Growing Through The Changing Seasons of Life

I must admit I didn’t think it would take me this long to adjust to grad school. Since I’ve been wearing different hats and juggling multicolored bowling pins as a micro-business owner for so long, I figured what’s one more hat and one more magical act to add to the performance of, “Look how well I’m keeping it together! So amazing!” Now, let me tell you, I’m a Virgo, and with Meyers Briggs testing, I come up as a P or a J depending on my mood that day. Most of the time, when it comes to careful decision making, I lean towards J. I say that to say I’m a planner. I did some research ya’ll!

I reached out and spoke with current and recent grad seminarians, I did mental exercises on all the reasons I should and shouldn’t, (I drove myself nutter butters in the process) and I casually observed the habits of my bestie who happened to be a mother and a full-time employee with chronic illness, balance all that was her life while getting her doctorate in nursing. She and so many other women gave me all kinds of inspiration and motivation. I even wrote out a schedule of my daily activities after slowing down enough to track and document what I did for a week. I anticipated that I’d need a little more pep in my step beyond my mental health peer support groups and sought out a new therapist. I was ready! And then…life happened. Sound familiar?

COVID, increase in eating, insomnia, navigating restless and uncertainty, and it’s the political version of American Gladiator season too. Living with my more vulnerable dear ones had translated into me taking physical distancing to the 1000th degree. Then, when opportunities to feel like I was contributing to the movement more than I had been, came up, like a good codependent, I jumped in. 

Helping others is a great distraction to keep from dealing with yourself. I’m looking at you; fellow wounded healers. 

Grief builds up in the body, lingering around like residue

struggling to subdue the rising feelings of overwhelm 

and underwhelm at once. What a fragmented world,

for the fragmented souls we’ve become.

And so school, and unprocessed grief, awareness but not much relief. Committee meetings, papers, and colleagues wondering, “Annie, are you okay?”

Thank goodness for the tools of recovery

You know, I get that people want to teach courses about resilience. When you learn something, and you have the heart to reduce suffering in the world, it’s what you do. However, and I could be way off base, resilience is one of those life lessons that truly come from the school of the hard-knock life. It’s one of those degree requirements you don’t want to take but is well earned. And you’re fully aware that you’ll have to take continuing ed refreshers for the rest of your life to maintain it.

There are no shortcuts, not for these kinds of tests. It’s mostly trial by fire, and you learn to get forged in such a way that you’re better equipped for what life will teach you on another rainy day.

As for me? I’m wearing the protective gear of a consistent prayer warrior now. And in the quiet of the night, before the sunbeams tickle my eyelids, when no coach, counselor, friend, strategist, or another well-meaning person can reach me via phone or Zoom, I can breathe again and let the seeds of wisdom take root. I can stop chasing my shine and not feel awful about how unproductive I’m being or how smart I sound when the camera is on. This stillness, this silence, this sacred pause is what is needed. 

It’s what I need. And it has nothing to do with being introverted or an Enneagram 5 or whatever my desperate need to make sense out of the paradox that is life has me tinkering with at the moment. 

And I must confess, it sure does take me a long time to come back home to myself. 

But, I do know the way home.  

Until Next Time…Peace!

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

Embracing The Mental Health Warrior in You

This month, I celebrated my 10th year anniversary in mental health recovery. I wrote a reflection post and thought I’d share a slightly tweaked version of it here as well…

10 years ago this month, I had had enough. I wanted to be fixed, I thought that I needed to be shut down and taken in for repairs. In an attempt to finally surrender, a bit of desperation (okay a lot), and with a big piece of humble pie I sat in my first therapy session crying my eyes out. Everything I thought I knew about myself felt like lie. The elaborate mask I wore and unintentionally decorated through my responses to the, “you should be’s” and other social conditioning I projected onto myself, had cracked, and with the newfound awareness that I even wore such a thing came a realization that everything that gave me the identity I had up until that point had fallen away and died. 

I only felt the pain, the anger, the disappointment, and shame that remained and I wasn’t sure what or who would emerge from the darkness that bled out. Could an ice cold heart ever beat again? Could a lost soul ever be found? Could a broken girl ever find peace enough to become a whole woman? Would I ever think my own life was worthy of the fullness of my humanity? Would I ever stop wishing I never existed? Would I ever be enough in my imperfection, my intergenerational trauma, my “other-ness”?

Every week despite not getting a magic pill to make everything “wrong”, “right”, I went back to my therapist. Shoulders slumped, world caving in, struggling, dragging my feet, working on pieces but not being willing to work on others, digging up skeletons I forgot I had, looking myself in the mirror of truth and trying not to smash it so I didn’t have to deal with what I saw in my reflection. 

Healing is hard work ya’ll. 

Slowly but surely trusting that the process worked. Working the process even though it meant never reviving those things in myself that needed to be let go of, yet wanting to cling to because unhappiness, or rather pervasive sadness and discontent was comfortable and familiar. 

Healing asks for you to go beyond the temporary fixtures (such as addiction) or bandaids (like empty relationships because you’re afraid to be alone or that nobody else will want you). 

Healing is growing to the point that you can’t stay in the cocoon anymore. Staying there doesn’t feel right anymore, and you know it. Growth requires that you break out of the trappings of what holds you back from your being more fully who you really are, it asks for you know yourself, to care about yourself, to love yourself and to trust yourself enough to spread your wings and fly. 

And I have found that I see the beauty of life so much clearer now from this different point of view. I fly, I rest, I learn, I fly some more.

I eventually flew into the arms of Infinite Love.

A redemptive love, a healing love, a transformative love, a love that waited for me until I was ready to accept it and therefore all of myself, a love that lifted me, a love that leads me, a love that calls me by my name. No, I have not “arrived”. I don’t think I ever will. That is the beauty of our human experience. I like to believe that my striving, my 2 steps forward and 1 step back, my determination is what makes me even more lovable in the eyes of my Beloved – the Higher Power of my understanding. 

Today, I have found purpose in my life.

Today I have found freedom in my ongoing quest of accepting all of what makes Lynette, Lynette. Today, I learn to like myself more and more. Today, I have joy in my heart. And even when I struggle with anxiety and depressive moods, I want to live. I think deep down most of us do. I want to have life most abundantly and this time, I believe I am worthy of it. I constantly work on my belief I don’t have to earn a worth that is already inherent to me just for being me. I have found that the G-d of my understanding is a G-d of Love, Healing and Justice. I work to embody that. 

I have the battle scars, accountability sisters, and G-d’s side eye to keep me in check. And it is my honor as someone who has looked my own proverbial Grendel in the eye, and lived to tell you about it that I use my own life, (even as my own hero’s journey still unfolds) as a witness and testimony of Divine Grace, Compassion, Mercy, Forgiveness, Redemption, and Transformation. 

I will be human, I will be messy, I will goof up and have to find my center again, I will get tired, I will punk out, I will be slow to the uptake (laughably so), I will struggle with the growth, and yet still, I will press on. That’s what we do. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

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

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

How Having a Morning Practice Strengthens My Mental Health







morning tea

Here we are, another new year and the hopes and wishes for a more evolved you. Since you’ve probably already been inundated with all kinds of ‘how to’s’ and ‘should’s’. I’m not going to even go there. Instead, I want to share with you how I do my best to start off on the “right foot” by developing a morning practice. I’ve found that incorporating a practice of consistent activities into my daily life has helped me find balance over the years. More importantly, I wanted to share how practice has given me a place to return to when everything else around me has become chaotic.

I’ve been trained in the art of “early bird gets the worm” since I was younger. I grew up in a household that followed the rule of, “if mom is up and at ‘em then we all are up and at ‘em”. And my mother was up before sunrise most days…I don’t remember her even sleeping in on the weekends. To this day, I don’t really sleep in unless I’m sick. I say all this to say, I’m a morning person. So I feel obligated to share that waking up early isn’t half the battle for me as it may be for others. 

Find Your Center

Because I’m a morning person, how I start my day plays a huge role in how the rest of my day goes. While I do have the ability to pivot for days that don’t start off so well,  it is much easier to ground myself and return back to my center when my day starts out with a focus on all that is good and lovely. Because all that is good and lovely will then become my go-to position in clutch time rather than panic and run, (or rather anxiety and procrastination). I don’t think I’m alone in hoping for a day where I’m not constantly putting out fires and trying to catch my breath. So, I’ve learned that when I start my day with ease, I go into the rest of my day feeling calm, cool, and collected, which makes me feel ready for the world. And the way I start my day became a practice.  

Proof is in the pudding

Science has been telling us for quite some time that having a routine alleviates stress and anxiety. But I believe even without the academic research, we can feel the difference when we do something with consistency and when we don’t. 

For instance, I like eating breakfast in the morning, it really is the most important meal of the day for me. If I don’t eat my breakfast (or any meal when I’m hungry) I get Hulk angry. But taking it a step further, studies show that, “missing meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar and this causes low mood, irritability and fatigue”. Feeling hangry is real ya’ll!

Find what works best for you

I think when you’re first starting to build habits it may be helpful to see what habits already come natural to you. You may be able to find gifts in the things you believe are a negative. Here’s a quick example: If you are a night owl and you have been trying your hardest to write in the morning because that’s what all your favorite influencers constantly say they do…you may be better off following the flow of your own body rhythm. Write at night, do your best and most creative work when you are at your optimally best. If it’s night, then it’s night. Here’s my personal example of a slower learning process to finding what works for me…

I already had a habit of reading books often. I love to read! However, I could not read myself back to physically fit. My physical health was the issue and I couldn’t read and then daydream my way into having the strong abs I used to have, and not being out of breath just climbing stairs. 

The problem was I couldn’t find the motivation to go to the gym. The strategy of giving myself a reward at the end of the week to convince myself to go didn’t fly. Going with a buddy, didn’t make it enjoyable or something to look forward to, and whenever I stepped foot in the gym everything just felt…not right. I attempted the gym many times and it just didn’t do it for me. What’s an ‘out of breath from stair climbing’ woman to do? 

Life shifts can come about in the most mundane of actions

So, I took what I did naturally, read – and I used my habit of reading to my advantage…instead of devouring my beloved fiction, I set aside time and started reading books about personality types and how to motivate yourself based on your personality. I started looking up research about the things that get in the way of achieving goals. I theorized that if I could look at my stop signs and red lights with courage, then maybe they wouldn’t be so scary anymore and I could triumph over how they affected my livelihood. I read books like The Four Tendencies and took a second look my personality tests results, (I’ve taken quite a few of them). I found great relief in reading that I may be more vested in other kinds of activities for physical fitness that I overlooked, rather than going to the gym. I experimented with suggestions.  

Surprisingly, I took a renewed interest in martial arts and nature walks. I don’t consider myself an outdoorsy or sports person, and I hate being terrible at things- especially in front of an audience…but despite that, doing these activities make me feel in touch with my body, and in turn my emotions. As a thinking personality type, this does not come easy to me. More and more I can see my fears and anxiety as if they were tangible objects. In this way, I can’t ignore them, I can’t deny them, no putting them aside with busy work, I have to face them. Journaling the morning after a rigorous martial arts practice the night before has really helped me focus my reflective writing. Throughout the day I am better able to look at situations in a different way and consciously learn ways to better cope. 

It started with a small shift. Instead of reading fiction for an hour right before falling asleep on week nights, I switched to reading nonfiction before falling asleep and everything else began to piece itself together from there. I still have a ways to go, but for starters, I’m no longer out of breath when I walk up the stairs. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win! Which reminds me…

Celebrate the small victories

Just showing up to do the practice in and of itself is reason to pat yourself on the back. We don’t really get participation medals for making healthy choices and changes in our lives, but I don’t see why we can’t pause to acknowledge all of the mini battles we had to fight and overcome just to even get to the starting point. If you’re at, “Yay! I made the bed today!” after a major depressive episode, then go you! If someone shares how they have depression too and are able to function just fine…good for them! But this is your life that you’re fighting for…they don’t fight for it for you. Compare = despair…I don’t even want to play that game anymore. I am already my biggest critic, now, I’m learning to be my biggest cheerleader. I do that by pausing.

Pause is an important practice in my day. I am not a fan of hustle culture nor am I a fan of team no rest. I’m not interested in promoting a culture that teaches us to treat each other as if we’re robotic commodities only as useful as the sum of our good parts. Which brings me to what I consider the best part of how having a practice keeps me well…it’s there when I need it and I don’t beat myself down when I don’t follow it with perfection. I strive to not be married to the outcome of my anticipation, but rather, be open to the possibilities that intentional self-development manifests in my life. Enjoying the journey transforms practice from “just some routine” to a meaningful way to embrace the totality of my human experience in this world. The mental health benefits are a bonus or in foodie speak, icing on the cake. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

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

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

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Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Sabrina Umstead Smith







The 2018 Be The Change Interview Series

Week 3 – Featuring: Sabrina Umstead Smith, Grief Specialist and Advocate for Special Needs Families

Here’s the direct link to the recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/7eUDATvTl3Y

About

Sabrina is the author of Gratefully Disappointed – Learn Through Forgiveness her inspirational and encouraging memoir. Sabrina shares her journey to remind us no matter what we experience there is a lesson for us to share. Sabrina is the creator of Forgive4U, a program that defines the six essential steps to overcome emotional roadblocks. She coaches clients one-on-one and spreads the Forgive4U principles through professional speaking engagements. Sabrina and her husband Roosevelt (Rosy) founded, Erick’s Place, a non-profit organization named after her son, a special needs child, who passed away at the age of 3. She is also a contributing author to two books: Fearfully & Wonderfully Made and; the Amazon Best Seller, Pathways to Vibrant Health and Well-Being.

Visit Sabrina’s website: www.gratefullydisappointed.com for additional information and resources.

How You Can Help

Support Erick’s Place and help chronically ill children as well as the hospitals, facilities and people who care for them get the resources they need.

Resources mentioned

Sabrina’s other book mentioned: Pathways to Vibrant Health & Well-Being

 

Related Posts

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Dior Vargas

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Autumn Tompkins

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Faith Waringa Odhiambo

 

Until Next Time…Peace!

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

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

 







Be The Change Interview Featuring: Global Women 4 Wellbeing







The 2018 Be The Change Interview Series

Week 2 – Featuring: Mim Senft and Nancy Board of Global Women 4 Wellbeing (GW4W)

Here’s the direct link to the recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xYz2Eujm7aY

About

GW4W is on a mission to Empower healthy female leaders for a more sustainable world. They accomplish this by:

*Honoring that true gender equity is about addressing both diversity and inclusion issues

*Welcoming women from all backgrounds who want to see positive change and the great men that stand beside us

*Producing quality, unbiased research for women’s health, wellbeing and leadership challenges

*Inspiring through sharing our stories, our wisdom, mentoring and advocacy

*Highlighting self-care for leaders for personal empowerment and to be a role model for those you lead

Mim Senft, CWWS GBA AAI RYT / CEO – Global Women 4 Wellbeing
LinkedIn

Mim Senft has over 20 years of corporate experience in project management, benefits design and wellness program strategy and implementation. She specializes in providing companies with strategies that positively impact culture and create team innovation. She is a certified as a Worksite Wellness Specialist through the National Wellness Institute; has her GBA group benefits designation through the International Foundation of Benefit Professionals (IFEBP); her property and casualty insurance certification, Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI), through the Insurance Institute of America; and became a certified yoga instructor in 2006. Prior to founding Motivity Partnerships, she worked with over 70 clients in a variety of industries including finance, manufacturing, law, fashion/retail and not-for-profit. Some representative companies include Optum @ Goldman Sachs, Springleaf Financial, Tory Burch, Steptoe and Johnson Law Firm, Natures Path, Open Door and Consolidated Precision Products.

Mim is a co-founder of Global Women 4 Wellbeing (GW4W), served on the Board of Directors for the National Wellness Institute and is a member of The Global Wellness Institute’s Future of Well Work Initiative. She is a regular speaker at conferences and roundtable discussions on topics related to employee benefits, corporate wellness/wellbeing programs, and keeping a competitive edge in today’s workplace.

Nancy Board, MSW – Co-Founder / COO – Global Women 4 Wellbeing
LinkedIn

Nancy Board is a long time EAP professional, experienced in corporate health and wellbeing globally, and a leader in workplace mental health, trauma response, risk management and women’s issues. She is also a sought after speaker, facilitator and international trainer for women’s health & wellbeing worldwide, having worked with thousands of women to help them remove barriers to achieving success.

Previously Nancy was Vice President of Healthcare, EAP and Wellness for JP Morgan In the Asia Pacific region, responsible for over 38,000 employees in 18 countries. She is a versatile, technically savvy, culturally competent leader. Having also led individuals, teams and organizations through the chaos and grief of workplace violence and major disasters, Nancy has a unique lens from which to gauge and teach personal resiliency, recovery and trust. As Co-Founder of Global Women 4 WellBeing, she is passionate about doing more good to create gender equity and build inclusive, respectful workplaces for women to become thriving, healthy leaders.

Nancy received her Master’s degree in Social Work/Behavioral Medicine from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo, certification as a Global Professional in Human Resources and certification as Facilitator and Guide for Women’s Circles through the non-profit organization, Woman Within, International.

How You Can Help

You can visit https://gw4w.org/ to find ways to get involved with GW4W and their global mission to empower healthy female leaders.

Resources mentioned

Women won’t have equality for 100 years – World Economic Forum

The medical research gender gap: how excluding women from clinical trials is hurting our health

 

Related Posts

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring ChopArt

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Faith Waringa Odhiambo

 

Until Next Time…Peace!

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

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.