Category Archives: Loving kindness

Mother’s Day

This is a tough evening for me. “Mother’s Day Eve”.
Sadly, I know I am not alone so I wanted to send out an article written for Psychology Today that just might help.

“When Mothers Day Hurts”

And another.

“Not All Mothers Are Loving and Kind”

My heart goes out to each of you who feel this pain and absolutely breaks to know so many have suffered.

I also want to mention ALL mothers.
Perhaps you are a Mother yourself.
You might have been a Mother but lost your child.
Sadly there are also many who strive to become Mothers and just can’t.
Then there are those who choose not to become Mothers for all the right reasons. Kudos to you too!
And to Mothers who gave the biggest gift to a loving family through adoption or surrogacy.
Then there are those who are in mourning for the Mother they lost.
The foster children, the ones that fell through the cracks…
For those who had children but feel like it all got messed up even though you tried your very best.
And Mothers who are mentally ill. What a HUGE extra challenge.
Let’s not forget the pet Moms. You crazy creatures. πŸ™‚
And to anyone who I have forgotten…
Do something special for yourself tomorrow and celebrate you just being the woman who you are. Sorry to the men, I’ll get to you on Fathers Day. πŸ™‚

And to my children wherever they may roam, I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Hugs to you all!!!

Mental Wellness Week

Hello all! Thank you for your support, compassion and kind messages over the past week. Each one meant A LOT!

This is a week dedicated to mental health. Some people call it “Mental Illness Week”, others say “Mental Health Week”, but, you know me, I must be different and I choose to call it “Mental Wellness Week”.

Mental illnesses and mental health issues are so often at the forefront of conversations and in trying to get help out there to those whom need it the most.
Of course I support both of these conversation but I wonder what sort of world would we have in 20 years if mental wellness was taken seriously as well? Teaching our youngest children to our oldest senior how to better care for their mental wellness.

Rather than focusing solely on what to look for in society to point out the mentally ill person and help them before it is too late, what if we began to encourage positive mental wellness messages as well. How do you spot a person who takes excellent care of their own mental wellness? How do we take that model and teach it to those who’ve never understood or been taught how to or fell off the rails somehow?

A lesson such as compassion for oneself would radically change our world for the better. I know from my own journey and watching others going through the same journey that the people who are able to show compassion for themselves and can accept their humanness in all its glory and its gory are the same people whom are more able to extend compassion towards others.
I know for certain that I was a far more judgmental and harsh person when I had no compassion for myself. I didn’t have it for others either even though I thought that I did.
When I finally realized that I was just a human being with so many facets, I was able to start being more accepting of others as well.
Imagine a world where we show compassion towards ourselves and then for others. I can’t even think of how much that woudl change our world for the better.

And self-care. Remember being a teapot 2 weeks ago? The importance of keeping yourself full and taking care of your own needs so that you would have the ability to offer goodness from within yourself to others.
What if we began to teach children how important they are. Not due to any ability or level of cuteness but being a worthy human being just for being alive?
Could that child become a teenager that put their own needs for safety and wellness above the needs of a group? Could they make better choices about where to spend their time and who to give their time to if they only knew to put themselves before the boyfriend, girlfriend, groups or others?

Worthiness. Teaching people that they are worthy.
Worthy of a good life, worthy of safety and protection, worthy of being heard and believed, worthy of exactly what anyone else has emotionally…
Worthy even if they are not being taught that at home? How long could abuse last if the person being abused saw themselves of being absolutely worthy of a better life? Never blaming themselves or taking on responsibility for the other persons behaviour. Can you imagine?
Even as a very young child, knowing this one skill would have propelled me in to speaking out more and not stopping so quickly. If I’d known that I was worthy of better… wow.

There are so many life skills that we just do not often teach at home or at school. This is not done neglectfully. It is bypassed because most of today’s adults don’t know what mental wellness includes or how to go about getting it. I didn’t! As a parent, I never taught my children much at all about becoming or staying mentally healthy and well. I did not teach it to them because I hadn’t been taught it yet myself. This needs to change in my opinion.

Wouldn’t it be terrific to one day wake up and realize that we now lived in a happier world filled with people who really knew how to care for themselves and considered themselves worthy of such treatment?
Bullies woudl hold far less power.
Abusers would have a much harder time convincing someone that horrible treatment was deserved somehow.
Pedophiles would be at a huge disadvantage if there was no hidden need for them to prey on. Children would already feel special.

John Lennon sang “Imagine” so many years ago but I’d love to add to those lyrics. Just imagine a world where most people are mentally healthy and skilled while far fewer suffer mental illness because they can catch it when it starts and get help immediately rather than putting it off for days, weeks, or years.

imagine

Today you are a teapot.

Please choose a teapot.
This teapot will be you until you finish today’s blog. πŸ™‚
Since I am asking you to BE a teapot I will at least give you some really cool ones to choose from.

Teapot5 Teapot4 Teapot3 Teapot2 Teapot1 Teapot

Got one?

Okay… so today you are a teapot. Have you ever thought about the personality of a teapot? Not its looks or where it came from but what sort of person is a teapot on the inside? The first word I think of is “giving”. Very few other objects can connect people as quickly and as easily as a teapot can.

That said, the teapot is also a master at self-care.Β  It is perfect at it. When it is full and warm, it shares and shares but when the teapot is close to empty, it won’t even think for a moment before wanting to be refilled. It does not feel guilty for needing more water or a new teabag. It does not berate itself for having those needs. It does not deem itself stupid or selfish. It just needs a refill. Period.

Since you are a teapot today (a very nice looking teapot I must say), I want to think of yourself as cozy and warm. Filled to the brim with delicious tea. You are happy and content.
Then along comes the cups. Small cups, larger cups, beautiful cups, cups with a chip in them, kinda ugly cups, decorative cups and plain.
These cups represent all the different areas in your life which you give your energy to. Everything from walking the dog or petting the cat to going to work or taking care of your family. Don’t forget that there are usually a LOT of cups. Some cups (children, spouses, caring for your home, dealing with/making money…) are larger cups and require more of your tea. Others areΒ  smaller (food shopping, going to the library, taking a walk…). These require less tea but they can not be ignored.

So back to you, my teapot friends.
You can only fill so many cups before you run dry. Even the biggest and best teapot runs out of steam eventually. It can only hold so much.
So what do you do when you begin to run out of water?
Let the last drops fall and pray for more?
Berate yourself for running out of water?
Get angry at the cups?
Call yourself lazy, stupid or selfish ?
How helpful is any of that going to be?
The teapot is empty and needs be refilled. Period.

The teapot needs to be refilled on a regular basis if it is going to be of any use at all to the cups. It is only by refilling on a regular basis that there is an endless stream of tea for everyone to enjoy.

Filling the teapot is no different from self-care.
In order for you to be of use to anyone else, you must refill yourself on a regular basis. It can not always be the very last thing on the list because you’ll have nothing at all to share. You will be empty and that is no good for anyone.

Self care is not selfish AT ALL. You are only taking enough time to refill yourself so that you will have more to share. Empty teapots can look cute but they are really of no use are they? Don’t allow staying empty to be okay with you thinking that you are just a generous person who puts others first. It is a great idea but if you don’t put you first? Who will?
Coming first and taking time for self-care is necessary for good physical and mental health. When you are a happier and more fulfilled person, those around you only stand to benefit from that.

How you refill your teapot is up to you. It is different for everyone. For me it can be doing my artwork, chatting with a good friend, playing a game on my computer… it can be anything at all that makes you feel happy and calm. Anything that truly feels like you’ve had a break. Sometimes it can be 5 minutes while you might occasionally get an hour or even a whole afternoon but no matter what you get? TAKE IT and do self-care.

A short life lesson from a former bone dry teapot…
I used to say that there was no time to take care of myself.
Then I learned that I MAKE time for everyone else so I need to MAKE time for me too.

Elanor

Stop and look…

I have something that I have been doing for the past few years and it makes a HUGE difference in my life. I suppose I have danced around the behavior many times but I’ve never done a blog on it. So here it goes. πŸ™‚

When we are in recovery or even in the most stables of lives, we make constant changes and decisions. We learn. We move forwards, we fall backwards. We feel great and then horrible. We work hard and do a great job working on a task then it doesn’t work out. That is life. Up, down and all around.

I don’t know about you but for me? Recovery and wellness seem to take a LOT of work and each time that I reach a goal, the list of goals still yet to achieve seems to grow longer rather than shorter.
So here is what I started doing 3 years ago while hospitalized. I can not take credit for this. It was taught to me and I am very grateful for this lesson. Mind you, in all truth, this whole blog is about what I learned. πŸ™‚

I was encouraged to make an “Accomplishment List”. Each time I felt that I had done something well, learned something new, made some good choices, or anything else that was a step forward in my mind, was to be written on this list. I know a lot of people who didn’t bother doing it and even more who stopped doing it after leaving the program but I have found it is immeasurably important to do on a constant basis.
I also stop and take time to look over how far I have come every once in a while. I ignore the work yet to be done and forget about the future as a whole. I take that piece of time to just pay attention to the right now. Today. This moment in time.

I do not do this on a schedule. I actually find that I like to do it after I have gone through a really rough time. It is nice to stop and think about how much better I handled it, how I felt more at ease… whatever.
I really like doing this with my therapist, a friend, my hubby, quite frankly, anyone who will listen to me because it is so easy to only report the negative to all of those people. It is an easy habit to fall in to. Sharing complaints only. It is nice to stop and say “Look how much better I am doing!”

I just went through a really hard anniversary, I’ve been ill with 8 infections and used 12 prescriptions to solve the issue since January 10th (and I am normally healthy as can be), my birth father sank to new lows, a good friend stopped contacting me, and a few other thing. I ended up falling in to a deeper depression than I have in quite some time. BUT… this is where my “Accomplishment List” comes in…

While dealing with all these things, I did not go silent which I normally do. I can write anything at all but actually opening up and speaking when times are tough has not been my strong suit. In the past few months I HAVE reached out. I told my husband why I was feeling down and admitted that I was having a hard time. I talked to a couple of friends and brought the tough stuff to my therapist.
I stayed on top of each infection as it happened and even though I got really fed up with it all, I just moved forwards each day.
I also set a couple of HUGE boundaries in my life which were very stressful because there was a lot of emotion involved in both decisions but after making them and respecting myself, I started to feel much better.
There is even more than this but I’ve been “braggy” enough already. πŸ™‚
It just feels really good sometimes to stop and look at the changes you have made.

Do you keep a list of the positive things that you do in your life?
This list need not be huge things.

  • If you find it hard to get out of bed each day but do it anyways? That should go on your list!
  • If you manage to make a healthy meal 5 days out of 7?
  • Keep a boundary or set a good one?
  • Still alive even though you had days where you didn’t want to be?
  • Start a new healthy habit?
  • Take time for yourself?
  • Have another day, week or month sober? (I am 17 years in yet I still celebrate it as an accomplishment.)
  • Find time to create/write/sing…?
  • Deal with a tough subject.
  • Go through a hard time and manage to avoid doing what you usually do? Maybe you reached out this time? Tried something new?

Your list can be the smallest of efforts to the grandest of gestures. The important thing is just to stop and look at where you were a few months ago and how far you have come. Even tiny changes add up over time so you may suddenly be in a situation that would have crushed you a year ago but now you deal with it better than you expected to. Stop and congratulate yourself. You are making progress.

I hope you will try doing this for a while and let me know how it goes.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Web

Value Your Survival Skills

Value

It can be really tough to look at the symptoms that are caused by whichever disorder we’ve been burdened with and feel thankful. Who would feel thankful for dissociations, unexplained body pain that never ceases yet a mind that feels nothing? Anger, depressions, anxiety, feeling absolutely crazy, and afraid to make friends or trust anyone at all. There are so many different symptoms that I just can not cover them all but you know what you deal with and it really sucks doesn’t it?

So let’s look back a bit to the time when those behaviors were not symptoms yet.
Back to a time when they are what helped us survive.
They were not symptoms then, they were SKILLS.
We needed them. Quite often they saved our lives.

Any good therapist or doctor will tell you that although these skills were useful in the past, they are not helping us now. We know that but we need to be taught how to cope without using them.

It is in that in-between time that we often feel very critical of ourselves.
Why can’t we feel things?
Why can’t we trust someone who we know is trustworthy?
Why do I struggle with addiction? (Food, alcohol, drugs, sex…)
Why do I hurt myself to feel better?
Why do we feel such anger that it is more like a venomous rage?
Why do we then feel nothing?
Why do we eat so much or so little?
Why can’t we stop zoning out?
Why are we depressed when everything seems to be going well?
Why are we so anxious that it can be hard to leave home?
Why do we say or do things to cause distance with others?
We can often feel dead inside. Why can’t we feel?
Why do we want to be alone yet feel shunned?
What the heck is wrong with us?
Why can’t we just be “normal”?

Those questions haunt so many of us and I am sure you can relate to at least a few. It feels awful to be stuck where we do not want to be. It is very easy to be unhappy with ourselves and we want to do better but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time to change.

Maybe we can do something a little different when we feel like being hard on ourselves for our now dysfunctional coping.
Perhaps we can look at these “symptoms” and see that they were not born out of weakness but rather born our of the will to survive. We are not weak or frigged up because of them. These symptoms just show how incredibly resilient we were.Β  We made it through all that we dealt with thanks to those skills.

We also know that we need to work towards healthier coping skills in our lives now but I find that making steps forward is a lot easier when we stop putting ourselves down for who we are at that moment.
Accept yourself for who you are and where you are. You are a survivor. Nothing less. You are strong and good and kind. The people who’ve been hurt the most almost always are.

You will change in time. You will make healthier choices and move forward in positive ways. Allow yourself to accept who you are right now and that change will happen faster.

I learned to value my skills and it changed my life. I had more compassion for myself. I was no longer sorry for how I acted or felt. I had every good reason to be exactly where I was. Any person who lived through my life would do no better.
Maya Angelou said “When you know better, you do better.”
Wherever you are right now is the best you can do. As you learn? You can do more.
Maya Angelou also said “When you learn. Teach.”
One day you will be in a place where others will look at you and learn from your climb.

You survived. However you achieved that? Good for you!!!

Pervasive Negative Thinking – Part 2

Hello all! I am sorry this did not get posted on Friday but as you saw last Monday, we are living in Puppyville right now and our new fur baby has kept us busy. He’s sleeping right now with his big sister so I have time to do the second part of this blog. πŸ™‚ A bit of cuteness first you say??? Oh, okay. If I must. He’s waving hello.
DSCN2947
Pervasive Negative Thinking Part 2. A few more suggestions. πŸ™‚

How about we start with being more compassionate with ourselves?
It is natural to have negative thoughts. No one is happy all the time. Daily ups and downs help make life better for us in the long run. Even the “bad” stuff can help us appreciate the good more or perhaps even learn a lesson that we otherwise would not have learned.
People who are in counselling who are able to acknowledge feeling both good and bad feelings make more positive changes than people who do not.

Suppressing negative thoughts can backfire. There was a study once where participants were told not to think about a white bear. Of course they thought about it almost constantly… and you are thinking about one right now aren’t you? πŸ˜‰ When a white bear is just there in a room and people are not told to ignore it, they hardly think about it at all.
If you have a good friend or are in therapy, make time to discuss some of your negative thoughts. Getting them outside of your head can help you move past them far quicker.

One quote that I love is by Tori Rodriguez.
“A thought is just a thought and a feeling is just a feeling.”
It sounds simple but we often give our power to our thoughts. We feel upset about a certain situation and we can react as though there is no other way to think about it. Like that thought owns you rather than the other way around.
Having a negative thought is normal and healthy. Putting a cape on it so it can fly around knocking everything all over the place is not.

Now here is a hard one. Let go of jealousy.
We all like to think that we are not jealous people but jealousy is insidious.
Our lives would be better if we were thinner, stronger, richer, better, prettier or more handsome, smarter, warmer, colder, healthier… Almost every one of us has at least one area where we look at others and think “If I was just _______, my life would be better or easier”. In truth? They are thinking the exact same thing but perhaps just a different topic. In Buddhism (which I follow), there are 4 “truths/levels”. The first one is that every single person suffers. This is the human condition. It is not a bad thing, it just ties us all together. No one has a perfect life no matter what they show on the outside.Β  Never compare yourself to anyone else. You do not know the full story… and they do not know yours.

How about a few easy suggestions? When you can’t shake those negative thoughts, take a walk, exercise in your favourite way, listen to upbeat music, distract yourself, or schedule some worry time in to each day.

Another technique. “Repeat after me…”
There is a technique called “cognitive diffusion”. If there is a word or phrase that you think to yourself far too often, repeat it over and over again for a couple of minutes. An example. What if I always call myself stupid? I would say “I’m stupid.” Over and over again for two minutes. At first it feels very real but by the end, it should have lost some of its power. If you need to do it one time or ten times, it doesn’t matter. Just repeat the technique until you feel the power within those words lose their grip.

Journal it. Writing a problem down can help you think less about it. Spending 20 minutes a day writing down your worries can significantly diffuse them. I actually calm down A LOT after I write something out. It feels like I get things sorted out better because I have to slow down to write.

This one might seem silly but it really works for some people.
Jot your problem on a piece of paper. Rip up the paper and throw it out. Toss that thought in the trash and leave it there. It it is a big thought that holds a lot of power? I like to write it down, scribble all over it, crumple it up and burn it (safely). Do what works for you.

Just remember this one last piece of advice…
Being negative is often due to many reasons. It probably took you a long time to find your thinking where it is now. Family, friends, circumstances…
For this reason, please be patient with yourself. Changing thinking takes time and practice. Be very forgiving of yourself and don’t quit.
I had a way of reacting to people who I really did not like about myself. I tried and tried to change it but that negative view held on. It actually took me several years to have it stop completely but I did notice small improvements along the way.Β  Giving up is the only way to lose at this.

Have a terrific week. Let me know if any of the suggestions help you.

Happy

Paint how you feel, not how you think.

Earlier today, a fellow artist friend posted on Facebook about how she just couldn’t seem to lift herself out of a funk caused my her SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which many people suffer from to different degrees. My reply to her was based on something that you, my blog followers have taught me over the past 2 years. I will edit my post here only to remove her name.

I know I already said a lot but you touched my heart with this post and as I sat here writing, I thought of something else. I write a mental health blog and almost all of my articles are about how to improve your life, take care of yourself better, get through hard times, grieving, positive thoughts and kindness. Then every once in awhile I am just so out of sorts that my blog ends up being about me and a rough time that I am having. I just end up throwing my guts on the page and paying I lose all my followers for it.
You know something though… those are the blogs that get the most response and are so often met with “I thought I was alone.”, “It is so nice to know someone else understands.”, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear this.”, I’ve even had some say that I saved their life because I showed that someone who looks like they have it all together can really fall apart.
It is in our most vulnerable that we touch someones heart. Perhaps you need to paint how you feel rather than paint what others expect. Maybe your paint needs to have a foggy, rainy, shitty day. Perhaps there are dark clouds and menacing looking skies. The houses might not look so bright and the boats may be nearly toppling over in stormy seas. Paint how you FEEL and not how you THINK.
I bet that you would really strike others in the heart and you could open a whole new style of painting.
Some days ARE beautiful, bright, green and gorgeous. Others aren’t. Why not do and sell both?
Love you bunches my friend and I am here for you. I’ve lived in those dark places for many years and I understand the struggles. I give you this advice based on what has worked in my own life.
Go ahead and paint how you feel. I’ll buy it.

It is YOU, my blog readers whom have taught me this lesson and I felt it was good not only to share this post with you but to also talk about the concept a wee bit more.

It is not only artists and writers that have these days. Red, orange, bright blue and green paint can symbolize any of our lives. There are days when everything is so beautiful and bright and then there are days when the blacks, browns and deep greys take over. That happy sunny yellow can suddenly turn to a gross murky baby poop green and our good mood is gone.
There are times in our lives where it may be much more than a day or a week, I had dark days for almost 2 decades before the sun shone on me again.
Very few people knew that about me though. I had the brightest smile and there was colour everywhere. Bright, cheerful, happy, fun colour. I used it to paint over the darkness that I felt and in the process, I found myself very alone because I did not allow others to see my struggle. I know many people that pull off an equally trustworthy and convincing ruse.

Who do we hurt when we hide our darkness? Ourselves? Well certainly ourselves but we hurt others as well. By not allowing our true colours to show, we do not often allow them to show their true colours either.
It is only when we allow others to see that our brightly painted and cheerful exterior actually has darkness behind it that we allow them to show their darkness too.

You’d think this would be depressing right? Actually is not.
Allowing others to see the real you and the real colours in your life at that time allows for others to feel heard and understood. This only benefits everyone around you. In my opinion, the ones that hush you and do not want to see your true colours are the ones that are still afraid of their own darkness.

It does not make you strong to be perfect or happy all the time. It takes far more strength to show others that you are not that way all the time. Rather than saying you are fine every single time someone asks, maybe a little truth wouldn’t hurt? I mean really, who is fine ALL the time?
And by being fine all the time? Who do you think will ever want to share their true feelings with you? They assume you could never understand a bad day. I rarely share anything real or under the surface with people whom never share with me.

So my friends…
Paint with yellows, bright blues, greens, reds and oranges on those bright, beautiful clear sky days and paint with those dark blues, deep purples, heavier shades of otherwise “perky” colours when the yucky days show themselves. Having both is not only human but it is what makes you real to others. It is also what turns you and your life in to a splendid rainbow for all of those around you to enjoy.

real-rainbow-rain-dark-clouds-wallpaper