The quality of life is in proportion always to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention. Julia Cameron

Journal prompt:  What is getting in the way of you paying attention in your life?  What’s one thing that you can do to pay more attention today?

Permission Slips

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I’ve become a big believer in the power of a permission slip.  The idea that I decide what I will be permitted to do, and you decide what you will be permitted to do in your life, whether that’s permission to take care of yourself, permission to rest, permission to put up a boundary around a difficult or unsafe situation, etc.  The pic above is how I’m practicing what I preach today!

Journal prompt:  What do you need to give yourself permission for today?  Write it out, sign up, and put it up somewhere as a reminder!

Stepping Into the Arena!

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I’m so proud of these courageous folks who joined me on an unforgettable journey. Our Daring Way and Rising Strong group came to an end this week, but I know these brave folks are just getting started! Grateful, humbled, and inspired by our time together

If you want to be a part of the next group, I’d love to talk with you about it!

Upcoming Groups!

I’m excited to offer 3 upcoming groups-  2 for The Daring Way™ and 1 for Rising Strong™.   Space is limited to 8 group members, so signup today to secure your spot!

TDW Intensive 8-18TDW Group 9-18RS Group 9-18

Bookshelf Additions – Spring 2018

 

 

Women Food and God, Geneen Roth

A wonderful read, describing the intertwining, often complicated relationships that women have with food and God.

The Wisdom of Sundays, Oprah Winfrey

I plan to keep this book of bite-sized inspirational stories and conversations on my coffee table.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer

I picked this one up just for fun, but I was surprised to find myself moved by her tenderness and poignant stories about her loved ones.  I’m a fan of her authenticity and courage.

Younger, Sara Gottfried, M.D.

I had many take-aways from this health-related book, included a renewed commitment to Yoga, green tea, nuts, and time in the sauna.  I’m also inspired to branch out to try oil pulling, bone broth, turmeric, kimchi & kimbucha, and collagen protein.

The Highly Sensitive Child, Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.

I picked up this book with a particular child in mind, but my thoughts expanded to many more as I learned about this trait that impacts roughly 20% of the population.  Thought-provoking, and I want to learn more.  The Highly Sensitive Person is next on my reading list.

Bookshelf Additions – Winter 2017

 

The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking

I recently heard of the concept of hygge- and my friend who is living in The Hague sent me this book that is subtitled “Danish Secrets to Happy Living.”  I love this concept (a special kind of coziness), especially this time of year when I tend to find myself in a bit of slump.  I’ve been relentlessly pursuing coziness this winter and it’s been just lovely.  I plan to pull this book back at the first sign of cold weather to get a jump start on hygge 2018 😊

Of Mess and Moxie, Wrangling Delight out of this Wild and Glorious Life, Jen Hatmaker

A wonderful book, especially for women- perhaps around my age.  It’s authentic and relatable, both comforting and inspirational.  And there’s a great recipe for Panang Curry (my favorite!)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

I had a client who recently read this book and I wanted to refresh myself so I could understand her references.  I must have read this years ago, before I was mature enough to “get” it—  a good read, I SO admire Maya Angelou and love to hear anything written or spoken by her.

The Mask of Masculinity, Lewis Howes

Lewis openly discusses several masks that he, and other males, tend to wear:  the Stoic mask, Athlete mask, Material mask, Sexual mask, Aggressive mask, Joker mask, Invincible mask, Know-it-all mask, and Alpha mask.   I like how in many ways this book parallels the work of Brené Brown and makes it accessible to some men who otherwise might not resonate with the message.

Becoming Myself, Irvin Yalom

Yalom has become a go-to for me whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed or uninspired…and he has yet to disappoint.  Always thankful for his books that live on my shelves.

Bookshelf Additions- Fall 2017

The Gift of Failure, Jessica Lahey

“Every time we rescue, hover, or otherwise save our children from a challenge, we send a very clear message:  that we believe they are incompetent, incapable, and unworthy of our trust.  Further, we teach them to be dependent on us and thereby deny them the very education in competence we are put here on this earth to hand down.”

“What research has shown over and over again:  children whose parents don’t allow them to fail are less engaged, less enthusiastic about their education, less motivated, and ultimately less successful than children whose parents support their autonomy.”

“Out of love and desire to protect our children’s self-esteem, we have bulldozed every uncomfortable bump and obstacle out of the way, clearing the manicured path we hoped would lead to success and happiness. Unfortunately, in doing so we have deprived our children of the most important lessons of childhood. The setbacks, mistakes, miscalculations, and failures we have shoved out of our children’s way are the very experiences that teach them how to be resourceful, persistent, innovative and resilient citizens of this world.”

The Book of Joy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with Doug Abrams

I LOVE this book.  And now I want to read everything I can get my hands on by and about Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He spoke at my graduation from William & Mary in 2006, and my admiration of him keeps growing.

“Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak.  In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily too.  Perhaps we are just more alive.  Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters.  We have hardship without becoming hard.  We have heartbreak without being broken.” DT

“…more research…suggests that perhaps only 50% of our happiness is determined by immutable factors like our genes or temperament, our ‘set point.’ The other half is determined by a combination of our circumstances, over which we may have limited control, and our attitudes and actions, over which we have a great deal of control…three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous.” DA

“The goal is not just to create joy for ourselves, but to be a reservoir of joy, an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around you….so being more joyful is not just about having more fun.  We’re talking about a more empathic, more empowered, even more spiritual state of mind that is totally engaged with the world.”

“The English word courage comes from the French word coeur, or heart;  courage is indeed the triumph of our heart’s love and commitment over our mind’s reasonable murmurings to keep us safe.” DA

“We try so hard to separate joy and sorrow into their own boxes, but the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama tell us that they are inevitably fastened together.  Neither advocate the kind of fleeting happiness, often called hedonic happiness, that requires only positive states and banishes feelings like sadness to emotional exile.  The kind of happiness that they describe is often called eudemonic happiness and is characterized by self-understanding, meaning, growth, and acceptance, including life’s inevitable suffering, sadness, and grief.”

“We’ve always got to be recognizing that despite the aberrations, the fundamental thing about humanity, and humankind, about people, is that they are good, they were made good, and they really want to be good.”

“I say to people that I’m not an optimist, because that, In a  sense, is something that depends on feelings more than the actual reality.  We feel optimistic, or we feel pessimistic.  Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction.  I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless.  Hope is deeper and very, very close to unshakable.  It’s in the pit of your tummy.  It’s not in your head.” DT

“The only thing that will bring happiness is affection and warmheartedness.  This really brings inner strength and self-confidence, reduces fear, develops trust, and trust brings friendship.  We are social animals, and cooperation is necessary for our survival, but cooperation is entirely based on trust.  When there is trust, people are brought together- whole nations are brought together.  When you have a more compassionate mind and cultivate warmheartedness, the whole atmosphere around you becomes more positive and friendlier.  You see friends everywhere.” DT

Hallelujah Anyway, Anne Lamott

“Mercy means compassion, empathy, a heart for someone’s troubles. It’s not something you do – it is something in you, accessed, revealed, or cultivated through use, like a muscle. We find it in the most unlikely places, never where we first look.”

“Every one of us sometimes needs a tour guide to remind us how big and deep life is meant to be.”

“Kindness toward others and radical kindness to ourselves buy us a shot at a warm and generous heart, which is the greatest prize of all.”

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Mindy Kahling

This one was just for fun  😊

Bookshelf Additions- Summer 2017

As I completed this post I realized how much I’ve been reading this season, as well as last.  To me summer = reading, which can be a challenge while managing other responsibilities.  But I did get a nice variety of great books in-

I Thought it was Just Me, Brene Brown

I finally got around to reading Brown’s first book, after loving the 3 I’ve read before.  This one didn’t disappoint.  Her desire is to “give voice to the voiceless and give ears to the earless…Courage gives us a voice and compassion gives us an ear.”  In it she dives into ordinary courage, which is the courage to tell our story from the heart.

“Shame is all about fear…the fear of disconnection, and of being exposed or revealed that would jeopardize our connection and our worthiness of acceptance.”

“Harriet Lerner said ‘We cannot survive when our identity is defined by or limited to our worst behavior.  Every human must be able to view the self as complex and multidimensional.  When this fact is obscured, people will wrap themselves in layers of denial in order to survive.  How can we apologize for something we are, rather than something we did?’”

4 elements of shame resilience:

  1. Recognizing shame and understanding triggers
  2. Practicing critical awareness- understand issues in their social, political, and economic contexts
  3. Reaching out- Relational-Cultural Theory says we heal through our connections with others; “Regardless of who we are,…all of us fight hidden, silent battles against not beign good enough, not having enough, and not belonging enough.”
  4. Speaking shame

We are charged with hard but important work of:

  1. Practicing courage in a culture of fear (choose growth over perfection!)
  2. Practicing compassion in a culture of blame
  3. Practicing connection in a culture of disconnection.

 

Narrative Therapy, Stephen Madigan

I enjoyed the fresh ideas gleamed from this book that I think will be helpful in working with clients.  I believe that the stories that we tell ourselves, particularly about ourselves and our problems, are hugely powerful…and that by re-writing some of those stories we can get unstuck and make steps toward health and happiness.

“We are multistoried…there are always multiple stories about what and who persons and problems might be.”

“People and problems are not fixed or fossilized.”

“NT places the site of the problem within the relational action of the person/culture/discourse/power, not inside the person’s body.”

“NT is based on the notion that people organize their lives through stories.  People make meaning in the world about who they are.”

  • Uncover biases underlying authority for knowledge: “Who has the storytelling rights to the story being told?”
  • Spotting and undermining the life support systems of problems
  • Turning pathology into valor, courage, intrigue
  • Encouraging celebrations, awards, diplomas, and parties to commemorate achievements
  • Re-storying: re-authoring conversations- assists people out of the constraints of problem-saturated stories of passivity, shame, less-than worthiness; “do you think this feeling of ___ is a final description of yourself?”;  “Whose word is ‘depressed’ or _____?”; “Is there someplace else you’d rather be?”…opens space for other possibilities and undermines problem’s saturation
  • Unique outcomes- a neglected part/event that’s an “in”- a starting point for reauthoring…therapist can build scaffolding around this emerging subordinate story. As they’re id’d, therapist plot them into an alternative (preferred) storyline about their lived experiences.  Find stories outside the dominant problem and give them a thicker description.

Types of questions/ conversations:

  • Reauthoring conversations- take full accounting of who was involved in the creation of the problem story, how client came to know self in problematic way, the life support of the problem, losses in relation to the problem
  • Relative influence questions- maps the influence of the problem on the person, encourages persons to map their own and other’s influence in the life of the problem, begins to map out unique outcomes.
  • Unique Outcomes questions- that exclude the problem, even if only briefly
  • Unique Accounts questions- Use grammar of agency, link to resistance to the problem
  • Unique redescription questions- invite to re-describe self
  • Unique possibility questions- next step questions; let client speculate
  • Unique circulation questions- to include others; “who will be most pleased?”
  • Experience of experience questions- be an audience to own story through eyes of others; “what do you think I’m appreciating as I hear…”
  • Preference questions- do you see this as a good or bad thing?
  • Consulting your consultants questions- given your expertise is problem, what would you want to warn others about?
  • Counterviewing questions-

8 internalized conversation problem habits:

  1. Self surveillance/ audience
  2. Illegitimacy
  3. Fear
  4. Negative imagination/ invidious comparison
  5. Internalized bickering
  6. Guilt
  7. Hopelessness
  8. perfection

Therapeutic Letter Writing campaigns- to remember lost aspects of self, secure subordinate stories, recap appreciation and survival, and ask more questions about knowledges and alternative stories the client gained

 

Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel

“We all share a fundamental need for security, which propels us toward committed relationships in the first place; but we have an equally strong need for adventure and excitement….It’s hard to generate excitements, anticipation, and lust with the same person you look to for comfort and stability, but it’s not impossible.”

“…love and desire are not mutually exclusive, they just don’t always take place at the same time.”

“Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it.  If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition.  It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected.  Love is about having; desire is about wanting.  An expression of longing, desire requires ongoing elusiveness.  It is less concerned with where it has already been than passionate about where it can still go.  But too often, as couples settle into the comforts of love, they cease to fan the flame of desire.  They forget that fire needs air.”

 

Tribes, Sebastian Junger

“…we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning…for many people-war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations.  Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary.  Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.”

“…modern society has gravely disrupted the social bonds that have always characterized the human experience, and that disasters thrust people back into a more ancient, organic way of relating.  Disasters…create a ‘community of sufferers’ that allows individuals to experience an immensely reassuring connection to others.  As people come together to face an existential threat…class differences are temporarily erased, income disparities become irrelevant, race is overlooked, and individuals are assessed simply by what they are willing to do for the group.  It is a kind of fleeting social utopia that…is enormously gratifying to the average person and downright therapeutic to people suffering from mental illness.”

After such a time, people talk about “how much they longed for those days.  More precisely, they longed for who they’d been back then.”

“…during disasters there is a net gain in well-being.  Most primates, including humans, are intensely social, and there are very few instances of lone primates surviving in the wild.  A modern soldier returning from combat- or a survivor of Sarajevo- goes from the kind of close-knit group that humans evolved for, back into a society where most people work outside the home, children are educated by strangers, families are isolated from wider communities, and personal gain almost completely eclipses collective good.  Even if he or she is part of a family, that is not the same as belonging to a group that shares resources and experiences almost everything collectively.  Whatever the technological advances of modern society- and they’re nearly miraculous- the individualized lifestyles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit.”

One “definition of community- of tribe- would be the group of people that you would both help feed and help defend.  A society that doesn’t offer its members the chance to act selflessly in these ways isn’t a society in any tribal sense of the word; it’s just a political entity that, lacking enemies, will probably fall apart on its own.

“This fundamental lack of connectedness allows people to act in trivial but incredibly selfish ways….littering as the perfect example of an everyday symbol of disunity in society.  ‘It’s a horrible thing to see because it sort of encapsulates this idea that you’re in it alone, that there isn’t a shared ethos of trying to protect something shared…’ In this sense, littering is an exceedingly petty version of claiming a billion-dollar bank bailout or fraudulently claiming disability payments.  When you throw trash on the ground, you apparently don’t see yourself as truly belonging to the world that you’re walking around in.  And when you fraudulently claim money from the government, you’re ultimately stealing you’re your friends, family, or neighbors…that diminishes you morally far more than it diminishes your country financially.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*@!, Mark Manson

I enjoyed this easy and funny read, and I took away from it encouragement to be deliberate about the things that I care about, and to stop caring about other things.

The Bright Hour, a Memoir of Living and Dying, Nina Riggs

This beautiful book was written by a beautiful soul who went to school with a good friend of mine.  It was moving, thought-provoking, and very funny at times.  Just beautiful.  I read it on the beach, and couldn’t wait to get home to my kiddos afterwards.