A Champion on the Yellow Brick Road ... Headed Home to the Road Less Traveled!

“I’ve got my ANT stomping boots on…and I’m ready to stomp ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) and anything else that gets between me and the road less traveled…I’m headed onward and upward! I bought my boots and did what you said…I went dancing and joined in the Cotton Eyed Joe and yelled “BULLSH*T at the top of my lungs…drowning out all of the chatter coming from the ANTs!”

(Let me defend myself! I told her to get some boots and go take a dance lesson to get her going…I had NOTHING to do with the Cotton-Eyed Joe… even if it wasn’t a bad idea! If you are struggling, take a dance lesson. Best place in the Dallas area is YOU CAN DANCE DALLAS! My good friend, Lori Hayner, will have you out on the dance floor in no time!) 

She returned a very different gal than the one who plopped down in a chair in great distress just a few weeks earlier. (If you missed the beginning of her story, you can read it by clicking this link: bitly.com/ChampionBrainHealth).

Like many of the people I work with, she came in with complaints of brain fog, underlying depression, some memory challenges, and exhaustion. Every medical test had cleared her, and she’d only received ‘nothing is wrong with you’ advice. Desperate, she was searching for more. Little did she know she was searching for a pair of boots…and the yellow brick road.

She continued: “I was watching the Wizard of Oz with my niece and nephew, and I was really into it. Then when they all started stomping the yellow brick road together, I imagined them stomping on ANTs all the way back to Kansas! Really and truly, so many things in that movie reminded me of what we have talked out in the past few weeks,” she reported with great enthusiasm!

Somehow, a movie about a wizard, Dorothy, a scarecrow, a lion, and a tinman had created the passion she needed to continue down the road of literally fighting for her brain health.

Whether it takes a new pair of boots, a classic movie, or a dance lesson, I am hoping to make her journey to brain health contagious.


Dr. Mohana Rao, one of the best neurosurgeons in Guntur, states that: “Though brain health is one of the most crucial aspects of our overall health, it is frequently overlooked and undervalued.”

Brain health is critical since it controls the daily functioning of the entire body. Good brain health helps you recognize your strengths and enhance your cognitive, emotional, psychological, and behavioral functioning to deal with life’s challenges. 

Not only that! Brain health is the ticket for entre to the road less traveled where Champions discover the abundant life.

Come on!

Admit it!

No matter who you are, what stage of life you’re in, your gender, your age, your educational accomplishments, your socioeconomic situation, or your cultural background…we ALL desire abundant life.

Brain health is KEY in getting and keeping you there!

Follow along this week as we follow down (or stomp down in ‘ANT’ mode) the yellow brick road.

What’s the difference between the yellow brick road and the road less traveled? You find courage, love, and creative thinking on the yellow brick road. All that helps you cross over to the road less traveled.

Where life is abundant. We are waiting for you there!

Let’s stomp some ANTs and do some other things to enrich the health of your brain:

  1. Stomp, Stomp, Stomp … down the yellow brick road!

What are ANTs? They’re Automatic Negative Thoughts.

Our thoughts can be harmless, or our thoughts can be lethal.

The problem with thoughts is described vividly by Dr. Daniel Amen as follows,

Just because you have a thought has nothing to do with whether it is true. Thoughts lie. They lie a lot, and it’s your uninvestigated or unquestioned thoughts that steal your happiness.”

“If you do not question or correct your conscious thoughts, you believe them. And you act as if they are 100% true. Allowing yourself to believe every thought you have is the prescription for anxiety disorders, depression, relationship problems, and chronic illness. You must protect yourself from the thoughts that ‘dragons’ are speaking to try to steal your happiness.”

“The thousands of thoughts you have every day are based on myriad of factors, including the past, genetics, past experiences, sensory input, dreams, what you had for dinner last night, and the health of your gut bacteria. Negative thoughts cause your brain to immediately release chemicals that affect every cell in your body, making you feel bad.”

His research has revealed that these automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are one of the greatest influences on our brain health.

My client had followed the instructions I gave her in our initial session and arrived with a list of over 100 ANTs.

Because it was a beautiful day, I asked her if she would like to go outside. She was delighted. First, I handed her a bag and asked her to collect 100 large leaves as we walked. As we walked, and she gathered leaves in the nature preserve, we talked about her ANTs.

From the stuffed bag, I had her write one word for each of her 100 ANTs on a leaf. We paused at a picnic table, and I gave her a marker. I had a new bag for her to stuff the labeled leaves in. Then…we were off to see the wizard. We locked arms and one by one, as we skipped through the preserve, she pulled a leaf out and stomped it (and told it where to go!)

We got a lot of stares, but we were laughing hysterically as each leaf was stomped, and she was quite vocal about it. I think we could have sold tickets.

But the exhilaration grew as we stomped.

Would you be willing to do such a silly thing too? What if you knew those automatic negative thoughts would never pop up again? And drive you to misery, suffering, and poor health? Will you be intentional with your ANTs?

The power of intention is the driving force of…






There’s no such thing as lasting change without surrender (which starts and ends) with intent. Intention to be or be perceived, as silly as silly can be. For that’s how the heart learns to follow again…

The wonder of thinking.

The wonder of hearing.

The wonder of seeing.

The wonder of longing…from a soul intent on dreaming free.

Free from the tattooed trauma of someone else’s sin, vying to cloud and confuse every intention of the heart. But since we know this truth, we rise/we run … intent on finding and being the Champion God intended us to be!   

I bet you will do this! You don’t have to skip…but it’s FUN! You don’t have to do it with anyone else, but it’s RICHER! You don’t have to do it all…but you will regret it!

Identify at least 25 ANTs. Do something with them.

Once during the winter, I sat in front of the fireplace with a client. We wrote on small index cards, and she tossed each one into the fire and commanded it to “BURN IN HELL!”

Do something with your ANTs!

It’s CRUCIAL for the health of your brain!

  • If I only had a heart …

We all have a heart, and it has more to do with brain health than you can imagine!

“Oh, I’m done with love,” my client immediately responded!

She looked surprised when I chuckled and said, “Oh my! Did you know that those who say they’re done with love and relationships are usually the first to find themselves in a long-term relationship?”

Looking stunned, she immediately gathered her words and said, “Ok, I’m not done with love, but I think I need a break from relationships for about 10 years!”

Our hearts have everything to do with brain health!

Let’s look at our heart and see the connection.

I love what Og Mandino had to say about the majesty of our hearts in the Memorandum from God.

“Your heart is strong. Touch your chest and feel its rhythm, pulsating, hour after hour day and night, thirty-six million beats each year, year after year, asleep or awake, pumping your blood through more than sixty thousand miles of veins, arteries, and tubing…pumping more than six hundred thousand gallons each year. Man has never created such a machine. Count another blessing.”

Truly the job our hearts do for us is a blessing.

Research indicates that people with cardiac disease have brain changes, including functional and memory challenges. These changes are not noted in those with healthy hearts. Heart health clearly had a direct effect on brain health.

The tinman sang about how awesome it would be if he only had a heart:

Just to register emotion, jealousy, devotion

And really feel the part

I could stay young and chipper

And I’d lock it with a zipper

If I only had a heart

However, today, I’m speaking more about “love” than the organ associated with it. Love has a dynamic impact on the brain. When we experience love, our brain begins releasing a cascade of “feel good” chemicals. Like oxytocin, dopamine, norepinephrine. The cocktail of neurochemicals has been called “biological fireworks.”

These neurochemicals begin to inspire more complex cognitive function. In addition, pain is suppressed, we experience more compassion, increased memory function, and greater creativity.

On the other hand, research shows that lack of love in one’s life creates challenges such as depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep disorders. Not to mention a shorter lifespan.

The heart, considered the command center on love, has great impact on our brain and its health.

“So, you’ve built the case…am I supposed to place an ad on Match.com,” my client demanded?

I had to laugh. Instead of confirming or denying, I responded with my own question, “Is that still how people do online dating?”

Getting more serious, I asked her if she was aware of all the studies that indicate that having love in our life is as essential as water? I could see by the tears (that she was doing her best to choke back) that there was hurt that needed to be healed.

I assured her that we would put the dating game on hold, but we could explore other ways to get love in her life. Perhaps some of these would help you pump love in and out of your heart to create great brain health.

Things such as:

  • Spend time with an elderly person
  • Visit a children’s hospital (or Ronald McDonald house)
  • Connect with friends, maybe even some old friends
  • If you have a relationship, revitalize the love and connection
  • Enjoy family time with relatives
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Find an animal to love

(I have a dear friend in Tennessee. She has been through so many physical challenges, emotional challenges, professional challenges. But when she can go out to the farm and spend time with her horse, Cody … she comes to life. Her visits with Cody resonate with me. Although I had many wonderful horses, when I was out in the pasture with, in the barn with, or in the saddle with Sundance, my heart poured love, in and out!)

My client agreed to begin healing work on her past hurts and spend more time each week with her niece and nephew. I knew from her experience of watching the Wizard of Oz with them that there was incredible love between them.

What about you? What are you willing to do

to pump up the love quotient in your life?

It’s crucial to the health of your brain!

  • If I only had a brain …

Well, thankfully, if you’re reading this, you have a brain!

But like the scarecrow, when we experience brain fog, confusion, or our brains are loaded with stress hormones, we feel a lot like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, particularly when he says,

And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain

And we have looked at lot of ways to get our thoughts hatching over the past few weeks:

  • We’ve looked at stomping on ANTs
  • Regular exercise
  • Good nutrition
  • Making sure you have love alive in your life
  • Turning your thoughts to predominantly positive thoughts eliminating stressors
  • Many more

But there’s one more thing, that champions do to ensure their brain health, and that their brains are hatchin’ a lot of clear thoughts.

They keep learning.

They keep growing.

John Maxwell highlights the significance of learning and growing.

“The law of intentionality just basically says growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow is going to get better. If you’re going to grow and if I’m going to grow, we’re going to grow intentionally. If I could just literally come off the stage and I could get real close to you and we could have kind of like a one-on-one conversation that there are two questions that I would ask you. They will really determine how successful you’re going to be. The first question is very simple. What are you doing to develop yourself? The reason that’s first is not because you want to be selfish. The reason you start with yourself is because you cannot give what you do not have. The secret of any success I’ve had has been personal growth in my life. The second question: What are you doing to develop others? The second question is all about compounding multiplication. What we have understand about the law of intentionality is that you cannot develop yourself, and you cannot develop other people unless you’re intentional.”

Let me get specific. I’m not talking about learning about what’s happening in the world on CNN, Fox News, or any of the other news outlets.

I’m not talking about knowing the latest stats of the NFL or NBA players.

I’m not talking about learning about the office gossip or the neighborhood news.

Most of those are OK in small doses, but if that’s the only learning you have going on, it’s not doing the learning and growing that nourishes your brain. 

Facts, figures, and tantalizing new information alone does not promote brain health or growth.

It’s also not just enough to watch personal growth videos or read personal growth information. What nourishes our brain is creating change in our lives.

I’m not speaking of radical transformations overnight. As a matter of fact, the greater growth comes from an ongoing pattern of seeking growth and making changes step by step…daily. 

“Well, I think you just effectively wiped out everything that I do that I thought might fit this category. I love reading new information, even about personal growth and brain health. I guess I thought that was enough?” My client was curious.

“It’s a great start, but it’s when we apply what we see, hear, or read that stretches our brains into growth. I continued, “Because you can’t see brain growth externally, we tend to think we can cheat.”

“Cheat,” My client asked? “You mean reading about brain health and not doing any of the recommended exercises and telling myself that my brain is getting stronger?”

“Exactly,” I responded! 

“If I handed you a book on weight loss and asked you to read it, and you said you had…in a matter of weeks, I’d know whether or not you were following it most likely. I could ‘see’ changes.”

“Oh, since it’s not as specifically direct and externally visible, most of us are too lazy to actually do what helps our brain,” My client asked?

“Well, I would not have assigned the word lazy to that. I would have guessed self-sabotage, lack of intentionality, or being unaware. But I suppose lazy could fit in there somewhere.”

I was impressed with my client’s follow up: “So can we get me on a personal growth plan with accountability in place, so that I am highly motivated to follow through?”

That’s exactly what we did. That’s exactly what I recommend to you. I affirmed her for her follow through on the work we were doing together.

Then I suggested various ways she might continue.

  • Personal growth books
  • Workbooks
  • Personal growth YouTube’s
  • Attending a seminar
  • Counseling or coaching (which she was already involved in)
  • Joining an online personal growth membership site

She asked me if I had a personal growth membership site. And I informed her that one was coming in the spring. 

But we continued with an immediate plan. She chose to read Dr. Daniel Amen’s latest book, “Your Brain Is Always Listening.”

For accountability, she decided to begin a book club, and read it with some of the people from her Jazzercise class. She would have to read it and apply it, in order to mentor the others.

What can you do to stretch your brain to learn new things and grow personally at the same time? It’s like the double dividend.

Choose a plan, work in accountability, stretch your brain, and become the best version of you…all at the same time. That’s an all-around win!

Remember, your brain health is critical. It’s your ticket onto the road less traveled, that place where champions walk together, and find abundant life.

Don’t miss it! You deserve it!

Lock arms and get on the yellow brick road… “Lions and tigers and bears … oh my!”

Like the scarecrow, feed your brain well.

Like the lion, find the courage to keep growing!

Like the tinman, love others well, and receive love gratefully!

You’ll find yourself on the road less traveled …

Headed for abundant life …

With other great Champions!

Make that your new home.

There’s no place like home!