Letting Go Takes Strength and a Lot of Love


Letting Go Takes Strength and a Lot of Love

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go. ~Herman Hesse

LETTING GO

There comes a time in each of our lives when we are “asked” to let go of certain places, certain ideas, certain things and certain people in order for something new to come our way, something new to emerge.

No matter what are the circumstances and no matter if you make the decision or if the decision is forced on you, letting go can seem like such a difficult and scary thing to do, am I right? If we could only find the wisdom and inner strength to allow things to come and go without any resistance on our part, our lives would get so much easier and we would all become a lot happier and relaxed, at peace with ourselves and the world around us.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. ~Helen Keller

LETTING GO TAKES LOVE

“To let go does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another.

To let go is not to enable, but allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame another, it’s to make the most of myself.

To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,  but to allow others to affect their destinies.

To let go is not to be protective, it’s to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.

To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to FEAR LESS and LOVE MORE.

Remember:  THE TIME TO LOVE IS SHORT.” ~ Author Unknown

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This Could Be the Most Beautiful Poem Ever Written


Nobody can deny the power of words! Sometimes you come across a read so good, you just can’t help but share it with the people you love.

As a reader, I’m always looking for a good read. With the internet, there is an unlimited amount of reading materials, but only a few are worth an investment – and this has to be one of them. This beautiful poem written by Max Ehrman is one the best you’ll ever read. It’s an impacting assimilation of words that are sure to move you. It is titled Desiderata, meaning something needed or wanted! What are your thoughts? Read the poem below.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

The Thirst for Deep Connections and Meaningful Relationships


The Thirst for Deep Connections and Meaningful Relationships

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” ~ Brené Brown

THE THIRST FOR DEEP CONNECTIONS

With every day that passes by, I feel my thirst for deep connections and meaningful relationships get stronger and stronger.

 I can longer take part superficial interactions and empty conversations.

I just can’t!

In fact, if I think about it, meaningless interactions were never my thing.

Even when I was a little kid, I just couldn’t understand why the majority of people were only talking for the sake of talking.

It all seemed pointless to me. (It still does.)

I wanted people to be true and honest. I wanted them to open their hearts and show each other the Truth of who they were.

But they rarely did.

“I do not waste my words on tired minds.I can only talk to those who are thirsty for the sea.” ~ Rumi

No masks. No costumes. Just you and your naked soul.

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ~ Brené Brown

The truth of the matter is that we all long to connect with the world around us in a soulful and truthful way. We all crave for deep connections.

But unfortunately, because so many of us have fallen into the trap of identifying ourselves with what we Do externally, we can no longer See each other for who we Are internally.

“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

This is the story of humanity.

We go around wearing all kind of masks and costumes, pretending we are one with them. And when the time comes for us to See and Honor one another, we no longer can – our masks keep us from doing so. 

We are all worthy

“You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.” ~ Alan Moore

We are such pure, noble, and sacred beings.

We really are!

But the majority of us don’t know this to be true.

We really don’t.

But through pain, heartbreak, and a lot of suffering, we will all eventually discover that there is a great deal of love within our hearts wanting to be felt, and waiting to be shared.

“May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.” ~ Mother Teresa

Open your heart to LOVE

“You have so little faith in yourself because you are unwilling to accept the fact that perfect love is in you, and so you seek without for what you cannot find within.” ~ A Course In Miracles

If we want to be Seen, Loved, and Heard by others, and if we want to create deep connections and meaningful relationships with those around us, we must first learn to open our own hearts.

We can’t walk around with our hearts closed and expect to feel deeply loved. 

We just can’t!

Just as to be loved by others, we must first learn to love ourselves, in the same way,  to connect more deeply with others we must first learn to connect more deeply with ourselves.

And we do this by forgiving all those parts of us we once thought were wrong, shameful, flawed, and unworthy.

We do this by taking time to heal the parts of us that are still in need of healing and by letting go of any past hurt, guilt, and fear we might be holding onto.

We connect more deeply with ourselves and the world around us by forgiving all those people who did us harm. And also by giving ourselves permission to be all that life created us to be – no longer begging, no longer doubting, and no longer labeling ourselves as unworthy, small, and never enough. 

Because you my friend, are already enough – always have been and always will be.

“Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.” ~ Dr. Maya Angelou

‘It’s Exhausting’: The Hidden Struggle of Working Women with Autism


Autistic women can go for years without diagnosis, and struggle at work as a result. One company is determined to do something about it.

Rachael Lucas’s “long history of walking out of very good jobs” began in her 20s after she quit her postgraduate degree at the University of Ulster. Working in different fields as a horse trainer, a childcare specialist, teacher trainer, and an advertising salesperson respectively, she would quickly become overwhelmed by the social elements of her job.

“I was good at the job,” she says, “but after six months walked out because I just couldn’t cope with it.” She eventually turned to temping: “I became very good at going into a situation and doing three or four months of very intense work and then being able to take a breather.”

After two decades in work, Lucas was diagnosed with autism at the age of 44. She now recognizes that her previous inability to keep a job was down to autism burnout, a colloquial term that describes what happens when people on the autism spectrum become overwhelmed and exhausted by stress. Choosing to work so infrequently was, she says, “my own way of managing the autism.”

Auticon, a German-founded social enterprise, is looking to change this by going on a recruitment drive for autistic women. The modus operandi of this IT consultancy start-up, which now has offices across Germany as well as in Paris and London, is to directly recruit autistic tech workers and then place them within other companies while supporting them at work.

The company has over 100 employees, and according to Viola Sommer, director and head of operations at Auticon in the UK, four-fifths of them are autistic. With investment from Richard Branson and UK charity the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the five-year-old company is already turning profit as it tries to help more autistic people get the most out of their skills. That goes for women, too.

Autism affects about one per cent of the world’s population, and that figure includes women. But women with autism have historically been under-diagnosed. Currently, various studies put the sex ratio of men to women diagnosed with autism between 3–2:1. A lack of diagnosis can have a profound effect on autistic women’s mental health and stack the odds against them when it comes to employment; while those with diagnoses have better access to the support services that exist, there’s little out there for the undiagnosed to gain and maintain long-term employment.

“A lot of autistic women tell me they’re trying to get a diagnosis, but the GP or psychiatrist says they can’t be autistic because they are female,” explains Sommer. “If GPs and psychiatrists are thinking that, it could also happen in the workplace.”

 Autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen’s “extreme male brain” theory argues that male brains tend towards systemizing—recognizing and analyzing patterns and data—while female brains are better at empathizing. People with autism are said to possess “extreme male brains,” in that their systemizing skills are hyper-developed. But Baron-Cohen’s theory has been criticized by other scientists, not least because it feeds into “neurosexist” stereotypes about male and female brains.

“All the diagnostic criteria for high functioning autism is based on men,” Sommer says. “How are you going to fit a woman into that criteria? There’s a shocking amount of people out there who are struggling and they can’t get a diagnosis and can’t get support.”

The result of a woman with autism being told that they are neurotypical (a term used to denote those who are not on the autism spectrum) is troubling, because, as Sommer says, “Women tend to be better at what’s called ‘masking,’ acting like a non-autistic person.” And years spent meticulously observing then mimicking behaviours in order to fit in with neurotypical coworkers can have devastating psychological effects.

It’s exhausting for people [when] a huge chunk of your cognitive capacity is put towards acting ‘normal.’

“It’s exhausting for people [when] a huge chunk of your cognitive capacity is put towards acting ‘normal,'” Sommer explains. “But if everyone knows you’re autistic, you don’t have to worry about it, you can be yourself and focus on the actual work.”

Emily Swiatek, 30, spent ten years working with autistic people before she realized she was one. Before that, she did her best to pass as a neurotypical person: “Women who mask often appear to be coping very well for a very long time. That’s because they’ll be putting all their energy and effort into succeeding at work. But what won’t be seen is the mental health difficulties that it can lead to; an autistic woman can reach a crisis point and it’s a shock to her employers, because it’s out of the pattern of her having been quite successful and high achieving.”

Swiatek’s mental health suffered as a result of constantly masking in the face of overwhelming social stimuli. Like Lucas, she had to take intermittent stints of “three to four months off work.” Swiatek explains that masking perhaps comes easily to women because “there are gendered expectations placed on women from a young age, based on ideas around: be nice, be sociable, make people feel comfortable, make people feel at ease.”

 

Emily Swiatek: “An autistic woman can reach a crisis point and it’s a shock to her employers.” Photo courtesy of the National Autistic Society.

While these expectations offer women some tips on how to conform, they can also stop them from getting the most out of their passions, commonly known as “special interests” to those on the autism spectrum. “Autistic people can have extreme hobbies and interests that they enjoy spending their time doing and are very good at doing,” Sommer explains. “Parents and educators should facilitate and promote that and funnel it towards a productive career path. But sadly, perhaps if it’s not agreeing with the gender role of the person, parents tend to shut it down.”

The Rain Man myth that all autistic people have exceptional abilities is further damaging when held up against statistics showing how infrequently autistic people’s skills are utilized. In the UK, only 16 percent of those with autism are in full-time employment. “The quality of applications from women is extremely high, and they have amazing technical skills, but perhaps little social skills,” says Sommer. “They fail at the interview process because it’s all about selling yourself, but there’s a huge potential of actual talent that companies are missing out on.”

 If an autistic person’s work doesn’t tie in with their special interests, the result can be that person being inappropriately employed. “Many autistic people are unemployed, or employed much below their actual cognitive capacities,” she adds. “One of our expert coders was previously stacking shelves at a supermarket because that’s what he could cope with.”

Swiatek found that being a PA in marketing didn’t match with her interests, which include Arsenal Football Club players and their pet dogs. Neither did the office chatter expected of women: “Some of the conversations around TV and fashion and what other people are doing and wearing can be quite difficult to navigate. If you struggle to understand the conversational rules and boundaries, you won’t engage in those conversations.”

The isolation this causes might seem like a minor challenge, but it melds into a larger problem of how to deal with offices’ expectations of female workers. Some autistic women with a special interest in fashion or beauty may easily navigate office dress codes, but for others, “wearing something like tights or a tight blouse or high heels is going to be more challenging,” says Swiatek.

This can be down to a simple inability to pick up on the unwritten rules maintaining what is work-appropriate, or a more complex difficulty to cope with the sensory stimuli of tight-fitting clothing. “Lots of autistic women would not be able to keep up with extreme beauty standards because of sensory issues, such as extreme sensitivities to tactile stimuli,” Sommer explains. “Some people only feel comfortable wearing loose clothing, which is a challenge if you work in a corporate environment.”

It’s just one of the many complexities that women with autism must deal with in the workplace. For now, Auticon is focusing on getting more autistic people into jobs, but the eventual hope is that such an initiative will not need to exist at all. “There’s a lack of willingness to accept different minds and cognitive styles and our entire society is kind of built for extrovert people,” Sommers says. “Most of the autistic women I’ve met have incredible coping structures that they come up with them themselves, but we should work towards the point where that’s not necessary.”

The Autistic, Bipolar Woman Behind a Renowned Database of Missing People


Meaghan Good says she finds it tough to do a “normal job,” but her unique skills make her perfectly suited to run The Charley Project, one of the largest and most detailed online databases of missing persons in the US.

There are about 100,000 active missing persons cases in the U.S. at any given time. With the exception of high-profile Natalee Holloway-esque cases— luridly tragic instances of kidnapping that capture national interest—most people who go missing do so without much more than a blurb in a local newspaper. Meaghan Good’s personal mission is to remind us that these people existed. She’s the founder and sole writer and researcher of The Charley Project, which has nearly 10,000 files and bills itself as “one of the largest and most detailed online databases of American missing persons cold cases.”

There is something specifically haunting about missing persons cases—a forced unfinishedness that cuts to the core of some of our worst fears. Good has spent her entire adult life so far working to bring closure to at least some of these stories. She first became interested in these cases at around age 12, when she stumbled across the site for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children while using school computers.

The amount of time Good has spent working on the database is now longer than the lifespan of most people’s office jobs. Good founded The Charley Project—named after Charley Ross, the victim of one of the first highly-publicized kidnappings in the US—in 2004 when she was just 19 years old, and has worked on it almost every day since. Now 31, she continues to work on the database described as a “publicity vehicle” for the missing, which continues to attract interest—especially from people fascinated by true crime (Good says 1,000 more people per day have started visiting the site over the past year).

“I got sucked into the stories and pictures and posters, and I was kind of obsessed after that,” Good says. “I was wondering about their lives and what had happened to them. I have high-functioning autism, although I didn’t know that at the time, and one of the features of autism is that you have a couple of really, really obsessive interests in some narrow, really defined topics. Autism is a pain in the neck, and I wish I didn’t have it, but I wouldn’t be able to run The Charley Project without it.”

Good also has bipolar disorder, which in combination with autism, makes it difficult for her to work a normal job. While she mentions on multiple occasions that she wishes she weren’t dealing with these mental health issues, she notes that they make her uniquely suited to bring commitment and empathy to the stories of missing people—and often serve as a connecting link to their cases. “There are so many people on my site who’ve got mental illnesses, and the kids on my site, the ones who disappear and they’re living in unfortunate situations, a lot of times mental illness in the family is to blame,” she says. Good tries to paint as full a picture as possible, writing journalistically with words that evoke a scene; details are included in such a way that lets visitors read between the lines. The resulting reports are often more detailed than those of government agencies.

One example is her report on Robin Lynn Vansickel, a 29-year-old woman who went missing in Anchorage, Alaska in 1988. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System’s sparse description lists her as “a dancer in Anchorage, Alaska. [Vansickel] was last seen sometime in 1988 (the date of her disappearance) is an approximation) and has never been heard from again.” Good’s report, in comparison, includes the name of the strip club Vansickel was said to have worked at, as well as the fact that she was caught up in a drug bust shortly before her disappearance.

When you search the news for “The Charley Project,” you find local articles from places like WYFF Greenville and PennLive.com, where Good’s reports are cited to describe reopened cold cases. The database has even helped identify a couple of bodies who were previously John Does, like in the case of a man who disappeared in Texas in 2004. The man wasn’t taking his prescribed medication and abandoned his car on the interstate with the engine running and all the doors open. Two days later, he turned up two states away in Arizona, and died when he was run over by a truck. Because he had no ID, he was listed as a John Doe for the next 10 years.

“Somebody who was looking at the John Does in Arizona and missing persons on the Charley Project—an Irish woman, actually—she realized that this John Doe who disappeared in Arizona just two days after the guy in Texas was wearing the same crucifix necklace as the guy in Texas,” Good says. “So his family finally got him back, and it wasn’t a happy ending, but it was happier than it could have been. At least they learned he wasn’t murdered and didn’t suffer horribly. It was an ending, and any ending is better than nothing at all.”

Good gives no indications of tiring from the work she does with The Charley Project, and fears that even if she wanted to stop, few people would be able to devote the attention required to stay on top of the hundreds of new cases in her backlog. The site accepts donations, but Good isn’t paid to do the work that she does. “It doesn’t pay or really support itself. It’s what I do to justify my existence,” she said, explaining that by providing a way for her to use her talents to help people, the database gives her a sense of purpose.

“When you really think about it, imagine how unlikely it is that you exist on this planet,” she said. “I think you owe the world when you’re born to try to make the world a slightly better place than it was before you were born.”

Being Busy Is Killing Our Ability to Think Creatively


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The other day a friend mentioned that he’s looking forward to autonomous cars, as it will help lower the accident and fatality rates caused by distracted driving. True, was my initial reply, with a caveat: what we gain on the roads we lose in general attention. Having yet another place to be distracted does not add to our mental and social health.

Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable busyness. As Stanford’s Emma Seppälä writes: 

The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking, which is borne out of idleness. Switching between the two modes seems to be the optimal way to do good, inventive work.

She is not the first to point this out. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin made a similar plea in his 2014 book, The Organized Mind. Information overload keeps us mired in noise. In 2011, he writes, Americans consumed five times as much information as 25 years prior; outside of work we process roughly 100,000 words every day. 

This saps us of not only willpower (of which we have a limited store) but creativity as well. He uses slightly different language than Seppälä—linear thinking is part of the central executive network, our brain’s ability to focus, while creative thinking is part of our brain’s default mode network. Levitin, himself a former music professional who engineered records by the Grateful Dead and Santana, writes: 

Artists recontextualize reality and offer visions that were previously invisible. Creativity engages the brain’s daydreaming mode directly and stimulates the free flow and association of ideas, forging links between concepts and neural modes that might not otherwise be made.

Engaging creatively requires hitting the reset button, which means carving space in your day for lying around, meditating, or staring off into nothing. This is impossible when every free moment—at work, in line, at a red light—you’re reaching for your phone. Your brain’s attentional system becomes accustomed to constant stimulation; you grow antsy and irritable when you don’t have that input. You’re addicted to busyness. 

And that’s dangerous for quality of life. As Seppälä points out many of the world’s greatest minds made important discoveries while not doing much at all. Nikola Tesla had an insight about rotating magnetic fields on a leisurely walk in Budapest; Albert Einstein liked to chill out and listen to Mozart on breaks from intense thinking sessions. 

Paying homage to boredom—a valuable tool in the age of overload—journalist Michael Harris writes in The End of Absencethat we start to value unimportant and fleeting sensations instead of what matters most. He prescribes less in the course of a normal day.

Perhaps we now need to engineer scarcity in our communications, in our interactions, and in the things we consume. Otherwise our lives become like a Morse code transmission that’s lacking breaks—a swarm of noise blanketing the valuable data beneath. 

How to disconnect in a time when connection is demanded by bosses, peers, and friends? Seppälä makes four suggestions:

1. Make a long walk—without your phone—a part of your daily routine
2. Get out of your comfort zone
3. Make more time for fun and games
4. Alternate between doing focused work and activities that are less intellectually demanding

That last one is also recommended by Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. Newport is not on any social media and only checks email once a day, perhaps, and even that time is strictly regimented. What seems to be lost in being “connected” is really irreplaceable time gained to focus on projects. Without that time, he says, you’re in danger of rewiring your neural patterns for distraction.

Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanentlyreduce your capacity to perform deep work. 

That’s not a good sign for those who wish to perform creatively, which in reality is all of us. Research shows that the fear of missing out (FOMO) increases anxiety and takes a toll on your health in the long run. Of all the things to suffer, creative thinking is one of our greatest losses. Regardless of your vocation a flexible mindset open to new ideas and approaches is invaluable. Losing it just to check on the latest tweet or post an irrelevant selfie is an avoidable but sadly sanctioned tragedy.

My Medical Choice


LOS ANGELES

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.

But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.

My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.

Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.

Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.

I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.

I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.

For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.

Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.

I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.

10 Reasons Slowing Down Will Actually Speed up Your Life


10 Reasons Slowing Down Will Actually Speed up Your Life

“It can be said that whatever energies you experience, you will sooner or later also experience their opposites.” – Bruce Frantzis, The Great Stillness

10 Reasons Slowing Down Will Actually Speed up Your Life

SLOWING DOWN

My background in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) started with the introduction of yin and yang. I have to admit when I first studied it I thought I was wasting my time. I am now 18 plus years into the field of TCM and mind/body health and I realize I am just starting to scratch the surface of how important yin and yang are to my fundamental understanding of myself and wellness.

 When I was in the party phase of my life I would drink, stay up late, dance non-stop and play until the sun rose. Then I would recover which much to my dismay required an equal amount of time. It always happened the same way. I couldn’t change the cycle.

Fast forward a few years and I have kids and I still wanted to keep busy and be very active. I pushed my body to do what I wanted to do. And do you know my body pushed right back?

I didn’t acknowledge the yin needs of my body. So I ended up feeling burned out. I collapsed. And It took me months to recover.

I have learned through blood, sweat and many tears –and trying to find the loopholes in the forces of nature, the following wisdom:

1. You can’t argue with the natural rhythms of the universe.

What goes up must come down. Yin and yang are balanced energies. And the seed of one always exists and is growing into the other. Universal energies always come back into balance. Learning to work with them will get your needs met more beautifully than working against them.

“What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.” ~ Lao Tzu

2. When you work with yin and yang life unfolds amazingly well.

If you balance rest and activity, one feeds the other. I promise you from experience that if you rest deeply and indulgently there will be this moment where you just bounce up and yang energy takes over. Sometimes it’s as simple as a need to go to the restroom or get some water, other times it’s that you feel a need to create or buy groceries. Either way, Yin is not to be feared.

3. Yin time allows for growth.

My favorite example of this is the bean seed. You plant it in the ground and it rests there in complete darkness (the epitome of yin). I trust, based on the seed packet, that it will grow in 7-14 days because that’s what seeds do. They start in yin and grow into yang.

4. Yin time allows healing to take place.

If you have ever lifted weights you know that you tear the muscle first and then rest it to allow it to grow and adjust to the new expectations of strength. The same is true in all areas of our life.

5. Yin time can heal even the largest of traumas.

Jill Bolte Taylor was a 37-year-old neuroanatomist top in her field when she found herself in the middle of a major stroke. This is a very yang activity in the body. It took over seven years of extreme yin time and balanced yang time to recover from this trauma. Recover she did.

6. It is in the quiet stillness that we tap into a deeper wisdom.

A calm relaxed mind is a receptive mind, open to possibilities. I am not open to universal wisdom as I rush around buying groceries or picking the kids up from school. I am open when I am breathing deeply, centered and grounded in my being. Then and only then can my inspiration breathe itself into being.

7. Yin time evaporates fear.

In the quiet stillness of your restless life, you can find a place of deep trust and faith in life. You start to see patterns and appreciate the subtle beauty of how things are unfolding. Hindsight becomes foresight and your intuition can wake up and offer you wisdom.

8. Slowing down leads to fewer regrets.

Speed leads to unconsciousness and mistakes. Pace motivated by fear can lead to disaster. Slowing down, getting clear on what you want and where you will be focusing allows you to move forward consciously, deliberately and with purpose. And this is when dreams turn into actuality.

9. Balance leads to more oxygen leads to clarity

Nowhere is balance more important than with our breath. Lack of oxygen and shallow breathing leads to illness, brain fog, anxiety, fear, aggression, crappy sex, and more. Breathing a three part breath – activating our collarbone, rib cage and diaphragm requires a balance of our yin and yang in the body. Breathe in, deep pause and breathe out, pause and the cycle continues. With oxygen, life feels doable without the unbearable.

10. Yin time is appreciation, basking, and gratitude.

Every spiritual teacher, high-performance coach, counselor I have ever seen or read recommends firmly taking time each day to focus on what good is going on in your life; if Oprah, Hillary Clinton, and Tony Robbins have time for this exercise – I certainly can find the 3 minutes.

Yin adds value to life. And we can’t bargain with it.

Each day  I schedule in yin time. I start the morning with meditation or basking in the beauty of my life. After lunch, I have a brief period of rest. And after school, I have some quiet time where I contemplate how I’m going to move forward into the evening and the next day. What is interesting is that scheduling in these intentional yin times, no more than 15 minutes total, has opened up my yang capacity. These yin times consistently help me become more productive, appreciative, well rested, and deeply connected to my life.

Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body


Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

“Fact 1: Your body can manufacture and administer the precise balance of neurochemicals that can reverse illness and cure disease. Your body possesses the innate capacity to heal itself.

Fact 2: Science has proven, beyond doubt, that the contents of our thoughts and emotions directly and immediately influence our biochemistry.

 Fact 3: You can consciously influence and direct the body’s output of health chemical information through meditation and visualization techniques.” ~ Kelly Howell

In this TED Talk, M.D. physician and Author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, dr. Lissa Rankin  shares not just scientific proof that your mind can heal your body and tips for using the power of your mind to optimize the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, but also ways in which you can reduce the stress in your life, increase your happiness levels and craft a better and more beautiful life for yourself and those around you.

Enjoy 🙂

Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

Morning Meditation for Clarity and Positive Energy


Morning Meditation for Clarity and Positive Energy

“The more of me I be, the clearer I can see.” ~ Rachel Archelaus

CLARITY AND POSITIVE ENERGY

It’s so important to give ourselves some time in the morning to just be with ourselves and gain some clarity on how we want our day to look like. Because if we rush through things, chances are that things will feel out of control and that we will end up feeling anxious, fearful and stressed out.

If you want to start your day in a healthy and balanced way, use this beautiful morning meditation for clarity to reconnect with the peace, wisdom, and serenitythat is present within. Allow its soft yet powerful words to inspire and empower you to live each day in alignment with your purpose. And decide to start each day off right.

Before you begin, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for the next 20 minutes. Second, find a comfortable position to sit – it can be in a chair, crossed legged or on your knees, or lay down and when you’re ready to press play. Once the meditation session is over, you can share your experience with all of us by commenting below.

Enjoy 🙂

Morning Meditation for Clarity and Positive Energy

I have a question for you. When you wake up in the morning, do you rush through things by going straight to work, or do you have some time for yourself to nourishand give your mind, body, and soul the fuel they need to function properly? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂

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