Friday, March 30, 2012
Hi, healers! Here and pasted below is my new mindbdoygreen.com post titled "5 Tips for Having More Patience." Enjoy!
"As I spontaneously became infused with the idea for this piece, which is so often the way inspired writing is born, I was simultaneously and embarrassingly impatient over the simple fact that my internet connectivity was rather sluggish, crawling so slowly to the webpage I desired that it may as well have been going backward. I was so frustrated that I began clicking on the link over and over again with a heavy hand and a curse word, as if that would speed up the process. Go figure. I caught myself in my usual stubborn and persevering pattern of impatience, and I threw my head back partly in laughter and partly in an ah-ha! moment. With a sly smile on my face, “You’re funny,” I said to God aloud as if confronting a good friend who just punked me. I received the message.
They say patience is a virtue, one that I admittedly and shamefully don’t have readily accessible. Before I was diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease, my life was never about the journey. It was all about bulldozing my way toward the end product, which I was incredible at, like a bull running full speed ahead at a matador, only stopping for instant to decide on the destructive path it should take. Today, my patience has certainly increased. Like an unfinished painting that I continue to add brushstrokes of brilliant color to, it’s not a finished product yet, but it is slowly and painstakingly taking form.
Below are five tips for having more patience.
1. Self-Awareness – When you find yourself becoming frustrated and impatient, ask yourself, “Why am I being so impatient?” Is it because you fear you might be late? Are you multi-tasking too much? Do you feel out of control? Is it a generalized anxiety? Figuring out what your triggers are will allow you to move through your days with the self-awareness needed to squash impatience before it begins, or at the very least, recognize when you are being impatient and turn the situation around before it negatively affects you and those around you.
2. Time is an Illusion – Time does not actually exist. It is a man-made construct that we use to dictate our days. Keeping this in mind will help you in those moments stuck in traffic or running ten minutes behind in your morning routine. What’s the worst that can happen? You call to explain that you are running a few minutes behind? The more relaxed we are, the more our life will flow with ease despite the limiting constructs of time.
3. It’s the Journey, Not the Destination – I am guilty as charged, always focusing on the end result, but if we continue to ignore the journey, we will miss the sacred moments found nestled between our goals. The most important lessons are the ones we learn along the way, so find joy in the in between.
4. Put Things in Perspective – Whenever I was making a mountain out of a mole hill, my dad would always say to me, “Will this matter to you in ten years?” The answer was always a “no,” although, at those times, I could have sworn the world was ending. Ask yourself that question when you are feeling frustrated or impatient, and remember to count your blessings while you’re at it.
5. Practice Patience – There are plenty of opportunities in a multitude of scenarios that are available for you to practice patience throughout the day - when you are stuck in a grocery store line with a slow cashier, when you are stuck in traffic, or when you are with the people that tend to push your buttons the most, your loved ones. The more you practice, the easier it will become to incorporate patience in all areas of your life."
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Hi, healers! Below is a lovely guest post written by Carolyn from the website BrainTrack.com. Enjoy!
Ways To Get Involved and Learn About RSD/CRPS
Have you or one of your family members, friends or your partner recently been diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS)? Thanks to the web, access to medical research, both in the U.S. and abroad, has helped sufferers and their loved ones learn more about this devastating condition. If you are looking for places to go to learn about RSD or ways to get involved, here are a few places to check out:
1. Of course, the first thing you need to do is to talk to your doctor and learn everything you can from then. Ask them what resources they recommend you look into.
2. The first thing you need to do is understand what’s going on. Once you have Tgotten the advice of your Doctur, the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association website is a great place to startgo. There are videos, educational resources, national support group listings and even membership options. Also visit, American RSDHope as well. They, too, are an excellent resource for questions, information, treatment options, articles and even awareness clothing. They’re a pretty organized group and a dedicated non-profit for the support and education of people with RSD and their friends and family.
3. The second step is to join a support group. It may seem like just another thing to add to your already full plate, but it will be the kind of support that can be a lifesaver. Whether you are the one with RSD or you are closely connected with someone with RSD, both of you need the support of others in your similar situation.
4. It’s time to make a plan of attack. If you know you have RSD, then you have been around the medical scene at least a little. Now that you know you have a lifelong condition, it’s time to wrap your mind around how you’re going to cope with it. This includes doing your homework and visiting different doctors to find one that you are comfortable and satisfied with. It also means making lifestyle and dietary changes. Ask people in your support group what works for them and what causes more pain. Begin, as quickly as possible, to implement what changes you can or be supportive of those with RSD by encouraging their new lifestyle changes.
5. If you want to take it that next step further, consider organizing your support group for a charity event to support your local group and raise awareness.
These are the places you should start. Hopefully your involvement will provide more support from the community at large.
Author Bio: Carolyn writes about medical education when she’s not helping people find information about registered nursing schools.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
My meditation practice is becoming more consistent and deepening with each time I sit down and make the time and space to sit in stillness. My “meditation pillow” is unconventional – it is my bed. I sit cross-legged with two pillows propped up behind me. I don’t lean against them, but I know they are there quietly supporting me. They just brush my back to keep me sitting up straight due to years of poor posture and weakened back muscles that I am correcting through my yoga practice. I close my eyes, palms facing up and resting on my knees, and I begin to count, “In, one, in, two, in three…” with each out breath and in breath. By exhalation three, my mind has already wandered, and I decide on a different approach – I’m just going to sit here and listen to the sounds around me.
For the first time, thoughts cease, and I am in awe of the beauty of noise, noises that used to piss me off during meditation while I was beating my ego into submission. “Vrrrrooooommmmm,” a car goes by and then another one. I’ve just realized I like this noise, and for a moment, I wonder who is driving that car, where they are going, and if they are happy. Chances are, they aren’t happy, but I hope they are and silently bless them. I pull my focus back to the sound of a ticking watch. I don’t wear a watch, and I wonder where this sound is coming from. It’s so loud that I’m afraid I will open my eyes and see a Rolex suspended in thin air dangling next to my ear. Am I losing my mind? I sure hope so, but not in the conventional sense. In the way of dropping the ego. Suddenly, the sound of silence has a sound, and I focus on that in between the “vrrroooommms” and “tick, tocks.”
I’m doing, or not doing, all of this without judgment, which is rare for me. I’m great at not judging other people, but treating myself nicely has always been a fickle part of my mindfulness practice. Twenty minutes have gone by, and I open my eyes, smile plastered on my face. Finally, I feel like I’m getting somewhere by going nowhere at all. How cool is that?
Monday, March 26, 2012
Hi, healers! Here and pasted below you will find my new MindBodyGreen post titled "Be Your Own Heroine." I hope you enjoy it!
"This world of disease, it's bizarre. One day you are a young woman living in Miami, partying in penthouses on South Beach, blissfully ignorant of hardship and chronically absorbed in a world so small that the idea of other people existing in the town beside you, forget about other states, countries, or continents, is a notion that stays quietly tucked in your periphery until some sort of urgent, short-lived need requires you to consider life beyond yourself. The next day, in what seems like one monumental, astronomical shift, but is really a series of poor decisions and a never ending assemblage of fiendish bad habits, your pristine world makes an about face transforming itself from fairy tale to strikingly horrifying urban legend full of Jersey devils and alligators in the sewers.
Any day now you expect to find yourself, like the urban legend has it, buried alive, and you do, but not in the way of inhabiting a shallow grave before you’ve taken your last breath. It’s almost worse because you are slowly being suffocated by your own fear, worry, pain and self-doubt, and how is a mere mortal supposed to survive such a horrific betrayal by life? At least in the urban legend an upstanding citizen can walk by a patch of freshly tilled earth that wasn’t there yesterday and franticly search for help or use his very hands to give you back the life you thought you lost. Or better yet, you could awake in a cold sweat only to realize the horrific scene, despite feeling incredibly real, was only a harrowing nightmare.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint, you often have to be your own heroine to have any chance at survival, sitting in a therapist’s office slowly chipping away at the heaviness perched upon your shoulders and the problems that threaten to snuff you out or on your knees in the privacy of your own home begging God (or whatever you believe in) for help as you surrender the outcome over to the divine. Some days, I don’t particularly want to be my own heroine. In fact, I pray for someone to rescue me, be it prince charming on his white horse or some silver bullet pill in the form of the latest and greatest cure, but both of the choices are short-lived. Eventually, when the high of excitement wears off, you come down only to be faced once again with yourself, all of your flaws in the same form they were in when you thought the life raft extended to you would bring instant happiness.
That instant happiness doesn’t exist, and it certainly waxes and wanes during each passing day. Some days I’m on it, feeling good and looking good, and other days not so much. But the most important thing is that every single day I try. I try to be my own heroine, and I try to be happy. I don’t mean to brag, but most days, I am able to find joy, and as long as I’m happy on more days than I am unhappy, I feel like a heroine. I feel like a success."
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Hi healers! I've been asked several times about what kind of book I am writing, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure yet. Memoir/Self Help? Something like that. In all my years of school, I always wrote the same way - free association/word vomit onto the page that I made sense of afterward. This is how I am writing my book, so below is a small, unedited, rough draft excerpt from it. I hope you like it.
(Prior to this paragraph, I wrote about my earliest therapy sessions.)
There were moments in between sessions where I felt so overwhelmed that I would cry for hours, quite literally, HOURS. Hard, breathtaking sobs that didn’t let up and only seemed to become more forcible with each passing minute. I remember one particular night, studying in my room at the apartment I had in Miami while my roommates sat together in the common room laughing and enjoying life. I became so ashamed of myself and the uncontrollable sobbing that I grabbed my janitor sized keys, opened my bedroom door, and ran out of the apartment passed everyone, no shoes and tears streaming down my face. I headed next door to my neighbor’s apartment. A few despondent knocks later, she answered in her wheelchair.
I had met my neighbor a few days before outside of our homes. I lived on the first floor of the building next to the wheelchair accessible apartment that the university installed just after I moved in. At this point, I didn’t have a definitive diagnosis, but two surgeries later, I still had a lot of pain, so much so that I could no longer engage in physical activity, including walking much more than a few minutes, and it was progressing by, what seemed like, the minute. My neighbor was a wheelchair bound female graduate student who seemed to navigate life with constant ease and a magnificent smile despite her obvious physical limitations. She was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of a muscular dystrophy at a very young age, and how impossibly ludicrous I felt taking my trivial problems to someone who was truly experiencing hardship. This would be a common theme with me: constantly undermining and feeling ashamed about my own suffering. I never allowed myself to feel the way I felt as a legitimate response to an authentic predicament. To me, I shouldn’t be so sad because people, like my neighbor as a prime example, had a real reason to be upset. Now I know, like all things in life, suffering is relative to the person experiencing it, and “should” is a very problematic word to have in your vocabulary. It is drenched in judgment and the precursor to much self-loathing, something I didn’t need any more of in my life at the time.
I waited a few moments after I knocked because it took my neighbor some time to answer the door for obvious reasons. When she opened it, she saw me standing there, barefoot, red faced, tear stained, and snot nosed, and her first words were, “Oh no! What’s the matter?” Where the hell do I begin? I’m sure I was quite an alarming sight. No one expects to see a half broken, barely hanging on shell of a human being at their door at 8pm on a Sunday evening, but there I was, shame and all, looking to be uplifted by someone legitimately worse off than me but unequivocally handling it much better. She motioned for me to come in, and I froze for a minute, second guessing whether or not I should unload my baggage onto her that evening. Ultimately choosing to burden her, I walked in, head hung, and sat down in her living room.
It was the first time I had been in her apartment, and I spent a few moments scanning the room, noticing the accommodations made for her, such as a lower kitchen counter and cabinets all within her reach. Was this what my future held? A shower with a built in seat and toilet that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie (Yes, I used her bathroom.)? I also noticed her wheelchair had the BMW symbol placed neatly on it as if it were a luxury sports car. She noticed me noticing it and declared, “This is my ride.” We both laughed. It was the first time I laughed in days. After a half hour of me crying and her reassuring me that it was OK to cry, the door bell rang. It was her aide arriving to help her do the most routine of daily tasks, take a shower and get into bed. Gaining some perspective that night, I picked myself up out of her chair, thanked her profusely for that hour of her life with my sorry ass she would never get back, and walked out of her apartment, something she will never be able to do no matter how well she copes with, what seemed to me at the time like, the cruelest of injustices.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Hi, healers! Check out my new MindBodyGreen post, "Emotionally Intelligent Parenting & Empathy" here and pasted below.
"I recently accompanied one of my most special friends to a support group for LGBT individuals and those who love and support them, something I can most definitely be classified as. To say I unconditionally love and support my friend and the LGBT community as a whole is an understatement, so when invited at the last minute, I grabbed my green juice on-the-go and ran out the door, hopping in my Toyota and hitting the open road, also known as the Garden State Parkway. The meeting was in a church invoking some irony, and when we arrived, it took us several trips around the large structure to find an open door and the right meeting room. I saw a young man outside and asked him for directions because the chances of us finding it on our own were slim to none and because he was rather handsome in a hipster with a side of slightly nerdy kind of way. Mr. Handsome escorted us to our room and left, and we shyly entered only to find the majority of the group made up of older heterosexual couples due to a “parent centered” topic.
We sat down next to one another, and in true “Maria fashion,” I made a few bordering-on-inappropriate jokes to my friend to lighten the mood and pass the time since we arrived several minutes early. One by one, the rest of the group, all parents, trickled in, and it was obvious that the night wasn't going to be what we anticipated. My friend and I, both not fans of group participation, tend to get nervous when the public speaking involves free association and interjection of feelings but thrive in settings that require prepared or loosely prepared speeches given to an interested audience. In all my years of dealing with a chronic disease, I have never been to a support group, although I recommend them through and through to clients and have been the professional facilitator of many in the past, including a breast cancer survivor support group and cognitive behavioral therapy centered group therapy.
The topic of this group was “emotionally intelligent parenting,” and the discussion centered on empathy for the LGBT children, some still in their teens and many happily married/committed adults with children. One particularly interesting comment was made from a mother about how it is difficult to have empathy for her LGBT child when she has not lived the experience, and I have to admit, I thought to myself, “I’ve never lived the LGBT experience and didn’t even know an openly gay person until I was in college, and I can have immense empathy for the LGBT population.” She was clearly struggling and doing the best she could, so I extended my compassion and empathy to her, wishing her well and silently blessing her.
I can have immense empathy for anyone because I have struggled. Those who have struggled, who have felt overwhelming pain, loss, and disappointment, understand those who are struggling. It doesn’t hurt that I have two profoundly emotionally intelligent parents who taught me two distinct lessons about others growing up: 1. love everyone the same and 2. stick up for those who are vulnerable. My mother’s voice still rings in my ear at the age of nine when she insisted I stick up for a girl being bullied, “If you do nothing to stop whatever is happening, it is just as bad as contributing to the problem.” I stuck up for that little girl, and the acorns being thrown at her suddenly came hurling in my direction. It was uncomfortable but well worth the lesson I would carry with me into adulthood and that I’m sure propelled me toward the clinical social work profession (part of our Code of Ethics includes advocating for vulnerable, oppressed, and disenfranchised populations).
I am often told by others, especially those older than me, that I am very mature and compassionate, and I have acquired the label of an “old soul” on more than one occasion. My response is always a humble “thank you” followed by a comment about the two amazing individuals who raised me. I could take all the credit, but it wouldn’t be fair. I’m lucky to have such wonderful parents."
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Hi, healers! My new mindbodygreen.com post is up titled "The Multiple Losses of Disease: 5 Tips for Successful Grieving." Check it out here and pasted below.
"The most difficult parts of being diagnosed with a "progressive and incurable" neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS), at a young age are the multiple losses and subsequent grieving periods that occur and are associated with a chronic and progressive disease. Thankfully, I am currently reversing the disease process and healing, but there was a time when the “progressive” label was my direct experience, and I was forced to grieve the many losses that accompanied it. Grief is a natural reaction to a devastating diagnosis, but what happens when the losses are multiple? And what if they don’t all happen at once?
Many of us are familiar with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief (denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance) proposed in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, and if you aren’t, I highly recommend her writings. These stages can be applied to a full range of situations outside of loss of a loved one, including loss of a job, loss of a bodily function, and loss of a perceived or planned future. Each stage can be experienced for differing lengths of time, skipped, or even revisited again after being worked through, and each individual will move toward acceptance at his/her own rate.
I’ll admit, I’ve spent a lot of time in the anger and depression stages of grieving but am now happily and comfortably situated in the acceptance stage after much time, counseling, and independent contemplation. Losses constantly occur in our lives as changes are inevitable to human existence, but sometimes, we are faced with a loss that we do not have the ability to adjust to and cope with quickly or independently. With a chronic, degenerative disease, losses often come in stages and are spread out over long periods of time. One may experience loss of a bodily function and grieve that loss only to start the grieving process over again when another loss occurs.
We must learn to grieve these losses so that we may have the ability to recognize and show gratitude for the lessons we have learned and what we have gained through the experience. Below are five tips for successful grieving.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Feel – Repression of feelings is not conducive to healing, and if you don’t address your emotions, you create the possibility for engaging in dysfunctional behaviors, such as self-medication. Crying is cathartic and a powerful way to truly feel emotions, yet when we see someone cry in our society, our response is usually, “Don’t cry,” because we are uncomfortable with raw emotion. When I worked in a hospice and my clients cried due to loss of a loved one or anticipatory loss of a loved one, my response would be, “It’s OK to cry,” as I sat with them in silence as a supportive presence to their grief.
2. Surrender to a New Reality – Acceptance is not passive, but rather an active surrendering to what is, to a new reality. It was important for me to realize that surrendering to a new reality did not mean I would never again be able to regain what I lost. What it did mean was that I was making my life easier by accepting the present moment, however uncomfortable or unwanted, and allowing myself to enjoy the blessings I did have in my life instead of being consumed by my losses.
3. Think About What You Gain – Disease is not just about loss, but it is also about lessons learned, growth made, and things gained. This disease has been my greatest burden but also my greatest gift, and it was my responsibility to have that divine realization.
4. Seek Out Support – Healing happens through healthy relationships. Whether it is through individual mental health or spiritual counseling, group support, or support from loved ones, honest, open expression of feelings with people you trust and with individuals who have shared experiences creates the environment for true acceptance of loss to occur.
5. Say “Good-Bye” – My biggest and most difficult loss to grieve was the loss of my athletics, particularly running. I wrote a good-bye letter to running to express my sorrows and to give myself permission to let that part of myself go. The letter writing experience was a turning point in my grieving process because I had kept many of my feelings about the loss inside up until that point. I had felt shame because, according to me, the loss wasn’t big enough to warrant such long standing depression. Now, I know loss, just like everything else in life, is relative to the individual experiencing it, and that has allowed me to move forward."
Thursday, March 8, 2012
It’s Thursday. The sun is shining on an early March day in New Jersey bringing the not-quite-spring-yet temperature up to a comfortable 70 degrees. I decide to take my writing act on the road, and I lay claim on a table in the bookstore next to the self-help section. I feel like if I sit here, a few feet away from some of the most talented writers, I will absorb their brilliance and become inspired, or at the very least, be able to reach over and grab one of their masterpieces if I butt up against the dreaded writer’s block. I sit down, open my computer, take out my IPod (I unapologetically need to be surrounded by music when I write), and hit the “on” button. Just as I put in my earphones, the computer shuts itself off. Huh? Ok.
Annoyed, I wait to turn on my music until the computer fires up again. I decide to be a bad neighbor and eavesdrop on the conversation occurring at the table next to mine. Two older, brooding, tattooed men are sitting together with large books opened in front of them, papers sprawled out. One of the men has a deep voice that is melodic, almost hypnotizing, but I tune out of the bass and back into the lyrics. They are recovering alcoholics going over exercises in what seems to be an AA workbook. I hear words like “ego,” “spirituality,” and “powerlessness,” and it reminds me of conversations I have had before minus the alcohol dependence and the deep voices (but not the tattoos – I have three).
I tuned out of the conversation again. My computer is ready for me. I open up Microsoft Office and run my fingers over the keys several times. I’m not inspired and can’t even come up with a topic much less create art through words. F*ck. Maybe music will help. Demi Lovato has a beautiful voice with undertones of pain and suffering. Perfect for writing but still nothing. My mind starts wandering, and I think, “These guys next to me are so inspiring, and they don’t even know it. I want to tell them, but I can’t admit to being an eavesdropper.” AH-HA! That’s it! They are my inspiration! I’m so excited that I want to jump up and kiss them, but I raise the volume on my IPod and start typing instead.
Life is so beautiful.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Hi, healers! Check out my new mindbodygreen.com post here and pasted below.
"Conversations With Disease
After several excruciatingly painful and profoundly frightening years of undiagnosed symptoms, I was diagnosed with a "progressive and incurable" neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS), which is characterized by unrelenting pain that is disproportionate to the inciting event, usually an injury or trauma.
It started in my lower legs, and over time, the burning pain spread to every inch of all four limbs and beyond, coupled with other alarming symptoms, including uncontrollable muscle spasms and drastic skin color and temperature changes. I spent years fighting and struggling with dis-ease before I realized there had to be a better way. I found that better way by going within and searching my soul for the beautiful lessons hidden within the ugliness that can often acompany disease.
Inspired by Marianne Williamson’s, A Return to Love, where she shares letters written by individuals with AIDS during one of her many workshops, I decided to start a conversation. This is a conversation with disease. A few years ago, it would have read VERY differently. Something like, “I hate you, stupid disease. The only good thing about you is that my parents gave me a puppy to make me feel better.” I’m sure RSD/CRPS’s response would have gone something like this, “I’m ruining your life, and it is hilarious. I’ve taken so much away from you already, and when I’m done, there will be nothing left.” Seven years later, the dialogue has changed.
It took me seven years to see your beauty. It took me 27 years to see my own. They are intertwined. I used to hate you for the way you blew into my little world unexpectedly like a tornado changing the landscape of my life, but then I realized that the fears and beliefs that created you and have kept you alive were present way before you ever emerged. I thought you ruined my life, but you gave me a reason and passion for living. I thought you were my greatest burden, but you have been my greatest gift. Because of you, I love deeply, live passionately, and fear nothing. I watch ordinary miracles unfolding each day, and I perform miracles within myself that shine outward touching those around me. I no longer "fight" you, or "struggle" with you, or "hate" you because if I do, I am only fighting, struggling with, and hating myself. We've become a team, and I know once you've served your full purpose, when I've learned from you all that I can, you will go in peace and peace within me will be restored. Thank you for being my most consistent teacher and my most important lesson. I love you.
I never meant to hurt you like you like I did, but you wouldn't listen. What else was I to do? I started quiet and small, but when you continued to ignore me, I was forced to become louder and larger so that you would pay attention , so that you would stop looking outside and start looking within. I just wanted you to see your divine, unwavering perfection through the eyes of God and not through the fickle eyes of others or yourself. To see love instead of fear and to spread love by serving others in all that you do. You're almost there. It's magnificent to watch you grow and to watch you spread the wings of the angels and soar to new heights of love and divine service. Keep your heart open, but most of all, have more fun. You've been chained by your own beliefs for far too long, and it's time that joy set you free. I love you, too.
What does your conversation sound like?"
Monday, March 5, 2012
Hi, Healers! Check out my new mindbodygreen.com post here and pasted below.
"Change can be scary. Even positive changes have the ability to create stress in our lives because they involve adjustments and deviations from our normal routines and the status quo. Now, imagine an entire diet and lifestyle overhaul from SAD (Standard American Diet) to vegan. Veganism, for all of the wonderful impacts it has on the animals, the environment, and the individual, can strike fear in the hearts of many. Give up meat?!? How will I get enough protein?!? Where will I get my calcium?! If those questions sound familiar, you are a vegan or have attempted to make the switch to plant-based in the past.
It’s not easy to go against the status quo, be a plant-based trailblazer, and make changes that will ultimately withstand the test of time and criticism. Below are five steps for going and staying plant-based.
1. Focus on What You Gain – This is something I try to explain to countless individuals in a vast number situations, not just concerning diet and lifestyle shifts. Focusing on what you gain and what you are grateful for instead of what you are giving up or what you are lacking will create the inner environment that can cultivate positivity. When your perceptions change, miracles happen inside and around you.
2. Figure Out Why – If someone asked you why you are going plant-based, would you be able to tell them? If not, stop and take some time to gain clarity about why plant-based is right for you at this point in your life’s journey. Are you trying to enhance your health? Do you want to stop the needless suffering of millions of sentient beings? Or do you want to want make sure your actions go toward healing Mother Earth? Veganism is not a “diet” in the sense of what our society pushes, a quick, fickle way to lose weight. Without a passion for the lifestyle, motivation, and a meaning behind your transition, you may have difficulty ensuring the changes stick. A little soul-searching on the topic never hurt anyone.
3. Knowledge is Power – Start devouring books, research articles, blogs, etc. based on the plant-based lifestyle. The knowledge you arm yourself with will be the foundation for a successful transition and the fuel for a healthy future.
4. Connect With Other Vegans – A rock solid support system is always necessary when it comes to periods of transition. If you find your current support system is not supporting you, and even going as far as antagonizing you for your newfound love of plants, find other vegans to connect with. Surrounding yourself with positive people who have common interests and goals will help to propel you forward and lift you up when others might attempt to tear you down. To most people, different is scary, so try not to take it personally and reconnect with and focus on the inspiring reasons why you decided to go vegan in the first place.
5. Enjoy Yourself – Last but not least, enjoy yourself! Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t quit animal products cold-turkey. Pat yourself on the back for the healthy changes you are making, even if it is two steps forward and one step back. Sooner or later, you’ll be running full speed ahead, but until then, it’s all about baby steps and self-love."
Friday, March 2, 2012
Hi, healers! I'm so glad you all liked my tinybuddha.com post from yesterday. I got so many wonderful responses, and I appreciate all of your kind words.
If you are new to my blog or haven't checked out my "guest posts" page, there might be something fun for you to read from the writings I have done for other online publications.
Check out my new crazysexylife.com post titled "5 Tips for Establishing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries." You can find it here and pasted below:
"One of the most common questions I am asked as a mental health professional and someone living with and healing from a “chronic and progressive” neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS), is how to establish, maintain and enforce (when needed) healthy interpersonal boundaries. This topic is especially important when one is living with chronic, acute and/or terminal illness because unhealthy interpersonal relationships and stressful life events can flare up and even aid in the progression of many dis-eases. When trying to heal, spirits need to be flying high and stress needs to be kept low. Even as a healthy individual, stressful interpersonal relationships can put a major strain on your mind-body-spirit. Learning how to set and maintain healthy boundaries is a must for maintaining proper health and well-being throughout all areas of your life.
Many of the questions I get asked center around the other person, stating, “I’ve set my boundaries, but this person won’t change.” Establishing and maintaining boundaries in your life is not about forcing others to change, but it is about deciding what you will and will not tolerate followed by establishing how you will enforce those set boundaries if they are tested or simply ignored. Below are my five tips for establishing and maintaining healthy interpersonal boundaries.
1. Communicate your boundaries. Communicating your limits firmly, consistently, succinctly and without strong emotion (without blame and/or judgment) is imperative because one never accomplishes his/her goals by putting the target audience on the defensive. You don’t want to create more conflict. Try saying something like, “It is super important that I avoid stress in my life so that I can heal, which includes X, Y and Z.” Do not justify or rationalize your boundaries. This is not a two-way conversation but rather a polite, calm, firm and respectful statement of your needs – no discussion needed.
2. Communicate the consequences. Once you have communicated your boundaries, be sure to follow with the consequences for violating your boundaries. For those people in your life who are particularly manipulative, controlling, abusive or overbearing, stay firm, be very specific about what you will and will not tolerate, and be even more specific about the consequences that you will enforce if your boundaries are tested and crossed. For example, “If you continue to criticize me, I am going to end our conversation.”
3. Stay firm. Boundary setting is not a two-way conversation. There is no negotiating your boundaries and the consequences you put in place for when your boundaries are violated. Stay firm when it comes to what you will and will not tolerate in your life. You come first, and that is OK.
4. Practice makes perfect. Learning to set boundaries can take time and, like any other skill, you will improve with practice. For many, the idea of standing up for yourself and communicating your desires may feel totally foreign. Don’t worry, with time, it will become a staple in your health and wellness tool box.
5. Lose the Guilt: It is quite common for individuals, especially us people-pleasers, to feel guilty or selfish when establishing boundaries and saying “no,” but it is important to recognize that you have the right to take care of yourself without letting limiting belief systems get in the way of your mind-body-spirit health and wellness. Remember, saying “no” to someone often means you are saying “yes” to yourself. Start saying “yes” to yourself today.
You deserve unbounded happiness, you are worthy of luscious miracles, and you belong in healthy, loving and respectful interpersonal relationships. If you require some daily affirmations to help yourself through the beginning stages of setting and enforcing your boundaries, repeat the previous sentence over and over again several times a day while adding: “I have the right to take care of myself.” If you don’t, who will?"
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Hi, healers! My tinybuddha.com piece is up today titled "5 Tips to Achieve your Goals Despite the Odds." Check it out here and pasted below. I also have a crazysexylife.com post up today. I will paste that in my next blog post.
“Excellence can be obtained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible.” ~Unknown
After several excruciatingly painful and profoundly frightening years of undiagnosed symptoms, I was diagnosed with a “progressive and incurable” neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS), which is characterized by unrelenting pain that is disproportionate to the inciting event, usually an injury or trauma.
As luck would have it, I was diagnosed and, shortly after, hospitalized for the first of three times just as I was accepted into a Master’s program for clinical social work.
I always saw myself obtaining a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D., but how would I accomplish these grueling and seemingly impossible tasks if I could barely stand up long enough to brush my teeth on a cocktail of the most potent narcotics available?
I didn’t have the answer to this question, and a flood of fear and doubt rose up within me like a tsunami crashing onto the shore, drowning hope and destroying all of the life in its path.
I pushed onward despite overwhelming feelings of fear, and medical professionals suggesting that I should quit graduate school and go on disability.
That was three years ago, and now, I have a Master’s Degree in clinical social work (MSW) and a professional license to boot (LSW). Not to mention, I no longer take any medication for the RSD/CRPS thanks to coffee enemas, a vegan diet (heavy on the fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices), and a will and desperation to be healthy.*
At best, my traditional doctors predicted a life full of yearly or bi-yearly week-long hospitalizations where I would receive a continuous I.V. drip of the powerful anesthetic, ketamine (better known by its street name, “special K”), which can temporarily control the pain for some individuals.
I couldn’t accept that portrait of my future, so I decided to paint my own. In my version, colors and health were vibrant and smiles and possibilities were endless. “Can’t” changed to “heck yes, I can” and “incurable and progressive” weren’t part of the vocabulary, no matter what they said.
Was obtaining my Master’s Degree the biggest challenge of my young life thus far? Absolutely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
In fact, my continuously improving health moves that Ph.D. out on the horizon closer and closer to the palm of my hand, and victory never tastes as sweet as when it is achieved with the odds against you.
Below are my five tips on how to succeed despite the odds.
1. Die to the past.
Forget what you know. Forget what everyone has told you. Die to the past, and while you’re at it, remember: the present is not a means to get to the future. If you think of it that way, you will be perpetually unfulfilled.
Be mindful of the present moment because the past is over, and the future doesn’t exist. The only moment is now.
Take a moment to allow yourself to be in awe of the wonders of the world and the divine intelligence that helps those ordinary miracles unfold. Your miracle is unfolding right now, and you’ll miss it if you continue to live without awareness.
2. Surrender to the unknown.
Surrendering has never been my forte because I have a tendency to want to control my environments, which means I can end up living in the future, not in the present moment. Worrying is wasted energy, and no amount of those toxic thoughts will ever change the outcome.
I believe a higher power has a plan for me, and as I look back on my life so far, I realize I have always been put in the places I needed to be to personally and professionally grow and develop. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, trust that you will never come up against more than you can handle.
Relax, and let life flow through you.
3. Dare to dream.
The limitations we perceive are put in place by us and only us. Take some time to sit in stillness and tap into your innate intuitive abilities.
Silencing the critical voices of others and that critical voice within you will allow you to get in touch with your desires and the possibilities of achieving them. It is the “impossible” that stretches you, shows you what you can become, and aids in the formation of who you are meant to be.
4. Support yourself.
A rock solid support system is essential, but you cannot overcome an obstacle if you don’t believe in yourself. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities because if you don’t, no one else will either.
The negative thoughts that you harbor about yourself will ultimately be sent out into the universe and affect how your life unfolds.
When you believe in your potential, your life will take on a whole new expression. “I can’t” turns into “I will.” Remember, you are divinity in motion, so start acting like it.
5. Go all in.
Anyone who has experienced any kind of success understands that it does not come without hard work, discipline, and dedication. When you come from behind and achieve the impossible, the triumph seems so much greater. Determination, commitment, and a burning desire to see your dreams through will help you achieve any goal your intuition guides you toward.
Now, go in the direction of your dreams, even if they seem impossible. You deserve unbounded success, and you are worthy of miracles. I have faith in you and all that you can be. Do you?