Posts Tagged ‘decisions’

Yes, decluttering sounds like a good idea.

But where do you start and how do you make all the decisions that will open up?

You can easily get stuck in a classic knowing-doing dilemma. You know you want to change, you might even know WHAT you want to change, but you just don’t know what to DO or where to START.

Keeping the status quo feels safer.

Well the good news is that many people have walked this path before us and have left some useful tips.

Here are three powerful questions to ask in any situation where you need to clarify your position and make a decision: you want to bridge the knowing-doing-gap.

What?    So what?   Now what?

WHAT? – is your chance to look objectively at the facts.

You can ask more questions here to paint a full picture – What exactly is it? What exactly happened? Where did it come from? Do I like it?

SO WHAT? – takes you deeper and leads you to explore what this means to you.

You can ask more questions here to explore what is really going on. How do you feel about it? What assumptions are you making? What do you care about? What upsets you? What are you proud of?

NOW WHAT? – here you take the information you learned from the first two questions and use it to see your situation from a different perspective.

You apply your new insights to ask more questions about the bigger picture, exploring different view points. What would happen if I did nothing? What would happen if I changed . . . ? What do I contribute to this situation? Can I make a change? What needs to happen for me to . . . ?

Here is a simple example from decluttering my home.

I have three glass bowls from my grandmother.

WHAT? are they – lustre glass, orange, old-fashioned. I don’t use them. I don’t like them very much. They have no monetary value (I checked).

SO WHAT? – They remind me of my grandmother, and the times we spent together. They help me to remember her life and her qualities. I value remembering her. I loved her.

NOW WHAT? – Do I need all three? Can I remember her in other ways? How would I feel if I gave them away?

My decision? – I gave two to the charity shop and kept one. And funnily enough, the one that I kept seems brighter and more shiny than before – I like it 🙂

Next time you find yourself puzzled about how to change the things you know you need to change, try asking yourself three whats . . .


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Automatic Doors – The Cancer Centre

Follow signs – Radiotherapy

Throat tight, not breathing

Receptionist tight, not seeing

. . . I am not a person

Another room

Familiar faces – a wig, a bandana

New face – cancer yellow

Woman and Home –  Christmas edition

Blue gown, clothes in bag

5 radiographers, one by one

smile and chat

Young women

Tell their name, check mine

Stretch on rack

Lights out, laser beams

Measure, mark, x-ray (not again!)

One doctor – no chat

. . . I am not a person

Measure more

A tattoo

A photograph- avoid the face

Gown off, bright clothes

Appointment card, 18 visits

Weekdays, start 22nd June

YES! – I can do this

. . . This person knows she made the right decision

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My decision is made – I signed the papers yesterday and will go forward for radiotherapy next month.

My dilemma was about moving off protocol to opt for mastectomy rather than radiotherapy.

I have acknowledged the needs of the doctor within me and am back on protocol as a patient. I have moved out of the fog of information overload and calmed the voice that screamed for more understanding and clear answers.  I have a path ahead and I can see along it and beyond it.

My decision means I submit to treatment and trust God for my future.

On my way home from signing the forms I called in to the garden centre – a good sign that I needed a treat! And I paid attention to a conversation with myself in my head about how I can make the most of the rest of my life. I heard myself reflecting on “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever”.

I bought this planter – it speaks to me of enjoying the Creator of life, colour, and variety.

In the afternoon I called in to the Post Office. The man behind the counter gave me a big smile, leaned forward and asked me what I had done with the mustard seed. Turns out he thought I was someone who had spoken at his church two years ago and given out some mustard seeds as a visual aid. He wanted me to know he still had the seeds in his bible. His parting comment to me was to “remember the mustard seeds!”

This man has served me in the Post Office many times and never mentioned the mustard seeds before. His words yesterday came as if from God.

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Now I am not sure about moving mountains, but I certainly respond to the encouragement not to limit my thinking about the future.

Psalm 16 is about enjoying God

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge . . .

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

You have made  known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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I am in an unpleasant place – a Valley of Decision.

I did not realise I was there until yesterday when BC and I were praying together. I heard myself talking about ‘this Valley of Decision‘.

We face tough decisions about my treatment and we both feel oppressed and exhausted. This is a dark place – we struggle to find a way out.

Many of you ask me if being a doctor makes it difficult to be a patient. I usually say the benefits outweigh the problems – but not this time. This valley experience is definitely a doctor-patient problem.

As my head clears from chemotherapy I have been curious to learn more about the pathology of my own cancer, once again challenging protocol and wanting to rebel against the cruelty of the treatment. I have been trying to make decisions based on knowledge I do not have. I am out of my depth.

What Albert Einstein said is so true:

The more I learn the more I realise I do not know

Breast cancer research is advancing rapidly – new treatments are just round the corner.  What we endure today will soon be replaced by much better, and more tolerable treatments. The pioneering work is in understanding the structure and behaviour of the cells. If we know the cells and can predict what they will do, then doctors can develop and use more targeted treatments.

But we are not there yet. I want to know what cannot be known.

Recognising that this place feels ‘like a valley’ has made it much easier to explore what is going on. I can look at WHY it feels so bad, and HOW I got there. I can even begin to FIND A WAY OUT!

To engage with cancer is usually to engage with thoughts of death. I reflect on the Valley of the Shadow of Death which John Bunyan described in Part 1 of Pilgrim’s Progress

It’s as black as pitch down there. The only sound is the howling of the Damned who, having entered there, have never been able to find their way out. In a word, it is every whit dreadful, and utterly without order. For we’d have you know, this is none other than the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

No wonder I feel so bad!

The 23rd Psalm comes to mind:

The LORD is my shepherd . . . Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me

The bible gives us four pictures to help us understand how we can expect to relate to God – one is of sheep to a shepherd. That metaphor is just what I need – to be looked after and guided to a place of safety. Psalm 23 has never had such profound meaning to me as it has today.

There is more about the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep that is helpful:

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

And so, as we pray about the decisions we have to make, we are listening for God’s voice, expecting to recognise it and expecting to be led out of the valley.

Do you recognise God’s voice and what is it like?

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