06Jan

Bring Clarity to 2021

Bring Clarity to 2021

Close your eyes to see clearly. Be still and you will hear the truth. 
—Ancient Zen saying

Just a year ago, 2020 escorted in a new decade and with it, lots of clever rides on the metaphor wagon with “clarity,” “vision,” and “focus” arriving on January 1st, 2020.

We splashed about in a pool of constant stimulation, whizzing to and from work, shuttling kids to school and afternoons and weekends brimming with activities. Vibrating cell phones and packed Google calendars, dinners, concerts and dings of incoming texts, schedules on the swift moving conveyor belt of life and I, like many of you, believed I was seeing every day very clearly. 😊

And then, March 20th, 2020, Covid-19 became the “new” lens we attached to our vision. A global “shut in” took place, leaving bustling shops vacant, hushed the noisy movement of humanity, emptied cluttered freeways and shielded our faces. From the stillness of staying at home, our view of the world shifted and we adapted.

For the first time in over 30 years of providing therapy, I joined every client in a shared experience, each of us reacting to this changed universe. Individually we confronted how to manage risk and orchestrate more direct control of our time. The absence of “going out” equaled the inevitable focus on relationships with family members, our home environments, unfinished projects, neglected hobbies and friendship connections. As much as we were witnessing the unimaginable of Covid’s arrival, without the rigor of timelines and coming and going, our familiar vision was “closed” and we were quite shockingly, and perhaps gratefully, invited to see clearly, become still and find our truth.

Take a moment to consider what “truths” became clear to you during this past year. Here are a few of mine:

Savor health, it is not a given.
Practice joy and laughter, they are lifelines.
Distribute gratitude, the finest currency.
Water curiosity, wisdom will grow.
Excavate hope and patience, daily.
Love life completely, every moment.

Sending you an abundance of hope for a New Year filled with courageous clarity, enlightened truths and welcomed renewal!

25Nov

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

So much has been given to me; I have no time to
ponder over that which has been denied.
—Helen Keller

The pandemic has denied us many “ings.” Socializing, hugging, partying, traveling, playing, shaking hands, smiling at one another (due to masks), riding roller coasters, mingling, joining in the workplace, studying on campus, greeting one another in church pews and synagogues, singing in concert halls, cheering at Petco Park—the list goes on. Yes, there are many “ings” absent in our day-to-day lives yet there are a few that are impervious to Covid-19: giving, thanking, loving.

Giving to those in need—consider making a donation to a community organization. Thanking others is a “social distanced” verbal hug. Reach out to someone (or many) and share your appreciation with a phone call. Whether spending Thanksgiving with a few friends or enjoying a much smaller than usual family gathering, perhaps the quote from Helen Keller could be a conversation starter around the table or on a Zoom gathering? Focus on what we have been given during our lifetime, not what has been denied during this challenging year.

“What has been given to you?” 

Breath ~ Life ~ Friendship ~ Dreams ~ Curiosity ~ Mind ~ Vision ~ Health ~ Opportunity ~ Time ~ Creativity ~ Language ~ Faith ~ Hope ~ LOVE

Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.
—Khalil Gibran

It is my sincere hope you will “gobble up” and “digest” (couldn’t resist the puns 😊) all that you have been given and turn your focus to gratitude for another day of giving and receiving love. Wishing you a cornucopia filled with health and gratitude this Thanksgiving.

Enjoy this song by Jason Mraz, beautifully capturing “another day of loving.”

P.S. Couldn’t resist sharing this photo from the 2009 archives as my son and I were lucky to have a “Meet and Greet” following Jason’s concert at Coors Amphitheater.

Jason Mraz

02Nov

Ca suffit, reste tranquille

Ca suffit, reste tranquille

During my college summers, I worked as an au pair (nanny) in France. I adored the history, pastries, boutiques, villages, lush countryside, bustle of the Champs-Elysees, Le Metro underground transport and Bateau Mouche rides on the Seine. Yet most of all, I loved, and was mesmerized by, the language.

My adorable charges often spoke, ran and bicycled at speeds I struggled to match, yet one saying I used frequently was … “Ca suffit, reste tranquille.”  Literally translated it is, “That’s enough, stay calm.” It always flowed more as a caution than a reprimand, an invitation not a dictate. When our fears, future anxieties and distress speed up, it may be an opportunity to tell ourselves just this.

As we begin this week, many may be experiencing tensions regarding possible election results. I encourage you to take a moment and close your eyes, inhaling a full, glorious breath and say to yourself (in whatever language you prefer), “That’s enough. Stay calm.”

Music has always reminded me of the heart and soul of our humanity and never fails to bring me joy and optimism. I sincerely hope these selections will do the same for you. Ca suffit, reste tranquille.

 

15Jun

Post “Shelter in Place”—Take Baby Steps When Returning to Life

Post “Shelter in Place”—Take Baby Steps When Returning to Life

Since March, we heeded the red lights; sheltering, distancing and halting our day to day lives in the hopes of keeping the Covid-19 enemy’s toll reduced and at bay. We have arrived at mid-June, and the lights are turning green! In the 1991 film, “What About Bob?” the concept of “baby steps” was comically captured as Bill Murray’s character, Bob, conquered his fears by taking baby steps to overcome a mountain of anxieties. With each challenge, he coaxed himself to make progress. “Baby steps to the elevator. Baby steps to the bus stop!” Here is a fun clip to remind you of this hilarious film and if you have never seen it, perhaps put in on your “to watch” list!

It is natural to have a bit of “Bob” in us as we adjust to post “shelter in place” living. Leaving the house, returning to a workplace, entering a retail store, volunteering, having an in-person therapy appointment or meeting up with a few friends may now be evoking a plethora of nervous anticipation. Assessing risk is a significant component of balanced decision making. For example, you have an important appointment and as you drive, the “low fuel” light is blinking on the dashboard of the car. If you stop for gas, what is the risk of being late for the meeting? If you continue in order to be on time what is the risk of ending up on the side of the road? We are constantly measuring the risk of a decision, or behavior, and its outcome value.

Possessing a mindfulness of health and safety risks is essential to self-care. Thoughtful consideration of “stepping out” goes hand in hand with emotional wellness. It is absolutely OK to say, “Today I will decide on a few baby steps I am willing to take.”

03Jun

Journey Home with Wisdom, Love, Bravery

Journey Home with Wisdom, Love, Bravery

The Wizard of Oz came to mind the other day and, at the risk of being too simplistic, I believe it to hold the ingredients for emotional healing.

I lived in Africa as a teenager. My father embraced an opportunity for our family to live abroad as well as advance his career in the communication industry. My world was turned upside down as we left our home in Southern California—no beach, friends or Friday night football games? What! I resisted initially and yet the magic of Africa is hard to deny, even as a 16-year-old!

I hold this chapter in my life as an unearthed diamond, a treasure discovered. It became a lens that forever changed my vision of the world. I witnessed the extraordinary magic of African art, music, food, landscapes, traditions, and a cherished people with a resounding depth of tribal legacy. I can smell the rich, red clay dirt roads and envision my favorite market vendor with reams of vibrant material. I also recall being one of a few white faces in this same marketplace and the calm I felt when greeted by curious smiles, conversation and warmth, as well as my stomach anxiously twitching when I heard a few chant “serpent blanc” (white snake) as I walked by. I was mesmerized by the strength, stoic leadership of women, wrapping their infants tight, while carrying baskets laden with food and supplies on their powerful, unfaltering heads. With local friends and guides, we learned about our new territory, gained wisdom, adapted, found our way and felt loved. My parents, sister and I made a home in Bangui, Central African Republic.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was on a quest to return home. One man, “the wizard” was sought out to accomplish this mission. Her companions along the journey, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion were seeking what they believed they lacked; a brain, a heart and courage. They found out, the solution was not with the wizard, it was within each of them to attain what was missing.

In the strife and violence we have witnessed during this past week, our journey to find “home” requires wisdom, love and bravery today. The horror of seeing George Floyd grasp, plead and then lose his last breath is a collective trauma for our nation and the world. The protection which law enforcement represents was severely violated by this evil, dominating act against a Black man. Courage, wisdom, listening, compassion, respect and love are not colors. Now is the time for each of us to look within, find the courage to challenge limiting beliefs, engage in thoughtful reflection, learn more and gain wisdom, share compassionate understanding and employ respect to actively express love for one another.

The iconic Diana Ross played the role of “Dorothy” in the 1978 film “The Wiz.” I encourage you to pause and click on her moving message in the song “Home” from the film.

Brother Iz, truly a gentle giant, sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Enjoy his melodic version of this timeless song.

03Apr

Patience and Wisdom in Challenging Times

Patience is the companion of wisdom.
—Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD

The human experience is truly timeless, even more so as I came across this quote and marveled at the author’s year of birth—354 AD. Hmmmm, I have a hard time counting backwards from 100 😊, imagine the year 354 AD? Profound truths are eternal and this qualifies when we consider the health crisis we face today.

The joining of patience and wisdom, companions in dealing with challenging circumstances, is a vital partnership. How did they meet and dare I say, even become friends? Maybe it went something like this…

Wisdom:  “Hello, may I ask your name?”

Patience: “My name is Patience, it is best pronounced very slowly. And yours?”

Wisdom:  “I am Wisdom, but you can call me Wise. What is your purpose during strife and difficulties?”

Patience: “I am able to tolerate challenges calmly and without complaint. I am steadfastly determined to bear adversity, find ways to trust and have faith in overcoming hardships. What makes you Wise?”

Wisdom:  “I accumulate knowledge, scientifically and philosophically. I seek balance, reflection, perspective, reason and conscientious solutions.”

They stood for a long, thoughtful moment, and then gave slow, knowing nods to one another.

Wisdom:  “Patience, you offer deep breaths, soothing assurance and acceptance of what is. You are what I need.”

Patience: “Wisdom, you allow for exploration of answers and options for possibilities. You are what I need.”

Wisdom:  “After careful consideration, I would be honored to have you as my companion, will you join me?”

Patience: “I would be happy to, I have all the time in the world.”

 

08May

What is a Pirate Sister?

What is a Pirate Sister?

Purposefully 
Initiate
Risks…
Achieving
Treasured 
Essence

What are the qualifications to become a Pirate Sister? First, you have to be female.  Next, you must have a strong, powerful desire to go in search of your unique value. And then, you must be willing to be uncomfortable, face fears and dig deep to find your treasured self, relationships, passion, place and purpose.  To be a Pirate Sister, requires you make a fierce and lasting decision to follow the instinctive tugs on your heart, mind and soul to become more than you have been.A Pirate Sister learns how to be brave, very brave.  She is steadfast in her determination to risk turbulent seas of past hurts and to endure storms of conflict and change. Being rigid and inflexible will send her overboard.  Stretching to take ownership of navigating her life, empowers the Pirate Sister against inclement or unforeseen events and outcomes.

Dancing in front of the mirror, holding a hairbrush microphone…Doodling on every notebook in high school…Creating mystical characters for an English essay…Concocting new food combinations for friends to sample…Finishing a course of study…Designing your fantasy wardrobe from scraps of material…Collecting stray animals in your neighborhood…Painting on bedroom walls…Learning a trade…Completing a literary work…

These are some examples of treasures buried, maybe even lost and forgotten, yet waiting to be found when you decide to embark on your journey as a Pirate Sister.  Digging to capture the essence of your creative passions, wishes and talents either neglected or long forgotten in the overgrowth of time, responsibilities and caretaking others.Hmmm, by reading this you are curious about the journey. Now comes the decision:  Ignore the invitation to set sail? Stand on the dock and contemplate the voyage? Or board the ship and see where the winds of change carry you?
12Apr

Throw off the bowlines…and discover YOU!

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.                                                      Mark Twain

With each season, I find myself baffled by the passage of time.  I shake my head and say “I can’t believe it is June already!” Many chime in their disbelief, recognizing the rapid ticking of our precious life moments.  Where did the last six months go?  In fact, where did those twenty years go?

Being a Pisces, I adore water.  From chlorine to sea salt, I can float, body board, dive and splash filling my heart with contented aqua bliss.  As I clicked on quotes to capture this seasonal message, Mark Twain’s philosophical whimsy jumped off the page and sailed right up to me. I admit having to look up the definition of “bowline” and I was quite satisfied with the meaning and how it lent itself to this letter.  A bowline is “a rope used to keep the edge of a sail pulled forward and taut; a knot used for making a loop that will not slip.” (Webster Dictionary)

A client was caught in knots of stress and limitations. Her stiff, unwavering sails were harshly directed toward “woe is me” as she struggled with unemployment and financial demands.  She compared her circumstance to friends she thought were sailing more smoothly in life. She was stuck on the “deprivation” skiff, and was irritated, fatigued and lamenting the lack of possibilities or progress.  She needed to throw off the bowline! I asked her to imagine sailing from a place of constraining disappointment to exploring her options and from there, dreaming up her desires and discovering how to create experiences.

Can this summer be the season of loosening the knots of irritation, regret, and distraction? Often, we cling to the familiarity of sailing only in the same fashion as we have always done.  What if you were to “throw off” your knots, leave what is “safe and familiar” and sail toward a different goal or direction?

You see, when we explore rather than lament and dream rather than deteriorate, we relax the emotional strain and begin to discover new ways of experiencing relationships and events.

Imagine loosening up the predictability of your tension and replacing it with spontaneous creativity, musings and explorations which carry you in a colorful, new direction…now that is not disappointing, that is living!
Explore what you would like to discover more of this summer.  What about more laughter? Golden sunsets?  Family time playing games or taking walks? Home projects with an ice cream sundae as the reward?  More turning the music up and dancing!  When we realize we have bountiful options for our EXPERIENCES, then we are discovering  how rich and plentiful the journey can be.

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