What the F#@k does Mind/Body Connection Really Mean?

After 20 years of dust gathering on my tennis racket, now seemed like a good time to pick it back up.  I walked into the first class praying I wouldn’t tear a muscle or an achilles tendon (I’m noticing this is a common injury for people my age). Sidelined from any form of exercise for…

Show Notes

After 20 years of dust gathering on my tennis racket, now seemed like a good time to pick it back up.  I walked into the first class praying I wouldn’t tear a muscle or an achilles tendon (I’m noticing this is a common injury for people my age). Sidelined from any form of exercise for 6-8 weeks would be my personal hell, as exercise is another form of therapy for me.

The good news: no major tears. The bad: I think I pulled both groin muscles.  I called a friend and said, “I think I’m too old for this,” which she fired back, “I don’t get it. You do all kinds of exercise AND yoga, how could you be in so much pain?!”  I wondered the same thing.  So, I did the only thing I thought would make things better: a bit more yoga.

I’ve always heard much of our emotion is stored in our hips and pelvis. Could this be true for me? I’ve always been great at letting my emotions out.  Surely MY “pulled groin muscles” was just a sign of unused muscles – not stored emotions!  As I stretched and contorted myself into all different positions trying to relive the physical pain, tears welled up.  

These were not tears of physical pain, but of emotional pain releasing. “What are these tears about?” I asked myself. An answer came to me almost immediate. I knew exactly what I was still holding onto, what needed to be processed by my mind so my body could start to let go and move forward.  My body was telling me exactly what it needed.  

I hope the next time I grab my vintage racket (should my body be up to the challenge) that my mind will have worked through some of these feelings. I’d much rather walk off the court than limp.

WONDERING WHERE YOUR CONNECTION CHALLENGE IS THIS WEEK.  SIGN UP FOR MY EMAIL LIST AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE

 

*These posts are intended to help you begin the process of exploring your connection to yourself and your emotional well being, not as a replacement for therapy by a trained mental health professional.  

PUT ON A HAPPY FACE… FOR YOUR HOLIDAY CARD

AHH, ‘tis the season. The time to mail your holiday cards with your amazing looking children, partners, and of course, perfect animals. I relish in getting these cards; enjoying how family and friends are doing – seeing it first hand. That said, I do not send my own cards.  Part of my reason is sheer…

Show Notes

AHH, ‘tis the season. The time to mail your holiday cards with your amazing looking children, partners, and of course, perfect animals. I relish in getting these cards; enjoying how family and friends are doing – seeing it first hand.

That said, I do not send my own cards.  Part of my reason is sheer laziness and organization.  Not forgetting someone, trying to hunt down address and mail in a timely fashion is just beyond me.

I often find myself wondering when I receive these beautiful cards, what are the stories behind each happy face?  Similar to the perfect vacation shares on social media, celebration posts of our high moments or awesome kids.  There is no harm in curating these happy moments in life. However ignoring the moments that hurt or cause us to dissolve into tears simply by leaving them off our “timeline” is a recipe for unhappiness.

Each face smiling back at me from this year’s stack of holiday cards has their own backstory — pretty or not. Part of the reason I know this is because I’m invited behind that curtain everyday.  I listen to the stories that DON’T show up on people’s timelines or on their holiday cards. In the year that occurs between these cards being sent, a LOT happens.  Some of it is wonderful and some of it is not.

Last year, I contemplated a holiday letter.  We have all received the family-year-in-review card; an upward trajectory attached to those brilliant smiles.  I wrote my family’s story but never got my act together to take the picture. Some of the themes of the year in my nuclear and extended family were trips (I would call them vacations but they were not relaxing), separations, loss, death, emails from unhappy teachers, new babies, first steps, first words, job loss, moves, new jobs, new house, more loss, kisses and snuggles, tantrums and eye rolls (sometimes by me and sometimes by others), illness, arguments, laughs, tears, more tears, more laughs.

I looked back at last year’s half-finished letter as I wrote this post, some of it made me laugh and some of it made me nearly cry (again). I had actually forgotten so many of the ups and downs that I even wrote about.

So, as you open those holiday cards in the next few weeks, remember each has a much larger story to tell.

Connection Challenge:  Write your year in review and be honest. It’s extremely therapeutic to put our thoughts on paper, good and bad.  Next year you might even look back and laugh…or cry…or both.

 

HOW VULNERABLE ARE YOU?

My friend’s son was shot and killed last year on the streets of Chicago.  The violence that I was so easily distancing myself from had finally touched me…directly. As a mother,  but also a therapist, I was desperate to understand. The pain of this tragedy shook me to my very core.  The manner in which her…

Show Notes

My friend’s son was shot and killed last year on the streets of Chicago.  The violence that I was so easily distancing myself from had finally touched me…directly.

As a mother,  but also a therapist, I was desperate to understand.

The pain of this tragedy shook me to my very core.  The manner in which her son was murdered was horrific.

People ask me how he died; if he was in a gang; if he did something terrible too.  The answer(s) is: I am not sure, and honestly, I am not sure it matters.

It seems we ask these questions to distance ourselves from the pain, or to put some space between US and THEM.

It’s a way to defend against the fear.  The fear of that kind of primitive, gut wrenching pain– the fear of that loss.   It is much easier than facing the harsh reality that it can – and may – happen to anyone.

I deeply identified with her pain and my fear. I wanted to help my friend but I needed to help myself understand too.  

I did the only thing I know how to do:  I cried and cried, and then, I cried some more (I also encouraged her to seek therapy IMMEDIATELY, but this is for another post).  I told the story over and over again, sometimes to friends and sometimes to myself.  A realization came to me… one that I know but like to forget.

WE ARE ALL VULNERABLE.

This vulnerability makes us human and helps us to connect with others and with ourselves.

At any moment, something as sacred as our children, partner, best friend or parent, could be taken from us.  It might be through gang violence, a heart attack, illness, suicide or an accident.

As result of this awakened awareness of my vulnerability, I hug my kids harder, I spend less time looking at my phone and more time talking to my husband.  I try to connect with my friends, near and far, when they are on my mind.

Intense loss doesn’t have to be the catalyst to connect more deeply with those we love but, when we do–we inherently feel more connected to ourselves.

Connection challenge : This week, give yourself permission to be vulnerable with one person in your life.   Tell them how you’re really doing and notice how it makes you feel.  

 

HOW WE MIGHT BE MISUNDERSTANDING HAPPINESS

One could say happiness is just a series of happy moments strung together, surrounded by a range of other experiences. Everyone wants to be happier; to “get to” happiness, as though it’s the final destination. Have we been led to believe that happiness is like the end of the Candyland board where your world is…

Show Notes

One could say happiness is just a series of happy moments strung together, surrounded by a range of other experiences.

Everyone wants to be happier; to “get to” happiness, as though it’s the final destination. Have we been led to believe that happiness is like the end of the Candyland board where your world is sugary sweet and once we get there, we get to stay?

I would never tell you that happiness is not something to strive for, but perhaps that shouldn’t be the end game.  

Let’s look at Candyland, the game many play as a child, as a metaphor for our everyday quest for contentment.

Sometimes you come out of the gate strong, you pick the Queen Frostine’s ice cream cone, or the lollipop, catapulting you close to the end of the board, leaving your opponents in the dust.  You are excited about the notion of a quick win and it’s in this moment you feel a bit of elation.

Are you the player drawing only color cards, creeping slowly along the path? The big advancements elude you but – no doubt – you are moving towards success.

Regardless, we all know how this game goes. At each moment, any of us might pick the wrong card, ending up 10 steps behind.  Do you ever feel so close to the finish you could taste it… only to get stuck on red? Yet even more deflating, to end up back at the beginning?

We have all witnessed someone attempt to cheat a little. Pretending to draw two cards instead of one. Being sent back to peanut brittle can take the wind out of your sails as everyone passes by.  The discomfort of a setback SUCKS.

It does seem that this notion of happiness has become the goal of our lives, rather than a part of it.

It is fun to win – to come out on top, but that feeling only lasts until you put the game away.  

Isn’t there more fun in actually playing the game?  

The fun often is in the thrill of getting stuck and finally drawing the double reds. Oh, sweet freedom!  Perhaps the fun is playing with a child who has such pure joy and happiness when they draw that card that gets them unstuck or closer to the end of the game.  

Of course, I want happiness for my patients, for my children and for my friends.  I want them to enjoy the ice cream and the gum drops. But do you ever wonder if the sweetness is that much sweeter when you have also experienced the salty, the sour and the savory along the way?

Connection Challenge: Commit to spending one day just thinking about small moments throughout your day that bring you bits of happiness.

A FAIL FREE METHOD TO REACHING YOUR GOALS

Have you ever struggled to reach a goal? Such as, losing 20 lbs, saving money, looking for a new job, giving up a habit, like smoking, drinking, you name it. I’m not suggesting it’s easy.  I really don’t think it is; but perhaps it’s easier than we think. This analogy has often helped me reconsider…

Show Notes

Have you ever struggled to reach a goal? Such as, losing 20 lbs, saving money, looking for a new job, giving up a habit, like smoking, drinking, you name it. I’m not suggesting it’s easy.  I really don’t think it is; but perhaps it’s easier than we think.

This analogy has often helped me reconsider how to be successful in reaching my goals.

It’s doubtful you would stand at the bottom of Mount Everest and say, “I am going to climb right to the top”.  “No breaks for me!! And I’m doing it right now!”

But let’s be real, If you were to climb Everest it would be suggested you climb one summit at a time.  You would have a sherpa there to help you, to support you and carry your things.

Can you guess where I’m headed with this?  What is your Everest?  Can you identify the summits along the way?

Connection Challenge: Name the goal you’ve been trying to achieve.  See if you can recognize the summits.  Now it’s time to find your sherpa to help you get there. ONE. STEP. AT. A. TIME.

 

A WORKOUT FOR YOUR MIND

  Many of us spend time exercising. We talk about strengthening our core to better support our back, working on our biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quads.  We begin to break down our muscles to start to build them back up. But, how often do we really think about working out our minds?   How…

Show Notes

 

Many of us spend time exercising. We talk about strengthening our core to better support our back, working on our biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quads.  We begin to break down our muscles to start to build them back up. But, how often do we really think about working out our minds?  

How often does an uncomfortable feeling like sadness, loneliness, fear, or grief cause us to turn and run – at times even subconsciously?  Ever wonder why we do this – even with feelings that are more desirable?

It seems to me we are desperately trying to cover up our feelings.

We busy ourselves with social media, we try to self medicate, and sometimes we just deny that we are even feeling joyful, sad, lonely, scared, _____ (you get to fill in your blank here).

But what if we thought about those uncomfortable feelings as our minds way of pushing us to grow and get stronger?

What if, rather than choking back the tears, you admit to feeling lonely and disconnected from your partner, or friend?  What might happen if we just allow ourselves to feel a little?  Joy at a work accomplishment, excitement over your weekend plans…  those are all feelings too… see, not all feelings have negative vibes!

Who knows; you might even come out the other side feeling a little stronger.  The next time you encounter that feeling, that sadness, pain, anxiety, fear….you might even deal with it a little bit better. As you exercise your mind, each time we get a little stronger.   

Connection Challenge: Think for a minute about how you normally cope with any feelings.  Write down what you do to cope. The goal: it will help you build awareness.