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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
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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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A non-exaustive list of ways to be happier on the daily

1. If it can be done or tidied quickly, do it

2. Drink more water

3. Text someone “hey, how are you today?”

4. Hug someone, if no one is available: hug a tree

5. Get 8-9 hours of sleep

6. Don’t watch TV

7. Go outside for 5 minutes and just observe nature, in whatever form you can (sky, birds, blades of grass, tree branches)

8. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner

9. Wake up 20 minutes before you “have to”

10. Exercise. Even 10 squats before climbing into bed.

11. Look at funny memes/comics

12. Read something

13. Reflect on one happy memory

14. Fantasize about travel

15. Eat a piece of candy or chocolate

16. Unsubscribe to/unfollow something that annoys you

17. Subscribe to/follow something that inspires you

18. Write down 3 things that don’t suck

19. Call a relative

20. Dance

21. Choose a few items you can donate

22. Tell yourself, seriously, that you are doing a great job

23. Open your mail

24. Meditate

25. Play a board game

26. Sing along to your jams from a simpler time

What would you add??

DBT, Inspiration, mental health

Hiking

I love to hike. At the risk of sounding like one of those health-nut hippie, save-the-earth types, I must encourage you to join me in my love of hiking! When I say hiking, I am sure most of you think of long, strenuous trips across rugged and lonely trails; and while sometimes that is true, often it’s a shorter jaunt down a simple path.

A hike, in my opinion, is any walk taken in nature with no electronic devices. A hike could be .25 miles at a local park or 4 miles at a larger campground, forest, nature preserve, etc

Here are a FEW (of many) reasons why hiking matters so much:

  • Metaphors – look at this tree.  Do you ever feel like you are barely hanging on? This tree gets it! I love finding trees near creeks that have exposed roots or like this, mid-forest, that remind me that all living beings have such hidden strength! When you feel like you’re going to fall apart, nature will visibly show you that you have deep roots and strength that you never thought imaginable!

  • Slow down – Scenes like the one below remind me to STOP.  Nature has a way of being serene and subtle…and in a world that seems to be going at break-neck speeds, a reminder to slow down is more than required for me!

  • Connect – as a parent, sometimes my kids drive me crazy! Whether you have kids or not, hiking reminds me to connect and bond with those I love.  I often hike alone, and still come out with more appreciation and love for those in my life! The quiet stillness of nature prompts a lot of internal reflection on relationships and where I want to put my energy.  When hiking with friends/family, I am reminded what I love about them.  Without all of the distractions in other life-realms, hiking lets me see their true self and appreciate why I have invited them into my life.

  • Listen – while nature is generally quiet, it really isn’t! Hearing something like the waterfall in this photo reminds me to tune into what’s really happening in my life. Listening reminds me to tune into what is really happening: in my body, in my home, at work, in my mind, etc. As a culture, we don’t always take time to hear what other’s are saying to us…we look but don’t see and we hear but don’t listen.

 

If you are familiar with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, I encourage you to find as many skills as you can within hiking.  I will tell you that for me, it’s almost all of them!

  • Within the mindfulness module: I observe, describe and participate in hiking.  I do it one-mindfully, effectively and non-judgmentally.  Hiking helps me get into my wise mind, when I am struggling with fiery impulses of emotion mind or analysis paralysis of rational mind.
  • Within the emotion regulation module: Hiking allows me to implement self-inquire needed to explore what is happening with my cycle of emotions. It reduces my future vulnerabilities.  Hiking reminds me to check the facts in situations that I am struggling with. It is a clear example of building mastery, accumulating positives (long and short term), prioritizing my physical activity/health,
  • Within the distress tolerance module: I do use hiking as intense exercise and while hiking I often do paced breathing (TIPP skill), hiking is a distracting activity that generates different emotions and some strong sensations (cold stream water, muscle fatigue) which are parts of ACCEPTS. I use a lot of the IMPROVE strategies in the woods (finding prayer and meaning, being on a mini-vacation, being one in the moment, etc).  Lastly, hiking is almost always a required component for me to work toward radical acceptance!
  • Within the interpersonal effectiveness module: hiking is a time that I can reflect on my current conflicts and plan out DEARMAN communication strategies.  It seems to put things into perspective faster than in any other setting.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get out there! Hiking is free and can open up personal change in a way you may have struggled to experience before!

 

DBT, Inspiration, mental health

Mindfulness and Hot Tea

I was sitting here reflecting on what to write about when I noticed my mug of tea.  To some, it may seem irrelevant; however I try not to do things that aren’t on purpose (meaning, I like to be mindfully awake to my life: what and why I make choices).  Mindfulness means that you happen to your life, not the other way around.  When I used to be less aware and less mindful, I would often go all day without drinking anything…or i’d be half way through a frappachino before I realized that I had ordered it.

Being mindful and tuning into my body, my emotions, my urges, my sensations…has allowed me to notice when I am thirsty, when my body needs a hug, when I am feeling overwhelmed.  This is not a bad thing or a thing to fear as many believe; rather, it allows me the chance to make wise-minded choices.

Hot tea is like a warm hug from the inside.  When I sip my tea, I feel nurtured and cared for.  It reminds me to slow down.  The process of making tea can be a mindful practice on it’s own: experiencing the smells, sounds, sensations, etc.  Hot tea is not something I drink fast either, which makes it a lovely reminder to slow down and enjoy this one moment. The reality is, that all we have is this one moment. Now is now. You might as well enjoy it!

The reality is that my moment currently doesn’t look as beautiful as the photo above…yet when I close my eyes and take a sip, I can transport myself to that photo each time!