You Can’t Give Away What You Don’t Possess

Regarding self-sacrifice as a badge of honor comes from our very best intentions. We’ve been told that when we put others’ needs first, we’ll feel so good about ourselves that our needs will diminish. While this is often true about our desires, it is dangerously incorrect about our needs.

Our primary need is for love. Conditioning taught us to look for others to meet this: parents, siblings, friends, lovers and even our children. This dynamic would often require our significant others to suppress their needs in favor of ours. This can’t be love. Furthermore, there is nobody who can love you
the way you need to be loved — with one exception: YOU!

Love is best demonstrated with time and attention. We must give ourselves all the time and attention we need, so that our soul is overflowing with love. We can’t contain it.  We must give it away!  Free from unmet needs, your loved ones will sense the pure joy you derive from the relationship. They’ll neither feel defensive about disappointing you, nor will they act out in order to get your attention.

Real Mom Laura Nash

Only you know what you need. Only you can provide it. Take the time to check-in with yourself.  Discern your wants from your needs.  Extend love to yourself through self-care and your soul will soar.

Today’s author Laura Nash is a consultant and Chopra-certified meditation instructor who teaches individuals and companies “peace of mind” skills.  Visit her an http://www.lauranash.com.

For Lillian As You Leave

Lillian Michalsky is an extra-ordinary person and someone I’ve been privileged to know if only for a short time. I met her over a month ago at a women’s retreat at Feathered Pipe Ranch. Although she was not teaching the class, her wisdom and insight made an impression as she sat in her lounge chair in our circle, living with pancreatic cancer. Her life is a legacy for the strength of human spirit which I know will continue in the hearts and souls of those she’s touched long after she dies.

In truth, I don’t know much about Lillian’s past. I know that when she was in her early 20’s she came out to Montana on a mission trip, got “adopted” by one of the Native American tribes who live there, and became a medicine woman because of their trust in her. Until then, this tribe’s language had only been spoken, and they were afraid of losing their stories which they wanted to impart to their children and others. Together, she helped them develop a written alphabet and translate their stories so they could be preserved. Remarkable indeed.

I was fortunate enough to be in a prayer circle she led at Feathered Pipe at the conclusion of our retreat. As we shared our prayers with Lillian and India and prayed for each other, we created a sacred space which lovingly held our souls. It was the most meaningful, spirit-filled ceremony I’ve ever been in and a beautiful way to end our time together. For this, I am forever grateful. I am likewise grateful for the generosity and compassion of all my sister goddesses in the circle.

Saturday, I learned that her physical strength is dwindling and her time here may be drawing to a close. In celebration of Lillian, I am asking that this week each of you meditate on a song which is one of her favorites, “Give Yourself to Love” by Kate Wolf. It is a good reminder for all us. Here are some of the lyrics:

“Kind friends all gathered ’round, there’s something I would say:
That what brings us together here has blessed us all today.
Love has made a circle that holds us all inside;
Where strangers are as family, loneliness can’t hide.

You must give yourself to love if love is what you’re after;

Open up your hearts to the tears and laughter,
And give yourself to love, give yourself to love.”

You can listen to the song  by clicking here.

With much love, Lillian. Namaste.

Simply Self Care

By Diane Sanford, PhD
photo1I took a break last week from posting. I needed it. The holiday weekend had me “holidayed” out. I didn’t do much but I felt like it after weeks of too much doing and not enough being.

Instead, I spent the afternoon relaxing in the thirty dollar wading pool (for adults), my daughter and I got at Sam’s Club earlier this season. I was so happy sunning and doing nothing. It reminded me (once again) that I need to stop more often and experience life with “ease and joy” as one of my mindfulness teachers says. Likewise, it doesn’t take a “special” situation or circumstance for this to occur. In mindfulness we call this as “informal” practice. Simply, paying attention to what you’re doing.

This week, I encourage you to take 5 minutes a few times each day to pause and become fully engaged in the moment you’re in. Then take 15-20 minutes once or twice during the week to intentionally choose an activity that eases stress and brings you joy. Your to-do list will still be there when you’re done but it may not seem as urgent or oppressive. A little “time-out” can go a long way.

Namaste

Rough Seas Ahead

I have been working with a certain client for a few years now. For simplicity, let’s call her Sarah (not her real name). Sarah is debating a common issue: what to do with a loveless marriage. Since divorce is no longer taboo these days, more women are considering it as an option than ever before. There are still women like Sarah, who believe that marriage is for “forever,” but at what cost?

I have to say something straight-up: I am not an advocate for divorce. Many couples still have a strong foundation that the rest can be supported upon and fixed. In my practice, it is always my intention to help two people salvage their marriage if both are willing to work at it. That being said, I am also not an advocate for the stagnation and lack of self-care that can come about when two people really don’t need to be together.

Sarah has only recently included divorce as an option for herself. She’s been married almost 20 years and has two children with her husband, Bryan (not his real name). She has cited history, children, not wanting to “fail” and not wanting to hurt “anyone” as her reasons for staying. She has not really loved Bryan for 2 or 3 years now, and they have grown apart, each focused on paths that don’t intersect any longer. Bryan is a good man; he is not abusive or adulterous. He is also not present in the relationship until Sarah brings up her discontent (usually after Bryan asks for sex). Then, he may focus more on the marriage for a week or two. But Sarah always ends up in the same place: alone, despite another person being there.

Bryan and Sarah have gone to couples counseling a few times and their therapist tells me that she doesn’t see much of a foundation there. Because I agree, I have been questioning Sarah about what her life would look like if she could wave a magic wand. Her magical world doesn’t involve Bryan.

This issue all boils down, as most issues do, to Self-Care. We all know that life is short, so why would we stay in an unhappy situation for one minute longer than we have to? Because we think we “have to!” Should Sarah decide to separate from Bryan, there will be some rough times. If she stays focused on her own needs and doesn’t try to own Bryan’s or the kids’ reactions, she will come through it in a healthy manner, being honest and open with her family.

Because women are raised in a society that teaches us to nurture at the expense of ourselves, the notion of doing what is best for us sometimes is very scary! But as Sarah and Bryan’s couples therapist said, “She needs to put on her big girl panties and do the ethical – and honest – thing for herself.”

What are some things in your life that you’re maintaining the status quo with because you can’t imagine another option? Are there really no other choices or are the other choices just things that you can’t imagine doing? If you don’t change your situation, how do you think this will affect you in the next year, 5 years, 10 years?

Sometimes, we have to weather the storm to get to calm, peaceful seas. Namaste.

at sea

“Climb Out of Darkness” to Reduce Stigma of Mental Health

By Diane Sanford, PhD

Last week, I blogged about “Teens Tackle Depression Stigma,” and what two Michigan teens are doing to reduce stigma about what I call “emotional health” conditions (depression, anxiety, addiction, bi-polar, eating disorders, etc). Click here to view the post.

This week I want to mention two events that are occurring in June also aimed at reducing stigma. The first is “Climb Out of Darkness,” sponsored by Postpartum Progress.  This event, started by Katherine Stone, focusses on raising awareness and diminishing the stigma associated with “emotional health” conditions affecting pregnant and postpartum moms.

“Climb Out of the Darkness is the world’s largest event raising awareness of postpartum depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis and pregnancy depression. The event was created by and benefits Postpartum Progress Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports pregnant and new moms with these illnesses.” Click here to learn more about it, find a climb near you, and register.

The other event , “KNOCKOUT STIGMA,” offers St. Louisans a fun, interactive platform to raise awareness about mental illness, one of the most unrelenting human diseases. While raising awareness to combat the negative effect of STIGMA, this event will connect our community to the worthwhile work of Independence Center. Held at The Title Boxing Club in Rock Hill, participants will enjoy a fun one-hour workshop while benefitting a good cause. Click here for more info.

DID YOU KNOW? One in five people worldwide have a “mental” disorder at some point in their lives. Over 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental illness among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.Treatment works, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental illness never seek help from a licensed professional. STIGMA, DISCRIMINATION and NEGLECT prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental illnesses. (World Health Organization Report, October 2001)

While we’re making progress in reducing stigma, there’s still to do. Please help support these events, and those you know with “emotional health” conditions.

Namaste.

 

Teens Tackle Depression Stigma

By Diane Sanford, PhD

A month ago, one of my colleagues mentioned that her daughter had an article which was about to run in a very important publication. She said she couldn’t tell me where yet, but sent me a link just before Memorial Day to her daughter, Madeline’s piece with the other co-editor of their high school paper, Eva, which was published in The New York Times.

If you haven’t seen this already, click on this link-http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/22/opinion/depressed-but-not-ashamed.html?ref=opinion&_r=0. Until more of us speak up about our personal experiences and encourage our family and friends to do the same, we support the conspiracy of silence which contributes to people of all ages and stages of life with “mental illness” including depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, addictions and eating disorders feeling alone, isolated and flawed. The word alone makes you feel bad

As I tell my clients, no family is untouched by “mental illness.” Everyone has emotional health vulnerabilities inherited from their gene pool,  and under the right circumstances, they develop into clinical conditions. In my family, several generations have experienced clinical depression and anxiety, and I experienced some mild depression following the birth of my first child.

In fact, women often  experience clinical episode during times of hormonal and major life changes-puberty, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. To encourage childbearing women to say something and not “suffer in silence, ” when experiencing postpartum depression, New Jersey created their “Speak Up When You’re Down” campaign. For more info on this program, click on this link-http://www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/postpartumdepression/pdf/PPD-brochure.pdf. Or, visit Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress and find a Climb to help support your recovery.

To hear more about Madeline and Eva’s editorial and the story behind the editorial, listen to their NPR interview by clicking here- http://www.npr.org/2014/05/24/315445104/students-struggle-with-depression-and-with-telling-the-story

And, let your voice be heard. Namaste

10 Things a Pregnant Woman Deserves

I stumbled across this article from The Huffington Post and was thrilled to see a husband writing about how to support his wife during her pregnancy! I hope you enjoy this, too.

My wife, Mel, is seven months pregnant with our third child. We’ve been married for almost ten years. Her last two pregnancies were eye-opening for me. Being pregnant is hard on a woman both physically and mentally. It’s something I can’t experience. I can only observe. As a husband, I often feel helpless. Like I’m just some cheerleader on the sidelines, hoping everything turns out OK. I often wish there were some way I could help her more than I do. Some way I can be more supportive. I mean, I can’t carry the baby for her, but there are things I can do to make her experience a little easier.

Below is a list of a few things that I have been doing — or plan to start doing — to help Mel’s pregnancy go easier. However, I’d love to see ideas from readers on how husbands have made pregnancy easier for their wives.

1. Tell her she’s beautiful.
While pregnant, Mel often describes herself as: Fat, bloated, and spotted (near the end of her pregnancy she always develops little red splotches on her face and neck). Obviously she doesn’t feel beautiful while pregnant, even though I still think that she is. She needs constant reassurance. So when she is pregnant, I often make it a point to tell her how beautiful she is (in person and text message).

2. Excitement.
I know that some men, myself included, see a pregnant woman like a ticking time bomb. I mean, I’m excited to have a baby, but the first year of a child’s life can be hell, with all the sleepless nights, spit-up and dirty diapers. This is not to mention the cost of a new baby. But at the same time, it’s very exciting for a woman, and being negative can really depress your wife. I think it’s important to share in that excitement. I am good and bad at this one. I often exhale, loudly, when talking about things we need to buy for the baby. But I also crouch down, talk to the baby, and then kiss Mel’s tummy. I also enjoy feeling the baby kick. I think this really helps her realize that I am excited too.

3. Judgment (lack thereof).
Let’s face it, women act differently while pregnant. Sometimes I joke that the woman I married is not the woman who has been pregnant with my children. The woman I married would never eat an entire loaf of French bread. She also wouldn’t wear bright red compression tights that make her look like Doctor Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog. Although we joke around, being pregnant has made Mel do and wear some strange things. It’s best just to let it happen without comment or judgment.

4. Flowers.
Mel loves flowers. They seem to make everything better (I don’t understand it, but I know it’s true). Last week I bought Mel some flowers. The cashier was a woman in her mid 30′s. She asked me what the occasion was. I said, “She’s pregnant. I just thought she could use them.” The casher smiled and agreed. If I could afford it, I’d buy Mel flowers every day that she’s pregnant.

5. Naps.
This is one that I’m not very good at. Being pregnant is exhausting. I can see it in Mel’s eyes. She also tells me about it, too. I often suggest that Mel take a nap, but with the craziness of having two small children, me working two jobs, and Mel in school, it’s difficult to get her to sit down. I think she feels selfish when taking a nap. And honestly, my knee-jerk reaction is to get a little jealous when she gets to take a nap. But I really need to think about the fact that she is growing another person and she needs her rest. I need to be more assertive about picking up her slack so she can feel comfortable dozing for an hour or two during the day.

6. Tell her to sit down.
Standing all day while having a baby wiggling around inside your body, throwing off your equilibrium, must be really difficult. I often see her rubbing her lower back, or her upper legs. I tell Mel to sit down, but just like with naps, I think she feels selfish sitting when there are things to be done. She holds a real sense of duty, which I love about her, but at the same time she needs a rest now and again.

7. A restful night.
Getting a good night’s rest can really change Mel’s disposition. We have a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. Both are OK sleepers. But they still tend to get up in the night now and again. I will admit that I sometimes sleep through their cries, but for the most part I make it a point to get up in the night so Mel can sleep.

8. Time alone.
This is another one I need to work on. Being pregnant is emotionally draining. There is no doubt about it. The first time Mel was pregnant, she started crying because I asked her to water the Christmas tree. Sometimes I think she just needs a moment or two to simply be alone. I’ve been trying to make it a point to take both our kids out of the house for one reason or another so she can have some time to herself.

9. Company at the OB-GYN.
Often, Mel meets with her doctor while I am at work. We live in a small Oregon town, which means Mel has to drive almost an hour to meet with the doctor. Long story short, I have not been able to accompany Mel to the doctor as much as I’d like. But when I do go, I can tell she enjoys it. I think it makes her feel less alone in all this. Like I am really there to support her.

10. Ask about her needs.
I like to think that I know what’s best for my wife, but that really is a ridiculous assumption. I need to ask her this simple question more: What do you need right now?

Clint Edwards is the author of No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Don’t Forget to Love YOURSELF!

Valentines-Day-Love-Facebook-Timeline-Profile-Cover-Photo

The Science Behind a Happy Relationship

I had the honor of being a “pioneer” at Happify, which is a site (an app) that uses scientific methods to help the user increase his/her happiness levels. They have just released this infographic, and I am “happy” to share it with you!

Click on the image below to view the entire thing.

happifystatic

Slow Down! Going Faster is Tempting Disaster

I just read this article on Psychology Today and loved it! I thought you might love it, too! The original article can be found HERE.

old chronometer

The other week en route to New York, my plane landed at Chicago O’Hare at the very minute my connection to Newark began boarding. I was seated in the bulkhead row just behind first class, and as soon as the door opened and the first class folks filed out, I launched myself out of the plane and sprinted full speed up the gangway.

A few long strides in, I realized something was off. I stopped and turned and sure enough, the flight attendant standing at the door of the plane was holding the high heel from my right boot up in the air and waving it at me.

Without even noticing, I had sheared it right off when I leapt out of the plane.

Beyond dismayed, I hobbled back to grab my mangled heel, and must have made quite a spectacle as I ran across the terminal in a bizarre limping run, clutching the heel in my right hand the whole way. I got to the boarding area just as the last person had boarded, and I’m amazed they let me on—there were exposed nails sticking out of the heel and there was no way I would be parted from it (in case it could be repaired; these were my very favorite shoes). Thankfully the flight attendant was so busy laughing at me that she didn’t notice.

Was it really necessary to be in SUCH a rush? Probably not. If I’d just focused on calmly yet briskly making my plane, I’d probably still have made it. Some other latecomers boarded after me, and I’d still be wearing my beloved boots, which sadly were beyond repair.

I’ve had a few conversations lately with people about this epidemic of rushing, and here are some thoughts on why and how most of us need to slow down:

  • You think you’ll get there faster but you’re tempting disaster: Whether you’re racing through your house to get out the door on time or weaving through traffic like you’re stunting a movie chase scene, you edge yourself perilously close to trouble far worse than being late. I’ve treated patients who fell down stairs and broke bones while rushing around, and if you think of times when you’ve hurt yourself, it was very possibly because you were moving too quickly and not paying attention.

The other day I was trying to get home quickly and decided to get around traffic by slipping through an alley. By the time I was halfway down it, I realized it wasn’t taking me where I needed to go. Annoyed, I decided to back up to get out. My rearview was clear but I missed seeing something just off to the left and scraped the side of my car as I backed up. I don’t even want to know how much it’s going to cost to fix the damage to my car, and it really would not have made a huge difference to my life to wait in traffic. It would have been a far lesser evil. Awful! Remind yourself to back off and calm down when you find yourself racing along the edge of safety (and even the law!). It really isn’t worth it.

  • If you focus too much on your destination you’ll be blind to where you are: A friend recently told me about a disaster that occurred on a busy weekend packed with tons of commitments. She was thinking about all she had to get done and running from task to task, in that keyed-up state you might be familiar with. Rush, rush, rush. Coming out of a store and hurrying back to her car, she stepped out from between a row of cars in the parking lot. Bam – a passing car crashed into her leg. She was so lost in her thoughts and her rushing that she didn’t see it coming, and wasn’t present enough to catch the license plate as the driver took off. She’s still having pain and trouble walking weeks later.

If you notice you’re tuning out because you’re in “hurry” mode, slow down, catch your breath, and make sure you’re aware of your surroundings. Being present not only will you feel calmer and perform better under time pressure, but it will also keep you safe.

  • You don’t want to miss the good stuff: A client that I’m coaching told me yesterday that an alarming number of people close to her are having bad things happen to them. A friend has cancer, another lost her husband, and another friend was in an accident. “Everyone seems to be falling apart around me,” she said. “It’s really woken me up, and I’m learning to slow down and be more aware of life. I need to stop racing around, and concentrate on what’s truly important.”

What could you be missing in your haste? Do you miss connecting with (or even making eye contact with) your kids or spouse in the morning as you hurry to get ready? When you’re racing to get to a destination, do you miss having a real conversation with whoever is in the car with you? When you go for your brisk morning run, are you taking time to notice [things around you]? What would be better about your life if you just slowed down? (And I haven’t even talked about the stress hormones that this constant rushing generates)

Whenever you find yourself getting worked up and starting to rush, start by reminding yourself to breathe, and back off your pace just a little. I find that repeating this to myself helps, too: “You have enough time. You’ll be just fine. Slow down, take your time.” When I calmed myself this way yesterday, I ended up being half an hour early for a speaking engagement when I’d worried much of the day that I’d end up being late.

The funny thing is that when you take your time, you seem to have more of it. Try this and watch what happens!

Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is a medical doctor, media wellness expert, transformational life coach, professional speaker, flamenco dancer and the author of Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You. She is available for keynote presentations, seminars, media commentary and private coaching – contact susan@susanbiali.com or visit www.susanbiali.com for more details.