Inspiration, mental health

#truthbombs about being judged

How do you handle being judged because you are different? I can tell you that my go-to is to judge “them” right back. I can tell you that my go-to is anger. I can tell you that I’ve had to WAKE UP about this in recent years…and it was a rough awakening.

I thought I was pretty woke when it came to stigma, racism, homophobia, being accepting, not judging, etc…but then my white privilege started to show and I had to do some work on myself.  (Don’t stop reading).  I didn’t even know what white privilege really was until a few years ago, in fact, the topic used to bother me because I felt like I was being judged for something that wasn’t my fault.  In short, white privilege is the freedom I was able to experience because I never had to experience the looks, stares, comments, eye rolls, and judgments of others over my skin. I never had to worry about whether people thought my parents were lazy because I acted like a damn fool (and I did act like a damn fool).  I never had to wonder if I would be asked to get out of my car when pulled over.  I KNEW in my heart that I could cry my way out of a detention in 6th grade (and I did).  These are not freedoms granted to persons of color and I woke up to this when I adopted my daughters, who are not white. I thought that because I had plenty of friends who were black, that I understood what their experience was.  I thought that because I earned an advanced degree in social work, that I knew about stigma.

I was not ready for the ceaseless comments about them, our family, their “situation”, etc.  I was so ignorant to the systematic racism that still exists and 5 years ago I would not have believed you if you tried to tell me.   I was not ready to experience (secondhand) the judgement of my kids by their peers, their teachers, the public…

Stay with me…

My first reaction was to judge them as ignorant. Live with anger. Try to shield my kids. But that was MY ignorance.  Ignorance is not an insult in this sense. Ignorance means “lack of knowledge” and I did have a lack of knowledge that led me to believe that my truth was the only truth and that my judging other people would somehow inspire them to change.  I was SO wrong. SO VERY WRONG.

So how do you become less angry when people judge you? You educate yourself. YOU educate YOURSELF. You learn about the other person’s point of view.  You need to wake the hell up to their reality and only then will you be able to have an understanding about why their truth has truth. Only then will you be able to put your own judgments aside and possibly have a relationship with the other person.

American culture is at quite a crossroads in my opinion.  We currently have people alive and interacting with one another that lived through segregation and integration. The criminalization of and decriminalization of gay marriage, women earning the right to vote, a first black president, the fear of radical Muslims after 9/11 and our current movement toward inclusion.  We are a nation divided on topics of sexism, racism, homophobia, religious freedoms, left vs right, etc.  I can tell you that the answer is not to judge and blame. The only way through this mess is to openly discuss our differences and WHY there is truth to “our side”…WHILE looking for the truth in “their side”.

Beliefs from childhood are very hard to change. So if someone is judging you, remember it isn’t personal…it’s likely that something about you is foreign to them and they aren’t sure what to do with it…so their natural inclination is to push it away/judge it/make a face of disgust. That is the same way you would probably react to something new/different/foreign.

 

 

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DBT, Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

Self- Assessment

I have created this “worksheet” of sorts to to help people identify where they might have room for growth in therapy.  We all have areas for growth, we all have areas of strength. Consider these questions to guide you in your journey (with a therapist or without)!

 

In what areas are making emotionally based choices?

Consider the following areas. Do you tend to give into short term impulses in any specific areas?

  • Food/eating _____________________________________________________________
  • Time management (working/playing) ________________________________________­
  • Anger impulses __________________________________________________________
  • Social Anxiety ___________________________________________________________
  • Fears ___________________________________________________________________
  • Sleep schedule____________________________________________________________
  • Self-harming behaviors_____________________________________________________
  • Substance abuse __________________________________________________________
  • Emotional urges __________________________________________________________
  • Trying to “fit in” _________________________________________________________

 

Are you able to identify any areas that you do well in exercising restraint against urges and making more mindful choices?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Inspiration, mental health

DO HARD THINGS

So, I did a hard thing recently: I left my kids for a week and backpacked over 25 miles in 4 days around the Pacific Northwest in Olympic National Park. None of that was easy. There were seemingly a million things in the way of me leaving:

  • The kids got shigella (parasite, sick, ew) and I missed two weeks of work, three weeks before the trip which took a toll on my work, my finances, my sanity, etc
  • I have a connective tissue disorder (just think really wobbly joints) and I’m not “supposed” to do that kind of strenuous exercise
  • There were two mass shootings in the 12 hours prior to our flight, I did not want to get on that plane
  • I have food allergies that make it really difficult to eat when traveling….much less when backpacking!
  • Due to the kids’ illness, I hadn’t been conditioning like I should have been…

I’ll just pause there, on top of all the normal stress of traveling, there were a lot of things that made it seem “too hard” to follow through on this trip. And yet, I went. There were times that I was SO tired (oddly, sleeping by a rushing river kept me awake!) and SO sore (I mean…so many miles with 30lbs on my back), and yet I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

The visual rewards were my favorite, it was impossible NOT to stay present with all that my eyes were taking in. I found that the solitude from social media and texting were a refreshing reset on my priorities. I’d encourage you to fast periodically from electronics to get clarity on what you really want to focus on, not on what your notifications tell you to focus on! Time away from your kids (or family) is also difficult (to be honest, this was my biggest struggle!) but I reminded myself that I want them to be strong independent women, and for that to happen, I need to model being a strong independent woman to them!

Please enjoy some of the peaceful moments I captured!

Uncategorized

Getting to Know Me…

I thought it would be fun to play a game with this bucket list. I’ll share what I’ve done and you can comment what you’ve done or want to do!

The Typical Bucket List

https://www.listchallenges.com/bucket-list-things

1. Skydive – Nope. NOPE. Never gonna happen.
2. Road Trip – Yep. I’ve taken a van trip across America (Ohio to San Diego, up the coast to San Francisco and back) with 12 artists.  It included a few nights on a Navajo Indian reservation, painting a mural on the side of a bridge, staying in a hostel, etc.  I also flew to Phoenix and road tripped back to Cincinnati with a friend.  I’ve also road tripped all over the midwest and southern United States.
3. Raised farm animals – do chickens and ducks count?
4. Watch Sunrise – yes. Many times. Camping, on a cruise, at home.
5. Roller coaster – little known fact: I LOVE them! I didn’t ride a single ride until age 15 because I was so scared, but when my friends drug me on one, I was hooked. I laugh hysterically while on them!
6. Snorkeling – yes. It’s amazing. I’ve done it twice in the Bahamas. Unfortunately due to my asthma, I won’t be able to snorkel again.
7. Scuba Diving – never tried.
8. Play an Instrument – No, and I regret it. I learned the fancy recorder in grade school and at the time was able to translate the skill into flute, clarinet, etc but I never actually tried.
9. Learn Another Language – yes. I was fairly fluent in both Spanish and American Sign Language; however, its a skill that you loose if you don’t use.
10. Fall in Love – yes
11. Donate to Charity – yes. Many ways and I believe it’s a very important task for ones mental health.
12. Disneyland – yes. I went to Disneyland AND Disney World when I was 24.  A friend worked there and got me in free. It was fun but not something I’d be eager to do again or with kids. It’s over-stimulating, expensive, and so…much…walking…..
13. Get Married – yes.
14. Buy a House – yes.
15. Go to a Concert – yes.  I have been to quite a few.  The top ones in my book: Less Than Jake, Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, Incubus, Nickleback, and most recently: Kane Brown.
16. Slept on the Beach – no…but that’s going to change next month!
17. See the Northern Lights – not yet!
18. Met Your Idol – I’ve met and trained under Marsha Linehan a number of times. She isn’t my idol but I do have a lot of respect and gratitude for her work in the mental health field.
19. Climb a Mountain – not a real summit hike but I’ve been to Clingman’s Dome which is the highest point in the Great Smokey Moutain’s National Park.
20. Ski in Aspen – Nope. Not a huge fan of the cold.
21. Hopped a fence – yes
22. Storm Chasing – no. I’m a scardy cat…however, I was in my house when a tornado jumped through my yard!
23. Protest – nope
24. Go on Safari – nope
25. Visit the Giza Pyramids – nope
26. Visit the Taj Mahal – nope
27. Visit the Grand Canyon – nope
28. Ride a Horse – yes, during a girl scout outing in elementary school…I am afraid of them as a result. It bucked up on two legs and freaked me out!
29. See the Ballet – yes. It’s enjoyable but not my favorite. I prefer Broadway.
30. Go to the Opera – yes, same as ballet
31. See a Show on Broadway – yes. So many! I get season tickets with my mom. I’ve also seen Wicked and The Lion King in NYC!
32. Visit the Eiffel Tower – no
33. Visit All the Countries in the World – no!
34. Visit the Great Wall of China – no
35. Walk the Kakoda Track – no
36. Have Children of Your Own – 3 adopted girls!
37. Set a Guinness World Record – not to my knowledge…who knows!
38. Learn to Surf – no
39. Hot Air Balloon Ride -no
40. Gamble in Las Vegas – nope, not a fan of gambling
41. Swim With Dolphins – yes. a very cool experience.
42. Helicopter Ride – no
43. Shower in a Waterfall – no
44. Ride an Elephant – no
45. Visit the Seven Wonders of the World – no
46. Whale Watching – no
47. New Year’s Eve in Times Square – no, but I have been to Time’s Square. All of those people in the cold doesn’t’ sound fun to me.
48. Donate Blood – yes numerous times, and I pass out every time, so I’m not able to do that any longer.
49. See the Mona Lisa – no
50. Bungee Jumping – NO NO NO NO
51. Ride a Camel in the Desert – no
52. Fly First Class -yes! I got an upgrade once and it was great!
53. Go to Mardi Gras – no, but I’ve been to Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  Again, the thought of all those people at once sounds terrible.
54. Zip Line – nope
55. Paint Ball – nope
56. Get a Tattoo – yes
57. Ride in a Limousine – yes
58. Paraglide – no
59. Go to Oktoberfest – no
60. Swim With Sharks – no
61. Run a Marathon – not a formal one. I’ve done a few 5k races though.
62. Go on a Cruise – yes…3. Once solo. I’m not a cruise person, I get bored.
63. Get a University Degree – yes (2)
64. Publish a Book – ALMOST! I am in the process of finishing the book and then trying to get a publishing deal!
65. Grape Stomping – no
66. Backpack Europe – no
67. Hold a Tarantula – no
68. Hold a Baby Sloth, in the Amazon Rain Forest – lol, no
69. Hold a Koala – no
70. Float in the Dead Sea – no…but I have done a float loft. A cool experience!
71. Go Zorbing – not even sure what that is?
72. Cliff Dive – yes
73. Fly a Plane – yes! A small 4 passenger.
74. Walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge – no
75. Attend Coachella – no
76. Be a Part of a Flash Mob – no
77. Visit Niagara Falls – when I was 2…I don’t remember it at all of course
78. Drive Route 66 – no
79. Gondola Ride – no
80. Volunteer – yes! a lot 🙂 It’s amazing for a person’s self worth!
81. Trek the Inca Trail – no
82. Water ski – no, I’m fearful of water…
83. Jump off a Bridge – no
84. Cooking Class – no
85. Sleep in a Castle – no
86. Ancient Ruins – no
87. Ride an Ostrich – no, do people do this?
88. Parasail – yes, a great experience!
89. Host an Exchange Student – no
90. Build a Treehouse – no
91. Learn to Ballroom Dance -no
92. Sit on a Jury -not yet
93. Sleep Under the Stars – yes! a few times at my families cabin
94. Ride a Bull – no
Inspiration, mental health

Choose Your Attitude

I am as guilty as anyone of falling into pessimistic thinking. I can throw a killer pity party…although no one ever wants to come. Sometimes I can even be downright judgmental. I think it is our cultures default to be negative…which is why we MUST exercise the muscle that allows us to find contentment.

Please hear me, the goal is not to turn you into Susie Sunshine…rather, my goal is to be a Neutral Nelly. It is a reality that no one wants to be near Negative Nancy…and that all humans are wired for connection. It isn’t a difficult equation to see that pessimism won’t yield a great deal of relationships (especially not any enjoyable ones). Learning to see the “ok”, “not awful”, “possibly decent” parts of life can be a difficult journey. It only takes one check-out lane to prove that point. Our media tends to be overly negative and overly panic-inducing. FEAR sells!

Initially, trying to be less negative for me was like trying to strengthen a muscle that I didn’t think I had. I would get so frustrated and I found myself thinking that other people were naturally born more optimistic and that it wasn’t a choice. WRONG! While biology (nature) and your environment (nurture) certainly play a role, we are all humans with free will! This means we can train ourselves to think differently! With (a lot of) practice and persistence, you will find your inner Positive Polly and begin to see the world in a less hateful way!

Here are my life hacks on how:

1. Keep a gratitude journal. Every.Damn.Day. Every single day you need to jot down and really savor a few things that you are grateful for. These can be really big things or really simple things. They can be things you noticed in the world or things you accomplished. Sometimes (on hard days) I ask myself “what doesn’t suck right now?”. There are several apps that exist for this. I prefer an old school journal or the Bliss app.

2. Follow more positive on social media. Almost everything has a hashtag, consider following #mindfulness, #positivepsychology, or hashtags related to uplifting interests such as #abstractart or #nature to increase your enjoyable scrolling. You can also look up and follow businesses such as mine that put out encouragement and uplifting content.

3. Limit your time around Negative Nancy. She isn’t good for you.

4. Take walks. It matters, trust me. Het away from your desk, get our of your head, avoid the couch slump. Go play Wizards Unite or Pokemon Go if that helps! Download an app that helps you raise money for charities based on your steps, challenge yourself or a friend with a steps challenge…find ways to incentivise yourself!

5. Get enough sleep (8-9 hours in a row)! You need a solid foundation.

When you find yourself sinking into a negative headspace, try to become aware of it without beating yourself up. Over time you will learn which hacks work for you, and you can say to yourself “You’re getting negative. Go for a walk, it always helps…”!

DBT, Inspiration, mental health

You ALWAYS have a choice

Are you living crisis to crisis? Are there particular people, places, times, areas, thoughts that continually trip you up and cause problems? DBT® reminds us first that we ALWAYS have a choice.  You always have four basic choices in every situation.

  1. Solve the problem – this is the “no brainer” that we do if we can. It is a choice and merits remembering.
  2. Feel better about the problem – you do have a choice in what interpretation you use which will change how you feel about the problem. The risk here is if you keep trying to convince yourself that “it’s not that bad” when in reality it (or he, or she, or they) ARE that bad and you need to problem solve in a different way.  This is a GREAT option if you are a pessimist and tend to see the worst in everything.
  3. Tolerate the problem – when we tolerate a problem we aren’t changing much in terms of how we see or relate to it (which actually changes our emotional attachment to the problem), rather we are accepting it as a thorn in our side and using distraction whenever it starts to bother us again. This is helpful short term but not always helpful long term.
  4. Stay miserable/make it worse – I LOVE that we have this choice. The angsty teenager in me needs to be reminded that I can always say the thing or do the thing or throw the thing or refuse to show up, etc.  I need to mentally walk down that path sometimes in order to get unstuck from my “it’s not fair” temper tantrum that I sometimes throw.  An example of this could be when you find yourself resenting an obligation to show up somewhere (ie: work).  Remind yourself that you do not have to go.  You could stay home. You might get fired and then you wouldn’t have income, but you really do have that choice.  Walking down that path can remind us that we don’t want to loose our housing, we do want to have money for food and fun…therefore we will now use strategy #2 and choose to go, but with a different mindset.  You might adopt the mental mantra of “I’m choosing to go to work so that I can choose to buy the shoes I want” …which is different and less problematic than “I have to go to work, I hate my job, this sucks”.
DBT, Inspiration, mental health

Get out there…literally

I don’t think it’s a secret that I enjoy nature. There is something about being out in creation, alone or in company, that is truly awe inspiring and recharges my batteries.  What you may not know is that I am a generally fearful person…I am afraid of heights, speed, water, fish, large mammals in the wild…the list goes on…

In the spirit of trying new things and being out in nature today, I went kayaking for the first time! I have been boating, jet skiing and canoeing, but kayaking had always intimidated me because of the close proximity to the actual water and the increased (at least in my mind) risk of flipping! Today was the day though, I went…I paddled…I conquered!

Sitting so low to the water was incredibly peaceful. Being in the “rapids” (they were choppier, faster and deeper than I’d hoped for…) was exhilarating. Mindfulness was not a hard state of mind to achieve when paddling or floating down the river.  I spotted turtles, geese, ducks and numerous architectural oddities too!

DBT teaches us to accumulate positive events, which means to schedule fun stuff! As a mom of 3 that works full time, it’s hard. It takes effort. AND IT’S NECESSARY! If you want to have a relationship with yourself and others, you need to build into yourself and into your relationships.  I challenge myself to take off one day each month to just be.  It looks different every month; however, each month it’s crucial to reduce burnout and improve relationships. DBT teaches us to be mindful.  Mindfulness allows our brains to get a break from all of the STUFF that is ever-circling.  Mindfulness allows the dust to settle so that we can see clearly upon re-entry into our daily lives.

20190603_124212

Take time. 20190603_124220

Be present.

20190603_125528

Try new things. 20190603_134649

Accumulate positives in your life!

Inspiration, mental health

How to Make a Change

 

sail

So many of us WANT to do something different:

  • drink more water
  • eat differently
  • exercise more
  • forgive
  • live with less waste
  • speak up for ourselves
  • be more playful
  • keep a gratitude journal

…and yet we don’t.  Why don’t we make these changes in spite of (sometimes YEARS of) intending to? How do we make changes when we feel stuck and immobilized by our anxieties?

Research.

I have found over the years that one must build up the wind that will blow their own sails, rather than waiting for the conditions to be perfect. Researching what it is we want to do, helps us to remember WHY it’s a good idea each time our procrastination or resistance to change rears it’s ugly head.

Change takes time and it seems many of us get stuck in the step of contemplation…not sure how to get to action. I see research as a way to build a bridge, or lay stepping stones for yourself.  You cannot wait for other people to motivate you. You cannot wait for motivation to magically wash over you. You must fuel your own motivation by learning as much as you can about what you want to do and why!

I believe that we all have the power within to make changes. I also believe we all have the power within to utilize self-discipline!

Try it…take the next month to just commit to learning about your idea. This could be books, TED Talks, Youtube videos, blogs, magazines, consult with others, etc…

What is it that you want to change? Share with us what it is and how you will research it!

 

Uncategorized

Desiderata

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann © 1927

 

 

I was introduced to this poem today and have found it to be intensely inspiring and it is exactly what I needed to hear! Please read and enjoy, not at all my own work but I couldn’t keep it to myself!

Inspiration

A Candid Reflection on His Dream

If you have never read, or listened to, the full Martin Luther King Jrs iconic speech, then stop reading this and go do it. It is profound in a way that shakes me to my core.  I want to share with you the part that strikes me and stands out in my heart as a guidepost as I raise my children in this world that isn’t quite there yet…

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.”

We are still facing difficulties in our nation, we are still arguing about what the American dream really entails. We still have a land of bias – both implicit and overt.  We still judge others by the way they look.  We still have massive disparities between people of different: race, ethnicity, income, age, religion, etc. The facts are out there, this post is not to bog you down with statistics; I am happy to do so if you’d like.  I too dream of a day where our world is transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.  I too dream of a day where my children are not judged by the color of their skin…but by the content of their character.

Preach Dr. King, Preach. I wish that he could know the impact of his words.

Today my 4 year old asked why she didn’t have school.  “It’s a holiday”  I said.  “What holiday” she asked.  And in that moment I shed tears. I looked down at my beautiful brown-skinned daughter and it hit me all over again, that she will not be afforded the same opportunities as I was, simply because of the color of her skin.  Stop reading and educate yourself if you don’t believe that statement.  “Well babe, a long time ago, brown skinned people and white skinned people weren’t allowed to hang out. And that was really dumb wasn’t it? It makes me really sad to think about that.  Brown skinned people and white skinned people had to stay separated.  And a man named Martin Luther King Jr gave a big speech about how he thought we should all be friends.  Some people didn’t like that, so they killed him. So today we celebrate how smart he was”  She quickly added “Like Jesus?”. “Yes baby, like Jesus”.  

In that moment I shed more tears.  It hit me that while trans-racial adoption started and was legal in 1948, it was only legal for white people to adopt black kids, not the other way around.  In the time of his speech in 1963, I would not (as an unmarried white woman) been able to adopt my beautiful babies (for other injustices, which I am confident Mr. King would have been against as well).

So here I sit, after having reflected on this all day, shedding a few more tears about the fact that our world is broken.

I urge you to get to know people that are different than you. Get to know your neighbors. Bridge the gaps…love is really the only way through the mess we are in.