"Oh what good is it to live
With nothing left to give
Forgive but not forget
Not loving all you see."
I came home, doused in the conversations and obligations that others unintentionally put on me, ready to retreat. I am a cave dwelling human. I am one who draws inspiration from images, music and the lonely moments. Loneliness for me is not lonely. My ideal day would be 8 hours alone, 4 hours with Johnny and 1 hour with people. I put every little ounce of myself into carrying out conversations. I've always been hyper aware of the emotions that float invisibly between people conversing. I see beneath things, above words and around the shields people put up. I am best when I am one on one, or leading a group. Trying to maneuver within a group is when I am most uncomfortable and when I become most exhausted.
This is why I call myself the Queen of Self Care. When I was younger I did this naturally. I poured heavily into myself. I took care of my mental health and later on my physical body. I didn't think much of it, not until recently. I spent the first 6 years of my marriage doing the opposite. Trying to take care of people, be around people and lay down my desires. This created sickness within me, as these things do. This last year I have re-invigorated Bailey.
Write your name down: BAILEY. What does your name evoke in you? Who are you? What do you love? Forget everything you've learned. Forget all the expectations. Who is Bailey? (insert your name)
A lot of this re-emerged after my first 45 hour work week. I took a holiday job so Johnny and I can continue to pay our mortgage without dipping into savings. My winter season is always slow so it seemed like a good idea. As this week came to a close I had a plethora of emotions. I've mentioned how many hours I worked to a lot of people who seemed to think this was normal. I started to think...maybe I'm being weak? I had to remind myself that 45 hours of doing something that I love, something that has meaning to me and invigorates me would be so much different than 45 hours of working for someone else doing things that have no relation to my life besides bringing in a little bit of money.
I know that a lot of us have no choice...or at least it would take us a while to work toward something else, but I can't help but think we've created a culture that sucks the life out of us. This last week I woke and left for work while it was dark. Then there was the 9 hours in a corner with no window starting at a screen. By the time I got home, it was dark again.
This breeds insanity.
I know so many people do it.
I came home exhausted, unable to even do the things I loved in my last hours of the day, unable to cook a great meal, unable to clean. For me this isn't just the "work" it's my introverted nature being bombarded for 9 hours of my day while working. I gave myself some grace instead of feeling like I was weak. I honestly don't think it is good for anyone to work like this. As humans we are meant to have a certain amount of freedom, expression, natural light, movement, fresh air and taking part in things that make us come alive. The common workplace does not breed this.
So how could we support the 40+ hour workers? It got me thinking...what if I worked with corporations and businesses to create better working environments? My Wellness Coaching (as I call it) could be used so well in these situations. I've decided that for the next month I will work this job as an experiment, as a way of understand others, gaining empathy and dreaming up ideas for the common worker. The business I am working for already has a few things in place, like morning and afternoon stretching as a group. I love that!
I'm taking my introverted little self on another adventure into discomfort to discover more, create more, do more. I will post a part two after the month is over. In the meantime, take care of yourselves! It's the best thing you can do.
Instead of focusing on all the negative things let us pour into ourselves so we may pour into others. That's the deepest change to be made. Evil is a collective of actions that come out of people who don't know themselves, who have been hurt, who have not been taken care of and who do not take care of themselves. We must take care of ourselves first. When a plane goes down you always put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Be the Change people. Be the Change.
Much of our personality can be attributed to the feedback we received as children. Throughout our most formative years we look to those around us to determine how to survive in the world. Thus, we are shaped by the positive and negative reinforcement we receive. While this process occurs everyday, even in our adult life, it is during the early years of life that these patterns seem to become most deeply embedded.
As I’ve sought to understand my habits, temperament, and coping mechanisms, I’ve set my gaze upon my earliest memories. As I’ve done so, I have discovered one important example of contradictory feedback that I faced regularly. The majority of positive feedback I got centered on my intellect. Labels like smart, intelligent, gifted, and excellent student were often applied to me. Conversely, I was often told I was arrogant, conceited, and a smart-ass. Essentially, as soon as I began to believe the positive reinforcement I was given, I was beaten back down. My older brothers were recipients of nearly identical treatment in the arena of athletics. Being exceptional athletes, they were regularly praised for their abilities. Yet, the more successful they were in such undertakings, the deeper entrenched became their reputation as arrogant, conceited, and hotheaded.
The result of this external conflict has been considerable internal conflict. One memory in particular made a substantial impact. Near the beginning of the sixth grade, I was quite interested in a girl. As sixth graders do, instead of talking to her directly, I sought information from her close friend. Upon inquiring as whether or not I stood a chance with this girl, I was told that she felt I was conceited. I know that was the exact word she used, as I remember having to ask what it meant. “It means being full of yourself,” she said. This came as quite a blow at the time.
Since then I have gone to great lengths to avoid giving even the faintest trace of that impression. The resulting behaviors have done little to serve me in achieving my goals and realizing my potential. I have generally avoided doing anything that might be perceived as a request for attention or acknowledgement. Being the center of attention was simply not allowed. The repercussions of this fear have been far reaching, dramatically reducing my self-esteem, and affecting the way I speak, dress, and interact with others.
I see this pattern play itself out in my life on a regular basis. When our friends come to us, seeking our help in overcoming an obstacle, we don’t hesitate to pour on the encouragement. We shower them with praise, extolling their strengths, past successes, and positive qualities. Should they begin to believe us, we are often ready with harsh criticism. We certainly wouldn’t want it to go to their heads, would we?
I’ve often felt that the only people who are allowed to like themselves are the underdogs. I certainly agree that we should rally around such people, providing them the positive reinforcement that they possibly never received. Yet, as a person of immense privilege and natural talent, I have believed for most of my life that I do not deserve to be happy, or to love myself. If encouragement is a limited resource, let’s save it for those who need it most. My hope is simply that we can learn to look for reasons to corroborate any evidence of self-confidence we see in others. I believe this would be a far more life-giving approach than succumbing to the fear that someone might begin to believe that they are more capable than they actually are. If we made a little room for some seemingly grandiose beliefs, they might just turn out to be true. It turns out that what one achieves in life is closely related to what they believe they can achieve. As its been said, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
Put two people together with different backgrounds, different childhoods and different sexes (for some) and see what happens. This sounds like a crazy experiment and yet so many of us embark on this journey.
This is life partnership.
My introduction in Part One describes it as a spiritual journey to wholeness. That sounds nice, doesn't it?
But it isn't nice sometimes. It requires incredibly understanding, patience and fervor. This is why I began developing The Love Map. There are so many unspoken, subconscious dialogues taking place whenever we interact with our partner. There are influences from our childhood, our past experiences, our positive and negative reinforcements and on and on and on. We are a cluster of inputs which can create some confusing outputs for a person who didn't go through the same things we did. This is the reality of being different people. So how do we start practicing deep understanding in our relationship with all these unspoken rules and triggers? This is where the map comes in:
As I've studied psychology and intervention coaching there has been a common theme.
The Human Needs.
This is where my map starts. Once you understand what needs the other is most trying to meet in their day to day life it unveils more about the person, their words and their actions. So the next part would be discovering how they already meet those needs.
Ways They Meet Their Needs.
Next we can discover how they receive and give love using their
There is also the idea that you are attracted to a someone who has
Strengths You Lack
If we understand what needs they are trying to meet, how they are trying to meet them, how they desire to be loved and admire what strengths they have that we don't then we also should understand how they act when stressed and if they are a
Fuser or Isolator
On a really basic level we can add to our understanding of giving love and attention when we ask
Are They: Auditory, Visual or Kinesthetic?
An incredible, eye opening exercise would be to understand whose parental love did they crave the most, who did they have to be for that person, what kind of love was withheld. And what positive/negative attributes do you as a partner share with their parents. This is all about
And finally you must discover their lost self, false self and disowned self. Their lost self would be the part that was discouraged by parents or societal demands. Their false self would be what they erected to fill the voids that their lost self would have taken up. Their disowned self are the behaviors that came out of erecting the false self, these could be seen as coping mechanisms or other negative reactions that have been bred in us. They are so offensive to us that we pretend like they aren't there. We disown them. This is the
Once you understand these parts of yourself, and your partner, understanding begins to grow. You see your partner as a wounded child and you begin to understand why they do the things they do. Their little idiosyncrasies, habits, criticisms and actions begin to make more sense. Once you understand how to love them you can help them grow and visa versa. Putting this much effort into creating a Love Map is an incredibly way to have a thriving relationship. Don't get me wrong, bringing this stuff to the surface is hard. It's not, "here's who I am and how to love me." DONE! It can be painful and you might flounder around as you process and put into practice. More on that in Part Three.
“When we gather the courage to search for the truth of our being and the truth of our partners being, we begin a journey of psychological and spiritual healing.” -Harville Hendrix
When we see marriage as a spiritual journey to wholeness it can change everything. When both partners enter their marriage this way or come to realize it later on it can have profound effects on their relationship.
So often we work hard on our career or other endeavors in life, why is it that we don’t view marriage as something to challenge us, help us grow and become whole? Why do we give up?
We need to look into our past, our childhood, and discover how we were denied adequate nurturing and how we repressed essential parts of our self. It’s as if our parents pass us off to our spouse so they can finish the work that was started. The more dysfunctional the family of origin, the more intentional the communication and action must be in the marriage. We can do this searching through self-reflection, journaling, therapy or whatever avenue makes sense to you. As we discover new things about ourselves we can share them with our partner to start building a new way of interacting. Every single day Johnny and I share new things with one another and calibrate accordingly.
Some people might say, “My partner doesn’t listen to me" or you don’t feel comfortable sharing with them. In this case trust must be built first. Marriage remains stagnant without trust, openness and vulnerability. We can start by “going first”. When our partner reveals anything about themselves, no matter how small, we must respond with understanding and compassion in order to start building the trust from our end. As we build our Love Map (a concept I will describe in Part Two) we will inevitably find ways to love our partner in the way they desire so deeply. Even the most stubborn, elusive partner will soften when their needs are being met on the deepest level. We’ll actually start to see them as “wounded children” whom we can heal with our unconditional love.
Stay Tuned for Part Two.
I recently heard it suggested that the most pervasive addiction in modern America is not any substance or drug in particular, but problems in general. Problems, resulting in ongoing frustration, anger, discontent, and unhappiness, meet so many of our needs that, though we despise them, we tend to cling to them firmly. I have often observed in my social interactions the common ground that we are able to find with strangers and friends alike in our problems. Whether they are external: our neighbor, the government, the weather, or internal: depression, stress, and overwhelm, problems are something we all share. While I could say more about this, and plan to at a later time, I sat down to write with a slightly different intent in mind.
I want to focus on one of the primary reasons I, and others I know, choose to sustain our state of discontent. The purpose discontent serves in my life is as my chief source of motivation. The reasoning goes that as long as I am dissatisfied with my current circumstances, the negative emotions resulting from this focus, fuel a desire to create change. As someone with an insatiable desire for growth, even after I have experienced changes in my circumstances, I must seek out new sources of discontent to provide more inspiration. The consequence of this pattern is that happiness exists only in the future, when my circumstances are different. In addition to this, what often happens is that I find excuses for, or distractions from taking the steps necessary to make changes so that I can maintain my sense of motivation. I hope you can see by now the complete irrationality of this behavior. As an aside, this is certainly not the only irrational behavior that I and most other people regularly engage in.
The primary fear underlying this pattern is, if I allow myself to fully experience happiness in the present, I may grow lazy and no longer feel motivated to change the things in my life than I am dissatisfied with. Harvard Psychologist Shawn Achor has devoted an entire book to this subject. At the outset, he identifies the predominant understanding of happiness. Namely, that if I work hard I will be successful, and if I am successful, I will be happy. The wording of that statement may seem like it refers solely to one’s work or career, but the success I am concerned with relates to all areas of life: ones work, relationships, health, behavior, etc. Put simply, once I get what I want I will be happy. Not only are we poor at predicting what will make us happy (see Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert), this pattern is based on fallacious reasoning. In his book, Shawn Achor draws upon many years of research to prove that the exact opposite is true; success does not lead to happiness, but happiness leads to success.
Though I am currently reading his book, The Happiness Advantage, I have little need for scientific data. All the proof I require I have found in my own experience. Relying on discontent, as leverage to induce change, has not worked out well. It amounts to shaming myself into being better. I have believed that to be happy was to admit defeat, to settle for less than I am capable of, or that others, looking at my current circumstances would think me crazy or stupid for being happy. Achor writes, “Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change, it is the realization that we can.”
As I wrote in the previous post, when a long applied strategy is not working, it’s irrational not to trade out for a new one. I have thus resolved to try out happiness for a change. At worst, I will be no more successful than I am now, but will feel better on a daily basis. At best, happiness and gratitude and will provide a much better foundation upon which to build a life of quality work, creativity, love, and continual growth. The only downside I can see is that being happy tends to piss people off, as it challenges their volatile love affair with problems. We’ll talk more about that in the near future.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. This quotation is most often credited to Albert Einstein. I can build no case for or against such an assertion, nor will I try. If this definition established the basis for one’s committal to a psyche ward, we’d all be well on our way. I have expended a great deal of energy lately in trying to identify this pattern in my own life. I have detected its presence in one form or another in almost every area of life where I have not obtained the results I desire. I recently posed the question to myself, “In all your years of indulging perfectionism, how many perfect outcomes have you produced?” The answer is a resounding “zero.” The follow up, somewhat sarcastic, question becomes, “How’s that approach working out for you?” I can only concede that it hasn’t worked out well at all.
Each person has a primary strategy, or repertoire of strategies they employ in the game of life. Our strategies are most often developed as ways of navigating and surviving our childhood. In response to our parents relationship with each other (or lack thereof), the positive and negative feedback we received, and the horrific things that we done to far too many, we developed tactics that served us as well as they could. As children, we subconsciously adapted to our environment, doing our best to thrive, or in many cases, merely survive. As adults, we run into many problems when we continue to employ the same strategies that served us well as children. For me, the primary strategy that I developed as a child was perfectionism. Having grown up in a large family, I perceived that the demands put on my parents, by each other and my siblings were all, or even more than they could handle. Thus, from a very young age, I made the decision to avoid putting any additional strain on my parents, primarily my mother, through the pursuit of perfection. My belief was that if I were perfect, my parents could focus all of their attention on the rest of the family. As I mentioned, that strategy, underpinned by a noble intention, has not served me well in adulthood. Each time I have faced imperfection, or performed at a lower level than I expected of myself, my approach was simply to try harder. I would employ the same strategy in hope of obtaining different results. In sticking with this strategy, I have achieved far less than I might have otherwise. Additionally, I have at times been continuously frustrated, found myself practically devoid of any self-esteem, and taken a critical view of the world and others as a result of extremely black-and-white thinking.
As I’ve woken up to the realization that it is time trade out that old strategies and try out some others, I been able to hear despair knocking at the door. The temptation has been to indulge in even further self-deprecation:
“Why did it take so long for you to realize this?”
“How could you have been so stupid?”
“Imagine if you had realized this sooner?”
I have been able to successfully resist the temptation to dwell on these questions by employing some new strategies:
-Seeking the loving support of my wife and friends.
-Cultivating optimism about the future afforded to me by my newfound understanding
-Reminding myself of the positive intent behind my behavior, that I was doing the best I knew how at the time
Ask yourself where in life you are not obtaining the results you desire. It could be in your work, your relationships, or another area such as diet, health, habits, etc. It is quite possible that you are employing a strategy that you developed at another time in life for a different purpose. Perhaps it is time to abandon an old strategy and experiment with another? The worst that could happen is that you’ll end up in the same place you are now. If that be the case, try another.
It's that time of year.
Johnny and I caught a bug this week so I thought I'd revisit some of my cold/flu protocols. I realize I haven't been on top of my game lately, ideally I would be doing some proactive/preventative care every single day, in sickness and in health, but we all fall off the band wagon sometimes.
Here is my protocol for supporting yourself with a cold:
It's magical walking into the 10 acres of forest we now own to harvest herbs. Its that feeling you get as a small child before you understood ownership. The forest has always been a child's wonderland. It most definitely was for me. That is honestly what led me to herbal medicine in the first place, I wanted that child-like re-connection with nature.
Today I wanted to share with you one of the herbs, or I guess its a Lichen, that I have in abundance on my property:
Usnea grows like whispy gray-green beards from hardwood trees in rainy forests.
Usnea contains an acid that is antibiotic. It is used for infections with gram positive bacteria like strep throat. It is not effective against gram negative bacteria like e. coli. It is documented that Usnea was more successful as an antibiotic than penicillin in tuberculosis and strep throat.
How to Harvest:
Find a forest with hardwood trees. Usnea is usually hanging from tree branches. After a storm is a great time to harvest because the wind has blown down a lot of the unreachable pieces. It is a very slow growing Lichen so don't over harvest, only take what you need. To identify it correctly you'll need to look at a few distinct factors:
-Here in the Pacific Northwest our Usnea can grow up to a foot long! In some other parts of the country it's small.
-Look for a single attachment like in the photo below. Other lichens will be attached more broadly while Usnea has a single "stem".
-Pull apart a strand in your hand. It should be stretchy and have a white core like in the photo below.
Acute bacterial infections
Second and Third degree burns
Urinary tract infection
1:5 (herb to liquid ratio) 80% Alcohol
Dilute in water as it can be an irritating tincture
Dropper 2-3x a day for acute bacterial infections
Has your bed ever caught on fire? Mine hasn’t. What would you do in order to prevent your bed from catching on fire besides blowing out your candles before you fall asleep? Would you protect yourself with fire retardant chemicals that off-gas every night while you sleep? Would you do it if these chemicals were known to cause health problems? Some of you are probably like, “great, another product I have to worry about.” I feel you.
As some of you know, Johnny and I have been building a tiny house for the last few months while temporarily living in a basement apartment. This is the kind of basement where your towels never dry and you always feel the slightest bit damp. We only agreed to stay here as a temporary, cheap option while we build and knew the risks of mold in a space like this, especially in our damp Pacific Northwest climate. A few nights ago I was moving our mattress, an old Ikea futon given to us by a friend, when I noticed a sprawling micro-climate of black mold across the bottom...and it was wet. Besides being completely grossed out I made this connection with how I had been feeling the last month. I would wake up in the morning more tired than I should be with a slight headache and shortness of breath. I now attribute my issues to my black fuzzy foe living beneath where I sleep. It was like the upside down world had come to haunt me.
So we added “get a mattress” to our ongoing list of things to do. This was incredibly frustrating because we are swamped with projects to complete on the tiny house and strapped for money with our large land purchase earlier this year. So not only did I get sick from this scenario, now I needed to spend money and make the effort to go buy a new one. It may sound simple but unfortunately, as I mentioned at the beginning, there is more to mattress toxicity than the possibility of mold.
Earlier this morning as Johnny was researching mattresses he jokingly stated, “the simple desire to have something that’s not covered in poison makes you feel high maintenance.” We laughed outwardly but inwardly the stress of trying to live a toxin free life is real. Johnny also stated, “you know something is wrong with a culture when it costs more money to buy something that is unprocessed than something covered in chemicals.” This goes for our household products and our food industry. I had already been exposed to black mold because of my mattress and now I might have spend my nights sleeping in a chemical nest.
It is required for mattress companies to use fire retardants on anything from a mattress to a couch. The only way to get around it is to buy a mattress made of wool, which is naturally fire retardant. The chemicals found in 90% of mattresses are as follows:
Fun Right? Apparently the mattress has to remain unlit while being blasted by a two foot wide, open flame blow torch in order to pass the test.
For healthy individuals you may not notice the health issues up front, but it may diminish your health over time. It’s especially important that children and immune-compromised individuals to sleep on toxin-free mattresses. Think about it, you’re sleeping 50% of your life so shouldn’t your mattress be of utmost importance?
For more on these chemicals: http://www.peopleforcleanbeds.org/material_safety_data_sheets.htm
An interesting side note. You can get a doctor to prescribe a fire retardant free mattresses for patients if they believe that the health risks posed by toxic fire retardants will interfere with the patients' well-being. Enough said.
Johnny and I really wanted to make a sand mattress, which is basically filling a mattress cover with sand. It’s suppose to be grounding and super helpful for bones and joints. Unfortunately our tiny house loft won’t carry the weight of 500 pounds of sand, maybe we’ll try it out in the future. For now we have purchased a coconut husk mat that will not mold and contains zero chemicals. We are laying wool blankets on top for more cushion. If you have the money you can buy a mattress from companies like these:
If you’re like Johnny and I you may want to go cheap or DIY here is what I recommend trying:
Coconut Husk Mat:
This would be a base and then we'll sew a softer topper for it with.
You can buy an Organic Wool Mattress topper if sewing isn't your thing:
Wool Mattress Topper
You could make your own.
When we’re trying out mattresses what are we usually looking for?
Most people will say, “something cozy, soft and plush.” Some people want to sink into their mattress believing this has the most support for our body.
“A mattress in any true sense of the word causes the hips to sink in and the lower back to collapse, which interrupts natural alignment. Ironically, this is the same effect that chair sitting has on the body. When the back collapses in on itself, whether sitting or lying down, the lungs cannot hold as much oxygen and breathing is immediately hampered. When the body does not get its optimal amount of oxygen, the parasympathetic nervous system which induces relaxation is impeded. When breathing is shallow, the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are overproduced--which keeps the body from fully relaxing. Cush is not really cush. Paradoxical yes, but according to this paradigm, resistance is cush.”
For more a more indepth description visit: http://www.zafu.net/sleepergonomics.html
So apparently our little coconut husk mat is going to be the best mattress for our bodies. I’ll check back in and let you know how it feels!
Bailey Patrice & Jonathan David