Monthly Archives: December 2017

Boundaries

People talk about boundaries as if they were fences of protection around the self that keep others from hurting us.

This is not so.

A boundary is not a line in the sand that you point out to others while you watch from the bleachers and penalize them for crossing. Unless it’s an actual “no trespassing” sign. HA!

A boundary is not something we set for others; it’s something we set for ourselves.

A person can only have healthy external boundaries with others once they have set and kept healthy, internal boundaries for themselves. AKA acts of personal consistency and integrity around the commitments they make and goals they set for themselves.

This is why boundaries always start with the self.

Boundaries are not rules of engagement other people have to agree to in order to be in our lives. That’s an emotionally immature look at boundaries and more aptly a threatening act of control, manipulation, and coercion: “Either you do what I want, or I won’t be your friend.”

Boundaries are the guideposts we set for ourselves to protect us from saying, “Yes,” when we mean to say, “No.”

A boundary is a tool that helps us protect the reality of what we can give and receive within our comfort zone (versus the unrealistic expectations of what we wish we could give and endure but know that we can’t). That’s it. That’s all a boundary is.

One personal boundary I have is that I steer clear of people I deem reckless and self-destructive, just as I would stay away from a car where the breaks didn’t work: because it’s an accident waiting to happen.

In my experience, if a person is destructive toward themselves, they eventually become destructive to those around them. There are, of course, degrees of destruction and varying judgments as to what it means to be destructive, which is what makes it a very personal issue. Only you know what feels comfortable to engage with.

The way that boundary demonstrates itself in action is that once I deem a person reckless, I simply back away. I do not call a press conference and publicly shame them on social media stating, “You have crossed my boundary; and therefore, I am banning you from my life!” HA!

No, the boundary is for me. It’s about my awareness and recognition of what’s in my best interest and the actions I need to take to care for myself and my family.

If they ask why I have distanced myself from them, and I don’t feel safe sharing that with them, I just quietly move on. Unconditional love means you can still carry someone in your heart, and lift them up in your thoughts, without keeping them, and the chaos they bring, in your life.

If I feel safe in sharing, I might say something like, “I love you unconditionally. I wish you wellness. However, I’m not comfortable with your reckless behaviors, and I don’t want you in my life at this time.”

In that statement, I am not making it about them and their recklessness as much as I am making it about me and my discomfort around their recklessness, because that’s the truth of a boundary: it’s about the person setting it.

The boundary isn’t a line they mustn’t cross.

The boundary is a line I choose not to cross.

In effect, the boundary is, “I am choosing not to step into an arena of discomfort.” I don’t have to defend or justify my feelings or reasons because I have just as much right to my feelings of discomfort as they have a right to their actions of recklessness.

I’m not telling them that they have to change or promising them that if they do, I will be there for them. That’s not how I use boundaries. I’m making a statement based on the time I took to evaluate the situation and make a discerning choice about this person or relationship and what impact it’s having on my life. It’s not just their actions that I consider but also my life experience, principles, how it’s impacting my health, my family, and my current resources for managing my time and my relationships. It’s really not about them.

Choosing to no longer have someone in your life, and communicating that with as much kindness and compassion as possible, is not cold. It’s not cruel. It’s self-care. People with strong internal boundaries get it. They might feel hurt, but they have respect for boundaries. If they are wise, they will use it as an opportunity for introspection and maybe even self-improvement. If they are reactive and immature they will become defensive and possibly violent.

If it was a snap judgment over a short period of time, then the loss can’t possibly be significant, as neither person really knew each other. If it’s after a year or more of friendship, it’s likely that the issue has been addressed in the past, more than once, and should therefore come as no surprise when the boundary is set.

If their life begins to demonstrate more stability, and less recklessness and self-destruction, and consistently exhibits that over a sustained period of time, and/or I evolve to a place of not being uncomfortable with recklessness, and there is a mutual desire to connect, I’ll keep an open mind.

Most relationships are fluid, not fixed. Every bridge that’s burned can be built again. We always have choice and change is the only constant thing in life. Then again, once a person gets to a point of having to actually tell someone they don’t want them in their life, it’s probably not likely they will ever go back; not if they maintain healthy internal boundaries.

I have found that the healthier my internal boundaries become, the healthier the internal boundaries of those around me also seem to be. We teach people how we want to be treated not only by how we treat them, or allow ourselves to be treated, but I think even more so by how we treat ourselves.

Maintaining healthy internal boundaries can be an ongoing process of two steps forward, one step back. Awareness is the first step forward, and mindfulness the second step forward. The third step, is just an old habit, it’s the one we take backward, and it’s best met with self-compassion and a reminder to return to step 1 and 2.

Weak internal boundaries can include:
– Saying yes when you want to say no.
– Giving too much.
– Overcommitting.
– Overcompensating
– Taking on too much blame or responsibility.
– Being highly reactive to emotional triggers, rejection, and criticism.
– Oversharing or sharing too much too soon.
– Lacking the ability to discern and balance appropriate transparency with personal privacy.
– Too much information. Not everyone wants to know everything about you, what you think, feel, etc. TMI can make people uncomfortable and make others question: if you are too loose with your own private life will you be too loose with theirs? Mystery is underrated.
– Not stating your needs and not requiring equity, mutual respect, and reciprocity in relationships whether personal, professional, romantic, or familial.

Weak boundaries most often come from:
-A fear of abandonment or rejection.
-Not having been raised with clear boundaries or encouraged to set them for oneself.
-Having a weak or non-existent identity/sense of self that is easily malleable and permeable based on outward influences.
-Surviving loss.
-A manic or depressive cycle within a bipolar diagnosis.

But not everyone can maintain healthy boundaries. In fact, for some people, boundaries might seem like a hazard to their profession.

I love being around creative people, comics, performers, artists, dancers, musicians, and the theatre and I have been blessed to meet some of the most interesting, entertaining, magical people, most of whom captured my heart with their great desire to love. These amazing beings of light have taught me so much about boundaries, mostly through their lack thereof. HA! Some artists (many comics for example) build careers on TMI, how on earth do they balance that with healthy internal boundaries?

They don’t (or they do but it’s often a struggle to balance).

But…

They love. They love big. They love hard. They love many!

Love is a frequency I resonate with easily.

Sometimes, we as people, want so much to be loved and accepted by others, to feel a sense of connectedness physically that matches the conceptual sense of oneness we believe in spiritually, that we just want to give of ourselves with abandon, which is what I believe keeps some of the most sparkly and creative people in the world from having healthy internal boundaries in the first place. It’s truly understandable. The world needs these precious lovers of life; but so too, these dear ones need internal boundaries to protect their often fragile spirits.

A great example of this love energy in action is the 1999 Academy Award speech by Roberto Benigni, when he declared, “I want to make love to you all!” It was charming, and his energy was magnetic and inviting. But maintaining that level of exuberance isn’t sustainable. It was understood that he was overcome in that moment; and his surprise and joy were contagious, which is why it was forgiven and even celebrated that what he did was uncustomary (If memory serves he actually walked on the seats, into the audience).

If he behaved that way all the time, at 11 on a dial that only goes to 10, he wouldn’t elevate those around him to a higher level, he would deplete those around him in order to maintain his high. Health is not based on maintaining a high, but rather a balance. We need both the rest and digest (parasympathetic) as well as the fight or flight (sympathetic) systems in order to maintain health.

The body has rhythms: highs and lows. When we come to know balance and homeostasis by having healthy internal boundaries, we can allow ourselves occasional healthy outbursts of magical creative mania… or at least stray from what we might normally expect of ourselves or others.

A touch of madness and mania can be encouraged in the arts, and some might even argue necessary, for true creative genius. But being high 100% of the time is not healthy, which is why we have and maintain boundaries within ourselves; and help the creative people in our lives to do the same.

A boundary is used to manage our own vulnerabilities, not to manage the toxicity of others. It’s not about managing anyone but the self.

Boundaries are a mixture of discernments, integrity and self-love. They are what you set for yourself; they are yours.

Boundaries are about taking control of your life, for you.

But you have to have them with yourself before you can set them with others.

It all starts with the first breath of recogniztion that a boundary is needed.

Breathe.

RAIN

My Dearest Daughter,

There may be times in your life when you feel overcome by an unpleasant emotion or physical sensation. Using the RAIN* technique, along with breath, is one of my tools for transforming such an occasion.

RAIN is an acronym for the practice of mindfully experiencing any sensation, especially suffering, without becoming attached and therefore bound to it.

R- Recognize the feeling.
A- Accept the feeling (rather than try to deny it or push it away).
I- Investigate the feeling and it’s relationship to your body.
N- Non Identify or Non Attach to the feeling.

Let that feeling be a presence all it’s own, like an unwanted guest. You are not your feelings, and feelings are not facts. They are just guests, passing through. We get to choose how long we will entertain the guests based on a mutual beneficial exchange of energies.

What can you do in that moment when your feeling is all encompassing and you want to escape it but cannot?

Rather than try and push it away, I encourage you to get as much from the feeling as you can. What is it trying to tell you? What does it need you to hear and acknowledge? What can you do to make it feel heard?

If that feeling over stays its welcome, rather than trying to force it to leave, invite new feelings to the mix. When we paint and we add a new color to the mix, it decreases the intensity of the color that’s already on the palette.

We diminish painful physical sensations, like a back spasm or migraine, by inviting new, pleasant physical sensations like a massage, or a bath, in which the blood circulation actually helps to break up the sensation we call pain.

We diminish isolation by reaching out to others to be of service or even to ask or offer a hug.

We diminish stress by making a conscious choice to be playful.

And We diminish painful emotional sensations, like sadness, anger, or fear, by inviting pleasant emotional sensations like joy, laughter, and love into our hearts.

We can do this many ways. My first go to is usually nature to create an immediate expansion of space around the unpleasant feeling, thereby minimizing its hold on me and then by adding music which can transport us almost instantly to a new plain.

The trick is add something new instead of take something away; by consciously adding new behaviors we naturally eliminate old ones.

For example, if someone wanted to give up eating junk food, I would encourage them to do so by adding healthy foods before restricting unhealthy foods. When we try and deprive our self of something, we tend to hold on to it even more. When we simply add more goodness, we find ourselves naturally letting go of the bad in order to embrace the good.

You got this!

Love,

Mommy

* RAIN: as cited in Robert Wright’s, Why Buddhism Is True

Breathe

My Darling Daughter,

Breathe.

You asked me, “How can I be strong?”

There are so many types of strength from physical to spiritual; but I think you were asking me about mental strength.

I thought about the answer for two weeks. No matter what instruction came to mind there was a pulse behind it that mattered more.

That pulse, was breath.

If you want to be strong, take a series of three breaths whenever possible, especially before reacting to triggers, stress, or conflict.

The first breath, is mindfulness, to bring you into alignment with the present moment.

The second breath, is to pull back to you all the parts of yourself you have lent out to others, to worries, to task lists, to the clock. These pieces of yourself are like anchors from the sea which kept you in place but are now holding you back from moving on. In order to be grounded and whole, you must continually bring back your pieces of self. The second breath is to remind you of who you are, all of who you are: complete.

The third breath, is to call forth your support system: peaceful warriors, guardian and arch angels, soldiers of strength, spirit guides, and antecedents of unconditional love, to remind you that you are never alone.

There is no battle within or without that you will ever have to fight unaccompanied by the assistance of unforeseen sources of aid. This is a truth you can count on. You are loved, therefore you are championed, favored and encouraged by the ethereal as well as the physical energies that surround you.

If you want to know strength, you must learn how to embrace gentleness.

You must grow to be comfortable in the silent composed beats of music, we call rests.

You must be able to relax into a pause and breathe. Strength lies in what we choose not to say as much as it does in what we choose to say.

If you want to know strength, learn to ease into transitory periods of discomfort while expecting the best but perhaps preparing for the worst.

Strength is patience and fortitude,

it is tenacity and resilience

that walks with the wings of grace

in the shoes of kindness.

Strength is humility, a modest perception of one’s own importance which does not obstruct the view of oneness that interconnects us all.

If you want to know strength learn quietude.

Read poetry in nature.

Enjoy your own company.

Take in a sunset with the same anticipation you might a Broadway show.

Meditate consistently.

But most of all, just breathe.

I know you will.

You are stronger than you will ever know.

In fact, your inner strength has carried forth our history, centuries of reincarnated memories, reside in the cellular makeup of your courage.

Breathe, so that your strength softens with flexibility, a true strength; and will not, cannot, break you.

For you are already much stronger than you can imagine.

I love you.
Xo Mommy.

Healing Tools and Modalities

This is a partial list* of the healing tools and modalities I have experienced and found a degree, a percentage of relief from. There may not be anything that is a 100%, guaranteed, sustained success; but 5% relief from 20 different techniques comes pretty close.

Some of these tools I use daily like prayer and meditation, some as often as I can like walking in nature and eating clean foods, and some I will likely never try again like Kumbucha tea and Chelation.

Alternative does not always mean natural and natural does not always mean safe. It’s very unlikely that I will ever try Chinese herbs again seeing as the last time I did landed me in the hospital, or supplements like SAM-e mixed with pharmaceutical medications (mimicked heart attack). What works for one person, may not work for another. Here’s to whatever might work for you. Feel free to ask me any questions.

1. Prayer

2. Meditation (individual, group, silence retreats, mindfulness, guided, and more)

3. Exercise: Walking, Swimming, Thai Chi, Qi Gong/ Qigong, Dancing, Running, Cycling, Aerobics, Isometrics, Rock Climbing, Hiking*, (became a certified personal trainer through the I.D.E.A certification program).

4. Music/Sound Therapy

5. Color/Crystal Therapy

6. Healers & Shamans (We visited healers from around the world: John of God, Henry Rucker, and many others*).

7. Psychoanalytical Therapy/EMDR/EFT

8. Art/Writing Therapy

9. Nature Therapy (sunshine & fresh air esp. near negative ions)

10. Water Therapy (hydronic massage)

11. Acupuncture

12. Chiropractic Medicine/Massage/Acupressure/Reflexology

13. Cupping/Magnet therapy

14. Diets: Whole  foods, raw foods, macrobiotic, liquid only, food combining, no sugar/no fat, The Maker’s Diet, The Blood Sugar Diet, vegan, gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, The Blood Type diet, Ayurvedic Diet,* (became certified nutritionist).

15. Homeopathy/Naturopathy

16. Essential Oils/Aromatherapy

17. Tiger Balm/Snake Oil

18. Oxygen Therapy

19. Yoga (Hatha, Kundalini, Pranayama, Ananda, and (Bikram – which led to an ER visit from over-heating).

20. Visualizations/Guided Imagery

21. Detox procedures: Foot Baths/Colonics

22. All heavy metals surgically removed from mouth/Chelation

23. The Garson Therapy (Juicing)

24. Supplementation (vitamins, minerals, herbs, cannabinoids, medications, kombucha tea).

25. Reiki (became a Reiki master), laying on of hands, body & energy work, running energy.

26. Setting Intentions

27. Touched the healing waters from Lourdes (a friend made a trek in my honor)

28. Self-Help/Positive thinking/Spiritual Endeavors/Health Gurus: Read and sometimes consulted personally with gurus. The Dalai Lama, Louise Hay, Ram Dass, Shakti Gwain, Pema Chodrun, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Richard Carlson, Dale Carnegie, Gary Zukav, Elkhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch, Tony Robbins, Marianne Williamson (almost officiated our wedding), Paramahansa Yogananda, Rosemary Altea, Caroline Myss, Al-Anon, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mercola, Dr, Mark Hymen, Dr. Oz, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Edward Taub (The Father of Integrative Medicine), Dr. Linus Pauling, Norman Cousins, (everything I could read on quantum physics & chaos theory), Ramamurti Shankar, Carlo Rovelli, Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, Bernard Haisch, The Secret, What the Bleep Do We Know? And more*)

29. Light Therapy/Infrared Box/Sauna

30. Multiple Medical Intuitives

31. Western medicine (I’ve seen over 200 physicians and specialists across three states, in five highly regarded hospitals in the past 30 plus years.)

32. Hypnosis (several different practitioners as well as self-hypnosis CDs, classes, and workshops)

33. Religious studies: Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, New Age, Religious Science (became ordained & received theology certificates of completion), Hinduism, Scientology, Islam, Bahá’í, Sufism, Science of Mind, Agape (became a practitioner).*

34. Lots, and lots, and lots of mind over matter determinism with a focus on gratitude

35. Bach Flower Remedies

36. Watched the Oprah show religiously and kept a gratitude journal, (for some reason this makes me laugh).

37. Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy

38. Tens Pack for pain/biofeedback

39. The Artists Way workbooks/The 12 Steps

40. Studied philosophy/Great Writers/poets: Seneca the Stoic, Epictetus, Confucius, Socrates, Maya Angelou, Descartes, Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Nora Zeale Hurston, Kate Chopin, Nietzsche, Voltair, Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and many, many more*

I’ve done my best. This doesn’t include all the junk I bought off late night infomercials believing my life would change if I did. I’m no longer searching for the seemingly, ever elusive, magic pill; but I’ll continue to stay open to it should it present itself. Acceptance isn’t Giving up, it’s finding peace within the storm.

*Partial List