Where the Magic Happens

They say that “Magic happens when you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone” and that’s where I’ve spent the last six months, creating the Midwest Mind Body Health Center which opens today. When I first decided to enter this unknown territory, I reached out to another mind-body-spirit counseling professional, Maria Carella, who embraced the idea with the same enthusiasm I had. Next, I spoke with another amazing woman, Janet K, who I’ve known for 20+ years who agreed to be our office manager. In the past few weeks, I’ve discovered that no task is too daunting and she takes care of whatever I need-no worries. Pure magic.

After Janet, I ran into Shirley Stoll, our meditation instructor, at a Chopra Center meditation and yoga retreat. Next, I was introduced to Jen McCurdy, one of our counseling providers, through a chance conversation with my good friend and colleague, Executive Director of Mother to Mother, Linda Meyer. A couple weeks later, Jen, Maria and I were at a Mother to Mother fundraiser together (which we didn’t plan), and Maria told me Jen was the woman she wanted me to speak with about becoming part of our team. After that, my massage therapist Sage Kuhlmann who’s also a yoga instructor, joined. Then I contacted another psychologist, Megan Keyes, who I’d known for years through her family and thought would be too busy, but she was interested too.

And the magic didn’t stop there. My husband Steve supported me unconditionally from encouragement that things would work out despite setbacks to moving the contents of my entire office. There were also countless friends and family who kept me going with hopefulness when I’d misplaced mine. While I felt stretched and challenged, I didn’t feel  alone.

Goethe said, “What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Once again, I learned how much can be gained by stepping outside your comfort zone. Now, I’m encouraging you to do the same. That’s where you discover magic. I promise.

(Thanks to Shannon Hutson for inspiring this post)

Introducing the Midwest Mind Body Health Center

After many weeks of uncertainty about my new office, I can finally announce that on Oct. 1, the Midwest Mind Body Health Center will be open for business. In addition to the counseling services I’ve always provided, we’ll be offering weekly classes and multi-session workshops in mind-body practices including mindfulness, meditation and yoga. Research has shown that these practices can help reduce stress, depression and anxiety and improve health and well-being.

I could go on for hours, but instead check out the new website at www.mindbodystl.com.  And remember, “Self-care is like chocolate; you can never have enough.”

Namaste.

This Too Shall Pass

Reading Stacey’s post last week, reminded me that life is full of joy and sorrow, loss and gain. These shifts occur in a day, week, months or years. How do we keep going? Here’s what I decided to do.

Monday I discovered my colleagues leaving the practice I started and will be maintaining, sent marketing info out which prompted a nurse from one of the groups I work closely with to call and ask if Women’s Healthcare Partnership (my practice) was breaking up. I was worried and distressed. But, I had a cancellation the next hour so I phoned the group’s office manager to tell her Women’s Healthcare Partnership was not breaking up and arranged for them to visit my new location. I felt relieved. The same day, I got home to discover these colleagues had sent an e-mail with both their pictures on it after one of them told me she didn’t know anything about it. I felt angry and upset. However, Wednesday I signed my new lease and can finally move ahead with my plans to open the Midwest Mind Body Health Center on Oct. 1. Yeah!

How did I cope? I reminded myself of the story of King Solomon’s ring. As the story goes, King Solomon heard of a magical ring that had the power to make happy people sad, and sad people happy so he sent his minister out to find it. He was about to abandon the search when he came across a wise jeweler who said he’d heard of such a ring and would make him one. Taking a plain gold band he engraved four words in it. When the ring was delivered, King Solomon recognized the simple wisdom it contained, for engraved in the band were the words, “This too shall pass.”

Life is constantly changing. This is the hard and promising truth. Light becomes dark and dark turns to light in a single day.  Next time you face adversity, stress or just unpleasant feelings,  remember “This too shall pass.”

Redefining Happiness

The other night I dreamt I went to camp again. The dream was a hodgepodge of camp activities which I will refrain from describing, but, suffice it to say, I was genuinely happy. For a moment, when I woke up, I thought I was really in my cabin at camp, but as my eyes adjusted to the dark and my mind cleared, I realized I wasn’t anywhere close to camp. Instead I was alone in my apartment, and all too quickly I remembered that instead of having a day of kayaking and sun-bathing ahead, all I had to look forward to was doing practice questions to prepare for my upcoming exam. That’s when I started to cry.

After the tears subsided, I grabbed my computer to search for quotes online, something I like to do when I’m feeling blue, and stumbled across a quote by Leonardo da Vinci that said, “Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been, there you long to return.”

And, while I didn’t literally long to fly, I did long for the happy, carefree life I once had. For the time when I was able to spend four hours a day at dance practice. Or six hours making dinner and dessert for my friends. Or a morning doing absolutely nothing.

As I lay in bed, reminiscing about my pre-medical school life, I slowly began to acknowledge my current life really isn’t so terrible—it’s just different. So, I decided it’s time for me to redefine happiness. Instead of happiness being doing whatever I want whenever I want, I need to start looking for happiness in what I already have. I have a great group of friends and a loving family. I’m healthy. I’m physically and mentally capable of doing anything I set my mind to. And I’m well on my way to a highly rewarding career as a doctor.

Just as I am trying to do, I encourage you to consider if perhaps it’s time for you to redefine what happiness is and to look for all the wonderful things you already possess instead of longing for what once was and will not be again.

Today’s guest author is Jessica Sanford, med student extraordinaire and Diane’s wonderful daughter.

What can you do to redefine happiness in your life? Let us know.

Don’t Labor-Enjoy the Day!

Today is the perfect day to celebrate all the hard work you do by taking time off. Whether we are caring for our children, partners, parents, friends, or pets, most women labor all the time, both in and outside of home. So just today, climb back in bed, have a cup of coffee, watch the TV show you want, go to the mall, have your nails done, read a good book, or do whatever suits you. You can go back to work tomorrow. For now, enjoy!

For more ideas about what you can do to make self-care part of your life, visit “Taking Care of You: Body, Mind and Spirit” at http://extension.missouri.edu/takingcare. I just got trained in this program and can’t recommend it enough.

Have a great day.

If I Were A Guy???

This is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. Why? Because I’m in the “middle” of negotiating a lease for my new Midwest Mind Body Health Center which opens Oct. 1, and I’ve been in the “middle” for the past 8 weeks.

When I first saw the building, I asked the owner to deal with me directly but he said he’d hired a real estate broker and it’d be better to speak with him. Would a man have agreed to this? I don’t know, but I did to “be nice.” What’s happened since then? Not much. The broker has been on vacation twice, doesn’t answer morning calls, isn’t much better later in the day, and took 10 days to get me the draft of my lease even after I decided to take a bigger space in a building that’s only half-full.

Not a great way to run a business especially in a real estate market that’s glutted. Then yesterday I decided I’d had enough and called the owner who seemed “clueless” that his broker was handling our deal like this. I told him I’d tried to respect his request that I work with the broker but I’d had enough. How soon would a man have done this? Probably much sooner. Certainly a man wouldn’t have been “nice” about it when the broker wasn’t doing his job.

Although I was raised to be a “nice girl,” I was also brought up to respect myself. While I know the broker is not intentionally disrespecting my time and need to wrap things up, I’m done waiting for him. Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different solution.”  So, Monday I’ll be phoning and e-mailing the owner again to get my lease settled. If the broker ends up with mud on his face, he’s earned it.

What are your thoughts about this? What would you do? How long would you “be nice.” Let us know.

Battling the Back-to-School Blahs

Now that my daughters are older, starting school is less challenging time and energy wise. But for those of you who still have younger children, August can be a stressful and depleting month. Here are some recommendations from Lisa Salazar, a therapist and mom of two teens and a toddler, who’s found that organization and routine is key to decreasing stress and maintain a healthy balance in at home.

Schedule family time:  Allow your children to help plan a weekly family night.  An example is renting videos and watching them at home with favorite movie snacks to enjoy.  During family night, rules should be established, such as no texting or taking phone calls.

Choose chores:  Because everyone’s schedules are busier now, it is helpful to have a family meeting where everyone can decide which chores they will be responsible for.

Homework:  By providing your children a calendar and having one for yourself, both of you can jot down any special dates and scheduled tests.   Staying organized is the key to a successful school year!

Observe child’s behavior:   Be mindful of any changes in behavior, sleep, and eating behaviors.

Offer support and solutions:  Be your child’s strongest advocate.  Reach out to teacher s and counselors to help you and your child.

Listen:  Use car rides home and dinner time to talk with your child.

Real Mom Lisa

Today’s guest author is Lisa Salazar, MA, LMFT, LPC who is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  She has been married for 18 years and has 3 children.   Books in the Burbs is a blog that Lisa maintains to write book reviews.

When A Mother Kills-How We Can Prevent This

Last Monday, the unthinkable occurred in the idyllic, picture perfect community just 10 minutes from my home. A mom who was known to have struggled with depression but seemed to be “doing okay,” shot her children and then killed herself. A week later, it’s become clear that a severe mental illness led to their deaths.

Could this and other tragedies like the recent movie theater shootings have been prevented? I think so. Because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder, people are afraid seek help for fear of being labeled “crazy.” Instead, they try to “mask” their distress by appearing “normal,” which doesn’t work. Likewise, they frequently don’t continue with counseling until they’re well or stay on their medicines because they don’t want to admit the full extent of their illness.

Truth is that each of us is vulnerable to depression, anxiety, OCD or bi-polar disorder depending on what runs in our family and that under the right conditions/stressors, we’ll experience a clinical episode. But, we believe that nothing as bad as the above tragedies will happen because we’ll be able to stop it. Tragically, when you have a severe mental illness and your brain isn’t working right, terrible things can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

What can we do to prevent such bad outcomes? First, we must let go of any stigma we have about mental illness. Next, acknowledge that depression, anxiety, OCD and bi-polar disorder can affect anyone, including us.

Click here for video- Understanding Mental Issues for Mothers

Know our family’s mental health history and seek help immediately if we start feeling bad and it’s not letting up. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the most we’ll be out is our time and co-pay if we discover you don’t need help. Make certain our loved ones do the same. Insist they follow their health provider’s recommendations until they’re fully recovered and without symptoms for a minimum of six months.

We can make a difference for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s start today.

How Our Children Teach Us to Surrender

One of my most challenging life lessons has been surrender-letting go of what I want to have happen and allowing life to unfold naturally. Sound familiar? I imagine it is. Why is this so hard to do? Because we’re convinced that if we “let go” bad things or at least random things will happen, that will be bad for us. But if we hang on really tight, then we can produce the desired outcome. Right?

What often happens though is that we produce the effect we wanted to avoid. Take our children for example, the more we struggle to make them like us, the more they fight to be themselves. I am not talking about teaching them to be kind, respectful and compassionate. Of course, we want to do everything we can to instill these values. What I mean is trying to control who they become like who they choose as friends or the interests they pursue.

Here’s what Kahlil Gibran had to say “On Children”

“Your children are not your children, They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

This week, look deeply into your child’s eyes and ask “Who are you? Who are you becoming?” Then listen with your intuition. If you don’t have children, look into your own eyes in the mirror and ask the same questions. Finally, release whatever comes to mind and let the universe fill in the details. Ah, the sweet taste of surrender.

Enjoy!

Sex and Creativity: The Power of the Second Chakra

As you know, I recently spent a week at “Seduction of Spirit,” a signature workshop given by Deepak Chopra and his talented Chopra Center instructors. While there, we studied the seven “chakras” or energy centers in our body. Today, I want to pass on what I learned about our second chakra-the seat of our sexual energy and creativity-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Second chakra energy is critical to he evolution of consciousness which depends on sexual union and procreation but also our union with universal consciousness which you may call God, Jesus Christ, Buddha or your higher power. What this means is that by expressing yourself creatively in your own unique way through the arts and who you, you enable life to change for the better. If this sounds a little “woo woo,” keep listening because when you are in harmony with the “cosmic dance,” life is an endless, creative pursuit which flows effortlessly.

Here’s what Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutras had to say in the first to third century B.C.

“When you inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds;

Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new great and wonderful world;

Dormant forces, faculties, and talents come alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

This week express second chakra energy by connecting with your authentic self through pleasure and joy, physically, emotionally, and spirituality. Abandon yourself to the cosmic dance. Let the energy of the universe flow through you free and unbounded.

Enjoy!