Bookshelf Additions – Spring 2019

I haven’t been making as much time to read as I’d like, but I’m at least keeping some momentum going during a busy season of transition.  I especially loved 2 of the 4 books- The Alchemist and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.  I think they both found their way to me at precisely the right time.  Two of the 4 I completed on Mother’s Day, one of which was aptly Mom & Me & Mom.  And again, 2 of the 4 were gifts from friends who knew just what I needed.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.

‘Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?’  ‘Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet.  Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.’

The boy and his heart had become friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other.

 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb

This was a beautiful depiction of therapy, from both sides of the “couch.”  As a therapist, and as a human being, I adored it.

A therapist will hold up the mirror in the most compassionate way possible, but it’s up to the patient to take a good look at that reflection, to stare back at it and say, ‘Oh, isn’t that interesting! Now what?’ instead of turning away.

Therapists are always weighing the balance between forming a trusting alliance and getting to the real work so the patient doesn’t have to continue suffering.  From the outset, we move both slowly and quickly, slowing the content down, speeding up the relationship, planting seeds strategically along the way.  As in nature, if you plant the seeds too early, they won’t sprout.  If you plant too late, they might make progress, but you’ve missed the most fertile ground.  If you plant at just the right time, though, they’ll soak up the nutrients and grow.  Our work is an intricate dance between support and confrontation.

Everyone wages this internal battle to some degree:  child or adult?  Safety or freedom?  But no matter where people fall on those continuums, every decision they make is based on two things:  fear and love.  Therapy strives to teach you how to tell the two apart.

He’d given me permission to feel and also a reminder that, like so many people, I’d been mistaking feeling less for feeling better.

Of course, the story a patient comes into therapy with may not be the story she leaves with.  What was included in the telling at first might now be written out, and what was left out might become a central plot point.  Some major characters might become minor ones, and some minor characters might go on to receive star billing.  The patient’s own role might change too- from bit player to protagonist, from victim to hero.

We grow in connection with others.  Everyone needs to hear that other person’s voice saying, I believe in you.  I can see possibilities that you might now see quite yet.  I imagine that something different can happen, in some form or another.  In therapy we say, Let’s edit your story.  

In the best goodbyes, there’s always the feeling that there’s something more to say.

 

Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou

She had my back, supported me.  This is the role of the mother, and in that visit I really saw clearly, and for the first time, why a mother is really important.  Not just because she feeds and also love sand cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap.  She stands between the unknown and the known.

My mother’s gifts of courage to me were both large and small.  The latter are woven so subtly into the fabric of my psyche that I can hardly distinguish where she stops and I begin.

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Bookshelf Additions- Summer & Fall 2018

Due to too many things on my plate, this bookshelf addition comes terribly late and probably incomplete.  But in the spirit of good-enough, here is what I’ve read the 2nd half of 2018.

Parenting From the Inside Out, How a Deeper Self-Understanding can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive-  Daniel Siegel

A must-read for parents.  Dr. Siegel makes a compelling case for parents doing their own “work” for the benefit of themselves, their children, and the parent-child relationship.  He has some great reflection questions and action steps for how to do this, and how to repair relationship ruptures when parents miss the mark (as we all do!).

“The amazing finding that the most powerful predictor of a child’s attachment is the coherence of the parent’s life narrative allows us to understand how to strengthen our children’s attachment to us.  We are not destined to repeat that patterns of the past because we can earn our security as an adult by making sense of our life experiences.  In this way, those of us who have had difficult early life experiences can create coherence by making sense of the past and understanding its impact on the present and how it shapes our interactions with our children.  Making sense of our life stories enables us to have deeper connections with our children, and to live a more joyful and coherent life.”

Hands Free Life, 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More- Rachel Macy Stafford

I turned to this book after weeks of feeling the pull to slow down and be more present.  It has some good strategies and some gentle encouragement to do just that.

Savor, Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are-  Shauna Niequist

This devotional book went hand-in-hand with the Hands Free book (above)-  filled with grace and reminders about what is truly important.

Five Minutes’ Peace- Jill Murphy

A dear friend sent me this adorable kids’ book, and I chuckled all the way through as the Mama Elephant’s daily life mirrors my own.

Together is Better, A Little Book of Inspiration-  Simon Sinek

Cute.  I enjoyed talking it through with my kiddos.

Girl Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis

I didn’t find this book as inspiring as I had hoped based on others’ recommendations, but I do love people’s stories and reading about their lives.  I have yet to read a memoir that I didn’t like.

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery-  Ian Cron

I think at this point I have to admit to being near-obsessed with the Enneagram, thanks in part to this book and some interesting conversations about it.

It’s such a potentially-powerful tool to understand ourselves and each other, not in a pathologizing way but in a way that encourages continued growth and healing.

“The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box. It shows you the box you’re already in and how to get out of it.”

It can help us remember who we were, before the world told us who we have to be.

“Human beings are wired for survival. As little kids we instinctually place a mask called personality over parts of our authentic self to protect us from harm and make our way in the world. Made up of innate qualities, coping strategies, conditioned reflexes and defense mechanisms, among lots of other things, our personality helps us know and do what we sense is required to please our parents, to fit in and relate well to our friends, to satisfy the expectations of our culture and to get our basic needs met.”

I’ve got more Enneagram books on the way, and am looking forward to going even deeper.

The Miracle on Voodoo Mountain, A Young Woman’s Remarkable Story of Pushing Back the Darkness for the Children of Haiti- Meghan Boudreaux

I have a dear friend in the long, arduous process of adopting a child from Haiti and she gave me this beautiful and inspiring story.  Reminds me of Kisses from Katie from several years back, and I know for sure that we need more people in the world like the author.

Inspired, Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again-  Rachel Held Evans

A beautiful faith read… I appreciate the author’s transparent account of her faith and doubts and trying to make sense of it all, and ending up with more questions than answers.  Her wrestling with God in the wilderness gives permission for, and even encourages, others to do the same.  Underlines throughout the book as I learned through her research and related to her questions.

 

soul

Journal prompt:  What veils have been laid over your soul?  Think about the ones added in childhood, that told you who you are, who you aren’t, what the world requires of you? …what are you doing to do the lifelong, sacred work of removing those veils from over your soul?

Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk. Antonio Machaclo

Journal prompt:  What path are you forging right now?  What feelings come up as you picture yourself forging it on your own?

Self Care Menu

I love the idea of menus-  you get to choose what you want, what you need, in that particular moment.  So I often work with people to create their own menu for self-care-  options that they can look to a choose from when they’re overwhelmed by anxiety or other emotions.

Self Care Menus should include options that involve all 5 senses, things you can do alone as well as ways to connect, items appropriate to each time of day or weather conditions.  Make it versatile so that no matter when your negative emotions threaten to overtake you, there’s always something you can try from your menu.

Your menu can be scribbled onto a post-it note, typed into the notes function in your phone, pinned up to your wall, or whatever works for you!  It can be as simple as you like, or as complex and beautiful as this example:

selfcare

Mine would include some of these options:

  • Take the dog on a walk.
  • Light a candle.
  • Do yoga, in a class or at home.
  • Call a friend (go ahead and write the name & number on your menu!).
  • Box breathing.
  • Put on pajamas and cozy socks.
  • Diffuse essential oils.
  • Have a piece of dark chocolate.
  • Look at old pictures.
  • Listen to favorite songs.
  • 20 minute reading break.
  • Go to bed early.

Homework item:  Create your own menu!  Where can you put it so that you remember and can access your menu when you need it?

forgiveness

Journal prompt: How can you hold onto your beautiful fragrance, your sweetness, as you forgive?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Do you know your ACE score?

Here’s what the CDC says about ACEs:

The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being.

The original ACE Study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995 to 1997 with two waves of data collection. Over 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors.

Find out more about ACEs here.

The short of it:  Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, harm children’s developing brains and lead to changes in how they respond to stress and damages their immune systems so profoundly that the effects show up decades later. In our field, we believe that ACEs cause much of our burden of chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of violence.

ACEs Connection adds:

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.

But there are many other types of childhood trauma — watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

People are talking more about it, and even some doctors are beginning to consider the ACEs score of their patients…but I think it’s important that we’re all familiar with it and know the scores for ourselves and our loved ones.

Look at one of the questionnaires here.

Journal prompt:  What did you learn as you determined your ACE score?    Next, sketch out a family tree or genogram.  Based on what you know from your family, what do you think the ACE score is for your parents, grandparents, significant others in your life?