Get in Someone’s Space

The woman writes, but only for herself, she says.  “Why?”  I can’t remember her answer.  My thoughts stayed on the question, wondering why we don’t connect with our community.

Dropping off my children at school this morning, I noticed the pubescent girl with blunted face, guarded eyes, crossed arms, standing alone even surrounded by other kids.  Ouch!  I wanted to hover over her.  Guard her from what ever it is that’s scaring her.  Touch her arms and hair and make her understand that she is important to the universe on a small-scale and large-scale.  Of course I might have been arrested if I did, so I just walked on to safety.

Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, writes

A feeling of connection to others is nature’s Xanax.

Some of my families with disabled children struggle hard to take care of their own.  They often wait until at cliffs edge emotionally, financially, physically to consider placement for their disabled child.  When helping them get past their barriers to placement, we find guilt, fear and shame in the way.  These children often do better physically and emotionally when they are in group homes and away from the emotional burdens in their nuclear family homes.  We need community and community needs us.  Each of us.  Joana Johnson, neuroscientist, says that placement, is in fact a way families can connect with their community and with their child.

Some skeptic personalities struggle to trust the links between us, not out of paranoia, but rather because it is the hard-wiring in their nature

to question things. There is also the introvert, who is often alone not because they don’t like people, but because that is how they get energy.  However, regardless of genetic predispositions, we are all designed to have community.

Mary Shelley tells us through her Frankenstein, that we are better people in the company of others.  We see forces that keep us from sharing ourselves.  But let us not believe those forces.  Break past.  Let us believe our own better Creator who tells us, connect.  Tell our stories.  Stick a finger out and get in someone’s space.  Do what we must to let them into ours.

Self Care Tip #42 – Share yourself and get community.  Be a friend to yourself.

Something Decadently Enticing

Oh rotten orange!  I found one stinking up my pantry.  Little fruit flies netting the air above.  Green fur staining my basket below.  The fruit touching it changing colors for no reason other than proximity.

Stay healthy.  Staying healthy is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for those we “share space” with, those we love.  It is a gift any way you look at it.

Exercise helps, including with emotional health.  Yet, how many of us do?  About 30%.  Some of us use negative self talk to get ourselves out there.  “I’m fat.”  “I’m going to have a heart attack if I don’t.”  “I won’t qualify for that insurance if I don’t.”  All of which may be true.  However, does it work for us?  Apparently 1/3 of the time.

We use the negative feedback to motivate ourselves.  But just as in children, we know it doesn’t work.

If a child lives with approval, he learns to live with himself

-Dorothy Law Nolte

Positive reinforcement is helpful in any context.  Who knows!  Maybe that rotten orange would have tried harder to stay fresh with emotional perks?!

Each of us needs to find our own positive feedback that works.  Our interests are different so it’s not universal.  However, we can be our own behavioral therapist in this.

I have found for myself that I never exercised consistently until I turned exercise into something decadently enticing.  I load up 3 large glasses of water and take them to my bike.   My bike is in an alone place.  In front of my stationary bike is our only television.  There I watch whatever I want!  I don’t allow myself to watch TV at any other time.  It is special.  Reserved for my exercise.  I can’t wait to get back to my show or movie almost every morning!

When I want to hit the streets with a walk or a jog, I listen to audio books that I only listen to when I’m exercising.

I have to set aside some persuasive treats that are now linked in my mind to exercising.  Now when I think of exercising, I am nothing but happy about it.  It is behavioral modification at it’s best.  Hopefully this is helping me and those I touch in life.

Self Care Tip #42 – Turn exercise into something decadently enticing!  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What positive reinforcement works for you?

The Paradox

On my mind today are the unfortunate kids I have seen in clinic. One in particular whom I have treated for several years. I now realize the horror of his situation. I’m angry at myself because I have treated him for this long and didn’t realize till last week in clinic that he was being trafficked. I now understand that other kids I work with are also. He’s suffering emotional neglect in his home. It looks like his family despises him. Last week I told his Mom that I wouldn’t see them again in clinic if she didn’t go to parenting classes. I’ve also been recommending regularly that he go to a group home until things get better. I finally heard the reason that for years, she has refused. She said, “If he goes to a group home, we’re going to be homeless.” Ouch. She and hers are living on the government support they get for “taking care” of him.

Upset, I told my husband about this form of child trafficking and he said he’s seen something similar in his profession. Whole families become homeless once their mother (government supported), dies. They don’t want her to die. It’s not the same though similar. It would be more similar if they were neglecting or abusing their mother while “taking care” of her through the dying process. That probably happens too in other families.

To make matters more complicated, I found out from my nurse, that now the government requires the families to pay part of the group home placement to offset the costs. And if CPS is called, they just ignore it. She cited one case when CPS was called 13 times, each time stating that there was insufficient evidence. Apparently the funding to CPS has also been cut down significantly.

Today in my son’s church school after collecting offering, the teacher prayed, “May this money go to help all the children who need You around the world.” I found my prayers were for these people. A handful of coins and dollars to help. And prayer.

My husband‘s friend, Emilio Russ, quit his work a couple of years ago and went to the Philippines to fight child trafficking. He started a home and school for those prostituted and enslaved kids – “My Refuge House.” When he came back with his pregnant wife and 3 kids, he didn’t have a job. But they were uncomplaining and loud mouthed with praise and hope. Many months later, my husband’s friend has a job and those kids in the Philippines still have their home and school. Wow!

Madeline L’Engle, says that we’ve forgotten how to walk on water. I’ve seen skeeters do it and I don’t think it’s that many steps away from me being able to do it. But I’ve forgotten how somehow.

“Madeleine L’Engle understands that real art is only created when the artist gets out of the way and allows himself to be worked through, which, paradoxically, requires work on the artist’s part.”

AIDAN GRANO

These states of horrible suffering call for something amazing to happen. All great work, even on our own selves allows for what I call magic. Magic of letting go, but at the same time giving all your passion and muscle. I am angry at myself for not seeing what is around me. I think in this case, that is the beginning or maybe the continuation of something magical in me. I plan on getting my water feet yet.

Self Care Tip #15 – Embrace the paradox. Be a friend to yourself.

A Woman’s Work

It doesn’t take as much work as publicized to take care of our children. I’m not saying it’s not hard, here as I put my throbbing feet up on my coffee table and write. However, I will say that the real work, the difficult work, the work that isn’t in the headlines, is a woman’s work. Taking care of ourselves. It is hard. Taking care of our children is natural, instinctual, congruent with our inner selves. Taking care of our children is on our minds before anything else, without trying. However, taking care of “Me” is not. You want to see a woman sweat? Watch her try to peel away the guilt when she’s writing a blog instead of reading to her kids ;). Wedging time in for yourself, seeking out to know yourself, teasing apart your thoughts to find your voice and then acting on what you discover – that is hard work.

Then why do we spend so much time talking about how hard it is to care for our kids? Hmm. Because talking about ourselves doesn’t interest anyone. Talking about that isn’t applauded. In fact, we feel ashamed of it. When we stop fighting for this though, stop working until we sweat, when we stop pressing in to the heart of this most difficult challenge, than we stop growing. The shame that hides us drifts over and touches the very ones we are sacrificing for. How we see ourselves eventually is how they see us too. In the end, will we even understand why?

What would happen however if we did our most difficult job? Wow! The idea is huge. Everyone wins I think. It may not be so apparent and it may not be as celebrated as Mother’s Day. But we do. Our kids do. Our partners, our families, our communities, and on. It starts right here with “Me.”

Self Care Tip #7 – Work a woman’s work. Be a friend to yourself.