Go ahead and mention my child,
The one that died you know.
Don’t worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn’t show.

Don’t worry about making me cry
I’m already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
The tears that I try to hide.

I’m hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn’t exist.
I’d rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.

You ask me how I am doing.
I say “pretty good” or “fine”.
But healing is something ongoing
I feel it will take a lifetime.
~ Author unknown

(1) Spend some time each day quietly reflecting on how we would like to relate to ourselves and others.

(2) Remember that all human beings have the same needs.

(3) Check our intention to see if we are as interested in others getting their needs met as our own.

(4) When asking someone to do something, check first to see if we are making a request or a demand.

(5) Instead of saying what we DON’T want someone to do, say what we DO want the person to do.

(6) Instead of saying what we want someone to BE, say what action we’d like the person to take that we hope will help the person be that way.

(7) Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone’s opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.

(8) Instead of saying “No,” say what need of ours prevents us from saying “Yes.”

(9) If we are feeling upset, think about what need of ours is not being met, and what we could do to meet it, instead of thinking about what’s wrong with others or ourselves.

(10) Instead of praising someone who did something we like, express our gratitude by telling the person what need of ours that action met.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) would like there to be a critical mass of people using Nonviolent Communication language so all people will get their needs met and resolve their conflicts peacefully.

2001, revised 2004 Gary Baran & CNVC. The right to freely duplicate this document is hereby granted.

https://www.cnvc.org/Training/10-steps-peace

Dear Asana,

I remember when we first got you. You were a wedding gift to ours selves. We rescued you from a shelter. You buried your head in our couch because of high fever. Thank goodness we took you to the vet so you could live another 11 years.  It’s funny how your golden long hair and personality resembled both our beloved childhood dogs.3096_1134597441697_2960491_n

Asana (July 4, 1999 – August 16, 2010)

When we sang at our wedding, you howled with us. My most amusing memory of you is darting around the backyard like a maniac. When I miscarried our 3rd baby, you knew before me and wouldn’t leave my side. You licked my tears away as I grieved for Anais, our 4th baby, a stillborn. Some said you sounded like Chewbacca. Many people couldn’t understand your peculiar ways. You didn’t like to be touched and wouldn’t take food from strangers. You had high standards. I felt special because you allowed me to take care of you.

This is an excerpt that gave you your name:

Asana means to release a specific pattern of neuromuscular relationships from all tension… To awaken cellular intelligence…As Asana begins to release us from tension something very important is revealed. This is that the body and mind cannot be functionally separated… By stabilizing the body, our mind also begins to stabilize and quieten…Asana can, and inevitably will, bring about emotional release.”

It came from a Dynamic Yoga book. You even chewed this book during your puppy stage so now I can’t read the author’s name. I wanted your name to gently remind to practice yoga and mindfulness. This must have worked because this excerpt rings true to me on so many levels, especially as a parent.

Some have barked, “They are just dogs.” But for me, all my dogs have been the most loyal friends whose fur has absorbed many tears. They listen to me when no one else will. The brushing of their coat and petting, therapeutic. They nudge me to play when all I want to do is crawl into bed. They always want to cuddle no matter how irrational or angry I get.

It broke my heart when we had to move overseas and find you a new home. I felt irresponsible, like I failed and abandoned you. I didn’t think anyone could love you like I did. I am grateful that you were with a friend who had known your whole life; that you comforted an elderly woman while your new family was at work. I know they treated you like the princess you are. I am relieved you died peacefully. May your unique energy find a place to rest where it’s most needed.

To Asana, Kelsey, Miles, Honey, Taffy, Rex, Mousse, Kobie, Toby, Divet, Shake, Murphy, Jasmine, Sheba, Bear, Vinny, Mooch, Amiga, Issabelle and to all pets who have touched our hearts, thank you for your Unconditional Love.

32567_1460153540396_4517349_n

Miles (January 8, 2001 – September 6, 2013)kelse

Kelsey (January 21, 2000 – June 23, 2013)

Namaste,

Debra

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning how to dance in the rain.’

During some recent storms, I relished the opportunity to dance in the rain with my son. No words could capture the peace and joy that exuded from my son as he danced in the rain. His exuberance was so contagious that it lured me from my self-conscious, over-concerned lull to dance. Yet a twinge of guilt and negativity halted and rattled me like thunder. You see even in this moment of extreme happiness, there were loved ones griped by fear, and possibly perceiving our actions as defiant and careless. Yet many are oblivious to the fact that I am well aware of the havoc violent storms can bring. I have lived through emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive ones. I know the extremes of dying babies. I know firsthand the feeling of being trapped in a pit so deep that death appears as a friend. I also know how precious this moment is for my son as he inherited my hyper-sensitivity to stormy thoughts. It doesn’t take much to trigger us to despair and panic. I have suffered too long under the guise of fears, anxiety and depression. I have thoroughly assessed the risks and I realized that by letting go of attachment to outcomes I cannot control, to fear less, and love more, I open my life up to peace and joy. Dancing in the rain are some of my happiest childhood memories and I wrap those  moments around me like a security blanket and blessed to share with my son. I make the conscious choice to dance in the rain.

I had moments of dysregulation and anxiety over giving a presentation. My son nonchalantly says, “Mom don’t worry. Everyone loves you. God Loves you.”…

His words helped me  instantly feel blessed, relieved and positively focused.

Yet on the way to the presentation, my brain kept getting triggered to self-doubt, worry, “am I good enough” jargon. I caught my negative self-talk and remembered my son’s words. An internal dialogue began…

I tend to be my worst enemy and critique. I work so hard to give unconditional love, compassion, and kindness to all, yet I am still the hardest on myself and fall into judgmental thinking. Then I was reminded of one of the aspects of organized religion that traumatized me the most…religious people going around calling people sinners and condemning them to hell; one cannot get more judgmental than that. According to the faith I was raised up in, I was going to hell before I turned 15. People wonder why I battled depression and anxiety…what’s the point to keep living when it seems you only fail and let others down?… My mind wanders to a statement I heard that constantly worrying what other’s are thinking of you is living in hell. That definitely describes much of my life, a self fulfilling prophecy as such. I begin to feel angry. I am sick of paying for other’s transgressions: the peers who harassed me, the neighbor who molested me, the friends who slapped and back stabbed me, the boys who used me, the adults who looked the other way or drank and abused too much…

I stopped at a red light and my eyes begin to well. I become cognizant that I am close to my office building and what would people think of red eyes. I chose to redirect my thoughts to my son’s words, “Mom don’t worry. Everyone loves you. God Loves you.”…Then I picture my partner who whenever he hears my children share a brilliant reflection, he smiles at me at says, “That is you.”  You see, my partner and my children have taught me more about faith that no religion could touch and surpasses what any holy book could depict. It is in you, in me and everywhere in between. A wisdom and love that runs so deep that my ancestors and future generations dance and weep as one.

Would you purposely hit your car’s engine with a hammer?

Would you throw your Ipad out the window?

Would you shake your working TV till it breaks?

Would you rip up your holy books?

We have all probably hit (or at the very least clenched our fists to) some inanimate object.  Whether it be the vending machine that ate our money, or the car because it stopped working, or the classic punching of the wall scenario for just about anything.

There is a common denominator in all these situations: something did not work the way we expected it to. This disappointment quickly turns to fear that this will never work again or give us what we need, then frustration hits us, anger settles, rage takes over and flooding the rational part of our brain. We react with fight, as if our livelihood is being threatened.

It is against the law to destroy the American Flag and blasphemous to destroy the Bible. If you strike another human being you are arrested for an assault. Yet parents have the right to hit their child, our most vulnerable and precious gift, from God none the less. People even cite the Bible to defend this so-called disciplinarian approach.

I guess if the definition of discipline is to teach like Jesus did to his disciples, “spanking,” is teaching children. It is teaching them…teaching that when you feel out of control (i.e. people not behaving how you want them to or think they should be) that you can hit them to do what you want them to do.  Then magically they are suppose to learn not to hit, or they will get punished for hitting by the person who has more power and control. Ironically, “hitting” is lack of control of one’s physical, mental, and emotional capabilities.

I can see how spanking seems to “work” as the child will eventually submit and comply out of fear and desperation. Spanking destroys so much more than eyes can see as well as significantly impacts brain development and relational integrity. I also know that any one who spanks is really doing the best they can with the resources they have. We must consider the resources that were given (or beat in-) to them, and so on. If we react with blame, shame and punishment, then we continue to strengthen the fear-based brain connections. We must find more resources to respond with love and reduce the stress for all humankind to transcend the grips of fear and violence. Fortunately, the easiest and most effective tools are free to everyone: DEEP BREATHS, ears to LISTEN, arms to HUG.

Now, I can barely scratch the surface of this issue in this post but hopefully empathy, compassion, and love will prevail.  If you are interested in some non-violent information or research on how physical punishment harms, here are some links:

http://acestoohigh.com/

https://www.cnvc.org/

http://www.childtrauma.org/index.php/articles

http://www.nopunish.net/pwp-ch1.htm

http://www.wavetrust.org/

http://www.teach-through-love.com/

http://www.nospank.net/

http://www.kindredcommunity.com/2006/11/how-culture-shapes-the-developing-brain-and-the-future-of-humanity/

Oh, and my hunch is no one one would purposely (consciously) hit or break their working technological devices nor destroy their patriotic and religious artifacts they believe in.  We lose control when we are under stress and do not know what to do. Maybe we can empathize with children’s stress when they are acting out.  What are we really afraid of…our children’s future?… failing as a parent?…losing control?

Would you please be open to seeing life through your childs’ eyes or remember how you felt when you were a child?

Would you please become conscious of your reactions and learn some new resources or skills so our children can learn respectful, healthy ways to communicate needs and process negativity or stress?

Would you please let go of fears and control for how you think things should be and just BE (a) PRESENT?

Our children’s minds, bodies, and souls are always working, very hard in fact. Would you please believe in and nurture them?

 “I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heals our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other.”          ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

My son was feeling very badly about not living up to his potential: not being a good enough son, not listening, being lazy, stupid, playing too many video games, mean brother etc. where some of the negative thoughts he expressed. No matter how much we told him we love him and highlighted all the good things he does, he could not hear us and resisted. As a therapist, I know too well that our attempts were invalidating and actually making him feel worse. That one must first truly listen, accept, validate the speakers feelings and expressions so they may be able to process their pain and move on. Yet being a parent, feeling so responsible and sad for hearing your magnificent child feel so bad is hard to accept and cope with.

After becoming conscious of my own insecurities, I then chose to respond by cuddling with him and remaining silent as he cried and vented. I agreed how painful this must feel. I apologized for the times my actions have led him to feel this way and that I will keep working on improving myself. I then shared a story of how I woke up early yesterday and caught a glimpse of the intense orange from the sun rise.  I was reminded how blessed we are that *God gives a beautiful new horizon to awake and go to sleep with every day. I thought about Easter approaching and how many are celebrating how Jesus rose from the dead. I told my son that holidays are really just symbols of the gifts God gives us everyday. We have been given the gift to rise every day and try again, to be more kind and helpful.

My son immediately said thank you, gave me a kiss and popped up exuberantly. He began to hug and say thank you to all the many items on his bed: his books; his new big, blue, soft  blanket; his giant stuffed elephant, his fan, his light.  I then read him some stories, the last one was: I Believe In Me. (https://www.facebook.com/I.Believe.In.Me.Affirmations)

I wish every one to see the beauty and miracles given everyday and when you don’t, forgive yourself and others, and rise again.

Deep breaths and baby steps

*I believe God is universal and defined by what you conceive it to be, plural or singular ( Universe, Tao, Mother Nature, deities etc).

Ever changing yet hackneyed…

Abandoned wants for delusional needs

Endless substances mistaken as balms

Righteous faiths protected by psalms

Death treated as an anathema

Violators seek a panacea

Congregations confound the meaning

Subordinates diffuse the beating…

When majority favors debasement

What hope is left for enlightenment:

Prayers pleading and fueled by fear or

Loving action by those who dare?

I had gone from a size 14  to a size 2, that’s 85 lbs gone in 2.5 years. Yet I had lost so much more than just pounds: I lost decades (and possibly a generation’s worth from an epigenetic viewpoint) of unconscious weight, unprocessed traumas and toxins.  I had no intention to lose this much weight. Sure I hoped to lose some of the 40 lbs of baby weight gain (from 2 consecutive miscarriages, one stillbirth and a live birth). I had a dream weight in mind (which I surpassed by 25 pounds) but never did I hold myself to that standard.  I never tried a diet as I do not believe in them. When my herbalist asked how I lost the weight, I said “I don’t know, it just seem to melt away peacefully.”   Looking back at it, it took many life changing habits and loving myself through every transition. Although, I could write a book on all the subtle changes and positive actions, here are a few of the things I did:

  • Leave my comfort zone
  • Remove myself from judgments
  • truly play and engage with my children
  • breastfeeding
  • identify and reduce emotional, chemical, and physical toxins from my life
  • journal
  • follow my passions
  • practice mindfulness
  • prioritize self-care
  • take responsibility for getting my own needs met
  • stop making excuses and blaming others
  • simplify my life by doing things by hand and needing less material objects
  • drink lots of water
  • get active: yoga, Zumba, walking places (instead of driving)
  • embrace vitalistic chiropratic care
  • read “Changing Habits, Changing Lives”
  • eat real food

The emotional aspects took an integral role in the weight loss and actually changing what I ate and exercising more came later. It became more about how I did things than what I actually did. It was a state of mind. It was a gradual, affirming and peaceful process. It seemed as I expanded my awareness of my negative thoughts and habits and detoxified my body/mind/soul by making conscious efforts to process the toxins in a non-judgmental and gentle way, that the weight melted away.

“Strong healthy cells are what make a body strong. How do you help create strong healthy cells? The key lies with the food you put in your mouth, the thoughts you put in your head, and the feelings you place in your heart.” -Susana Belen

I recently returned to live by my home town where sadly many of the negative habits and beliefs originated, and I have gained nearly half the weight back in 6 months time. I look at the list above and it is easy to see why…many of the positive actions on that list have ceased. I have become obsessed not to disturb other’s peace that I have lost my own. I struggle not to judge my every move, thought, emotion and have a nagging fear that loved ones believe the worst of me. I must believe the best in me and trust that I deserve to treat myself right, no matter what. For my birthday present next week, I will vow to consciously revive this list with unconditional love and trust. I also ate a lot more fair-trade, organic dark chocolate so that may be the first thing I do on my birthday;-)

As change is life’s only constant, I find embracing change a good habit to learn. I appreciate this in depth blog about the difficulties in changing habits: http://www.theemotionmachine.com/changing-habits-what-keeps-me-stuck-in-old-ways

I have inherited some devastating messages:

When anything goes wrong, I believe It’s all my fault.

When I break something or make a mess, I believe I am a complete failure and utterly stupid.

Sadly, I have passed this same negative tape to my son. It has grown more apparent the more I expand my awareness for it.

As we were getting ready to leave one day, he boistrously bounced into the wall and a picture frame crashed to the floor. As I am aware that things breaking is one of my triggers, my body viscerally reacted negatively. Almost simultaneously, my son hung his head down saying  “I’m so stupid.” As soon as possible, I told myself out loud to let it go and move onto to next step. Unexpectedly, he went back to the frame to try to fix it and I reacted negatively again as I was afraid he’d get hurt from glass and we were under a time crunch.

His head hung in shame again, he stammered toward the door, muttering “Its all my fault.”

The next feelings and thoughts poured through me in a matter of milliseconds….At first I was filled with anger and dissapointment of how could he feel so bad of himself; how I don’t have the time to deal with this now; how many times do we have to go through this…then feelings of guilt and shame came of  how could I have let this self-hatred seep into my son’s self consciousness and how come I cannot heal us both and get over it…

I cought the negtive tape going wild in my mind and chose to give myself and my son the same love and compassion I wish to give everyone.

As my son turned the door handle to escape outside, I told myself I must not let him start his special day this way. I ran to him as boistrouly as he bounced into the wall just moments before, pulled his head up and bellowed “Raise your head.” As this was happening so quickly, I could still feel the tension in my hands.  His look instantly told me to get my body, tone, and words to match the message of love I wanted to give. I hugged him and began singing,

I love you no matter what glass breaks.

I kissed him in tune to my melody on his neck and I looked at his eyes as they began to well up. I continued to sing:

I love you no matter what breaks.

again I repeatedly kissed him on his neck and as I saw tears beginning to fall, I sang:

You could knock the house down and all I would care is that you were safe and sound.

followed with more kisses, he tearfully said,

“That is the kindest thing I have ever heard.”

I responded that every word of it was true and we hugged. His younger sister who was watching the whole thing then joyfully pleaded, “I want kisses on the neck too.” We went on to have a great day and I believe some of those negative messages have healed. I now sing the same song to myself when I make a mess or break something;-)

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