy Holm (04:41):

Bring yourself back to the space, and take a few more breaths in and out. As you open your eyes, come back.

Chrissy Holm (05:26):

Great job. And thank you for doing this guided imagery with me.

Chrissy Holm (05:43):

Today's word is "strong." There are many definitions on dictionary.com. I'm going to focus on just a few. Number one: having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust. Two: mentally powerful or vigorous. And number three: of great moral power, firmness, or courage.

Chrissy Holm (06:08):

Fun fact: the word "strong" was first recorded before 900.

Chrissy Holm (06:14):

The question that I'm pondering today is, what was a moment in your life you had to be strong? And what advice would you give someone if they found themselves in that situation?

Chrissy Holm (06:24):

For me, in high school specifically, my parents were divorced after 24 years of marriage. While divorce is very common, it was heartbreaking. Because the foundation of my youth was Christianity, and you can never get divorced. It was challenging to grow up in such a devout Christian home, and then to see the divorce happen when I was trying to understand what I was looking for in a partner.

Chrissy Holm (06:51):

This was a really rough time in my life. I drank my sorrows away. I was frustrated; I was hurt. I felt alone. Even though I had some good friends that were there to listen, and while they provided empathy for me, I still wasn't in a good spot. You could ask any of those high school friends. It was really rough.

Chrissy Holm (07:13):

There was a specific memory that I just drank and drank and drank, and just ran away because it's just what I had to do at that moment. Even though I know I scared my friends and myself, I knew I needed help.

Chrissy Holm (07:28):

After several years, I found that strength to keep pushing through. And I wouldn't be here today on this podcast if it weren't for my parents' divorce. If it weren't for another one of my best friends pushing me to get out of my hometown and go to college. For all the different people and communities that I met in college and beyond, I would not be here right now, if it weren't for them.

Chrissy Holm (07:54):

And for me, the advice that I would give to somebody in that situation: find people that can support you. Of course, I recommend therapy, but it's not always accessible to everyone. And I understand that; at the time it wasn't accessible to me. So if you can find somebody that you can lean on, even if it's a friend or a family member, that is one step in the right direction.

Chrissy Holm (08:17):

There's going to be better days. My hope is that when you find that light, you'll feel relief. And even if you don't have hope right now, that's okay. I've been there. I understand there will be positives ... And it might take years. There are still things that I'm working through in my head. But I feel now that I can safely say that I've found that light.

Chrissy Holm (08:42):

So I'm publishing a book on this moment in my life, and I'm scared of what will happen if I put those words out there; same with podcasting, same with everyday conversations. And I have to be strong enough to do it.

Chrissy Holm (08:56):

I know deep within me I want to tell this story. I want to help somebody feel that relief. That's also part of why I'm learning to be strong in each situation, to speak up and share my perspective.

Chrissy Holm (09:11):

I've bit my tongue in so many situations, and there's still going to be moments I'm going to do that. It's something that I'm working through, but I know if I share my voice, which is worthy ... A lot of times growing up, I didn't feel like it was worthy.

Chrissy Holm (09:26):

If I share that voice and perspective now, then I'm going to help liberate somebody so that they can share their perspective. I'm going to help empower somebody so they can disagree with me. And that's okay, too. I want to be able to have a conversation and not be silenced.

Chrissy Holm (09:44):

So the advice I'd give to somebody in that situation is: it's scary to speak up, and that scariness won't go away. But it's going to be empowering for yourself to keep doing it, because you stood up for your perspective.

Chrissy Holm (10:01):

Now we'll hear from two of our listeners on their answer to this question: what was a moment in your life you had to be strong? And what advice would you give someone if they found themselves in that situation?

Chrissy Holm (10:14):

First, we have Cynthia N., a national board-certified health and wellness coach.

Cynthia N. (10:20):

My answer to this question relates more to a phase in my life than a moment. I became a widow at the age of 33. Losing a spouse is a very devastating experience. It put me in a super-vulnerable place. Suddenly I was a single mother to an eight-year-old.

Cynthia N. (10:41):

Shortly after that, I met a man, and he was just one of those charismatic kind of people. I was so afraid to be alone, that I let him manipulate me in every possible way.

Cynthia N. (10:54):

Manipulation became emotional abuse, emotional abuse became physical abuse. It was a span of about five years of my life, this on-and-off relationship with an abusive, drug-addicted narcissist with untreated mental illness. It was absolutely the lowest time of my life.

Cynthia N. (11:17):

But living through those kinds of experiences is when strength sprouts. Because when you want to die, but instead try to live, you realize you are strong. You can overcome this. And the more you believe that, you slowly start to come back. To feel human again, to learn to love yourself again, to know your worth.

Cynthia N. (11:40):

So my advice for anyone in that situation is you have to love yourself more than you love your abuser. Self love is everything; positive thoughts and affirmations do work. Know that you can survive; surviving is the first step to thriving.

Chrissy Holm (12:00):

Now we'll hear from Kelsey R., an oncology pharmacist.

Kelsey R. (12:04):

When I think of moments in my life where I've had to be strong, there are actually quite a few life challenges that come to mind. Although these life events are widely variable, there's one theme that seems to come to mind as a reason I needed to be strong: uncertainty.

Kelsey R. (12:20):

I feel like in the midst of these events, I didn't necessarily realize that the personal strength of getting through played as important of a role as it did until after the fact: when I was able to catch a breather, or stop obsessing over if I'm doing the right thing.

Kelsey R. (12:34):

Now, to talk about some moments in life where I had to be strong, that so many others can relate to, include the loss of loved ones. Supporting loved ones through potentially serious illnesses, and a breakup from a long-term relationship.

Kelsey R. (12:49):

Honestly, each of these challenges has contributed to the growth of my strength, which has really helped me frame my life to remember, do, advocate, and be what is ultimately important to me.

Kelsey R. (13:03):

To start with the breakup: I was in a long-term relationship of over five years. And the moment I realized that the relationship was going to end was when I was traveling with him, and about to meet up with his family in Europe ... one more time in Europe.

Kelsey R. (13:18):

It was only a couple days into the vacation, and I felt extremely vulnerable: not anticipating the flood of realizations that I was starting to have, and had no idea what to do about it. I didn't want to worry my friends or family from across the world, because I wasn't in a literal unsafe position.

Kelsey R. (13:35):

So I didn't tell anyone, nor did I say or suggest anything to my ex or his family. I maintained status quo, and tried to enjoy what I could from the vacation, while suppressing any issues until back in the States, where I felt less vulnerable.

Kelsey R. (13:50):

Things ended within days of getting back. And I had to stay strong and not look back. A planned move back to Minnesota for school was in my best interest, to help me stay busy and meet lots of new people during this transition of learning to accept and love a new phase in life.

Kelsey R. (14:06):

I definitely realized the uncertainty of my situation in the moment. But I didn't realize the strength that required of me to get through the actual vacation, as well as follow through with the breakup, rather than sweep issues under the rug.

Kelsey R. (14:20):

My advice for this type of situation is to go with your gut. Embrace the uncertainty in forming new friendships, and re-igniting relationships with family and old friends: the people who have your back and want to see you grow and succeed.

Kelsey R. (14:36):

Moving on: the loss of loved ones always requires strength to pick yourself or others up from the waves of grief that can be incredibly intense and unpredictable. And the strength sometimes arises in various forms, depending on the relationship.

Kelsey R. (14:51):

Over the course of less than five years, in order, I lost my family's dog; an incredible aunt; our beloved grandma; my own first pet, a bunny; and my soon-to-be mother-in-law, who raised the love of my life that I was about to marry. To say each of these losses was tough is an incredible understatement.

Kelsey R. (15:11):

And even though the loss of a pet isn't the same as human family, it still hurts. When I couldn't find the strength, there's something very healing about letting the feelings come out by crying and talking through the memories of that person with others who share those same memories.

Kelsey R. (15:29):

I had to learn to give myself more grace than I had ever needed in my life. I had to lean on others more than I was used to, being a pretty independent young adult. I had to be the strength for others when it was needed. I had to ride the waves of grief, and roll with the punches of uncertainty.

Kelsey R. (15:47):

And although I would give anything to have these people back in my humanly life, it's comforting to remember all that they have given to each of us, making us who we are today, along with the memories and stories that we can reflect on.

Kelsey R. (16:03):

The next subject I want to talk briefly about is supporting loved ones through some very scary illnesses. Although the details of these specific instances aren't being shared publicly, I think more people have experienced this more often than is known or talked about.

Kelsey R. (16:20):

Someone's personal health is a very vulnerable subject. And at times, a caregiver is tasked with providing strength while also maintaining confidentiality, depending on a person's wishes.

Kelsey R. (16:31):

This could be a heart-wrenching cancer diagnosis, a traumatic car accident, a difficult-to-treat mental illness, a medical emergency that you had to intervene, the impacts of COVID, or really any other medical issue.

Kelsey R. (16:45):

My biggest piece of advice for a caregiver, loved one, or the patient themselves is to talk to someone trusted: whether it's a parent, sibling, friend, or any professional, like a therapist, counselor, group meeting, or other provider.

Kelsey R. (16:59):

Your trusted crew can support you, and possibly share their similar situations. The professionals are trained to help and can provide guidance or advice if you need.

Kelsey R. (17:10):

And always, always, always trust your gut and make an intervention if someone is unsafe. 911 for medical or other emergencies, and 1-800-273-TALK, or 8255, for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Kelsey R. (17:29):

Everyone has times in their life, little and big, that require strength. You might not even be realizing it yet. But in a time of uncertainty, you are likely navigating your way by utilizing your strength, and strength from those around you.

Kelsey R. (17:42):

Trust your gut and follow your heart. Reflect on the times that required strength. Give yourself grace, and let yourself grow through that. Even if the life challenge is difficult to ultimately accept, you have way more strength than you realize, and you'll grow as a person throughout the experiences you face.

Chrissy Holm (18:16):

Today's book recommendation is Rising Strong by Brené Brown. This book is about what it takes to get back up and how owning our stories of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak can give us the power to write a daring new ending.

Chrissy Holm (18:32):

Our stories of struggle can be big or small, but regardless of their magnitude or circumstance, the Rising Strong process is the same.

Chrissy Holm (18:40):

We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we're feeling. We rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth. And we live with this process every day until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives.

Chrissy Holm (18:56):

The goal of the Rising Strong process is to rise up from our falls, overcome our mistakes, and face hurt in a way that brings more wisdom and wholeheartedness into our lives.

Chrissy Holm (19:10):

Before we wrap up the show, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions: what was the moment in your life that you had to be strong? What advice would you give someone if they found themselves in that situation? How might your experience help you be strong in the future?

Chrissy Holm (19:36):

Drop me a message with your thoughts on Instagram at chrissy.holm. Or, if you want to join our Slack community, email me at contact@chrissyholm.com. That's C-O-N-T-A-C-T at C-H-R-I-S-S-Y-H-O-L-M dot C-O-M.

Chrissy Holm (19:58):

Thanks for listening to another episode of Stirred by Words. This has been your host, Chrissy Holm. Until next time, keep learning new words, always ask questions, and stay curious, my friends.

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