OWWWWW!

OWWWWWWW!

Okay, I admit it.

I have not been keeping my body in as good of shape as it needs to be in.

And now it’s come back at me.

Owwwwwwwwwwwww!

If you look back at older posts on Self-Care, you’ll see that I really do understand how important it is to take care of ourselves. In some areas, I have been doing better- drawing boundaries, getting massages, trying to de-stress. But let’s face it- I am really NOT good at eating properly, getting enough good quality sleep, and giving my body the exercise it needs. This entire week has been filled with pain, in my feet, which I stand on all day at work, and in my back, which has had problems in the past. I’m scared. I don’t want to go back to that pain, have it interrupt my life.

I’ve gotten to the point where I KNOW I need to do more, MUCH MORE, to take care of myself! Because I am valuable in God’s eyes, because eventually I cannot take care of others if I do not take care of myself. And because I am important! I need to take care of this precious gift that God has given me, and enjoy the Blessings He gives.

So I know I need to set up the rest of those doctor appointments, really look at and address the health issues I know are there, be proactive. What do I tell others when they are physically and emotionally drained? “You MUST take care of yourself!!!!! You are Loved by so many; they don’t want you hurting and sick and debilitated! They understand that your health should be a priority!” So if I advise that to others, I need to TAKE MY OWN ADVISE!

Ironically, that’s part of what added to this week’s pain. I have decided to take a Qi-Gong class and a Yoga class to help stretch my muscles, give me meditation time, and get in better shape. And I was listening to my body, not pushing it too hard since it’s out of shape. Or at least, I thought I was. But as my husband says, I have Weekend Warrior Syndrome. I pushed too hard when I had been letting my body slide. Now I have pulled muscles! OWWWWWWW!

Okay, so yeah, in the scope of things, that’s certainly not the worst that could ever happen to me. As I gently stretch those muscles, they will get better, they will get stronger. But being physically hurt terrifies me!!! It took A YEAR last time I had issues with my back for it to get to where I could do the stuff I had done before! I don’t want to go back to that place.

It’s also very difficult for me to be the one in bad shape, the one hurting. For decades, it’s been my husband. I have been the one taking care of him. So when it’s reversed, it kind of freaks me out. Fortunately, he’s doing much better these days. The Qi-Gong has really helped him. And we’re a team. Where one is weak, the other picks up the slack. That’s the way God intended it to be, and I am so Blessed to have a husband who cares for me, and takes care of me.

I’ve gotten used to it, though, you know? Being the one taking care of stuff. That’s part of who I have been the past years. . . .No, that’s part of what I’ve DONE in the past years. It does not make up who I am; it is just a part of me. But who am I when I am the one being taken care of, the vulnerable one? Where is my worth, where is my value if I cannot do as much as I used to, the things I used to!?! Does that make me WORTHLESS!?!?!

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Well, that just totally looks and feels WRONG when I spell it out like that! BECAUSE IT IS! And I know that in my heart but . . . I must remind myself that I am valuable and Loved and wonderful simply because of the fact that God created ME! HE LOVES ME!!!! It is not my acts or my job or my works that define me. They do not earn me salvation or Love. Those gifts come from God alone, and thank goodness they do because I could certainly NEVER earn them if I had to. I’m only human, flawed, vulnerable and weak. But I am still wonderful!!! And that is a Blessing and a TRUTH that I need to remember. And I need to take care of myself!

But I DO need to take care of myself to the best of my ability. (Or at least start by doing BETTER!!!!) My body and spirit have both been under a lot of stress, and it’s taking its toll. So it’s time to re-evaluate, see what needs care, emotionally, mentally and physically, AND DO IT!

I write about this tonight, because it’s where I’m at tonight. And where I’m sure many others are. We’ve talked about it before. Now I’m reminding myself, and urging you- WE NEED TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES! Please remember that you are important- to God, to others, and JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU! It’s gonna take small steps, but we need to take care of ourselves.

And when I am hurting or overwhelmed, my mantra is “I trust You, God. . . I trust You God. . . I trust You God!”

If you want, search for self care in the search engine for previous posts. I intend to. Then see what small steps you can take in Faith that your health is vitally important!!!

Good Health to you, and to me! Blessings, Billie

Doctor’s Order’s for Billie

Spend Time with God.

SLEEP!!!!!

Eat healthy.

Enjoy being outside.

Enjoy being with Loved Ones

Walk and exercise

Set up doctors’ appointments

DON’T STRESS!

Signed, -God

RESOURCES:

All images found on Pinterest.

OUR BODIES NEED LOVE TOO!

OUR BODIES NEED LOVE TOO!

So, hey-  here we are finishing off the posts about Soul-Healing.  And to make sure our Souls are in the best shape they can be in, we need to also be taking good care of our bodies!

I know, I know, I know . . . this is EVERYONE’S favorite part of taking care of ourselves, right?  You’ve all been REALLY looking forward to it, I know!

Okay, truth to tell, there’s a lot of us out there who HATE having to take care of our bodies. Why the heck is it SO HARD to eat healthy, exercise and get our bodies in the shape they need to be in?  We have to make sure we get enough sleep, keep our brains sharp, actually go see doctors when we need to, and do everything else that is beneficial for healthy bodies.  WHY!?!?!  Because it’s hard to make our own welfare a top priority in lives filled with work and family.  There are only so many hours in a day, and just thinking about what our bodies need for upkeep is exhausting!!!!

Sure, there are those of you out there who seem to be geared for that, motivated to put the time and effort into maintaining a healthy body.  If that’s you, I totally commend you!  But I know a lot of us struggle with this, even when we say we know the value of caring for our bodies.

A while back I had an epiphany.  (I LOVE that word!)  I never seemed to have the time to take care of my own needs other than enough to just keep plowing on.  As a result, I was always tired and lacked motivation.  Being overweight lowered my energy levels, and being out of shape made it difficult to do some things.  Plus, I was often crabby. I got sick a lot, and physical ailments started creeping into my system.  And all this showed in my relationships, and actions, or lack thereof.  It made it where I was not shining with God’s Light at full power!

If I’m grinchy from lack of sleep, I’m not sharing God’s Love very well with my Family.  I also tend to not have the energy necessary to reach out and help others when they need it, or take that extra action needed to help.  Physically, I wanted to be playing more with my kids, enjoying walking in God’s world, and doing things that required me to be in good heath but the reality was I couldn’t do all I wanted to.

Because I was not taking care of myself.  I was not taking care of my body.

MY BODY IS GOD’S HOME!

My daughter and I used to read the American Girl stories, and I especially loved the Josefina ones because they took place in the southwest.  In the Christmas story, Josefina and her family go to the village church to get it ready for Christmas Eve services.  Everyone comes to help, in essence to clear and rededicate the church so it is ready for God’s Light to shine in it, and for Him to be Blessed by it on Christmas.  They sweep, they wash the linens, they make sure everything is in good repair and clean.

I realized that was what I needed to do with my body.  It was in disrepair, God’s Light was not shining brightly out from it, and it was not functioning in such a way to glorify God to the fullest, nor was it able to reach out to all those it could.  I needed to rededicate my Temple, the Holy dwelling place of God within me.  I needed to take care of my body!  (And for even more emphasis, I can’t take the best care of my Loved Ones if my body is not working up to its full potential.  That’s not to say if we have physical limitations, we can’t work for God’s Glory; many, many people with “Broken Bodies” shine with God’s Grace.  But we need to do the best we can with what we have.)

JUST A REMINDER

We all know it-  what’s needed to care for ourselves. We just need to be reminded.  So here’s a quick, easy list with several of the things needed for healthy bodies.

SLEEP!!!!  You’ll notice I mention this a lot because I struggle with it a lot!  Yet not only do we get cranky, and have little energy when we’re tired, our brain also doesn’t function as well as it should.

EAT AND DRINK HEALTHY!  There are sooooooooo many good foods out there that it’s easy to binge out, or not eat what’s healthy for us.  Or, perhaps, food is your enemy, and you hate it, and have issues with it.  But our bodies need the fuel from good foods.  They may vary from person to person depending on medical issues or allergies, but the healthy stuff we put into ourselves helps keep our bodies and our brains functioning properly.

WATER!!!!!!!!  It’s so easy to get dehydrated!  But water is vital to our bodies being in good shape.  Drink lots!!!!

EXERCISE!  Ooooooooooo-  the other bane of so many!  Why is it hard to do?  It’s so much easier to be stagnant.  But being sedentary makes our bodies weak and leads to weight gain.  Plus, did you know that exercise releases feel good endorphins into your body and is an anti-depressant?  Start slow but work up to more.  Walk, dance, swim, jog, play basketball, go hiking or on a bike ride, do housework, garden and play with kids!  Just get moving!

USE THOSE BRAINS OF YOURS!  We are like totally SUPER-COOL computers, able to do so many miraculous things with these wonderful brains of ours!  But they aren’t made to be stagnant either.  Just like a car not used for a long time doesn’t run well, neither will our brains.  So try new things, sharpen your wits with puzzles and games, read, and communicate with others!

SOCIALIZE!  God did not make us to be alone in this world.  We crave companionship.  Don’t isolate yourself; instead share Life with others.  It may be an entire circle of Friends, or just a few very close Loved Ones, but fellowship is an integral part of a healthy body.

LEARN TO RELAX!  If our bodies are constantly stressed, that puts a lot of wear and tear on us.  So learn to meditate, to relax, to control your anger, to live in the moment instead of the past (with regret) or the future (with worry).

BRUSH & FLOSS YOUR TEETH!  HAVE GOOD HYGIENE!  GO SEE DOCTORS AND TAKE YOUR MEDS! I’m sure there are other things you can think of so do!

BOTTOM LINE

No one’s gonna come along and MAKE US be healthy!  We have to decide, to choose, and to follow through!  It’s not an instantaneous accomplishment so PLEASE don’t set yourself up for failure by going cold turkey and trying to go all out from the get go.  Just like learning to walk, it takes a step at a time.  You’ll have fallbacks, it’ll be slow going.  It’s been a long time in the works for me.  But every step you take is one step forward to cleaning out that Holy Dwelling of God’s Spirit!

So tell the truth-  what kind of shape is your body in?  Don’t jump all over your case, don’t feel guilty, don’t feel discouraged!  Just look and see.  Then envision what it would be like to be in better health.  What would it FEEL like to be healthy?  What could you DO if you were more healthy!?!  Then pick one area that you feel REALLY needs work on, and make a commitment to work on it!!!!  Don’t beat yourselves up when you backslide; just hop to and try again.  And the more you do it, the more you succeed at your goal, the better you will feel about yourself, and the better equipped you will be to serve God with your Life!  And then, once you seem to be going along pretty well with that goal, PICK ANOTHER ONE!!!!  Don’t look at “OH MY GOSH!!!!! I’ll NEVER be able to do all that stuff to be healthy!”  Instead, look at each accomplishment as a HUGE Blessing-  for God, for you, and for others!

From one who is still taking baby steps, I encourage you.

From one who is getting healthier every day, bit by bit, I encourage you!

And guess what, your biggest Cheerleader ever is encouraging you!

Give it a try!  Make having a healthy body something important in your Life!

Do it for you, and for God!  -Billie

Resources:

Josefina’s Surprise an American Girl book by Valerie Tripp

Protecting Your Body at eastwoodtulsa on Instagram

Self Care from personalpeptalk on Instagram

Sleep found on lifehack.org

Eat Well from fatmumslim.com.au

Workout found at natalieshealth.com

Make Peace With Yourself from thinkspeakpeace,com

It’s My Time found at lisamdecker.com

AN EMPTY VESSEL

AN EMPTY VESSEL

That’s how I feel sometimes, you know?  Like an empty vessel with all of my energy and motivation poured out of me.  Like there’s nothing left to give to anybody else.

There are lots of reasons why I end up feeling this way, and we’ll be discussing them in the next few weeks as we continue our discussions on Soul- Healing and how to take care of ourselves.  Today we’ll be talking about our Spiritual Well-Being because that’s usually the place I need to start when I feel all empty inside.

But I do want to point out there can also be medical issues involved so I encourage you to PLEASE check in with your doctor!!!!  I have also been experiencing some medical issues that contribute to this weariness of Soul.  And some are mental issues.  From past experience I have learned that doctors and medications CAN and DO help when our bodies are out of whack so PLEASE keep that in mind when talking to your doctor.  And we will discuss it more next week.

For now, I truly know that if I have been neglecting my time with God, it ALWAYS affects my Spirit!  As Sarah Ann said in faithalongtheway.com, “Carving out time to meet with God each day is exactly what your weary soul needs to get back on track.  But sometimes making your quiet time a priority seems impossible, right”

That’s the kicker.  WHY do we have to make time each day to spend with God, and how do we do that anyway in our busy lives!?!

WHEN THE PITCHER IS EMPTY

I hear you; I really, really do!  There is sooooooooooo much going on in my Life, how can I possibly take the time to connect with God, and WHY can’t I just keep running on the strength He pours into me without having to stop and collect that energy!?!

Our answer lies in the Bible.

Did you know that Jesus had a pretty darn busy schedule during His ministry?  Think about it.  He’s spreading the message of His Father’s Love, collecting and teaching His Disciples to carry on His work, traveling ALL OVER THE PLACE, healing people, feeding and speaking to the masses, and talking with the religious leaders of the day.  That’s pretty chaotic, if you ask me.  So how did Jesus deal with it all?

We are told in several instances that Jesus went away from the crowds to be alone and talk with His Father.  (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, 45, Mark 2:13, Luke 5:15 and Luke 6:12)  He also sent His Disciples away from the crowds to rest.  (Mark 6:31-32)   You know, Jesus was on a pretty tight time-table trying to get stuff accomplished in the time allotted Him.  But instead of DOING and GOING all the time, He took time to rest and be with God.  Who are we to do anything less?

My favorite example to illustrate this comes from the following Bible verse where we are called to shine with God’s Light in this world.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  –Matthew 5:16  (KJV)

In Jesus’ time, the lamps were lit by oil, and you had to have a container filled with oil to replenish them when they needed it.  No oil- no Light in the lamp.  Here’s a visual I like to share to get the point across.

Imagine a bunch of lamps in a darkened room.  They represent you shining with God’s Light in the world.  As you do things for people, you expend the oil in the lamps.  That Light goes out.  Eventually, if we don’t resupply the lamps, all of our oil will be gone, and we are unable to share God’s Light with the world.

So what do we have to do?  We have to refill that pitcher of oil so we can keep the lamps lit.  And the only place we can get God’s Light is from God Himself!!!!  But when He pours His Light into us, we can then make sure our Lights are burning.  We can even end up with MORE Lights than we originally though possible, IF WE HAVE ENOUGH OIL!  Suddenly, instead of a dark room, you find yourself surrounded by Light!

(I’ve shown this example with a bunch of candles, and it is AMAZING reminder!)

Okay, so now you’re convinced that your vessel needs to be refilled, right?  But how do we do that?  Especially with our full schedules?

GOD TIME

You have to be tapped into God; you just can’t refill yourself without that connection.

Does that mean we have to be reading the Bible and on our knees praying ALL THE TIME?  No. But it does mean we need to stay in contact with God throughout our day, and all aspects of our lives.  When I rush off into my day without even saying hi or thank you to God, I’m missing out not just His Loving Presence, but also the opportunity for Him to fill my pitcher.

You most certainly can spend time in the Bible, learning more about God and His will for you.  Reading the Bible and studying it help to refill us.  One way to do this is to use a Devotional; some scheduled reading for each day to think on how God is speaking to you.  Bible studies with fellow Christians, and going to church also bring us closer to God.

And praying is just being in communication with God!!!  Talking to Him, opening your heart to Him, and listening when He responds.  We can do little “dart prayers” shooting up to God throughout the day, asking for His help, being excited about His gifts, and PRAISING Him!!!  He Loves our praise.  Whether it’s in song, in mediation and thanks, or sharing with the world, HE LOVES when we appreciate what He gives us!

So yes, for me, it helps sending up dart prayers as I go through my busy schedule.  But I also know that I need to make time to spend with God, uninterrupted time where I can focus on Him and my Life.  I have a prayer journal, and often use that for Sacred Times with Him.  (More ideas in my Sacred Spaces post.)  I jot down Bible verses, write my concerns or praises, do my little drawings, and record what I feel God is saying to me.  But sometimes, I just go and SIT WITH GOD, enjoying His Presence and letting His Love shine down upon me.  Other times, I have books to read through, to inspire me and speak God’s heart to me.  I LOVE listening to and singing hymns and worship music, and I’ve even been known to Dance with God on many an occasion!!!!  But if I do not make that time with God, I will just continue to pour myself out without being able to renew myself in Him.

A Friend called it “Being Prayed Up.”  If you’re not spending time in relationship WITH God, you’re not going to be able to tap into His power.  There has to be intention and commitment to time with God.  He’s always available to us but do we enjoy and relish that relationship with Him, that Honor, that Power, that Privilege?

Are YOU Prayed Up?  How do you stay in connection with God throughout your day?  When was the last time you devoted time just to BE WITH HIM?  In what ways do you renew your Light Source with God?  Quiet time alone with Him, Bible Study, Fellowship with other Believers, Praising God in music?  I encourage you to take some time this week to spend with God, away from the hustle and bustle of your chaotic and busy life.  Your pitcher will be refilled and you will be able to see the world alight for God because of it!

As for me, I think I need a Coffee Date with God!  Time to get Prayed Up!

Here’s to refilling our vessels with the Lord!  -Billie

Resources:

Have You Filled Your Pitcher? from Snappy Solutions

Jesus Praying, Studying the Bible and Worship Him Every Day found on Pinterest

Spending Time With God by KnightWolf Photoraphy

In Prayer found on Bing images

Lights Everywhere found on rebekahrjones.com

Pitcher Filled With God’s Light  “Explosive Glory” by Wendy Manzo

DO YOU REQUIRE SOUL-HEALING?

DO YOU REQUIRE SOUL-HEALING?

I Do!  I require Soul-Healing, that’s for sure!

Worn down, tired, physical ailments, body not in great shape.  (Been TOO BUSY taking care of everybody else!)  And now it’s all catching up to me!  I get discouraged or cranky, I don’t feel as close to God as I want to, and I am sooooooooo tired ALL THE TIME!!!!

I GOTTA TAKE CARE OF MYSELF!!!!

Okay- tell the truth!  There’s a lot of us out there that never even THINK about taking good care of ourselves, right!?!  Or if you do, you brush it off because you’re too . . . tired . . . busy . . . “with-it” . . . important . . . or one of a MILLION OTHER REASONS to actually do something about it.  And then throw in a generous helping of GUILT because, after all, we are Christians, and we are to Love and take care of others so putting our needs first seems terribly selfish.

You know what?  That’s not how God sees it.  Sure, there are going to be times in our lives when we do have to push forward even when weary or sick or discouraged.  But I do not believe that God made us to live like that permanently.  I think He wants us taking care of ourselves because when we do, we are better able to Love Him and Love others!  Besides which, HE LOVES US!!!!!  I certainly don’t want my Loved Ones ignoring their own needs the way I do mine!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  -Matthew 11:28-30  (NIV)

WHAT IS SOUL-HEALING?

I’m sure there are tons of ways you could describe Soul-Healing.  It could be used to refer to caring for our Spiritual needs, but I think the term is more all-encompassing that that.  Our Souls are that which makes us who we are.  Just like a good physician will look to the workings of the complete body on how to heal, Soul-Healing must engulf ALL aspects of what makes us who we are.  Otherwise, it’s like Baymax in Disney’s “Big Hero 6.”  We are just patching up one problem to have it come exploding out at another area.

So there are four areas involved in maintaining the health of our Souls:

  • Our physical health
  • Our intellectual or mental health
  • Our Spiritual health and
  • Our emotional health.

And just like it is virtually impossible to segregate physical ailments from the rest of our bodies because it’s all interrelated, the same goes for our Soul Health.

“But, wait,” you say.  “WHY are we worried about our Soul Care.  Won’t God take care of our Souls if we are doing good and working for Him and living unselfishly?”

God does want us caring for others, and He will give us strength when we need it.  But He also made us smart enough to take responsibility for our own care.  Because if we don’t, no one else is going to.  Sure, my husband can work with me on healthy meals, but if I want to binge out on Dr. Pepper, it’s not going to help much.  And if I insist on trying to continually function on less sleep than I need, or choose not to spend time with God on a regular basis, that’s going to affect my Life, and those around me.

As we mentioned, God WANTS us taking care of ourselves.  We are His Holy Temple, where His Spirit dwells.  If we are in need of repair, His Light is not going to be able to shine very brightly for the world to see.

If I am tired, or overweight, if my brain is sluggish, or my emotions are all catty-wumpus, if I am not in connection with my Maker, well then, I’m not going to be working at peak efficiency.  Sure maybe I can plus along for a bit longer, like a car whose fuel gage is sitting on Empty but still has a few miles left in it.  But I guarantee you, it’s going to catch up to me!  And when it does, three things are going to happen:

1.)  I am NOT going to be able to function for the Lord!  Instead of reaching out to others in Love, I’m going to have a begrudging Heart, barely able to do anything for God.

2.)  I am going to MISS OUT on some WONDERFUL Blessings that God is trying to give me .

3.)  I am going to make God sad.  By refusing to care for this beautiful gift He has given me in myself, I am being disrespectful and arrogant.  Plus HE LOVES ME, and does not want me hurting myself!!!!

YEAH- THAT’S EASY FOR YOU TO SAY!

No, not really.  My Friends always laugh and shake their heads when I share on this subject because I AM REALLY GOOD at NOT taking care of myself!  You know it’s bad when my Family asks me what I WANT TO DO, and maybe for an instant, I actually consider MY wants, but then my brain quickly races to all the interconnecting complexities of Family dynamics involved with potential stress factors and confrontations.

I do have to say, though, that I have gotten MUCH BETTER at taking care of myself as the years go by.  Part of it is because I really do see, and know that I need to.  And part of it is that periodically, I encounter these Havens of time where I HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF ME because I have pushed so long and so hard that I am on OVERLOAD!  I call them Havens but when I first run into them I only see quagmires trying to slow me down and keep me from my required tasks.  But God has been allowing these opportunities to arise more often as I progress through Life, partially because I have been burning myself out so much along the way.  He wants me to take care of myself!

And when I FINALLY listen to the Invitation He is sending me to re-orient myself and BE the ME He made me to be, then . . . then do I realize what a Haven on Peace and Opportunity He is giving me to renew my Soul, to return to Him, and to be Healed.

Next week, I’ll share with you some ideas and practical thoughts on working to take care of yourself.  For this week, though, I ask you to consider where are YOU in need of Soul-Healing to better balance out your Life?  Then I challenge you to do ONE of the following.

  • Pick something that your body PHYSICALLY is in need of, and try to incorporate it into your week.  Maybe it’s more sleep, or to go work out at the gym, or whatever.
  • Are you EMOTIONALLY drained?  What would help raise your Spirits?  Spending time with Friends, sitting outside, or listening to music all work wonders just to name a few.
  • How’s that BRAIN of yours working?  Is it sluggish these days?  (If so, you may need to make SLEEP a priority!)  But it could also be that you need to USE YOUR BRAIN MORE, not just run on autopilot!  Try something new, do some mental puzzles like Sudoku or a Crossword Puzzle, or read something new and stimulating that makes you think.
  • Are you SPIRITUALLY running on Empty right now?  Then you need to spend some time with God ASAP!!!!  I recommend finding a space to be alone with God, or actually making it to Church this week.  Or maybe you just want to sit in silence with God, feeling His presence.

I am at one of these Havens in Life right now, so am also trying to make MYSELF a priority this week.  Going to bed earlier, creating some new artwork, working on challenging brain puzzles, and giving God and myself the gift of Sacred Spaces together are all on my agenda.  Will I totally succeed?  No, but I will attempt, and that will help me bit by bit.  And it will make God happy.

Please see to your own Soul-Healing!  And come back next week!

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”  -3 John 2  (NIV)

Blessings,  -Billie

 

Resources:

I Need Healing found on teepublic.com (Quoting Genji from Overwatch”)

Worn Down and Make a Promise found on Pinterest

There Will Be Days from SweatpantsAndCoffee.com

Baymax from Disney’s “Big Hero 6”

2 Corinthians 6:19-20 by Kim Chase

How is Your Fuel Tank? from 1arthouse.blog

Snoopy’s Sacred Haven found on Pinterest, Snoopy created by Charles Schulz