As a teenager and into early adulthood, I struggled with severe panic attacks before there was even a name for them and, back then, you didn't dare tell anyone what you experiencing, lest you be deemed crazy. Feeling alone and not voicing it made it all the worse. My step mother - whom we considered the health guru since her dad was a doctor, asked me questions that seemed to make no sense. "Have you eaten today?" The answer, most often, was "No!" As a counseling, then psyche major my focus was on trying to find some etiology for my symptoms and, to be perfectly honest, what I was learning in college about it was pretty grim. It took a trip to the emergency room to know that something needed to change, if I could only figure out what! Over time, I began learning about holistic health and mind-body connection and realized that drinking six cups of coffee a day - on an empty stomach - and then drinking wine at night and eating the typical college diet of pizza and Mexican food (margaritas included) may well factor into the problem.
Coming from a split home and having had some childhood traumas - a cousin who drowned, numerous students, teachers and parents in my small town suffering sudden deaths during high school - it seemed most certain that this anxiety and panic was rooted somewhere in these tragedies. But it didn't matter what attempts I made through therapy, smoking, alcohol, and even yoga and meditation. Nothing could penetrate that anxiety as long as my diet continued to be as it had been. For a test, I stopped drinking coffee for several years (now mix half decaf and half regular) and began eating high protein, but small meals or snacks every two-to-three hours. Anyone who has panic attacks knows that solutions offered when you are in a sensitized state render hopeless on your ears so I was unprepared for the immediate and completely effective change.
The panic attacks stopped immediately and I was able to quickly see that, tragic as those events were, they did not have to haunt me for the rest of my life and, in fact, were not even remotely tied to the anxiety. What I didn't realize at the time is that when we are in a state of dysfunction, distress, dis-ease - basically being out of balance - for a length of time, we adjust our behaviors, beliefs, and interactions accordingly. Relationships formed during that time play by different rules of engagement then those that are formed in healthy times and those rules don't work when we are healthy. Therefore, there is still work to be done - often undoing patterns developed during that time. But in order to get to that point, we must FIND OUR BASELINE! Correcting the diet and any habits that put our bodies into stress is what first brings us to our baseline.
Once we find our baseline, many of the things we thought were trauma and problems naturally fall away. Then the relationships and habits that we formed during that time can be clearly seen and we can begin our work there. Two analogies make this clearer. Think of a car. If we don't change the fluids, keep oil levels filled and water in the radiator, it can overheat or blow an engine because we haven't given the car what it needs. When it has no gas, it simply stops running. What if your car was out of gas and, knowing nothing about automobiles, you took it to get a new transmission (that it didn't need) but didn't fill the tank. What would happen if you tried to start the car? Would the problem be fixed? We do the same with our bodies by not giving it the basic and proper nutrients that it needs (hint: fast and processed foods are not it) and then we expect it to run with all fluids on empty. When it breaks down - via displaying symptoms at first - we give it a new transmission (medication) and then try to continue on with no fluids - wondering why we are in perpetual states of dis-ease, illness, and emotional distress with no results.
The next analogy is that of an onion. Think of your baseline as taking the loose peels off an onion. The loose peels are the 'noise'. Noise are the things that block you from truly knowing where you stand - your baseline. Once you get to the tighter peels - that still need to come off in order for the onion to be completely edible - these are the true things that need work - and this is often the unspoken relationship rules and the habits that you developed in a time of imbalance. Today, I challenge you to find your baseline. Look at your habits - eating and drinking, exercise or lack of, smoking, caffeine, or anything else that may be throwing you off balance. Consider eating home-cooked meals made from scratch (boxed and packaged mixes are not scratch!) Add fresh (not canned or processed) fruits and vegetables to your diet. Fresh (live) foods have energy and give your body that energy. Think about your caffeine intake, your alcohol consumption, and exercise habits. Are they feeding you or bleeding you? Remember, an initial feed can quickly become a bleed when we overindulge or continue to indulge after it's useful expiration date. Are there people or relationships that have expired their usefulness in your life? Or that never should have been there in the first place? Basically, everything in our lives feeds or bleeds us. Ask yourself what your bleeds are. GET TO YOUR BASELINE! Always start with nutrition, diet and exercise, then look at who and what you have surrounded yourself with. When you discover your baseline, that's when the vision and goal becomes clear, and the true, adventurous work can be done.
Seeing all the ads on social media and the internet that target the sick, depressed, and mentally unwell can be overwhelming. Whether it is big pharma or individual healers, our first intent should be to 'heal'.
There are many paths to wellness, the best being prevention through diet and exercise. The great news is, our bodies are healing machines that are designed to heal themselves. The quickest way to wellness is by removing the obstacles and giving our body and spirit what it needs to restore itself, ward off illness and disease, and generate health. Even more astounding, we are all healers and have abilities to heal one another – it’s just a matter of finding one’s own gifts and abilities.
Some may heal through herbalism. Another may do energy healing through Reike while another has healing hands through massage. But one misconception that many people have is believing they have no ability to shift the direction of their own wellness.
As a true healer, the heart must be to assist our clients to find their own healing 'mojo' and empower them to create their own wellness. As they learn this for themselves they, in turn, can empower others. As Jesus said, "The poor and sick will always be among us." (Matthew 26:11). This will always be the case. But as we enlighten people to their true inner power, we hand them a key to the next level of spiritual and physical evolution. And rest assured, the world could always use more healers. There will always be room for all of us!
True power comes only with empowering others to develop to their fullest potential. A good counselor doesn’t advise and tell people what to do. They listen without judgement, and empower their clients to develop and trust their own intuition and decision making so that the client no longer needs them. The heart of a healer is to teach and empower. The joy of a healer comes when their clients shed their cocoon and fly away on their own.
Healing is something we can rejoice together in and cheer one another on with our success stories. It makes the world a better place. While not everyone chooses it as their life work, there can never be too many healers in the world. It’s time we bring it back, give it back, and help our clients to 'remember who they are'. So today, tomorrow, and from this day forward, my fellow healers, Remember who YOU are!!!
Lately, I've thought alot about the balance in our lives as far as sharing our gifts with others. When are we ready to teach? If we are honest with ourselves, most of what we do and know are things we learned from other people who have mastered the journey before us, perhaps only just a few steps ahead. We may be the person who developed an idea and ran with it, but, most always. it was someone else who planted a seed that resonated and inspired us to water it and make it grow to its fullest potential.
In my own journey with the energy concept, it was my assistant at work that first introduced me to the field of 'energy' and Feng Shui. Being very organized and creative, anything she put her hand to turned out perfect, whether cooking, a home renovation, design project, or art, she made Martha Stuart look like the blue-haired stepchild. During our eight years of working together, we were each other's teacher and student - each sharing our strengths with the other.
But her talents were only known to a few. She was a perfectionist and, though she talked about various business ideas, they never came to fruition because she wanted them to be perfect. She creates, then destroys some of her projects that other people would only dream of having, simply because she is waiting for perfection. Perfection never comes! And if we wait for it, we will never move forward and we miss that wonderful journey that a lump of clay goes through as it is moulded and refined in the masters hands.
Perhaps you too are waiting for perfection. You may find yourself critical of those who are less talented but brave enough to put their work out there and allowing the world to see the process. But in being 'perfect', the true heart and soul of our work is lost because, though it may be flawless, it loses the magic of the refining process for perfection. Denying ourselves the vulnerability of imperfection can lead to a head full of theories coupled with a lack of personal experience with the change process and, in turn, can make us overly critical of those who are in the playing field of life while refining their own journey.
If you find yourself standing on the sidelines of life, waiting for perfection before you share your own beautiful magic to the world, you just may be missing the boat! You may be missing the opportunity to touch the lives of many. Though we see imperfection, what we have to offer at any point in our journey may be exactly what another person needs. I invite you to jump into the game regardless of where you see yourself on the perfection scale. Jump into the playing field of life and allow yourself, like that lump of clay, to bump shoulders with the imperfect, feeling yourself becoming smoother and well rounded and watching your team mates doing the same. OWN your journey; All of it! The perfect and the imperfect! OWN your magic and rock it!
The Energy Model of Therapeutic Change is a mode of therapy that I developed back in the early 1990's as a final project for my Master's in Psychology. Originally, I called it the "Total Life Management Therapeutic Model of Change". The premise was that most people come to therapy because of three things: Anxiety, Depression, and Relationship issues. But the further along we got working together, the more evident it was that these were mere manifestations of symptoms from other things going on in their lives, much of which could be dealt with quite simply.
Comparing current and long-held therapy approaches of delving into a persons past and dissecting it to find a source of their current trauma, it was evident that this only seemed to keep them in therapy much longer - sometimes years - while they are still toiling and spinning just to find peace in their present. There was a lot these people could do in the moment to alleviate their stress and anxiety that would give them the upper edge on dealing with the past if it was still needed. There were several whom, once they applied simple approaches no longer felt the need to continue to dig up past events that no longer held power over them because the symptoms they sought help for were gone.
Not long ago there was a stigma attached to those who sought mental health help. These days, it's become a badge of honor. Neither is good as both serve to keep people sick! During the stigma days, I went on my own six-month therapy stint, doing my best to keep people from finding out, yet having that heart-racing feeling of withdrawal as each next session drew near. The biggest help for me, though, came from a co-worker – twenty years my senior (I was 18) – who told me my issue was panic attacks and gave me a complete, accurate description which, for the first time, assured me I wasn’t alone or nuts.
Years later, after going to school and becoming a therapist myself, it was disillusioning to attend workshops and conferences that seemed to focus on keeping people on the counseling couch rather than guiding them back to living their life completely and holistically. We were trained on ways to probe to bring up memories and, at one seminar, was even told it didn’t matter if the memories were true or false if they could be used as a tool to work with the person. My mind screamed that feeding a false narrative is neither healthy nor healing, but only offers a fictitious scapegoat. New labels and diagnoses were put on common maladies such as moodiness, Premenstrual Syndrome, and rambunctiousness, calling them things like bi-polar, personality disorder, and ADHD. The common denominator was that all created the need for medication and therapy where, previously, people relied more on family and friend support and it was just as effective without the side effects.. It seemed that my clients who went on medication ended up needing long-term therapy while those who rallied their support system and made (often very simple) lifestyle changes had a speedier recovery. Worse, many are told that they will never be able to get off their medication without relapsing into mental illness, yet the medications themselves often cause side effects that are the same or worse than the symptoms they are trying to treat, not to mention severe withdrawal of coming off them.
The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone
The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone
The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone
The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone
Did you ever wonder what would happen if you woke up one day and your ankle bone was missing, and you got up and tried to walk? Or perhaps the thigh bone went off on vacation? Well, to be honest, me neither. But obviously, each component of our skeletal structure is critical to the overall functioning of our body. Believe it or not, the same concept applies to human energy within our own body and lives. An energy blockage or breakdown in one key-life area will cripple you in other, if not all areas. Without a total understanding of how one area affects the other, it is easy to become a ‘repeat offender’ in one of our energy fields (key-life areas) and not realize that it is the cause of a failure in another. It makes me think of that cliché definition of mental illness: repeating the same actions over and over expecting different results. This was common place with clients in the past and, perhaps, I may have been guilty of it myself.
Having lived 30 years in extremely cold temperatures and a ton of snow and grey skies for half the year or more, my soul passions and life-energy were put on hold during those periods. I had dreamed of moving to a warmer climate but there were always friends, family, or a job that kept me from making the change. So, like a flower that gets mowed down every time it starts to bloom, that's how I felt every year come November through April. Little did I know that half of achieving our dreams is our location! That's right! It's really as simple as that!
One of the most disillusioning things as a counselor dealing with both mentally ill or those who simply needed to manage specific problems or stress, was the lack of connection between mind, body, and spirit. The reality is, both in mental and physical health, there is much the individual can do to alleviate their symptoms, which in turn, may negate the need for intervention altogether, or at the very least, minimize the help that is needed. The reason this is so
important is because our bodies are healing machines that are designed to care for themselves. But over-indulging lifestyles and medications that often create secondary illnesses keep us ill at ease, partly because they are not getting to the root causes.
If you do without today
what most people won't
You can have tomorrow
what most people can't
Sounds pretty basic, and yet it is! We lay a strong financial
foundation for ourselves when we are willing to focus on our needs and 'pay ourselves through saving and investing rather than having an 'I want it all now'mentality. We've all seen that person or family who seems to have no worries and has all of the amenities life has to offer, only to have it come crashing down on them within a few years, leaving them struggling through their forties, fifties, and sixties when they should be enjoying the fruits of their life's work. Too many people live in a house of cards that is just waiting to collapse.
I had never intended to have more than a few close friends on Facebook but over the years, my friends list has jumped from a few to over 700. I hesitate to write about this lest someone feel they are being singled out. But rest assured, posts like this are quite common. Posts like this...
"I don't understand why people feel the need to spend their time drinking and creating drama! You may think you can talk trash about my kids and I but I don't have time for drama! I have a life to live and don't have time for this kind of crap....."