The Secure Comfort of Cycles

I often talk about our comfort system. That is the feeling we have when we are at rest and can feel the calm. There are times when we have to be active in nourishing our comfort system with consciously choosing our self-care activities, but there are times when things already built into the world around us bring us security and consistency.

One such place is nature and the inherent cycle that it is propelled to deliver. I like to walk in the forest on a regular basis and it is during a changing of the seasons that I have come to appreciate the stability and consistency of nature’s cycle. First, I will see the ferns, popping themselves out of the earth, their little fiddle heads all curled up. Next,  come the Trillium with their delicate, three-pointed bud and soon I can be assured that the fragrant Lily of the Valley will follow.

While there is always room for spontaneity, our comfort system likes routine and the roundness of things. We like our feet planted on the ground; being outside in nature allows us to inherently appreciate the secure comfort of cycles. 🙂

Photo credit: Me!

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Tara Westover Podcast

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about the book “educated” by Tara Westover. I recently listened to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast in which Tara was being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey.

Two things that Tara spoke about I found to be quite introspective:

  • “Thinking about the world from another person’s point of view is incredibly difficult and I think it is what an education is really. And the thing we don’t know is, or we don’t acknowledge, is that respecting other people is actually kind of the first step to respecting yourself. If you can’t have empathy for a life that is different than yours, you’re not going to be able to look at your own life from different points of view in order to make any change.”
  • “There is this intractable, untouchable thing that is you and the trick maybe is to keep the rest of your life still enough so that you listen to it and be aware of it.”

In order to be able to self-reflect, we must also be able to empathize with other people; to appreciate the diversity of the human race. When we are one with ourselves, we feel grounded and secure; leaving ourselves vulnerable to appreciate another person’s story.

If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

To listen to the podcast: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/own/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/e/60496548

Photo credit: http://Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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Important Facts About the Teenage Brain

I recently read a meme that made me laugh: The book we really needed was “What to Expect 17 Years After Expecting.”

The teenage years can be some of our most challenging as parents, but also some of our most rewarding. In a recent article entitled “The teenage brain: Seven things parents should know about adolescent behaviour” featured on Women’s Hour, BBC Radio, we can read about some of the characteristics that affect our teenagers. A few that I appreciated:

  • “The teenage brain undergoes a huge transition. Contrary to what was believed for many, many decades, the teenage brain in fact undergoes really substantial amounts of development, both in terms of its structure and its function throughout childhood, throughout adolescence and it only stabilizes around the mid-20s.” This can certainly explain how I saw much maturity from my oldest daughter by the age of 21.
  • “There is a biological reason why teenagers find it hard to get up. Essentially, their circadian rhythm is changing. We know that melatonin, which in humans is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy at night, is produced in the brain about two hours later during the teenage years, than during childhood or adulthood.” Gee, so I guess they aren’t just lazy 😉
  • “Long term health risks don’t scare teenagers. When we are worrying about the kinds of risks that adolescents take, research shows that focusing on the long-term health risks, or the long-term legal risks of decisions, does not work as well as focusing on the social consequences of those risky decisions. This is because the social world is really paramount to teenagers. They care very much what their friends think.” 

Knowing some of these facts can help to temper the frustration we sometimes feel when our teenagers are making impulsive choices or pushing back as a way to gather their independence. We are much better served to be flexible in our attitude towards what is proving to be a very important time in our children’s lives –  I still would have appreciated that book though 🙂

To read the full article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/29h0HQPw8L8xJmyNh1Ss7Qb/the-teenage-brain-seven-things-parents-should-know-about-adolescent-behaviour

Photo credit: http://Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

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What Dr. Phil Has to Say to Fathers of Daughters

I love what Dr. Phil has to say to fathers who have daughters:

“If you do not make your daughter feel valued – if she doesn’t believe that there’s at least one man in this world who believes that she is special, she will find it somewhere else. She will listen to the first ol’ boy, the first young man that comes along and whispers in her ear all the things she wants to hear. Dads – you are not the only voice in your daughter’s ear so you need to make sure you are the BEST voice.”

We learn from our opposite sex parent what to expect in relationship. If our experience has been an emotionally distant father, the probability of meeting and marrying someone who also struggles with emotional capacity is greater. The same can be experienced through a healthy and loving relationship with our dad – we will look for that in our future partner.

Fathers of daughters can be consciously aware of the important role they play with their daughters. Thank you Dr. Phil for the reminder 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

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The Importance of Acceptance

Sometimes we get really stuck in something we wish would change. When we are also challenged by a situation that is unjust, our tenaciousness in trying to avoid reality becomes even stronger. We remain in an unhealthy relationship, on the potential of change. We suffer through a toxic work environment because “it shouldn’t be this way.” We avoid facing the truths that are painful by stuffing them down. We get wrapped up in the drama around us as a way to evade examining our own role in the situation. We refuse to accept reality.

Rejecting reality; however does not change reality.  Let’s read that again: Rejecting reality does not change reality. The facts are the facts; as much as may have wished it to be different or fail to understand why it happened in the first place, “it is what it is.” 

Through acceptance, we feel both the sadness of the situation, but also the calmness that follows when we can let something go. Acceptance does not mean that you approve or like the situation, it simply means that you have acknowledged that there are some things you just can’t change. Acceptance opens the door to a sense of emotional neutrality, the possibility of forgiveness and a moving forward with a peaceful heart.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Aubrey Odom on Unsplash

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A Phrase We Need to Learn to Say to Our Kids

In a recent article I read entitled “Author Kelly Corrigan reveals the hardest thing she says to her kids” by Allison Slater Tate and featured on Today.com, Tate writes about four phrases that we need to get comfortable saying to our children. Based on Corrigan’s book, “Tell Me More,”  I especially resonated with the first one featured in the article:

  • “I don’t know.” Tate writes: “In our effort to soothe our kids with an immediate answer — often delivered with high conviction — we are perpetuating an intolerance for uncertainty that carries into adulthood,” Corrigan told Today. She suggested establishing an “I don’t know” household, where everybody is comfortable with the phrase. “If you were to raise your kids to be able to live with the answer, ‘I don’t know, let me think about that,’ then you might help them introduce that critical pause between impulse and decision that could take them down different and better roads for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t know the answer to something. Sometimes we don’t have the answer ourselves, especially when it involves an existential unknown. Sometimes we need to sleep on something before we give them an answer. In any case, being vulnerable to not knowing something gives your children permission to also pause when necessary, reflect, and process. And to accept that there are some things in life that we just don’t have an answer for, and that is okay. 🙂

To read the full article: https://www.today.com/parents/tell-me-more-author-kelly-corrigan-t153170

Photo credit:http://Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash

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The Companionship of Joy and Sorrow

I have come to appreciate this quote by Kahlil Gibran:

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.” 
― Kahlil Gibran

We spend a lot of time focusing on happiness. Granted, 40% of our contentedness comes from the activities we choose, and therefore becomes an important part of our active living. Sorrow may come to us in the form of a moment in our day, or part of a process as we are experiencing a loss. Our aim becomes not to live with one over the other, but rather to integrate. It becomes a matter of knowing that we can feel both moments of joy and sorrow in our day and understand that we can process each emotion to the extent that it informs us of our growth and healing.  It is okay to give ourselves permission to simply feel the emotion, whether it be joy or sorrow, and acknowledge its presence.

Photo credit: http://Photo by David Schertz on Unsplash

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The Wisdom of Harry Potter

When my youngest daughter was about fourteen, we started our own little book club. We chose the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; she would read a book, I would follow, and then we would watch the movie together. In 2016, we took a family trip to Florida and part of our holiday was spent at Universal visiting the Harry Potter park – it was quite neat to experience the books come to life. Here are three of my favourite quotes from the Harry Potter series:

  • “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” – Albus Dumbledore
  • “What’s coming will come and we’ll face it when it does.” – Hagrid
  • “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – Sirius Black

Thank you J.K. Rowling for bringing so many people the sense of wonder, magic, and the triumph of good.

Photo credit: Me!

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Grief Revisited

One of the stages of grief is acceptance. When we have fully reached that stage, there is a feeling of integration of our loss; we are able to recognize that the bereavement we have endured also sits alongside the love we felt and the strength we have gathered through the process.

We can be moving right along, joyfully integrated, when a trigger upsets the apple cart. Sometimes it comes in the form of a dream, other times in circumstantial events that are happening in our lives, sometimes it comes as a re-enactment if a similar loss happens to someone close to us.

Grief revisits us. It can make us feel as though we are experiencing the loss again; perhaps less painfully but there nonetheless. It is when we are feeling vulnerable that we might question the work we have done in getting to a place of healing. It becomes important to recognize that grief has its own timeline and that it is a normal process that it touches us again when triggered to.

The steps we have taken to integrate loss and love are not lost to us in those revisited moments; rather it is a time where we can once again gather our strength, take a deep breath, and say “we got this.” 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

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Meet Ellen Grickites; an Algonquin student who speaks her truth

I came across the website “Hope Heals;” an initiative being led by the Public Relations class of Algonquin College. In one of their featured stories, a student named Ellen Grickites, speaks about her experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a fairly well known therapy and is often accompanied by other types of therapies as a practical approach to challenging some of our core beliefs and automatic thoughts.

There is a natural link between our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviours. Very often, we can be triggered by a feeling or thought that will, in turn, influence our behaviour. Ellen writes about her own experience with CBT: “Most of my early sessions included me explaining how I was feeling: Low, numb, stressed, insecure. My psychiatrist and I then began to question why I was feeling these things: Was it school? Friends? Bullying? The next step was to figure out how I could combat these feelings. I could distract myself, talk to my mom, or write them down. We discussed many options for distraction, and how I could make myself feel better.”

Although the article is about Ellen’s experience with a particular therapy, I am also able to appreciate her willingness to enter therapy and her openness about how tenacious we have to sometimes be with some of our ingrained patterns. I quote: “I am very proud of myself for having practiced cognitive behaviour therapy for the past four years. It’s a big step, and takes a lot of effort, but in the end, your mental health is worth it.”

Well said, Miss Grickites, well said. 🙂

To read the full article: https://www.hopeheals.care/ellens-story

To read an article introducing you to CBT: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/what-is-cbt-definition-meaning/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Kristel Hayes on Unsplash

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