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The Tao of Trump

Today is a special blog post, co-written with my son, Josh Weinstein. He’s a senior at Berkeley, studying Computer Science and Fine Art. Josh is very talented at both, but since he also goes to a liberal university, he likes to talk about politics as well. He’s been closely watching the presidential campaign over the past year or so, and has been particularly interested in Donald Trump. I asked him to join me using a dialog-format for this discussion.

Vida:

Let me start by saying that I’m not a very politically minded person… That is I wasn’t until recently, when I began to read some of the horrific bigoted comments made by Donald Trump. At first, I rolled my eyes and covered my ears, thinking he was some sicko narcissist that would surely never get elected to public office. My sense was that he was trying to run for President to act out some misplaced power hungry fantasy of conquering the highest seat in the nation for all the wrong reasons. When I found out he received the Republican nomination for President, I was totally mortified along with thousands of other people. I decided to invite my son, who is savvy and has political knowledge, to write a blog post on this topic, and I was very happy and honored when he agreed.

Josh:

Hello there! I’m Vida’s son, Josh, and I agreed to write this article because I really like politics. My mom happens to be a great psychotherapist with a wonderful sense of humor and we also work well as a team. At first, I thought Trump was running for president to film some new episodes for a reality TV show… “The Candidate,” or so I thought it would be called, honestly. As time went on, and more Republicans dropped out of the race, my hilarious thought stepped closer to reality. When I saw the news that Cruz and Kasich both dropped out, my worst fears were confirmed. Trump is only a step away from sitting in the Oval Office. It begs the question, “What gives?” Are we really watching the presidential race or some late night comedy show? What’s going on here?

Vida:

Hey, Josh! First, I would like to ask what your thoughts on Donald Trump and the election in general are, and what are your perceptions of him?”

Josh:

That is a tough question, and I will do my best to answer this in a bipartisan fashion.

This election season has experienced many new movements and thought circles emerging in politics. Bernie Sanders started what many view as a political revolution, and a movement of progressive ideas like universal healthcare and college education becoming more popular and mainstream.

However, Trump also carved out his own version of a revolution, on the other side of the political spectrum. Trump, strangely enough, is very different from all of the other candidates. He doesn’t appear to have a concrete left or right theme to his ideas, and seems to change his positions very frequently. He seems to leverage his popularity on people perceiving him as a guy who can “get the job done.”

A major contrast though, is that he seems to not adhere strongly to a specific set of viewpoints, unlike his other opponents.

Vida:

What makes you feel he doesn’t adhere to a strict set of viewpoints?

Josh:

For traditional politicians from the Democratic or Republican parties, or even smaller parties like the Libertarians, candidates normally follow a set principle of how their opinions are structured on the issues. Democrats lean more to the left on both social and fiscal issues, Republicans lean more conservative on both social and fiscal issues, and Libertarians lean left socially and right fiscally, while preferring the least government intervention possible. However, Trump has changed his opinions many times, in even as little as a couple of days.

In this interview with Wolf Blitzer, in 2004, Trump stated, “In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat,” and goes onto explain, “It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. Now, it shouldn’t be that way.” Something rather peculiar about this statement is that, it’s rather inconclusive, he doesn’t give a firm, binary answer if he identifies as a Republican or Democrat.

In a recent debacle about Trump and his opinions on abortion, he changed his opinions 5 times in as little as 3 days. Now, a candidate changing their opinion is not unusual, but it normally happens over a number of years. For example, Mitt Romney switched his official position on abortion from pro-choice to pro-life over the course of nearly 10 years while in office as governor.

A consistent pattern in these changing of opinions, is the change of tone. Originally, Trump exclaimed that women, “…should be punished for having an abortion.” This is a very harsh rhetoric to be used by even conservative politicians, who normally just say, “Overturn Roe Vs. Wade,” or, “Abortion should not be legal.”

Personally, I believe the harsh rhetoric is a tactic to try and differ the focus from his true intentions. He changes his opinions quickly, to deceive people from whatever his real opinion may be. Additionally, I believe that he does this to sound less serious than he really is, so people on opposing sides don’t view him as a potential opponent in the election until it’s too late.

Vida:

That’s amazing, Josh.

Next question: Why do you believe, despite Trump’s controversies, why that he appeals to so many people?”

Josh:

That’s a tough question to answer, mom, and a lot of people who aren’t Trump supporters are wondering the same thing. Many political analysts originally didn’t expect Trump’s campaign to last so long.

However, I think the main reasons are:

  1. Lots of people are tired of career politicians or politicians from the established parties. There is a common idea among Trump supporters that traditional politicians are all talk and no action. Trump’s visceral and unrestrained personality lures people into believing he will “get the job done.” They want change they haven’t seen with Bush or earlier presidencies from the Republican party.
  2. His supporters are skeptical of big money in politics, and politicians that have campaigns funded by super-PAC’s. Since the 2008 financial crisis, and the resulting recession, the American public has grown skeptical of large corporations and Wall Street banks. Trump has repeatedly criticized his fellow running mates such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush about their super-PAC’s, while boasting his campaign being almost entirely funded by himself. At first glance, this may seem like a big advantage; however, Trump himself is what many would consider “big money.” He’s worth nearly $10 billion and has been on the board of directors of many corporations, including his own hospitality and real estate companies.
  3. Trump, unlike Senator Sanders, does not have any well-established opponents running against him on the Republican side. Secretary Clinton, with her depth of experience as First Lady, a Senator of New York, and as Secretary of State under President Obama, has constantly been viewed as the natural successor to Obama, and to be the one to carry on his legacy. George W. Bush however, did not attain the same impact and favorability. Trump walked into a field of conservatives that are up for change and someone new in the oval office. So far, he has succeeded in harping on that opportunity.
  4. Even if many of his policies seem extreme and Fascist to many of us, such as building a giant wall at the Mexican border and getting the president of Mexico to pay for it, to his supporters, they are viewed as authentic and original. Trump grows his support by standing out as a new voice, with approaches that are unseen in Washington and American politics.

Vida:

Wow, Josh that is amazing! You are so smart! Now, I have one other question. Why do you believe the constant fact checking, showing Trump lies around 72% of the time, along with the mass criticism of his policies, doesn’t deter his supporters? I mean, so many people were turned off.

Josh:

I believe it has to do primarily with an all-negative atmosphere. There are so many scandals and lies the media has uncovered about Trump (the most notable being Trump University), that more of them don’t really stand out as much. They just don’t have that extra effect that Clinton’s email ordeal has, since she normally doesn’t have suspicious activity.

Vida:

The truth is scary; a man like this can become president.

Back in february of this year, Trump blasted immigration reform, stating, “…It’s not just Mexicans who are evil — they’re all rapists and drug lords…

Trump is preying on the fears of middle and lower class Americans. He is tapping into mindsets that divide people, that put the blame of our problems on others, instead of resolving them together as a group. The very thing he says we need more of, unity, is the last thing on his mind.

Secondly, Trump is as steady as a cheap flip-flop from Walmart. He’s changed his position on issues so many times, it’s mind boggling.

Why do you think he does that, Josh?

Josh:

I think he does this because he wants to diffuse what his intentions and goals really are, so people get distracted by his many proclaimed opinions. When he changes his opinion, the rhetoric changes its appeal from one side of the political spectrum. For example, saying, “I want extreme vetting for people entering the US from countries known for harboring terrorists,” coincides with much more of what we have now. It’s extremely difficult for Syrian refugees to enter the United States, with the process taking up to 12 months. Secondly, the FAA has already banned flights from and to the USA and Syria. You can’t even look them up on travel sites like Expedia.

Vida:

So, could be this about the need for control and manipulation? And if yes, what might his need to control the political world have to do with his own personal feelings of inadequacy?

I believe people who retain a lot of internal conflicts without processing them might have the tendency to externally project them onto people they perceive to be of lower socioeconomic status, in order to feel better about themselves.

Josh:

I guess what I am perplexed at is… I don’t think great leaders need to put others down to gain power. I don’t think they need to speak so negatively about disadvantaged groups of people. Most importantly, they don’t need to make huge generalizations about certain ethnicities. I mean, there are so many leaders who rose to power by uniting people… Why does he have the need to divide?

Vida:

I have been reading quite a bit about Trump lately, especially after he officially received the Republican nomination for president at the RNC. In all of his speeches, and as mentioned in our cited article, he seems to have a disregard for empathy of other people, and is very unconcerned with the ethical or moral implications of his actions. Not only is this shocking for a presidential candidate, it’s simply strange that these qualities are associated with being a strong leader in the eyes of his supporters.

Josh:

He is actually a sociopath, thus unconcerned about the implications that his thoughts and beliefs have on other people. His motives for running for public office are far from humanitarian in nature.

Another thing I wonder about is why someone like Trump feels that power stems from having a disregard for others and acting superior towards others, versus having sympathy and compassion for them, much like Senator Sanders, or his other rival candidates?”

Vida:

That’s a great question, Josh. What are your thoughts on it?

Josh:

Well, it makes me ponder even more questions. Why does Trump, despite being so full of himself, seem to be so irritated at someone criticizing him? He has even threatened, as president, to pass a constitutional amendment to make it illegal to criticize him. These types of laws are implemented in totalitarian countries like North Korea, where not praising the president, Kim Jong Un, can lead to years of imprisonment in a labor camp.

Mom, why, if someone sees themselves in such a triumphant light, would they be so bothered by simple criticism?

I have another question, too.

Lately, there have been multiple instances in Trump’s campaign, where deliberate lying has occurred. I’m not talking about the exaggeration of facts… I mean straight up fallacy. The Trump Campaign recently released a website for Melania, stating she had a degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. The website suddenly disappeared, when it was confirmed that Meliana had dropped out after just one year to pursue a modeling career in Milan. My question is, why would someone, like Trump or his campaign, believe they could get away with such a lie, given the extreme amount of public surveillance on them. What is the reason they would think this way?

Vida:

Well, Josh, aren’t you the insightful one?

I read in an article that Donald Trump recently suggested the 2nd amendment may prevent Hillary from selecting judges. This is suggesting the use of violence for people who don’t like a specific supreme court justice being appointed.

What are your thoughts on this, Josh?

Josh:

Well, besides the sociopathic behavior, it indicates by virtue that he DOES NOT adhere to the virtues of freedom and democracy he so proudly boasts about on his campaign trail. For Hillary to pick a justice, she would need to win the election, then nominate someone, then have that person win a vote by the Senate to be elected, which means appealing to both Democrats and Republicans.

The idea of overriding this democratic process with violence is entirely unpatriotic and corruptive. It’s the very foundation of dictatorship.

Vida:

Thank you so much for this conversation, Josh! It was a lot of fun chatting with you and working on this blog post together.

 

 

How My Workouts Were Influenced by My Personal Beliefs

  • What drives you to go to lift weights at the gym?
  • How do you decide what exercises to choose once there?
  • How long do you stay at the gym?
  • Do you have a planned workout that you take along with you?
  • How do your eating habits before or after the gym influence what you do there and how you feel afterward?
  • How do you feel after you leave the gym?… Happy, sad frustrated?

What influences many of these, and other decisions you make regarding your physical fitness, are your beliefs and the emotion that you attach to them.

 

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The School of Hard Knocks.

As a psychotherapist, I know this, but sometimes, even I still need to learn my life lessons in a very up-close and personal way. I’d like to share some stories from my life that helped me to understand this concept better.

Before I started back to the gym, I avoided it like the plague. Every morning, I told myself I would go and then I found every excuse not to. No parking space nearby? “I’ll try again this evening.” Gym hot or stuffy? “The ventilation is bad and I can’t finish my workout.” Other excuses? Low energy. IBS. Arthritis. “I just don’t feel like I can make it in today.”

These things were all part of my reality, but I was using the feelings as excuses for stagnation in my life. I was driving myself deeper and deeper into a self-made prison of physical and emotional weakness, and I was allowing the circumstances of my life to control me.

One day, I had a shift in my perspective. I felt more determined and asked one of the gym workers if they could turn on a fan or open the door. They were happy to oblige, unlike the previous time when I mustered up the courage to ask and was told, “No, that’s just the way it is here.”

After that moment, I finally understood something that I honestly already knew. I was creating my own roadblocks to advancing my workouts and reaching my fitness goals.

Why was I choosing to sabotage myself in this way? It’s not an easy question to answer.

 

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Why Do We Choose to Sabotage Our Own Health? 

Why do we make poor choices where exercise and even food choices are concerned when we know better? Here are some common reasons:

  • Poor self-esteem
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Feeling overwhelmed with life
  • Maybe a little depression

This is an emotionally toxic cocktail. It can lead to isolation and eventually absenteeism from the gym for at least a month or more. Often times, this may lead to canceling gym membership for some people and/or drowning in piles of seeming healthy “treats” for others.

My self-sabotaging feelings caused me to disconnect from myself. I felt I was not in control of my body or my life. I told myself that there was nothing I could do to change my life story in any way, shape, or form. I took solace in hiding from the solutions I could have created for myself.

 

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Lessons Learned.

What shifted my perception of reality? I can assure you it was not winning the lottery (much as I wished that this was true). Arthritis and IBS did not suddenly disappear. On the contrary, I’ve had a host of other physical and emotional challenges to grapple with these past few years: glaucoma and the painful surgeries that accompany it, an extremely painful emergency surgery for a blocked tear duct, and the aftermath of being the single mom of a cancer survivor.

Here are some of the insights I made after a long period of introspection:

1. You cannot change your reality. You must embrace it and move forward.

Sometimes, going with the flow of negative life circumstances can cause a person to drown in the tears of their own sorrow. There is no point in allowing that to occur unless a person has a true death wish, which I did not. I remembered how I reacted when I was told that my son had a HUGE tumor growing inside his chest cavity. I allowed myself to be shocked for about ten minutes flat and then shifted into warrior mode, determined to save his life or die trying.

To move past of my exercise funk, I channeled that warrior again.

2. Without caring for yourself, you can be of no use to care for others.

A few years after my son’s initial cancer diagnosis, I found myself depressed in trying to cope with the devastating aftermath of living through his cancer battle. I knew I needed to snap out of it and find a way to heal myself or I would succumb to my own disease and surely die. The very thing I had fought so hard to prevent in my son’s life was about to take over and finish me off. Cancer had not beaten my son directly, but I was allowing it to win by succumbing to the emotional after effects.

I realized my son needed me to live in order to heal and thrive in his own life.

My despair distanced me from his healing journey. It was slowly killing me physically and emotionally. I was still able to function enough to return to work as needed to support our daily life, but my authentic soul was not grounded. I was a shadow of my former self and felt like a functional robot. I hardly smiled and never laughed at that time; I felt ill most of the time and was consumed with worry about making enough money to put the best food on the table to keep my son’s remission in tact. I uttered daily words of gratitude for his health, but was not able to feel them very much when my own physical challenges felt as though they were too much to bear.

Have you ever felt so out of touch with yourself that you didn’t quite know who you were anymore?

3. Set the intention to persevere and give it your best.

I decided to join a local gym, knowing it would be a sure way to start combatting the physical devastation of arthritis in my hips and legs. I was NOT about to agree to a surgery that required a huge amount of rehabilitation. A botched hernia surgery a couple years prior almost put me over the side for several months. I was NOT going to run that risk again.

I visited the gym a couple times a week at first and “did what I could,” but was not putting the same amount of intention into my workout as I had when my son and I would go to the gym every morning prior to his radiation appointments. I sat and encouraged him to do his best at each machine after a trainer at the gym was kind enough to set up a program to help him regain his strength.

I would always empower him by saying, “you can do this, I know that you can,” when he felt defeated and wanted to give up and leave. A couple of times, he did get frustrated and run out the door. Facing the reality of what cancer treatment had done to his body was too much for him to bear at sixteen years of age. Prior to diagnosis, he was quite strong and “ripped” as they call it, but cancer treatment and the cancer itself had robbed him of his strength and ability to breath well during exertion.

I hung in there with him, and little by little, he came to understand that he had to force himself to accomplish these daily workouts to fight his depression and recover at least a little bit of the physical strength he had prided himself on prior to his cancer diagnosis. Indeed, it helped him to overcome some of the most challenging moments of the disease.

His courage has always been mind boggling to me and he is always quick to remind me that my presence and perseverance is what saved his life and keeps him alive to this very day. How could I allow myself to drown in a similar sort of depression that cancer patients are faced with? For several years, I felt as though my circumstances were larger than my ability to overcome them, but my son’s courage helped me to break past that mindset.

4. Stop making excuses. Start simple and just do it… and then do it again… and again.

Until recently, I felt that my life was still out of control. I knew I needed to stop and be still for a while. I wanted to feel more alive and to do that, I needed to strengthen my physical body. That’s when I finally stopped making excuses for not going to the gym on a daily basis. Whether I wanted to go or not (other than a couple legitimate IBS-related occurrences), I started to hit the gym 6 days a week without fail.

I created simple workouts for myself, at first, and learned to master them along the way. Soon enough, I was able to ride a bike for a full hour and accomplish approximately ten miles.

I also began resistance training. It may not sound like much, but I had to start small with only two pound weights and even that was a challenge. Now, I can lift 30 lbs easily and 12.5 lb dumbbells in each hand feels quite manageable. Every improvement has merit, no matter where you start, but make sure that you do start… period. Don’t let your ego stop you if you think you aren’t lifting enough. Don’t let your self-esteem stop you if you have to start small. Trust me, if I can do this, anybody can, and I mean anybody.

In Conclusion…

It’s not easy for me to share my personal story, but I’m hopeful it will help anyone who is not convinced their daily life habits and workouts are indeed influenced by personal beliefs, both for the positive and for the negative.

Now that you have this information, I invite you to take a good look at your own personal beliefs and examine whether they are helping or hurting your fitness goals.

Are You Out of Touch With Yourself?

“How could I have let this happen to me… again?”

“I feel so disconnected from myself. I barely look in a mirror, don’t remember the last time I put any makeup on or washed my face with anything but water… my self care is really poor… Part of me hasn’t given a shit about that until now. I also haven’t been paying much attention to what or how much I eat. My food choices are based mostly on impulse.”

I’ve heard these comments countless times from so many people that I have worked with in my psychotherapy and coaching practice. It’s always stated with the deepest angst and frustrated helplessness imaginable. Women and men alike from all walks of life, ranging from the mid-twenties to late sixties and up. It’s quite a broad-ranged age group that covers such a challenging dilemma.

How could this be?

One would think that the older we get, the more connected we are able to become to ourselves. No? Isn’t that logical? Wisdom improves with age, like a fine wine. Sound too good to be true?

Perhaps, it’s because life seems to throw all kinds of hurdles in our path over the years and most of us choose different ways to react to these challenges.

I use the word choice a bit loosely here because it implies that one is consciously aware of their decision to act or react in a particular manner, but for many, this is not the case. A difficult circumstance may presents itself, which triggers an “inner switch” from within. Before we know it, we find ourselves drifting into the midst of a thick fog of numbness, lost on an island of self-doubt and at times despair.

Our inner world begins to unravel, despite every attempt to keep the outside intact. We are still going to work, still taking care of others that dwell in our midst. We are feeling like a robot from without, yet drowning in a sea of self-doubt from within. Fear, anger, desperation and even depression, pull us further and further away from ourselves. Thus, the feeling of disconnection ensues and permeates every cell of our being, or so it seems.

Time passes and that numbed out feeling and behavior becomes a habit. We get so used to not looking into a mirror, that when we are forced to take a peek at ourselves in passing, it feels like a thunderous jolt to the entire body.

“Many women have commented that they, “don’t know who that person is staring at me in the mirror,” and that, “I’m so out of touch with myself that I don’t have a clue as to who I am anymore.”

“So, then if it’s not you, who is it?,” I would ask.

“I don’t know… a shadow of my former self,” is what some have reported.

How is it that we become so detached?

Part of the problem usually involves a reactive depression (defined as a mild or moderate feeling of despair, sadness, or discouragement, following a stressful event with decreased desire to function within daily task and activities) with low self-esteem, a lack of personal priorities and no self-discipline regarding one’s own physical health. We use the excuse of being busy as a central theme for not taking care of or paying mindful attention to ourselves. You have no clue of how many ‘legitimate’ excuses I hear every day from both women and men regarding why they are not even near the top of their own priority list.

When I ask them how they expect to continue doing the same behavior and hope for different outcome, they have nothing to say and generally have the “deer in the headlights” look on their face.

If you are sick and tired of feeling lethargic, depressed, with low self-esteem and unable create or embody a positive mindset that would allow you to prioritize your own needs and best interests, there is hope and a solution in sight.

  1. Find a therapist/life coach that you feel comfortable sharing with and start talking. Let their wisdom guide you to a place of peace and safety within.
  2. Declutter your living space. If your external environment looks anything like what you been feeling like on the inside, then it’s time to stop, take a deep breath, and begin to remove the clutter from your life. For many of us, when we go through bouts of depression anxiety and self-doubt, our living space reflects our chaos. I’ve gone through bouts of such disarray in my own life which would manifest in my closet and at times in my kitchen. When things go awry in our lives on Monday, let’s say, and we don’t put our clothes back where we found them after deciding what to wear, the domino effect kicks in. It becomes easier to do that again, as opposed to being mindful and respectful of our authentic selves. Before you know it, our self-discipline unravels and chaos ensues. Suddenly, we can’t find a pair of socks or a clean shirt to wear. And the spot we used to reserve for our jeans disappears from our view. The closet (and other rooms) have suddenly become an external manifestation of an unresolved internal battle raging on and on. There is only one way to put a stop to this. Pick a day and time to get started. Remove any distraction other than music and perhaps a book on decluttering to help guide you. Decluttering and organizing your closets, kitchen storage, desk area, and whatever other spaces have become a haven for chaos, will begin a profound healing process within you.
  3. Get to the gym, ASAP. Physical exercise is known to lift feelings of sadness and despair almost immediately.
  4. Clean up your diet. Get whatever support you need from a nutritionist or a knowledgeable friend whom you trust to help put you on the path towards making healthier food choices that boost serotonin and satisfy cravings you might have to over-eat or binge on junk foods.
  5. Decide to be grateful for being alive, breathing, your health status (and if it’s no good right now, decide how to improve it by creating a plan).
  6. Make a daily list of goals you want/need to accomplish by the end of each day, no matter how big or small.
  7. No excuses. Wallowing in self-pity and reactive depression will not accomplish anything positive for your emotional well-being. You did make the decision to get out of this funk right? You just told me that you fed up with status quo correct? Well let’s do this!
  8. Meditation is a healing practice that will allow you to find a quiet place deep within to connect with your authentic yourself. There are countless meditation practices you can research at Google University or you can sit back in a comfy chair, close your eyes, and begin to focus upon your breath. Just be with yourself and your breath for at least ten minutes. You can set a timer if you like and decide afterward if you wish to continue for longer. Notice how you are feeling when you’re finished and record any thoughts that may have occurred in a journal or notepad for later processing.
  9. Have mercy and compassion for yourself during this time. It takes a lot of focus and determination to turn your life around by changing thought patterns that you have ingrained within yourself. It may not go smoothly, especially in the beginning, because you are so accustomed to acting and reacting in a certain way. It takes time to unravel the tangled web of emotions and residual behaviors that defines your current way of living.

There are more things that I can suggest, but I think this is more than enough to get you started. If you are feeling better after mastering the action steps I’ve just outlined, then leave me a message in the comment section below, or drop me an email and we can have a chat about creating a new plan of action that will lead you to feel empowered and connected to yourself from within.

Personal Boundaries: Where Do You Draw the Line?

  • Do you have a hard time saying “no” to people in your personal life space?
  • Do you find yourself agreeing to do things with and for certain people in your life, so as not to rock the boat in that relationship?
  • Do you have any insights into your behavior within that relationship or is it a conditioned response you’ve grown so accustomed to, that you don’t think to question it?
  • Do you have a hard time setting boundaries in your personal or perhaps even your business relationships?
  • If so why is that?
  • Do you lack self esteem and need the validation from others to feel good about yourself?
  • Do you agree and do whatever they may ask of you for fear of feeling rejected or abandoned by them if you don’t comply?

Boundaries are an absolutely critical component needed for creating and maintaining satisfying and respectful relationships in our daily lives, both personal and professional. The question is, “Why are these boundaries so difficult for many of you to uphold when even the smallest of triggers presents itself?

At the core of this personal boundaries dilemma is your relationship with yourself.

How do you treat yourself? Are you in denial of your need for self love, or do you just not care enough about yourself to bother taking care of you? I’m going to guess that at least some of you are far more mindful of other people in your life than you are of yourself. Your relationship partner, children, parents, and even friends really enjoy the way that you care for them and have perhaps learned to expect it from you.

But where do you draw the line or do you not draw it at all?

Do you find the courage to say, “No, I can’t do this for you,” or, “I just don’t really want to do it today”? Or do you simply blow up at someone when you just can’t take it anymore because you feel so overwhelmed with all the demands placed upon you by them and others in your daily life?

There are a lot of important questions to ponder here. I hope you take some time to answer them for yourself and then decide what you want to do about creating more mindful and respectful boundaries with the people in your life.

The best place to start is with yourself:

  1. It’s truly ok to show yourself some love. Even if you don’t feel it, act as if you do and then see how you like it. Pretend that you are someone special and treat yourself as such for one whole day. From pampering to positive self talk, give yourself the works from the inside out. At the end of that day, sit back relax and reflect. How was it for you? If you enjoyed it, why do you not do this daily? Why do you not treat yourself with the respect you deserve each and every day of your life?
  2. Stop being dependent on others for attention that will feed your starving sense of self. You don’t like yourself, so you figure if other people respond to you in positive ways, it might influence you to like yourself even a little bit or perhaps not to dislike yourself as much you already do. For many of you, the reason you do this is that you lack self esteem and a feeling of self worth, which is reflected in your lack of personal boundaries.
  3. Take back your power if you are truly fed up with this way of living. You can do this if you decide that you are ready to make a change in your life. It’s not an easy task, but changing daily life habits that influence your negative self talk will help a lot.
  4. Get off your butt and go to the gym even if you don’t want to. Plan your workout in advance if your able and if not, ask for help or invest in a few training sessions to get you started. There are great apps to use in the gym, many of which are free. Exercise is a critical component in shifting the way you feel about yourself from the inside out. Before going to the gym, put on some fresh gym clothes that you feel good in. You know… the ones you bought and wore only once because you felt too conspicuous in them, after which you shoved them back in the drawer and got out the potato sack you always wear if you do decide to go to the gym or the park for a run. No more! Wear gym clothes that make you feel and look beautiful and confident to yourself first.
  5. Clean up your diet. You know enough about nutrition to understand that the junk food you eat daily influences the way you feel and think, but you feel like crap right now, so you decided that eating junk foods daily is the way to go. Stop it right now. If you need some suggestion on what to eat, consult Google university or send me your questions and I’ll be happy to answer them for you. There are indeed foods to eat that influence endorphins, and also improve your mood and digestion. You can unlearn these shitty habits the same way you learned them. Twenty one days of different food choices should take care of that problem. I didn’t say this was easy, but I am saying that it’s doable. You just have to want to. And if you need some added support, reach out to me in the comments below or via email and perhaps I can be of help if you feel that you need it.

Where do you draw the line?

The answer is:

I draw the line in a place that is respectful of myself and my own needs on a given day. If I’ve taken care of myself first and am comfortable in giving you what you are asking of me today, then it’s all good because I’m not dependant upon your response to determine my self worth.

It’s really ok to say “NO” to others and “YES” to yourself and your self esteem. Go on try it! I bet you might even enjoy it!

edge of the mountain

The Edge of My Mountain

I open my office to welcome her. A warm transparent smile draws attention away from the sad expression that adorns her hazel eyes as she extends her hand toward me. She has shoulder length auburn hair with several wisps of grey interwoven around her face, as well as the back of her head. I take notice of it as we enter the office where we will spend the next 90 or so minutes talking about her relationship with food and how it influences her daily life choices.

Her mouth and her eyes tell me two different stories. This much is already clear to me. She tells me that she is, “58 years old and does not have a comfortable relationship with her age, her body, or her food choices.” She adds that this has been, “going on for close to twenty years to varying degrees of severity.” Upon further questioning, I learn that the past five years had been “extremely difficult” for her.

When I ask her what she did to manage the life triggers that lead her to feel that she needs to act out with food, she just stares at me with huge tears in her eyes and says nothing.

“I have no control over anything that goes on in my life, that’s part of the problem. I just go along with everything that is said and done to me and around me even though I don’t agree with any of it. I feel stuck and trapped in my life as well as my body. I hate it all. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m a mom, I would have found a way to finish myself off a long time ago.”

Well… that was one hell of an opening statement for a woman that I just met less than 15 minutes ago. I understand that she feels very helpless and angry at herself and the people around her. She perceives herself to be drowning in the shape that her body of life has formed. When I ask why she reached out to me, tears begin to flow like a faucet.

“I want to feel happy with myself and I’m not. I want to have some control of my daily life and I feel as though I don’t. I hate the way that I feel inside my body so I use food to numb what hurts me so much. I just don’t understand why I keep doing this to myself day after day.”

She is hurting badly. I can just see the emotional pain oozing from her pores as she shares her story with me. The veins on the side of her temples are bulging around her drawn pale complexion. I reach my hands out toward her and she latches on to them ever so quickly as though she is dangling from a steep mountain’s edge. I sense her desperation and have a clear sense that she needs to feel connection and support with someone who is not here to judge her or challenge her in any way.

All I did was listen, reflect, and re-frame some of the things that she feels
like sharing in a less dark, yet supportive and hopeful way. After about forty minutes pass, she suddenly stops talking. I ask her to try and draw in a deep breath and let it out very slowly. What emerges along with her exhale is a smile – the first one I have seen since we met about one hour ago.

“I feel better and a little stronger as though you gave me a vitamin injection.”

I can’t help but smile right back at her.

I ask, “And what kind of vitamin might that be?”

She squeezes my hands and chokes on her tears. I sense that she needs to hold on a bit longer, so I stay put right where I am with her. Something shifts for her inside and she is able to let go of one of my hands and draw another deep breath.

“Talking to you gives me hope that I don’t have to drown in this mess. I can also feel and see that you are not judging me and that you understand what I’m feeling.”

“Yes, Liv, I understand how you feel and I hear the pain and the suffering that you are experiencing in your daily life. I understand why you turn to food in the hopes of drowning your pain and sorrow, I truly do. I understand that the momentary pleasure and relief that you think you are getting seems worth it in that moment. I get that. I also hear that the emotional consequence of anger and depression far outweighs any pleasure that you may derive from acting upon that impulse that seems so alluring at that particular moment. And it causes you so much anguish after you do that to yourself. That is what I am seeing today. You feel helpless at that moment as though there is nothing else for you to do with those emotions accept to eat them in this way so that you won’t have to feel them.

“Yes that’s exactly it.”

We talk awhile longer and make another appointment to continue our discussions and formulate a plan of action.

Liv wants me to share this little snippet of our talk because she hope that it might, “…Touch someone who is suffering today as I was when I came in to see you. You helped me to find my center of gravity again and accept me as I am. You also give me some perspective about what I am doing to myself that I didn’t have before. It felt kind of like I crawled out my skin for a little while and observed myself along with you much different way than before.”

“Well I hope that it was in a more caring way, Liv. If you can learn one solid thing to take away with you today, it’s that it is so critical to consider having compassion for yourself and your current situation. Compassion for yourself gives you honor and respect for who you simply are right this very minute… Even when everything looks bleak and out of control.”

“I feel like I can breath right now, Vida. For the longest time, it’s felt as though something was pinching my airways.”

She reaches her arms out to me as we approach the doorway and I offer her a big supportive hug before she leaves, hoping that the comfort and relief that she has found for herself that day will linger on for at least a little while as she re-enters her home and life space.

Self-destructive behaviors are so hard to change until we are able to understand the reason for their existence in our lives and then find the courage to learn how to replace them with nurturing habits that will eventually heal our wounds if we tend to them with compassion and respect that we so deserve.

Keep Moving On

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The first two weeks of January find me working on a long list of goals, as well as challenges. The goals are much more fun despite being demanding of so much of my time and attention. I will share a few snippets of what is going on.

My son and I decided to co-author a children’s book over the past month. We want to publish it before Valentine’s Day in hopes of reaching an audience that will enjoy reading and experiencing the details of the adventure that we have written together. My son is an amazingly talented and magical artist and also happens to be an excellent illustrator. He has been drawing cartoons for me since he was about ten years old and I have tons of scrap books loaded with samples of the characters animals and scenes that he has depicted on different sizes of papers for a myriad of occasions over the years.

Lucky for me, he has finally agreed to pen them into a little book to accompany a story about the power of love and friendship amongst a family of fish and their humans as they interact with one another in the most unlikely of stressful circumstances. Love is their guide within a dark sea of utter despair and the light that emerges from the depth of that abyss will warm the readers heart and teach both kids and adults about the true power that love and compassion can have as we travel through our lives.

We think that it will be a wonderful Valentine’s Day story and gift to share with Loved Ones! The clock keeps on ticking and we are running low on time and are truly loving the challenge of racing toward the finish line. I have so enjoyed spending this time with my son and learning so much from and about him. His wit and sense of humor has literally had me laughing so hard that salty tears would not quit streaming down my face when we were editing one another’s writing. His ability to describe our fish characters adventures with such finesse, emotion and humor is simply astounding to me. When I asked him where he learned how to do this, his response was, “duh look in the mirror Mama, I’ve had the best teacher there is. You’re an amazing writer and the funniest person I’ve ever met in my life so to answer your question…. duhh”. I didn’t know what to say after that so I gently touch his bearded cheek and mustered up the warmest smile that my heart will allow. He has far more confidence in me then I do in myself, that’s a fact. I love to make my son laugh, always have, even when cancer moved in and tried to take over our lives. But I never thought of myself as a funny person or a good writer. Well if he thinks that I’m all those things, perhaps it’s true, at least in part.

As many of my readers already know, my son and I have also been working on a book or should I say a long novel based on the true story of his life threatening battle with cancer. He calls it “our battle” with cancer so I try to respect his wishes and view it in the same light. As he always reminds me, “If you were not in the same room with me, I would have pulled those IV’s out of my body and either run for the hills or jumped straight out the window of the cancer prison and that’s a fact. You were the one that made me stand up to Cancer and fight back with oil brushes and paints as my weapons. You taught me to believe that Love, eating your food and my Art could slay the cancer beast and so far it’s all true Mama.” Ok Josh, you win. Time for a deep breath and the need to use either my sleeve or some soft tissues to wipe away the salty memories of the most painful moments that life could present to any mother or her young child. Our novel will come out in sequels once we are lucky enough to secure the right publisher. We also dream about the day when the right film producer and director will read our manuscript and become passionate about turning our story into a memorable movie for the big screen to enjoy. We keep telling ourselves to believe in all of our dreams so that they will turn into a reality when the opportunity arrives. We are both very hopeful that this dream will come true very soon because as we well know, life is short.

Way too short. We learned it the hard way and that realization is embedded into each of our souls. So the “challenges” that I was referring to on this first month of the new year, have to do with my own health and I opted to make a clear list of all of them because I fully intend to line them up, one next to the other in a straight line and execute them one by one, till I murder every last one of them. The details are not urgent at this point. Only the fact that I intend to slay them all! I will share about them in future blog posts with the intention of helping even one person who might find themselves overwhelmed by health challenges of whatever sort in life. So I have several positive goals and a number of difficult challenges that I am hoping to conquer one by one. Takes a lot of motivation and inner strength to take on such a huge physical challenge. What has helped me a ton is my decision to return to the gym on a daily basis despite all of my limitations due to arthritis. In the past month i have improved so much it’s truly mind boggling in my condition. I could barely peddle 1/4 of a mile on the stationary bike due to hip dysplasia. The pain and stiffness were ridiculous. I also had surgery on my big toe,( long story) so I lost a couple of days in the middle of the month but I am finally getting better. Today, I rode 3.5 miles in thirty minutes. I used to ride two miles in 40 minutes but daily persistence has changed all that.

My stiffness is improving a ton, yet it’s still hard to bend all the way to the floor. Give me some time, I will get there too. I share all this with you today in the hopes of encouraging and inspiring those of you who are struggling in life to cope with physical and even emotional adversities.. You can do it! I know you can! You can choose to believe in your own power to overcome starting right now! Please love yourself enough to believe in your ability to overcome your pain. I believe in you.. It’s the only way out of your darkness.. Come on.. Stand up and put one foot in front of the other.. You can do it! It’s tough I get that, but it’s what you need to do.. Please feel free to leave me a note in the comment section and tell me about what you are doing to overcome your own adversity and live in the light of life..

Welcome to the Blog

Please join me in taking a collective deep breath as I launch my brand new blog. I prefer to think of it as our new blog because my intention is to involve you in it as much as possible. It was a few days ago on the eve of my sons 22nd birthday when I finally realized that I’m ready to jump in and share this blog with all of you. I think it’s the best best way for you to get to know me on an intimate level and understand a little bit about who I am and what I have to offer.

He is the most important person in my life, past present and future. He is my dearest and best friend. The love of my life. My reason for living and breathing. I respect and admire him more than anyone in this world. He has given purpose and meaning to my life and it has been an honor and a privilege to call him my son. Cancer tried to take him away from me five years ago but I was not gonna allow that to happen. So I fought like hell to get him the best possible treatment to try and save his life. We changed our diet, the water we drank, improved the quality of our positive thinking, and prayed every night that we would be lucky enough to conquer the beast. And thank God, thus far we have won our war on cancer. May it continue to remain drowned in the deepest darkest waters of the ocean along with the myriad of stones we used to throw from any shoreline we could find between his chemotherapy treatments.
I find myself feeling a bit anxious, nostalgic and grateful tonight. Anxious because of all of the challenges and hurdles that keep insisting to crowd each of our paths in life five years later. From health to financial hurdles, the hits just keep on coming. And every time I feel that I just can’t take another step forward, I will look over at my beloved son and notice a sheepish grin across that face of his which accentuates the gorgeous dimple that I have adored on him since he was a little boy. I then pause to fixate on it for a brief moment and take a deep breath. It feels like a sudden shot of adrenaline rushing through my veins that gives me the energy and the courage I need to keep moving and Holding On to life. My hope for him is to live a long and healthy life filled with adventure, fun and prosperity doing whatever makes him happy. I can only be here to support him in whatever way I can and pray that all his dreams come true..
Cancer did not beat us to a pulp like it wanted to, but it reeked a kind of havoc within each of us, that has taken several years of blood sweat and tears to unravel. I live every day in gratitude that he is still alive. And it is precisely that gratitude that fuels my courage to find my way through the myriad of challenges that face me each and every day.

It is my intention to continue sharing some important pieces of my own personal life here with you and that of other people that I have and will interview for the purpose of presenting you with valuable insight into how we all walk our talk and continue to heal ourselves by working on our own relationship with the food we choose to eat. So all I can say is buckle your seatbelt and get comfy in your seat. Get ready for an adventure like no other you’ve been on before! See you soon💕 Always with Love… Vida

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