Wishing you and your loved ones a special time together during this season.
Happy Hannuquanzamas! ; )
Take the time to just 'be' with people. Listen to each other. Celebrate spending time together. Relax. Enjoy. Be, don't do. #Resiliency 101
Wishing you and your loved ones a special time together during this season.
Happy Hannuquanzamas! ; )
So it really is true.....when you give love you get love....even if it is just the internal reminder that we all matter. There is something that people get when they nurture others that loops back to themselves if they take the time to nurture others. So during the holiday season take the time to give to yourself by remembering that this is a difficult season for people and choosing to support a charity. Here are some ideas.
www.ywcakw.on.ca/in-her-shoes - you can also drop off the supplies for this at www.thesageclinic.com
Few months present the multicultural "teachable moments" that December does! The following multicultural events and celebrations are among those that will happen this year:
Many cultures and religions will have holidays during the month of December even if it's not their major holiday.
So try to shift traditions this year to include safety. Arrange for 'Designated Drivers' who agree not to drink. Plan for your safety by taking the statistics seriously. Consider having back up plans for if the weather or drinking gets out of control. Don't drink and drive or text.
Also, the Fire Department reports that Christmas trees become a fire hazard when not watered regularly.
You and your loved ones matter. Please be careful this holiday season!
The longer we live, the more we experience the phrase 'death is a part of life'. Yet, while this is an expression in our culture, there is still in an enormous amount of denial about this subject. I think it is because we are disconnected from our reality about 'life' to such a degree that we disconnect from our reality about 'death' too. As social media and news and politics gear more towards humanity and compassion then I think we will all honour our lives and our mortality more. The best line I have ever heard in a reception line at a funeral is....."I got nothin'" I often get people turning to me and expecting something brilliant to come out of my mouth when they are in their deep, deep grief. There are no words for that pain. It is soul wrenching and painful. All I have is "I'm so sorry" and "I got nothin'" I don't think it's helpful when someone is grieving to say the other commonly heard platitudes. The awkwardness we all feel is because we haven't been taught to BE with others. Just be. Don't do. Don't say. Just be and let them know that you are there and that they are not being a burden because they are having a hard time. That is the greatest gift. As December rolls around lots of people will be triggered re: loss of a loved one. Whether it be through death, illnesses such as Altzheimer's or divorce. I have attached some pointers re: dealing with triggers as you head into this season. And I am holding your heart in my heart...... xo Lee
Here are some suggestions re: managing this time of year.
1. Realize that the anticipation of pain is always worse than the actual eventual pain. Our thoughts affect our feelings and visa versa. Controlling your thoughts and learning to be mindful and stay in the moment are important skills.
2. Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect yourself to function to your full capacity at this time – processing feelings can be exhausting. For example: break tasks into smaller chunks; give yourself permission to not have to stay for the entire party; buy something to take to a potluck instead of making it yourself. Be realistic about what is possible rather than what you would like to be able to accomplish or do.
3. Accept your feelings. Don’t judge them. Sadness and tears are normal, and you don’t have to take care of others by pretending that you are not sad. At the same time, it is okay to let yourself be happy, to enjoy happy memories and to make new ones. Feelings of sadness AND happiness are all valid. You are not betraying your loved one if you let yourself be in the moment and not in the past with them. Be in the moment and let it be what it is.
4. Plan for the holidays with those that are closest to you. Decide which traditions are important to keep under these circumstances and which you want to change or let go. Make yourself the priority and decide what you think you are capable of to make the season meaningful and bearable.
5. Don’t be afraid of change. Altering old traditions slightly can take the pressure off the absence of your loved one. In one family that had suffered divorce, the Mom put a note in the bottom of the stockings….”You don’t have to pretend that it is the same this year….let’s have a picnic dinner on the family room floor”. This meant that they wouldn’t have to spend Christmas dinner without Dad at the head of the table. The same can be done for other routines: which foods get cooked; when the gifts are opened or which family member hosts the celebrations.
6. Make a list of all the tasks, and break them down. Ask friends for help. You will have some good days and some hard days. Planning in advance helps you to feel in control. It gives you choices about when you want to try things, and how much you want to try to handle.
7. Do something for someone else. While this won’t take away your pain it just feels better when you are putting positive energy out into the world and making things better for someone else…..and then somehow that energy tends to loop back and nurture you as well.
So to all of you …… I wish for you a Happy Holiday Season and for you to have Peace in your hearts throughout the New Year. Wherever you go during this next month or so….be kind….people are in more pain than you know.
Ahhhhhh......just building a little self-care into my schedule too. Gonna 'walk the talk' and spend a little time exhaling with my family.
Remembrance Day. This brings up feelings of sorrow and hope for me. Sorrow that young men, barely starting their lives, died for ours to matter equally to those people in the world who thought that they deserved more and had become greedy or grandiose in their attempts to try to obliterate the 'weak' or 'inferior' according to them. The deaths and grief for these young men reverberated throughout their families, friends and neighbourhood relationships. And what do we have to show for their lost lives? Well, we have our freedom. To live, to vote, to work, to be ourselves and feel safe in our country. We have the opportunity to consciously think about the fact that they fought and lost their lives in order to prevent people from overtaking the world with the idea that they were the 'superior race' (I'm referring to the Second World War now). These men fought for our right to live and be and feel safe. When we remember them and thank them for what they sacrificed on our behalf, then their lives were not lived in vain.
For most people living at this time, we will not remember a time when we did not feel safe in our country. Our country has not known war within it's borders for over a century now. It is a difficult concept to teach people who don't know what a lack of safety feels like. Cynthia Ozick stated “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” It is a privilege to feel safe. To trust, mostly, that if you walk down the street that a gun or bomb won't threaten your life. This is a basic human need and those men died for us to be able to experience it.
And why do I feel hope you ask? Because that is the only way to move forward. If you dwell on your fear and anger then it won't invoke change. Listen to what bothers you the most. That you want to see change the most and pick something 'doable' to start to 'be the change'. Politics: Vote. Or help to educate other people to vote. Environment: pick up that plastic bottle that someone threw down on the ground. Switch to cloth bags. Mental health: make someone smile. Hold yourself back from judging. Most people are doing their best. You don't know what is going on in their lives. Be patient. It doesn't have to be huge things. Just commit to being the change. For yourself as well as those that you impact. Those soldiers gave their lives for our freedom. We can be inspired by them to use our lives towards the same ideals. We will all have sorrow in our lives at some point. Acknowledge and name your truth. Let the grief come in waves. And then move forward, deciding who you are and how you will contribute to making the world safer, kinder, healthier, less materialistic, more humane place to be. Pick a cause and use your spirit to instill hope and safety back into the world. Whether it is with one person or groups of people, knowing in your heart that you deserve to be here and that you can make a difference in the world every day.....will likely be something that makes you feel better inside and will inspire hope for you too.
Love Sorrow, By Mary Oliver
Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing the street. For, think,
what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so
utterly alone. And smile, that she does not
altogether forget the world before the lesson.
Have patience in abundance. And do not
ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment
by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,
abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,
sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.
And amazing things can happen. And you may see,
as the two of you go
walking together in the morning light, how
little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;
she begins to grow.
And here is a little musical video that was put on the news because this young girl inspires such joy when you watch it. She just proved my point!
Me too....... The ramifications of my 'me too' experience have been huge and working through those ramifications has been a gift in humility and wisdom that has also molded me into the therapist that I am with the perspectives I have. Sort of a 'good news/bad news' situation. Why do I think it's important for me to say that? Because societal messages around therapy can give you the impression that there is something wrong with YOU and you need to get 'fixed' so that you are 'OK' if you are violated.
However, context matters. It is my responsibility as your therapist , and as a human being, to recognize that society is not that evolved yet at this point and to help people to focus on what they have control of and not negatively internalize the hurtful things that have been done to them.
We live in a 'rape culture' which "Wikipedia defines as a sociological concept used to describe a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.
To dismantle rape culture would require the undoing of more than just the normalization and tolerance of sexual assault and rape. It would require addressing gender stereotypes in a patriarchal (male-dominated) society and relieving both genders from their pressures.In a patriarchal society, men are expected to be dominant: strong, violent, sexual, and controlling. Women are expected to be submissive: weak, passive, decorative, and controllable. Men are socialized to believe they need to prove their masculinity by taking this control and dominating women. This is not only enforced by expectations of men to be dominant but also society's discouragement of men from showing any emotions, vulnerability, or sensitivity. Emma Watson, the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, said at the launch of 'HeforShe' that enabling women to take control and be strong will allow men to relieve themselves of that responsibility, imposed on them by the toxic masculinity in a rape culture."
This blog is too short a space to research or document evidence of 'rape culture' , however, if the leader of the free world is capable of stating that he had a conversation that included (**trigger warning**)
Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
And there's video proof and he admits it and calls it 'locker room talk'. That's the proof re: rape culture. He still got voted in even though he doesn't understand consent and abuse of power.
Do I want to vilify men? Absolutely not! I want to live in a culture that men and women are free to say "Hey....that's not ok" and not be scared of the ramifications because the person in power WANTS to be accountable for their actions! I want to live in a culture where men feel safe to admit that they get emotionally attached and that they have feelings about things and get hurt and that they aren't expected to just 'think and do'. A society where women feel proud to claim their power and their voice and are able to think and not to just feel and be pretty. To live in a culture where everyone can speak up and trust that they will be heard, and that others around them will care if what they have experienced is not safe. I want a culture where everyone knows that they matter. A culture where they can speak up when they are uncomfortable hearing about the hierarchy of who matters more than whom.
We all matter. Male or female. No matter what your race, creed, gender, intelligence or age. No one should have to say 'Me too'. That it still happens to anyone is way too much, and yes, more from male to female but I've seen that inability to recognize consent from others and the abuse of power from both sexes and within same gendered relationships.
We all need to have courage and work together to make this different.....mindfully.....one day at a time.
It all comes down to RESPECT; no matter the gender, race, ethnicity or ability.
Check out this song to lift your spirits today! www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT-HBl2TVtI
And a video of exhaustive number of ways that women work to avoid rape.....which we shouldn't have to. We should just be able to feel safe. www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1540425059326281/
We live in a co-creative reality. Which means that what you do impacts on others and then they have thoughts and feelings and responses and they impact back on you. Every relationship is a dance. I love it when I meet with couples and they start to come in and say that things are going better. Then we can become mindful about what is working. For example, I saw a couple this week that said that things were better. When I asked what had changed, the woman responded that she was self-talking herself out of being so angry about things. I asked the man what impact that had on him and he said that he was calmer. Then I asked her how his being calmer was impacting on her and she said it was better because when he is calmer then he is more present. Get it? It's easy to notice what doesn't work. And when you're noticing what doesn't work then it's easy to justify to yourself how you're behaving! (Even if somewhere inside you know that it isn't helping.) And so it goes, and so it goes!!!
And it's very hard to pull yourself out of a relational nose dive when you're in it. However, mental health really comes down to focusing on what you have control of rather than what you don't. If you're in a relational dance that isn't working, then you need to ask yourself what it is that you are doing that you can focus on changing. You are responsible for you and your behaviour and the other person is responsible for themself and their behaviour. If you are with someone who is behaving violently then you are not responsible for their actions. No one deserves to be treated violently. No matter what. Both people need to decide that the person being hurt doesn't deserve to be treated that way. The person being hurt needs to focus on their self-esteem and boundaries that include no violence. This could include having a safety plan to get away from the escalating behaviour. The person being violent needs to decide to be in control of their behaviour when their emotions escalate and to practice calming themselves when they are upset.
Negative escalations are common and are the result of co-dependency. You are co-dependent if you:
And what many people don't know is that when someone's system is emotionally overwhelmed or reactive, they will have a tendency towards collapsing into their feelings or disconnecting from their feelings and just being in their thoughts and not making conscious choices based upon their values or how they want to ultimately treat people. Which means that both people are not in touch with their wholeness and what matters to them. And they have disconnected from themselves or from the humanity of the other person.
To communicate effectively we must learn how to calm ourselves to the point where we can think and feel and at the same time be able to talk and listen; to be aware of ourselves AND the other person and not lose touch with either.
This is a big topic. I'll say more about emotional intimacy and the skills required to maintain a good relationship next week........stay tuned!
I hope that you enjoy this rendition of 'Let it be a dance we Do'! youtu.be/_Zv6dxVOn1A
So October 10th is World Mental Health Day. Why is it important enough that there is a day set aside by the World Health Organization to recognize mental health issues? Because there were 3,890 deaths in Canada alone in 2009. With the onset of fentanyl, I am sure these stats have gone up since then.
And it's preventable. One of the biggest issues for people who are suicidal is that for some reason they have gotten to the point of feeling like the world would be better off without them. Partly this will have been internalized from something that has happened in their lives that went wrong. Partly, my observations are, because this world is becoming more materialistic and less connected at an in-person, feeling level and more critical and perfectionistic at work and at superficial levels like entertainment and appearance.
What people need to stop saying is:
What EVERYONE needs to say and know for themselves is:
You matter. We need you. It's OK to not be OK. You are not alone. There is hope.
The Waterloo Region has launched a new website today to help people in the Waterloo Region find resources and help people to learn how to help themselves. I encourage you to go to the website and see what it has to say. Watch for signs of mental health in others and reach out to them with a smile or words of support. Life is hard. More kindness and engagement towards health and wholeness for everyone is what everyone needs. www.waystomentalwellbeing.com/
These are the things we all need to take care of our minds, body and spirit. Connect. Be active. Be mindful. Keep learning. And give back.
There is also an organization in town called MegaHealth where you can sign up for a course on Mental Health First Aid so that you can feel better equipped to help colleagues and friends who may be in need of support.
You can contact Robin Bender at megahealth.ca/about
In honour of Sinead O'Connor who has publicly come out as struggling with mental health issues here is her song 'Nothing Compares To You' youtu.be/0-EF60neguk
We need to take care of ourselves and each other.....every day. It's all that really matters.