Learning to Breathe

I took a break from social media and the news for the month of February and focused on prayer, reading my bible, meditating, writing, sitting with my husband at the end of long work days, talking about everything except politics, going for long walks with our dog, Clutch and learning how to breathe.  I no longer like hard and fast rules, most likely because following most all of them for the first 50 years of life without stopping to examine why seemed unreasonable and a tad insane; I looked at Facebook a few times for pictures of my grandsons, and other positive, uplifting posts, without leaving comments.  Leaving comments sucks me into the vortex of FB—lost hours watching pet videos and finding out what color my personality is and what I’ll look like at 60, 70 and 80.

The lesson learned during my hiatus from the news and social media—I’m less anxious, happier and emotionally, spiritually and mentally stronger from time spent focusing on tasks that cultivate growth, relationships, self-care, including how to breathe deeply.  A colleague introduced me to a free app called “My Calm Beat.” By breathing at 6 breaths per second the fight or flight stress signal can be switched off.  It works. Several times a day I taught myself how to breathe deeply and effectively to combat stress.

It’s March 7th;  I'm still reducing stress andI have yet to watch a FB political video, comment on a controversial post or even read one, and I cannot sit through more than ten minutes of television news. I did watch a video of a cat rescuing a dog. Did you see that one?

Here’s to wellness,

Sharon

LOVEABLE

I have three “go to” bloggers whose insights are delivered to my inbox every time they post something new; Jennifer Dukes Lee, Ann Voskamp and Dr. Kelly Flanagan.  All three of them offer insight into the human condition and our need for grace, compassion and community and, all three feed my soul.  I will, undoubtedly, share reflections from all three but today my focus is on wisdom from Kelly Flanagan.

Dr. Kelly Flanagan and I share a professional field in mental health, and, most importantly, a passion to show others they are not beyond repair or hope and there is healing not from brokenness but in using it to become our truest selves in a world crying for authenticity.

Kelly proclaims through his blog that part of being our truest selves is a recognition that we are LOVEABLE; not because we do all the right things, not because we are beautiful, witty, high income earners, a Pinterest perfect moms or any of the millions of other ways we feel defined by culture, other people and even ourselves but because we live a life marked by grace. God’s grace tells us that we are worthy not because of what we have done, not because of our genetic DNA but because we are marked with God’s DNA and as His own we are loveable and worthy.

Kelly has written a book, “LOVEABLE: Embracing What Is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life".  As part of his Loveable Street Team, a group of folks asked to read a copy of his book, I have the privilege of reading the book a couple of weeks in advance and sharing with my friends my reflections on it.  It releases on March 21 and I cannot give an author and a book a higher recommendation.  Please run, do not walk, to Amazon or your favorite book seller and pre-order this book.  As a bonus, if you pre-order through the book website, you get Kelly’s companion book, “The Year of Listening, Loving and Living: Becoming Your Truest You (One Week At A Time)” for free.

“Grace tells you you’re a mess but also lovely, broken but also beautiful, full of darkness but also light. Grace is the love that sees the ugly along with the beautiful, and joyfully holds both together in a tender embrace.” —Kelly Flanagan, “LOVEABLE: Embracing What Is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life."

I have clients who no longer feel loved or loveable due to mistakes of his or her own or hurts thrust upon them by others.  There are both male and female clients who feel this way but for ease of discussion I will use the pronouns “she” and “her.” She sees only the mess, ugliness, brokenness and darkness of her life, and, I often discover she began feeling unloved and unlovable at an early age.  When this is the case, I often ask my client to bring in a photo of herself as a little girl.  We discuss the little girl in detail.  What does she like to do? What is she thinking about in the picture? What’s her family like?  Most of us, who suffered child abuse or neglect and never addressed the ramifications to our body, mind and spirit, walk around looking and maybe even acting to most people, like a full-grown adult but feeling like the little girl in the picture. 

This simple act—this simple reminder of who the adult sitting in front of me is on the inside almost always shifts the client’s perspective, profoundly.  How can someone not treasure and protect this little person? This little child is worthy of love—she is LOVABLE.  Quite often the young child in the photo was mistreated, abused, even cast aside but the one truth that always remains is, she is worthy of love.  It doesn’t matter her circumstance or the behavior of others around her or even her behaviors, this child in an adult’s body deserves to be recognized, valued and set free.

If you relate to this little girl, if you are this little girl or if you are an adult on the inside as well as the outside but you feel unloved or unlovable, I highly recommend you purchase Kelly’s book “LOVEABLE: Embracing What Is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life” http://loveablethebook.com.

 

Be well,

Sharon

7 Major Symptoms of Stress

My husband Mark and I opened OCWC in 2016 with the mission statement, "Restoration for the Mind, Body and Spirit."  For us, it is much more than something we wrote into a business plan or on our website header and business cards; we 100% believe that for one part of the person to heal, the rest of the person must be involved in the process.

As a therapist, research tells me that if the body is not cared for through nutritious diet and exercise than the mind and spirit can suffer just as if the mind or spirit is stressed, it can take a toll on the body. There are many physiological symptoms of stress but we will list  7 major symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Tension or pain in the neck, shoulders or lower back
  • Loss of sleep
  • Irritability mood swings, and/or hormone problems
  • Digestive troubles
  • Allergies & sinus problems

In the book "The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma" Dr. Bessel van der Kolk discusses in great detail the importance of talk therapy, and, bodywork in the healing of the whole person.  He shares an interesting story (p.233) how after 9/11 a group of 225 surveyed survivors, and first responders credited acupuncture, massage, yoga, and EMDR [a very specific type of talk therapy] with helping them the most in their recovery.  Massage therapy was the preferred therapy of the first responders.  

We are on a mission to help those who have suffered a trauma, are under anxiety-inducing stress, dealing with depression or other mental health disorders by offering healing to the whole person--body, mind and spirit.  We encourage each member of our OCWC family to examine how you are feeling in your whole person, and to take the necessary steps, through talk therapy and bodywork to assure that you are functioning to your fullest potential.

May you be entirely well,

Sharon

Personalities

Happy February—our month to reset, and focus on restoring our body, mind and spirit!

In my 28 Days post I talked about my personality type—INFP.  Some of you asked me where you could take the test to find out more about what motivates, inspires, energizes and resonates with you.  The website is www.16personalities.com. They offer a free short version test which takes about 12 minutes to complete.  They also offer a complete version for $32.99 which offers a thorough explanation of what makes your specific personality tick and how such knowledge can help you in relationships at home and work.  I have done the complete profile for myself but initially I did the free version and will tell you that the free version offers a lot of helpful insight into your personality type. 

Knowing our personality characteristics really does help us maneuver through life and relationships.  Knowing myself to be an INFP helped me quickly realize why all the political rancor was so troublesome to me.  INFPs are “intuitive feelers” and we are easily hurt by the anger and discord of others.  We are also “fixers”—we want EVERYONE to be cared for and happy and it’s an impossible task in today’s contentious climate.

I think it would be great fun for everyone to take the test and then come back here and report on your results.  Our differences make us interesting plus we learn a lot from each other when we are not the same.  A good reminder for us all in these days of taking sides, demanding to be heard and “knowing” we are right.  Maybe, just maybe, this tool can help us see ourselves and each other with a little more clarity and grace.

Who’s in?  I can’t wait to hear about your results!

Here’s to the INFP, INFJ, INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, ENFJ, ENFP, ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, ESFP,

Sharon

28 Days

I am undone—overwhelmed, disheartened and, honestly, a little broken-hearted too.  As I scroll through Facebook. as I listen to the news and watch video clips I feel my chest tighten, my shoulders stiffen and my head compress as if there is a 50-lb. weight pressing down on it.  The vitriol, the anger and, really, the hate flung at mere acquaintances, strangers, and even worse, close friends and family members because of differing views on who should govern us and how they should conduct themselves is, right now, more than I care to witness.  I have definite opinions and many times have voiced them with friends and family, in person and on social media but this seems different, as if there is no room, no tolerance, no acceptance that people we love and respect, may feel differently than we do.

I know many of you are immune to the barbs of others but I am not and suspect there are others just like me.  I am an INFP. What’s that mean? It’s a personality type and the letters stand for Intuitive Feeling Perceiving. In short, it means I am an introvert who most often makes decisions and deals with the world based on how I’m feeling. It also means I’m an idealist, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. I suspect that my personality, which helps me in my profession as a therapist, is setting me up for some feelings of chaos in these tumultuous days.

So, I’ve decided that for the month of February, I’m getting off social media and all media outlets. Some may say I’m sticking my head in the sand but, I’m ok with that.  I need a time to reset and to focus on issues in which I believe my voice can be heard above the political din. Maybe my head in the sand, or in the clouds, or delving into issues of mental health, recovery and my faith walk is exactly where I need to be.

I invite those of you who want to discuss issues of substance but are tired of the political noise to join me as I blog for the month of February about, well, honestly, whatever I’m thinking about at the moment.  I don’t want a set agenda—I want a space to talk freely and without a plan—you and me sharing space to carry each other’s burdens with compassion and tolerance.  I invite your comments and discussion but this will be a place of inclusion and no divisiveness will be allowed.

Starting Wednesday, February 1st I’ll be blogging at www.oakcitywellnesscenter.com. If you’d like my posts delivered to your inbox, please sign up for the mailing list on the website.

Here's to us and a body, mind and spirit reset,

Sharon