Monday, June 18, 2018

Bad Relationships - Little Buddha -

I have a few friends in bad relationships. So, I've been keeping my eyes open for anything I can share with them (besides my perspective). I came across this today. Good stuff.

“Some of us think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” 
~Hermann Hesse

She knew it sooner than I did. And more intensely than I did.
I, on the other hand, may have considered our differences but never thought of them as deal-breakers. I tried to justify the many struggles we had between us and believed that our marriage could work despite the challenges.
I had this feeling things would get better and stayed hopeful no matter how bad our relationship got.
I told myself that her extraverted personality and my more introversion could work together. And that her more social and outgoing nature and my more private and homebound inclinations were just minor differences.
I believed it was both of us trying to settle into our professional careers that led to our conflicts. Or maybe, it was moving away from California so she could complete her professional training that put pressure on our relationship. Or it was because we didn’t have a support system that we weren’t getting along.
In retrospect, if I'm being completely objective, I can see there were problems.
There were fights and disagreements that would have landed us on a reality TV show.
There were days of not talking and threats of leaving regularly.
There were instances where we ignored each other’s feelings and preferences in our life goals. There was a lack of understanding and compassion for each other.
Yet, we stayed together for years, and even after our separation, I still didn’t want this relationship to end.
Even after our divorce, I was hopeful.
Was this the optimist in me?
Was I being delusional?
Are you too wondering why you’re stuck in a relationship that isn’t working and bad for your spirit?
You may feel the dysfunction on a daily basis and feel frustrated with the constant fights and disagreements.
Are you wondering why you’re having trouble letting go when the person you’re with isn’t the right person for you? Are you wondering why you’re stuck in dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship? And even worse, not doing anything about it?
Here are top seven reasons we stay in bad relationships.

1. We have grown accustomed to people who treat us badly.

Those of us who grew up in abusive or hurtful households feel used to complicated love.
We begin to believe that people who hurt us are the ones who truly love us.
We have learned that it’s okay to be treated poorly, to not have boundaries, and to feel hurt by other people’s behavior.
Others have taught us that it’s acceptable to accept abuse and dysfunction. We not only can tolerate it but have to come to view this is as normal.

2. We prefer bad relationships over the unknown.

This is the biggest reason most of us stay in dysfunctional, hurtful relationships.
We may despise the person and the relationship, but we hate uncertainty and change more.
Our brains are simply not wired for changed circumstances.
We would suffer any amount of pain to avoid dealing with the unknown in the future.

3. We prefer a bad relationship over being alone.

We can’t stand being alone.
We can’t imagine a life by ourselves.
We see ourselves with cats, other lonely people, and silent walks in the park.
We hear silence, see no one, and feel like disappearing from earth altogether.
The alternative we imagine of being without someone feels hopeless and scary.

4. We don’t value ourselves.

We have a low sense of self-worth and don’t believe in ourselves.
When we find people who tear us down and bring us down, we take comfort in their behavior because it confirms our beliefs about ourselves.
We are open to people treating us badly because we are used to treating ourselves badly by talking down to ourselves, criticizing ourselves, and hurting ourselves.
We don’t believe we are worth the time and attention of someone kinder and more compassionate toward us. We may even fear being treated well because we don’t trust that we deserve it or that it will last.

5. We feel rejected, dejected, inspected, and tossed to the sharks.

Ending a relationship, no matter how good or bad it was, makes us feel unwanted.
It hits at our self-esteem and self-worth.
It makes us feel unwanted and unworthy.
Many of us felt unwanted or abandoned in our childhood, and ending a relationship in adulthood brings all our old feelings to the surface.
We’d rather stay with someone than fall into a sinkhole of unworthiness, never knowing if we can pick up your self-esteem again.

6. We feel out of place and out of sorts.

We don’t know what our place or role in the world is anymore.
We are no longer the husband, wife, partner of so and so.
We lose half of our family and friends, our ex’s family and friends.
We don’t know what to say to people at dinner parties, work, or any other social situation.
Our society tends to put an emphasis on couples, so without a partnership we become lost and on the outside of everyday life.
We become talked about, and our relationship status seems to be at the center of attention.

7. We don’t believe you there’s anyone else out there for us.

A big part of why we’d rather stay together is that we doubt we could ever find someone nearly as compatible again.
How do we know we can date again? How do we know someone else will find us attractive again? How do we know if love will strike again in the future?
Instead of uncertainty of a day that may never come and a love that may never bloom, we choose to stay with the person we’ve already found.

Instead of hanging on to a relationship that is bad for your heart and soul, consider the possibility of moving on, grieving, and letting go of this relationship that isn’t working.
Trust your gut, know that this relationship isn’t right, and act on your inner knowing.
Look at the relationship objectively, as I wish I did sooner, and make the decision to walk away before things get any worse. As much as you would like it to get better, if neither of you are working on the relationship, or if you’re just not right for each other, it will not improve.
Know that brighter days are ahead if you release this person and the unhealthy relationship from your life. You can get through this breakup, as you’ve likely done many times in your life, and can move on from this relationship.
Brighter days mean being alone sometimes; it means finding peace; it means getting to know yourself and eventually finding yourself in a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
So many people have gone through heartbreak, have lost that one special person, and have gone on to find the right one.

Uncertainty after ending a bad relationship is uncomfortable but better than the comfort of dysfunction.
Letting go and ending this relationship is risky, but with great risk come life’s greatest rewards.
One day of peace and comfort by yourself is worth a thousand days being in a relationship that is suffocating and dysfunctional.
Instead of showering love on someone who can’t reciprocate, consider giving yourself that love.
Open your heart to yourself, speak gently to yourself, do nice things for yourself, make your life comfortable and relaxed.
Cultivate an inner sanctuary of silence, compassion, peace, and acceptance of yourself, perhaps through yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature, or by seeing a therapist to work through the core wounds from your childhood.
Work on spiritual practices that help you accept yourself for who you are and be comfortable in your own body without needing to be with someone. This could include breath work, affirmations, journaling, or even some form or art.

Finally, remember, your ex has helped you grow and lead you to the place you are today, but it’s not healthy to keep them in your journey to the end.

Letting go of your ex allows you to pick up the journey on your own for a bit so you can grow stronger and be better prepared for healthy, happy relationships in the future.

After your own solo travels, you can find another love that will help you grow as a person and further reach your potential as a human being. Or will allow you to discover who you are so you can live an honest and authentic life, which will lead you to rich experiences, spiritual growth, and deeper friendships.

Losing this unhealthy relationship doesn’t mean your world has ended and there will never be someone out there again for you.

Ending this relationship will open the realm of possibilities for authentic relationships, healthy love, and true happiness.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Mindful Practice - Step 2 -

ABC’s 123’s of Anxiety and Mindfulness

The way we interpret the world makes a huge difference to how we react to any given situation. This can be called the ABC model of emotions. Understanding these, and implementing the below steps will create a mindful space, where staying present is possible. 

A: The situation. What a video camera would record.

B: The interpretation. What the narrator would say about the situation; the running story we create out of the situation. This often is just beneath the surface of awareness but is taken as fact.

C: Our reactions to the event. Our emotions, body sensations, and impulses to act in various ways.
Often we see A and C clearly, but we’re not aware of B. We think the situation aroused our feelings and emotions, when, it was our interpretation of the scene that did this. It’s as if the world were a silent film where we wrote the commentary. But the commentary, with its explanations of what is going on, happens so fast that we take it to be part of the film. It can be difficult to separate the facts of the situation from our interpretation of it. And it can be more and more difficult to argue against this. All future events will be interpreted to support this, while competing information will be ignored.

Our thoughts are like rumors in the mind. They might be true, but then again, they might not be.  We repeatedly try to quash rumors in our own minds. Take self-criticism: when we are feeling stressed or vulnerable, we only hear the inner critic, not the quieter voice of compassion. The emotional punch behind the thoughts is so powerful that it overwhelms all our logic. If we dismiss these thoughts as nonsense or tell ourselves to “get a grip,” our morale is further lowered, leaving us with feelings of weakness and inadequacy. And every time self-criticism begins, we immediately begin embellishing the story from where it ended. We look for supporting evidence and ignore everything to the contrary.
This situation, our interpretation of it, and then our reaction causes us unnecessary suffering and ends up making these thoughts far worse than necessary.

When we feel stressed or anxious, and life is frantic, thoughts often feel like the absolute truth about us and the world. But they are symptoms of the stress, just like a high temperature is a symptom of flu. And as you get more stressed, you believe more strongly in these thoughts. Is it any wonder that your mind reacts in negative ways? You just want to be relieved of the pressure, so thoughts such as, “I wish I could just disappear,” “why am I not enjoying this anymore,” “everyone relies on me,” “what’s the matter with me,” prevail, when if you are fully aware that these thoughts are symptoms of stress and exhaustion, rather than facts that must be true, you can step back from them. And this grants you the space to decide whether to take them seriously or not.

The practicum for implementing changing the interpretation of the event then becomes as follows:

A: Acknowledge the situation.
B: Buddha/Belly Breathe, then interpret.
C: Change Chain reaction into Controlled action.

Remember, your thoughts (positive and negative) are your servants, not your master.  Listen to, or observe these thoughts, but do not elaborate on them or get sucked into their drama. Let them go. In doing just this, you are cultivating a sense of stillness and peace.

To put this into the 1, 2, 3 countdown: 
1.  Recognize the emotion (doubt, anxiety, stress, rumination, fear). 
2.  Feel the flow of energy, coming from above or below. 
3. Act on this energy – remembering that inaction is sometimes the best action.

In other words: Emotion is the prompt to take action. Do not hang out with the inner disturbances. The longer you entertain them, the harder it is to remove them. It is okay to feel these emotions, yet cease to be involved with them.

Lastly, before reacting to outside stressors, HALT – ask yourself: Am I Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, Tired? These are our baseline triggers, so ferret out these needs first.

Sources: Williams, Mark, and Danny Penman. Mindfulness: An eight-week plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Rodale Press. 2011.
Singer, Michael A. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Self. New Harbinger Publications. 2007.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Inaction -

Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something - but they are both actions, and choices for that matter.

"I'm not going fishing today," is as much of an action, and a choice, as going fishing.

"I'm going to stay home today and do nothing," is still a choice, and an action. "Doing nothing," takes a lot of energy!

"I'm going to choose to not get worked up over this situation, time will take care of things."

I'm a firm believer that often the best choice is the choice to be still, be silent, be present.

And is there anything wrong with that? It's a choice, an action! 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain -

Darn it, just darn it. Waking to the saddest news, sent to me at the same time by two daughters, just makes a tough beginning to the day.

Just on Monday a colleague asked me if I could meet any celebrity who that would be, and I answered without hesitancy, "Anthony Bourdain."

I love Anthony Bourdain. I love what he represented - the NEED to explore cultures, traditions, food, stories. I have that need, and although my boundaries are a little more limited than his "Parts Unknown," I saw in him a kinship - and I always thought it would be awesome to have dinner with this hard ass - drinking lemonade, and he'd ask why I didn't order a drink, and I'd share, and he'd respect that, because he was a respecter of people and places, and he'd love the mint/parsley/green apple relish I created to go on his fresh-cut salmon. And my grandmother's sourdough buns with home-made chia raspberry jam would knock his socks off. 

He lived life loud and large and in-the-face, unapologetic, yet he was tender, nurturing, and the hugs he would give the older Asian women tugged at my heart. (I particularly enjoyed his shows with friend Eric Ripert, who apparently found him this morning.)

One daughter shared, "I guess he was a celebrity, but I like to think of him more as an author and fellow commentator and observer on life and people and places." 

The other daughter, "I enjoyed learning from him. I enjoyed the adventure and new perspective he brought to my life. He was candid, and I loved how he saw the world; people and places. He told stories, shared his experiences, introduced foods to me - I just loved listening to him and learning from him. Yes, I loved how he observed life." 

Bourdain once said, "If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else's shoes, or at least eat their food. It's a plus for everybody." 

I never once saw him knock another - he just asked questions and was fascinated with the answers, tastes, views. Iggy Pop observed, "You seem like a curious person." Bourdain responded, "It's my only virtue." So much to learn from him. I'll carry a piece of him with me for a long long time. 

Excuse me while I go wipe my eyes - 

Monday, June 4, 2018

A Mindful Practice - Step 1 -

Today I begin teaching a Mindfulness Class for Intermountain Cancer Centers. The class is titled: Breathe: Mindfulness, Meditation, and Wellbeing.

For those of you who know me well, you know it's hard for me to keep still. I wiggle, walk, think, think, think, do, do, do. Yet over these past few years I've learned the value of being still. In fact, "Be Still My Soul," has been a favorite hymn of mine, and more than that, my mantra for quite some time.

Being still is easier said than done, and many times I have to make sure everything is "done," before I can practice stillness. This sometimes means blinds cleaned, dust from under the bed vacuumed away, mail gone through, chairs straightened, front porch swept, meals planned, laundry in the wash - seriously, I am the delayer of stillness.

Yet I'm learning, and as I'm always a work-in-progress, I've learned how renewing a few moments of stillness can be. I do my best to find a sunny spot; I prefer laying flat down on the ground, or sitting in a chair where I can lay my legs out in front of me; I lean my head back, close my eyes, and go somewhere safe, comfortable, warm, take deep breaths and begin voicing my "omm phrase." I have several, and based on how I'm feeling, I choose one. Right now they are words where I can draw out the vowels and soft consonants, similar to chanting "ommmmmmmmm." Sometimes I voice this, most often I think it. Always practicing my deep breaths.

And then I go away - away to wherever my relaxed mind takes me. Typically this is for 3-8 minutes, then I'm drawn back to the present with a noise, a smell, a startle, and I'm awake and alert and ready for what's next in the day.

But more than anything, I'm rejuvenated and relaxed.

I strongly suggest beginning a short meditation as above for the beginning step in practicing mindfulness.

More to come -

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Divorce - and Moving On - (Not Me)

I have a friend who announced this week that he's signing divorce papers. His wife filed in February, and they've had an on and off reconciliation, separation time since.

And he's sad; he's frustrated; he's angry; he's just plain tired - emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, financially.

I hurt for him. Divorce sucks - the process is horrible, but staying in a bad marriage is tragic.

As I've been thinking about him this week I remembered two thoughts (here's a bundle of some good quotes) that got me through the "moving forward" phase of my own divorce.

This one because I needed to remember, and needed to be reminded that even in my toughest times there was sunshine, and that I could get through hard times, and that life is about living, not existing, and that I could be happy - moving forward helped with my happiness. 

I'm not a huge Dr. Seuss fan, but this saying really helped me move forward - there were good times, and if I only focused on the bad times I would never be able to heal. And if I focused on the bad times, I was not sending the best message to my children, who were the biggest blessings I could have ever asked for. So, my marriage was tough, so I lived in anger - a lot, there were moments of happiness, and I had to remember those. 

(and not just for me, but remembering my divorce was "our" divorce, 
and for the best for both of us) -

Dear friend - Life is good; moving forward is hard, yet standing still is terrible, horrible, no good, really bad. You will be fine, and until you recognize this, I'm here, you have a world of friends who will support you as you begin, again. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Dropping Shoes -

I've had a tough few weeks/months. And I think I've figured out the reason for my franticness, my near panicness.

April 18 was the "magic" date, yet there really wasn't any magic to the date, just a number I chose based on, ummm, numbers! And to some extent it was the number I could give myself that was the guarantee that cancer would no longer be a part of my life (the last day of radiation).

And yet - there are still so many "what if's," and I've lived with this apple dangling in front of my for 5 years, and now I have the apple in my hand, and I'm still wondering what was so wonderfully amazing and final about April 18.

The past several months I've been preparing for that drop-dead date, but not really knowing or acknowledging that I was - in my mind that preparation was for going to England, going to Holland, finishing the semester, going full-time at the hospital, or some other event or series of events.

So - this winter I put my house in order - from emptying the freezer to ironing my summer clothes to finishing up any unfinished project - no stone was left unturned in my hurriedness to be prepared.

There have been no disasters! Both trips were fantastic, went as smoothly as they possibly could, the garden is growing, Scott and I are at our healthiest, and the summer is mine.

So I should be happy, frolicking through yard, but I'm not. I'm sad; I'm angry; I'm anxious; and I've been at a high level of bitchiness - and of course Scott is the recipient of my crap (and for that I'm really sad, which just makes me more bitchy and more disappointed).

When will this level of panic settle down? It's as if I've been waiting for the crap of the past 15 years to really calm down, but it's been more than 15 years, and I would love to tell my younger self to "let it go," and live in the present, but I can't even tell the today self this.

I have been working so hard to be healthy - body, mind, spirit, career, family - and things are so good, and I am healthy -

I KNOW both shoes have dropped; I KNOW there is no need to panic; I KNOW my life is phenomenal, but what I don't know is this - how do I accept happiness? How do I become "just fine" with a beautiful life? How do I not cause panic?

BTW - 8 quarts of chili, 8 quarts of chicken rice soup, 8 pints of cooked brown and white rice, 8 pints of cooked quinoa and teff in the freezer - filling up that cleaned freezer - why?

What's next? Why can't I be happy right now, content, fine with the way things are? Is there anything wrong with being content, being fine, accepting goodness? Ronda - you are not missing any shoes.