Now that We Have Mental Health Awareness…

thathand

If you don’t already know May is Mental Health Month.  One of my clients reached out and asked if I wanted to participate in a campaign she dubbed #31daystowellness where she asks us to post a picture of ourselves, our family, friends, workout group, etc. engaging in a healthy and productive activity or task that shows we are embracing wellness. (You can read her entire blog post about the call for social media mental health advocacy by clicking here.) While I believe there was an emphasis on showcasing the importance between mind-body connection of mental wellness, my own practice of doing yoga, and walking, (accidentally walked a 5k over the weekend) cleared my inner chatterbox enough for me to realize that I was to really work on self-compassion for the month.

In one of my favorite go-to self-love resources “Madly In Love with Me” for the sake of a clear enough definition we can wrap our heads around: Self-compassion coupled with self-forgiveness is the choice to open your heart and be a loving witness to yourself, without judgment, by sending yourself waves of kindness, understanding, and forgiveness that touch, heal, and transform your imperfections, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and humanness through the presence of your unconditional love.

Really simple, but far from easy. After all, if it were easy we’d all be doing it. If it were easy, Brené Brown, Ph.D. and the other social science researchers she admires and references would not have to write book after book about shame resilience and vulnerability which is a call for…you guessed it, Compassion!

And so when I think about two very common cases of mental health issues, depression and anxiety,( I put those two together because nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.) I wonder how much more we could have prevented a case of malaise that spiraled into a deep melancholy and sadness, or kept the changes in our thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors from transforming into a major depressive disorder (MDD) or diagnosable anxiety disorder if we showed ourselves unconditional love and compassion; if we received it from others instead of shame, blame, bullying, discrimination, manipulation, etc.

Is compassion the end all be all? Of course not! I’m well aware that there are way too many factors that contribute to being diagnosed with mental health disorders. However, just like awareness campaigns are helping to fight stigma by exposing more people to hard-cold stats so they could get to a place where they no longer deny that people are hurting, that the suicide rate in 2014 was 13.0 per 100,000 population…activation campaigns are in order too. I know I’m not the only one thinking ok what happens after awareness? How do we create change? What is a starting point for action?  Well, why not start with compassion? But you see it’s hard to give what you do not have. It’s hard to give what you are not empathetic to within yourself.

If you yourself can’t move past your short-comings, the kind we ALL experience, if you are extremely hard and critical of yourself (I know I am), if you yourself don’t believe you are worthy just ‘cause, and not because of accolades and accomplishments, or how nice you are to the little old lady down the street, it will be all too easy for you to ask why people don’t just “get over it and move on”. It will be all too easy to treat a person you call “friend” like they are the gum on the bottom of your shoe when they have the nerve to be imperfectly human, or the gall to ask you to treat them with respect and care, it will be all too easy to say that what someone is experiencing is because that’s what those people experience, those “others” not people like you…

So while this particular awareness month is coming to an end, the journey to becoming more aware, more loving and compassionate towards ourselves and others continues on.

Until Next Time…Peace!

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Unfinished Works I

drop-ofwater

The Things that Get in the Way

When working on your self-love practice be aware of the things that get in the way.
A blockage to building up your own self-esteem, and the confidence to be the best of who you really are, is the way you handle other people’s success. Truly our reactions are an indicator of our own maturity and belief in ourselves.
If you’re struggling with being happy for others when they celebrate even the smallest of wins amongst the many struggles we all face in life, I encourage you to take a deeper Look Inside yourself. What’s the underlying reason behind you feeling threatened, jealous, or even conflicted?

On the otherhand…Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you don’t feel worthy? Or as worthy as the person or people you deem more worthy than yourself? I think some us of are born into a conscious effort to make us feel beneath others. The best and brightest of us understand it 1st. So because I think what I think and am convinced my thoughts are legit since the proof is in the pudding… I want to know what is the true return on investment for thoughts, feelings, and conclusions of unworthiness, and who is most benefiting from the suffering, the constant inner tug of wars of elevated self-esteem and demoralizing character assassinations based on nothing other than the fabricated truths of an outward appearance? And also Who is most benefiting from your silence?

Testing the Waters

And here I stand
Facing the certainty of an uncertain mind
Facing the shadow of a soul
Too ashamed of its reflection in the mirror
Too rejected by the standards of a power supply ever flowing
Through the fire and unmoving in the wilderness
Through a love story where retribution takes its revenge
Tales of love once had and taken for granted
Tales of unforgiving lives and dreams washed away
And here I lie
Facing a darkness inside that never dies
Facing it would mean a hopeless eternity.
Too afraid to ask for substance
Too dejected to be anyone other than a convenient past time awaiting a death sentence
Through their eyes no other worthy
Through this life bitterness resides
Tales of magic users trying to convince otherwise
Tales are only legit by the winner of wars
And here I am on the battlefield
wondering if I have what it takes to be on the outside, the truth of who I am within.
And if it is worth it in the end.

You Don’t Even Know

There was an article floating around about living because you never know how much of an impact you are being to someone else. It’s true indeed sometimes you will never know how much your smile to a stranger made them feel that someone for once saw them just for that moment and just for that moment life was ok and they would fight for the next moment and another day. I wondered how often we talk ourselves out of doing things that seemingly restart our heart beats but somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that that endeavor wasn’t worthy of our time or talents or even that we ourselves we’re enough for it. I wondered how many times our choice NOT to show up for better or worse ripple effected into missed opportunities to be someone’s shero for the moment. I say even for worse because despite our shaming culture there is ALWAYS someone keeping quiet about what they’ve done, what they’ve been through who hopes they aren’t the only one who prays they aren’t alone that they can somehow find redemption just like someone who came before them.

Everyday heroism may not be as glamorous or as fabulous or lifestyles of the rich and famous worthy. But to someone somewhere unbeknownst to yourself your existence encouraged them to save themselves with whatever bit a courage they could muster up to see themselves through a dark night that could have led to a dark thought, and a dark deed with even darker consequences. You do that by just being you.

Honest moment…I was all over the place this month! I just couldn’t seem to pull my thoughts together in one place and so this was a small collection of the many thoughts floating around in my mind.

Until Next Time…Peace!

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How to Be a Mental Wellness Advocate when you’re not a Mental Health Professional

After reevaluating our schedules Dr. Angela Clack and I decided to make Your Mental Wellness Matters a short web series rather than an ongoing show. For the last part of the series I invited my colleague Nadine Herring, who does advocacy work with Heroes in Recovery so we could share what advocacy could look like for those of us who have a passion for causes, (specifically mental health disorders and addictions recovery) but are not necessarily doctors or licenced clinicians.

Watch our final Episode below…

Click Here for the direct YouTube url to access the video.

Please SHARE with your friends and family because we offer practical insight with some practical resources you can put to use as soon as you’re finished watching.

Enjoy!

Until Next Time…Peace!

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Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

The Unity in Community

handsinlove

Community cannot take root in a divided life. Long before community assumes external shape and form, it must be present as a seed in the undivided self: only as we are in communion with ourselves can we find community with others. –Parker Palmer

That quote came from my chosen book of the month, All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. As I look back over the month and try to glean from the many lessons of which to confidently carry with me into the next, this topic came as no surprise. From the weekly attempts to get closer to my dreams, along with the daily internal battles to wake up and stay up, or go to bed at a decent time, eat properly, work to the rhythm of pomodoro set, practice my ASL or roll around on the floor with my nephew, make the green smoothie or eat the banana pudding etc.  I noticed that what kept me afloat and moving forward was that I was able to tap into different types of communities for support and guidance (or to vent). Even more important was that I was willing to be a part of the community rather than being an outside spectator only there to observe.

I’ll disclose (as I have before) that I am a loner by nature and my 1st instinctual thought when it comes to communing with others is “why bother”. My precious “me-time” steals the show quite often and I literally have had to drag myself out and about to be around a group of people. With that being said, I took care to really see the value in joining with others and being a part of what they were trying to create. I find that as both an entrepreneur and a mental health advocate for entrepreneurs, community is essential for growth.

So I wanted to blog about different types of communities that may be a possible good fit for the entrepreneur who has or wants to have an ongoing practice of self-love and mental wellness.  I won’t go into every kind of group simply what I was most involved with and exposed to during this month.

Free Access Facebook groups

I’m in a lot of Facebook groups.  Some groups people have added me to without my permission, (which is a no-no in the book of social media etiquette ) and I’m making way to removing myself from them, some groups come with a paid program or course I invested in, and still others I’ve joined because I was interested in the concept of what they were trying to build. I only actively participate in a few. Even though the concept is great, some groups don’t catch fire, or they burn and become a place of endless self-promotion and blatant spam.  These online type of groups are hard to build a real sense of community around, but when it is accomplished real relationships can form from something that started online. For someone like me (an introvert) online community is important because many times, it is an safe way to interact with people and their various personalities. It is a place to begin learning how to get involved and when to sit down and listen.

You quickly learn that some people are bold behind a computer screen and some of us keep it 100 whether on or offline.  If you feel isolated or alienated you find your tribe in these spaces. You find that even though you thought it was just you feeling what you felt, or thinking what you thought, you are not alone. That is important.  One of my favorite online communities for entrepreneurs is the Audacity lab. Coach Jennie does an excellent job with setting guidelines, opening the space for people to connect in person as she has had offline events to do such, and has built starch advocates who aren’t even coaching clients to brag about her stuff with no payout in return…now that’s how you rock a group. Another is a fairly new group but a much needed one which is Women of Color and Our Shared Narratives: Embracing Wellness.  Dr. Angela Clack is doing an excellent job to bring to light a conversation about the unique struggles to emotional wellness for women of color not just based on opinion but stats, for that she has my respect and whole-hearted participation.  Out of it, the birth of a co-hosted web show on mental wellness and opportunities to network with each other outside the group. I look forward to seeing the growth of this community.

 

Mastermind group

I was excited when my friend Vernetta R. Freeney reached out to me to be a beta tester for new projects she was working on. If you’re unfamiliar with Vernetta she once ran the award-winning blog Women Are Gamechangers along with the award-winning event tour Fusion. She is now onto new things including her new podcast A Toast to Truths . So anyhoo, she gathered some great women from different timezones so we could come together and implement all those great ideas we mapped out for 2016. She anticipated the drop off of new year resolutions and decided to be proactive in making sure we would not be a room full of pipe dreamers so we could support one another in our entrepreneurial and personal endeavors. We found that many of us had similar emotional and mental blocks hindering us from accomplishing goals and our mastermind essentially became a safe space to offer compassionate listening and advice based off of shared experiences on how to overcome such roadblocks standing in the way to goal completion.  New relationships formed and older ones rekindled.  I found that in addition to having a business coach, I now had a support group I could turn to that could help me weigh on sometimes conflicting conclusions. But I also had a group of women who could learn from my mistakes and vice-versa.

 

ConnectWorking

I love the concept of what PowerMatch founder Sara Rosenburg does for a group of entrepreneurs who are tired of the same old networking groups that throw business cards around and don’t get to really know one another.  Her  flagship program, Powermatch  “acts as a matchmaker for professionals who want to meet up over coffee or lunch to NETWORK (not sell) and build real business relationships. ConnectWorking meetup events are quarterly meetings are designed to foster relationship building through small group activities/discussions meant to help problem solve, give and receive help and advice, form real business connections, and of course, break bread.”

My favorite line: “If you are looking for a group that passes referrals immediately, THIS IS NOT A MEETING FOR YOU! We focus on real business relationship building!” That’s how you build a foundation for a business Community.

The most recent ConnectWorking  meeting  in my area was held at Say it Clay, a nonprofit organization that blends therapy and art, (which is definitely my cup of tea). I hope to blog about this NPO later for my Be The Change series. There was a lot of encouraging words and support for one another in the room that day and I was glad to be a part of it. I love online communities, and virtual chats, but there is definitely something special about in-person community love even for drag your feet over, have mild coronary attacks introverts like me.  😉

Until Next Time…Peace!

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An Open Discussion About Your Failure Story

roadblocks

It’s not typical to openly talk about how roadblocks are a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey. This is especially true when you’re trying to sell the idea of entrepreneurship giving you access to tons of fun in the sun, 4 hour work weeks, and 6 or more figures in as little time possible. Yet, we do each other a disservice by not sharing the reality of what most of us have to do…which is work our butts off. This usually means gaining an inch just to be pushed back a few feet before we have our “overnight success”.

I’ve been studying movements this month. As a result, I currently view movement creation as a form of entrepreneurship. Movements are a lot of work, they take time to catch fire, and they meet opposition from people who haven’t a clue about the fire starter or what said fire starter went through to even get to a place where her name is on their lips. I also know that to create a movement and keep its legacy alive, you will need fierce dedication, you will need to keep yourself from losing your mind, and you will need support from other people who empathize with you, who get what you’re fighting for, and of course who will fight the good fight alongside you in some capacity (even if that means as a mentor or an adviser).  After all, we all need somebody to lean on.

And so, I love this movement happening within the entrepreneurial communities. It’s full of compassionate advocacy. Here, in certain circles, the word vulnerable is not a catch phrase, and authentic isn’t a gimmick.

Here, we Toast to Truths about being Homeless while Running our Businesses.

Here, we talk about how other women who are supposed to guide us and look out for our best interest tell their fellow sisters that they won’t amount to anything and yet, still we rise.

Here, we talk about the fact that entrepreneurs are committing suicide because we are not adequately addressing the mental health care needs of those who organize and manage enterprises in our society.

Here, we talk about how there were some, who despite tremendous obstacles, namely systemic oppression simply because of the color of their skin, fought for their own financial independence and opened the door for women like me and you.

Here, we fall down and get back up and fall down and we get back up again.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around my small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”-Muhammad Ali

Until Next Time…Peace!

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Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.