Dear U.S., Separating Kids from their Parents has got to stop!

This week I drove across my state while news continued to break about the refugee crisis at the southern border of the U.S. As I navigated the turns and traffic using GPS, without any loss of cell phone coverage, WAZE alerted me to various hazards including cops and roadkill while my kids slept comfortably in our Air-Conditioned late-model vehicle. Meanwhile, South & Central American parents are taking extreme measures to get themselves and their children to safety: crossing rivers of unknown depth, crossing deserts with countless hazards, and entrusting their lives with complete strangers. While some parents are sending their kids out on this dangerous journey alone, and other parents are being separated from their children at the US border.  As a North American, I am privileged to travel easily and effortlessly, in A.C. and out of my own will, instead of out of fear.

When we stopped to get groceries, still within our state where everyone around was speaking our same language, my pre-teen daughter stayed close by, preferring to stay in eyesight instead of going over even one aisle to fetch this or that; she wanted us to stay together as a unit. Here, where my daughter wants to remain close, South and Central American children are being separated from their parents, their vehicles of survival. And to boot, these children have little to no adult supervision, nor are their basic human needs being met. Meanwhile my kids have the privilege of fighting over which dessert treat to get!

At border camps, non-North American children that are my kids’ ages are caring for other, younger children. Because their parents, their primary protectors, have been taken away from them. Seriously, what is wrong with this picture? Children are being treated worse than convicted criminals!

Meanwhile, I was lucky enough to be born in The United States of America and not Central nor South America where drug cartels are more powerful and deadly than their governments. And I write this from the comfort of an air conditioned room while on holiday/vacation, where I am able to hear, see and reach out to my children when they need, for I am a privileged North American.

It is my privilege to be unable to fathom the circumstances behind wanting to flee one’s Homeland; crossing deserts, racing rivers and trusting coyotes to get my children to a place of safety. My biggest concern today is when we’re going to leave to get breakfast, when one wants to leave now and the other wants to finish her drawing…

So I’ve used my privilege to donate money to legal efforts to stop this nonsense of separating vulnerable and defenseless children from their parents. Together Rising puts 100% of donations to their causes, as their admin costs are covered by the authors Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Cheryl Strayed.

I’ve also used my privilege to pray my ass off for the geo-political climate to positively change and stop this humanitarian crisis, and others like it, from continuing to happen. I also pray that my children nor I ever know this pain of being forcefully separated. Finally, I pray that each of you will donate and pray for the same, or better.

In November, I’m also going to be using my American-assed privilege to vote.

Please join in helping make this world a better place for our children, for they are our future. May every child, regardless of where they are born, have the privilege to remain safe in their own homes, countries and remain with their families, at least until they are adults and get to choose.

Namaste

In Lack of Control & The Miracles that Followed

One primary persona of mine is to walk with confidence and appear to be “calm and under control;” the emotions pour out later. In this “mode,” I can hear my father’s mantra to be “calm, cool and collected” reverberating in my cranium. Recently, that persona broke wide the eff open for me. While it’s been an ongoing process of chipping away at this persona, on this particular day I had a very significant breakthrough.

My son was having an escalating series of temper tantrums. My attempt to control the situation and de-escalate it was only causing further … escalation. Based on a recent read of the book, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, I saw where my need to seem in control was a direct result of my feeling that I lacked control. Literally, a light went off in one of the deepest (and darkest?) recesses of my mind. Once I affirmed that I was, indeed, not in control, I surrendered to my higher power and asked for guidance. I spoke to this event in the post Learning to be Secure.

The M.O. from the Past

In trying to prove to myself and to the world that Tiffany had it under control, I hid where I was not under control. Or tried to. I have had an emotional eating addiction for … probably my whole life. This is one of the ways that I both punish myself for my feelings (eating ’til it hurts) and then hide my feelings by stuffing my emotions down, down, down…

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I learned to smile and put on a good game face; well kinda. One practitioner poignantly described me as being “zippered up.” Yet the muscles of my body reveal my guarded and “under control” tendency. Even with regular massages, I have held onto a great deal of tension; more than most.

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I would attempt to control myself, my environment and … even those in it. Wow! That last one is a challenge to admit. Yet, as a physical therapist I develop (and control) treatment plans everyday. What a great profession to be in for someone who secretly wants to control everything and everyone… understand, I believed it was an act of self-preservation, not mind-control.

Where & why the control most likely started

This control is not so much about power for the sake of power, it’s more about my feeling safe. As a child, I was in situations where I was abused by “trusting” adults who manipulated and controlled me. From this, I believed that my body was not safe, that I had to control others – and myself – to be safe. From this abuse, I also didn’t believe I could trust people; especially those who were meant to protect me. Further more, I felt effing powerless, and hence the cycle starts over, feeding into itself. So for me, being in control has meant that it was harder for someone else to harm me.

Back to the Breakthrough

Yet on this fateful day, I chose differently. In recognizing my lack of control and giving up control to my higher power, I received greater clarity in everyday things. This has helped me to make wiser choices. The irony! Instead of being ruled by my fear of loss of control, I’m seeing that I have little control outside of my own choices, and now my choices are more clear, thus giving me …. more control! Yet in a different way, in that the control factor is no longer based in fear.

It is my hope that in sharing, you will find a greater understanding about yourself or perhaps a “control freak” that is in your life. The more we can understand and have compassion, the less turbulence we each create in our world.

May we each find a greater sense of peace in better understanding ourselves and others. 

Namaste

Celebrating a New Path

This was originally scheduled to post yesterday on 6/1. However, in light of the events in Virginia Beach the day before I felt it was not the time to celebrate. Overnight, I had some breakthroughs and recognized it’s even more important to celebrate life at this time. We must each choose to be the light and celebrate life while we honor the tragic deaths of others, this is what leads to healing. #VirginiaBeachStrong

Have you ever looked back on your life and seen how one new opportunities arose based on prior choices; ones previously unseen or unimaginable? Perhaps the first one was a choice you were afraid to take… yet you took it anyway… then more and more pathways opened up.

Well, in looking back over the last five years, I can see where new opportunities and choices that arose after a seemingly simple career path change. However, little did I know at the time how that one change would lead to a cascade of changes; literally, so much of my life today is very different than it was on 6/1/2014.

The first step was when I moved out of the field and back into the clinic. In doing so, I freed up more time and energy for life, living and seeing… Almost immediately, I changed my diet (at the time to Vegan) which lead to my spurt with running.

Since 2014, I’ve removed over 60 pounds from my frame. Yes! I said 60 (and no, removed does not mean surgery!). Though this has taken me most of the 5 years to accomplish, the final 10 or so has been through intermittent fasting; not running nor being Vegan, although I’ve given both a go now, twice each…

Within a few months of my job change, the shifts also lead me to see that my nearly 15-year-old marriage was failing; miserably. Had I stayed in “the field” of home health, I would not have had the energy nor emotional capacity to go through such an upheaval as the divorce required. The running I mentioned earlier lead me to meet many friends who were supportive during this time of separation & divorce, as many had endured or were enduring the same! It’s still amazing to look back and to see all of the support I had all along; though I often felt lonely…

The separation and subsequent divorce lead me to start blogging (just passed the 4 year blogiversary in April). Blogging has pushed me to explore greater depths of understanding and it has introduced me to new concepts through being able to see life through the eyes of others, too. I’ve also made some interesting and supportive connections over the years.

Five years later and  my work has expanded to include 2 clinics, mentoring of 4 other therapists, numerous public health and physician education events and acquiring my certification as a pelvic rehab specialist. When I started, I worked part-time in pelvic health and part-time in general orthopedics. Now, my caseload is nearly 100% pelvic health. It’s an amazing journey to summarize in one quick paragraph.

During this time, I’ve also moved twice and changed cars twice. Before this, I had never lived “alone” meaning without another adult in the house, much less purchased nor leased a car on my own. Needless to say, these years have taught me a great deal about myself and much of this learning has been chronicled in the 688 blog posts to date. So today I celebrate the many changes. And wonder what the next 5 years will hold. Even as I have set some personal goals, I’m confident surprises are in store.

5 years from now, I’d like to look back and see where I have:

  • Published a book or two giving guidance to others on their journey.
  • Given TED Talks (or similar) on navigating through change.
  • Reduced my hours in health care to 20/week or less.
  • Paid off consumer debt.
  • Maintained my weight loss, my meditation practice and increased my consistency with working out.
  • Continued to actively expand how I support my children in their growth and development.
  • Improved my relationship with my parents.
  • Settled into a deeper relationship with myself.
  • Invited a compatible partner along for the journey.

So stay tuned! Who really knows what tomorrow will bring?!

May we each follow our natural curiosities, discovering new opportunities as we travel through life. May we each give ourselves the freedom to choose change, even when at the time it may seem tough or a mistake, knowing more chances await …

Namaste

Learning to be Secure

My son was having a difficult time with self-control this evening. Even with knowing the consequences of his behavior, he choose to act out; losing his coveted tablet time for the rest of the day. So there I was, having my feathers ruffled by a 7-year-old throwing a 7-year-old temper tantrum, because I did not feel heard.

Earlier in the day I had done a guided meditation which asked me what my most burning desire. My answer “to fully express myself;” as in a no-holds-barred, completely authentic way. This has been something I have never felt safe doing. In feeling insecure in honoring my own voice, I had not been able to honor my son’s voice, either. Hours later, there we were, pitted against one another; neither of us feeling heard nor respected.

Silently, I said a prayer, asking for guidance as I was myself beginning to feel ready to verbally explode. Insights then began to flood in as I sat and watched my son’s behavior. Miraculously, my mind calmed down and, from my heart, I began to tell my son what I was seeing; a boy who was angry and who needed love. Perhaps I could have also said confused (that’s my judgmental voice right there!). I then heard my wise inner voice tell me that my son needed to know that above all that he was safe.

Yet, my calm disturbed him further. He upped his efforts to upset me, kicking a ball at me. I calmly told him he needed to go up to his room and I walked upstairs with him on my way to my own room. At the top of the stairs he shared that he didn’t want to go alone into his room, so I changed tack and, still calm, I sat down with him.

The inner wisdom kicked in again, showing me that he needed me to be connected and open (vulnerable) with him. So I sat with him and held the space while he calmed himself down. I also felt further soothed. What do any of us really want when we are upset and hurt? Someone who loves us who can be there with us in “our ugly,” judgment-free. Or maybe it’s just me?

Later, in looking back, I also saw how he was seeking connection with me even within his inner chaos. He was looking to me to be the adult, to remain calm and connected while he sorted through his feelings. Instead of closing my heart and feeding his and my own anger, I chose to stay open and calm. At first, this was a break from my norm after such an escalated point; this made him feel uneasy and he chose further destructive behaviors. Then, after he saw I was choosing to remain calm, he felt able to tell me he didn’t want to be alone. After sitting with him through his storm, we both felt more at peace. Later, he was even able to joke about his tantrums during a game of Uno.

It is my hope that next time I’ll be able to be as, or more, calm and open-hearted as I was tonight when he has one of his fits. While I am sure there will still be times when my anger gets the best of me, I will do my best to remember how much better things felt with opening and connecting instead of closing down.

Later, I also saw a new solution to an old problem.  He has a tendency to procrastinate on his nightly homework. Then, suddenly it’s bedtime and I’ve had little time with my daughter. While she is older and more independent, she still needs time with her mother. So I discussed with them both what would change this week with the evening routine and why.

This miracle allowed me to be able to see life from a bigger picture, to see solutions in-the-moment and to connect calmly with my son through his storm. It helped foster a stronger connection and  strengthened my compassion for him and for myself. In surrendering my knee-jerk reactions, I was able to chose differently and more wisely.

May we each be more present and calm during the seeming chaos of life and parenting; as we relate to others, our children as well as to the child within each of us. 

Namaste

The Fear of Being Loved

For as long as I can remember, I have sought for love. Perhaps it is the hopeful and “hopeless romantic” within (see Enneagram 4). There has always been this underlying feeling of being incomplete; an irredeemable deficiency as described by Ian Morgan Cron, a fellow “4”.

In diving into this incessant need to be loved and even validated through relationship, I found that underneath the push, that I have deeply fear being loved. Initially, this was quite a shock for me to see. Yet, in looking back, I see this has been clearly reflected to me, repeatedly ad nauseam, in the men I have been in relationships with. Heck, I can even see it play out in my friendships.

Every man I’ve dated and many of my friends have been in some way unavailable, most in multiple ways: emotionally unavailable, lacking time, have lived far away, had too many other commitments, or were still stuck on their exes (the latter is in regards to dating, obv). These are not pock shots at anyone, I share this as it is a direct reflection of where I was unavailable; even if my being unavailable showed up differently….

I seem to be like a moth with the flame. While I want to be in close friendships and even in a lovingly relationship, I am now acutely aware of where I have not wanted to get too close. I push forward, then I pull away. This is indicative of having a fearful attachment; where I both seek love and yet when I find it that very love is also scary AF.

Taking things a step further, I see where it also plays out with my children. While I have improved some, there are times when I feel there is something “I must do right now” on my phone or a chore in the home, when in reality, the majority of the time it really could wait until later; meanwhile my kids wait for me to finish my task. I put them/love on hold instead of putting the task on hold…

This had been unintentional/unconscious on my part. Now, I see where the push and pull has negatively affected me and my ability to relate with others. With this new awareness in mind, I have been doing body scans, observing the places where I feel contracted. It seems to be helping, because I’m noticing I’ve becoming less afraid to live unfiltered; more authentically.

May we each see and acknowledge our fears, to release ourselves from their grip. May we each recognize and accept the places in our lives where we have blocked out love; allowing us to love more freely. 

Namaste

A very helpful meditation to help with sitting with anger

 

In the Presence of Beauty

She was stunningly beautiful. Like someone you’d see on a magazine cover, except this was real life, without fancy camera angles, perfect lighting and airbrushing. Even though I am hetero, I had a difficult time keeping my eyes off of her. She was poised, beautiful and exuded a sense of calm. Yet, her proximity to me triggered my sense of ugly, unworthy and it frustrated me to some degree, showing me where I still felt incomplete.

While I am the most comfortable that I’ve ever been “in my own skin,” this woman rattled my own sense of self. It was curious more than alarming, as I understood that the trigger was the symptom of an unloved part within showing up to be loved. This was a new tac for me; prevailing curiosity over alarm.

It was also somewhat humorous, given that I felt as if I were in one of those awkward teen movies set in the 80’s. “Pretty in Pink” comes to mind, maybe because of the title; although neither of us was wearing pink. While I didn’t have braces, I did have those awkward teeth straightening trays that I needed to remove and replace… more ugly! (Don’t worry friends, there’s a plot twist up ahead…)

Later that evening, I was reading through a chapter in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford which helped explain to me what I had experienced. I was “light shadow projecting.” By focusing on the stunning beauty of this woman, I was giving away my own right to be beautiful. I was then able to see where I was disowning my “light” and projecting it onto her. Anything we suppress or disown in ourselves we keep in our shadows; whether the trait is considered positive or negative. 

In reading further, I uncovered 80 (yes, 80) positive traits that I have not been able to accept about myself. Over the next 27 days, I have chosen to affirm and use EFT Tapping on 3 traits/day (am doing beautiful twice, for good measure). I’ve set reminders in my calendar to help keep me focused and on track (now just to be sure I stick to it and follow through…).

In case you’re curious, these were the 80 traits I found difficult to accept about myself:

connected, alive, satisfied, powerful, cherished, secure, affluent, gentle, supported, enlightened, wanted, loved, realized, extravagant, lovable, brilliant, decisive, sensual, successful, irresistible, radiant, worthy, calm, delicious, open, carefree, cheerful, compassionate, easy going, joyful, peaceful, patient, sexy, famous, just, forgiving, disciplined, acknowledged, alive, responsible, adored, fulfilled, happy, content, energetic, desirable, playful, confident, beautiful, credible, accepting, blissful, vivacious, flexible, courageous, fearless, whole, precious, wonderful, healthy, vulnerable, superstar, talented, radiant, choice-maker, capable, magnificent, rich, wise, attractive, simple, honored, whole, adored, venerated, complete, talented, holy, centered, poised.

So if I ever see her again, I’ll be more accepting of myself and the beauty within my own skin.

May we each find peace within the fullness of our own light; avoiding projecting our best (and worst) onto others. May we see our own unique qualities as the gifts they are, and the gifts that we are, to this World – and in so doing, may we make the world a better place by accepting our own unique greatness; expressing it freely gives others the freedom to do the same.

Namaste

The Pain of Judgement

Judgement. We all hate receiving it, yet when we scratch the surface, many of us are living our lives judging ourselves and others. In observing my own thoughts and behaviors, I see where I judge nearly constantly, both myself and others. In hearing others talk, and in attempting to separate myself from the habit of gossip (even when I have someone’s “interest” in mind), I see how easy it is to engage in the judgement more than not. But is it right?

While I do believe that on some levels judgement is required, when judgment is overactive, we can find ourselves more and more miserable and separated from others more than united. Discernment allows us to make choices that benefit us and others. Without discernment, we would be frozen in the water.

When we feel that judgment no longer serves us, we must see what we want to change first so that we can make it happen. The next step is to replace one habit with another. To this, I’ve decided to give more spoken complements than silent judgements. This helps change the tide while also recognizing that, on some level, judgment and discernment is necessary.

May we each see the habits which no longer serve us, so that we may move forward, individually and collectively. May we learn to judge ourselves and others less and less, allowing greater compassion for ourselves and others. 

Namaste

Image courtesy of Pexels

Faith in Receiving

It is very easy for me to give, ’tis much harder to receive. I give of my time, patience, efforts and knowledge to others everyday. Sometimes I get paid for it and sometimes I don’t.

Religious dogma and society support giving more than receiving. “It’s better to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35 (KJV). Welfare recipients are shamed for being “needy.” Yet I wonder if there are deeper reasons…

Receptivity means having faith and surrendering. It also means being vulnerable and “accepting” what we receive. Receiving is also being, which is actively “doing nothing.” (that was triggering to state). Receiving is very much a divine feminine trait; where being feminine is often associated with being weak. Again, where religious dogma and society can play a role in how we perceive things. 

In sitting with my discomfort today around being receptive, I saw several “forces” at play. Being receptive means “getting what I deserve.” There is still part of me that wrestles with that aspect of my personality where I believe there is “an irredeemable deficiency” about myself. With that in mind, to get what I deserve could mean more discomfort for me. This belief also discounts Agape or unconditional love. 

Being receptive also means being vulnerable and feeling unprotected. In service to others, I have repeatedly “put myself out there” and have often felt used, abused, taken for granted and unappreciated. I see where I have done this to myself, to make up for my “irredeemable deficiency” where I feel I must “go above and beyond” to prove my worth… I call this trait “super size me,” where I must “give more,” to make up for my deficiencies. Which again, discounts Agape. 

Yet staying in this place of “keeping a lid” on who I am here to be, I feel as if I’m wearing a shirt several sizes too small. It restricts my movements, my breathing and keeps me from being the person I am here to be. There is great sadness in feeling my own suppression. So I’ve resolved to reach up to the stars and have faith in receiving the greatness that supports who I am here to be; this is vulnerability. 

May we each find new freedom and faith in receiving and in being vulnerable; it takes more strength to be vulnerable than it does to power through everything. May we find peace in our own vulnerability, receptivity and femininity. (sounds much like sea anemone, and with that in mind, may we also laugh at ourselves more!) 

Namaste

Healing the Sense of Brokenness

When we feel broken or incomplete, we seek external fixes from which to feel whole. Maybe we seek this “fix” from others, through our behaviors (shopping, chemical dependencies and even positive things such as working out) or we may even just outright deny there is even a problem. Maybe we lash out and and get short with the bank teller, our loved ones or another motorist; thus creating more trauma. Until we go within, these external “fixes” are merely band-aids.

When we feel broken, we rarely take the time to look at the beliefs that lead to this feeling, this perception. To heal this feeling is to give the hurt what it needs. Often it is love, sometimes it is recognition, or it may be attention or something even as simple as breathing into it. Each of these is a form of surrender.

It is in seeing our pain for what it needs and giving it just that thing which allows us to heal. Sometimes we may need to reach out and ask for help and support from our Higher Power, or from friends and family. For it is in asking for support that we also surrender. In asking for support we also allow the vulnerability of connection, helping others to identify their own needs and meet them…thus perpetuating the healing.

May we each see our wounds for what they need and then meet those needs, with or without the help others. With each wound that is freed from bondage we, as a collective, are also set free.

Namaste

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