In these moments…

I love to see a moment unfold before my eyes, so much so that I have the awareness to take it all in and appreciate it. As I am climbing into bed tonight, feeling fulfilled from the day, I hear the rain outside and realize how peaceful it is. Quiet rainfall, not a downpour, and all I can hear in this moment are the drops hitting the roof. I would normally reach for the remote for the tv but instead, in this moment, I reach for my iPad and decide the time is better for an introspective blog post.

I look for these moments in my life and when I see them I identify them internally and depending on the company sometimes externally. I have moments all the time with or without the benefit of company or structure. Here are two examples that are still top of mind:

  • The other day I was driving home and saw a rainbow that was a full arc, end to end. In that moment I realized how magical it was and all that I had to be grateful for in this life.
  • On Friday as I was wrapping up a second day of doing budgets, it occurred to me as I sat with the three brilliant minds that make-up my team that I was in such perfect company. I told them as much.

Life is full of these moments however if you are not allowing the space to see them occur before you they will move on unidentified. This is the best reason I can think of for simply taking a moment when you get it; truly seizing that moment and reveling in it. A song, a rainbow, a feeling, whatever the moment is revel in it. You will not get that moment back every again, because it is just that, a moment in time and then it is gone.

I appreciate the impact of a moment so much that I have made a habit of texting someone when I am thinking about them. Just a quick note that says, “You are on my mind”. I do it because I believe in the energy of the universe and that if something comes to mind it is likely because of a flow of energy surrounding that thought or person. I did this recently for a beautiful friend of mine that has been working very long days away from home and she later told me, “Lori, you have no idea that at the moment I got your text, I needed it the most.”. She noted that there was no possible way I could have known what she was going through in that moment but what I did know is she came to my mind so strongly that it urged me to let her know she was in my thoughts.

Tonight I hope that you take a moment and simply breathe in the air around you reminding yourself that these moments in life are fleeting and the only way to truly “seize the day” is to stop, stop everything, and take a moment for yourself. You deserve to see the world around you. Take time to smell the roses, tell someone you are thinking about them and most importantly take care of yourself. You are the moment.

Life as it inspired me tonight – L.

Who are you…really?

This moment in our lives when everything we thought “was” “is” we are faced with many questions about life and who we are. We walk around in this world in “roles” as defined:

the function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation

When that assumed function or part is no longer relevant because the situation no longer exists who are you? The situational roles cannot “define” you as they are only relevant in those situations however those roles that are truly defined are who we are regardless of situation. Mom is a role we play regardless of situation, if you are a Mom you are and will always be a Mom. “Director of ______” is a title that becomes a role you play in a situation. That “title” does not have relevance in all situations.

Why do I go into all of this? Well because I think it is easy to identify with these titles that truly cannot define us however when we lack definition of who we are we claim these titles as identity. The issue in a time like this when we are stripped of those titles, roles or fantasies of who we tell ourselves we are or better who others think we are, is that we are forced to face what is left…who are you? Who are you…really???

This is the time to look inward, reflect, revisit your plan and start over again. As Swizz Beatz, an American hip hop recording artist, DJ and record producer said, “everyone should have a 2.0 version of their game-plan. If you don’t use this time you never will. How many times have you heard people say, “only if I had time to do…”. This is the TIME.”

He is right, the time is now to define who you REALLY are and then decide who you want to be and make the game-plan.

I want to offer you an exercise to try-out as you are exploring “what’s next” in this journey, building your 2.0 version of who you and who you want to be. This was offered by Tim Ferris in a 2015 TED Talk and can be very revealing if you just give it the time, the idea is not goal-setting but FEAR-setting…let’s explore.

  • Fear-Setting – 
    • Ask yourself the following “What if I…?” and then do the work to “Define”, “Prevent” and “Repair”.
      • Define – write all of the worst things that will happen if you take that step. Write at least 10 things that you fear will happen.
      • Prevent – write down the answer to prevent each of these from happening or decrease the likelihood. 
      • Repair – what can you do to repair the damage if the worst thing happens.
    • What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success in your “What if I…” scenario?
      • You could build confidence and/or develop skills and ultimately everything is a learning experience. 
    • What is the cost of inaction (emotionally, physically, financially, etc.) in 6 mos, 1 yr or 3 yrs? 
      • If I avoid this action or decision what might my life look like?

I like this exercise because it forces us to face the reasons why we don’t act on those things we say we want. It is more revealing than goal-setting because goals can at times become ethereal and allowing a sort of “hall-pass” if we don’t reach them. Fear-setting requires you to face IT, reveal IT and solve IT.

Who is it that you WANT to BE, what is it that you WANT to DO, what is IT? We are all at a proverbial START LINE, we are ALL starting over at some place and now is the time. If not now, when? Are you staying where you are because _______________ (fill in the blank)? How does that serve you today and how will it motivate you tomorrow?

Who you really are is here and now. You are no longer the titles that are bestowed upon you but are faced with who you are in “real” life. You are Mom, you are sister, you are friend or you are not. Only you know what you and who you really are and ultimately how much it matters to you to be that person or want for something more or different.

A close friend and mentor of mine called me the other night and as we were reminiscing over 21 years of friendship she reminded me of who I was when she first met me. She recounted, “You had no confidence and doubted yourself because of an education that at the time you did not have…” but in her eyes an education I did not need. She went on to recall that she could never understand why I thought so little of myself and thought so much of college/education as the person she saw before her already had the knowledge. You see it was not enough what someone else thought of me if I could not see it myself. I had to do the work, I had to define it and decide on it. She was right, I put so much weight in education that not having it discounted everything I DID know, everything I WAS. Three college degrees later I AM confident, I AM educated however I know now that I always WAS. It took time working on me, believing and proving it to myself because it was important to ME despite it not having relevance to anyone else.

I tell you this story because it is imperative that you decide for YOURSELF as you define yourself. Not as others see you, not as you are titled in the outside world, not based on your reputation. Who are you…really?

John Wooden, famous UCLA basketball coach, says, “Your reputation is what you are perceived to be and your character is who you really are”…I leave you with this thought, this exercise and best off I offer all of this to you in a time that I KNOW you have the time to do something about it. Whether you do or you don’t, well that is yours to decide because ultimately it always comes back to that simple point of control…decision or indecision…ultimately you always DECIDE.

Who are you…really? Me? I am still working on it, every day…Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up – L.

Self Series…value, worth, why we do what we do…

Let’s do the work, there is so much of it to be done. I am launching my “Self Series” to really explore self-worth, self-value and where the motivation to do what we do comes from and why. There are articles, books, blogs, and tons of other information around this subject and when I learn I write, hence the blog. Everyone that knows me know that I am the eternal note taker, it’s how I process information therefore for this series, the writings, the studies of self will become my first blog series.

Let’s start with the definitions and the differences in the terms:

  • Self-worth: defined as another term for self esteem. Also defined as how you value yourself. It’s not based on what others think of you or the things you have (or haven’t) accomplished—it comes from within.
  • Self-esteem: defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.
    • The difference between the two: Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing “I am greater than all of those things”. … Self-esteem doesn’t last or “work” without self-worth.
  • Self-respect: Self respect is defined as holding yourself in esteem and believing that you are good and worthy of being treated well. An example of self respect is when you know you deserve to be treated right and, as a result, you do not tolerate others lying to you or treating you unfairly.

There are many synonyms that are spawned from these terms and as you start reading you can find yourself down a proverbial rabbit hole in search of self. Each has its own definition and terms but they all lead back to the self. When searching for the definition of “self” that in itself was a rabbit hole. For the sake of this series self is identity. Self is who you are and the varying aspects related to the compound words that self originates will be the rabbit hole.

Bringing it back to me, myself…where did this interest start? Simply it started with a knotted up head and a desire to unravel all that was paralyzing me. Upon a meeting with my therapist we worked to find the origin of those knots and as we often do; we started with what was the “effect” to do the work to get to the “cause” or genesis. How we get there is the science and magic of mental health practitioners but in this case we were able to trace it back to my self-value and ultimately why I do what I do. This 90-minute session has now defined the work I will do to better understand exactly that…why do I do what I do?

The original findings explored during that session was that I have a need to be needed and in that I find my value. A strange twist on co-dependence in that I seek to have dependence on me to define my value. The problem? Because after all it’s only an issue if it’s an issue…is that it is exhausting me physically and mentally. I recognized that I could not continue feeling the way I was feeling and hence my journey to figure out the cause as the effect was apparent.

I hope that you will follow me through this series, come with me down the rabbit hole, you might learn a thing or two about yourself in the process. I will be transparent as always as I seek to understand why I do what I do and what I will do when I don’t do that anymore…complicated enough?

Life as I explore it – L.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

What makes a moment the one that you can remember exactly where you were, who you were with and how you felt? It is the good and the bad moments that can bring you back but mostly it seems to be those that cause the most shock that drive us back.

There have been a few in my own life that have been impactful enough to leave that “mark” that brings it all back. The birth of my children, the day I met my husband and many other personal wins. Of course the more vivid are the losses; the day I lost my mom will forever live on and unfortunately the details of that day will not soon leave.

I remember the day I met my husband. The day, the time and what he was wearing when he walked through the door. I was starting a new job and he was being introduced as the first co-worker that I would meet. I could not have known the fate that beheld us that day. We would become friends and five years later would be married so how that day is time-stamped in my brain is a mystery. It is as if “I knew”, something in me knew that that moment, that day, was worth the indelible snapshot.

More powerful are those memories that impact us despite the lack of contact. These memories pack as much punch if not more for the empathy and fear they instill. The impact of mass shootings is very real to me. It has not personally happened to me but the fact that it happens has me searching for my exit in every large crowd. I can’t sit in a movie theater without locating the exit. I steer clear of large crowds; think twice about malls and concerts. I know that while it has not happened to me it happens to someone.

9/11 will forever be that moment for a nation that we will NOT forget. I was at work that morning with all of my colleagues when someone came in the meeting and said a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. This day would never be the same…ever. It touched us all and it changed us. This was a moment that paralyzed a nation. I remember sitting intensely watching the news, the play-by-play of horror, all day, all night and again and again as the stories started to be told.

There is something about a moment, that you remember like it was yesterday, that creates a snapshot in our brains that can be recalled so vividly. At its worst it creates trauma and at its best it creates a moment; either way we are affected.

As we cannot predict when those moment that will live with us forever it is the focus, the present moment that will make sure that we don’t miss a moment. Being present is the only way we can be in the moments we are fated to live. Carpe Diem – L.

To write or not to write…

To write or not to write that is the question or is it? I write to relieve my brain, give my thoughts freedom and to pass along those things that I think can bring value to those around me. I am enjoying this journey and thought that today the process deserved some understanding of the intention and history behind it.

My writing started many years back with the exercise as prescribed by my then therapist, Randie, that gave me the assignment. She said that I needed to get what was wound tight in my head out. The assignment was to start writing, just write whatever was in my head and get it out on paper. Don’t correct anything, not spelling, grammar or punctuation and don’t read what I wrote…Just write. I did and it worked. Typing has always been easier than writing as I type as fast as I think and therefore my Google Docs were born. I did exactly as assigned and wrote for years. And then I started reading some of what I had written and wow. I could not believe what had come out on paper. Much like therapy so many of those thoughts that I didn’t even know I had locked inside started to come out as stories, recounts and full of emotion, EVERYTHING unfolded on those docs. I still never thought much of it until sharing a few of those entries with others and seeing their reactions. It was then that I realized that there may be more to this, more to give back, more to share, if I was willing to open these very vulnerable documents and truths about myself to the world.

There are times that I am learning that you don’t write or more importantly don’t publish. I had my first understanding of that a few weeks back when one of my loved ones was going through a tough time; a tough day and I realized that to write nothing at all, to let things lie where they were, was the right thing to do as that was my way of honoring her. I found myself feeling much the same way last night. Two mass shootings in less than 24 hours…and what in the world is “right” to publish? What could I write that wouldn’t seem callous to what had just gone on and what did I have to add to the conversation of the day. I think it’s an atrocity, I think it’s scary as hell right now and it falls somewhere in between believing there has to be more control of guns but more importantly MORE emphasis on mental health! I will leave the gun debate to those that know more than I but with regards to mental health I am going to beat that f’n drum as loud as I can and as often as I am given the soapbox because ultimately this is what is fueling these fires. So it was with that respect, to those lost and to those left to survive that I left last night unpublished. There will be many more days for me to write about all that I know, feel and believe about mental health/illness, last night wasn’t the time for it.

The more I write the more I read and the more I read the more I become fearful of what I don’t know. This creative energy has a lot more to it than I have originally invested. I decided it was time to write and I did, I decided it was time to publish and I did and now as I decide to perfect this craft I will become a student of writing but will work hard not to allow it to restrict my flow of creativity, thoughts, emotions and everything that has compelled me to write in the first place.

As stated this all started with a mental health practice of journaling/writing what was tangled up inside as a way to straighten it all out leaving room for things to resolve. The only thing that has changed is that I have found the courage to now allow those thoughts to flow out in a public forum, where you are welcome to join me in this journey. Take what serves you and leave the rest. Share what moves you or keep it close to your vest.

I have passed along this same advice to many that have confided in me about their own angst. Just write, don’t read it, don’t correct it, just write. It’s the best medicine and has opened up an entire world to me; internally through my mental health and now externally through sharing with you…my world. This is life as I see it – L.

p.s. Today we lost our sweet Smokey. She was our beloved cat who was blessed to live a very long life with us. She was 22 years old, as best we knew as we got her about a year after moving to South Florida. She disciplined our kids better than we did; swatting at them when they would simply walk by her and was my husband’s biggest fan. She loved G more than any of us and he her although he would spend years denying it. In the end, she gave us as much as we gave her, unconditional love and a sweet life. You will be missed as you are as much a part of this family as any of us. RIP Smokey Kiel –

Medication or Meditation?

Medication or Meditation…that is the question. Or is it?

It is astonishing to me how many people have reached out to me after posting “The Smiling Faces of Depression” and to date the “mental health” tags in my blogs have received far more views than any other subject matter. It is clear that I have hit a nerve and while I am on your nerves allow me to continue the conversation with the hopes of settling your nerves.

I have had many conversations over the years on depression and the many solutions that exist; natural and pharmaceutical. It is my belief that if we engage in this conversation with the sentiment that we are speaking on behalf of mental health as we would physical health then it would seem to me that the following statements should apply.

  1. Depending on your level of depression you could require meditation OR medication. This is why it is important to seek the help of a professional. My first analogy is a simple one, if you had high blood pressure (HBP) you would go to the doctor who would suggest you change your diet and exercise and possibly prescribe a medication. You would likely not think twice about this advice. So why is it then when it comes to medications to solve depression we pause? That pause can do as much damage as untreated HBP as depression worsens without some form of intervention.
  2. Should you use natural supplements? It is not my preference as I told my “tribe” during a recent girls trip when we had this debate. Every bout of depression is not the same and therefore there is not one solve when it comes to choosing a medication. It is far better to go to a professional that can determine the severity of your depression to find the chemical that can serve you best without worsening it versus experimenting with supplements.
  3. Meditation is ALWAYS the answer regardless of the question. Meditation has many forms so finding the one that works for you is simply trial and error. I have tried many forms of meditation and ultimately what serves me well is counting my breaths, breathing deep and controlled. I prefer it because I can do it anywhere and any time. Meditation calms the mind, it clears the soul and through the practice it resolves the physical, slowing the pulse and calming the central nervous system.

Despite the debate the fact is that you need to do SOMETHING when you feel a depression coming on! Yes, that is not a typo…it is a “a depression” just like it is “a cold”; you are not depressed, you are affected by depression and can treat it and come out of it which is why we are not identifying with this condition as a characteristic versus the disease that it actually is. Not doing something about depression is where depression like any other illness can make us prisoners in our own lives. An analogy for you to consider:

  • When you get the sniffles you hope a cold is not coming on so you blow your nose and continue on. Then a cold sets in and you likely run to the drugstore to get some over-the-counter meds but they simply suppress the symptoms they don’t heal the infection brewing inside. Those sniffles eventually turn into bronchitis which without medication/antibiotics turns into pneumonia which without medical intervention can kill you.
  • When you feel sad, you acknowledge that your spirits are down but likely are not alarmed knowing that it is just a moment. When the sadness sits in for weeks at a time you start to feel worse as it is likely affecting your sleep, ability to focus and overall mood. If that long-term sadness is not addressed it can then turn into a depression which requires some form of intervention. This is a pivotal point in the journey of depression as if it is not dealt with or identified at this point where the depressed individual can be “reached” it can turn into suicidal thoughts and at that point reaching the individual suffering is far more difficult because like pneumonia when you are that deep into the disease the intervention needed is professional.

This is the conversation that we need to continue to have with each other. It is through these conversations that we can save lives. Openly discussing mental illness as easily we do HBP or any other mainstream condition is important because we acknowledge that we are more alike than different. We all want to feel like we are not alone in any journey whether it be medical, mental or social.

Back to the original question…Medication versus Meditation? To this I say BOTH! Medication is prescribed as needed to offer the body what it is deficient in and there is no shame in that especially when it can make all the difference in your life. Walking around anxiety-ridden, panicked or overwhelmed is debilitating and that a medication can solve is what I call a no-brainer! Meditation is a form of exercise for the brain, for the body and most importantly for the soul. it can be done anywhere and is as easy as breathing. There are great apps, free guided meditations on the internet and books and magazines that can offer techniques.

I conclude by applauding YOU my audience for making this conversation the top trending all month. We have to continue to have these conversations and have the courage to share that we seek therapy, take medication and meditate and these things do not make us “less than” they make us BAD ASS. My life is AMAZING because I am as serious about my mental health as I am about my physical health and that combination makes me whole, it makes me who I am. This is life as I see it. L.