Canine Support Team and me – Personal Story of Dr. Yanoschik

Canine Support Team and me – my story

by James D. Yanoschik, DDS

US Navy 101118-F-5586B-144 Marine Sgt. Brian J...

What is the best thing being involved with the puppies does for me?

1.  Love.

Puppies are examples of unconditional love.  No matter what kind of day I am having, when I walk through the door, that tail is wagging and they are jumping up and down – just so happy to see me.  My problems melt away when I take the dog in my arms and they start to lick me.  Have you ever heard the laughing of a young child being caressed by the licks of a puppy?  You just smiled to yourself didn’t you?  That is who I become again too.

2.  Community.  

I enjoy is that I get to be around people that want to help other people.  

My wife and I have found some wonderful friends through the CST puppy raising programs. We have outings called “Yappy hours”  and visit various training locations throughout Southern California. 

3.  Me.

When I get into these situation where I volunteer, I wonder who really gets more out of these situations?  The person being helped or me?  I find that I feel better when I help my fellow-man sometimes in small ways and others in big ways.  But in a self-care way, I help others to help myself.

4.  Saving Dogs and People.

This organization has partnered with breeders and animal shelters to recognize the temperament in puppies that would make a good service dog.  When these puppies reach 14 to 18 months they are put into the Prison Pup program at the Women’s Prison in Chino, CA for their advanced training to become full fledged service dogs.  To date, any prisoner that has been involved in the Prison Pup program that got out of prison, has not re-offended.

My wife and I are now raising our second puppy in the program.

It hard to give up the puppy.  But what makes the transition easier is that we have met, in person, folks that have benefited from the service dogs.  For example, I met a young veteran who said that he has called the suicide hotline several times and made plans for his “transition” into the next life.  Fortunately, however, he got matched up with a service dog that helped him want to live again.  Another example is a mother who said that she saw a distinct change in her child since they got a service dog from CST.  These people are now able to have relationships and live.

Please get involved. Become a puppy raiser to a service dog. 

James D. Yanoschik, DDS

Dentist and Puppy Raiser

A little about Canine Support Teams (www.CanineSupportTeams.org).

Their goal is to provide service dogs for disabilities other than blindness.  This organization has partnered with breeders and animal shelters to recognize the temperament in puppies that would make a good service dog.  When these puppies reach 14 to 18 months they are put into the Prison Pup program at the Women’s Prison in Chino, CA for their advanced training to become full fledged service dogs.  To date, any prisoner that has been involved in the Prison Pup program that got out of prison, has not re-offended.

The program is lacking is puppy raisers.  Our job as a puppy raiser is to train the puppy with basic command skills, and to socialize them to various situations and environments that they may come into contact with in the course of a normal day.

Be as Good To Yourself As You Want Your Loved Ones to Be to Themselves

English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift.

So what brought you here today?  What are you looking for?

Want to parent better?   Kids don’t take care of themselves?  They aren’t responsible?  Accountable for their actions?  They are disobedient?

They don’t realize our loving motives?  If they do, they will be able to find more pleasure in life.  If they …they will have more freedoms, they will have spending power, they will have decision making ability, they will be present in their life, able to connect with others and with their own personal journey, they will.  You name it.  They will find the shortest, most direct route to their brilliance and resources to achieve what they were designed to do – service in any form.  Is this so much to ask?  Wink.

How can we help them see?  By starting with Me.  Do this generosity for ourselves.  How many times do we point outside of Me to find a place of control for Me?  Even to the small about packing lunch – as if forced to pack our children’s lunch, we point out.

Drifting down, how many times does our child complain of what we put in their lunch?  What would happen if they packed it for themselves?  What would happen if they ate what they packed?  Oh, just junk.  …Who purchased the junk food?  Where did it come from?  It swirls on. This reminds me of the musical, “Into the Woods.” “It’s her fault! It’s your fault.!”…

But here’s the anchor.  We are free.  We are free caregivers.

Freedom is like a lovely package wrapped in the most exquisite paper, tied with a bow so lovely that we know it came from God.  It is sitting in front of us.  Like all real gifts, the gift of freedom is free.  It has nothing to do with my bank.  It came because of the Giver, not because of the merit of the recipient – Me.

Me, that is to say any one of us, cannot unearn the gift either.  Freedom is like that gift that keeps reappearing no matter how we try to get away from it.  Does it become a curse?  We are free to make it one because even if we don’t claim it, even if we don’t choose to be accountable to our decisions, it doesn’t change that we are.  And when we are finally able to look in, with insight, and have knowledge – we are accountable to what we see.

Paul said,

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  

Job said,

“therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.  …but now mine eye seeth thee.”

Does the gift, freedom, turn into a curse?

 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Every person who grows in knowledge and understanding at some point hopefully says that they grow also in understanding how little they know and have yet to learn.  This is what comfort we have in knowing that in the eternity of forever that comes ahead after this life, we won’t run out of things to do.

We all talk as if we know more than we know, with pride and forgotten humility.  I want to turn this over, but repentance in this case cannot be as implied – once and for all.  It is recurrent at best and I surrender the frequency and my degrees of insight to God and you.  Feel free to take Me gently along with you on our travels.  I hope our kids will be that good to Me when given the opportunity.  I have no doubt, they hope the same of us.  But you can see, it starts with Me.

What is a true friend?  It is one who loves.  Starting with Me.  What is parenting better?  It is giving to yourself what you want your kids to have.

The Stoic, Seneca the Elder, wrote,

“What progress, you ask, have I made?  I have begun to be a friend to myself.” That was indeed a great benefit; such a person can never be alone.  You may be sure that such a man is a friend to all mankind.

(And here I thought I was the one who came up with, “Friend to Yourself!!!!”  Oh nasty tumble.)

This is what it is; hard, easy, soft and difficult.  Having each other to help Me be friendlier to myself is a big advantage.  You are so valuable to Me.  Knock Me down and catch Me – whatever pride and forgotten humility leave Me needing.  Thank you.

Question?  How does being a friend to yourself improve your parenting or caregiving of others?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Be as good to yourself as you want your loved ones to be to themselves.  Be a friend to yourself.

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If You Love Me, Give Me Less But Give To Me Bigger and Better

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Good news.  Marcy was better.  She was feeling better emotionally, less triggered by simple stressors, and parenting better.  Marcy didn’t think it was anywhere near easy, but it was better.

It had started for her about six months ago, when she realized her children were on edge around her, when she realized she didn’t want to be around her children and when she didn’t like much else either.  Was she a “crabby woman?”  Ouch.  It hurt her to think that.  Were some people just mean?  And she was one of them?  Marcy said no.  She couldn’t make anyone believe her these days but she knew she was designed for something better than that.

When this happened, Marcy hit self-care boot camp.  She cut her time with her kids, husband, any extras.  She didn’t cut them out, but she did cut back.  With that time, she went back to the starting point – herself.  She gave less to them, and more to herself so she could give bigger and better to them whom she loved, not excluding herself.

Good news.  Marcy is better.

Self-Care Tip – Give more to yourself.

Question:  What has your self-care taken from those you love?  What has it done with what you still give to those you love?  Please tell me your story.

Take Care of Yourself And You Will Be Taking Care of Others – “Care-Givers”

Caregiver is a name that many of us own.  From basic parenting scenarios to families complicated with end-of-life, spinal cord injuries, congenital diseases or employees of group homes – care-givers is the generically applied term.

Is it difficult to ID care-givers that “did it right.”  Seeing them is a muscle that operates better by practicing the magical and material skills of empathy, doing rather than saying, so to speak.

By the way, I’m on hold right now with the service provider for our currently nonfunctioning internet.  The hold-music is so bad that I had to put the phone in a closed drawer to muffle it.  #selfcare.  Much better.

There are many people who have cared for me and do care for me.  You for starters have cared for and do care for me in your reading, your time, your thoughts, and comments, you are my givers of care.

I am cared for, and you know I get all fluttery when I start talking about you so I’ll stop before you throw-up.  Unless it’s too late.

There are others who gave and give care, obvious names like parents, spouse and friends. And there are many less obvious names – my dogs talking to me when I get home, the lady who came up to me in the 99-cent store and handed me $20.00 to buy treats for my kids, my psychotherapist who told me to “grow up.”  All these and more have and do care for me.

But do we call these people, (or other living creatures,) caregivers?  Is that a name for what you do for me? Not traditionally but it really is.

The differences are found between those who believe they take care of others when they don’t take care of themselves and the inverse – those who take care of themselves, and as part of that effort to be their own friend see caring for others as a natural maturation of their own needs(Remember, agendas again.) In any other design, taking care of others when we don’t take care of ourselves is not sustainable nor congruent with our intentions.  We become the hare who lost the race to the turtle, angry and confused by our results.

Care for the Caregiver Day
Image by Christiana Care via Flickr

I agree that this attempt to share space with the angels who so lovingly nurture and give to those who can’t give to themselves can be perceived as arrogant, ignorant and other names – creep, idiota, a– h—, pompous, fools, bigots, oblivious, uninformed, (this is fun), benighted, blind, old gum under the picnic table jerks.

Be that as it may, please believe that we speak of caregivers without malice.  And if we are ignorant, please let our flaws inspire you to grow us as empathically as you would like us to grow you.  I know it takes a lot of love to deal with someone like us and it is much easier to walk away.

Questions:  Where do you find yourself in the care you give to others?  What helps you remember your intentions to love yourself when stigma or guilt bang you upside the head?  How do you see that caring for yourself is consistent with your goals to serve others?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Care for yourself and you will see yourself giving care to others.

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How To Feel Understood

Feel Good Together

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To feel understood, do your best to understand others.  To feel connected, work to connect others.  To feel less lonely, help others see that they are not alone.

Take your pick.  What’s your gripe.  To be your own friend, use the stage around you to discover what to do with your needs.  Doing things for others starts with Me, motivated by Me and it ends satisfying and rewarding Me.  That’s the key to service.

Today is my birthday by the way.  I’m off to spend the day with my wonderful kids who don’t understand me, who are often self-absorbed, argumentative and feel misunderstood.  I’m going to spend the day with them for Me though.  I’m going to because I am going to get a lot out of it.

I’m not going to blame them for anything today if I can.

Happy Birthday to me :).

hugs to you all.

Serving Others May Not Have As Much To Do With Giving As You Thought

Près de la fontaine

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Self-Care Tip – To be our own friend, be accountable for the service we do.

Bree was someone who was into details.  The moment of now was her reality.  She didn’t naturally consider the, “What if’s,” of tomorrows – but she did for the now.  And in her moments, if she slowed her day down so we could see all the threads individually weaving themselves together, we would see her doing lots of things.  Whirr.  She was busy.

I am a giver.  I know that I give all the time.  And I don’t get much from others.

Bree states she wasn’t getting much.  Giving, yes.  Getting, no.  Hm.  Let’s look at the threads that she spins and weaves.  Is this true?

Question:  Using the biopsychosocial model, what are the

things that Bree, or you, might be getting from giving?  Break it down! 

She Is Worth It, But Maybe Not Because Of What You Think

Woman in satin dress holding mirror

Image by George Eastman House via Flickr

She is worth it!

Have you said that? Half crazed from this-way-that-way behaviors, your battered psyche crawls out of the smoking heap from your most recent relationship collision. There are times when this is absurd to continue. But have you ever seen those people who crawl out smiling? Sure their eyes are rolling around on their face but they are smiling. That might be you too. And there’s a reason for it. However the reason may not be what you think.

She is worth it!

I’m not disputing “her” value in this admirable exchange that takes all your energy. But what I do dust off from the good “encounter” we just spoke of is that although she may be worth it, I propose that isn’t the reason you think it is. The reason is you.
You find pleasure in it because of what it does for you. You think you are worth it, and you are.

Even the Bible says,

We love because He loved me first. 1 John 4: 19

We love because of what it does for Me. God isn’t surprised by that or looking down His nose at our motivation. It sounds like He is actually embracing it – fully consented.
Remember when we talked about inevitable selfish motives, secondary gain and the absence of altruism in us? Is that an ugly thing about us? I don’t think so. It is what it is.

Now this does not evaporate the connection, the realness of the exchange between two, the value of the bond or its quality. See blog-post, Things Will Always Be About “Me.” It does nothing else but discuss the motivation. I believe understanding our motivation to remain in a relationship is important not to devalue it or value it differently, but to help us take care of our own selves.
She is worth it. That isn’t the question.

What can go wrong in our self-friendship when we think we are motivated by reasons outside of what is in it for Me? What do you think? I think it distracts us. It’s wasted energy and we don’t have enough to waste. Getting it right, puts energy into us. Getting it wrong, takes energy away.

Yesterday we talked about wanting to connect with someone who has character pathology. Any of us can say that this is hugely energy depleting at times. If we think we are doing this for any other reason than for ourselves, we will get “burned” much more often than we might if we understand that we choose, consented, freely and for ourselves. We will wear the victim-crown and die the death of worn out do-gooders who lived to do nothing really but bemoan their special suffering existence. See blog-post, Please Don’t Say “But.”

Self-Care Tip – Do things for yourself with self-knowledge.

Self-Care Is Not A Moral Issue

Facial emotions.

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I am writing a series of blog-posts outlining self-care in which we examine the tenets of self-care:

Self-Care Tip #263 – Experience, use, observe and interpret emotions, but don’t moralize them.

We sometimes forget about the involved journey to a healthy Me.  Because of this, we become fearful that it means alone-care, apart-from-God-care, selfish-care, excluding experienced-and-professional-input-care and so on.  It’s not.  Self-care is collaborative, yet that doesn’t negate the fact that it must start and end with Me.

When we take care of “Me,” we can connect more with others, including God, have more inside of us to give to others, and have more interest in the world around.  The opposite disables our abilities to do those things.  No one can give what she doesn’t have.

We have this person, “Me,” to take care of.  This “Me” is valuable, of high priority, to be celebrated and cheered on.

Please, shake it off.  Self-care is not a moral issue.  It just is.  It is a choice, a freedom and an opportunity.  It is not about salvation and has no influence on our worth.  It just is.

We are more willing to buy into the, “It just is,” self-care tool when we understand where emotions and behaviors come from – the brain. This biological stance is the evidence for deescalating our drive to moralize emotions and behaviors.  They are not from an aura, a gear we can shift, or any nidus of control outside of our human bodies.  Emotions are how we interpret the world around us.  They are not linked to morality.  Please don’t take them to the pulpit.  If you do, I will still be polite, although breathing through a mask.

Emotions are our interpretive lens for our physical self.

Questions:  How’s the clarity of your lens holding out after considering this part of self-care?  What influence does what you “see” with your emotions have on your ability to befriend yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Is About More Than “Me”

Self-Care Tip #208 – If for no other reason, get friendly with yourself simply to survive and you’ll see what that means later.

my self care reminders

Image by CatrinaZ via Flickr

It is not unusual to think of “selfish-care” when we hear “self-care.”  I can imagine children gripping their mother’s skirts more tightly, husbands pulling their helpmate’s hands away from this influence, church-folk sniffing over rejections to service-calls or friends personalizing the way their phone doesn’t ring as much as it used to.  This is a natural response, although it is a false perception.  Think – feeling suffocated by her penance, he’s wearing a martyr’s cross or she’s giving to us from victimhood.  Those are the times we would rather not receive the gifts of time, person or anything dripping with that kind of guilt and implied debt. This kind of service comes from someone impoverished, giving on credit.

I’ve been known to say, “We can’t give what we don’t have.”  Or as Jasmine said,

You can’t give someone a ride if you’re all out of gas!

So when is self-care selfish?  To be true to what self-care is, I’d say almost never.  However, because the question comes from such an intuitive fear in any of us, “never” can’t be an entirely fair answer.  To answer it best though, we need to turn it over and go back to trying to discover why we wanted self-care first.  What brought us here?  Jacqui said it well in yesterday’s post-comments:

Ditto about ‘self-care boot camp’. I may steal that one. You’ve given me permission to be selfish if need be. It’s all about self-preservation.

Sometimes we are reduced to self-preservation.  It has an intensity to it, a survival mode of live or die, which may be appropriate to a desperate condition in life.   Many of us know what that feels like.  So in this context, self-care is in part about survival.  Alright.  But is survival a selfish need?  Are we worth that little?  Does the life in us hold value only at that level?

rejuvenation.self.care.logo

Image by guttersnipe.76 via Flickr

You hear the clomping my words are making and can follow that I answer, no.  Survival has far reaching significance.  I matter.  You matter.  We have value beyond our own selves and Me booting up to live better also ripples over those same infinite number of connections.

I am confident that if for no other reason than getting friendly with yourself simply to survive, you will still see at least some of what more that means later.  Self-care is about more than Me.

Question:  When do you think self-care is selfish?  Why do you think self-care is not?  Please tell me your story.

For Our Own Benefit – Share What You Got

Two young girls sharing a plate of spaghetti. ...

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Self-Care Tip #205 – Sharing Love with others is friendly to yourself.

For every person you care about and talk to about Jesus, they’re that much more likely to be led to Jesus.

I recently heard something to this effect out of the jolliest, most well-intentioned man.  He quoted some of my favorite verses such as “the rocks will cry out” and others to support his understanding that we hold responsibility to share the gospel.

I’m not here to say how Jesus works.  However, I have a hard time believing that God would leave your salvation up to the likes of me.  I have a hard time believing that God would leave my salvation up the the likes of you.  I do however think that it is good self-care and possibly helps us choose God more deliberately, more thoroughly and more decidedly.  Sharing the goodness in us, sharing what brings love into our lives, sharing what brings love to others, sharing what brings more connection between us – that has to be good for us.

Question:  How has sharing Love helped your narrative, your self-care and your connections in life?  Please tell me your story.

Take Care of Yourself Better by Knowing What That Means.

Self-care tip #203 – Take care of yourself better by knowing what that means.

What is self-care?

Starting with the responsibility of our own persons needs, not necessarily for selfish reasons or self-less reasons – although it may be.  Self-care may also be starting with our own selves is not so simply because it is the shortest route to doing anything we want in life.  Pick something, anything.  Community service.  Parenting.  Science research.  Evangelism.  Rock-in-roll.  Name it.  Self-care gets you there more effectively and efficiently.

Self-care is not alone-care.  Self-care is a connecting force between Me and Me, Me and you, Me and all Life and Me and God.

What is self-care?

mbti, getting things done, productivity, technology

khouricc.com/blog

Insight.  Insight to our needs.  Insight to our feelings.  Insight to our body function.  Insight to the needs around us and how we intersect with them.  Insight into our behaviors.

Self-care is insight into our own temperaments and pursuing the natural desires, talents, interests of our own design.
Personality Types.

Choices.  Choices to align ourselves with the constructive/positive efforts of our conscious and subconscious selves.  Choices to respond to the insight and own our role implied by the insight.  Choices to take care of our body, concretely – eat well, sleep well, exercise, drink water, take our vitamins and medications as prescribed.  Choices to Love and be Loved.  Choices to connect with others and relinquish the pride that drives our isolation.  Choices to be as healthy as possible as a gift to yourself and to those you love.

Self-care is letting go of our history.

Self-care is grabbing responsibility for now and our future.

Self-care is knowing that no one is responsible for how I feel, behave, think or function, except Me.

Question:  What is self-care for you?  Please tell me your story.

Go Towards Your Pain to Relieve It

A family mourns during a funeral at the Lion's...

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Self-Care #197 – Go where your pain is to prepare for what happens badly in life.

Yesterday we talked about the power of loss, grief and pain not being one that can take away the potential of life.

Carl appreciated the idea that “scripted cue cards” with platitudes on them to read off for ourselves or for others when something bad happens – “Good comes out of bad,” “I know what you feel like,” and so on – is nothing anyone wants.  His comment included, in true Carl-style, a great question:

But what else can we say to show respectful empathy?

Goodness.  For crying out loud, we aren’t a bunch of calloused puff heads who don’t care or who don’t have a clue when someone is suffering!  We’ve all asked this question and wanted to help.  We’ve wanted to connect, to serve, to answer Carl’s question when we are in or come into the presence of pain.

In self-care, we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves first.  We can’t give what we don’t have.  Airplane crashing, put your oxygen on before your babies.  Can’t withdraw if the bank account is empty….  We take care of ourselves and find that we can serve others more as a result.  It’s the same way in grief.  If we don’t go where our own pain is in life, if we aren’t present with our life journey, if we don’t fight hard for who we are, it is very hard to know how to answer this question.

There’s something to say about doing the work before the trouble comes and then when it comes, use it to prepare for more.  I love Ecclesiastes 12 which tells us in Solomon’s depressed and yet feisty words,

Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—

Solomon was talking about self-care here.  Holding us responsible at the elemental level to use the time we have before trouble comes, so that when it comes, we have a way of answering.

Carl gave his own answer,

…live life on life’s terms like it or not.  If we allow Jesus to embrace us and comfort us it will fortify us through life’s unfortunate tragedies.

Question:  What is your answer to Carl’s question?  Please tell me your story.

Getting or Giving Bad News Without Fear

Slalom skier

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I was reading an article on awareness of obesity the other day telling us that many times, people don’t know they are obese until they are told by someone else.  Ouch.  Pass the Band-Aides.  But it aired our need to stay connected, speak up, and listen.  It also prompted me to reflect on mental illness.  How often I’ve sat with someone’s emotions-history in my hands, looked at them and realized they didn’t know.  They were there, emotions bleeding all over the place but didn’t grasp their injury.

Um, excuse me ma’am.  Let’s apply some pressure on that and get you some help.

Bloody news like this reminds me of my friend Jack.  He was waterskiing with my brother and I when we were college’ish-age.  Jack was not so capable on the water, although he wasn’t afraid.  As you probably know, three is the perfect number for waterskiing – one to drive, one to hold the flag when the skier is setting himself up, and then of course the skier.  Any more and there are way too many polite smiles and way too much advice for the bobbing body in the water.  Jack was working on his slalom moves, thrilled with his progress and after about the third fall, was still ready for another go.

Hit it!

Our boat, Rosewater, eased him out of the water and he was up.  Jack has a way of celebrating like no other.  He whoops and yells and his whole body joins in.  And so he was in his happy place, up on a single ski, unconcerned with the world at large.  It was lovely.  Until the wake of that other huge boat threw him down and his face slammed into his spectacular single ski.  Up he came and we just looked at him, quietly at first.  Jack paddled up to the boat and wondered if he should try again.

Um, sorry Jack.  Let’s apply some pressure on that and get you some help.

Jack had a huge gash, copiously bleeding all over his face and he had no idea.  He was wet already, cold from the water and didn’t feel a thing.  I still feel the creepies skittering up my arms and chest thinking about it.

When we told Jack, he was a little unbelieving.

Are you sure?  Is it bad?  I think I’m alright.  It’ll wash out and I can try again….

Oh there wasn’t much pleasure in telling him the bloody news.  Generally there isn’t that much pleasure in telling someone they are fat or suffering from mental illness either.  It’s the follow-up to that statement where the fun comes in.  The hope that we link the first punch-line to.  Good news is, …along comes the second punch-line.  Hope.  And presence.  Being with someone where they are at, as they are, and with patience doesn’t mean leaving him in the dark, bleeding out.

The reverse is true of course as well.  If we don’t stay connected with others, we may lose the opportunity to see ourselves through their eyes.  It is an opportunity.  When we are with someone we trust, respect and think see’s us as the precious thing that we are, it is.

Self-Care Tip #195 – Stay connected with others and listen without fear – something good is coming.  Be a friend to yourself.

Questions:  How do you deliver “bad news?”  What is the best way you’ve ever been given “bad news?”  Please tell me your story.

Take Care Of Yourself to Give Love to Others

Give, take 'n share

Image by Funchye via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #195 – Take care of yourself to give Love to others.

Belen came in, confident.  She was comfortable in her element.  Working in her area of specialty was her delight and she didn’t worry about clocking hours or mixing it up with family.  Her work was part of what family meant to her.  It was what brought pleasure to her life.

“Wonderful!” you say.  And yes, it is.  “Why then did she come in to see me?” you ask.  Glad you asked.

This was Belen’s third marriage.  Marriage was not where she felt confident.  Talking marriage was when her lip surfaced, quivering on her face, transforming her.  In the past, Belen had often dropped her husband’s name, laced him into stories she told and her ring was a favorite finger toy.  I had the impression that Belen was proud to be married to this man.  But it wasn’t until today that Belen spoke about Ben directly.

I sat up because I was curious about this emotion that had flickered behind it all until today, when it was front and center.

In this case, Belen was afraid of her emotions in fact.  She was aware of them, but they were in a foreign code to her.  Tap-tap-pause-tap-tap-tap-pause… and so on.  She started by telling me about their evenings together.

Ben was a grazer who expected open time with her.  Belen, however, was a barn girl.  When she sat with her husband in their “open time” over a slow dinner, a drink, watching him read a book beside her – it took everything in her reserve each day to stay put.  All her nerves were dancing, telling her to get up and work.  It was what gave Belen her quality of life.  Her work was her self-care.  Ben’s time to meander through thoughts and play was in contrast, what gave him pleasure in life.  He waited all day, pushing through a task driven job, to come home and do this.

Potential negative energy was coiling up inside and Belen was afraid that she might be overcome by it.  Belen did not want to think about what that might end with.  Another failed marriage?  Losing this man she was so glad to be married to?  Dying alone?  She looked at me sideways, ashamed of her emotions.

I’m turning into Crazy Wife.  I yell at him for things that are no big deal.

My answer came too fast this time.  It wasn’t graceful or polite.  I regret that.  It’s never been a forte for me and one of the reasons I recommend my patients find a psychotherapist who will patiently stand beside them rather than collar them and drag them to water (like a certain psychiatrist I know.)

Do what gives quality to your life.  Claim it when you do and don’t hold him responsible for it.  He’ll feel guilty and defensive.  ‘Oh, I have so much work to do honey.  I can’t sit here…’  You are not a victim.  This is your choice.

Unfortunately, there was more along those lines, but like Kevin Blumer says,

I wish the blog world was the same as the real world where people have a chance and can think about things before they (say) them.

Alas, at least we have our keyboards, pencils and erasers.

Belen was losing her lovely confidence to resentment because she wasn’t doing what she was wired to do.  She wasn’t owning her choices.  She thought loving her husband meant that she shouldn’t and because of that, she was only giving him her uncared for self.  She didn’t realize that doing what gave her joy was the best way to Love others.

Question:  How do you help the people you love realize that when you take care of yourself, you are taking care of them too?  (This should get interesting!)  Please tell me your story.

Love – Take What is Already Yours. You Have Been Given Love.

Stef's Present with Handmade Wrapping

Image by ex.libris via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #194 – Take what is already yours.  Be a friend to yourself.

Parenting, we hold the power in the relationship between us and our child/ren.  If we are emotionally maltreated by our child/ren, we parents are still the ones with the power.  What are we giving to her if we teach her that we will take the terrible words and dark emotions?  When we take the projected anger when we have the power to choose not to, what message are we giving to ourselves about ourselves?  What is the message if we say by our actions that Love demands from us to accept, to take and to be a victim to the emotional abuse?  Is that what love tells us?

It is difficult to receive maltreatment from anyone.  And because of the suffering involved, we can misinterpret the message, “This is the sacrifice that Love demands” – the sacrifice is doing what other people want before taking care of yourself.

It is difficult not to receive maltreatment as well.  Which choice is more consistent with our understanding of Love?  The words in the message might be the same, “This is the sacrifice that Love demands.”  However, the interpretation of the message, of what the sacrifice is – that meaning is different.  The sacrifice is, rather, taking care of yourself first so that you have the best of you to offer to others.

To read more on this topic, please see posts, Criticize if You Love MeListen to The Intention in What People Say and Stop! Before Hurting Yourself or Others.

Because we as parents hold the power in the relationship, we can feel trapped by our own power.  What a confusion for many of us.  Holding power but feeling helpless.  Holding a stick in both hands, so to speak, not seeing that we can still use our occupied hands for anything else in the mean time.

This kind of choice takes Love.  This is the kind of choice that is a work of a life-time or of a moment, but is life.  See, Let It Go and Keep Going.

We can’t teach others that we are valuable and how to treat us with Love if we don’t do it ourselves for ourselves.  When we act on Love, self-care means that we don’t accept treatment that is inconsistent with Love.  If we accept bad treatment, we are saying that self-care is accepting our lack of choices versus making the choices that are still available despite the circumstance.

FriendShip... A gift of God.

Image by ~FreeBirD®~ via Flickr

This of course applies to any relationship.  It applies to any connection, whether it is in the work-place, marriage, if you are the child in the parent-child role, friendships – take your pick.  You can choose Love.  You can choose.  Self-care starts and ends with “Me.”

Freedom is a gift.  No matter how many times it is wrapped up and placed in our hands, if we don’t open it, use it, own it, we will never have it.  Freedom to choose has been given to us before we were born, just like our salvation.  The salvation will never be taken away.  Nor the freedom.  Both are elemental and constant.  But if we don’t pull on the ribbon, lift the lid and take – we can’t expect anything but living without what was inside.  Does the title “victim” even hold if it was our choice not to take what was already ours?

Question:  How do you claim your freedom to choose when all you perceive at the time is what has been taken away?  Please tell me your story.

Work Hard to Take Care of Yourself If You Want An Easier Time Taking Care Of Others

Self-Care Tip #174 – Work hard to take care of yourself if you want an easier time taking care of others.

My marriage has never been better.

Freedom Press (UK)

Image via Wikipedia

Kirsten had good posture.  She made eye contact and she wasn’t fidgeting when she told me about the changes in her life.  I hadn’t seen her in clinic for two years and apparently in that time she had set her husband free.  She was seeing less of him than she ever had and they were both busier than any other time in their lives.  Yet their marriage was at its peak.  I felt like I was getting off the point of why she came and wondered if asking her for details was unprofessional.  I did want to know.  Lucky for me, she wanted to tell and I just let it happen, as if I was doing her a favor.

I admit, sometimes I get something out of my clinicals.  I’m not always the best therapist.  I don’t always keep things about my patient when I let myself receive, or even actively take from them.  None of us are that altruistic.  Therapy is supposed to be one place any of us can go, and know that when we go, we can expect to receive everything except the fee-for-service.  Therapy should be the closest thing to a one way street in this non-altruistic world.

To my rescue, Kirsten said,

He has been meeting with friends, exercising, eating out and working the 12-Steps twice a week.

Yes he was sober, but he was also a bunch of other stuff.  Taking care of himself, he became a better husband.  Better body, clearer mind, happier, more attentive, less angry; she could hardly stop listing.

Freedom is useless....

Taking care of himself took a lot of work but it made taking care of her a lot less work.  True, she wasn’t the center of his life, she gave up on some fantasies, she didn’t ask him for more time, but all those in the past had only grown her own point of anger and blame and not the marriage dreams she thought they would – letting them go was a good thing.  Yet, cutting him free still felt risky to her.  She came to me because she was becoming more aware of what that fear was doing.  When she was afraid, she was sabotaging herself.  Bits of herself recognized that she could feel as free as her husband did.

To be free of fear for Kirsten, she needed medical help.  Kirsten’s fear came from nowhere, out of the blue and was not only triggered by suspicions about her husband.  To be free for Kirsten’s husband required other forms of self-care.

Question:  What kind of self-care does your freedom need?  How has your hard work on your own self-care spilled over into less work to care for others?

If You Have Something Good That’s Happened, Say It

Self-Help Graphics

Image by victoriabernal via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #164 – If you have something good that’s happened to you because of your self-care, tell others about it.  Be a friend to yourself.

Have you ever heard of SparkPeople.com?  I’ve been a member for a few years and believe they are one of the most supportive networks out there for diet and lifestyle change.  Today I received this email from one of their bloggers and thought to share it with you.

From “GUITARGAL2”

Today is my one year anniversary on SparkPeople.  I have to admit this is the longest amount of time that I have ever spent focusing on me and my health.  A few things I have learned in the past year are:

1. I can lose weight be happy.

2. I can educate myself on a healthy lifestyle.

3. I have learned that when I slip up, refocus, refocus, refocus.

4. I have learned that I like being a runner.

5. I have increased confidence.

6. I like how my clothes fit.

7. I don’t need chips and dips to feel satisfied.

8. Captain Morgan is not my friend.

9. I can inspire people.

10. Having a support system makes the difference.

One year ago I wrote on my SparkPage, I can do this, and I have.

This is only one example, as described by GUITARGAL2, of what self-care has done for her, specifically through diet and lifestyle change.  All of our lists are different and powerfully inspirational to others when we share them.  It also comes back to each of us, as good things will do.  How does it comes back?  Well, I can’t try to explain that kind of magic.

Keep talking.

Question:  What list do you have for the things self-care has given to you?  Please tell us.

“You” Are The Best Gift

colettebaronreid.com

Self-Care Tip #123 <–> Take care of yourself.

Before I was found by my man, my brother Vance Johnson used to tell me, “Become the woman whom the kind of man you hope to marry some day would want.”  It was one more thing that helped keep my focus off of searching for boyfun-friends and on to living my life.

Of course it doesn’t end when we get what we want.  When we stop growing, we stop living – as Sarah said in the blog-post, “You Are Enough.”  Regardless of where we are in life, we are responsible for being the person that the people we want in our life want to be with.

Many of us deteriorate under the guise of service, employment, obligation, parenting, care-giving or whatever reason.  We neglect ourselves and then give that battered up self to our hopes and to the people we love.

Don’t be misled.  If asked, those very people we are serving would say, “Just take care of yourself.”  If you don’t believe it, reverse it.  What do you want to say to the over-extended people you love?

Jennifer who is a stay at home mom, tells me that she feels so guilty when she takes time to go for a run.  She laughs, saying her husband wants her to go.  He comes home and tells her, “Go!  I’ll watch the kids.”  Yet she still feels bad.  She thinks about her husband’s long day at work and the kids moods, their needs, what she could do for them, and she can barely force herself to leave.  Once she does, she says she always feels great about herself and them, and comes home having more than she did before to offer.

aussiepatches.typepad.com

Taking care of ourselves, is giving the best gift to the people we love.  “Me.”  Taking care of ourselves might be the most selfless thing we could do.  It keeps us connected to our life journey, which by definition includes keeping us connected to the very people we love.

Keep on!

Question:  Where are you in your journey?  Taking care of yourself, connected, disconnected?  How does it affect those you love?  Please tell me your story.

Connect With Others to Get Friendly With Yourself

Self-Care Tip #81 – Connect with others.  Be a friend to yourself.

So you have bought into the famous, “You are not alone” stock.  After 2 months on psychotropics (medications for emotional illness,) you finally have an interest in people.  You are at least a little motivated and less afraid of things that move.  You don’t feel like you are the reason for original sin and more often than not, you think happiness might be more than what shopping can offer.  What is this strange and unfamiliar sensation?  And what to do with it?

It is time to connect.  Many of us get to the point where we no longer want to hide, we don’t hate ourselves, and we don’t hate others.  We get to the place of showing our under-belly just a little to the big wide world and are shocked that the only thing we feel is the wind as everyone is rushing by!  Just when we start wanting what we spent so much time hiding from, we seem to have forgotten how to connect with others.

It is no secret.  America is culturally impoverished.  We have little of cobblestone streets to meander down, dressed in clean clothes after a days work, checking up on neighbors and gossip.  We have few degrees of activity between full throttle and dead/no heart beat.   Come now!  How to connect in a world where our parents expected us to pay rent when we turned 18years old?

If you find yourself in something of this situation try on one of these basic tools and see what fits.  You can’t expect them all to.  So if you strike out a few times, keep on!

1.  Volunteer – for example, and in no particular order…

2.  Meetup.com – an awesome site to find people interested in what you are interested in.  e.g. book clubs, skiing, small business, Italian

3.  Support groups

4.  Write!  Although this at first thought may appear isolating, it is not necessarily.

  • Blog!  🙂
  • Journal

5.  Toastmasters

There is so much more.  Please let me know your thoughts and I’ll keep adding to this list!

Self-Care Tip #81 – Connect with others.  Be a friend to yourself.

This Side of the Fence

When taking care of ourselves, we are taking care of others.  It might be counterintuitive.  There is a circle service can turn us in.  I give to you, I take care of you, I start realizing at some level that I’m not being taken care of, I hold you responsible now for my neglect, and then around again.  Some support this pattern from cultural influences.  Some with intuition.

This can be a place we find ourselves in our relationship to anything or anyone.  Employment or even unemployment.  We may find ourselves saying things like why me, or feeling like we are selected out by some greater force to suffer.  Any time self-reflection whispers anything about the word “victim,” look for the “circle-walk.”

Now some listening to this might say service is the best thing of their lives and imply that without service, life isn’t right.  Sure.  However, that’s not my argument.  Mine is that taking care of one’s own self is also a form of service to others.  In fact, let’s boldly put taking care of one’s self at the top of the service list.  Standing up there can feel awkward, presumptive, selfish, unChristian.  What does it feel like for you?

I’m told 😉 this is hard.  It is.  We just try our best.  Every day we try again.  Every moment we remember, we try.  My husband often says, “God is a God of second chances.”  I think He wants us to treat ourselves with as much courtesy.

In addictions therapy, we tell the addict that a relapse isn’t a failure, it is part of the road to recovery.  When we take care of ourselves, we may find ourselves up against any number of forces, including patterned negative behaviors. We can learn from the brave people fighting the disease of addiction. When we don’t treat ourselves well, we are not a failure.  Rather we are on the road to becoming a better friend to ourselves.  That also takes courage.

Onward and upward my friends!  Let me know what you think.

Self Care Tip #28 – Look at your own side of the fence.  Be a friend to yourself.