CALLING HEROINES OF ALL AGES!!
Are You Ready to Embark on a New Adventure?
Meet the Cast & Crew!
HEED THE CALL TO ADVENTURE TODAY!
CLICK LINK TO VIEW AN EXCERPT FROM Book I of THE ADVENTURES OF ISABELLE
CALLING HEROINES OF ALL AGES!!
Are You Ready to Embark on a New Adventure?
Meet the Cast & Crew!
HEED THE CALL TO ADVENTURE TODAY!
CLICK LINK TO VIEW AN EXCERPT FROM Book I of THE ADVENTURES OF ISABELLE
Do you need help breaking through blocks such as fear? Do you need help creating and sticking to a success plan? Have you started and stalled several times? Maybe you need a success coach to help you break through these blocks, create a viable plan and to help hold you accountable to this plan so you can achieve ultimate success and joy in your life.
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A word on overcoming societal challenges…
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My amazing birthday adventure to explore some of Mexico’s beautiful cenotes, beaches, and archeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula! Of course, I can’t leave out food and other forms of fun in the sun, not to mention cavorting with dolphins!!
In part 2 vid (above) you see Cenote Dos Ojos. In part 3 (below) we visit a magical oasis in the middle of the Yucatan jungle!
The day after my birthday we went to the Tulum Archeological Zone. It was an excruciatingly hot and muggy day and the sun beat down on us mercilessly most of the time. I was so happy when grey clouds formed and a light rain cooled us off even if it was only for a few mins. The ruins themselves were really something to see and I enjoyed learning about the Mayan civilization and the Mayans, who by the way, still exist.
On our last full day in Quintana Roo we wanted to check out the cenotes right across the street from our hotel including Cenote Azul. It was recommended that we take a cab and we did and I’m glad to say that we thought to ask the driver which cenotes he recommended. He did not recommend Azul or the park across the street. He said they were small and overcrowded (which makes sense because they are popular with tourists). He instead recommended Ecopark Kantun Chi which was just as close because of the one-way highway in front of the hotel. It was a magical place! My only regret is that we had not found it sooner because I would have loved to have gone there every day! Check out my vids below of this lush oasis containing five cenotes!
Escaping DC in January to head to a tropical climate is never a bad idea! I’d never been to St. Lucia so when a friend suggested we go I jumped at the chance to experience a new place. St. Lucia, an island nation in the Eastern Caribbean covers an area of 238 sq miles. It’s also a part of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. Its history is fascinating and its geography breathtaking. But, I’m guessing you aren’t reading my travelogue for a geography lesson. This trip, while a chance to take a much-needed respite from work was all about, what else? Adventure! Please check out my vids below and share your comments. And if you like travel, adventure, and nature please subscribe to my youtube channel where you will find more! If you would like to attend a Vision Quest Retreat join our mailing list!
Join me on part 1 of my St. Lucia Adventure: SCUBA diving with Eastern Caribbean Diving Ltd., horseback riding at Holiday Riding Stables, and the first part of our journey on the Spirit of Carnival southward along St. Lucia’s western coast to the Pitons, then back to Soufriere, Anse Cochon Bay and Marigot Bay.
In part 2 we continue to take in Soufriere’s sulfur spring/mud bath, wash off under Toraille waterfall, go snorkeling off Anse Cochon Beach and burn off our tasty lunch by learning some local dances aboard ship! Oh, and I take the helm of the Spirit of Carnival.
PART 3 SOON COME!
Saying 2020 has been a rough year would no doubt win the “Understatement of the Year Award” so I won’t bother making a case for the need for a sabbatical. I will say that the past few months starting on May 25th (my birthday) and the day George Floyd was murdered have been particularly intense. Not only have I been dealing with my own anger and pain over the continued racial injustice in the US, but my work has been nonstop. Organizations in need of help with diversity, equity and inclusion and individuals in need of help staying sane have been calling on me. I’ve been honored and grateful to be able to be of use during this time but in order to be my most effective self, I also have to practice what I preach. Everything I do from individual therapy/coaching to organizational consulting is built on the belief that well-being is paramount and self-care imperative.
So, when I started to recognize my need for a mini-sabbatical to rest and recharge but also to work on Book III of The Adventures of Isabelle I chose to honor that and I’m so glad I have! While I love to write travelogues it would be too much to try and rest and write and keep up with a written account of my adventures so I have done the next thing I love to do which is take pics and vids and make travel videos. They are included in this post with a smattering of writing here and there. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I enjoyed experiencing the moments and creating the videos! Oh, and if you need help planning or executing your own mini-sabbatical give me a shout at Vision Quest Retreats with Dr. Nicole Cutts.
After eight lovely head-clearing days on Cape Cod (a place I’d never been before), I headed to Martha’s Vineyard for Part II or my mini-sabbatical & writing retreat. I looked forward to the beautiful landscapes, spending quality time on the beach and really getting down to writing. The 1-hour drive to the Woods Hole Steamship Authority port was easy and uneventful. I looked forward to the ferry ride to Vineyard Haven. I love boats of any kind and this particular one always feels as if I’m crossing the threshold. The ferry ride feels romantic and dreamlike and puts me in the proper mental place for writing.
September 22, 2020 the first day of Autumn and it’s an overcast, chilly windy day but I still enjoy venturing out to nearby Lambert’s Cove after a morning of writing. The next day’s weather isn’t much better but it’s a perfect day to sit by the window and write. One of the neighborhood flocks of wild turkey amble across the yard at one point. I take a walk in the afternoon down the street to the little beach next to the yacht club: Owen Little Way beach, where I’m delighted by some colorful flora and a gorgeous sunset while I sit on the little pier (see vid below).
In these turbulent times, many people are feeling sad, angry, despondent and frankly traumatized. This is affecting our mental and physical health as well as our work, as we find it difficult to concentrate. These reactions are completely normal but leaving many people wondering what they can do to regain a sense of balance and peace.
The simple fact is that we feel threatened, upset and suffer when we have to face the harsh realities of life. We are tempted to run away, to hide, to suppress our feelings. We may also want to rage, to let these feelings out, to strike out (also very normal feelings). The adaptive fight or flight mechanism wired into us will not be ignored. When we are stressed and do not find an outlet we suffer further. But there is something you can do that requires you to neither bury your head in the sand or to lose your mind, that is adaptive for you and your community and world. It can bring you peace, and isn’t that what we all ultimately want?
WHAT CAN I DO TO FIND PEACE? I favor simple elegant solutions always. The video below teaches you two simple cognitive exercises that can bring you to a state of balance and peace.
Serenity Prayer Exercise: You may want to address your prayer to a Higher Power e.g. Goddess, God, The Universe etc.
1) Write down or name what it is that you cannot change and therefore must accept (if you want peace) For example “Goddess grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change such as: the existence of the coronavirus, other people (by name), the death of a loved one, having a chronic or fatal illness.”
2) Write down or say what it is you can change while asking for the courage to do so. For example “The courage to change the things that I can such as, my attitude and actions i.e. voting, helping another person, contributing money to a cause related to my disturbance, volunteering, take my medication, exercise, etc.”
3) Finally continue to pray to know the difference between what I can and can’t do and do the things that I can.
The 3 and 5 List Exercise
1) Do 3 good things everyday A. One for yourself i.e. self-care activity B.One aimed at changing the thing that is causing you stress or anxiety e.g. sign a petition C.One thing to support your Vision of Success or life mission/purpose e.g. going to work.
2) Write/think about 5 things for which you are grateful!
After you give these exercises a try please drop me a line and let me know how it went. If you have any comments or suggestions on what has worked to help you find peace in turbulent times feel free to leave those at the same link. If you found this helpful sign up to receive emails with additional free tools and subscribe to my YouTube channel: TheSuccessDoc
Know that your anger and grief can be used to good purpose. If they are left to fester and if suppressed will only lead to greater suffering.
Much Continued Peace and Well-Being,
I Don’t know about you, but at week 4 or 5 (I’ve lost track) of quarantine, my stress levels are rising. Don’t worry my self-care has also increased accordingly. Whether you live alone, in a couple, or a household with children (young and old,) this lockdown is affecting everyone’s lives and mental health. The uncertainty of a deadly pandemic, lack of control, drastic changes to our daily work and home lives are prompting more people to reach out to me and other psychologists and coaches for help. (See vid above and Coping with Corona from WUSA Channel 9 for additional tips)
However, I understand these are trying financial times for many people and some may think this is not the time to invest in therapy or coaching sessions. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is why I’m offering my therapy and coaching services on a sliding scale starting at 10% OFF. (CLICK TO INQUIRE ABOUT FEES)
What are the Challenges?
1) Parents are on triple duty between working, parenting and teaching kids and this is a lot!
2) Couples without kids are also challenged by too much togetherness!
3) Single folks without kids are also challenged by boredom and lack of contact, feeling isolated perhaps lonely.
What is the Solution?
While one of the biggest stressors right now is that most things are out of our control, there are things you can do! This nine-item Quarantine Survival Kit can keep you from each other’s throats and/or wanting to cut your own! Victor Frankl, the creator of Logotherapy said, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” The below Quarantine Survival Kit will enable you to better choose your responses to this trying situation.
The Quarantine Survival Kit (contents):
Patience: Not knowing when this will all end is trying to many. Waiting is not something anyone enjoys but cultivating patience will lower your stress and anxiety. Breathe and try to let go when you feel your impatience rising, focus on something positive and engage is something productive. Remember no time is wasted when you are in the moment. This patience should extend to yourself and others as we try to do our best under difficult circumstances. Pro Tips: Lowering your expectations will boost your ability to wait and sit with the unknown. A regular meditation prayer and practice does wonders for patience.
Flexibility: So much has changed and continues to change (sometimes weekly) during this novel situation. Human beings are wired to experience stress when under threat and unfortunately when things are uncertain (a feeling produced by change) we often experience this as a threat. The best way to lessen your angst and other forms of suffering in the face of change is to remain flexible. Rather than tightening up or holding on to expectations, expect that change will come. It’s often said that the only certainty in life is change. In his book, The Five Things We Cannot Change and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them, David Richo says, “Perhaps things end so that we can reach the high spiritual peak that comes with letting go.” Lean into the changes having confidence that you can adjust. Pro Tip: Taking slow deep breaths increases flexibility. Rather than tightening around change, take a slow deep breath to activate your parasympathetic nervous system a.k.a. the rest and digest response. Breathe into tight areas and as you exhale give into the change.
Creativity: All change is accompanied by some loss. In this case, we have lost many of our habitual ways of doing almost everything from how we work and play to how we procure food and how we take exercise. We are being challenged to find new ways to get our needs met. These challenges call for creativity and we see it all around us. I have one client who set up a scavenger hunt in her house for her young adult children who had grown tired of playing video games! Creativity and flexibility are close cousins, so try staying open to receive new ideas and inspiration. Follow your instincts and expect to be inspired.
Gratitude: Gratitude is a magical elixir that changes everything! In fact, it actually changes our brain chemistry! “When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside. By consciously practicing gratitude every day, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen themselves and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.” (May 12, 2020, PositivePsychology.com)
The current situation is undoubtedly a downer so we need to counteract sadness and possible depression with as much feeling good as we can! Pro Tip: I recommend (to all my clients) writing a daily list of three good things they did for themselves and five things for which they are grateful.
Humor: Don’t be afraid to find humor in almost any situation. It can be a life-saver. Indeed, Mark Twain, one of our greatest humorists said, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” Try not to take anything (especially yourself) too seriously. Take time to have fun, to play, be silly and laugh. These are important elements of self-care. Like gratitude, smiling and laughing literally changes your brain chemistry, releasing endorphins and possibly relieving pain (Sept. 11, 2011, Scientific American). Pro Tip: If you want or need an extra shot of laughter watch or listen to comedy. I’m a huge fan of stand-up comedy so that’s my go-to medicine.
Optimism: Optimism is having a generally positive outlook on life. It is a key element in building individual psychological resilience (Aug. 24, 2018, Cutts). Staying positive and keeping fear and worry at bay helps people to maintain a hopeful outlook on life. This ability helps us reframe potentially negative events in a more positive or useful context. Pro Tip: If you are interested in re-wiring your brain to experience increased happiness check out the work of Dr. Rick Hanson author of Buddha’s Brain.
Faith: I have come to relate to faith as the antidote to fear. As Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Whenever I am afraid I can see it is because I do not have faith in my Higher Power. Fear signals me to strengthen my spiritual connection to this Higher Power. As a human I have many limitations, wants and desires but when my faith is strong I know that everything is as it should be and I have no need for fear. When I say “faith” this also includes hope. Having hope is what keeps us from despair. We can not despair because then all is lost. At the extreme end of the loss of hope lies psychogenic death which can lead to physical death in a very short time (Sept. 29, 2018). It’s a choice to cultivate faith (whatever that means to you) but I believe it’s an invaluable tool to keep in your tool kit.
Service: It’s also a scientifically proven fact that being of service to others produces good feelings in those doing the service or helping (May 30, 2018, Psychology Today). Being generous and supporting others is called “pro-social” behavior and it makes us feel good in at least three crucial ways: 1) It gives us a feeling of “relatedness” to others which is a basic psychological need; 2) altruistic behavior boosts well being and lowers depression by providing meaning and purpose to our lives and activating positive neural changes! In fact, fMRI studies suggest a link between generosity and happiness in the brain. “For example, donating money to charitable organizations activates the same (mesolimbic) regions of the brain that respond to monetary rewards or sex (May 30, 2018);” 3) A study (2017) suggests, “helping others regulate their emotions helps us regulate our own emotions, decreases symptoms of depression and ultimately, improves our emotional well-being.” Therefore, if you are feeling down or bored during this time of quarantine think of others, what you can do for them then DO IT!
Self-care: While I’ve always been a strong proponent of self-care and its inextricable relationship to self-love, self-care is perhaps even more important now than ever and by self-care, I’m referring to your health and well-being as it relates to your mind, body and spirit. Studies show that there are many comorbidities or underlying conditions that lead to increased severity of symptoms and higher death rates in those exposed to COVID-19 (CDC Website). So, now it’s doubly important to eradicate and manage underlying health conditions. Conditions such as obesity, diabetes and even kidney and liver disease sometimes have a relationship with behavior such as diet and exercise. Even if you don’t have any underlying health conditions being stressed, tired and rundown are all conditions that lower our body’s resistance or ability to fight off diseases. This is why during this time it is important that you maintain a healthy regimen of diet, exercise, and rest. Don’t neglect your mental/spiritual health either. Be mindful and do whatever that means to take care of your mental and physical health e.g. do not neglect your regular health appointments. Many doctors and therapists (myself included) do offer telemedicine and teletherapy.
Because these are challenging financial times for many I’m offering virtual therapy/coaching services on a sliding scale starting at 10% OFF. Please Note: If you are a health care worker directly affected by the coronavirus my services are being offered to you for FREE. Click this link if interested in scheduling a FREE 30-Min Consultation to discuss.
I hope you found the above helpful. If so I invite you to leave a comment and share it.
Wishing you much-continued success and well-being!
Praying that this article finds you and your families well,
Let me get right to the point. I know it’s hard not to succumb to fear during these times. The growing effects of COVID-19 are affecting everyone’s lives. But, there are some things we can control. This letter isn’t about physical safety precautions, although there are links below for that. I’m writing to share tips I recently shared on CBS affiliate WUSA-9 (pictured above), AND 5 mental health coping tips that I hope you find helpful. My sanity, perhaps like yours, is being challenged but here is what I have found that works!
5 Sanity Saving/Coping Tips:
1) The Serenity Prayer: ‘God/Goddess, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Think of what you can’t change i.e. the existence of this virus and what you do have control over i.e. your attitude and actions. In other words, take the actions you can then let the rest go!
2) Be informed: There is no dearth of valuable info out here on what we need to do for our protection and if we become sick. These links are a good place to start: CDC Protection Recommendations and What to do if you become Sick
3) Practice Self-Care: Exercise, get rest, eat properly, drink lots of water and stick to spiritual practices that don’t put you at risk. My practices of choice are long walks in the woods, yoga, prayer & meditation. Pro tip: If you are in need of exercise or meditation instruction, YouTube has tons of stuff!
4) Keep things in perspective: Stay in the present. Don’t project into the future. It’s ok to consider the future to plan sensibly but do not catastrophize or stress about things that are NOT happening right now. I recommend literally “be where your feet are” to help you stay in the moment. Yep, look down, find your feet, that’s where you are!
5) Get and Keep Your Joy Quotient Up: Think positively and do fun stuff! I am a huge fan of stand-up comedy so I watch and listen to that to keep me laughing. I also love to dance (can be done at home). If you are on lockdown with others play some games, be creative. Do some things you enjoy but haven’t had time to do like cook, watch movies, prep space for a garden (you get the picture). Pro tip: A big joy boost can be had from Practicing Gratitude by counting your blessings.
I hope you found something helpful in the above! If you did, feel free to share and if you have some good tips please share them with me. I will be sharing more well-being and success tips on my Vision Quest Retreats Facebook page so check us out there!
According to psychotherapist, David Richo, PhD. one way to improve your relationship with your significant other is to set an intention to consistently give each other “The Five A’s of Love: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing.” But what about the relationship with yourself? Whether in a couple or not, we still need to give ourselves these things.
These five aspects of love represent qualities that are essential for a child to receive from a parent or caregiver in order to feel secure and to develop a healthy sense of self. An absence of these five qualities of love and nurturing could be considered a form of childhood emotional neglect and relationship trauma. If we don’t receive a consistent, sufficient amount of the five A’s as children, we can experience anxiety, depression and shame, or go through life feeling not good enough.
Guess what? Very few people received the 5 A’s consistently or in sufficient amounts! I’ve never had a coaching or therapy client who did not need to engage in some level of self re-parenting. People always like to say, “parenting is hard.” I want to say, “Have you tried re-parenting?!”
We never outgrow the need to receive attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing. Giving and receiving the Five A’s of love in your romantic relationships is groovy! This can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and help fill the void created by childhood relationship trauma. But, receiving this from someone else can never heal you or fill a void if you don’t truly love yourself.
Here’s the good news; You don’t have to sit around waiting to receive the 5 A’s from someone else! You can and should start giving them to yourself today! Because it is the child who needed and needs these things, it may be more impactful to think of your ‘self’ as your inner child and your ‘Self’ as the adult or parent. If you are already doing this then congratulations! If your relationship with yourself could use a little help, read on. Start with setting an intention to give these dimensions of love to yourself/inner child and see how you feel.
Notice, listen, focus and really engage with your inner child and other aspects of yourself (more on this later). Notice and hear words, feelings, experiences. Think about how your words (self-talk) and actions affect your inner child. When we give the inner child this type of attention, she feels respected, understood and that she really matters to you.
Demonstrate in your words and actions that you approve of who the inner child is as a person; her unique personality traits, her values, her choices, her lifestyle. Acceptance means appreciating differences without judgment. (Acceptance creates deeper intimacy because it demonstrates that each person can be themselves and share their thoughts, feelings and wishes without fear of rejection, ridicule or abandonment. Acceptance leads to self-confidence and a sense of security in the world.)
Express gratitude daily for who you are. Say thank you for the individual qualities that you cherish and admire. (If you have not already done so, create a list of at least 10 assets you possess.)
For example: positive attitude, a calm demeanor, taking an interest in friends and family, your talents. Notice and make a list daily of three good things you do for yourself i.e. making a healthy breakfast, getting exercise, getting a massage, spending time with supportive friends and family, tending to your spirit and any manner of self-care.
Affection refers not just to physical closeness but also feeling close to someone through conversation, gestures, and presence. This means really listen to and engage with your inner child. Maybe she wants to play, maybe she needs a nap, maybe she needs a treat. Any form of healthy self-care should be viewed as expressions of love for self. Affection can also be expressed via kind words, i.e. positive self-talk, affirmations. Stop being so hard on yourself! Listen to your self-talk. If it’s negative imagine saying that to an infant! Would you do that? I hope not, because that’s abuse. Think of how you have and should speak to babies, then do that!
On Sunday (which is my day of rest), I like to take a hot bath in candlelight then really take some time moisturizing. I even give myself a foot massage. Does this sound weird? Well, I love it and so does Little Nicky.
Allowing means letting someone be themselves. It means giving them the freedom to do things in their own way. It means we don’t try to control or manipulate the person to make them into someone they are not naturally meant to be (sound familiar). How can you be allowing to yourself and your inner child? 1) Stop judging yourself, 2) stop comparing yourself to others, 3) stop pretending to be someone you think the world wants you to be, 4) start paying attention to your feelings and wants 5) honor those feelings, 6) be authentic!
If you struggle with giving or receiving the Five A’s, to your inner child/self your past parenting is most likely interfering. Many people did not receive “good enough” parenting. We tend to continue the job our parents started by parenting ourselves the way they parented us. Some of it was good, keep doing that. Some of it was not good, stop doing that and start employing the Five A’s today!
Stop waiting to receive this type of love from others. You can’t change the past, but you can determine what you will do today and be the beautifully powerful woman you were born to be. It takes work, but it’s so worth it!
*Parts of above adapted from Kalpana Murthy (2012) in an article geared toward coupling. This author has adapted Richo’s 5 A’s as important aspects of self-love.
When is the last time you made or refreshed your Vision Board? In this segment, I share some tips on how to use a Vision Board for success!