Blazing New Trails – Tips to Step Up

 

The animal that is guiding me today is the dolphin.  “Dolphin speaks to us of the breath of life.” This is from the book Medicine Cards.  Studying and learning from the animals has always helped me in the greatest times of need.  Breath connects us with our inner wisdom of being human and is one of the keys to help release unwanted emotions.  These are times of great change and adjustments.  One of my adjustment activities that I referred to in my previous blog has emerged.  Writing is one such way to tap into this creativity and the other was the intention to encourage others as well as myself to take this phenomenon that has occurred in the world and find ways to step up for themselves and for the greater good.

As a child of the 70’’s I remember a television show called Flipper, the “talking” dolphin.  Flipper just flipped around in the water and talked dolphin.   I imagined what it would be like to swim around and dive deep within the blue ocean waters.  As an adult I still can dream of that feeling of freedom and presence with nature in my imagination. Turns out Dolphin is that symbolic connection to language, Divine Spirit and Mother Earth.  This is that time to link with others and be part of the solution rather than succumb to the fear/gloom/doom that bombards the mind daily.

Tip 1 – Actively Accept  Start where you are at.  Accept whatever mood state you are in as a result of the changes in lifestyle, job, routines in your life.  I wonder what the dolphin would do when encountering crisis in its environment.  One thing is certain, he/she would continue to breathe and do whatever is possible to retain the rhythmic flow.  Overthinking and panic aren’t part of the natural world.  Fear can be met with action.

Tip 2 – Assess your needs  Obviously, we all have the basic needs of shelter, food, air and water.  The emotional needs are just as crucial.  Our need to feel love and express love is at the heart of each person.  We all have a different level of what can satisfy these needs.  That’s why I strongly encourage people that I work with to assess the way their emotional needs are getting met or not.  It’s subjective and goes by how you feel.  Do you really feel loved?  Are you free to express love and feel safe?  Basic questions but so important!  Be honest with yourself.  If they are being met its easier to move out of survival living.  If there are gaps here, there are many things one can do to help get them met.  First set the intention you desire to have them met and set the plan for these needs to be met.  When these emotional needs are met, we are free to grow through adversities with courage and love in our hearts.

Tip 3 – Evaluate your relationships – Smothering or isolating – Where do you find yourself on the spectrum?  We aren’t used to so much togetherness – For me with kids grown it’s one thing, for others with a busy household, it would be another.  Managing with resilience rather than overwhelm would be the goal here.  It’s easy to say Be Kind but that is so important.  When we give in to our negative emotions, have a plan in place with your partner and family.  Let them know ahead of time what the plan is, what your stress style is and that you have made the choice to not only survive during this time but to find a new resilience and depth of life.  Whatever words you choose, you communicate the energy of our survival from our ancestors and consciously enter a new age of evolution and growth from adversity.

Tip 4 – Don’t lose sight of the Basics – Eat as healthy as you can.  Drink more clean water with lime/lemon, consider celery/green juices each morning, try new things, keep warm or cool as your body needs.  Check in with yourself intentionally using the Dolphin way of breathing.  There is a popular technique called the 4-7-8 breath.  This is easily found on YouTube and is a great practice to inhale, hold and exhale with rhythm.  Whenever we use breath consciously, we can connect to our inner wisdom and access this powerful energy we all carry.   I was out in nature today and found a little stream to experience and took the time to breathe – there was no where I really had to be in 5 minutes.   This may look very different for the workers during this crisis but doesn’t change the importance of caring for themselves while caring for others.

Wisdom from Dolphin

We will all swim through this dark and stormy night.

Connection to the power within your spirit is always accessible with your breath.

We have new opportunities to know ourselves and others better.

Break some of the old habits and barriers to your true potential and know that each step you take now has great possibilities/life lessons.

Know that you are Loved and Whole in the eyes of Spirit.  Use your energy to step up and ride the dark waves of uncertainty.

We are entering into new times…..

Uncharted Land Ahead – Caring For Your Emotions

 

The mountain lion showed up in my dream this week.  Here he was in the middle of the street outside our home.  He snarled and curled around me as he prepared his next step.  I froze yet remained acutely aware of what was happening.  It was the moment of the ages.  Suddenly, a neighbor walked outside and distracted the lion which worked to allow me the time to run to safety.  I was so grateful to this neighbor and the courage displayed.

The virus lion has made its appearance in our land and pounced on the top of our surprised heads.  Even though epidemics are no stranger to the world arena, they are to the US.  I now realize the complacency of my train of thought when it came to this subject.  Images of the Ebola crisis and all its tragedies would flash in my mind and I reacted with a complacent empathy of people worlds away.

The awareness of the global community is taking shape in a new way.  I can no longer sit in the bubble I’d been in basically my whole life and career.  What was this virus doing in my space?  Within the last week, I have ridden the roller coaster of emotions that may be expected in a crisis like this – one we had so little preparation for – so little real knowledge.  As a psychotherapist I witness many types of emotional traumas yet feel ill prepared for the collective reaction I am seeing now.  The aftermath of 9/11 is as close to that as I have experienced, and I thought that was huge.   It feels to me like the snowball is unloosed from the mountain, grows bigger each second and is on the path of destruction with anything in its path.  Only this little virus can’t be seen.  To be honest, my anxiety felt like its own snowball and I saw the land of feeling out of control in my sight.  At this writing there is snowballs flying around but the landscape is changing.

My First Step

The antidote for stress is creativity.  I don’t know how many times I have told that to people. I say it because I believe it.  The test is now.  The test is NOW.   I started this creativity search with an intention.  And that was to find my way back to a sense of control and well-being and to do it in the most loving way possible.  Connecting love in this intention is important for as we know, love carries with it the highest energy frequency in the body.  Love Heals All is one of those spiritual wisdoms and my guiding light.  It’s been murky lately so as I’ve done before in my life, it’s back to step one.  In the 12-step program that step indicates a surrender to what you are feeling/experiencing and allowing openness for help from Divine/Spirit/Higher power.

Step 2 – Education

I’m learning, listening, and taking it all in.  What is fact/fiction and all the gray?  Given that there remains unknows, this gray awareness is important to understand.  I chose the sources I felt best reflected the govt, science and the spiritual community.  I began the filtering process from more the observer perspective and tried to keep my alarmist personality tendencies at bay.

Colorful enneagram of personality diagram in white background

There are distinct personality types that we all have as humans.  They exist in humanity so we can get the job of living done.  Understanding your own personality type can empower you when you experience your “automatic” reactions and wonder where they came from.  The enneagram is one such personality test I often suggest.  There are several tests out there but this one is free and takes relatively little time to take…and time is what we might have a little more of these days.  https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test

Once you have this knowledge, you can use this information to understand some ways to take more control of your thoughts and emotions and simply be kinder to yourself.  Kindness and survival emotions of fear and anger don’t mingle well.

Step 3 – Get busy…. with adjusting activities.  Worry/concern is one thing – engaging with the fear or other negative emotions is the immune buster.  I can make a list now of the new stressors that have developed as a result of what’s happening and felt on the edge of a big screaming roller coaster deep dive until I realized I was there.  It was so easy to get there as all of this took me by surprise.  This is the first day of the rest of your life.  Another common phrase that I will often refer to that until now was underappreciated.  Here is a list of adjusting activities that I am beginning to develop for these times.  Check back for more in the future.

Adjusting Activities for Mental Health

  1. Start the day with meditation. Find your style whether it be prayer, conscious breathing, singing chants, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, or a gratitude practice.  Do it every day.  60-120 minutes is the goal!
  2. Develop a new daily routine – and treat it as such. Any new habits take awhile to gel so set the intention and be reassured that you are made for this.  The human body needs routines and after an initial resistance will cooperate.  Respect your unique situation.  Play something motivational.  I’m listening to one of Tony Robbins audio books for that. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself can be eye-opening as well.
  3. Take special attention to your diet. This is not the time for processed food.  Immune boosting foods need to be the focus for all of us.
  4. Connect with others! We’ve been hearing a lot about that in the media.  Go with that!  There are so many great formats/technologies.  Be open to visiting with neighbors.  In modern times, this has gone by the wayside.  Community may be making a comeback.
  5. Get outside – That’s another no-brainer. If you can’t get out that day look outside, focus on something you see and stay with it and listen to that inner intuitive voice.    What I’m beginning to realize is….
  6. Start a journal of some kind. We are living in historic times.
  7. Have faith that this too shall pass.

The mountain lion symbolizes courage, leadership, strength, integrity and grace.  What animal may be showing up in your path?  Be aware and let’s step forward together.

Non-Pharmaceutical Ways To Manage Depression, Anxiety and Stress

NON-PHARMACEUTICAL WAYS TO MANAGE AND OVERCOME DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND STRESS

My work as clinical social worker and psychotherapist has evolved greatly since I started in the late 80’s.  Historically, the pharmaceutical industry has influenced the treatment of mental health. When I began to realize some of the negative impacts and limitations that it had, I started the slow process of learning a new way of thinking about mental health treatment and realized that I wasn’t the only one with limitations.  The Dr.’s and prescribers were limited and dependent in large part to what the medical community was given. My intentions had always been in giving others healthy options to overcome their challenges but found they had fallen short due to my lack of information and misinformation by the culture.  My practice has now developed a more holistic and integrative model.  There are times when medications are needed but far less than before.   The following is a list of strategies, practices and product options that I have found effective in recovery and healing.   This list is informational only as choosing what is best for you is individual and intuitive to each person.

 

TALK THERAPY – Building a trusting relationship with a provider is the foundation for growth.  Most therapeutic modalities – all those evidence-based ones – have at it’s core a positive rapport with the person.  That is why choosing the right therapist can be tricky.  We all have unique backgrounds with our own personality style and emotional triggers or allergies as I like to call them.  The heart of growth is this connection.   Remember any teacher that you put your trust in?  Trust on any level is powerful.  I base my practice from a background of cognitive behavioral and trauma theories, systemic family and relationship modalities and an eclectic blend of spirituality, natural healing, and psychosomatic healing approaches.  There are so many effective ones out there in this age of technology.  I’ve incorporated apps, YouTube, and other tools that can help learn/understand a current challenge.

 

RELATIONSHIP EMPOWERMENT – Most of us grew up in a time when roles were prescribed and planned in one way or another.  We survived because our ancestors found some of these traditions were crucial in this survival.  They did their job and now we are evolving!  This is exciting yet can be pretty threatening to the old ways of living.  Embracing who we are as individuals while creating loving relationships is at the heart of this evolution.  I facilitated workshops over the last year called Living from the Power of your Heart.  There is an empowerment wave going on in the world and we are part of it.  This takes education, knowledge, skills and support…and lots of it!  That is one of my roles as a therapist – I find ways to teach, coach, practice and create a positive environment for this evolution.  My teachers have come from the relationship education, attachment theory and a comprehensive relationship skill program called PAIRS.  Lori Gordon developed this program to find real strategies to solve the puzzles that pain and conflict can create in love relationships.   Sue Johnson is one of the researchers and teachers that have helped others understand how critical it is to get our emotional bonding needs met from infancy until the end of our lives.

 

NUTRITION/SUPPLEMENTS – Science and wisdom are the keys here.  Mood is entwined with how we feed and care for our brain.  We now know so much more about what to eat to function at our best.  When we are feeling anxious or depressed, our old survival centers of the brain tend to take over and we are drawn to comfort food, caffeine, alcohol, sugar etc.  It’s essential to find the supports to overcome these old habits and urges, make the changes and feel the rewards of a healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet.  Hydration is a key.  I’ve added in a large glass of celery juice each morning to help get a good start for the day.  I was skeptical but now I’m a believer and happy that I created a good habit in my morning routine.  There are others such as starting the AM with the juice of ½ to one whole lemon or lime.  Add it to water immediately upon awakening.  It sends a detox signal to your body.  I often suggest this to the clients I work with to help flush the effects of stress from their bodies.  It’s simple but over time very effective.  Dan Amen has done extensive research on nutrition and the brain and specific foods to focus on.   Minimizing or eliminating sugar, gluten, caffeine and dairy are good starting points for anyone to consider improving mood and heal the body.

Finding the right supplements for your body is another key.  There are many schools of thought about all the things you should take to feel better.  The best antidepressants aren’t always pharmaceuticals.  Nature and smart science can help.  In the Jan. 2020 issue of Psychology Today, there are four compounds that can significantly impact mood.  Omega 3’s, Curcumin, Vitamin C and Magnesium.  According to this research it would take about 3 tablespoons of turmeric to equal the dose or 250-500 mg of Curcumin.  I have worked with a Superfood blend of herbs and antioxidants called MIND to supplement as well.  http://hbnaturals.com/newpath

 

SPIRITUATLITY – One of the indicators for a healthy relationship is a shared spirituality.  I explain this to couples this way:  Most of us didn’t grow up in families where this was safely and freely done.  We usually passed on what we grew up with or a version of its opposite based on what our parents experienced.  Shared spirituality is learning how to discuss what’s meaningful to each other and how they see their purpose for living on this planet at this moment in time.   It’s learning how to create a depth within ourselves given the ancient truth that each of us is born with an essence to love and be loved that goes beyond just mere survival.  We want to grow, thrive and feel safe.  Most of us got stuck in stress which created a shutdown of the heart, keeping us stuck in the old patterns of survival.  There is a wave of change coming.  We now have the tools available to evolve and reach our potentials like never.  The key is finding tools to learn and a place to practice these new skills.  The rewards are great.

 

GROUNDING PRACTICES – Everyone needs grounding practices to cope with this highly energized and computerized culture.  We are constantly exposed to EMF’s from environment, our devices and screen time.  Daily body breathing, meditation, energetic techniques to remove stress and spending time in nature are so important.  The simple act of shaking your body gently with the intention of releasing stress can help when triggered.  Animals do this naturally.  In my practice we pick out the types of grounding exercises best suited for the individual.  Doing something is the key. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, are among some of the ancient arts that have stood the test of time.  Developing a basic EMF protocol is new and very important for the brain. Again, temperament, body type and your current situation all play a part in what is best for you.  Recently, I began incorporating Donna Eden’s energy routine to my list of things I do.  Learning to trace your meridians can make a difference.

 

AROMATHERAPY – I have practiced as an aromatherapist for several years.  I was drawn to the energy of these essences after I experienced a healing using them.  I “woke up” to the plants and to a new relationship with them.  There are several essential oils that specifically help mood and emotional health.  I usually will suggest the ones that may be effective depending on your situation.  My favorites today (and they can change) are Red Mandarin, Eucalyptus radiata, Ravintsara and Lavender Vera.  They help with mood and cold symptoms.  There are blends to motivate, calm, empower and awaken our sensual/sexual selves.

 

DEVELOPING INTUTION – I once heard the term “Blue sense” when referring to the intuitive abilities of police officers.  There was a training for the officers to help them develop these skills.  We all have intuitive knowledge that is available to us.  These skills have not been taught most likely do to old fears/myths from past connections to “psychics” and witches.  These beliefs are old and do not serve our evolving culture anymore.  Wisdom of the heart is connected to love, authenticity and living to our fullest potential. One tool to help tune in is called muscle testing.  It’s a way to use your own body to connect to your inner wisdom.  It takes some practice but it’s worth it.  Men and women find their own style to tap into themselves.  The Heart Brain Coherence practice is one such way to find these answers.  Check out my earlier blogs for the full exercise.

 

PHYSCIAL EXERCISE – This is essential for mood health.  You don’t have to run any races or meet some lofty goals.  But you do need something to “Just Do it” The important thing here is finding a way to connect to your body and move.  We are often told to rest if we get injured but the logistics of this is limited.  Rest is good for a brief time only.  Our bodies need to communicate through movement.  Low mood or negative thinking puts a cloud over motivation.  I like to find the tricks to side step this cloud and float through it.  Even marching in place saying the affirmation, I am up and ready, I am up and ready, can start the movement.  Creativity is the anecdote to stress.  If one strategy doesn’t work, find another.  I utilize YouTube often to access some of these strategies so you can try out some of these,

 

 

ALPHA STIM – For relief of anxiety, depression and insomnia, Alpha-Stim is a revolutionary tool which helps regulate the body’s own electrical impulses in a safe, easy and comfortable way. The primary distinctive feature in a medical device is the wavefrom, and the Alpha-Stim has a uniquely effective waveform. The application of direct electrical treatment to the brain, along with our treatment protocols for target problems also make the difference that no other device has been able to emulate.

Alpha-Stim is very safe and easy to use. The current is applied by easy-to-use clips that attach on the ear lobes. Used just 20-60 minutes every day, every other day, or on an as needed basis, Alpha-Stim can help induce a pleasant, relaxed feeling of wellbeing. Only one out of 506 people will experience a mild headache, and one out of 910 will have a skin reaction at the electrode site. There are no other significant side effects reported in over 40 research studies.

 

 

LIFEWAVE TECHNOLOGY – While on the path of my own healing journey I discovered these patches that facilitate healing through light frequency – “phototherapy”.  These patches use nanotechnology; tiny molecules of oxygen, amino acids, sugars and water that are put together in a homeopathic matrix sandwiched inside the impermeable waterproof patch materials.  Nothing enters the body.  The effect is purely energetic – a signaling mechanism so to speak.  As the patches are placed on the body, it starts to frequency modulate the body’s field of energy, much like a radio frequency modulates the radio waves to get a radio stations signal.   Each patch has a different organic crystalline structure and is designed to balance different body systems through the infrared light spectrum of energy.

Research has shown that you can change a cell’s function by giving it a chemical message or a non-chemical signal.  A chemical message would be a supplement for example.  Life Wave would be a non-chemical signal.  It’s like when you go out into the sun and your skin tans.  The cells of the body respond to the frequency of energy (light) to produce melanin as well as Vitamin D.  When Life Wave patches are placed on specific meridian points, the messaging system is enhanced greatly because the meridians already serve as a superhighway of information.

The patches designed specifically for mood, inflammation, energy, metabolism and immune health.  I have experimented with a variety of patches for health, mood and repair.  I have found them to be effective in my own healing and energy.

 

This summary is designed to highlight the more natural treatments I use in my practice and my own life to positively impact mood and mental health.  I find the more I practice and tune into my wise heart, the more abundant life becomes.  My belief is that we all deserve abundance in whatever form that will shine.  I welcome your comments and questions.   This is the year of the heart.  May we all find some new ways to let love flow.   Tina M Johnson, LCSW relatecommunicate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swirling from Survival to Thrival

I feel like I’m in recovery from my life and that it is hurling me into another world.  Swirling and hurling me to parts unknown.  I’m beginning a new journey that is calling on me to dig deep.  I’m talking about the transition from living amidst the midwestern culture and its lifestyles and the work practice of psychotherapy in my office for many years to the new online therapy.  I started my first job after graduate school at the Center for Parents and Children in Moorhead, MN in 1985. I’ve moved through several sites in the area but always been in the vicinity.   Since moving to Cottonwood, AZ a month ago I’ve been immersed in changes.  Although I moved around ND as a child and went away to school for a short time in my 20’s, this move feels epic and new.  A new climate, new environment, no cable TV and no one I know at the grocery stores.  After being in Fargo all my career life, life itself moved to provide a space to change and move.  Translation, my adult kids moved away, and I no longer “had” to stay as I’d done through my parent life which as I’ve been calculating is quite a long time.

Recovery – The images of treatments, addictions, suffering, medical providers in white coats linger.  Two definitions of recovery are: the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost and the other is:  a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

These definitions have elements of truth in my case – somewhere along the line I lost sight of my own big picture.  This often happens somewhere in childhood when life’s hurts and stressors pull in.  I lost the feeling of my “beautifulness” and took on the challenges of life as if my life depended on it which, of course it did in the survival mode that I existed.  I hear this term “being in survival” a lot in today’s healing circles and the workshops this year that I organized were all about identifying your own survival beliefs and learning to live from the power of your heart.  Recovering from our past conditioning is one of the key aspects of moving out of survival and into a state of thriving or “thrival”.

There are various levels in both surviving and thriving.  There is no wrong or right way to judge here.  We may need many years in the denial levels to prepare us for the leap into light and presence of joy.  We may be one of those old souls who just moves to what their life purpose was meant to be without some of the mess. We come into this world with this beautiful energy that seems to captivate those around us with love and acceptance.  Then, flash forward a couple of decades from birth and we may find ourselves looking for love in all the wrong places when life goes awry.  Then we wonder what happened. This survival begets self-medicating in whatever way, shape or form is the one you choose.   And that’s when recovery can manifest.  You don’t always have to “hit rock bottom”  Any negative emotion felt for any length of time can make you feel out of control.  Pain of any kind can be a wake up signal.  I’m always talking about the need for tools to deal with our life circumstances.  Knowledge is power and finding the right support is a key to success.

 

I’ve had a break in the action so to speak.  Decreasing my workload to the online mode created many changes.  No office to maintain, no set routine, and less time on the job were a few.  Downsizing was a mental ordeal.  My brain resisted disconnecting with “stuff” that had become unnecessary over the years.  I got a sense of the timelessness of time as I sorted through box after box.  The golden nugget here was the support I got from my husband.  His brain is geared to organize so the ordeal factor was different for him.  Not all couples can balance one another in this dept so I kept the gratitude comments flowing as he slogged through most of it, made multiple trips to thrift stores and packed up the rest.  My heart knew what was ahead.  My head was trying to keep up while my physical body moved in and out of resistance and stiffness…. preparing to move in to flow and flexibility along with strength and vitality, right?  Not so fast my dear.  Recovery is a process.

“It all boils down to this. Self-love. We’ve got to learn how to love ourselves. “This was spoken by a wise old soul I met in my new neighborhood, a man who looked like sailor who’d seen the world and tasted it all.   I’ve been hearing some of the tales of peoples lives here in Cottonwood and this one had light all over it.  So, how is this recovery going?  It’s starting.

The first step is awareness.  The minute I step into fear and survival I get a minute to get back out.  Then what?  Then I look for another way to release and change the old way of thinking – the practice of self compassion.  I have connected with one of the Sedona healers for support in this emotional repatterning.  This is a new phrase to transform negativity and old memories by bringing these old concepts out into the open and consiously releasing them.   Here in the Sedona area there are many seekers and dream visionaries as well as many retirees and those who grew up here.  When I observe others through the lens of self-compassion vs judgement and labeling it’s a much richer experience.  I realize how easy, especially coming from the Midwest it is to be hard on oneself or project it out to others in irritation, dismissive attitudes or denial.  The 12-step recovery program that I’ve often referred to in my work over the years is taking shape for me now.  Step one is about surrender.  I am admitting what I need to admit and finding someone to support and be present with me during the process.  There is a book that was suggested by a healer called the 12 Stages of Healing by Don Epstein.  I’m finding we can go through them, “arrive” and must start them all over again with another level of healing and clearing.  It’s OK!  The rewards are dreams and visions being realized.

What I’m more aware of at this stage of my life and career is the importance of congruence and lining my life up in harmony with who I am and the skills and experience that I bring to the table.  I am opening myself up to love and learning this ancient and divine language that somehow got mired up in the human conundrums of doing the right thing or wrong thing depending on the times.  I’m taking a Qi Gong class at the community college and all I can say is “Wow”.  I am learning about the infinite spirals that swirl within all connected in some ways to our emotions.  The body is the container we’ve got.  This container of mine is learning through all the sensations, pain patterns, and symptoms it’s given. This break in the action is powerful.  There is no right or wrong time to learn, take breaks or grow.  Start with the intention to be your best self in the service of the Divine.  I met the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Cottonwood and asked him how he had arrived in this area from the east coast.  He chuckled and said it was a long story but that the short of it was it was a “God thing”.

This blog is about the process.  Writing is about the process of a story unfolding or an idea evolving.  My belief is we all have this “God thing” within although for many of us it takes some serious uncovering and searching.  One of the most powerful tools to help keep us on the best path is one to build our sense of self love – the Quick Coherence technique from Heartmath Institute.  I write about this often for a good reason.  It works and can easily be forgotten in life’s whirlwinds.

This is an updated version from the Heart-Based Living workshop in June presented by Deborah Rozman, Heartmath President.

2 Steps:

  1. Focus your attention around the heart.  Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area finding a little slower and deeper rhythm than usual.  This is a breath of ease.  Suggestion is 5 seconds inhale and 5 seconds exhale.
  2. Make a sincere effort to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Suggestion – Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment etc. or focus on calm or ease.

I appreciate any feedback on those who work with this.  For more information seek out the Heartmath research institute and learn more about the wisdom and guidance of YOU!  Being in the Sedona, AZ area the You is more than you think! Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filling Up My Empty Cup

I built a “blanket fort” on the 2nd floor balcony of our childhood home in Jamestown, ND. These forts began to take form the summer after our move from Williston, ND. At the age of 10, I turned that mini-retreat place (away from my 4 brothers) into my candy eating haven – mostly chocolate bars, Dots, Sweet tarts and the like. I imagine my self-huddling in this haven and feeling the sweet numbness of the treats. We lived just across the street from a Red Owl grocery store, so the source was close by. I still wonder where I got the money. My child self-felt the need to fill up those empty spots that grew bigger after our move. I’m watching her now with a new feeling of compassion.
Hypno-therapy is a well-established tool to help uncover and treat problems of many sorts. It’s used in many disciplines such as dentistry, psychology, medicine and spirituality. It works by creating windows into our sub-conscious mind, to learn more about the sources of our problems and find ways to re-write the old scripts with more desired and updated ideas. I was trained in hypnosis during my graduate school years and was motivated to find my own style of opening those windows in the most relaxing way possible. Interestingly, I never experienced hypnosis formally myself beyond the training practices. Recently, I was referred by another professional to try it to help further treat some of the stomach issues that had surfaced. Being a psychotherapist myself, I knew the basic steps and was curious how this person was show up in her style.
She was prepared by information she received prior to the appt. She had it diagramed on a whiteboard what topics seemed to surface given my interests/experiences in life as well as some common themes in life that might relate. Hmmm. This was a 3- hour appt and I wondered what kind of a trance state I would find. What is a trance state? Trance states vary from person to person. In fact, we all experience altered trance like states each day. It’s the idea of time perception – that feeling that you get when you watch a great movie and how fast it seemed to go or at the other end of the spectrum, a bad movie and watching the clock counting down for its end. When we get into trance states, our sense of time may be altered. When we sleep, get involved in some interest or book or any number of things that can capture our attention that can be another example of altered states. The intensity varies as well – from light, medium to deep levels of relaxation. All trance states can be windows to the subconscious and the wisdom of this level of our mind. 
The reason I made the appointment was to address some belly issues that had become a problem and was suggested to try this by a chiropractor. I’ve been open to try many healing techniques over the years to find relief for one thing or another and experience new strategies that may help others that I work with. The induction or relaxation time was like what I’d known, and I tried my best to “Relax” and let my mind sink down into that zone of calm but what I experienced was something different. My muscles gripped for dear life in a spot on my upper back making finding that quiet zone almost impossible. I waited for relief, but it didn’t come. The therapist started in that area and we connected with a memory from my teenage years. We stayed there for quite awhile despite my frustrations and wanting to get up and move around. What I found remarkable was the importance of staying with this pain and seeing it through so to speak. I learned that it was connected to the gripping tension/fear I felt while in a car with let’s just say unsafe drivers. I also began to realize the reasons for how I ended up in that spot and the emotions that led me there. The young girl in her blanket fort felt some of the emptiness – feeling alone, unaccepted and sad. This was the opening to self-compassion and the therapist was good at weaving a new way to understand that part of my history. I can feel this new acceptance beginning to grow each time I have a trigger. The interesting thing about doing this kind of treatment is the outcome. How it is translated to life is unique to each person. For me, I think it has helped although I won’t be able to analyze this until some time passes…. that the important thing now is to just live in the best manner possible. Self-compassion is another concept that is growing in importance in life today.  My colleague and I  recently presented  the Living from the Power of Your Heart workshop and can more clearly see the importance in identifying and living your own truth with self- love and acceptance.
Most of us grew up without these concepts and tools readily available – our parents were too busy surviving. I feel blessed to be able to cultivate what my gifts and talents are and navigate with more support. I now have gratitude towards my parents and the families that they grew up in. This way of thinking holds more energy than the “if only they would have…. or why did or didn’t they….? The resulting emotions of this line of thinking is negative. Now, new learnings are on the radar and within our reach – to awaken and choose which path we will take to thrive in this life despite our external circumstances. How do we get started? Just say to your self I want to start living a better life. It reminds me of the first steps of the 12-step recovery program. I admit my life is undesirable (in some way) and I’m willing to reach out for support. Spiritually connecting to God as you see God is the next act of faith.
Question to God…why did I have to feel empty? Why is life so hard sometimes?
Answer from God…. To be who you are now. Humans are good at suffering. You don’t have to.
I plan to go back to experience another hypno-therapy session to see where my body will take me and what my subconscious mind will allow up so to speak. When you are working with the subconscious, the best thing to do is sit back and observe. The more we learn to tune into our inner worlds the more in control we will feel. I don’t have the answers to the belly puzzle or the exact nature of my symptoms, but I feel the benefit in the decreased reactivity of my body. Re-wiring our minds after any type of trauma can be tricky but if you set the intention and go after it you will find your own path to wellness and joy.

Compassion is the essential oil that will help lift our frequencies as we evolve and change. It is a blend of Patchouli, Marjoram, sweet, Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Sandalwood and Lavender fine.    http://www.goDesana.com/newpath

Ode to the blanket fort

I built you for me, for privacy.

I played and felt the wind wisp around my walls of protection.

Safe inside this soft cocoon I yearned for satiety,

Finding temporary comfort until a new time.

Filling my cup has been a lifetime journey that I can only now begin to put a perspective on.  Where are you in your journey?  Now is always a good place to begin.

Practice Announcement:

As of April 30th I will no longer be seeing clients in my current office location.  We are planning to move to AZ  later this Spring and will be preparing for that.  I will continue to stay in practice as I will be licensed in AZ, working via computer and phone to provide the same services.  Most insurance companies are in line with this delivery of therapy so keep this in mind for any future connections.  I am putting in practice many of the life skills I have learned/experienced over the years.  What a stress potential!  Yet, with all the uncertainities my intention is to manage with positive base and keep the fears in check.  I’ve got my tool chest close by.   I’ll be updating my blogs/website as we go along. 

 

Empowerment – Hearing the Call of Your Heart

Our society is rumbling and shaking with all the changes and constant distractions of today.  We can be engaged in technology all day long and many days we may seem like it feels that we are.  I confess that I just spent 5 hours on an audio book and more hours afterward researching the life of Lucille Ball, finding dozens of You Tubes to sort through.  The question that occurred to me was what was driving me to do this?  I experienced the emotional memories of the zany comedy of Lucy and compared it to the reality of her life as I watched the documentaries on her troubled marriage, parenthood in her 40’s and how she coped with her life and searched for love – of self and another.  We humans have been at this for many generations…. slow emotional learners that we are.  The beauty of these times is its potential.  These upheavals and innovations can create action and now it is time to cultivate the tools of the heart which have been around but not easily accessible to most of us.  Times are beginning to change thanks in part to technology.  We are readier than ever before.  When I looked into the eyes of Lucy I saw both the pain and the sparkle she had for creating  love within her life. 

Recently I  studied the symbolisms of some of  ancient  Greek gods/goddesses and was touched by the powerful metaphors to our parts of self. Yes, I did take a college class on this at then Mary College in Bismarck during my freshman year.  Sister Theresa taught the class.  I tried to listen, I really did…. Aphrodite was the goddess of love and Athena was the goddess of wisdom – thought.  The head and the heart. Each god/goddess had their own associations with personality traits/characteristics.  They actually had a rather elaborate system in place to represent human life at the time. I remember seeing the huge statue of Athena in Nashville, TN.  They had a statue of this pagan goddess  in Nashville’s  replica of the Parthenon in Greece.  This was Nashville’s early attempt to display their cities committment to learning and enlightenment.  This was, of course, prior to the country music influence.

One of the exercises that I use in my work with couples is called Parts party.  We identify all our “parts” of self-using various associations like Wicked witch of the west, The angel, Madonna,  The Hero  or even Wendy whiner.  We then go on to act out these parts and help them cooperate and accept each other as they are – but the heart of this exercise is to synchronize these parts with the heart – to live as the person we truly are.  As you may imagine, this is not the easiest to do but when we can “see” our parts in process we can experience how it feels to live by your parts (your ego self) or your authentic self.   We humans are very curious which creates the  quest for self understanding and  meaning for our lives.  What really were we put on this earth to do?  My quest has led me to practice and study love.  What a journey that has been!

Our new workshop, Living from the Power of Your Heart, embodies this evolution of finding accessible and a basic toolkit for opening this relationship with your heart.  Our next workshop date is March 23, 2019 from 10 AM -4 PM.  This is a small group setting which makes it a perfect environment to create our heart’s desires and intentions for the future.  Since my decision to focus on empowerment for myself new doors emerged, and this workshop is one of its fruits.  For me, this empowerment felt energizing despite the extra work that it required.  From there it seemed to merge into a desire for a better understanding about my physical body and questions about empowering it.  More doors opened as I began to take steps to get the tests, discern the best course and make the changes I needed to heal/improve my body.  It was a surprise that a no sugar diet would be one of those choices I made to improve and empower my insides.  The standard American diet is so hard on us!  I was in denial…. I believed my mostly vegetarian diet was already healthy.   Where are the support groups?  They should have them at each clinic site along with knowledge/nutrition centers that people can easily access.   This was a huge shift.  Americans now eat about 57 lbs. of added sugar per year!  When I realized the addictive nature of sugar mimics other addictions in the brain I was hit with a realization that shocked me.  I grew up within the sugar and processed food culture and had bought into it on many levels.  Suddenly something clicked.

Timing is essential here.  We all did the best we could do to survive what we needed to live through – and the fact that you have found this article reflects your present readiness for something new.  This workshop will focus on setting your intention of your heart’s desire which is connected to your original blueprint for life.  Spiritually there are many ways to consider this but the truth here is in the process of finding this unique wisdom that you have always carried and find the way to peel off some of the stress layers of survival to reveal this beautiful truth of your life.  My website www.relatecommunicate.com has a video to further explain this.  Check it out!

I Love is the essential oil blend that Alexandria Brighton created for the heart energy center.    This is the center of our experience of love. It is where we develop love and attachment to our family members, close friends, and others with whom we come to have close relationships. Our sense of security in family and community comes from the development of the Heart center. “When we are loved unconditionally, we learn to give love unconditionally. If we were taught that we would only be loved if we acted a certain way, or did certain things, then we may not be able to love without conditions being attached within our close relationships. When it is unblocked, we give love unconditionally and attract to ourselves those people who give us an abundance of love. When it is blocked, we feel the lack of love in our lives.as keenly as those with Sacral center blockages feel a lack of material security.   This information was summarized from the goDesana website and reflects the research.

Ingredients include:  100% Pure, Certified Organic and Wildcrafted oils of Rose, Clary Sage, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang Complete, Rosewood, Palmarosa, Spikenard, Neroli, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Lavender, fine; Dragon’s Blood, Cedarwood, atlas; Elemi, Grapefruit, pink; Marjoram, sweet; Pettitgrain, Cypress, and Jojoba

This essential oil  blend also contains calming and grounding properties.  Some have been used since Biblical times such as Spikenard, Jasmine, Sandalwood and Cedarwood.  Since this workshop is in my office, we will be able to learn/sample some of these oils that are in the I Love Blend.  http://www.goDesana.com/newpath

Winter is beginning to wind down.  I feel it as I feel the sun through the window (still too cold to really go outside) and anticapate the new beginnings of the Spring season.

As always please let me know if you have questions or need support.

 

Fargo to Croatia – The Unknown becomes Known

 

The trip was scheduled – off to see the country of my husband’s birth.  Did I know much about this country of Croatia?  Did I ever remember studying it school?  I remembered Bulgaria because I did a school report on this little known in America country when I was a 5th grader.  When I met my husband, he had to draw a diagram of the eastern European countries, so I could get a visual on how the former country of Yugoslavia was set up.  

Yugoslavia was created in 1918 as a gift of the world to Serbs who risked everything during the Great War.  It was built on the ruins of two empires, Austro Hungary and Ottoman, bridging West and East.  This country is rich in history from the  beginning of time.  I won’t go into any more details about the history of these countries as it is complex and layered with many peoples and rulers.  I made an attempt to summarize the important aspects of Croatia’s history and had flashbacks of college  research papers – finding the “right” info fast and easy.  This approach  – outdated and stressful for this sensitive, brave soul  so I created a new approach…how did I feel when I was a part of this country’s world?

I made the trip to Croatia alone as my husband was already there visiting family.  It seemed to take such a long time to pack and prepare for this adventure – I consulted travel guides and friends who were in unison to the pack light phrase.  I still chose to check a big suitcase but pared down to the essentials.  My rain jacket was an excellent choice as I wore it on the one rainy day we had in the city of Pula.  My cousin lent me over the head scarfs to use as light cover ups to provide variety to the few tops I brought, were light and spiced my look up.  Good tip.  The plane was late from Fargo to Chicago.  My mood?  Mixed with anxiety, body in reactive mode from hip/shoulder issues and a little down about my ability to withstand this kind of trip.   My first journal entries weren’t lighthearted like I would have preferred.  The difference here is the awareness of my state of mind/body.  I observed the stream of negativity and just let it go onto the pages of my paper.  We were late arriving to Chicago and it looked questionable.   I literally “almost ran” with my purse and orange rolling backpack in tow.  I heard my name in the overhead speakers giving last call for the doors would be closing any minute.  My heart was in the zone – My lungs were on overload as I made my way there.  I had the image of Fred Sanford on Sanford and Son holding his chest saying” it’s the big one Elizabeth.”  I made it to my seat on the plane and the door was shut.  Luckily my seat was close, and the flight attendants were kind.  They offered me water.  After all, I’d upgraded myself to business class…now that made me smile.  Some luxuries in life are out of reach but at this time in my life, I made it a priority and for me the investment was worth it.  It made the overseas leg of the trip much better.

We arrived in Munich 8 hours later – the connecting trip to Zagreb was late and we had to take a bus to get to our airplane.  Once in the air, the pilots of Lufthansa apologized several times for the 45-minute delay – he sounded sorry and noted that it was unusual in this airport.  Once I got to Zagreb, it took time to confirm that my luggage had stayed in Chicago.  It would be 4 days before I would see it again.  Good thing I was wearing long pants with the zip off option into shorts.  The first night was spent at a lovely hotel called the Esplanade.  We were lucky to have a cousin who worked there.  It is a 5-star hotel that had origins with the Orient Express stopping there with all their luxury passengers from Paris to Istanbul.   Now this train only travels this route once a year and I don’t think it stops in Zagreb now.  I happily fell into the softness of the sheets and ate homemade cheese pie and baklava that my husband’s cousin packed for him.  The mood of the trip’s beginning had evolved.  The Aleve that I had taken had probably helped too along with all the amenities and clear weather of the flight.  Gratitude expressed!

The next day we traveled to Pula, the coastal town of Istria.  A side note, Croatian buses are not equipped with restrooms.  After 3 hours we finally stopped at the gas station….one of the male passengers had to ask with pain on his face to pull over to the side of the road and there it was.  Pula is a beautiful sea side town that is peppered with Roman ruins and cultural influences from Italy, Austria/Hungary, and Venetian among others.  Its ancient connections are such a difference from Fargo’s culture.  Here history is measured differently so as I traveled I was overcome with awe in the remnants such as the Roman Amphitheater, monuments and huge gateways constructed to create the grand presence of the times.  I’ve never traveled to see the original Roman architecture but now have the feel of it.  We stayed at the seaside resort called Del Mar.  This was a new (2011) resort with all the amenities of the family vacation – food, music (think loud 80’s American rock) and an assortment of other types of fun.  It was busy, noisy and after the initial emotional meltdown, I got to appreciate the charm of the small apt.  The first night was an adjustment from the 5-star hotel in Zagreb. The music drowned out the non-vegetarian friendly menu and I left in frustration to find the little grocery store.  Once inside I stared at the yogurt shelves unable to read the language of what types of product they were.  A woman reached in front of me and took all the containers of yogurt I thought I wanted and I just stood there – frozen, tired and teary.  I would say I got lost in the adjustment of my sensitive brain.  Research points to about 20% of the population born with a finer attunement to energies of all types, keener pain and other emotional signals.  In other words, it’s hard to just hang out and enjoy.  Yet, joy and freedom are worth the efforts of our experiences.  This knowledge has helped me understand some of the challenges of changes, being around other people and managing the mind.  I’m also developing more appreciation for this minority of people.  We are vital to the whole!  Appreciate yourself despite the circumstances.  It helps.

Pula is the home of the Roman amphitheatre or the Arena.  It is known as the emblem of the ctiy and was built in the first century.  It was rennovated by Augustus and is the 6th largest among the preserved amphitheatres in the world.  For approximately 4 centuries, it functioned as an arena with gladiator and animal fighting being a main event.  Things changed when emperor Honorius prohibited the games in 405.  In modern times, it is used to house events and music festivals and it a big tourist attraction.  There are levels underneath the theatre that we explored and learned all about how they pressed and stored olive oil.  

 

 

We spent time with a couple of my husband’s friends.  They had lived in Pula for 30 years and took us to a chapel in city Rovinj.  It was a beautiful structure with the sea all around.  A man sat on the wall overlooking the water and played Stairway to Heaven on the guitar.  Amazing contrast and one of my highlights.  They took us to a monastery where we heard a young local chamber orchestra play classical music.  The one monk that resides there listened out of sight in the upper level while the light from his room glowed. I remember thinking it was special in some way.   Olive trees are prolific in many areas of Istria and the olive oil produced there is some of the best in the world.  We took a class to learn the many details of how to select good olive oil.  A grassy taste and smell, not bitter or pungent and buying from companies that bottle and produce the oil in the same place.  Truffles are another delight in Croatia.  It is a rare mushroom product that is harvested by first finding them.  Dogs or sometimes pigs are used to locate them as they are underground.  They are highly valued and have aphrodisac effects or so I’m told.  I ate them several times waiting to see if I felt something.  They are used in tiny quantities and mixed with food such as pasta and vegetables.

There are many islands around Istria and one that we visited was called Brijuni.  This was the island Tito, the Yugoslavian President, spent 6 months of the year while in power.  He had a zoo built to house all the exotic animals he got as gifts from famous dignitaries, movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and leaders from around the world.  We couldn’t see his home but got a firsthand view of the area, artifacts, lots of stuffed animals from the zoo and his famous Cadillac convertible he only drove on the island.  This was a favorite place of my husband as he remembered Tito and his powerful god-like influence over the people in the Yugoslavia.  I enjoyed the ferry ride, the blue waters, the lunch served on the boat and the time spent on an uninhabited island that many use for day trips.  It was the home of a psychiatric facility, a school for disabled children and a monastery. This was one of my favorite spots – the history and the energy was palpable.  I enjoyed meditating and watching a man dive off the rocks into the sea.  

Another highlight was our day trip to the inland of Istria.  We hired a guide and made our way to Groznjan and Motovun, both castles from ancient times and both still inhabited with people, mainly artisans and city workers living in close quarters and I imagined very connected with each other.  We had lunch at a winery in the country where we were greeted with shots of Mistletoe liquor.  I went with the local wine, enjoyed while the bees hugged the windows and men worked the land just outside.   I am happy to say that I didn’t run from the restaurant fearing the bees which I’ve been known to do.  Instead I just watched them as they came to the table from time to time to check out the food.  They were happy bees.

We had contemplated a ferry to Venice which would have been a 6 AM to 11 PM kind of a day.  As romantic as it sounded I decided to listen more to my body which needed some rest from all the activities.  Part of the challenge of the trip was testing my endurance as my recovery from “life injuries” was still ongoing.  At one point 1000 touristy steps proved too many and I needed to slow it down a little.  I was brought up to push through challenging times.  When the going gets tough the tough get going was my motto for many of my crazy busy years.  I’ve needed to learn new strategies – sometimes kicking and screaming – my mind yearning  for the old.  Anxiety or negative emotions are the result of resistance to what life is really calling for you to do.  This trip was a challenge and a gratitude practice.   I admire the natural travelers of the world while accepting and appreciating my own travel style.  Note to the interested:   Travel business class.  I did for 2 legs of the trip.  Yes, yes and yes.  No guilt.  Just appreciation.

Croatia is a beautiful country, full of history and beautiful people.  I felt safer there walking around than I would here in our cities given that there are very few guns there.  Our friends told us that to even get a gun it would be a long and arduous process.  Interesting.  Economically, people seem to struggle a little more to make ends meet and build careers…. but there is positive movement, lower unemployment now and a growing tourist industry.   Lessons from my road?  Respect your traveling style and get outside your comfort zone – whatever that may mean.  Each of us has that felt sense of leaving the known and facing the unknown.  We are, after all, made of of “mostly space” and very little matter.  Being able to center oneself and learn be comfortable in our own unknowns is BIG.  Beginning  a meditation practice last year  was helpful to ground and manage my emotional fears and physical challenges while traveling.  I suggest any type of mind relaxation that can get us out of ourselves so to speak and allow the connection to the universe show itself in whatever way is right for you.  I send gratitude to my husband who got to be born there which enabled me to have the experience.

Allow life to work for you while you do the work on yourself.  Here’s to life’s adventures!

 

Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star

Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star  

 

I recently completed a 4-day watercolor painting class taught by Ellen Jean Diedrerich from Fargo, ND.  She is a well-known and  talented artist.   This was a “beginner” class but I surmised that I may have been the only novice.  Being a practiced “mindful person” I saw this beginning status as an asset.  

Did I have a book called Beginning to Paint loaned from a well-seasoned, paint enlightened friend?  Yes. Did I open and read it prior to class?  No.  My brain wouldn’t allow it.  Can I blame my brain?  Sometimes I do that.  First, I’m an experiential learner which means “learning through refection on doing”.    I grew up in the conventional culture of conformity, sitting still, memorizing and comparing.   The older I got the trickier it became and by the time I reached college, I began to realize that I would need to learn some study skills.  I attended my first year at then Mary College in Bismarck, ND.    I perceived myself as being a decent student, but it was difficult to learn and memorize all the material that was required.  I thought in concepts and for me, it needed to come together in some understandable format to really digest it.  I finished the year with a C average across the board and I told myself that was ok…. yet I remember that feeling of discontent of why I couldn’t magically get all the information that was pumped out.  I knew there was more within – I just couldn’t reach in and get it.  I remember getting cordially nudged out of certain fields of study and the subtle messages I perceived as not being a star in anything.   I used to draw pictures of beauty queens with stars surrounding them, big smiles on their faces, always thin and always beautiful.  I wanted to be a star, but society’s road was narrow.

Social Work became my focus in large part because I had a mentor, one that I experienced as a good and caring person.  She also saw something inside of me …. This dovetailed with one of my childhood visions of being like Albert Schweitzer and find ways to help in the world…another big star for humanity.  I often hear from others that they don’t have a vision of where they belong, what they should do etc.  Often, this vision eluded to  in others and myself is the desire to feel good, content, happy or fulfilled depending on your school of thought and that is subjective to each one of us.  Wondrously, creativity relates with these  inner stars of happiness and fulfillment.  The more avenues we find to connect these inner stars, the better.  When they shine, our energy centers can flow with ease, our bodies can move with more flexibility and our strength grows.  The inner core of the body is more important to strengthen than the outer limbs and core muscles.  That inner core can include how you think, how you manage emotions, your beliefs, and your past experiences.  One of the exercises I use to get a perspective on inner  core health – Stand in front of a large mirror nude and observe your reaction.  Spend a minute really looking.    Where are those stars  when you need it?  Where is that beautiful self-talk and the encouraging voice to help you along your life path?  This research will give you clues to those things that may need changing.

Day 1  My first day of painting class went  like this.  I compared, felt overwhelmed and wondered why I was even there.  I learned about basic brush strokes, the color wheel and the importance of design and shapes.  I didn’t do well in geometry or math and avoided these kinds of things but here these shapes were set up in front of me; cones, boxes, pyramids, garlic containers, and whatever else.  I didn’t know about drawing from the right side of the brain which I am exploring now.  Then, I just knew frustration.  I called my artist friend that evening and basically vented – sharing the “it’s too hard” mantra of my childhood.  But now, I have learned just to be aware of the thoughts, then find creative or positive strategies to cope.  At my age, sometimes its’ easier just to coast and avoid the challenges.  Is this healthy for the brain?  Avoiding stress can sometimes be a prescription for health but avoiding the creative parts of self is damaging in the long run.  So, I chose the path of stress with the hopes of a good outcome.

Day 2  It was better – we got to “color” from the color wheel, draw circles and combine colors.  I learned how designers choose the best compliments and layouts for environments and how artists can create paintings from just a few colors.  I was still hesitant to mix the colors and learned why not to use black or white except on rare occasions.  I listened to my inner critic for good parts of the day as I drew and painted the first picture of a hydrangea.  I put the picture on Facebook and got a few positive comments from my husband, my mom, and my childhood babysitter.  Now that is love.   

Day 3  This was my emotional day.  I was late, had clients prior to the class and said goodbye to my son leaving home to move across the country.  Our project was to find a picture we wanted to paint, draw and paint a grid and begin the work.  A grid is this underlying drawing of boxes that you paint with a few colors.  This serves as a base for the painting.  The picture I brought in was a complex group of flowers that I grabbed off the wall.  It wasn’t a thoughtful process and one I learned from.  The lesson – to think with intention before you create.    Tension developed from the start and involved a change of pictures; a rough day of trial and error.  I needed lots of direction from Ellen and even her repairs couldn’t fix the issues.  I started a new painting for fun which I liked a little better, but it looked like it was one of those 3rd grade tree pictures.     As a child, I painted like I thought I should, compared a lot and got by in the average lane.  I’m realizing how the potential didn’t have the chance to grow – I was too busy surviving.  This class has connected more of these dots from childhood.

Day 4  Ellen is eager to share the wisdoms of the watercolor art.  She gave us her book called Progressive Painting.  She shared the inspirations of the why she wrote this book.  I was amazed at her process as an artist and a business builder.  Being in my own private practice, I understand the need to blend the art and the money.  We all need to survive while we “strive to thrive” as I like to say.  I was drawn to the class by the colors since I work with the rhythms of the emotional body.  I’m keen now to the energetics and colors of the body, the frequencies of words, products we use, thoughts we think about and behaviors we engage in.  It all matters.  Emotions are the powerful drivers for us humans – that’s how we end up in the messes that can teach us the way of finding peace within ourselves.  At the end of this day there is a critique session where each person presents their art.  Since I’d needed to leave early for a work obligation I discussed mine early.  Secretly, I was relieved to avoid the group reaction to what I had accomplished.  Now, I wish I would devoted my entire day to the class and stayed to present this oddly shaped disaster of mine.  The more I think of it the more pleased I am to think of all the learning this little piece inspired.  Do I now have an appreciation of why I have avoided this art until now?  Yes. In the midst of this  “trudgery” I have discovered tiny glimpses of my own truth – my own voice of creative expression which can be empowering and ripple into other aspects of life.                      

Creativity is a given for some people – they are born with an innate perception for the arts, yet they may have challenges in other areas.  I’m realizing we are all filled with creativity – it just varies in  its form.  My emotional artistry can be quite amazing when used to understand the emotions of others.  When I work with couples, the intensity of these emotions can be sensed like waves hitting the shores.  When we find the right path to transform the painful ones to higher frequency feelings such as compassion, love or caring the result is better relationship.    It’s our job to find it the things we need to do/learn to be who we were born to be.  I refer to listening to the heart in many of therapy sessions.  Just a simple hand on your heart helps remind the brain what really matters.  The more I explore my creative side, the more that life opens, and this openness creates flow and health in the body.  There is an essential oil blend called I love that when used on the body or inhaled can help inspire the heart energy.  The essential oils of Rose, Clary Sage, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang Complete, Rosewood, Palmarosa, Spikenard, Neroli, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Lavender, fine; Dragon’s Blood, Cedarwood Atlas, Elemi, Grapefruit, pink; Marjoram, sweet; Petitgrain, and Cypress.  What a power blend!  In hindsight, I should have used this every day.

A star is born?  Usually I would say of course not, I don’t have talent.  Now that those words are out of the way I can expand that to say a few  stars were found in the process.  I think we are the product of many little stars – scientifically speaking of course.  Do the research.  In the meantime, pursue creativity even though…. Stress/illness/grief/depression/anxieties/ADD/obligations are just a few blockers to our inner stars.  Reach out, seek support and be perseverant.  I will continue to seek my painting passions – adding it to my therapy toolbag, more appreciation for art, or continuing practice sketches and simple watercolor pieces.  Thank you, Ellen, for  sharing your gifts and talents.  It makes a difference!

 

 

Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

 

Stress and Anxiety – Synonymous with life in the current culture.  Sometimes we are oblivious to its impact on our very lives.  At other times we minimize or rationalize it, “normal” for  living in today’s world.  As a therapist for many years, I have a unique perspective of how this all works – on our beliefs, attitudes and relationships.  Emotions, real and perceived have a powerful effect on our lives and lifestyle we choose to follow.  One way humans are unique in the mammal world is that we can create stress with a thought.  Compare that with a deer.  When they perceive a threat, they go into high alert with all the stress hormones working together to assess and deal with the threat.  When the threat passes, they quickly return to their regular routine, all body systems operating at the parasympathetic level – meaning relaxed and ok.  We have an 18 yr.  old cat that reminds us daily of these differences.  For many years, I lived the life of worker bee with the passion to help others and a desire to be seen in a positive light from others around me and in the community.  When I did take time for myself, I tried to manage a marriage, exercised, went to church and tried to create the best home life for my children.  In other words, time was at a premium and stress levels were high.  As life would have it , there were more bumps in my life than I had anticapated.

Get ready.  I hadn’t intended to get divorced or co-parent and found myself coping with the stigmas of relationship failures and parenting challenges.   In my 20’s I went through 2 divorces and had one child.  In my 30’s I had another marriage and another child and later in my 40’s I had another divorce.  I couldn’t figure out why my life wasn’t going according to this grand plan that I had dreamed up.   I was filled with anxieties that I had no vocabulary for.  I was educated in the realm of social work, had spent many years in service to helping others have a better life, yet didn’t have the answers or understanding to tune into what I needed to change.    From a young age I was passionate about helping and relationships. Unfortunately, the road to understanding was long.  Despite theses  failures life did take some wonderful turns after the decision was made to find the way in to understand myself and tap into the wisdoms of my heart.  My son introduced me to this quote from Samuel Beckett that is now a tatoo of character:  Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. 

I walked the walk and tried to fit the mold and still wonder why I missed the many flags along the way.   I sometimes ponder the life that would have been if I had really understood the ways of anxiety, mood and thought.  I walked around with chronic anxiety and didn’t even know it. Now, I am realizing new perspectives of hardships and challenges that all humans have in one way or another.  Joe Dispenza refers to genetic destiny as the path that many will follow based on the learnings and conditionings of their earlier life, sometimes way earlier life.  We bring into this life emotional DNA which is related to the physical DNA characteristics we are born with.  Some refer to these energies as karma or perhaps past lives and there are many theories about this phenomenon.  My focus keys into the choices we have at various times throughout our lives.  These choices involve questioning ourselves and learning lessons we need to learn given our soul essences.  We can make changes and are not locked into our genetic destinies if we make the choice to do so.   “Be all you can be” or “Live up to your potential” or “You have to go through the fire to get to the gold” are some of the phrases that come to mind related to these critical times in our life.  Failures can turn into successes beyond our knowledge at the given time.  The key here is intention.  What do you really, really want.  I really wanted healthy love relationships.  Later on in my life path I met my husband; the one I had envisioned in my heart but not been able to realize until I had made significant changes and learned the lessons life was giving me.  Other positive and supportive  relationships have evolved and hopefully will continue.  Learning is a life long pursuit as they say…and very good for brain health…challenging the status quo and stepping into the unknown.

I recently returned from a conference in Sedona, AZ where the energies of the earth are particularly strong.  I was reminded again of the importance of stepping out of the comfort zone to “Embracing Bliss” (the name of the conference) where many new and creative ideas were shared and experienced.  Prior to this conference, I had decided to read and implement some of the practices of one of the presenters.  Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza was the book that tapped into my mind.  Learning ways to quiet the mind and be in the zone of No-thing the goal.  To design the life you desire and taking the steps on this path to see it manifest are highlighted in the book.  Mind blowing, yet I was open to experiment and work the steps so to speak.  Sometimes we are drawn to things – books, experiences, opportunities etc. that make us Feel.  This is the time for questioning yourself and following up on the draw of emotion in the response to whatever grabbed you.  I learned that about 60% of us humans have addictive behaviors that cause us suffering and that the keys include knowledge about ourselves and practices to tap into this self…and the better we know ourselves the less we fear change.

A primary job of a therapist is to help others tap into that inner self that really does know what to do and release those negative beliefs/emotions that have caused untold havoc.  We all have the secret knowledge and keys to a good life underneath all the stress layers formed over time.  The puzzle is how to tap into it without having to retreat from life and meditate/pray for long hours.  Greg Braden, researcher, scientist and spiritual teacher spoke about the heart brain – that our hearts contain 40,000 sensory neurons that are active in affecting our behaviors.  It’s where the wisdom lies in a sense.  You may have heard the phrase, “Listen to your heart”; now there is science to back this up.  Heartmath’s website indicates that “the heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes—actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect – it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.”  I purchased a bio-feedback tool that connects with your heartrate, measures the variability of the beats and lets you know when you are “out of coherence”.  It works with a smartphone and an app.  Finally, a gadget I could figure out!

When you learn how to tap into this inner wisdom, there is the potential to access deep intuition on demand.

Heart/brain coherence practice: 

The best part is the ease of this practice.  There are 3 steps.

  1. Touch your heart with your hand of fingers, whatever feels comfortable.
  2. Breath into your heart and slow down your breath just a little.  Maybe count to 5 on the inhale and the exhale.
  3. Think/experience gratitude, thoughts of appreciation, compassion or love for at least 3 minutes.
  4. Notice how you feel.

This has been powerful as I have worked with this practice and have seen the benefits in with those I teach it to.  I encourage you to research this and practice yourself.  It does involve closing your eyes from the environment that is so seductive with all its constant distractions.  We can easily succumb to the addictions of stress hormones of the daily grind but the power of really getting our heart’s desires is to create this quiet state; to really listen to what it is your heart – true self really needs to create happiness.  Couples that can enter this practice together have the potential to bypass trouble and create the life best for each other.  I am excited to experiment and see the results.    Let’s get to work!

 

 

 

Wake up and Change – The Search for Inspiration

 

 

A book ran across my screen last week…. and for some reason I paused and read the summary.  The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry MD is about the “hidden dangers” in healthy foods.  These types of books don’t normally stick but I started reading immediately and just finished it.  Audio books, for me, are a great invention as I can walk around, be active and still read.   I was immediately inspired.  There is no logical answer as to why.  I felt my body engage – motivation to keep reading was on and I felt “obsessed” to understand it.  This is a book about change – how to change your body by changing your gut.  I frequently see adds and info on products, weight loss strategies, and ways to improve health and usually skim through them.  I haven’t made significant changes to my diet for a couple of years and that was only because I had to when my husband decided to be a vegan; meaning no dairy, meat or animal products.  I adjusted to a moderated diet and considered myself a vegetarian that ate fish.  I chose not to be rigid or restrictive in my choices because for me, being flexible felt healthier.  Nevertheless, it was a change.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed changes in my body related to resilience, joints, muscle pain and energy.  I’ve tried to “figure it out” and find ways to reverse these symptoms.  I’ve had some successes but problems remain.  Pain on any level is a motivator so if you are a positive thinker, there it is!  Soon, another type of change is coming….one that will significantly alter the way I think about food and the way I consume it.   Some time back, I wrote a blog on “My fat story” which highlighted my journey as an obese child/teen and how I came to grips with it, made changes and moved forward.  I needed to be strict with myself for some time as that was the only way my mind could think of to lose weight. My memory of these major diet changes connects with the original Weight Watchers program in the 70’s.  Yes, I ate cans of french style beans and tuna fish, the ones where you could run your finger around the can’s edges and see the gray residues.  I was allowed 2 slices a day of Sweetheart white bread, hot dogs with mustard (no ketchup) once a week and lots of chicken, iceberg lettuce and weight watchers salad dressing sold in tiny packets filled with preservatives.  This was followed by diet soda, artificial sweeteners and an array of sugar free jello desserts.  You may be getting the picture of how much I was influenced by the culture – far removed from healthy human development but capitalism and the ads of the 60’s were in full swing – the power of the spin.  We all continue to be onslaught by media only far more and most people’s minds are spinning – which is part of the increased anxiety symptoms seen and high demands for mental health care.  More and more I am seeing the urgency to wake up from the culture spin and find truth an as I find strategies to coax myself out of this culture coma I experience many rewards.  When I started my study of essential oils, my knowledge was limited – basically started from scratch.  This relationship with the oils of nature has evolved and grown to include an even bigger perspective.  Now, on to repairing and finding ways to support my gut buddies as Dr. Gundry calls them.  His book is filled with knowledge of our guts chemistry and alchemy to keep us humans going.  He also has a history of being obese and trying all kinds of things to find a healthy weight and body.

Greatness begins with inspiration.   Now, I’m ready to sweat a bit and do the research needed to begin this life change.  First, it’s understanding to a reasonable degree what the science is and since I’ve “felt” it to be worth doing now, to balance this felt sense with logic.   Remember the Logic of Love and Emotion?  That is one of the central themes of creating healthy love relationships –  love is a feeling and creating a healthy relationship is work.  Tools are the communication skills.   In positive relationships this work has many rewards vs in unhealthy relationships this work may feel endless, discouraging or frequently frustrating.   I refer to the spin couples can find themselves in as emotional allergies.  Over time, we’ve all seen the impact of these emotional spins.  Creating a healthy body while in a healthy relationship – consider the potential!

Loving ourselves is where the power is yet we need the power and gifts of nature to help.  I am beginning to see a human-plant relationship in my thinking!  Dr. Gundry states, “My philosophy centers around the fact that the human digestive system is a very complex and very sensitive machine. It needs key energy sources that you’re not getting in your diet… and at the same time, it’s damaged by a vast number of foods that are a big part of our “Standard American Diet.”  What I’m learning is the importance of Polyphenols, the negative effects of lectins found in many types of processed and unproperly cooked foods, and finding the balance of bacteria in your gut.  As a therapist I am more keenly aware of the brain and the need to take care of it.  Its health is intimately entwined with our digestive system.  This isn’t new information but like I said I was inspired to take a closer look at what I was feeding my brain/body.  I want to feel better too!   I want an intimate relationship with my own body. The more we understand about our bodies the better we will be able to control what’s going on with it.    This will require some changes to my daily routines and have already spent a few days discarding foods like peanuts, cashews, breads and crackers, processed salad dressings and paying close attention to the labels of things to avoid additives.  Just in the few days that I’ve tried some of the changes my body has given me “I like you” signals. I’m happy about the dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee part.  Red wine can keep its place from time to time as well.  The book identifies lists of say yes to foods and say no to foods that seem handy enough.  I ‘m gathering my materials.  He reminds people that one can start where they need to start and only gives suggestions.  I’m excited and will keep you posted.

Winter is a challenging season for many reasons we are all familiar with.  Foot soaks with dead sea salts and essential oils soothes and provides vital minerals and magnesium that most of us need more of.  Earlier this month, I participated in a health fair sponsored by Natural Grocers in Fargo.  The individuals I visited with had genuine interest in essential oils and the holistic concepts of health.  Let’s keep the awareness going.  Maybe I should have added that to the Women’s march agenda last weekend.  My sign may have read -Support Natural Health Care NOW!  Somehow, my inspiration didn’t coax me out the door into the cold of Fargo.   Finally, Green Organics has a new line of hemp products which I am excited to try.  The hemp is grown in Kentucky and is organic.  It is naturally rich in Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 Essential Fatty Acids.  It comes in drops which you place under the tongue.  BTW it is 100% legal.  HBNaturals, the sister company of goDesana highlights the same strict quality standards as how essential oils are chosen and tested.  It’s marketed as a full spectrum oil and aids the brain/body in regulating sleep, appetite, pain modulation, mood enhancement and libido through the introduction of hemp-derived cannabinoids like the CBT oil.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. Cannabinoids are designed to promote homeostasis at every level of life.

The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.  This information was gleaned from HBNaturals so I will be searching more sources as I become more aquainted with it.

Don’t worry, no getting high here – just all the other benefits.  For more info check it out at  http://www.hbnaturals.com/newpath

This will be interesting to study and see the results.  I’ll keep an open mind.  For now, learning and experimenting will be on my schedule.  Inspiration can come to you at any moment.  Set an intention to invite this inspiration to come into your life in a surprising/unexpected way.  Take time to mediate or reflect quietly in prayer and get familiar with your thoughts – the ones that are important and the ones you want to send down the river.  Have a great month.  As always, please let me know if I can help you in your health journey.  Life loves you!