Part of the Positive Intelligence program involves being a part of a pod with 5 other people and setting goals for yourself. Having others to help hold you accountable is something I have never tried before.
The past few weeks have been difficult for me.
I have found myself not wanting to get up out of bed in the morning and avoiding doing things I needed to do. I went for weeks without walking despite telling myself that I needed to get out and walk.
Last night, my husband and I gave an in person presentation for the first time since 2019.
We were invited by a local chiropractor to hold a talk at her practice.
On the way to the presentation I decided to do some PQ reps as recommended in the Positive Intelligence program. PQ reps are simple exercises for taking command of your mind and the goal is strengthening the part of your brain that empowers you. The app for Positive Intelligence gives you recordings to listen to as well as keeping count of the PQ reps you complete and a meter to indicate your charge level. I decided to power up my charge meter before the talk. I did enough PQ reps to bring my charge meter to 99%.
It really did work. I was more confident than I typically am at a live in person talk, or any talk for that matter. I didn’t even use any note cards for this talk like I have in the past. Don and I had practiced it enough times including the day of the presentation.
PQ reps are like mini meditations for 10 seconds or more that you do with simple focus on sounds, touch, hearing or movement. The key is doing them many times throughout the day.
My depression never follows any seasonal path nor any particular time frame. The only correlation I have seen with it is the events in my life and possibly triggered by difficult circumstances in my life.
More than ever, it is important for me to have a tool to use daily and throughout the challenges of ordinary life with my family to refocus and build the aspect of my mind that takes charge and moves me to where I choose to go rather than being stuck in “my story” and victim mode.
I also will add it to the list of tools and resources for our new class we are building to follow the parent communication class we currently teach.
I would love to hear from our readers and listeners on your thoughts, insights, questions and challenges. As Don and I record our podcasts, we would love to hear your questions or ideas for topics.
It is spring here in NC and my view as I sit on my front walkway is blanketed with green trees. I invite all of you to step outside if even for 5 minutes. Listen to the sounds that you here in the distance and then tune in to the sound of your own breathing.
And find a friend or two who you can talk with weekly to encourage each other on your own personal goals and help hold each other accountable.
We have saboteurs that were developed in childhood to help us survive.
Yet, they are no longer needed in our adult lives and we need to first identify the aspects of these old coping strategies that no longer serve us.
Shirzad Chamine, the author of the book and creator of the program, labels our lead saboteur as our Judge.
We judge ourselves and we judge others. There are 10 additional saboteurs and he provides an assessment to determine what other factors are at play.
I have learned that the Victim, Pleaser and Avoider are next after my Judge Saboteur.
He says there is one main saboteur after the lead Judge.
When I took the assessment, the scores for all three were equal.
What does all of this mean?
It means I am recognizing the factors that are having a negative impact on my life. I am learning new skills to shift my brain away from victim, avoider, and pleaser consciousness and into my sage, as Shirzad labels our higher self, our inner wisdom.
Participating in a program like this with other people helps me to be accountable.
We set goals and check in with each other daily. Yet, it is far more than a goal setting program.
Depression has reared its ugly head in my life once again.
I see how my Avoider stops me from taking action and my Victim leaves me feeling hopeless and defeated. Yet, I find myself trying to seek reassurance and approval from others, my Pleaser saboteur.
I listen to the lyrics of Soul Asylum, Runaway Train, and feel the depths of my depression.
I am sitting outside on my front porch after watching a beautiful sunrise.
White puffy clouds floating across the sky amidst Carolina blue and purple hues
I have gotten into some good routines again:
Scheduled time for:
academic time with my 13 year old
Working with Don to grow Focused Healthy Family
I am participating in an amazing nutrition, detox program: Restart that is run by a wonderful friend of mine
I am eating relatively clean, eliminating sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated oils, grains.
Choosing Whole Foods with a balance of good fat, protein and complex carbohydrates from vegetables
It’s a 5 week program. We meet weekly for 5 weeks via the magic of zoom and learn amazing things about nutrition and how our bodies work and how food can work for us.
Tonight is the third week of our class and our instructor and 5 other women plus me are on this journey together. We text each other and communicate via Marco Polo and call each other.
If you don’t know what Marco Polo is, it’s a video chat app. Check it out. It’s brand new to me.
I have never participated in a group like this before.
The only time I have tried a nutrition or diet program of any kind was last year when I tried Noom. I liked parts of that program, mostly the psychology education element and being able to easily track my water consumption. It was the first time I counted calories and I didn’t really like that part. I did loose some weight initially and thought it was working until a family gathering and an oversized gluten free cupcake happened.
Yet, I questioned the nutrition philosophy provided in that course. It allowed you to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you wanted and said that foods with more water content were what helped you feel full.
I had learned different information on food and nutrition including the importance of protein and fat. I tried to follow the Noom program yet kept questioning how lots of fruits and vegetables were going to help me feel full. Slowly, I moved away from the plan.
So here I am, day 8 of following the Restart food plan and I have so much more energy and have even lost a few pounds. This program does not focus on weight loss and we are instructed to not count calories. It is about sugar detox and clearing and giving your body the opportunity to function the way it is designed to bring better health.
Today I came outside for my front porch meditation for the first time in about a week. I worked the past 4 days at the continuous care retirement facility where I work as an Occupational Therapist in adult and geriatric rehab.
I am home today and there are no appointments for me our my children. This is my favorite kind of day.
I will do meal planning and food prep including making muffins for my 20 year old who is heading out of town for the weekend. And I will not eat any of the muffins, nor lick the spoon. Hmm…
And I am writing.
It is 7:40am and I am sitting outside writing.
This is the missing piece in my daily routine.
The part of my life that is essential for my mental health and also a creative outlet as well as how I live my divine purpose.
The Restart Program focus is on nutrition information, education and support. And it is so much more than that.
I have more energy with less caffeine. Today, I discovered that I didn’t “need” my cup of chai tea to give me energy. I woke up at 5:30am and choose to get up to enjoy time before my kids wake up. I stretched and went outside for sunrise and posted an Instagram video.
Detoxing my body from sugar and all the other ingredients that my body does not need, many of which lead to inflammation, I now feel better.
I have more energy and more energy means more time to do the things I need to as well as the things I want to do.
My goal for weekly blog posts for Focused Healthy Family
Now is the time
As always, thank you for being a part of my life journey as I write my way to better health, improved writing skills and intentional empowerment for myself and others.
Sitting on my front porch in my glider rocker as the sun shines in my face, typing on my MacBook
Boomie, my outside tuxedo cat, is basking in the sun on the ground next to me
Occasionally he reaches up to play with the end of my coat
Today is a bonus day!
It has been a long time since I was called off work on a weekend.
A Sunday at home is a rare occurrence for me.
I have a play list on Spotify for days like today, Sundays at home.
A storm brought a cold front to our warm NC March and the temperature dropped below well below freezing last night, 19 degrees.
Today is the start of daylight savings and it was 30 degrees when I woke up.
I took a brisk walk bundled with in a heavy coat, scarf and hat. It felt empowering to take a Sunday morning walk. I walked to the end of our street where the road comes to a dead end and a path leads through the woods, cleared out for the power lines because it really is part of a road. A part of August Lane that remained uninhabited for years and so trees grew up along it. Several years ago they cleared a path, clearing out trees to protect the overhead power lines and slowly some houses have been built along the path. It has become my new favorite place to walk. A quiet walk in the woods in my suburban neighborhood of mostly half acre lots.
There are so many things I would like to do today.
Part of me wants to just sit on my porch in the sun all day…
Somehow the stars have aligned and not only do I have off work, but so does my son who works in retail management and also works every weekend.
We are going to have a family game night.
There is nothing I love more than having all of my kids together in our home, eating a meal, laughing and playing a game together.
Sometimes someone has flared anxiety and there might be tension in the air. There is usually some form of arguing. We aren’t perfect but we are perfectly human.
From as far back as I can remember, I dreamed of the day when I would have my own family with several kids. I always wanted an even number, to avoid the middle child issue.
I birthed three children and my son brought the forth into our life, his girlfriend since age 17. Two dogs have found comfort in our home and we have been adopted by several cats, currently two who live inside and two who live outside.
When we are all together, I feel fulfilled. It is the experience I have always wanted.
My progress pride flag is flapping in the breeze as I write and the sun warms the cold air. 30 degrees in March in NC is much warmer than March in Pennsylvania where I grew up. It will warm up to about 52 degrees and within the week the weather will return to 70 degrees.
I read over what I have typed here and it feels mundane.
Today, I revel in the simplicity of daily life and enjoy where I am right here and right now.
Thank you God! Thank you God! Thank you God!
And so it is
Amen and Awomen
Thank you Reverend Randolph Wilkinson
I still hear your voice speaking at Unity of Charlotte and am grateful for the connection you brought to my life.
Today is Friday, March 11 and I have chosen to write my morning gratitude here. I am sitting outside in the fog on this crisp winter weather day in North Carolina.
I have been making a strong effort to get outside each morning, no matter what the weather and stand on my front porch, listen to MLK by U2 and visualize the ocean off the pier. I did that in March of 2021 and one year later, I am proud of myself because I have been able to lift myself up and see the bigger picture without having to be at the beach.
This week I have felt that sadness, the desperation of wanting to get help for my child and feeling hopeless.
When my child struggles, I struggle and yet I know that in these moments it is more important than ever that I take care of myself.
What does self care mean?
When I am working as an Occupational Therapist in a nursing home, selfcare means grooming, dressing, toileting and bathing.
For me, I used to think it meant having a night out of the house to myself. Time to binge watch a show or sit in a coffee house sipping a chai latte and eating a gluten free cookie, or an entire box of cookies.
I have come to realize that it is so much more than having time alone to myself.
Routine is important for our brain and for our mental health. Having a ritual, a practice, even 5 minutes where we sit in mindfulness each and every day.
Mindfulness can look like eating one piece of chocolate slowly, first looking at it, and taking it in through all of our senses.
Listening to music that feeds your soul
Petting a cat and hearing her purr
Sitting quietly with your senior dog and rubbing her head
Writing in a gratitude journal
Taking a walk
For me self care looks like this:
Getting up in the morning hoping to be out in time to see the sunrise and going out even when the clouds obscure the view of the sun.
Waking up at 6:30 am on a cold foggy day and knowing I need to go outside.
Standing on my front porch in a winter coat and hat, with an umbrella or in my shorts and t-shirt
Listening to meditative music and standing in power pose
Breathing in the cold air
Looking out at the sky
Hearing the sounds of the earth, the birds, the neighbor’s dog, the wind flapping my progress pride flag that hangs over my front yard
Remembering how I felt when I stood on Pier 14 at Myrtle Beach
Twenty-four years ago today, my first child was born. It’s 6:30 in the morning as I write this post, watching the sunrise over Myrtle Beach, I remember heading to the hospital in the early morning hours November 10, 1997.
Such excitement for a young couple to bring a human being into this world. I see our house as we pulled in the driveway at 5612 Trotters Ridge Road. We enter a decorated entranceway, courtesy of our wonderful neighbors, Brian and Cindy. I was hungry and wished I had gotten a lunch at the hospital before we left. Our baby boy had cried most of the way home and I sat and nursed him as my husband fed me lunch. I was 28 years old.
I have enjoyed several birthdays at the beach over the years and this year I am here for my son’s birthday. Unfortunately he could only stay through last night because he is needed at work today. It’s a crazy time of the year for a manager working in retail. He began working part-time at Best Buy six years ago, just after his 18th birthday. He shared birthday celebrations with me joining us at the beach for 3 days.
I remember our first family beach trip. Harrison was 9 and Abby was 5. I can still see their excitement as we walked to the beach and they played in the water, the run-off water that drains at the beach. I didn’t realize that is what it was at the time. We had a free stay courtesy of Blue Green. We had no intentions of purchasing a time share that weekend. I am so glad “I caved” as my husband tells me, despite paying too much for our time share, we have had so many wonderful vacations together over the past 15 years.
Our first grand adventure we went to Florida in March of 2008. We stopped in Savana and had lunch and then stayed a night in Jacksonville. We went to St. Augustine the next day as I was eager to see the statue that inspired the name La Leche, an organization that helped me connect with my baby and continue to nurse when I returned to work 12 weeks after he was born. I later became a La Leche League leader, helping other moms on their journey with breastfeeding. I treasure that time in my life and all the amazing women I met. La Leche League introduced me to attachment parenting and a new way of life. I met my first homeschooling parent at one of the early meetings. It was the evening group I began attending in preparation for returning to work.
Here we were 9 years after I attended that first LLL meeting, a family of 4 at Ormond Beach Florida staying in the beautiful BlueGreen resort. Such excitement for our first full-fledged family vacation, one that did not involve visiting family.
We sat on the beach and dug a sand chair and splashed in the ocean. It was really windy and I was upset that cars were allowed to drive on the beach. If feels like a life time ago and it was a time before OCD wrecked havoc on our life. I had a cell phone but that is all it was. If I took pictures, they are in a box somewhere. I had not yet joined Facebook.
We have not returned to Florida but have enjoyed many visits to Myrtle and North Myrtle Beach. Two summers ago, my and the kids enjoyed a few nights in the mountains of Virginia in the luxury yurt! I had dreamed of staying in the yurt since I first thumbed through the BlueGreen Vacation Book.
I guess our first trip with all three of my children was in the summer of 2009. We went first for a few nights to visit with the Grothoff side of the family where several of my in-laws were staying for a week. I think we returned in September as I recall pictures of a young Lexi sitting in the sand and I know we went in September of 2011. Most of the trips were for two or three nights. October 2019 we enjoyed 5 nights at North Myrtle to celebrate my 50th birthday.
I am talking dates and places yet in my head swirl all the memories…
The across the lazy river challenge, my two older children using the inflatable tubes to get across the pavement
Collecting sea shells and our last day walk on the beach tradition
Lexi standing on the beach “water bending”
Tossing a ball in the pool
Building sandcastles and sand chairs and a sandman
Lost buckets and shovels and ordering new ones
Standing in the water as the waves crashed against us and I held dearly to my children through excitement and giggles
Shopping adventures and picking out refrigerator magnets for our collection
Hard Rock Cafe in Florida and California Pizza in South Carolina
I almost forgot about Monopoly games both at the beach and New Year’s Eve at home
Returning from a walk along the beach with Abby to a decorated room to celebrate my birthday.
Dancing on the table with Don
Listening to music and dancing through the balcony doorways
Many of these images are captured in digital form and likely why I remember them so well.
I also tend to remember things very clearly when I write about them and as I think about that fact, I wish I had done more writing during these wonderful trips together.
It has been wonderful to have the past three days with all six of us. I will close with the memories of this birthday beach trip.
Harrison stopping the bubbling over seltzer coming up his straw and watching the seltzer fly out his nose
Walking along the pier and Lexi naming the seagulls, sand pipers and Pelicans
The pelican sitting in the middle of the pier surrounded by people
People laughing as a sand piper stole the food that someone through down for the pelican
Learning a new game together, Betrayal at Hill House, fighting our doppelgängers
Harrison figuring out the chair lift to lower Kai/ Liz into the hot tub
Harrison and I helping Kai/Liz walk along the beach back to their wheelchair.
Abby and I perusing the Gay Dolphin shop on the Myrtle Beach Board Walk.
Carrying lasagna from our room around the corner to the second room where Harrison, Kai and Abby were staying
Kai capturing photos of Harrison’s silliness opening his gifts
Don’s stress relief instruction card
WTF memo pad
Jelly Beans and Taffy
Large candy cane and a glass taco ornament
Wooden puzzle block puzzle, we never did check that one out and I am quite curious about it
Exploring the mystery of the Gay Dolphin and all its levels
Watching sunset from the balcony
Walking on the beach at sunset with Harrison
Enjoying Harrison’s drone pictures of the ocean
Watching 911 in Abby’s room
The one where Chimney travels to find Maddie and
Athena’s son deals with his trauma of being kidnapped
Grocery shopping with Harrison, another tradition, but somehow I forgot about the silliness that we usually enjoyed while shopping
Don, Lexi and I enjoying a morning walk along the beach
My solo walks along the beach and dancing in the water as the pigeons watched my shoes
Because I asked the pigeons to watch my shoes
Walking along the boardwalk with Abby and showing her Sea Glass Tower and the 20th floor where I stayed both times I traveled to the beach alone
Enjoying home made muffins with tea on the balcony with Lexi
Last night I was very upset and so I went to my cozy chair in the basement where I write. I curled up with a blanket and my “Sad” playlist, adding more sad, sappy songs from the 70s.
I brought my crochet bag with me. I crocheted the blanket I have been working on for my nephew’s birthday. I crocheted and cried and got lost in the music and lyrics.
I realized it has been a long time since I have allowed my feelings to flow like that. Bottled up feelings came pouring out, anger, resentment, frustration, sadness…
My mind was flooded with so many situations that have bothered me over the past several years. I felt very alone at the time and rejected. I felt like I was being swallowed by my feelings. I was in the flood of tears and sorrow like floating alone in the middle of the ocean, out of sight from land.
I felt ignored by my partner, my best friend, my spouse. Yet, I wasn’t ready to accept anything from him. Looking back on it now, I see that I needed to stay in my feelings and allow them to be really be felt. I curled up and feel a sleep for a short while. He came downstairs around 11:30, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You’re falling asleep. It’s time to go to bed.”
I didn’t want him or anyone telling me what to do. I was awake when he came down and I know I had fallen asleep. I had intentionally set my crochet down and curled up to sleep because I was exhausted by my feelings.
I did get up because sleeping on my chair, as comfortable as it is, is no way to sleep. I wanted to be in my bed with the covers over me. I just didn’t want to interact with anyone. I had my earbuds in the entire time, lost in my music, comforted by my music. I got ready for bed and climbed in with my ear bud still in one ear as I lay on my side to sleep.
I did not fall asleep right away. It was late and our 12 year old was still awake which bothered me. It was almost midnight and I worried she was having a flare up of anxiety and worried how he would handle it. I took out my ear bud, heard talking but not the words and decided it was calm. I lay there partly wanting him to approach me and give me a hug, apologize.
When I was curled up on my chair crying and crocheting, my 19 year old came down the stairs several times doing her laundry. She looked over at me and I looked up. She put her arms out and without words, let me know she would like to give me a hug. I still had my earbuds in listening to my music. She came over to me and gave me a big hug.
“Thank you” I told her
And she went upstairs without a word.
I felt seen and heard and loved in that moment.
I realized that was exactly what I needed. And it made me cry even more. Tears of joy and pain. Feeling proud that I had raised this amazing young woman and grateful that she understood. She understood what I needed in that moment and gave it to me without judgement and in the way I needed in the moment, without words.
When I am depressed, as in experiencing major depression, I do not curl up in a chair and cry. I may spend moments curled up and alone. For the most part I feel numb and detached from my feelings. I distract myself from my feelings and at times even see that. Knowing it is too painful to feel everything that I am feeling and that I still need to function. I need to function enough to work to bring in income to take care of my family, to be sure they are fed and attended to with their basic needs.
I disappear from myself and engage in avoidance which usually looks like me lost in a game on my phone or binging on tv shows.
Last night, I did it differently.
I was upset at my husband and unhappy with how an argument had ended, how the entire conversation had transpired. I choose to be alone, listen to music and work on a project I was eager to complete. I withdrew to my safe space, my personal space I have created for myself. As I cried and crocheted, I realized I needed to let these feelings out. I got lost in how alone I felt yet looking back now, I see I needed that.
Today, I woke up not knowing how my day would proceed. I showered because I never did that yesterday and wanted to feel fresh. I was happy that I woke up while everyone was asleep. I needed more alone time to process and in order to move forward.
I decided to step outside on the porch like I have done regularly over the past week or so. It is my new morning routine, a meditation and quiet reflection time standing on my porch with the eastern sky view of the sunrise.
I stood on the porch, listen to my meditation song and watched the beautiful red and purple colors of the sunrise on this cold, crisp, January morning. I was deliberately choosing each next step that I took. I fed the outside cats, I had made my tea. Standing on the porch, I decided I needed to take a walk and what a wonderful morning to walk.
I needed to express my feelings outwardly to release the intense emotions with movement of my body. Flipping through songs on my iPhone, I matched my walking pace to the songs. I reflected over thought provoking songs and I danced and sang with empowering music. It felt so good to walk as I realized how much I needed to take that walk.
I am the one who tells my children that when their brain feels stuck either with depression or anxiety, that getting out and moving their body is so important.
Moving helps the brain to move out of the anxiety and getting outside helps to ground ourselves and to center ourselves. Walking or exercising, moving outside is brain food. Exercise for the brain and body which is one of the best things we can do for our mental health.
Now, I write.
Writing is meditation for me. Writing is who I am. When I am writing, I am expressing myself, enabling myself to be the grandest version of the greatest vision every I held about who I am.
Find your outlets for your feelings. Find what works for you. When you can take care of yourself in this way, by feeling your feelings and moving through them with intention and reflection, you give your children the greatest gift.
Our children learn through our example. In order to help them accept and process their feelings, we need to take care of ourselves and this includes feeling our feelings and allowing them to see our experience.
We can create a safe space in our homes for feeling feelings. We can give our children a time when they can let out their frustrations without any judgment from us. We empower our children when we empower ourselves.
In order to move through feelings, we must step into them first like entering the water to swim to the other side.