Archive for February, 2019

February 26, 2019

Ever Feel Like You Were Born on Opposite Day?

I often feel like I was born on opposite day. In yoga, when most people feel a stretch on the left leg, I’ll feel it in my back on the right. I can move and shift and never find a stretch on the left. While students around me tried to avoid teachers with a reputation for being difficult, I sought out the toughest English, chemistry, and biology teachers. I fired an easy flight instructor to fly with one who turned off the fuel on takeoff to see what I would do.*
opposite
I’m out of sync with the mainstream in other ways. I don’t want to go home from the doctor’s office with a bottle of pills if there’s another way to fix the problem…even if the alternate solution takes months or years. When my tummy feels like it needs something bland, eating a piece of cheese or a banana will send it into absolute spasms for days but a bowl of black beans has no ill effects.

This weekend I watched The Goddess Project with some friends. Afterward, I just kept thinking that I never feel limited by being female. I’m not saying I don’t see inequities in corporations, organizations, and institutions or that I haven’t sometimes had to figure out ways to navigate that wouldn’t be required of men. I’m just saying, I haven’t ever felt like I shouldn’t pursue whatever I want to pursue because I’m a girl.

Why am I writing about any of this? I’m not exactly sure. It has something to do with watching that movie, taking care of a 2-year-old, and trying to be present when everything feels raw. There’s a point lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. Maybe I’ll find it if I just keep writing.

There are times that my grandson DJ pouts and whines about something and I just smile and walk away because the behavior is best ignored. There have been other times when he has behaved badly, gotten in trouble, and then thrown a B.I.G. fit. My first instinct is to lay down the law. After all, he’s already gotten consequences and now he’s behaving worse.

But one day when this happened, instead of being punitive, I picked him up, held him close and told him what a good boy he was and that I was pretty sure we could figure out how to solve the problem. He stopped crying, yelling, and kicking, calmed down and was cooperative. It was an eye-opener. I have no idea why it struck me that was the thing to do, but somehow I knew he needed the opposite of what logic was telling me.

I often need the opposite of what convention offers. Support groups don’t make me feel supported. Attending a class doesn’t make me more likely to work out. Pushing me doesn’t mean you’ll get a quicker or better result. Talk therapy leaves me in an emotional loop I can’t get out of. (I can, but it’s by integrating my body into the process using somatic experiencing and yoga.) I tolerate directness, confrontation, and anger better than evasiveness, subterfuge, and manipulation presented in a very polite fashion.

I feel annoyed when “experts” promulgate the idea that they can predict what will trigger a traumatized person. What triggers one person will not phase another. The idea that there are specific words, phrases, and sounds that should be summarily eliminated from our lexicon feels like dismissiveness to me and I experience emotional flashbacks.

Of course it’s comforting to think that if we as a culture make a few blanket eliminations of words or phrases, then we have done our part to facilitate healing. But the way that often plays out is that I experience individuals who do not believe they need to hear my story, get to know me, or feel my pain. Language and topic policy provide them a comfortable cushion for avoiding genuine interaction.

Again, I understand that I may be in a small minority, but here’s how I feel. I’m a big girl. I can figure out the best way for me to deal with my own triggers. If you feel you must decide for me, you do not view me as your equal. Boom, I feel diminished and dismissed. That does not contribute to healing.

Conventional wisdom is sometimes just convention and convenience that makes us feel comfortable being emotionally lazy or fearful. If we’re willing to really see each other, it is never that simple. Hurt masquerades as anger; fear masquerades as acceptance; shame masquerades as advocacy; vulnerability cloaks itself in imagined limitations. When we really see each other, there is no us vs them. There is just us.

If you are like me, it may be harder to feel supported because what works for the majority of people just feels wrong to you. You may have to be more articulate than your colleagues to get your point across. You may sometimes feel excluded or shunned.

You may spend a lot of time twisting yourself into what you’re not in order to feel accepted. If you do, I am so sorry any and all of us have made you feel you must do that.

I often feel like I was born on opposite day. You may too. Perhaps the only point worth making is that you are not alone. I get it.

I also choose to believe there is nothing wrong with us for being out of sync with our peers. And I know the world needs our voices just as much as it needs other points of view. I won’t try to get you to unite. We’ll leave that to those who were born on regular days.

https://www.pca-nwa.com/trigger-words/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/cheri-cheri-quite-contrary/

*I don’t mean he pulled the throttle back, I mean he turned the fuel OFF. The engine was not coming back on. Okay, in truth the easy flight instructor screamed a lot when I was learning to land and I couldn’t stand that anymore. Also, I didn’t know Mike would turn off the fuel until the day he did. I just knew he intimidated all of the young male pilots and gave lots of notes. For any pilot reading this and thinking that move was reckless—we were flying a Cessna 172 and without me noticing, Mike had put his leg up to block the yoke so that I couldn’t pull it back if I panicked once I realized we weren’t climbing. I didn’t. I immediately put the nose down and prepared to land on the remaining length of runway. He knew we had plenty of runway left and if I hadn’t responded with the correct procedure, he would have taken control of the plane.

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February 18, 2019

Mid-Morning Pick-Me-Up Snack Fit For a President

By the time mid-morning rolls around, I’ll need a pick-me-up snack. I eat breakfast really early on holidays as well as regular days. Three to four hours later, I’m hungry. Snacking is common in the US. According to a study published in 2017, snacking increased from 1977 to 2012. While not everyone snacks in the morning, everyone has some favorite treats. Elected officials are no exception.
snack
In honor of President’s Day, let’s see what snacks are fit for high office. I live a few blocks from the governor’s mansion in my state where the previous governor enjoyed a peanut butter sandwich with a gin and tonic each afternoon when he got home. I know this because chefs love to share and I knew his chef.

US presidents have their favorite snacks as well. Their chefs love to share too!

Some of you may remember the jar of jelly beans Ronald Reagan kept on his desk as President. Before he ever reached the White House, Reagan used jelly beans to help him quit smoking. He chose a mini jelly bean flavored all the way through that was introduced by Herman Goelitz Candy Company in 1965.

When he took office as the governor of California in 1967, Reagan’s staff placed a standing order for monthly delivery of jelly beans from Goelitz. In 1976, the company introduced gourmet flavors like Very Cherry, Root Beer, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, and Grape into the mini jelly bean line. They placed complimentary samples of the gourmet flavored beans called Jelly Belly into Reagan’s monthly order. He soon converted his entire order to Jelly Belly.

Reagan’s fondness for Jelly Belly was well known. When he died, it wasn’t uncommon for visitors to leave offerings of jelly beans at his library and gravesite.

Abraham Lincoln preferred gingerbread cookies. I can get on board with these as a snack. My grandmother used to keep them in her cookie jar when it wasn’t full of oatmeal raisin. I don’t know anyone who keeps a cookie jar full of homemade cookies now. Funny thing is, we rarely grabbed a cookie. We were too busy playing.

It’s not hard to appreciate a fondness for candy or cookies. It’s much more difficult to understand how someone could eat cottage cheese with ketchup on it. Apparently, that was a favorite snack for Richard Nixon. While it’s arguably healthier than jelly beans, I can’t get my mind around the taste. Some might say he lowered the bar in more ways than one.

Before his heart surgery, Bill Clinton liked to consume sweets and heavy foods like cinnamon rolls, cake, ribs, and enchiladas. And he was famous for jogging down Broadway to McDonald’s when he was governor of Arkansas.

President Obama’s preferences fall closer to mine – pistachios, almonds, chocolate roasted peanut protein bars, trail mix, and handmade chocolates. I could eat a handful of pistachios right now. I like them best roasted and salted whereas I prefer almonds and cashews raw.

I don’t know that I have presidential taste. It seems there’s not really such a thing. Just because you hold high office, doesn’t mean you have some sort of elevated preferences. In fact, with all the pressure that comes with the job, you’d most likely resort to whatever you find most comforting.

And now it’s time for a comforting snack for myself. Happy President’s Day!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579603/

https://americacomesalive.com/2017/11/11/ronald-reagans-jelly-beans/

https://www.jellybelly.com/?scid=scawd796498&utm_source=google&utm_medium=paid_search&utm_campaign=sidecar_paid_search_google&gclid=CjwKCAiAqaTjBRAdEiwAOdx9xl7Vb1eY02u9rjsMln9faUFLtW1zFldzYMfXIR5g9vt14QZ8jJOJ0hoC_oUQAvD_BwE

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&dat=19691203&id=258tAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YKAFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5155,1679604

https://www.washingtonian.com/2012/01/06/former-white-house-pastry-chef-recalls-bill-clintons-scary-appetite/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/top-five-gluten-free-summer-snacks-2016/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/safe-graze-snacks/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

February 12, 2019

Preparation for Healing: Manage Your Expectations

Once you’ve set clear intentions, it becomes easier to manage your expectations. You know what you aspire to accomplish. You know how you want to behave during the process of reaching that aspiration. You know how long you’ve committed to the intentions. You know how you’ll measure success. With the process in place, all you need to do is follow your intentions. You can let go of anything you expect to happen along the way or when you reach your aspiration.

It is not necessary to have expectations in order to accomplish what you hope to accomplish. I mention expectations because they can be a real stumbling block. It bears repeating that it is not necessary to have expectations, even high ones, in order to improve your life.

What is an expectation?

An expectation is something you believe is likely to happen or you anticipate will happen. An expectation can also be something you believe should happen because of your efforts, position, relationships, or view of the world.

Why do expectations matter?

If you are going to begin healing, it is important to know the process may take an extended period of time. That doesn’t mean you won’t see incremental improvement quickly, it just means that once you reach the length of time to which you’ve committed, you may find that you need to commit more time in order to make lasting change.

If you were raised in dysfunction, your expectations of normal and acceptable may not be aligned with healthy or productive.

If you have an internal expectation of failure, your behavior and effort will reflect that. If you have an awareness of this possibility, you can counteract your tendency to invite failure.

If you expect things to be one certain way and they are not, you may tend to focus on what’s wrong (wrong as in it doesn’t look like what you expected) and miss out on any abundance and joy that are present.

If you expect negative feedback, the manner in which you solicit input will reflect that and can mean you get exactly what you expect.

If you have lived a privileged life, you may expect other people to adapt to you. This can prevent you from seeing the effect you have on others.

If you have lived with neglect, you may expect and allow mistreatment that keeps you from being kind to yourself.

If you expect others to harm you, you will not be able to receive help, encouragement, or have a sense of support from the community.

If you expect to be treated as less than, your behavior will reflect that and it will be difficult to treat you as an equal.

If you feel inadequate to a task, you may perceive unspoken expectations as pressure or stress.
graph
None of those apply to me, so why would I need to manage expectations?

We live in a culture in which we’re bombarded by messages that promise an absolute and specific outcome if we will buy into a certain product or approach. We believe if we participate, we should get the promised result. Advertisers sweeten the pot by telling us it will happen FAST! We come to expect not just the promised outcome, but the promised outcome right now! Who doesn’t want the desired result immediately?!

Weight loss and fitness programs are famous for making such promises. Pharmaceutical ads promise quick relief from depression through medication. Some psychiatrists prescribe medication for PTSD in lieu of yoga, somatic experiencing, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, consecutive counting and talk therapy. Some physicians prescribe meds in place of attempting dietary changes to treat diabetes, reflux, or IBS. Physicians are now having to rethink the tendency to overprescribe opioid pain medication without trying other options first.

It’s seductive to believe that anything we want to achieve can be had immediately, without effort. In rare cases that may happen. It is not common. On some level, we know this whether or not our behavior reflects this knowledge.

Unfortunately, when we believe hype, try a quick fix and then fail to sustain any lasting resulting change, we may create an internal expectation that our efforts are futile, nothing will work, and change is not possible. This limiting expectation can prevent us from trying again.

And it’s not uncommon to stop trying. You probably know someone who has prevented herself from doing something because of an expectation that she won’t be successful or trying is futile – asking for a raise, asking for a date, getting a higher degree, applying for a dream job, doing yoga, starting a band, starting a business, cooking, setting boundaries for family visits, auditioning for a lead role, painting, skiing, or learning to fly? Limiting expectations come in many forms and are a powerful impediment to healing and improving your life.

If you’re a planner like me, you’d probably like a guarantee that things will turn out a certain way. After all, you put in a lot of effort to explore options and create the best plan. The reality is that life brings no guarantees. You can minimize risk, but you can never anticipate every possibility that will come along to change the end result. If you become too attached to your expectation of that end result, it can create tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision takes you out of the present and blinds you to the opportunities that are happening around you at any given moment. These opportunities are often where growth occurs. The present gives us moments where we can build resilience, self-trust, and fearlessness. If we miss those, we make the overall journey take longer.

The other problem with being too attached to a specific outcome is that as you grow what was once acceptable to you may become unacceptable. That means your desired outcome may not reflect your growth and may inadvertently hold you back.

I know it’s hard to let go of the idea that specific outcomes are not all that important. It’s often hammered into us by our parents, teachers, bosses, and pastors that meeting a certain list of expectations is critical. Sometimes that many people can be misinformed. Sometimes using fear to manage diverse groups is ingrained in cultural institutions.

Unfortunately, many cultural forces converge to make it more comfortable, and in many ways easier, to exist in an unhealthy state so long as we meet superficial expectations than it is to heal and thrive. It’s counterintuitive to our rhetoric. It’s counterproductive to our desire to live healthy, rewarding lives. And yet, it’s a reality for many of us.

Again, I’ve thrown a lot at you. Hopefully, you read something here that prompts a helpful insight. Increased awareness is a beginning point for improvement. And you can just ditch the expectations. They’re not necessary for you to heal!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201011/parenting-expectations-success-benefit-or-burden

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cui-bono/201802/the-psychology-expectations

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201408/new-treatments-may-deliver-immediate-relief-depression

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/let-surprised/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/made-love-served-kindness/

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February 5, 2019

Preparation for Healing: Managing Expectations Begins With Setting Clear Intentions

It’s important to manage expectations in preparation for healing and that begins with setting clear intentions. Aaaaand, we’re back. I promised you a post about preparation as we begin to draw a map of the healing process. The Super Bowl is over. Most of us have either given up on our resolutions for the year or are quickly forming new habits. It’s a great time to settle down and set some intentions for healing.
quick guide
Some of us are healing from physical injury. Some of us are healing from an acute episode of a chronic disease. Some of us are healing from loss. Some of us are healing from social injustice. Some of us are healing from acute or prolonged trauma.

Others are stuck but want to heal. We can be stuck waiting for someone to rescue us. We can be stuck frozen in fear, fighting the world, running from reality, or brown-nosing for approval. We can be stuck believing we cannot move forward. Many of us believe this because we have tried to move forward before only to end up in the same spot over and over again.

I’m familiar with ending up in the same spot. I am good at setting and achieving goals. In spite of this, I spent many years choosing partners who were different on the surface, but the same underneath. I could see, evaluate, and change visible parameters, but my subconscious kept me stuck choosing the same sort of man.

The first time I managed to get it together enough to choose differently, I got dumped after two years. That was 10 years ago. It took years after that for me to hear the inner voice that had been telling me all along I didn’t deserve this kind, dependable man. That deep-seated subconscious belief crept into my behavior.

That rejection, painful as it was, happened to be the impetus for real change – the kind of change that comes from healing very old, very deep wounds. Healing I had searched for through church, therapy, and marriage without making any real progress.

Like many people, I could successfully meet the benchmarks required by those institutions while feeling defective, unloved, terrified, and depressed. I started and managed a successful business, created lasting friendships, raised two boys, traveled the world, and became a pilot while I was still part of the walking wounded. If you’re struggling, you are not alone. You are surrounded by other people who are struggling whether you can see it or not.

I am also proof positive that healing can happen and change can be lasting. I suppose it begins with awareness. I can’t tell you that in the beginning I was aware of much that I now know, but I knew I needed to sit still. I began with that intention.

Managing expectations for healing begins by setting clear intentions. If you intend to heal the symptoms of diabetes with the least medical intervention possible, you will walk one path. If you choose to follow whatever regimen is recommended by your doctor, you may follow another. Improving your life by getting a more meaningful job will lead you one direction while healing the effects of childhood abuse and neglect may lead you another.
intentions
In order to set clear intentions, I ask myself:

What do I hope to accomplish?
I try to find a goal that’s doable and specific. When I stated my intention to sit still in a room with no stimuli for 30 minutes per day, it seemed to fit the criteria. Then I found out I was wrong. For me at that time, it wasn’t immediately doable.

As it turned out, I had to break that intention into hundreds of smaller pieces over a significant period of time in order to be successful. I was willing to do that, and now I have the ability to comfortably sit still.

That experience taught me that no intention is too small. Sometimes my only intent for a conversation is to stay present, feel my feelings, and end the conversation when I reach the point I feel too much discomfort.

How do I want to treat other people?
You don’t have to ask yourself this, but one of the reasons I choose a healing path is to become my best self. I can’t be that if I am not treating people well.

I’m a pretty nice person generally, but if a conversation triggers an emotional flashback, I can find myself feeling terror or rage so quickly it’s hard to get ahead of the situation. What I need in that moment is to process through the flashback. I do not have the emotional strength to do that while having a civil conversation. I do everyone a favor by ending the conversation at that point and coming back to it later.

How long am I willing to commit to these intentions?
When I decided to go gluten-free, I committed for a year. My agreement with myself was that if I did not see improvement in a year, I’d go back to a regular diet. I saw improvement within weeks and major improvement in months. Long before the year was over, I amended this intention to remain gluten-free forever.

How will I measure success?
When I was preparing to start my first business, my attorney told me most businesses fail because those in charge don’t know where they are. For example, they may know they have money in the bank today, but they may not be aware that they have not sold enough to have money in the bank for the rent next month if they pay their other invoices on time. This piece of common sense for business translates to life in general.

In order for you to remain on course, it is important to have a general, realistic idea of where you are. It’s also important not to become attached to a specific result as a measure of success. If you plan to improve your life by buying a larger house but use the money you saved for a downpayment to pay unexpected medical bills, it isn’t helpful to view yourself as unsuccessful because you’re still in a small house. You adapted to changing life circumstances and made a responsible choice. I view that as a disappointment and a change in timeline, but also a successful adaptation.

If I had been married to the goal of sitting still on the couch without distraction for 30 minutes per day, I would have ruled myself an unmitigated failure at the end of a month. I didn’t even manage to sit down and stay there more than once in that month and not more than three times in the first year!

Instead, I recognized that I was gaining insight each and every time I failed. To me, that meant I was on the right path. I was failing, but I was failing up. That didn’t feel like failure. It felt like success even though I was not close to the particular goal I set. I let that goal morph into an intention to feel whatever feelings bubbled up when I sat still that I believed I needed to do something, anything, to avoid.

For me, there is a natural flow to assessing and reassessing. It’s something I do without much effort like an app constantly running in the background. That’s not true for everyone. If you need scheduled reviews, timing will be a consideration. Setting a scheduled meeting with yourself or with someone else you trust can help you feel accountable to review your progress.

Do I need feedback? If so, how much?
Feedback can be useless, helpful, or detrimental. Choosing the right type from the right sources is important. Sometimes we gravitate toward feedback that reinforces what we already believe. If we are hoping to change, that’s probably not helpful.

Some people will feel like giving feedback that’s not positive is a form of confrontation. Many people avoid confrontation like the plague. These people are not a good source for feedback because they will withhold the information you most need. As you grow, this will create an atmosphere of distrust.

Feedback can be used by others as a tool to retain or regain the status quo. When you change, everyone around you will be forced to adjust to the differences. This can feel threatening and produce resistance. Such resistance can take the form of feedback that is intended to make you stop changing.

The healing process often involves letting some relationships go in favor of others that are more in line with the direction you’re going. It may be that you opt for no feedback for the first few months while you get your sea legs.

Any feedback that causes you to doubt yourself is not productive. It’s okay to question whether your approach is the most efficient, maximizes health, or is consistent with the results you’re hoping for, but anyone whose input undermines your sense of self or trust in your body will be detrimental to the process.

If that is a therapist, feel free to change. If that is a family member, feel free to set different boundaries. If that is a colleague, limit conversations to work topics. If that is your minister, find someone else to confide in. If that is your physician, get a second opinion and/or find one who will work with you instead of against you. This is your process and it is always okay to make choices that best support you whether anyone else agrees with those choices or not. You, whether you like it or not, can be your own best advocate!

How will I celebrate success?
We expect physical healing to tax our bodies. We don’t often anticipate that emotional and spiritual healing will also tax our bodies. I prefer to celebrate success with activities that energize or inspire me, but sometimes I celebrate by taking a nap or mindlessly binge watching.

Am I willing to improve my boundaries?
Most of us will answer yes without a second thought, but the first time we are faced with telling our mother we’ll be missing an implied mandatory family gathering, we may reexamine that answer. Thinking this through in advance while setting intentions will help solidify your determination to improve boundaries that support your intentions.

Will I practice gratitude even when the process is painful?
This could be considered a separate intention, but I incorporate it as part of the primary thought process because committing to a gratitude practice enhances my chances of feeling positive during difficult times. From experience, I know practicing gratitude will automatically shift my focus in a positive direction.

Can I be kind to myself and still make progress?
Healing requires a delicate balance of self-kindness, accountability, patience, gumption, truth-telling, and bravery. Without kindness, you’ll wear yourself out and give up. You can’t white-knuckle yourself through anything forever. None of us are that strong. Factoring in kindness from the beginning will leave you less tempted to chuck accountability in favor of relief.

I am highly motivated and rarely have to push myself even during difficult, painful times. The Universe brought the lesson of self-kindness to me by bombarding me with so much over such an extended period of time that I got worn out from the sheer relentlessness of every day. I literally hit the wall and had to go to bed for a few days.

This kind of exhaustion was new to me. If I meditated, I had to lie down and let the floor hold me. Sitting up was not an option. I could not muster the energy to plan a getaway. I slept 10 – 12 hours per night. I completed every task as it came to me because I knew if I didn’t it would never get done. I was in no position to be strategic. Now I pay attention to a feeling of tiredness long before I reach the point of exhaustion.

If you think of healing as a marathon rather than a sprint, it will be easier to be kind to yourself along the way. Self-kindness includes eating well, sleeping enough, and making time for vigorous activity on a regular basis. It also includes speaking to yourself in a kind manner, pausing to receive and absorb compliments, leaning into hugs, adding beauty to your environment, allowing your feelings to flow, and making time for moments of simple pleasure.

I realize I may have just made setting intentions sound like an arduous task. Once you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll realize it’s not that hard and I believe taking the time to be clear on where you’re going and how you want to get there will give you the best chance of arriving. It certainly works for me!

https://fearlessliving.org/are-you-setting-the-wrong-goal/

https://www.made-magazine.com/made-exclusive-w-iyanla-vanzant-setting-clear-intentions-in-2019/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/3351-2/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/many-paths-healing/
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