So is fear your friend or your foe? I say it depends. If your gut is giving you a reality check that is saying “watch out for this person they’re not trustworthy” and the person really is questionable, then fear is your friend. If it is telling you that it’s not safe to leave your house because “there are scary monsters out there that are going to take advantage of me and hurt me” then you are being held hostage by it. The important thing is to think about your feelings and do a reality check with what you actually know to be true. Now tonight there actually WILL be scary monsters out there…….but mostly they’re under 10 so I think we’re going to be ok!!! Happy Halloween. Have fun tonight and stay safe!!
Monster Mash, with Vincent Price
No one gets married thinking “Well… I’ll give us a 60/40 chance of making it”. Typically the relationship at that point is positive, hopeful and full of dreams and promise. The decisions are exciting ones about buying houses, having children and travel. This life we are all living is a classroom. We never stop learning and marriages are one of the primary modes of learning. I always say….”Pick someone you like as a spouse because that’s who is going to help you work off your rough spots”. When marriages come up against illness, financial changes, loss, triggers around trauma from the past, or the whole host of stresses that life can throw at us….it’s like putting a magnifying glass to the individual values, needs, and skills contained within the relationship. It’s during these times that we are challenged to develop skills, reevaluate values and prioritize needs. Ultimately, for intimacy, you need two people who are able to trust each other, be capable of being present, have the skills to communicate with authenticity and decide upon a common vision for their lives together. Without these things then one or both parties will need to ….as Darwin would say….”adapt, migrate or perish”. Ultimately you are responsible for your life. Decide what you need to do, to live in love and abundance rather than fear and scarcity. And learn, and love…and learn and forgive….and learn and grow……and make the best of the time you have here.
So everyone has a different comfort zone regarding chaos and clutter. Some people like things absolutely neat and ‘in order’ and some like a house that’s a little bit ‘homier’. These are just different standards….one is not better than the other. However, if you have a goal of feeling calmer or more at peace, then the outside scenario needs to match the standard or value you have on the inside. And if your mind is cluttered, or you don’t know what matters to you and what your priorities are in life, then having clutter and chaos on the outside can make it difficult to figure that out. And how does that make your butt look big you ask? Because then you tend to feel overwhelmed and scared or shameful so you shut down and cope in old and adaptive ways that don’t solve the problem. This can trigger, but is not limited to, overeating, drinking or any of the numerous avoidant behaviours …..it could be reading magazines…but it is NOT solving the problem! So…..the important thing is to decide ‘who am I’? What matters to me, and is my behaviour matching what I say matters to me? And then your butt won’t get so big!!!! lol
I’m always aware of how this time of year can trigger loss for people. There is the falling of leaves, the coming of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and other December holidays….. and then winter………….(Let’s not even go there right now!!!) It can be easy to fall into a mindset of bah-humbug. So when we are faced with really difficult times it is especially important to focus on gratitude. A regular practice really helps shift your mood if you are getting stuck in your sadness.
So when I was thinking about doing this blog post related to Thanksgiving I thought.... I am grateful for: the lovely weather and the gorgeous colours in the leaves on the trees; the music I was listening to that gave me some ideas for more blog posts (!!!!....stay tuned!); my friends and family who provide so much joy and laughter and keep me humble about how much I have yet to learn; my body for still working on my behalf everyday all day for so many years; the delicious food that I get to eat because I live in such a wealthy country; the great space I get to work out of every day; and for all the people who come to see me who teach me more than textbooks or conferences could ever teach about the realities of living life. From the bottom of my heart…..I thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.
So a lot of articles get written about body image and how we should care about our bodies and take care of them well. However…. at the same time….we are bombarded with messages about what they should look like to REALLY be valuable/attractive etc. These messages are increasing for men in advertising now too so as a society we are not necessarily moving in the healthy direction. I like to think of the outer layer of my body as ‘the coat I wear’. Now….don’t get me wrong….I like nice coats and funky jackets!! But what matters more to me as I age is that …..for the most part!!!....all my parts work. My eyes can see, my arms can lift and hug and write and my legs get me places and teach a mean step class!!! Lol If you go to an old age home and look at all the walkers lined up outside the dining room you begin to appreciate that the function of our bodies matters more than the look. And THAT’S why it’s important to take care of them. I think Laura Smith put it really well in her song “I’m a beauty”. Enjoy.
'I'm a beauty' - sung by Laura Smith
Jian Ghomeshi interviews Caitlin Moran about her book, ‘How to Build a Girl’
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), as I see it and use it, is an integrative form of therapy that helps people's mind, body and spirit work together in the present in a more empowered way by using bilateral stimulation of the left and right brain. WHAT???!!!! OK....let me try again. We are our healthiest selves when we are thinking and feeling at the same time while we are focused and making conscious choices about what is happening in the present moment. In other words: we are not fearing the future; we are not rehashing the past; we are not avoiding our feelings and our body by 'hiding' in our heads; and we are not avoiding our thoughts by collapsing into our feelings about the past. Being healthy means we are present. We are taking responsibility for our bodies, our minds and our spirit. We are focused and accountable to who and what matters to us and we are moving forward in the direction that we want to be going in. (The caveat is that people have differing standards for 'healthy' and differing tolerances for their own and other peoples' coping styles.) However, the topic is EMDR and PTSD so let's get back to that. So, using EMDR, I will have people name what their issue is and where they store the tension around the issue in their body. Then I have them visualize what the picture is of how the issue makes them feel and report on what internal messages get triggered. While they have their eyes closed (no hypnosis or altered states) and they are processing the issue, I bilaterally stimulate their brains through tapping on their knees. (Some clinicians use eye movements and others use sound.) At various points throughout the process resources would be integrated to internally shift their experience into a more empowered response. At the end of the session we review what significant events happened during the EMDR that brought the initial distress down. Between therapy appointments, if the person experiences distress then they can remember back to those moments and draw upon the resources that helped them to feel empowered. In a large brushstroke blog I hope that this helps to explain EMDR a little bit. The rest is an art form developed between the individual and the therapist. Resources are different for everyone. Where nature and quiet might be just what one person needs; running and socializing might be for another. The important thing is to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and you can trust. It is important as a client to feel safe and present in the therapists office and aware that you are 'dipping your toe' into the distress in order to heal that issue into the present. You are not 'jumping into the photo album of your life' and having the therapist climb in after you. The therapist needs to be checking in with the client often during the EMDR to assess when resources need to be brought in. The client needs to be reporting authentically what is going on in their mind, body and spirit. The client is also responsible for keeping themselves in what I call the 'window of tolerance'. That is the healthy zone of feeling and thinking at the same time. It's very similar to the analogy of going to the gym and deciding to get fit. It would be irresponsible of a personal trainer to work someone out before finding out what their baseline fitness level is. They have to find out their baseline and then grow their tolerance for working out. As a therapist, I have to work with clients to find out their baseline regarding distress. Then we work together to grow their tolerance for thinking and feeling at the same time while they are distressed. If someone gets too distraught or is unable to think clearly when I ask a question then I have them ground themselves into the present or visualize a safe place where they can feel calm. Once they are calm and grounded then we break down the issue into smaller chunks so that it is manageable for them to process. Hopefully this explains EMDR to people who want to heal around all kinds of trauma and PTSD. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have further questions. Cheers! Lee