Tag Archives: Balance

Dynamic Opposites

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Girl with grandfather

Girl with grandfather

When I was a young girl, my grandfather and I would go for long walks together. He was a tremendous influence in my life and came from a time when intelligence defined how far a man (or a woman) got in life. Those walks were a major part of my education and they most definitely molded many of my life-long philosophies.
Perhaps one of the most memorable life-lessons my grandfather spoke about during our time walking together was also one of the simplest of concepts. As if it were just yesterday, I remember him telling me that both, too much and too little of something made it no good. Everything , even something that starts out good, can become something hurtful, he explained, when it dwells in extremes.

I didn’t understand it then, but I have lived long enough to understand it now. Finding the balance in things is critical to a happy, healthy, successful life. Everything, including people and all their components, have polar ends. But they also have a center, a place where both of those two extremes are no longer opposing each other or pulling in opposite directions. The center, the neutral point of any two oppositional forces is the place we store our most valuable resources.
Try this simple exercise to serve as an example. Clench your right hand into a tight fist. Then release it. Now do the same with your left hand and release. You have just put fairly equal pressure or tension on both sides of your body, first your right and then your left. But as soon as you complete the action, your body restores itself to balance, and you feel better; centered and more relaxed.

Too Hot - Too Cold

Too Hot – Too Cold

Goldilocks understood this concept perfectly when she rejected both the Pappa bear’s cereal because it was too hot and the Mamma bear’s cereal because it was too cold. She continued her state of discomfort until she continued onto the Baby bear’s bowl of cereal which was ‘just right’ for her. Neither extreme of hot nor cold suited her. And as we all know the rest of the story, she repeated this process again to find her level of comfort for sitting on chairs and finally for being able to rest and fall asleep.

Although we have much in common with each other as human’s we also all have very unique and individual components that make us exactly who we are and each one of us has our own exact location for balance within us. Mine is not where yours is, yours is not where Goldilocks’ is and that is a wonderful thing because it affirms our individuality.

And, our own personal sense of balance is not ever exactly the same in any given moment. Life is dynamic, not static. Energy is dynamic. And because of that, all our components are constantly in motion, changing. So, our sense of balance in one situation shifts when we are in a different situation during the same day. Also, the very same situation at one time, can cause a shift of balance in us the next time we come across the exact same situation.

Dynamics of Life

Dynamics of Life

The key is to understand and accept this dynamic and make a habit of ‘checking in and fine-tuning’ ourselves so that we identify where we are internally on the opposite – balance – opposite spectrum. The more we connect with our perfect sense of center and balance, the more energy, happiness, healthfulness, mindfulness and performance we develop for ourselves.

I had the opportunity to speak with a fascinating man yesterday, and hear what he had to say about all of this. He explained his ideas about how this balance, this center and putting space between our opposites can eliminate the tension and stress from our nervous systems and grant us well-being.

If you drink a cup of caffeine in the morning, it is nothing that can harm you in any way, he stated, if you also partake in having a glass of wine in evening – the stimulant in the coffee in your body is brought back down by the calming effects of the alcohol in the wine and you have returned your system to its pure balance.
This fascinated me and I hope you too. More to come on it all very soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

BB Barbie

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Plus Size Barbie

I stumbled upon something very interesting considering all the time I spend writing about self-image and weight issues. I found it on Facebook of all places on a page about Plus Size Modeling.

It seems a debate has sprung up about creating a Plus Size Barbie doll. There are many people voicing their thoughts and adding their opinions about the need for a plump partner to the traditional slim and sexy gal next door that Ken knows and loves.

All in all, I consider myself a pretty decisive person and it usually doesn’t take me very long to make up my mind, but I have to admit, I’m on the fence about this one. My initial reaction to the thought of Barbie packing on a few pounds and still being an icon appealed to me because I instantly thought about how much more accepting girls might become of their own bodies and imperfections. But then I thought that maybe it would send the message of being too accepting of a habit and behavior that was not healthy and could lead to even more severely unhealthy habits and behaviors later on in life. I certainly don’t want to encourage being overweight either.

I see it as a pretty fine line between being okay with our imperfections and encouraging harmful behaviors. Perhaps if Plus-Size Barbie comes with running gear, a sweat suit and a treadmill so she can work out and maintain healthy habits I would be more likely to see it as a good thing. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t feel good about advocating behaviors that cause a person to become overweight.

Very Underweight Model

Very Underweight Model

It is not right to advocate underweight either and I know that historically and even currently, our society still pushes our women to achieve the ideal look which tends to be too thin and unhealthy. It also has been the catalyst of many young girls harming themselves by eating too little and emotionally scarring themselves by failing to accept themselves and their bodies.

Mayo Clinic Health Food Pyramid

Mayo Clinic Health Food Pyramid

Why do we have to go to extremes? I would feel much better about this if we could find the middle of the road somewhere, not advocating too much of anything. Maybe I will start a group on facebook where we could develop a “Healthy-Weight Barbie.” I wonder if that would have a lot of followers. Who’s with me?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Regaining Balance Is Enough

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Human Psyche

Human Psyche

The human psyche never ceases to amaze me. When we are young, we learn how to speak, many of us before the age of three. Our vocabularies grow and we become pretty adept at understanding what words mean and how to use them. But when we throw the human mind into it – amazing things start to happen.

Let’s take word meanings for example. And for the sake of this post, let us work with the word “enough.” I am going to venture for a large percentage of my readers; this one word is extremely ‘loaded.’ By loaded, I mean it comes with a lot of baggage with loads of triggers that set many emotions in motion.

Power of Words

Power of Words

When people have any issues in their lives with boundaries, the word “enough” carries significant implications. If someone does anything either too much or too little, such as overeat or get too angry or work too little or bathe less frequently, again, the word “enough” is at the center of the problem.

But perhaps the most damaging of all, is when we link our very selves to the word “enough;” when we start to think along the lines of whether we are “enough.”

Perhaps the trouble begins when people who are more likely to have difficulties with boundaries attempt to determine what qualifies as “enough.” I imagine, people who have a better handle on balance in their lives and have experience living a balanced life are better able to quantify how much is “enough.”

Balance

Balance

But for people who tend to find themselves out of balance often, this single word can be turned into something quite devastating. “Enough” can’t exist unless there is a way to begin from a balanced posture.

So, let’s try it for just a moment – gently close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose, clearing out the clutter of emotions and thoughts that are in the way. Try it for just 15 or 20 seconds. Ground yourself and experience a bit of calmness and balance. Now think about “enough,” and you will find, it has no more or no less meaning than any other word – because we have regained our balance and don’t have to react the way we usually do.

I’d love to hear how this worked for you! Let me know.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Why Vs. How

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Why

Why


I’ve been doing some more work with emotional awareness and mindfulness. This is quickly becoming something that has a firm grasp on my interest and focus. And one of the things that I am zeroing in on is the difference between :

• Thinking about feelings
• Feeling the feelings

Historically, I am hugely analytic. Ask anyone who knows me. They will confirm that at some point or another, I have undoubtedly made them a bit crazy with my tendency to analyze and over-analyze anything and everything.

I can’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t try and understand why things happened the way they did. As I experienced life more, my need to understand why things happened gave way to understanding how things happened.

I believe the transition from why to how occurred because life taught me a bit about acceptance. Even as I write this now, it seems to me that why comes from more of a non-accepting place. I wanted to understand because I wasn’t content or accepting of what happened. A great example of this would be when you ask yourself or someone else “why did that person have to do that” In essence, by asking why we are also questioning why something else did not happen. It sounds extremely non-accepting to me.

Acceptance

Acceptance

But when I began to become more interested in how, I stopped asking why. By asking how, in essence I am saying that I accept it is happening this way or that it will happen this way, but I am looking to understand more about the process. I have accepted that there is nothing for me to do regarding whether it happens or not – but rather I can learn more about the occurrence.

If all this analyzing and thinking sounds like a lot of work, that is correct! I spent so much time thinking and over-thinking, analyzing and over-analyzing, that I left myself very little ability to feel anything. Lo and behold, there was an entirely different dimension to who I was that I knew practically nothing about. My emotional development suffered greatly due to the fact that I felt so much more comfortable in my intellectual self. It felt so much safer to me because that is where I had experienced success and established so much more familiarity.

I tried to break down one concept into a lot of words to assure readers can relate to where I’m going with this. We cannot bring ourselves into balance unless we allow all of who we are to develop; even the part or parts we are not comfortable facing.

Acceptance

Acceptance

Learning to become aware of the way I am feeling in the moment was not something comfortable for me – rather, it is something I avoided for a long time because of just how afraid of it I was. I had to do a lot of work on myself before I was ready to get there. But now that I have begun the process, there is nothing that makes me feel more complete and I choose to devote a part of my day practicing emotional awareness through practicing mindfulness – also known as ‘self-care,’ for the rest of my life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Interior Vs. Exterior

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Internal Image

Internal Image

There is so much more to be said for the topic of mindfulness. One image that continues to come back to me each time I start to write about it, is that of shadow boxing. When we are in a situation in which we are not able to see or understand whatever it is we have to undertake, there is no way we can be very effective with it.

The more we understand the task we are faced with, the better we can accomplish it. That seems like it would be such an indisputable fact that it boggles my mind when it comes to issues like anxiety, depression or emotional struggles we may have.

That is not to say that we all need to obtain a PhD is psychology or biology, but it does speak clearly to emotional awareness and mindfulness. Nobody knows better how we are feeling that we do. And nothing helps us get more in touch with how we feel than learning how to zero in on the moment and experience it more fully by focusing on it more intently.

By shifting our focus from the external to the internal and then back again brings a new level of awareness and depth to the way we experience life.

How Much Time

Balance

Balance

Finding a balance is key. It doesn’t help us to dwell on our feelings or sensations for too long; in fact, it could actually become counter-productive if we do. And, conversely, it isn’t effective if we don’t spend enough time and attention to our inner feelings, because we can’t truly get in touch with what is going on unless we experience it.

A good springboard is approximately 20-30 minutes a day. And, as with developing any habit, it takes our brain 30 days to learn a new routine. Devoting more time than that is not helpful and as I mentioned, it can be counter productive. The idea is to experience sensations, not to think about them too much or to focus on them beyond the allotted time.

Internal Benefits

When something goes wrong inside our bodies, if it is not easy to detect outwardly like symptoms of a cold or flu, a physician will call for testing that delves deeper like blood work, x-rays, scans or even an MRI.

I see mindfulness as the emotional equivalent of that. And the great news is that it is much less expensive! It does, however, require a lot more courage and commitment. For most of us, it is coming face to face with fear, anxiety, rage, sadness and emptiness. These are not the types of things we look forward to experiencing and yet, becoming mindful means we are voluntarily opting to experience them.

Meditatinon  and Yoga

However, by allocating a time and a place to let them come up, we become free of the fear they hold over us.

Very rarely are emotions released in a crazed rush that overwhelms or overtakes us. It is much more like time released vitamins or medication. The process is a gradual, slow and steady one. Our emotional ‘wounds’ can take days, weeks or even months to release and heal.

But if you stay devoted and committed to the practice of mindfulness, you will find that you truly hold the key to making your life better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

More On The Powers of Mindfulness

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Brain

Brain

If we were asked where our thoughts come from, most likely every one of us would point to our heads. We know that our brain houses our thoughts and with current research, we understand the process of neurons firing – our ‘brains’ telling us what to do.

If we were asked where our movement comes from, most likely we would point to our arms and legs. We know that the muscles, tendons, bone and skin comprising our arms and legs produce movement as we raise, bend, lower, flex or maneuver them in some way.

But what part of our body would we point to if we were asked where our feelings are housed? I suppose, many of us would say our heart and to a certain degree, that is true. When we think about love it involves the heart. Feelings of kindness, caring and compassion are also linked to the heart.

But what about darker emotions? Where in our body do feelings of anger or grief stem from? Some people may still say the heart houses these emotions as well, but I know when I practice mindfulness, I feel anger and other dark feelings in my stomach. There is a sense of distress that starts there and works its way up. That is why I can balance the discomfort through deep breathing, because it calls on the same area to exhale and inhale deeply. It is as if by centering myself into the location of where the negativity stems from, I am able to permit it to exist and then I can bring it back into proportion – I can manage it.

Overweight Lady In Spandex

Overweight Lady In Spandex

I am not able to fight what I can’t see. None of us can do that. So if we don’t find a way to face these deep emotions, we can’t manage or control their impact over us. We don’t have any idea how or where they’ll show up. Please excuse the graphic but it will help me get my point across here – it is like an extremely obese person in spandex. It has to come out somewhere. And trust me, it will and it does.

Feelings that we attempt to suppress and numb don’t go away forever, they lie dormant, waiting to be reincarnated. And all it takes to bring them back to life is another situation that triggers some similar chord, something that takes us back to a similar place. So, doesn’t it make more sense to ride the wave intentionally than to have it overwhelm us at a time when we may not be expecting it?

Magic of Mindfulness

Magic of Mindfulness

To me, that is what learning to be mindful of our emotions provides us with. It provides us with an opportunity to call on our deep emotions and bring them out into the light at a time of our choosing so we can see them and learn how to manage them appropriately when we are ready to do so.

Learning to be mindful empowers us to ride out the waves of our turbulent emotions and clam our inner seas so we can sail through our lives more smoothly and in focus to be able to enjoy the journey more fully.

Want to know more about mindfulness and how to achieve inner peace more regularly, stay tuned. And don’t forget to leave your comments and share your experience with other readers here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Mindfulness 101

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Volvo SUV

Volvo SUV

Did you ever make up your mind that you were going to buy a new car? One of the most amazing things happens when that occurs. After painstaking contemplation and consideration, you finally decide on the make and model you are going to get, maybe even the color.

It is always right after this decision that you become amazingly aware of just how many makes and models in the same color you have chosen are actually on the road. It is almost as if a magic car fairy has transplanted all these ‘imitation’ vehicles on the roads you travel, just for you to be able to see just how your new car is going to look on the road once you get it.

Not really, but it sure does seem that way!

Magic of Mindfulness

Magic of Mindfulness

Well, it’s sort of like that when it comes to me and the term mindfulness. I first ran across the word term when a colleague of mine who is very up on these types of things began using it in conjunction with regard to her working with her clients who were overly anxious. She didn’t define it, but I pretty much understood what the concept meant through the content of her description.

And then, as if by some miracle, the expression fairy came down and began placing the concept of mindfulness in more than ¾ of the material I read and things I heard. It is a major construct in positive psychology and it seems to be more or less of a buzz word these days but that just makes me wonder if it is be getting too much use.

The risk is that it is misused, not really over-used. So, I am going to try and prevent that from occurring when I discuss it. To me, mindfulness is more than becoming aware of ourselves on a deeper level. It is also becoming more aware of other people on a deeper level as well. And that is an important component of the term because without it, we are shortchanging its intention as well as many of the benefits to practicing it.

To be mindful means to be able to tune in without distraction – not only the type of outer distractions we are all so familiar with, but also anything going on within us as we are dealing with a given situation.

Time for a bit of honesty here – because we all do it. I know you know what I’m talking about – I am as guilty of it in my role as anyone – we are called upon by someone who has something to say to us, be it professionally or in our private lives – maybe our spouse or our son or daughter – and we start out attending to them and listening intently. But out of nowhere, we get walloped with the thought that we have to be at the field to pick up little Jimmy and there is bound to be traffic and dinner is going to be late enough as it is and yadda yadda….

Before we know it, our insides are shaking, our brainwaves are frazzled and we haven’t really heard the last 50 words the person speaking to us has said.

We are human. Our feelings are impacted due to all the thoughts that float in and out of our heads. I have heard most people averages about 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s an awful lot of opportunity for internal distraction, don’t you think?

So unless we can learn how to temper our feelings that go out of whack when some of these 60,000 thoughts triggers deep feelings for us, we are going to lose our attention and our focus. In essence, we have popped out of mindfulness.

So in order to really be mindful, we have to learn how to handle our internal emotions from pulling us off track and since we can’t stop thinking, the only possible point for control comes when the thought triggers the feelings.

If we learn how to manage our emotions so we do not lose our equilibrium – our balance, then we can remain mindful and still give our feelings the right to exist. In fact, we actually give our feelings more permission to exist through being mindful – we just don’t dwell on the feelings and permit them to knock us out of balance.

More Mindfulness

More Mindfulness

So, my goal for today is to figure out the best way for me to be able to post healthful and simple ways to handle feelings, while granting them full permission and acceptance, so we can remain mindful and in balance for ourselves and for others.

Here’s to practicing mindfulness!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Splendor of the Season

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Fall is Coming

Fall is Coming

The past few nights I have happily slept like a baby. It would be nice if it were because I am doing better on a personal level balancing stress in my life and becoming more mindful, which to some extent is happening.

But the main reason I have been able to sleep so well is because the weather here has been dropping into the low 40s at night. It is as if someone shifted gears and instantly we find ourselves looking at crock pots and hoodies!

Even some of the leaves on the trees are already turning. And today, I got a request for my scrumptious corn chowder. Of course, I did more than enjoy preparing it. But the point is that the climate and atmosphere screams autumn.

There is something I find magically invigorating about this time of year. I sleep harder and I play harder. The days start to get shorter and the windows are slowly closing.

I even notice the change in our pets. The puppies sleep longer and start barking sooner to come back into the house when they are let out. Even the cats start to change their habits because of the change in seasons. One of the cats comes out of the bedroom more now and her sister comes into the bedroom more to snuggle at night.

Coffee drive thrus still offer iced beverages, but more people are ordering the hot variety. And our local donut drive thru has begun pumpkin flavored coffees and hot apple cider, both scream “fall” to me.

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

In the distance, you can see a haze of orange covering the open farming fields as soy and corn have been replaced with pumpkins. And local stores are already marketing candy corn and Halloween crafts and decorations.

Fall Mist

Fall Mist

Don’t be surprised if I include some camera phone images of the turning of the leaves in the next week or so. And if any of you guys have tell-tale signs you would like to talk about that signify the upcoming cooler weather and crisper weather, feel free to share your experiences here in the comments.

But most of all, don’t forget to stop and let the beauty and bounty of the upcoming season seep into your being – take it all in, all the colors, the smells. Experience it all just a little bit deeper and with more intensity than you have before and revel in your ability to do so!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Finding “Just Right”

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Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell

I do not truly believe that it is a good thing that our society highly rewards people who are rude or so direct as to ignore the way they make people feel.

If I’ve lost you, this statement is a follow-up to yesterday’s post. Briefly, in it I pointed out how handsomely rewarded some high-profile celebrities are and how they’ve gained their extreme popularity and financial success by stepping over the line of honest and direct into inconsideration and becoming hurtful of people’s feelings.

I truly don’t understand why there are any of us who respect this type of behavior – even if it is sold to us in the name of ‘honesty’ and ‘being direct.’

Howard Stern

Howard Stern

Does it not speak to how fed up we, as a society, might be of all the ‘political correctness’ we had shoved down our throats in years gone by?

When I was a young girl, my maternal grandfather, one of the people who I was closest to in my life and who, to this day, I regard as one of the wisest people I’ve ever known, told me that it was written somewhere significant (most likely in scriptures somewhere,) that too much of anything is not good.

The point of his story (and there always was a point to the stories he shared with me on those long walks we took,) was that in order to live a healthy life, we need to find balance – and in this case, balance means not too much or too little of anything.

If the familial, scripture-like version of this moral doesn’t sit well with you, then le’ts go for the more creative, Fairy Tale perspective.

The 3 Bears

The 3 Bears

When Goldilocks fell across the home of the 3 Bears, deep in the forest one day, she encountered an empty home filled with furnishings and dietary pleasures that the family of bears enjoyed.

In her quest for tranquility, she ate the porridge that was “just right,” avoiding both the one that was too hot and the one that was too cold. She declined rocking in the huge chair that was too big and high. She turned down rocking in the Momma Bear’s chair that was also not to her liking. But she enjoyed the Baby Bear’s chair that she deemed “just right” so much, she rocked and rocked and rocked until she broke the chair.

Even when it came to time for her to rest her weary eyes after a long day’s worth of rummaging through the home belonging to the 3 Bears, she could not sleep in the bed that was too hard. Nor was she able to find herself comfortable enough to rest in the Momma Bear’s bed that was too soft.

Once again, only in the Baby Bear’s bed, the one that felt “just right,” was Goldilocks able to find peace and serenity and enough comfort to fall asleep.

What we deem as “just right” is more than likely as unique and individual as we are as human beings. But, we all share some degree of where right ends and wrong begins. I feel confident that although we can laugh and even celebrate people who act in ways that are not considered kind and compassionate toward others; we know the difference and understand in our hearts that what we really ought to be celebrating can be found more in the kindness and goodness categories.

If we could only find a way to have society truly reward those who do good things for each other, we could make our world a much better place for us all.

ABOUT ME

I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!