Singing – Another Secret Finds Freedom

A few years ago I started singing in our local church choir.  I had been a visitor at this church for a few years and had imagined what it would be like if I were to sing with them.  The whispering mother-voice in my mind would replay the phrase “You should sing in the choir.” or “You should play the piano more.  You have such talent.” She did both – played the piano and sang in the choir. In some ways she was a remarkable role model, in others  she was restricted in her own expression as was the way of the culture in those days.  Turns out, she started studying the piano in her own way at age 69.  She has now done 15 annual piano concerts in Las Vegas and is planning her next.   Growing up in the 70’s in the small mid-size ND town of Jamestown, cultured music appreciation meant community concerts who presented various musical performers from “far away.”  Or, for me, the night the Cowsills, the 70’s family group who came to our High School auditorium.  I really wanted to go.  After all, it was just across the street from where we lived.  For some reason I was a wanna be as I just knew they were there and not in the audience.  Sometimes groups would come to the big city of Bismarck and our church group organized a trip to some of these events like Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell and 3 Dog Night.  Performers and those in the entertainment business seemed like another world far away from my own.   Desires for performing budded within during those middle school years.  For many reasons, these desires were unfulfilled and were filed as not that important.

I am reading  Amy Poehler’s new book  called “Yes, Please” and her highlights in growing her passion for performance and making people laugh.  It started early as did her confidence. One event at a time, Amy Poehler tells her tales of life experiences that motivated her to write this unique and funny audio book.    Despite the “Demons” of negative thinking she visualized her performing career and went into it with gusto and a positive spirit.  She takes care in not underestimating the impact of the inner demons who are you; just in a strange voice whispering or shouting out all kinds of put downs and sarcasms one could only find in the mud pools of the dark mind.   I was as reserved as she was “out there” yet I related to the desires for expressing myself in a creative way and wanting lots of love in my life.   With today’s transparencies and medias it seems that everybody out there is hard at work being an impressive  person and are at varying phases in this pursuit.  Impressive to me is thought about with a positive spin.  I have observed in my many years as a therapist that most people want to feel good about what they do, who they are with and what they want and along the way there is inevitable messiness.    

Today,we sang the song called “My Prayer”.  This is one of those powerful songs sung by Andre Botticelli and Celine Dion.  Unfortunately, we had a small turnout and had to create something beautiful with 8 voices….9 with the choir director.  We pulled it off as I imagined the duet by the artists joining us in my fantasy.   Interestingly, during the children’s sermon, the pastor posed the question to the kids:  “Does anyone want to sing a song?”  A young teenager who happened to be the pastor’s daughter got up, took off her jacket, revealing a snazzy black top with cut out sleeves that sparkled which incidentally matched with the silver sparkles of black boots.  She started to sing and it was may I say magical?  What was amazing was the moment.  It wasn’t a star being born moment yet it had the feel of that.  She was expressing herself and you could feel it.  This felt bigger than an audition or an amazed Simon Cowell reacting to a performance on America’s Got Talent.   That’s the way the mind can work – with comparisons and expectations.  That demon mind can live here.  This event appeared to me to bypass all these old ways of thinking and celebrated the authenticity of the gift of self expression…. something that was lost in me for so long.  I enjoyed imagining myself at that age doing something similar and it made my heart sing.  Now, that’s impressive.

Let’s return  to the business of finding love, self acceptance and expression of our own gifts and talents however diverse they may be.  I resisted artistic expression because I believed I wasn’t all that good and had been told that in various ways throughout my life.  Consequently I avoided any search or effort to develop these talents while minimizing any positive impacts for these pursuits.  This was easy to do in this work focused world.  I simply just worked a lot and gave lip service to the importance of creative pursuits.  In this same church service, the pastor opened the sermon up with the story of her own disappointments in “‘Being” recalling her love of just wanting to sing out loud as a child, joining various choirs and eventually un-joining them as events unfolded in her life that discouraged her from singing; from doing what she had originally loved to do.  ‘I stopped singing.”   The words hit me personally and sounded oddly familiar.   I had  desires and a love of singing and dancing and if I have to be honest, the fantasy of mastering the balance beam.  If I had to honest again I would include well known writer and author.   I imagined myself at a young age being asked to sing and dance, actually stepping out (in a prepared way) and looking good.  Looking good because it was genuine not because of it’s “talent”.   Looking fantastic because it was celebration of the “inner ding” as Louise Hay has coined it.  At a meeting one day,  Louise happened to hear these words:  “If you’re willing to change your thinking, you can change your life.”  For whatever reason she heard this with her Being and chose to do something about it.   She went out and created a legacy of resources for healing and self acceptance.  This inner ding is where power resides and I only wished I could have bottled some of it.  Perhaps I did as it provided the muse for exploring my own creativity in writing this blog.  Who knows?  One thing we do know is that there are many beliefs that we carry within that keep us from that inner well-being and happiness; beliefs that need to seen and transformed into action.

Despite challenges we all have the capacity for seeking and recognizing that inner ding.  Benefits do outweigh the costs so to speak.  I encourage you to set the intention for this new year; that 2017 will provide opportunities to manifest positive experiences and paths to travel.   The essential oil that I often suggest at these times is called Transform  http://www.godesana.com/transform.asp?sponsorsite=newpath   It is a unique blend of Sage, Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, Elemi, Clary Sage, Inula, Rockrose, Patchouli, Spikenard, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Sweet Marjoram, Pink Grapefruit and Rose Geranium.  The frequency of these oils can help increase your own energies setting the stage for positive changes.  I wish you well in your  journey and  appreciation for the synergy of today’s events. Continue reading

How To Stay Sane On Election Day and Beyond

 

November 2016

stress-2-people-imageOK, It’s coming and I have some “Inspirdrive”, to coin a phrase, of how I feel at this moment in this country’s history.  Being in the mental health field for 30+ years I am bamboozled by this election season’s long and snarly road.  I’ve heard more frustrations, rage, confusion, depressive and anxiety symptoms that I can remember in the past.   Our mental health is stressed!  (As if you didn’t know) The impact of stress is well documented in research.  More than a little stress in our lives impacts our bodies and health and most of us have been told that at one point or another.  We are designed to deal with stress on a short term basis.  Our bodies are marvelous machines made to solve problems and get our needs met and once that’s done, calm down.  Our animals have this figured out.  I talk to my cat about all that is going on here, the political media blitzes, the polarizing of social media, the Protest in western ND, you name it.  He lifts his head up while I get activated, assesses that it’s not going to hurt him and sinks his head back down on the rug…. although when the vacuum cleaner is brought out, he freaks out and disappears until its quiet again.  This political season has brought out the low drone of a constant vacuum cleaner that follows us around and as much as we may want to avoid any fallout it is almost impossible.

Many of the clients I see have reported significant impact in their lives, whether it be work, social or family relationships.  It brings out the Stress in them, meaning that when we are triggered by anything either in our external or internal environment that creates a negative emotion, a resulting reaction occurs.  Research suggests 4 Stress Styles that are most common.  The first one is Placator/Peace at any price style.   If we are unaware, this can be rather automatic such as “I think Clinton should win” comment to a Trump supporter.  “What, are you crazy?  Can’t you see she’s a crook?”  The response here may be related to what style of stress that is carried.  Let’s just say the Clinton supporter was brought up to be agreeable and not to rock the boat.  Her response may be…”Well maybe you’re right, I’ll have to check it out or Yes, she did do lots of things.”  The second one is the Blamer/I’m right, You’re wrong  style which would trigger a different reaction.  “What? You’re the one who’s crazy.  Have you seen that video?”  The third approach is called Super Reasonable/Computer style which downplays any emotion.  “Well, it says in the polls that there is a slight lead for Clinton.  Let’s look at the statistics.”   The fourth style is called the Distractor/Ignore and the problem vanishes.   Responses may be completely unrelated to the issues at hand.  “Hey, let’s just forget all this and go out and play cards/shop/clean the house/work/drink…you name it.”    These reactions to stress triggers are usually tied back into our childhoods and that software is pretty tightly woven.  In order to bypass these automatic reactions, we need to first be aware and understand the power that they have on our everyday behaviors.  Once you do this then comes the good part.  You can take parts of each of the styles and integrate them into your own style for a positive outcome.  For example, the positive aspect of the Placator is being sensitive and compassionate to another’s emotions; the good part of the Blamer is the assertiveness it brings to the table; the ability to speak our truth without blaming.  The Super Reasonable/Computer can remind us to use logic and reason when managing a situation and with the Distractor, comes the reminder to play and take breaks…. but we will get back to the problem.

stress-imageEven though we can’t eliminate our negative tendencies to react in these certain ways, we can transcend them with practice.  After the election will come all the waves of uncertainty of “what’s going to happen” until the dust settles in January.   Then, it’s likely to resurface again given the roller coaster media ride we’ve all been on.  What I’d really like is to feel a sense of stability and trust.  One way to keep sane is to focus on things we can control.  Look at your hands and for most of us we can move them.  Let that be a reminder for the moment that what may be most important is self-management or as I like to call it Mindfulness.  How am I going to cultivate stability and trust in myself given that I’ve just heard or seen someone make a triggering comment?  The goal here is to catch your style going into action and allow yourself the chance to create the mindset that is best for you.  Is this easy?  It gets easier with practice but the rewards are great; one being the expression of your authentic truth rather than the automatic stress style dribble.  The more you practice the more dribble you can experience which leads to a stronger sense of self and a better outlook which of course is a stress reliever.  Although this is not the immediate “keep yourself sane” technique but it is one to work on daily.

Some of the best strategies for this season relate to catching yourself, breathing deeply and evenly and repeat to yourself 10 times “All is well”.   There is a great mirror exercise written about by Louise Hay that confirms the power of positive affirmations to yourself daily.  Check out the mirror exercise on You tube if you are interested.  Even though you think all may not be well on the outside, this exercise calms the mind. If you want excitement and drama go for it.  Media will be hyping it all up but keep in mind the balance of nature and the power of small practices to keep yourself sane.   Don’t forget to add the water, herbal teas and lemons/limes.  These are detoxing for any type of stress you are facing.   One of my favorite essential oils to calm anxiety is Frankincense or Lavender Frankincense which combines two calming essential oils.  Just make sure they are of therapeutic grade and organic.  For more information on that check out  http://goDesana.com/newpath   In the short term, do-nuts, diet coke, a good stiff drink or any number of mind medicating substances may be calling your name   What your brain really needs is care!   Finally, on Tuesday let’s not forget that we are all in this together.  Let’s do what we can – in our own ways – one task or practice at a time.   Good luck!

 

Tina M Johnson, MSW, BCD

1321 23rd St So, Ste H

Fargo, ND  58103

https://www.relatecommunicate.com

tmjohnsonmsw@gmail.com

 

 

 

What’s New With Essential Oils?

Greetings and Welcome to Fall!
This is the season to prepare and plan for the colder weather and all that comes with that.  I just re-started my Vitamin D and making it a priority to step outside to take in and experience the outdoors.
This morning I heard from a young mother that the goDesana lavender chamomile she was diffusing in her room was really helping her sleep and feel better; that she wished she could find a way to use the essential oils more often.  That inspired me to review the literature on children and essential oils which once again reminded me of the importance of each oils complex synergies that are vital for therapeutic vs fragrance oils/preparations.  A typical Essential Oil will have 100 or more different constituents containing an elaborate mixture of chemical compounds such as alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, lactones, phenols, terpenes, and sesquiterpenes.  It is this unique and complex combination of chemical compounds that determines if an oil is therapeutic or not.
” The power of living plants (Herbs and Essential Oils) lies in the combination of their compounds, and the trace constituents are as important as the main compounds.  In fact, it seems to be that the minor constituents have a synergistic (controlling and strengthening) effect on the main compounds.  Many of these trace elements enable the herbs or oils to assist the body more efficiently and without the nasty side effects experienced when using the synthetic reconstructions (drugs or oils) that do not contain the trace elements.”
This information is from Alexandria Brighton and was written to help educate others about the importance of understanding the healing properties and safety precautions when using Essential Oils for wellness and healing.  OK!  These are the times when I wish for one of the great scientist minds to create the blueprint of understanding for my mind.  However, I keep in mind that even the most advanced scientists or Doctors can tell you just exactly how anti-depressants work.  The Great Mystery is one of terms used by Native Americans; often using their astute intuitions at how to use herbs and plants to heal our bodies and minds.  This summer I walked one of the bog trails in Bemidge, MN.  Throughout the trail was pages of the story of a young Native American  girl who traveled across the lake to get the healing herbs for her people during a crisis.  The story perhaps inspired MN to name the pink and white lady slipper as their state flower.   The experience reminded me of the impact of our modern culture away from nature and how mainstream healing was in the form of pills and painkillers.   More than 20% of kids in the US take prescriptions on a regular basis and nearly 7% are on 2 or more drugs.  Few of us had mothers and grandmothers  or grandfathers for that matter,  who knew the art of natural healing remedies.  In our family, we avoided the doctors and relied on antibiotics and the grin and bear it approach.
When using essential oils with children always know something about the oils or blends you are using.  Alexandria Brighton uses the 4 Safety group approach.
 Group #1 can be used in pregnancy, while nursing and on your children. (lavender, lavender vera, Mandarin, red, Niaouli, Neroli, Ranintsara, Rose, Spearmint, Tangerine, Tea Tree and Ylang Ylang complete)
 Safety Group # 2 is the essential oils that are safe with children over the age of 3. and while pregnant starting the 2nd trimester. ( Basil, sweet, Black Pepper, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Geranium, rose, Ginger Root, Grapefruit, pink, Lavender, spike, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Marjoram, sweet, Patchouli, Peppermint, Palmarosa, Sandawood Myrtle, green and Thyme ct. linalool)
 Group# 3 is never recommended for children or while nursing when used as a single oil.  They are considered safe when used in a blend and diluted. (Some listed are Eucalyptus Radiata, Fennel, sweet, Grapefruit, pink, Jasmine, Lime, Orange, sweet, Patchouli, Pepperint, Rosemary ct 1. 8 cineole, Sandalwood and Hyme ct. linalool)
Safety Group # 4 is the essential oils never recommended for children, pregnancy or while nursing.  For example, Basil, holy, Birch, Cassia, Cilantro, Cinnamon Bark, Whit Fir, Oregano, Sage and Eucalyptus Globulus are some in this group.
This is not a complete list but it gives you a good idea of how important some basic knowledge is.
Useful Stomach Ache Nausea and Colic Blend
* 2 drops Lavender, fine
*  1 drop Ginger Root
*  1 drop Mandarin, red
*  1 drop Dill Weed
*  1/2 oz Grape Seed Oil ( 1 ounce under 1 yr old)
 
I traveled to Idaho in October  for a 3 day Chakra II training.  I have completed my 10 practice sessions and am excited to prepare this new assessment tool  in my practice and offer Chakra Evaluations as a service on my website.   www.relatecommunicate.com   I will be updating soon.  I have observed these sessions to “dive deep”, find the imbalances that need some care and offering some remedies using the Essential Oils created for each Chakra energy system in our bodies.  Feedback has been positive and all have had “learnings”  from the experience.  As always, feel free to call or email with questions you may have or if you want to schedule a session.   goDesana.com/newpath  for shopping or more information.
Enjoy this beautiful fall month!

The Body and Love Relationships

 

hug imageCan the type and quality of your intimate relationships affect your health?  You are probably wondering, “What doesn’t affect your health?”  There are many studies that indicate stress as a trigger for most of today’s ailments and problems.  Emotions and the stress we feel are intimately connected.  We can’t control our emotions but we can learn to be aware of them and  the good news about managing these emotions is  that love is the big winner here.  So, how does love affect our health? It has a lot to do with it!  I’ve really only been tracking this with intention over the past 5-10 years  after I met and married the most authentic love of my love and, might I add the best teacher of myself.  The other factor was turning 50.  Nothing like a little age factor to wake up to the physical body.  Glasses and menopause came on the scene and life changed again.

Menopause in most women enters their lives in the 50’s….give or take a few years.  I entered this decade relatively naive – despite “education” I had little experience in the process of menopause in the women of my family history.  I grew up in the era of “grin and bear it” or “It’s not a subject worth mentioning” or “It’s not that big of a deal”.  Each woman has her own set of beliefs for this life stage too, and hand them down to our family, we do.  I often encourage women to examine the women in their lives for information to unearth their own guiding rules.  What does menopause have to do with love and health?  For me, these transitions melded together.  Other transitions include the birth of a child,  moving, caring for parents, or others that require major shifts.  I won’t speak to men’s mid life transition to this decade here.  That will be another piece to work on with my husband.  It’s a big deal too!

I have  worked with many couples in my psychotherapy practice over the years and noticed patterns of stress management depending on the stage of life, stressors experienced, and family history – meaning here the  family dynamics and biologic/personality traits inherited.  Humans generally have a huge capacity for doing what they believe they want.  We’re designed that way. We have strong defense systems.  Denial, minimizing, avoiding and blaming/projecting are examples of how we deflect our stressors.    How else are we going to survive?  I remember the drive I had earlier in my career to make a living and do something good for the world.  I choose a traditional path of social work and walked the way I was taught at home, school and at work.  I got married when I thought I was supposed to and ….well that’s when life’s twists and turns really started showing up.  Negative emotions fuels stress and if you don’t have the emotional skills, they will erupt into depressive or anxious periods, self- medication with any number of addictive substances or things and physical illnesses.   I’ve experienced divorce in all its complexities and traumas, been a single parent twice and all the while still believing that I would someday find the trail of happiness.  I eventually realized that it is usually not the most trodden one.  I had to find my own path outside that “box” of what I thought life was supposed to look like.  When I realized that it was OK to go outside the box, life changed dramatically.   It lined up with finding a healthy love relationship.   Interestingly, I needed to learn that before I was ready to begin that relationship which reflects one of those wise truths about tending to yourself first.

baby imageThe body is your first intimate relationship.  I was spending time with a baby this weekend:  Lucy, her 7 month old body in hand, reacted to impulses and stimuli with her whole body.  Her ear hurts, her fists try to go in, her curiosity aroused, she observes intently, tired, she reacts with fussiness.   She responds in relationship to how she is treated when she reacts to her body.  Much is written about child development and there are various theories of why we learn to behave in the ways that we do.  The point here is that our body is our best guide…always.  We just have to evolve back and integrate our first true and authentic relationship.  How does that relate to love relationships?   When you give your partner a hug next time, just notice what happens to your body.  Notice what happens in your mind.  That’s all you need to do to get started on a new path.  Your body won’t lie.  Notice if you are feeling any tensions, sensations, especially in your stomach. (the second brain)  If you can communicate what you are observing and your partner understands what you say then you have practiced a core communications strategy called Confiding.  Confiding is the ability to communicate what you think and feel and feel safe with your partner. Confiding is not complaining.  It is stating your reality of the moment.  If you find yourself rehearsing what you should say, then you are filtering and feeding your stress.  For more information on this skill I will refer you to www.pairs.com.

Another way into your body is a technique called muscle testing.  There are simple strategies to access your own body’s wisdom.  One easy one is called the sway test.  Stand with balance and a calm mind.  Make a statement that you know the answer is Yes.   For example:  I like chocolate.  Then, watch the way your body moves without intentionally moving it.  Make a statement with a No response and observe your reaction carefully.  Practice for awhile and soon you will notice a pattern.  When the answer is Yes, your body will sway one way and when the answer is no, it will sway another.  Once you have it mastered, you can use this technique whenever you want.   Anyone can learn it if they want to.  I suggest you don’t use it when you are emotional – wait until you are calm and able to focus in on yourself.  website couple image

My husband and I recently organized a workshop called Re-Awakening Love Relationships.  One of the main experiences of the day was learning to do just that –  are at any given time.  If you can master that one, you will never be one of those couples that sit in a restaurant with nothing to talk about.  You can always go back to your body and ask it what it is noticing and share these observations with your partner. It can be very sensual!  See where the conversation goes and you will be surprised.  Our bodies can talk and we can listen!  Loving our own selves is the best investment for a long and lasting love relationship.

If you are interested we will be doing the workshop in the near future.  Info on my website at https://www.relatecommunicate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Releasing the Raging Bull – Transforming Trauma

angry bull  It’s time for me to let the bull out of it’s congested cage.  That cage is, of course, a metaphor for my thoughts and the sometimes overwhelming control of this bull despite being in that rather small brain space of mine – the approximately 3.5 lbs of matter that is the governing force of my life.  The question is “Am I the chairman of this operation?”  Or am I being overwhelmed and controlled by the many forces that be – external or internal as the case may be.  What have I been paying the most attention to?  I remember high school biology class and the image of Mr. Olson informing us of how to complete the “leaf project” and the importance of the project in passing the class.  I wasn’t incredibly ambitious during my sophomore year and remember the resistance my mind put up to this project and the difficulty in completing it.  As I look outside today, I see the brilliant fall colors and autumn leaves everywhere, the result of a bountiful summer coming to an end and the likelihood of similar images that fall many years ago. horse vault
fall leaf project
 I actually liked  nature; what  I disliked was the categorizing and organizing  of each leaf and the  overwhelm felt within.  Consequently, this   created a negative set of thoughts and beliefs about myself.   “I can’t do this”  “Something must be wrong with me”   “I’m not smart enough,”  Gym class creates a whole other set of memories and beliefs.  The one that comes to mind is the one in 7th grade when the students all lined up to jump over the horse which is a gymnastics feat that was introduced in the class.  I stood there, with my snap up royal blue cotton gym suit, probably a little tight on my overweight body, and tried to muster up courage to get over that hurdle.  I ran, slowed and stopped just before I leaped, the motion pushing me into the horse. This resulted in  a clumsy fall over is what I would call it.  I remember the frustration that my body just didn’t do what I wished it would and I didn’t understand why.  I always liked the beauty of the gymnasts bodies artfully moving through their routines and the same is true for the colors of nature but what do you think has more sticking power?  The velcro of traumatic experiences cannot be understated.  Granted, there are temperaments that can predispose one to being more vulnerable to emotion but for the most part just being human creates the scene for drama and the importance of awareness of these created patterns.   My raging bull has taken various forms throughout my life and career and like for everyone, my life has internal drama.  It is time for this one to come out of it’s closet.  It’s been pounding around controlling my vary existence for too long.  I experienced an injury in the mid 2000’s – fell over the foot stool and landed on my sacrum fall which weakened my lower back.  Over the years it has gradually worsened and eventually  began to really cause problems in the last couple of years.  I’ve had to give up some things I liked to do, adjust my life and do my best to maintain a busy work and home life.  I want my body to work the way it used to and then….wait, when I thought about how it used to be I became aware of the tendency I always had to feel that I was rather weak – not like everybody else.  And when you’re not like everybody else as viewed by a child, especially a girl child. bad things can be felt.  More old negative beliefs.  The accident and injury only drew more attention to the underlying and most unacknowledged themes of my life.

This raging bull is the symbol for my steady stream of negative thinking about my condition, its limitations and possible consequences for the future.  I’m identifying the main ones as an exercise to exorcise and transform negativity to divine creativity….and one antidote to stress is creativity.  “How will I work?  Will I have enough energy?  What if I can’t work? What if pain overtakes me and I can’t do what I want to do?  Things in life I like are being taken away.  I don’t have control.  What should I do?”  Even as I write these statements by body is reacting – it feels like it is squirming as I reveal my inner ruminations.  One of the symptoms of my injury is nerve sensations at different areas of the body – like the nervous system has its own language when it comes to these things.  Each sensation has the potential to arouse my brain and be alert to it.   In psychological terms this reflects problems in the orienting response in my brain.  Instead of processing smoothly between the stages, I  remain stuck  and fail to effectively  evaluate and integrate what is actually being experienced.  Rather, old schemas patterning the trauma/old beliefs take over.  For example, I may feel a tingling in my foot, pain in my lower back, uncomfortable sensations in my body and immediately be on guard and negative thoughts which often ends perpetuating more self doubt and fear.

It’s a spinning machine, one that has remnants of past behaviors and habits.  Can I just say I hate this spinning machine?  That I wish it would just go away and then get mad at myself when it doesn’t.  All this internal spinning can be exhausting because in the meantime my life goes on in clock time and the emotions are kept within.   Writing is one of my creative outlets and  I enjoy spinning words so when I decided to tackle this subject, my heart stirred dare I say  with joy?   Strange but true.  I also came out and told my pilates/yoga teacher that I couldn’t maintain in the “easy” class and had no idea what my options could be.  Logical processing of the situation was laced with old trauma schemas and I stumbled over my words, worrying that she would say there were no more options for me.  “I’m hopeless” with remnants of my fall over on the horse.  A smile came to my lips as I imagined the incident in comedic form and I now take some liberties to alter the story just a little as they say.  I imagine the teacher giving me a great big smile for trying and reassuring me there is a way to accomplish this goal “if I wanted it”.  She would point out things like activities I may like such as dancing or power walking or better yet a class to help understand my body.  She would highlight differences and give me hope.  I love the image where I walk away with lots of options vs the sense of embarrassment and failure.  One add on – I altered my gym suit and found a very cool outfit.  I am curious about this new outlet for the spinning and may just have to write another update blog.  Transforming my  raging bull may be a long process…maybe not.  One of those noble truths comes to mind.  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  It’s one day at a time.    And about that pilates class…my teacher said there is hope for me and that we’d work together to come up with solutions.  cat in a basket

Who Am I Trying to Fool? The Jester Pain Body Strikes Again

fire image sillouetteWhen you least expect it, the pain body can jump right in the midst of your day…the moment  you were just minding your business.  The phone call may come in, the comment at the other end of the line, a person cuts in front of you on the street, the interaction with a loved one  sparks the fire.  I tried not to pay attention to the my reaction…”no big deal” I told myself.  “I’m beyond these kind of things.”  I’ve read numerous articles, even books on the subject of cognitive restructuring.  This is the fancy term for reorganizing your negative thoughts into ones that are more realistic to the situation and applying them to replace the negative thoughts you have identified.   “Who am I trying to fool?  I’ll never be a success.  I’m just not wired up the right way.  What’s wrong with me anyway?  Why can’t I be like ….? ”  I felt the fire start to go from a spark to the kindling stage each time I noticed another negative thought – one just slipped in after the other; some slipping in between the ones I could catch.  It wasn’t long before I felt the  waves of emotion begin to impact my body.

Life as a therapist has allowed me many opportunities to practice what I preach so to speak…but this one was a big one.  It involved one of my core issues…being good enough.  This, of course is what the researchers call shame.  Again, there are volumes out there; a recent body of research by Brene’  Brown,  a social worker and  researcher  is making all the media headlines with her emphasis on vulnerability and shame and strategies to re-think and re-shape our attitudes and perceptions of these emotions within all of us humans.   She slogged through many challenging times, learned some hard lessons and persevered all the way to the Super Soul Sunday with Oprah.  She is all about realizing our inner gifts and being who we were meant to be.  Sometimes just Being is plenty.

sloth imageThis is all well and good but today I slogged  – The good news about slogging is that it does end.  Once the pain body fire gets ignited and goes through it’s fire dance it gets played out and like a fire burns itself out where, according to Eckhart Tolle, the author of A New Earth,  it goes into it’s quiet place until it’s re-ignited again. He states that an emotion can be a response to an actual situation or event, bit it does so through the filter of a mental interpretation, through mental concepts of good and bad, like and dislike, me and mine.    For example, Tolle points out that you most likely will not feel emotion when you are told that someone’s car has been stolen, but if it is your car, the emotional impact will be felt. “It’s amazing how much emotion a little mental concept like “my” can generate.   Our body’s intelligence is amazing in its ability to function but it has trouble discerning worrisome, fearful thoughts as just thoughts.  It treats them as if they were reality.  If we have past conditioning that have created unconscious belief such as “people cannot be trusted” or “There is never enough money” or ” I don’t deserve love”  then these unconscious assumptions create emotions in the body which in turn generate  mind activity and /or instant reactions.  These negative emotions are connected to our egos and again cause all kinds of chaos and conflicts.  The good news here is that with each new breath one takes there is another opportunity to move forward.    Through practice I have learned to be more aware of my own pain bodies and can sometimes trace them back to their origins, whether that be in childhood or beyond.  Sometimes we can inherit these pain bodies from our families where they take up residence on the emotional level and cause havoc when triggered.

What does a wave of emotion feel like?  Pay attention to your reactions sometime and you will begin to experience your own unique expression although it usually involves the brain and the stomach, the 1st and 2nd brains according to the literature.  I feel heaviness, mood changes, irritability, some back/neck aches and pains as well as anxiety symptoms; not the ideal way to spend a beautiful fall day in ND.  There is much to learn about the power of these emotional pain bodies and no matter what stage of life we are in there is hope.  I need to hear this again and again when my mind/body is in this state of agitation.  So what did I do yesterday?  I lived through it.  I began to write which is a creative activity to counter negativity.  Painting, singing, music  and any number of mindful movements can help tame this lion. I would avoid any compulsive exercises where it is easy to numb out.  There is a place pushing and working hard but this is not the time.    I used my centering prayer ideas – to the best of my abilities and tried to be compassionate with myself.  I’ve been following Pope Francis as he has traveled among the people in this country.  I noticed the feeling of warmth and love whenever I would see him move throughout the different environments.  I became curious about the lives of others, the role of the Jesuit, the special roles of each and every one of us.  Everyone matters.  The truth of this is overwhelming yet it connects with each and every pain body reaction that occurs.  Pain gives us an opportunity to dive deep and look for what needs to change and  accepted with that same base of Love and Truth.   Here’s to encouragement and perseverance.  Taming the pain body lion is an act of your own truth and a connection to the Universal one.  I wish myself and the reader the tools of a compassionate Lion Tamer.fire lion

Spider Sense – Weaving through the Wheel of Life

spider image 1Spider entered my path this weekend; not in the usual “see on the wall” kind of way.  Instead, it was the result of a bad fall on the sidewalk of life – only this time it was of the concrete type.  I fell directly on both knees and face which I quickly realized was one of those “bad falls”.  A woman pulled into the driveway near where I was sitting/laying and got out of her car. She was older, dressed in one of those brightly colored tunic tops; her reddish short hair possibly with a scarf in it as I recall.  Actually, I remember wondering if she lived in the house and was just returning home. Stopping for me was not in my radar.   She walked over and said, “This happened to me two years ago and no one stopped for a long time.  I remember just laying there and no one came.”  I thanked her angel presence and assured her that I could make the short walk home.  The last few days have been spent figuring out how to walk up steps and get on and off chairs as my knees were quite painful.  Just on the verge of  Memorial Day weekend, I’d planned many activities/tasks that “really needed to get done” and looked forward to time with my family.   Things were now different and I sat there in frustration and tension created from the negative emotions.   One of the healing tools that I frequently use with clients is  what I call “my animal cards”.  These cards were created within a mystical and historical context and have been “right on” for many in challenging situations.  Now, I was the one who needed guidance.  Spider was chosen – the keynote: Creativity and the Weaving of Fate.  I did some research about Spider medicine and found deep secrets embedded.  That’s the magic in these cards – it’s all about what is awakened or related to by the individual.    According to Ted Andrews in Animal Speaks, in India, it was associated with Maya, the weaver of illusion.  It has connections to the Fates in Greek mythology and the Norns in Scandinavian lore – women who would weave, measure and cut the threads of life.  To the Native Americans, spider is grandmother, the link to the past and the future.

The body of the spider has 2 sections which gives the appearance of an eight when on it’s side.  This is the symbol of infinity.  It is the wheel of life, flowing from one circle to the next.  It isn’t always easy navigating those circles or balance between past and future, male and female, physical and spiritual.  Spider is the symbol of infinite possibilities of creation.  Do I want to caught up into the web and become dinner, succoming to the illusion of just one perspective or be open to other dimensions to the situation?  Why did this happen to me now?  Now what am I going to do?  Of course, I did that for awhile and noticed the impact of that negative thinking pattern.  This is an all too familiar road for most of us humans – probably since the first stories of spider appeared.  This web of fate also represents a wheel of life, the tendency to polarize (good or bad, all or nothing approach) With this line of thinking we forget that we can change things at any time rather than being consumed by our fears and limitations.

Spider symbolizes creativity.  Creativity is the antidote to stress is the phrase I often repeat to others.   Suddenly the idea to CREATE  takes on a new perspective for me.  Funny how that happens when we are busy making other plans.  Andrews states that spider, because of its characteristics is associated with three expressions of magic: the energy of creation, creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web,and assertiveness of that creative force: keeping the creative energies of creation alive and strong.  The third expression involves the spiders spiral energies.   “Are you moving towards a central goal or are you scattered and going in different directions?”  This may involve looking at ourselves with reflection and asking ourselves some questions.  Are you over focused on others or too self absorbed in your own matters?  Do you notice the emotion of resentment in your life?  Balance and creativity are key concepts to learn about spider totems.  Totems are another term for spirit animal to help us in our life journeys.  We have close connections to nature in all aspects of our lives, what we eat, wear, love and nurture.  Respecting what animals symbolize is powerful, positive and fun!  When things aren’t going as we want, seek out ways to connect with your animal totem.  In my case, I am stepping up my creativity by spending time thinking about my creative abilities and asking the question “Are there new ways to be creative at this moment?”  Thinking positively can be very creative when it is not your norm.

Earlier this week, I was drawn to review a book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, The Wheel of Life.   She is known for her groundbreaking work on death and dying and teaching others about the stages of grief and loss.  Her work with terminally ill  adults and children helped “humanize” medical settings in how they approached the dying process.  In this book she writes about her own dying process, the suffering she experienced over a long period of time and how she applied her own principles to herself.  She felt  a purpose for what she was experiencing despite the angst.  She summarizes her life truths very succinctly:  “The sole purpose of life is to grow – the ultimate lesson is learning how to love and be loved unconditionally. ”  All the hardships that come to your life, all the tribulations, and nightmares, all the things you see as punishments from God are in reality like gifts – they are an opportunity to grow – which is the sole purpose of life.” Taking steps to love self and others…basically the base of therapy and recovery from stress and trauma.   I remember being on the same elevator as Elisabeth during a conference she was speaking at in Winnipeg in the early 1980’s.  She was a very small woman with a German accent whom I knew little about; but this moment was one of those unforgettable memories of life to appreciate now.  Sometimes the rug is pulled out from under you; whether the size is big or small, these rug moments make you pay attention.

When we pay attention, life speaks.   spider image 2

Spider Sense – Weaving through the Wheel of Life

Spider entered my path this weekend; not in the usual “see on the wall” kind of way.  Instead, it was the result of a bad fall on the sidewalk of life – only this time it was of the concrete type.  I fell directly on both knees and face which I quickly realized was one of those “bad falls”.

A woman pulled into the driveway near where I was sitting/laying and got out of her car. She was older, dressed in one of those brightly colored tunic tops; her reddish short hair possibly with a scarf in it as I recall.  Actually, I remember wondering if she lived in the house and was just returning home. Stopping for me was not in my radar.   She walked over and said, “This happened to me two years ago and no one stopped for a long time.  I remember just laying there and no one came.”

I thanked her angel presence and assured her that I could make the short walk home.  The last few days have been spent figuring out how to walk up steps and get on and off chairs as my knees were quite painful.  Just on the verge of  Memorial Day weekend, I’d planned many activities/tasks that “really needed to get done” and looked forward to time with my family.

Things were now different and I sat there in frustration and tension created from the negative emotions.   One of the healing tools that I frequently use with clients is  what I call “my animal cards”.  These cards were created within a mystical and historical context and have been “right on” for many in challenging situations.  Now, I was the one who needed guidance.  Spider was chosen – the keynote: Creativity and the Weaving of Fate.

I did some research about Spider medicine and found deep secrets embedded.  That’s the magic in these cards – it’s all about what is awakened or related to by the individual.    According to Ted Andrews in Animal Speaks, in India, it was associated with Maya, the weaver of illusion.  It has connections to the Fates in Greek mythology and the Norns in Scandinavian lore – women who would weave, measure and cut the threads of life.  To the Native Americans, spider is grandmother, the link to the past and the future.

The body of the spider has 2 sections which gives the appearance of an eight when on it’s side.  This is the symbol of infinity.  It is the wheel of life, flowing from one circle to the next.  It isn’t always easy navigating those circles or balance between past and future, male and female, physical and spiritual.

Spider is the symbol of infinite possibilities of creation.  Do I want to caught up into the web and become dinner, succumbing to the illusion of just one perspective or be open to other dimensions to the situation?  Why did this happen to me now?  Now what am I going to do?  Of course, I did that for awhile and noticed the impact of that negative thinking pattern.

This is an all too familiar road for most of us humans – probably since the first stories of spider appeared.  This web of fate also represents a wheel of life, the tendency to polarize (good or bad, all or nothing approach) With this line of thinking we forget that we can change things at any time rather than being consumed by our fears and limitations.

Spider symbolizes creativity.  Creativity is the antidote to stress is the phrase I often repeat to others.   Suddenly the idea to CREATE  takes on a new perspective for me.  Funny how that happens when we are busy making other plans.  Andrews states that spider, because of its characteristics is associated with three expressions of magic: the energy of creation, creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web,and assertiveness of that creative force: keeping the creative energies of creation alive and strong.  The third expression involves the spiders spiral energies.

“Are you moving towards a central goal or are you scattered and going in different directions?”  This may involve looking at ourselves with reflection and asking ourselves some questions.  Are you over focused on others or too self absorbed in your own matters?  Do you notice the emotion of resentment in your life?  Balance and creativity are key concepts to learn about spider totems.  Totems are another term for spirit animal to help us in our life journeys.  We have close connections to nature in all aspects of our lives, what we eat, wear, love and nurture.  Respecting what animals symbolize is powerful, positive and fun!  When things aren’t going as we want, seek out ways to connect with your animal totem.  In my case, I am stepping up my creativity by spending time thinking about my creative abilities and asking the question “Are there new ways to be creative at this moment?”  Thinking positively can be very creative when it is not your norm.

Earlier this week, I was drawn to review a book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, The Wheel of Life.   She is known for her groundbreaking work on death and dying and teaching others about the stages of grief and loss.  Her work with terminally ill  adults and children helped “humanize” medical settings in how they approached the dying process.

In this book she writes about her own dying process, the suffering she experienced over a long period of time and how she applied her own principles to herself.  She felt  a purpose for what she was experiencing despite the angst.  She summarizes her life truths very succinctly:  “The sole purpose of life is to grow – the ultimate lesson is learning how to love and be loved unconditionally. ”  All the hardships that come to your life, all the tribulations, and nightmares, all the things you see as punishments from God are in reality like gifts – they are an opportunity to grow – which is the sole purpose of life.” Taking steps to love self and others…basically the base of therapy and recovery from stress and trauma.

I remember being on the same elevator as Elisabeth during a conference she was speaking at in Winnipeg in the early 1980’s.  She was a very small woman with a German accent whom I knew little about; but this moment was one of those unforgettable memories of life to appreciate now.  Sometimes the rug is pulled out from under you; whether the size is big or small, these rug moments make you pay attention.

When we pay attention, life speaks.   spider image 2

 

Fifty Shades of Midwest Intimacy

 

The countdown began as the media and modern day America prepared for the opening day of 50 Shades of Gray.  Talk shows buzzed and parties planned; romance business blossomed on this February Valentines weekend.  I noticed the parking lots full at the local theater where they were showing the film multiple times in as many theaters.   Marketing wise, what a brilliant idea – sex, love and romance – big movie and even bigger hopes and fantasies of many of the fans.  I didn’t read 50 Shades of Gray until I had several clients reference it.  I have to admit, I didn’t read it to the end.  When I found out there were 2 more books following the main characters and  got the gist of just how steamy and edgy it was, I could just imagine the rest.  It didn’t take long to “get engaged” as I scoped out a few more sections at the end.

 

From E L James’s book, Fifty Shades of Grey; Ana is thinking during a visit to her mother: “What does Christian know of love?  Seems he didn’t get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother’s words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell what do you need?  A neon sign flashing on his forehead?  She thinks Christian loves me, buth then she’s my mother, of course she’d think that.  She thinks I deserve the best of everything.  I frown.  It’s true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it.  Its’ very simple: I want his love.  I need   Christian Gray to love me.  this is why I am so reticent about our relationship – and because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished…..and because of his fifty shades, I am holding myself back.”

 

Ana goes on to say that all is meaningless without his love and expressed her fears that he may not be capable of such love because of the abuse he experienced in his complicated relationship with his mother.  Still, the sex is amazingly fierce, creative and prolonged.  The scenes are filled with passion, youth, fantasy, and hope.  I’m engrossed again…but wait!  Today is Valentines Day, the day many couples will relate with each other in countless ways – beautiful and messy  as the case may be.  Most couples that I work with are seeking love and acceptance and priority – that feeling they are Number 1.  When dreams fade, symptoms and problems begin.  It can be a long and windy road once the bumpy road of frustration/conflict begins.  But Wait!  Can this relationship be saved?  Can my dreams be once again resurrected?   Can we once again feel the attraction or the passion or the warmth of positivity; that state of being that embodies trust and well-being, creativity and safety of soul?  Many relationships fail – their intentions and abilities to do the work are not able to create a new style and foundation.  The passion of the beginning, the unknown, the unbearable state of excitement and anxiety – the brain bathed in the love cocktail of endorphins and dopamine.  Not all couples fall into this intensity of emotion but all experience the illusion of creating something good and feeling happy withing their relationship.

intimacy-picture2-300x286 Intimacy is that combination of confiding (sharing our thoughts and emotions) and physical touch.  Sexuality is the connection glue – powerful.  The combination of being open to explore each other’s bodies and minds and respecting one another’s differences.  Most of us Mid-westerners were not brought up in these open/affectionate households.  Stoicism  – a family trait in many of our family lineages still rules.  Being reserved, private and role-oriented.  This worked to help us survive; it doesn’t help us thrive.  We need to THRIVE!  We can do it!  But we can’t do it alone.  In my practice, I see a common theme of misunderstandings and resentments that zap the zing out of a healthy sensual life and creates symptoms we do not want to have in our life.  When they persist, we get sick…one way or the other so to speak.  We all deserve loving relationships and to get our needs met.  The book I routinely suggest is Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson.  There, you can test yourself and learn the inside scoop on why our early childhood, stress and negative beliefs impact us so much.  Just like Christian Gray, he had many shades and shadows to his life.  Just like Ana, who was attracted to his complicated energy to experience “the wild side” of love and sensuality, sex and maturity.  I have yet to finish the Shades of Gray series  – to see the evolution of these 2 characters of fiction who have touched and inspired many, both positive and negative reviews to take note of these sides to our humanity.

 

I encourage couples to have massage tables, use fantasy and role play, experiment with passionate essential oils, and have or learn to have fun together.   Many of us never learned that as kids – that was not on the top of the survival tool kit.  Fun can be learned – I’ve seen it done.  Start with intention, a beginners mind and avoid all judgement.  If there are negative emotions, see them together as a sedgeway to learning something new.   Seeking therapy is one tool but there are others as well.  The first step is doing a Couple Check up.  Know about your relationship!  There are several on-line resources for this as well as resources for learning how to “spice up” your sexual relationship in a healthy and loving manner.  Search couple check up and Better Sex.com., goDesana.com/newpath (romance oils)  Awareness has turned on America and beyond.  Let’s use this for the good and keep the chatter going.

 

50 Shades of Midwest Intimacy

fifty shades of greyThe countdown began as the media and modern day America prepared for the opening day of 50 Shades of Gray.  Talk shows buzzed and parties planned; romance business blossomed on this February Valentines weekend.  I noticed the parking lots full at the local theater where they were showing the film multiple times in as many theaters.   Marketing wise, what a brilliant idea – sex, love and romance – big movie and even bigger hopes and fantasies of many of the fans.  I didn’t read 50 Shades of Gray until I had several clients reference it.  I have to admit, I didn’t read it to the end.  When I found out there were 2 more books following the main characters and  got the gist of just how steamy and edgy it was, I could just imagine the rest.  It didn’t take long to “get engaged” as I scoped out a few more sections at the end.

From E L James’s book, Fifty Shades of Grey; Ana is thinking during a visit to her mother: “What does Christian know of love?  Seems he didn’t get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother’s words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell what do you need?  A neon sign flashing on his forehead?  She thinks Christian loves me, buth then she’s my mother, of course she’d think that.  She thinks I deserve the best of everything.  I frown.  It’s true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it.  Its’ very simple: I want his love.  I need   Christian Gray to love me.  this is why I am so reticent about our relationship – and because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished…..and because of his fifty shades, I am holding myself back.”

Ana goes on to say that all is meaningless without his love and expressed her fears that he may not be capable of such love because of the abuse he experienced in his complicated relationship with his mother.  Still, the sex is amazingly fierce, creative and prolonged.  The scenes are filled with passion, youth, fantasy, and hope.  I’m engrossed again…but wait!  Today is Valentines Day, the day many couples will relate with each other in countless ways – beautiful and messy  as the case may be.  Most couples that I work with are seeking love and acceptance and priority – that feeling they are Number 1.  When dreams fade, symptoms and problems begin.  It can be a long and windy road once the bumpy road of frustration/conflict begins.  But Wait!  Can this relationship be saved?  Can my dreams be once again resurrected?   Can we once again feel the attraction or the passion or the warmth of positivity; that state of being that embodies trust and well-being, creativity and safety of soul?  Many relationships fail – their intentions and abilities to do the work are not able to create a new style and foundation.  The passion of the beginning, the unknown, the unbearable state of excitement and anxiety – the brain bathed in the love cocktail of endorphins and dopamine.  Not all couples fall into this intensity of emotion but all experience the illusion of creating something good and feeling happy withing their relationship.  Intimacy is that combination of confiding (sharing our thoughts and emotions) and physical touch.  Sexuality is the connection glue – powerful.  The combination of being open to explore each other’s bodies and minds and respecting one another’s differences.  Most of us Mid-westerners were not brought up in these open/affectionate households.  Stoicism  – a family trait in many of our family lineages still rules.  Being reserved, private and role-oriented.  This worked to help us survive; it doesn’t help us thrive.  We need to THRIVE!  We can do it!  But we can’t do it alone.  In my practice, I see a common theme of misunderstandings and resentments that zap the zing out of a healthy sensual life and creates symptoms we do not want to have in our life.  When they persist, we get sick…one way or the other so to speak.  We all deserve loving relationships and to get our needs met.  The book I routinely suggest is Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson.  There, you can test yourself and learn the inside scoop on why our early childhood, stress and negative beliefs impact us so much.  Just like Christian Gray, he had many shades and shadows to his life.  Just like Ana, who was attracted to his complicated energy to experience “the wild side” of love and sensuality, sex and maturity.  I have yet to finish the Shades of Gray series  – to see the evolution of these 2 characters of fiction who have touched and inspired many, both positive and negative reviews to take note of these sides to our humanity.sensual-touch

I encourage couples to have massage tables, use fantasy and role play, experiment with passionate essential oils, and have or learn to have fun together.   Many of us never learned that as kids – that was not on the top of the survival tool kit.  Fun can be learned – I’ve seen it done.  Start with intention, a beginners mind and avoid all judgement.  If there are negative emotions, see them together as a sedgeway to learning something new.   Seeking therapy is one tool but there are others as well.  The first step is doing a Couple Check up.  Know about your relationship!  There are several on-line resources for this as well as resources for learning how to “spice up” your sexual relationship in a healthy and loving manner.  Search couple check up and Better Sex.com., goDesana.com/newpath (romance oils)  Awareness has turned on America and beyond.  Let’s use this for the good and keep the chatter going.