Active Shooter Events: What they don’t tell you

Since I am heavily involved in my community as the Neighborhood Watch Committee Chairperson, I decided to attend the local police department’s 12-week Citizens Police Academy. We meet every Thursday evening for 2 – 3 hours, depending on the topic. I’ve learned about things such as SWAT, hostage negotiation, traffic stops, building searches, crime scene investigations and officer safety. Last week’s topic impacted me so much that I spent the drive home in tears.

The aforementioned topic was ASE, or Active Shooter Events. If that term is confusing, think ColumbineVirginia Tech or Fort Hood. Think of one or more person(s), armed with guns, attacking innocent groups of people, usually for revenge, fame or infamy, trying to rack up a high body count.

I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you that the topic itself is upsetting. While ASEs can be traced back to 1764 (really!), the increase in the last two decades is at the least alarming and at the most, terrifying. The presentation was Texas State University’s program to educate civilians about what ASEs are and how to deal with them if a person finds him/herself facing one. Local officers have delivered this presentation to all of the area school districts, some businesses, churches, military bases and hospitals. The local school district has incorporated “lockdown drills” along with the fire drills that have been routine for decades. I must admit, visualizing my teenage daughter going through a lockdown drill makes me sad and angry.

While I hate to give attention to negative things, hearing this presentation brought up a few issues in my mind. There was ONE slide in the PowerPoint that briefly addressed what someone may feel after going through a trauma like this. The officer that was teaching us started to gloss over the fact that many people develop PTSD and PTSD-like symptoms. Almost involuntarily, I shouted, “Getting help is not a sign of weakness! It’s a sign of strength!” Fortunately for me, the officer agreed and elaborated a bit more about the importance of getting professional help after going through an ASE.

The presentation also encouraged us to live life basically looking over our shoulders and preparing for worst-case scenarios every time we went into a public place. I don’t know about you, but I can’t live like that. That’s not even living, in my opinion. The presenting officer gave several examples from his own personal life that involved his wife and son, who have been encouraged to be constantly on alert for badness. How sad for them.

The bottom line is that sometimes people do horrific things. The reasons vary, but mental illness plays a large part in many of these tragic events. It’s up to us as people, citizens, parents, children, brothers, sisters, co-workers, neighbors and humans to not ignore others when they are showing signs of mental instability. It may feel like none of your business, but if this person ends up doing something horrible, will that excuse assuage your guilt? I’m calling everyone who reads this to action: let’s de-stigmatize mental illness and its treatment so that some tragedies can be prevented. I realize that this will not be a panacea for ASEs, but if even one crisis can be stopped before it has started, that will be a victory in my book.

[Original article may be found here]

To Reduce Stress-Simply Breathe

It’s been a while since we’ve posted but finally life seems to be quieting down (I probably shouldn’t say that too loud) and I’ve missed writing and connecting with each of you. Since opening the Midwest Mind Body Health Center in St. Louis last October, I’ve not had much time to “catch my breath” which is an excellent way to reduce stress and the subject of this post.

By learning to focus our attention on our breath “without judgement” we can help settle our bodies and minds which are often tense and overloaded. The breath offers an opportunity for mindful awareness because it occurs without us having to do anything.  All we have to do is “notice” the sensation of breath as it moves through our body. No more. No less.

If this sounds too good to be true it isn’t. Until I started studying mindfulness a few years ago, I didn’t believe these practices which include “breath awareness” could be so effective in relieving stress and tension but they can. In March there was even an article in the New York Times about mindfulness to reduce stress and worry. Seems everyone is catching the “mindfulness” bug.

To help you get started, here’s a link to the YouTube video I made so the students in my May “Mindful Stress Reduction Class” could practice “Simply Breathe”-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWmHn_YMsp8. However, as the NY Times article says, “If you don’t practice, it won’t work.”

So, here’s to your health one breath at a time. Enjoy!

Stress and Your Health

While most of us understand that chronic stress can be bad for our health, we may not realize how much it’s effecting us already. Warning signs of stress include: fatigue, trouble sleeping, headaches, irritable bowel, frequent infections, irregular heartbeat, worrying and feeling sad. Chronic stress may lead to or intensify health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and depression and anxiety.

During pregnancy, stress can contribute to premature labor, premature births and “too small babies born too soon” according the March of Dimes who is hosting their annual March for Babies nationwide next weekend. If you’re in Saint Louis, join Dr. Diane Sanford next Saturday, April 27 at the March to learn about how to reduce stress to prevent prematurity. For more on March for Babies Missouri and how to participate, click here.

The good news is it’s never too late to take action to reduce stress. The self-care tips you’ll find at livingselfcare.com, will help you make this change. You can also visit Dr. Sanford at the JCC’s Open House in Creve Coeur next Sunday, April 28 for health advice and stress relief recommendations..

Let There Be Light

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I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine, Chris Miles, founder of Global Exercise Group, a company offering a holistic approach to lower back pain, which he’s just launched. I called him because I needed his advice about a situation I’ve encountered where politics has led to good people being harmed. Knowing his business acumen and character, I thought he could help me sort this out. He did.

Chris left the corporate world last year after watching countless examples of good people being sacrificed to corporate politics while others became drones of the status quo. A world I’ve managed to avoid (mostly) by being self-employed for the last 20 years. In listening to him, I realized that unfortunately the situation I find myself in is much like he described.

Chris is one of the “lights” in my life, supporting me in doing the best I can as a business owner and person.  In The Four Agreements, one of my personal favorites, Don Miguel Ruiz’es Fourth Agreement is  “Always do your best,” and I believe as he does that each of us has a responsibility to do so.  What do we do then when we find ourselves in a situation where we are supposed to have the authority to make things better but aren’t allowed to due to politics? The solution I’m arriving at is to invest my energy instead in situations in which I can help create a positive outcome and let go of those I can’t.

Ah, the Serenity Prayer again. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

So, that’s my practice for this week. What about you?

Blessings

As I sit here listening to absolutely beautiful music play from www.aholyexperience.com, my thoughts turn to Stacey, my dear co-conspirator at livingselfcare, and how she’s doing. I’ve had a rough few weeks myself with becoming acutely ill after a great vacation, but when I read about her taking her mom in, I thought this post needs to be about her and the generosity of spirit she and many of you have.

Knowing that this decision would raise many discomforts for her, she chose it anyway, as women often do. I am always awestruck by such unselfishness and yet many of us dismiss what we’ve done as obligatory or no big deal. But, it’s so much more than that. It’s about being connected to life at a very deep level and knowing that relationships are the greatest wealth of all. What is more important than loving and being loved? This is what makes life worthwhile.

Please extend your blessings to Stacey and all who are in need of comfort and support as they undertake the challenges life presents. When you awake and when you lie down, offer a prayer of healing for them and you. I will, too.

(Stacey-This one’s for you).

Big Changes

Diane will be back posting next Monday after she gets back from her fabulous trip  to Spain! Hopefully we’ll get to hear all about it!

In the meantime, I wanted to share an experience of my own with you. My family and I recently decided that it was time for my mother to move in with us for several reasons. I felt such a mixture of emotions at the thought: happiness because I’ll see her more and because I’ll be there if she needs anything medically; apprehension because of our past relationship (though it has since been healed); and wariness that I might fall back into my childhood relationship patterns with her.

She’s only been here a couple of days and I have to keep myself from treating her like a guest. My impulse is to ask, “Can I do something or get something for you?” In reality, all she wants is to find her own way and settle into her own routine that is harmonious with ours. My offers to do things for her would just enable her to be more dependent than independent, and neither of us want that.

We have agreed on a code of complete honesty, even if that may mean hurt feelings. We have discovered the hard way through the years that mind reading is just not possible!

This is a big change for all of us, and I struggle to remember that. Holding myself back from offering things and allowing myself to be calm in spite of my mother’s habitual anxiety is a challenge. But my intuition is telling me that this is a good situation, so I’m focusing on an attitude of gratitude instead of stressing out. It’s not easy, but I am worth it – and so are YOU!

Have a Good Day

Today was a good day. It started this morning after a restful night’s sleep and having a warm, soothing cup of Zen tea. I spent some time online, looking for phones for my new office, did laundry, and watched “Income Property” during my excellent lunch of chicken wild rice soup my husband made. Yum.

Then I ran errands, went by my new office and bribed my sister to join me there with a container of my husband’s soup. She said she’d come by a week ago but hadn’t. It was good to have another set of eyes to look at how we’re finishing the space. We had a good laugh about how OCD we can be over furniture positioning, then went on our way.

(All readers who live in and around Saint Louis, are welcome to drop by my new location, the Midwest Mind Body Health Center at 501 N. Lindbergh on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday from 9-5. Call ahead to make certain we’re in-314-991-5666).

When I got home the sun was shining as I sat on my beautiful front porch sipping my Starbuck’s Pumpkin Latte. Even better, I got to do yoga and meditate outdoors. Finally, my husband Steve and I fixed dinner together and now I’m writing this blog. A fine ending to a good day.

This week, notice what you do that feels good, no matter how small. Remember, most good days are filled with smaller, enjoyable moments. Savoring life’s goodness decreases stress and improves health and well-being.

Enjoy your week!