Lupita Nyong’o Speech on Beauty – W-O-W! And, thank you.

“…and my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.”

This woman gets us. Friend to yourself. Keep on.

Old and Dying – Why We Are Still Alive

geriatric lady

Sweaty, well-worn, in bike-ware, she was eating comfortably with her friend.  I kept trying not to stare and just had to fight it!  I wanted to imprint her shiny wrinkled yet blooming geriatric status and break down what I saw into categories of self-care moves to grow old by.  She looked really good.

I managed to finish eating at, (Oh my word! Yum! My new binge and bolt location,) Zinc Cafe, without ruining her appetite with a big hug and smooch from crazy-staring-stranger, me.  I almost congratulated myself, it was so hard not to do.  Nevertheless, when walking out I did stop and tell her she was beautiful and that I wanted to grow up to be her.  She bloomed even more, right there and then.  It was swell.  Good food.  Good role-model to remember.

We think it is our best years that people will identify us by.  But they do not just do that.  They think of us as how we are now too.  More importantly is how we think of ourselves – of Me.

It is different for everyone.  Why we want to be here.  Understanding why, is a universal interest.  It is the other side of value in the aging process.

My parents are getting old.  I am.  My patients and their parents are getting old.  We are dying.

My dad is old.  He just turned seventy-nine.  He is not wearing bike shorts.  He is not a blooming geriatric.  But I value him and saying why, well, I realize starts with “Me.”  It is not because of him thirty years ago. It is about his life these last thirty years.  It is about his Me, now.

The present does not prove nor negate the past.  Our value is more than that.

Sometimes I visit community practitioners.   Please visualize that all of this is in the middle of their busy clinic day, racing between exam rooms to meet patient needs.  I am standing at a nurses station perhaps, dressed in something über professional, (to hide the gypsy in me as well as I can.  But if it were you, you would not be fooled by the cut of my lapel!)  I catch the eye of the clinician and receive a strained smile, almost hearing her say, “Come on!  I’m dying here!  I have three patients waiting!”  But generally they do not actually say it, generally.  And sometimes, they are snagged by the magic of connection, take my elbow and draw me away into a private space where they can share their story.  In a matter of moments.

We are skilled at shaving moments here and there.  Skilled at putting as few words into a fat minute that can convey the large concept needed just Now!  We learn this over brow-beating years of managed care medical practice, personal choices, convoluted expectations and need to please – self, other, insurance or what not.  When clinicians share stories, we do it like we are late catching the train to heaven.

From these visits, I get more to my quality of practice.  I get known, and get to know.  Awesome.  It is a newer part of my “work,” that I have been doing this, and I am loving it.  I meet the people who are the other side of our patient’s treatment team.  I meet people who are both human and medical clinicians.  Realness surrounds them.  Life stories come from them.  In a fat minute I hear about their past, gain some understanding of their present and from that, I am given much.  One physician told me of his beloved daughter who suicided, another of her husband’s chronic brain illness and how their family struggles.  I shared how my young cousin hung himself and that part of me who is groping toward that space and time before he died.

To know who we are despite our changing emotions and behaviors, our changing identities, improves our understanding of life value.  Somehow, Dad has known that, without bike shorts.  He continues to mentor me in that.  I do not know about the beautiful geriatric at breakfast, but who is to say she does not know her value?  Not Me.  But I am going to explore my own, for my sake.  I am getting old.

Self-Care Tip:  Look and look some more for why you are valuable.

Questions:  What is valuable about you, even though you have lost so much in life?  Why are you still alive?  Please tell us your story.

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Feeling Trapped is Doom

Freedom

Freedom (Photo credit: Intrepidteacher)

Did someone put a knife in my neck?

Goodbye sex.  Goodbye flirting.  Goodbye self-esteem.  It was a down-right turnoff for life, let alone sex.  He could not think of one thing worth living for, but killing yourself turned out to be a lot harder than self-loathing.

Sheez, pain was distracting.  Unable to work out in his club with anything that jiggled him waste-line and up, Monty knew he should look for a pool but he could not focus on even that long enough to Google it.  He felt guilty and then angry that he felt guilty about something he was trapped by.

Monty told me about how his life was now closed off from everything he found pleasure in.  He described his circumstance like a walled in monk with a small envelope-sized window through which he received water and bread.  The difference between him and the monk was that he did not choose to be cloistered.  He was a victim of his injury and nothing could help.

Feeling trapped is doom.  I listened to Monty describe his life without freedom to choose. His life was not there for him to participate in.  He was excluded.  Monty was doomed, per Monty.  So what was the point, indeed?  What was the doom-script doing for him?  Was he getting anything besides yuck from it?

Monty, the way you describe yourself does not have any place for you.  Either you really are trapped, or there is a door, or a false wall, or a sun-roof that you do not know about.  Or maybe you have a brick-braking tool available?

People from every point on the spectrum of brain illnesses defend their position of entrapment with more volition than a the red-tailed hawks flying above the groves around my house.  Even family members of persons with brain illnesses have defended the perception that their loved one does not have freedom to choose, as if suggestions of freedoms were the essence of social injustice, ignorance and stigma.

But it is not the pursuit of freedom that traps us. It is our fear.

Feeling trapped serves a purpose however.  It protects us from something that feels shameful.  It protects us from that which invokes fear.  Wanting not to feel shame or fear is not so wrong though, is it?  Wanting not to go toward what might be unbearable seems reasonable to me.  If it were truly unbearable.  If it were friendly to Me.  If it was not the road out of that hell-existence, out of that bricked in crypt, toward a place of greater safety.  If then, it would not be so bad.

Self-care tip:  When feeling trapped, do what does not feel safe and go toward your shame and fear.

Question:  How have you been able to find freedom in places where you feel trapped?  How do you manage to go toward shame when you feel so much fear?  Please tell us your story.

Discover Your Sweetness – Value, That is To Say

English: Casimiroa edulis, White sapote fruit ...

Image via Wikipedia

My kids look at fruit as if they are inspecting a diamond for flaws.

Is this a good one Mommy? 

My daughter was pointing at a blemish that comes from fruit grown outside in dirt and not genetically engineered.

My huffing sounds are barred by something almost like maturity, just in time.  I pick up a different White Sapote with broken skin and beak marks where it is half eaten by whoever got there first.

After spitting out the seeds, I remembered bits of my filthy self as a daddy-chasing kid.  The words dusted off and important to me again, I heard Dad say,

Pick the fruit that the birds have pecked at.  They know what’s good better than we do.  Here Sana.  Take this one.  This is really sweet.

The fruit turning in my daughter’s hand, the cast-offs still in the basket, her anxiety about finding the best and my dad’s words came at me like the sounds between Broadway and 42nd Street.  And out walked Jean.

Jean was a patient I had known, particular to me despite common problems.

Abuse since at least my daughter’s age or younger.  Neglect.  Disgusting trauma survived.

Jean who, after getting picked on for the first thirty years of her life, came to me, insisting on living.  She resisted being a White Sapote in a bowl on the counter, inspected by passerbys.  Her community had tried to declare her value, her second chances and hoped to cast her off.

Pick the fruit that the birds have pecked at.  They know what’s good better than we do.  Here Sana.  

Jean’s face was in my memory.  Her white scar on her black skin shocked me; a large keloid.

Take this one.  This is really sweet.

I gave my daughter a squeeze and told her what Papa had said.  I’m so glad my daughter reminded me about this in we who have been hurt.  (Okay.  That’s all of us, see it or not.)  The way Jean grew, looked for light, the courage she answered to, the newness that came out of used up and shabbiness – Jean was teaching me about value.

Even when we are not behaving well, when we don’t look good and when we drop the market price, we have value.  Somehow, being chosen for life is more important than being chosen to suffer.  I wish I could explain why and how better but it’s just something each of us will have to experience for ourselves.  We will have to in humility and wisdom, like Jean’s or my dad’s wisdom, find the sweetness in Me.

Questions:  What is it about you that is particularly sweet?  Do you perceive your value?  Per what measure or qualifier? Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Discover your sweetness.  Be a friend to yourself

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Deliberately Setting Myself Up To Improve

dayspa-1

Image by samuelalove via Flickr

Self-care is about improving life, not harm.  Even though it includes doing things we don’t enjoy and sometimes hurt, it doesn’t harm us.

That’s a useful meter-stick when we wonder about something in our life.  Is this harming us?  Including people.  Do I feel better about myself when I’m with them?  Do they help me become a better person?  A better friend to myself?  Or, do they turn me toward things that harm me?

When thinking about our days activities, our choice of employment, things we put in our body, put them by this “No-Harm Meter-Stick” and see how they measure.

A deliberate check-point in my life is consistent with a deliberate goal.  …”I want to be  healthy.  Is this improving my health?”  “I want to have good self-esteem.  Does this improve my self-esteem?”  And the journey is consistent with the beginning and the end.  If the goals for the moment isn’t consistent with our big picture goals than they might not be the goals we want.  Like putting substances in our body that feel good for the moment but harm our life.  There are innumerable examples of this but you get the picture.

Questions:  What checks you when you need it?  What has been useful to remind you in this area or that to be friendly to yourself?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Deliberately set up feedback in your life to let you know that you are a friend to yourself.

See blog-Post:  “You” Are The Best Gift

In Mass and Individually, We Are Beautiful – Lady Gaga

Someone, who has experience fighting for her emotional and behavioral health, advised me to listen to Lady Gaga – Born This Way.  She said, “Don’t be scared by it!  Just listen!”

So I did.  And then I did again.  Her message is not, “Don’t stress out.  Don’t work hard.  Just be who you are.”  It is rather, “Figure out who you are and embrace that fully.”  By her own example, she tells us to work harder than anything else on embracing that.  Gaga says, love this unique self and respect it openly and privately.  She tells us that we are all beautiful in mass and individually.

So let us know what you think!  Is her message our message here at FriendtoYourself.com?  Are you uncomfortable with loving yourself so well?  Please tell me your story.

Where Do Emotions and Behaviors Come From?

Emotion

Last night at our self-care workshop, we asked the question,

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

The answers, were nice and varied; none the same.  It’s such a great question though, don’t you think?  It would be great to hear from you as well.

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

Then, would you tell us if it has qualified your worth?  self-esteem?  confidence?

Has it affected where you go for help with them?

Self-Care Tip #266 – Answer, “Where do emotions and behaviors come from?” for better self-care.