Thursday, April 26, 2012
Hi, healers! As some of you may know from my desperate request for prayers, I demolished my lower back, particularly the SI joints and the muscles around them (which are in spasm), doing nothing more than some gentle, very gentle, stretching. It's a weak area for me, and I officially hit the PT office next week to address it. I haven't been able to move off the couch in about four days. I had two interviews scheduled this week, and my loving family assisted me in driving to them so I could prop myself up long enough to get through the processes. I'm a trooper! I did get offered an adjunct faculty teaching position in the sociology department of a local college on the spot, which I am thrilled about!
Clearly, I am frustrated over this, but the good news is that it has not caused a RSD/CRPS flare despite the excruciating pain and emotional distress. PROGRESS! I am trying to make the most of it.
Anyway, I wanted to do a post on the books I am reading at the moment since I am couch bound (I always read several non-fiction books at once.).
Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human: ABook for Free Spirits
I can't even describe this man. You just have to take a look yourself. This book is a mish mosh of a little bit of everything.
Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
(A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE)
This book addresses the mass incarceration of minorities under the (painfully faulty) War on Drugs and how its effects are creating a racial caste system similar to the Jim Crow period in many ways.
Dr. Peggy Drexler's Our Fathers Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family
Dr. Peggy addresses the fragile and important bond between father and daughter by interviewing a number of women and analyzing their testamonies.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Hi, healers! Check out my new mindbodygreen post here and pasted below. Enjoy!
"I am a proud, passionate, and tried and true vegan for almost five years now. My initial transition to veganism was precipitated by the devastating diagnosis of a “progressive and incurable” neurological disease with no known cause, cure, or truly viable treatment. I tried it all, surgeries, potent narcotics, physical therapy, and even seven day long inpatient intravenous ketamine infusions, all proving, for me, to be nothing more than butterfly band aids placed over the gaping wound that is a progressive neurological disease. Although my diet was never atrocious, it was inflammatory, and the switch to veganism has allowed me to manage my condition to the point of reversing the damage I thought had been done indefinitely.
Besides for the incredible impacts plants have made on my chronic health condition, we all have heard, and some know firsthand, about the marvelous and unprecedented benefits of eating plant-based, including reduced inflammation, increased energy and alertness, lower blood pressure, improved gastrointestinal health, glowing, clear skin, lesser environmental impacts, and the avoidance of the unnecessary suffering of millions of sentient beings (just to name a few). But what about the unexpected benefits of going plant-based?
Below are four unexpected benefits to going vegan.
1. Compassion for Others – Over time, the compassion you feel for the animals you refuse to consume morphs into a compassion for ALL sentient beings (hopefully), as you begin to consider the happiness of all individuals. Extending compassion is an important practice and our moral imperative.
2. Compassion for Self – The compassion that you feel toward animals and other individuals will then (hopefully) inevitably spill over to a compassion for the self. Taking the time to treat yourself well by eating high quality, nutritious foods often leads to other intriguing and beneficial self-care practices, such as meditation, yoga, and self-forgiveness, and self-love.
3. Clarification of Morals and Ethics – If you have decided to become more than just a dietary vegan, you have forced yourself to take a moment to consider and establish a moral and ethical code to govern your days. First, you become devoted to non-violence toward animals, and next, you are considering where you stand in terms of several other important causes.
4. Connection to Like-Minded Individuals – There are some absolutely wonderful communities filled with outstanding individuals online and in person that you may have never stumbled across if it weren’t for a switch to veganism. If you haven’t, take a moment to peruse the internet so that you can become connected to like-minded folks following similar paths with similar values. Sometimes, a little support and connection can make all the difference."
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Hi, healers! I realize I haven't written an update post lately, so here I am. Currently, I am doing a lot of writing, job searching, applying, and interviewing (two coming up), and preparing to apply for my Ph.D. in medical sociology at the University of Miami (my alma mater) for the Fall 2013 admission. I just finished my letter of intent and am now going to put my focus on the GRE. I have a Master's Degree without having had to take a GRE because many MSW programs have done away with that useless exam. I'm not looking forward to it because I do not excel in the standardized test. Anything can happen in between now and then, so these are, of course, tentative plans. Whatever is meant to be will be, and I'm open to anything and everything.
I continue to focus on my health in the meantime and have made some adjustments to my diet (still mostly raw vegan, of course) while still utilizing coffee enemas. I remain off all medications and am very thrilled about that. Slowly but surely, I am getting my life back. The fact that I have enough confidence in my ability to manage this condition and physically have the energy to apply for and take on a Ph.D. that I've always wanted is a GREAT sign.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Hi, healers! Check out my new MindBodyGreen post here and pasted below.
"Today, effective communication, in my opinion, is a lost art form. Whether it is through interruption, poor listening skills, or just plain rudeness, almost every interpersonal relationship has communication speed bumps and roadblocks. Effective communication is a well-honed skill that we are not born with but, rather, must learn, quite often through blunders and mishaps in adulthood if we were not taught how to effectively communicate, verbally and non-verbally, in childhood.
Effective communication can foster trust, build respect and rapport, and create environments that individuals feel safe within, environments where they feel free to be their unique selves, sharing unique thoughts, without fear of judgment or relationship ending repercussions. Walking on eggshells is never the optimal way to cruise through life, but many of us do knowing that our next attempt at communication can set someone off (We all know someone like this where nothing we say is ever correct.).
During my work in hospice, where I counseled and supported the dying and their loved ones from diagnosis through bereavement, I learned many important lessons about life, love, and loss, but the most unique lessons I took with me were beautiful and subtle ways to enhance interpersonal communication.
Below are the three unique lessons hospice taught me about communicating.
1. Validate – Validation is a both a verbal and non-verbal technique used to create, maintain, and strengthen the therapeutic alliance and the positive regard between client and mental health professional or person and person. It promotes empathetic understanding but also allows the individual being treated to feel less alone and more understood concerning whatever topic is the focus. When emotions are expressed and received with empathy, relief is the end result dotted with feelings of dignity and well-being. Try using active, empathetic listening with your loved ones to convey understanding without the need or desire to “fix” whatever problem arises. The act of validation, of respecting and valuing the other’s emotions, at times, may be all that is required.
2. Silence is Golden – In the counseling professions, we are taught that silence, when its uncomfortable awkwardness is surpassed, can be just as, if not more, important than the words that are spoken between two individuals. In fact, it is in the moments of silence that sentiments are realized, worked through, and set free and comfort is woven into the relationship to create a blanket of benevolence that surrounds the two involved. Take advantage of the moments of silence that alleviate suffering and illuminate relationships and the individuals participating in them.
3. Be a Supportive Presence – Being a supportive presence can involve several forms of intervention but the less understood, and in my opinion, the most critical is that of the individual who sits in quiet confidence with the sufferer, quietly existing as a benefactor of healing but not forcing it upon anyone. Paying attention and attuning to all forms of suffering, psychological, physical , and spiritual, provides us with the opportunity to be the preserver of hope and the vessel through which progress is made and healing is reinforced."
Friday, April 13, 2012
Hi, healers! You can find my new mindbodygreen.com post here and pasted below. Enjoy!
(Little known fact about me: One of my tattoos is the hieroglyphic symbol for water.)
"I love water. It is elegant and dazzling in its glimmering brilliance. Tranquil and calming, like a natural Xanax, it has the uncanny ability to instantly put me at ease while simultaneously and unselfishly offering up its graceful beauty. It is refined, formless, and flexible yet quietly and humbly powerful, effortlessly taking on the shape of whatever it encounters with the dexterity and durability of a Cirque De Sole performer, flipping, dipping, and stretching beyond the limits of human form and comprehension.
I grew up on the Jersey Shore, and when I decided to leave my childhood home to pursue my first degree, my choice for relocation weighed heavily upon what college I could attend to be closest to water (and warmth) because it was all I knew. I chose the University of Miami and I traded the navy waters of the Jersey Shore for the jewel toned tropical waters of Southern Florida, a happily and quickly made tradeoff. I was even lucky enough to attend a college with a lake claiming its center and inhabited by alligators (affectionately and unofficially named “chompers” by yours truly) and other whimsical creatures not native to the North East.
I would often find myself slipping out of my apartment in the early morning or late evening hours, when campus was eerily quiet and the air refreshingly cool, to sit by that body of water, the refreshing mist of water droplets hitting my cheeks when the water fountain at its center was turned on and the wind was blowing. I found solace in that lake and the peaceful moments I stole sitting beside it, a living organism just like myself existing in its purity and perfection (just as I wished to exist).
That girl had a lot to learn, and below are three lessons water taught me.
1. Be Formless – Water has shape yet it is shapeless, has form yet it is formless, morphing into and taking on the appearance of whatever it is pushed up against or into. If it is delicately poured into a glass to quench your thirst, it takes on the form of the container, agile and showing up for another important task. The ego does not allow us to be formless. It is rigid, overbearing, and arrogant in its trickery, aiming to constantly keep us fighting our own natures, which is unnatural by every definition of the word. Be formless like water and watch your life unfold with ease as you smoothly slip into the flow of your existence.
2. Go With the Flow– I’m far from flexible, or at least, I was far from flexible (more like painfully rigid and bullheaded). Today, I can navigate those cute little surprises, the unexpected twists and turns, that life has to offer up, usually without your permission or any future notice. How charming. Water is calm and flexible, bending or breaking when the situation necessitates either reaction. Like a cloud changing formation in the sky as the atmosphere nudges it along into a new shape, I try my best to morph with ease as life pushes me along, divine wind at my back.
3. Be Softly Powerful – Nothing can resist water yet it sits quietly in its own delicate authority, watching, waiting, and taking action, usually out of a long period of dormancy but always prepared to operate. Power is not about coercion, forcing others to bend to your ways despite their obvious objections, but it is about positive influence absent of fear. Often, the most powerful individuals are gentle, loving, and kind, fostering positive regard for optimal performance. Spiritual power comes from an internal emotional intelligence that constructs a nurturing environment where strengths can be developed and weaknesses can be challenged, corrected, or used for their often ignored advantages."
Friday, April 6, 2012
Hi, healers! I have a new piece up on mindbodygreen.com titled "Can't Change Someone? 5 Tips to Change How You React." You can find it here and pasted below.
"Time and time again, I am faced with questions in cyberspace that go something like this: “My (insert relationship here) won’t stop (insert annoying habit here). How do I stop him/her from doing that?” The answer is that you don’t because you can’t change another individual. The only person you have total, absolute, and unwavering control over is yourself, and this is where the magic happens. Believe it or not, you actually have the ability to change the way you react to someone or something that makes you feel less than unapologetically blissful.
Anyone can change, but making a change takes time, effort, and patience. It won’t all happen at once, and that is OK. Below are five tips to change how you react.
1. Have Understanding and Compassion.
It can be difficult to offer individuals compassion when you assume they are the cause of a majority of your perceived problems, but if you can, take the time to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what it is like to be them and reasons why they could be doing that thing they do that absolutely burrows under your skin and lives there only to annoy you time and time again. This way of viewing the situation doesn’t justify bad behavior, but it does explain it and make your life a heck of a lot easier.
2. See the Innocence in Them.
Beneath the neurotic behavior, the damaged ego, and the closed heart there exists an innocent soul, a living expression of the divine, just as it lives inside of you. When you are having a particularly difficult encounter, see the innocent child of God within him/her and remember that you are connected through the one energy that connects us all. Pretend you are meeting him/her for the first time with no past experiences or future expectations, and expect the best. You might be pleasantly surprised.
3. Understand Yourself.
Know what you are doing and why. Self-awareness is an important piece to the happiness puzzle because it is followed by the ability to make a lasting change. Pause. Thinking before you act never goes out of style.
4. Consider the Consequences.
Newton was spot on when he declared every action has an equal and opposite reaction, even in relationships. If you react out of anger or frustration, you are likely to receive just as negative of a reaction back, and you will get what you expect. Consider the consequences of your actions and work toward creating healthier, more positive, or at the very least, neutral exchanges.
5. Look for the Lesson.
If life is a classroom and people are our teachers, look for the lesson hidden within a difficult situation, the diamond in the rough. Why are you attracting these individuals and situations into your life? Are you not living in alignment with your highest good? Is it a lesson in patience? Or maybe judgment? Possibly self-awareness? Every situation is an opportunity for growth, and when looked at through this rose colored lens, life becomes a lot more enjoyable."
Monday, April 2, 2012
Hi, healers! Here and pasted below you will find my new MindBodyGreen post, "STILL Single? Why I Have Chosen to Go Solo." Enjoy!
"I'm STILL single," I revealed to my lifelong friend Chris, a boy, actually a man now, that I have known and loved since kindergarten, to which his candid response was, "Chill, you've been in a relationship since kindergarten. Enjoy being single for once." I could always count on him to hit me over the head with wit and candor.
The veracity of his statement was powerful, much appreciated, and certainly much needed a few short months after I had broken up with my latest boyfriend to whom I was nearly engaged (my second engagement). I had been in a relationship since kindergarten, always flowing from one long-term boyfriend into the next, a serial monogamist with a seven year relationship under my belt by the time I was in my mid-twenties, preceded by a four year relationship... you get the picture.
Although I’ve recently been presented with opportunities to begin relationships with very handsome, eligible, lovely bachelors and human beings in general, I’ve graciously declined, not really sure exactly why but intuitively knowing that it is not the time for romantic love. I've enjoyed getting to know myself over the past 17 months, spending much of my free time reading and meditating, without dangling off a man’s arm, most often a man much needier than I, which is considerably difficult to believe being that I have been diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease and have required a significant amount of support.
My parents have been married for thirty years, proving day in and day out to be a shining, sparkling, brilliant example of what real, unconditional, spiritual love and commitment look like in human form. Despite whatever flaws they each brought to the relationship table, they have committed and recommitted themselves to each other and to their family, which makes my solo act even more puzzling to outsiders.
I'm a through and through Sagittarius, independent and adventurous, eternally optimistic and excited, a deep thinker seeing opportunity for expansion where others feel a fear of the unknown that makes them want to shut down. I'm a nurturer yet I am currently and purposefully avoiding romantic relationships, even going as far as assuming I might not have the "baby gene" because I've never had a desire to have children (who knows, maybe someday). This is ironic seeing as how I’m in a nurturing profession (clinical social work), and I've nurtured my puppy to the point of neurosis and no return, smothering him with love so intensely that I question whether or not I have given him generalized anxiety (He's afraid of everything.).
But, I am involved in a nurturing, loving relationship right now with my most dedicated and committed partner yet – ME! Right now, I am busy working full-time on the relationship I have with myself, logging meditation minutes and miles, because total, complete, and consuming self-love is the source of all healthy worldly and otherworldly relationships. In the past, I haven’t had such a wonderful relationship with myself, and I will go as far as saying that it was quite literally downright abusive, like a controlling spouse telling his/her lover what to think, do, wear, and say and then becoming volatile upon seeing the results, as if they were none of his/her doing. I could NEVER please myself, even with the best and most loving of intentions that I was capable of at the time. I would have divorced myself if it were possible citing irreconcilable differences. I was retched.
I’m delaying gratification for the moment while many of my peers are in relationships, married, engaged, and having children, which are the right decisions for them and are admirable nonetheless, because I intend to create a life that is unique to me and my needs, wants, and desires. These needs, wants, and desires may not be traditional, but they are mine, and I choose to believe that I will intuitively know when I am ready for romantic love, just as I intuitively knew I wanted to get a Master’s Degree, work in a hospice, and move to Miami, FL.
If that day ever comes, I will fall to my knees, heart bursting with awe and wonderment, and thank God for the blessing he has bestowed upon me, admittedly undeserved, like I do for the many blessings I currently have and have had in my life. But until then, my choice is to be all that I can be before I try to be all that we can be.