Awake + Remember

The summer I turned 40, my father died. I was at a youth camp as a volunteer counselor for teenagers days before it happened.

I remember I was up in the mountains breathing the fresh pine scented air doing an activity with the teens that was contemplative in nature. I don’t remember everything about it other than that there were “stations” that we walked around to with activities for listening and other things.

What does stick out in my memory is the station where we took a rock and listened to what God was saying to us. Then we wrote something on the rock to remember. And actually, what I heard during this contemplative listening exercise were the words

“awake” +

“remember”.

I used a black sharpie and wrote one word on each side of the pebble.

Every time I move and unpack I come across this rock of remembrance.

I remember the sorrow + shock of my father’s death, and also, the joy of that touchstone. These two words are keys in my life that I constantly have to keep coming back to, because it seems no matter what, I slip into periods of

being asleep,

dull,

unaware,

unengaged with life–periods where I need to awaken again.

And once awoken, then I need to remember.

I need to remember all the things I had forgotten

about my purpose,

how to live life,

and how to be in this world.

I need to remember my passions and pleasures. I need to remember how to sit and breathe. How to restore the positive and not be stuck in

the sucky-ness of life,

the difficulties,

the trauma.

We have been in a new house for a year-and-a-half and we still are not unpacked. There are two main reasons for this: the first is that we were waiting on some remodeling work to be done and our contractor delayed the start of the work by a few months, and then took an extra few months to finish the work.

He finished it shortly before we learned I had a tumor in my spinal cord. So the second reason we didn’t finish unpacking was we went into the spiral of my neurosurgery and recovery.

Now it’s been over a year since that

life-saving,

but body disabling

surgery.

I haven’t found that stone yet.

I know I will come across it this summer when we finish moving in, painting the walls, putting up curtains, and hanging the pictures. I look forward to that moment. Today, it’s the memory of that stone that has helped awaken me once again.

But the memory of that stone is actually only the third thing that is helping in this process.

Recently, my therapist called me and mentioned that I might enjoy listening to a talk by Jack Kornfield. He’s a Buddhist speaker and teacher. So I listened to his latest podcast on healing and acceptance. It’s really good. You can listen to it here. That podcast reminded me of truths I know, practices I need to re-engage in which I just haven’t had the desire to do lately, and how much I need to apply what I know to myself.

The second thing that helped me reawaken this week was talking to a good friend of mine about spiritual matters and life growth. She reminded me of how healing yoga is. She’s a yoga teacher also.

I haven’t been doing much yoga. I can’t really do a lot of what I used to be able to do because my strength, coordination, and balance are severely compromised from the surgery. I usually do some yoga with my physical therapist and that always feels awesome. But this special friend of mine was just sharing her love of yoga and how much her practice has increased and it inspired me.

So I looked up the yoga schedule at my local gym that I belong to and asked a friend to go with me to yoga. I’m also mentally committing myself to go to classes in the mornings.

If I can actually get my butt out the door and onto the mat, this will be a huge triumph for me mentally. I haven’t had any motivation for months now. But, all this has me focused on the two words on that little stone.

The two words that will be needed in my life for the rest of my life.

Right now, once again I will focus on being awake and remembering the truth.

(Originally published on Patreon)

© Michelle Hess

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How to Avoid Meltdown

It’s one of those days: You’re sleep deprived, recovering from a cold, over-worked, having to deal with the most hated parts of your profession (What is it for you?), and you’re PMS-y (sorry men).

Sounds like melt-down,

shut down material to me.

How can you pull yourself out of the pit before

all out emotional catastrophe hits?

thanks_google_for_my_digital_meltdown-460x307

1. BE AWARE – Without this there is no hope. You know you are in trouble when your co-workers ask “Why are you so irritable today?” Or “What’s wrong with you?” and you are SURPRISED by the question!

Take a few minutes and let yourself quiet before entering your work environment. Notice any feelings or sensations that are nipping at the edges of your consciousness. Take your noticing a step further and ask yourself questions, “Hmm, I’m feeling cranky, what’s up?” or “I’m not wanting to deal with ______ now. What is that telling me?”

Look for information, not judgment. Now’s not the time to whack yourself in the head.

2. Take a time-out — you need to stop what you are doing, get off the merry-go-round, and re-assess your options.

  • What activities can be put-off, rescheduled or deleted all together? Tone down to only the absolutely ESSENTIAL tasks while you are not at your optimal levels.
  • For example, one Monday I had something scheduled every hour for 10 hours straight. Then PMS hit hard. I dropped ¾ of the activities and only kept the most necessary, unavoidable ones. I took time out for a “rest” in the afternoon between appointments so I could focus on the next step.

3. Use your “self-talk” arsenal. I’m an auditory learner so I take this advice very literally – I talk to myself out loud. If you don’t already use anti-catastrophizing tactics start now. These are borrowed from cognitive behavioral therapy and work wonders for changing your perspective and attitude.

a. Say the thought/feeling (i.e. “I can’t handle this! I hate this.”)

b. Question it (“Is this true?”)

c. Come up with proof for the doubt. (Well, I’ve handled this before and I can do it again.)

d. Turn the language around (I can handle this even if I do hate it!)

e. Find support to give yourself – find a lifeboat.. Ask “who or what can help me feel more capable (in control, aware, competent, etc.) in this situation?” ex: oh, so and so is an expert at this, I’ll call her and pick her brain before the meeting so I feel confident.

f. Identify the feeling behind the thought/lie (i.e. I’m scared of looking like a fool and this has me wanting to run and hide…)

g. Congratulate and reward yourself for being PRO-Active and not giving in to the mood gremlins that thrive on your stress.

girl walking on water

Some healthy ways to reward yourself:

  • Cancel a meeting and go for a 20 minute walk on the beach with your shoes off. Feel the sand shifting along with your stress.
  • Call a friend you miss and have a 15 minute catch-up girl chat. Laugh a lot.
  • Exchange funny tweets!
  • Go get a spa treatment
  • Walk to your favorite “juice” spot and have a yummy smoothie, while standing in the sun for a few minutes.
  • Run home and play with your cat or your dog on your lunch break.

You’ve got the idea. Recover your smile and realize you successfully avoided over-reaction melt-down mode.

To increase your arsenal of tools to draw upon next time try incorporating some of the following into your life on a regular basis:

• Reflective journaling • Work with a life coach • Exercise regularly • Take up yoga or meditation • Prayer • Surround yourself with funny friends • Start a nurturing hobby like gardening, knitting, marathon racing, or bird-house building! • Express joy and gratitude daily • Join a supportive group situation where you can be vulnerable and safe.

(This could be an actual support group, an affiliation group, a church small group. Explore your options.)

What do you choose as your escape pressure valve? How many ideas have you tried? Tell me what has worked for you in the comments.

p.s.  I wrote this little article 10 years ago and I hope it’s helpful even today.

“Feeling Fat” Today?

feeling fat nametag

I know you have those days when you feel fat and disgusting, no matter what you do. We all have those days. And guess what? It doesn’t matter if you are ACTUALLY fat (like me) or not. It’s really not about your body.

Think about it. How can you feel fabulous in the exact same body on a different day? Exactly.

I learned a loooong time ago that this is a head game, through and through. I remember when I was 16 and feeling fat wearing my snug fitting navy blue/turquoise pinned striped skinny jeans (although they were not called that back then!).  This is etched in my brain (which amazes me and shows the power of emotions), me sitting on the edge of my water bed, talking on the phone (with my 25 foot cord–I’m totally dating myself here) and looking at my ENORMOUS thighs in those pants.

soccer thunder thighs skinny jeans

I was an athlete and had powerful beautiful thighs back then. But what mattered wasn’t that I fit current beauty standards, it was what was going on in my head. I felt “fat”. What I really felt was insecure, unhappy and tired, but all that stuffed emotions got put onto my poor thighs.

Later that year, on a youth ski trip, I was still “feeling fat” and by now very unattractive because I kept liking boys who didn’t like me back. It was on that trip that I performed my very first BODY LOVE EXPERIMENT. Woot.

This experiment is called the “As If” game. I decided I would act like I was the hottest girl on that bus and that every boy wanted to date me (I was not a particularly deep teenager!). The results amazed me. It was like I became a magnet. I exuded confidence and BAM!

The lesson I learned that trip impacted me hard: It’s ALL in my head. The fact that I even remember all this when I’ve forgotten so much of my youth attests to this.

This is a powerful, life-changing, pretty much instantaneous experiment.

You’ve got to deal with your issues, obviously. My little experiment didn’t fix my problems, but it sure put them in perspective.

 

It’s like putting on Marilyn Monroe’s mink coat or something.
To-all-the-girls-that-think-youre-fat-because-youre-not-a-size-zero-youre-the-beautiful-one-its-society-whos-ugly

Have you ever strutted your stuff? Did it boost your confidence? I would love to hear about your experiments. Comment below or email me.

Have a fabulous day!

 

Love,

 

Michelle

PS If you want to share more body love experiments come join our FB group! Or sign up for the email group to be kept up on the BLE happenings by going to https://BraveGirl.me

blog-feel-fat

 

Mental Wellness Summit…it takes more than a pill!

mental health head

I want to quickly let you know about a great free resource if you or someone you love suffers from depression or anxiety. These challenges are often closely tied to body image, which is close to my heart. I will be attending this summit for personal and professional reasons. If it interests you the information is below:

The Mental Wellness Summit is an educational and empowering experience that explores better ways to approach and treat mental health from a root cause perspective–it’s designed with everyone in mind.

WHY ATTEND?

Today’s powerful treatment options, including specialized diet and improved nutrition, integrative medicine, naturopathy and functional medicine, somatic therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga and meditation, to name a few, are available but rarely considered for treating mental health every day. Let’s go beyond just psychiatry and pills, and explore the best options for wellness in this evolving field.

Register for FREE now at the following link:

https://vt239.isrefer.com/go/summitreg/BraveGirl/

The Mental Wellness Summit will benefit:

  • Health care practitioners and providers across the wellness spectrum
  • Anyone curious about or seeking solutions to mental health challenges
  • Family, friends, loved ones and coworkers who are supporting one another

Here are a few of the incredible experts who will speak at The Mental Wellness Summit:

  • Kelly Brogan, MD, Holistic Medicine and Root-Cause Resolution
  • Sayer Ji, GreenMedInfo.com, Deeper Into Mental Wellness Research
  • Peter Osborne, DC, Grainflammation, Food Toxicity and Microbes
  • Robert Whitaker, PhD, The Perils of Big Pharma
  • James Maskell, Revive Primary Care, Mental Health from Scratch

With 25 additional presenters sharing their expertise about mental wellness, this invaluable (and FREE) resource is intended for men and women everywhere!

Better yet, if you register today, you’ll have access to the following FREE GIFTS as soon as you register!

  • Free Gift #1: Deeper Into Mental Wellness Researchby Sayer Ji
  • Free Gift #2: Holistic Medicine and Root-Cause Resolutionby Kelly Brogan
  • Free Gift #3: Microbiome: A New Frontier in Mental Healthby David Perlmutter

The Mental Wellness Summit is online and free from August 10-17, 2015!

Register for FREE at the following link today:

https://vt239.isrefer.com/go/summitreg/BraveGirl/

I’ll see you at the summit!

Michelle Hess, MA

The Land of the Beautiful and Body Image Triggers

SUP_paddleHI_hawaii_yoga-5446What are your triggers?

That is my question for this week to you all. I’m back in my home town, where I grew up and lived for 35 years. The beach is in my blood! I love it here. AND, I have lived away from all this for almost 6 years. I lived in the hippie pot growing boonies on the Mendocino coast for 5 of them.

People were very relaxed, natural and accepting. You didn’t see a lot of cosmetic surgery, and the place was definitely not focused on how one looked for their social acceptance and self esteem. The natural beauty of the redwoods meeting the sea seemed to imbue the culture there with respect for a more natural state of things. Most women didn’t wear make-up much. Of course, there was a fashion aesthetic and it was fun and funky! Anyhow, my point is that even at the beach, the pool or wherever you could just BE without worrying about being judged on your cellulite content!

Six years is enough time to really be able to see my hometown with even fresher eyes; to see what level of the frog-in-the-soon-to-be-boiling kettle is going on here in relation to what is considered beautiful and how people are valued. I can see how easy it would be to feel insecure if you didn’t fit in the land of the beautiful people which strives for physical perfection. Obviously, this is a generalization. Plenty of people of depth and significance live here that don’t focus on the superficial. But you CAN feel the vibe especially strong in certain places.

I’m noticing all this in the context of having gained some weight recently beyond my comfort zone (yes, fat people have comfort zones too!) due to hypothyroidism and peri-menopausal hormone craziness. I laugh at it actually because I am in a phase of working out regularly at the gym and I think it is so funny!

So, I’m not really triggered per se. But I am watching all this and thinking about it. I’m talking with my body a lot. Happily, I can report that I’m not reverting back to teenage insecurities even when I’m around them! Yay for growth. smile emoticon

What are your triggers in our society? Share below please!

BBL Speakers Emily Rosen, Julie Nowak, Bethany & Emma

Emily Rosen — “How Your Eating Psychology Affects Your Health and Body Image.” It’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat.  The stress factor and digestion. The real story on emotional eating and more!

Julie Nowak – “Embodying Food Justice and Body Positivity” exploring the intersection of therapeutic farming, feminist food studies, eco-psychology & finding healing from food struggles.

Bethany & Emma – ” Pudge PDX: Enriching the fat community through body positive events and the size acceptance media collective.”

Emily_quote2_edited-1-Hurting bodies, hurting communities, Julie Nowak www.BraveBodyLove.com Brave Body Love to me means consciously...Bethany Tate www.BraveBodyLove.com -You get to live in your body however..Emma McIrvin #BBL2k15

 

“Bringing Women from All Over the Globe Together

in an Epic Online Event to End Body Image Issues and

Awaken Our Collective Female Power.”

With Michelle Hess + 35 Experts

February 14-28, 2015

BBL Speakers Dianna Anderson, Brittany Hudson, Angel Denton

Dianna Anderson — Interview on her newest book, Damaged Goods

Brittany Hudson —  Modeling, Motivation & Size Acceptance

Angel Denton —  Health and Happiness Go Hand in Hand

dianna-anderson-damaged-goods BrittanyHudsonqte Your worth should not be determined by your weight. Angel Denton #BBL2k15

 

“Bringing Women from All Over the Globe Together

in an Epic Online Event to End Body Image Issues and

Awaken Our Collective Female Power.”

With Michelle Hess + 35 Experts

February 14-28, 2015

Fear and Permission

This TED video talks about the majority of people that feel fear often and aren’t out there bunging jumping through it. Food for thought. 

Video

No Easy Fix

The difficulty of changing our minds and brain patterns is not lost on me. It takes consistency and repetition. This is true regarding eating and body issues also.

Anxiety and depression are plaguing 21st Century culture. It’s an epidemic.

We have never had better medications to provide relief, never had better therapies available. Health care, thorough physicians, EAP programs for free counseling, nurses, and other professionals has never been as accessible.There is no world war, most of us do not have a terminal illness. Employment is at an all time low. So what is the problem? Is there any hope?

Day after day people tell me in counseling that they have been dealing with anxiety and depression for years, even decades. They have been on antidepressants literally for generations. They believe that they have a biological issue, some sort of genetic flaw, though no one can identify when or how they were tested to confirm the neurochemical prognosis. Many people, at least in my part of the world have seen a psychiatrist who, after ten or twenty…

View original post 609 more words

How to Avoid Meltdown

It’s one of those days: You’re sleep deprived, recovering from a cold, over-worked, having to deal with the most hated parts of your profession (What is it for you?), and you’re PMS-y (sorry men).

Sounds like melt-down,

shut down material to me.

How can you pull yourself out of the pit before

all out emotional catastrophe hits?

1. Be AWARE – Without this there is no hope. You know you are in trouble when your co-workers ask “Why are you so irritable today?” Or “What’s wrong with you?” and you are SURPRISED by the question!

  • Take a few minutes and let yourself quiet before entering your work environment.
  • Notice any feelings or sensations that are nipping at the edges of your consciousness.
  • Take your noticing a step further and ask yourself questions, “Hmm, I’m feeling cranky, what’s up?” or “I’m not wanting to deal with ______ now. What is that telling me?”
  • Look for information, not judgment. Now’s not the time to whack yourself in the head.

2. Take a time-out — you need to stop what you are doing, get off the merry-go-round, and re-assess your options.

  • What activities can be put-off, rescheduled or deleted all together?
  • Tone down to only the absolutely ESSENTIAL tasks while you are not at your optimal levels

For example, one Monday I had something scheduled every hour for 10 hours straight. Then PMS hit hard. I dropped ¾ of the activities and only kept the most necessary, unavoidable ones. I took time out for a “rest” in the afternoon between appointments so I could focus on the next step.

3. Use your “self-talk” arsenal. I’m an auditory learner so I take this advice very literally –-I talk to myself out loud. If you don’t already use anti-catastrophizing tactics start now. These are borrowed from cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) and work wonder for changing your perspective and attitude.

a. Say the thought/feeling (i.e. “I can’t handle this! I hate this.”)

b. Question it (“Is this true?”)

c. Come up with proof for the doubt. (Well, I’ve handled this before and I can do it again.)

d. Turn the language around (I can handle this even if I do hate it!)

e. Find support to give yourself –- find a lifeboat. Ask “who or what can help me feel more capable (in control, aware, competent, etc.) in this situation?”( ex: oh, so and so is an expert at this, I’ll call her and pick her brain before the meeting so I feel confident.)

f. Identify the feeling behind the thought/lie (i.e. I’m scared of looking like a fool and this has me wanting to run and hide…)

g. Congratulate and reward yourself for being PRO-Active and not giving in to the mood gremlins that thrive on your stress.

                                                                                  

  Some healthy ways to reward yourself:

Cancel a meeting and go for a 20 minute walk on the beach with your shoes off. Feel the sand shifting…along with your stress.

Call a friend you miss and have a 15 minute catch-up girl chat. Laugh a lot.

Exchange funny tweets! (but be careful…)

Go get a spa treatment

Walk to your favorite “juice” spot and have a yummy smoothie, while standing in the sun for a few minutes.

Run home and play with your cat or your dog on your lunch break.

You’ve got the idea. Recover your smile and realize you successfully avoided over-reaction melt-down mode.

To increase your arsenal of tools to draw upon next time try incorporating some of the following into your life on a regular basis:

• Reflective journaling • Work with a life coach • Exercise regularly • Take up yoga or meditation • Prayer • Surround yourself with funny friends • Start a nurturing hobby like gardening, knitting, marathon racing, or bird-house building! • Express joy and gratitude daily • Join a supportive group situation where you can be vulnerable and safe.*

(*This could be an actual support group, an affiliation group, a church small group. Explore your options. Living intentionally in community, although challenging, is well worth the rewards.)

What do you choose as your escape pressure valve? How many ideas have you tried? Tell me what has worked for you in the comments.

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