The 5 Senses Challenge Worksheet is Now Available!


Last night’s chat was small and intimate but it allowed for those who did attend to really get in touch with their senses and discover how doing so changed their outlook about even the most common of items.

Today, I am sharing the worksheet to complement last night’s chat with you. Included is a five-day challenge focusing on a separate sense every day. The final assignment encourages you to look over your notes for each day, noticing what emotions are attached to your observances.

There is even a bonus challenge included so you want to make sure you grab this worksheet now!

The 5 Senses Challenge is available here!

#PPDChat Topic 02.03.14: The Five Senses Challenge


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Life is lived through the senses, isn’t it? Memories are not just thoughts put on shelves in our brains, they are remembered best through sights, sounds, tastes, touch, and scents, right?

I remember my grandmother’s perfume. I could not, for the life of you tell you the name of it (I want to say Charlie, but I think I am horribly wrong) but whenever I briefly smell something similar, I think of her. Well, that and bouillabaisse but perfume is far more common.

The scent of ink takes me back to my childhood spent in the family print shop. That’s a cascade of memories – the sound of the presses whirring, the cutter chopping stacks of paper, the cement in the alley outside, the giant cardboard boxes and pallets of paper we would hide behind. Or the darkroom filled with massive amounts of chemicals I’m sure weren’t safe for me to be around but bring a dizzying memory of darkness glowing in the bath of a red light to the forefront of my mind.

Ocean waves crashing make me smell the salt spray drifting through the air, I hear the seagulls overhead, and the warm sun slowly baking me into a loaf of human bread. If I focus just enough, I hear the chatter of other people playing at the beach over the humdrum of the ocean waves.

The wafting scent of a cigar reminds me of my grandfather. He always had one chomped in his mouth as he puttered around outside, it seemed. Mix that with the scent of wet leaves in the fall and the memory of my grandfather is complete. Weird, yes, but that’s him.

Don’t even get me started on the deliciousness that is Entenmann’s or an Eggplant Parmesan sub because YUM. Oh, and delicious saltwater Taffy. OH the memories as it would melt in my mouth and stick to my teeth. Gah, I miss being a kid.

Right now, there is snow falling outside, floating and dancing as it drifts to the ground where it has collected en masse to add up to a minimum of 7 inches for now. It is a good healthy wet snow which means we get to make a snowman at some point. But for now, it is quite peaceful to just sit here and watch it silently and gracefully cover the entire landscape as if it were a bride preparing for her groom. Everything is draped in white, laden with heavy snow.

This week’s #PPDChat will focus on the senses and how living life mindfully helps you navigate your view away from the negative toward the positive. There is beauty in everything, it just takes a few extra minutes to tune in to the heart of it all. Once you do, you will find, however, that you can’t possibly miss the beauty in even the smallest of things.

I hope you will join me at 830pm ET tonight for this fabulous chat. Stay tuned for the worksheet to go along with tonight’s chat – I think you’re gonna love it!

2014 State of the Blog


Today I finally did something I have wanted to do since starting this blog.

An editorial calendar!

YES!

I have all my weeks planned out through the end of the year.

I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely awesome this feels.

My next big goal around here is to clean up the blog – minimize and streamline tags and categories, redesign, and in May, go completely self-hosted. Maybe even start Vlogging. EEEEEEK. I have BIG goals this year and even better, I AM going to achieve them all and then some.

My sole goal today, as was noted in my post yesterday, was to make it to the gym and sit in the hot tub. I made it to the gym but the hot tub was closed. No idea on when it will be open again but it doesn’t matter because this week’s weather, well, according to R2D2’s severe weather alerts, I wouldn’t make it to the gym unless we had a Tauntaun on the back deck anyway.

Speaking of crappy weather, today’s weather was cloudy yet surprisingly warm. We hit a balmy 48F today and I drove home from the grocery store with the windows down. Crazy? Perhaps. But when you have been in the middle of Hoth for the past several weeks, 48F is a tropical heatwave, baby, and begs for you to ride with the windows down with the tunes blasting because baby, that’s spring.

It’s a new month, a new year, and I have started it off the best way possible with this new habit of writing every day. I should warn you, however, I plan to start working on my book this month and won’t be blogging AS much because my words will be going there instead of here. I hope to have some guest posts for you but that’s going to depend on some serious participation from you, the readers.

For this month’s schedule, the theme is, of course, Love. This week, we’re focusing on things you can do to show love to yourself (get your mind outta the gutter!), next week, your child, the following week, your partner, then the last week will examine extended family. Don’t worry, we’ll be examining healthy boundaries as part of this series too. If you have a piece that would fit into this topic, feel free to send it to me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail with “FEBRUARY SUBMISSION” in the subject line. It’d be fabulous if Perinatal Mood Disorders were somehow involved but it’s okay if it isn’t so feel free to submit if you have a great post about love for couples or parents without the PPD aspect. We are human too, after all.

March’s theme will be “Spring” and focus on the rebirth which comes with the season. We’ll be examining Light therapy, Vitamin D, Getting Out and About with Baby, Renewal, and Alternative Therapies. Again, feel free to send any guest posts my way.

I’m also looking for guest hosts for #PPDChat all the time so if you are interested, let me know. All I ask is that you be somewhat familiar with Twitter (even if you’re not, I will take the time to help you learn the ropes).

On that note, and I will mention this again, I’m seeking some awesome people who have been through the hell that is PPD to join me as part of a #PPDChat Brain Trust. You’ll be volunteering to help promote, brainstorm, and organize upcoming #PPDChats as well as possibly help moderate the FB Group. I am completely flexible with whatever your schedule allows as I know life can get very hectic. So if you are interested or know someone who would be a GREAT fit for this volunteer opportunity, send them my way!

Stay tuned for more updates about the editorial calendar and other exciting upcoming announcements. My word this year is ENGAGE and I am absolutely determined to get this party started!

#PPDChat Topic 1.27.14: Making Unsolicited Advice Turn Into Your Swan


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On Sunday evening, a post entitled “Finding Life Beyond My Comfort Zone” poured forth from my soul. This morning, a post entitled “Meeting Enemies Undaunted” spilled forth at almost twice the length of last night’s post. Today’s post was a response to an unpublished comment on Finding Life.

Someone saw fit to recommend that I do “more awesome things than take medicine” for my current bout of depression. Instead of staying angry, I used her comment as fodder for a post to explain why such comments do more harm than good and how we, as those who are brave enough to speak up about our battles, should not allow people like her to ruin any progress we may have made toward healing.

We all have different ideas for how to heal and must do what is best for ourselves. In the same vein, we must respect the educated decisions others have made whether they be on their own or with the help of a professional (that is, unless said person is in crisis, then we must urge them to seek help immediately). Recommending a different course of action when someone has settled on one which is working for them is well, rude.

Do you know the story of the ugly duckling? It is one I grew up hearing quite a bit. A young flapper (or cygnet), somehow ended up with a family of ducks. He looked nothing like his brothers and sisters and was teased mercilessly, labeled ugly for not appearing to be the same. Then, he grew older, matured, and turned into a beautiful swan, one of the most graceful birds in the world.

Then there’s Rudolph – who wasn’t allowed to play any reindeer games until Santa asked him to lead his sleigh.

In both situations (yes, yes, fictional, I know), the main characters took something which was negative and let it go. It is difficult to do. But once you learn to flip the negative on its head, a funny thing happens. Less is negative and your outlook on life brightens. Perhaps not overnight, but over time you find yourself able to see even the most negative of things as a lesson from which to learn.

That’s what today’s chat will focus on – turning the negatives in your life into situations from which you learn valuable positive skills.

Make that unsolicited advice your swan, perhaps even your swan song. Bring down the house with it as you rise up toward joy.

Look forward to seeing you tonight at #PPDChat. Be there at 830pm ET sharp!

Here’s the worksheet, “How to Write Your Swan Song“, which goes along with this chat. Feel free to download it and use it. Let me know how it works out for you!

#PPDChat Topic 01.13.14: Leaving It All Behind – Embracing Emotional Minimalism


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Today’s chat will focus on a concept I introduced in a post last night, emotional minimalism. The idea behind emotional minimalism is not to be completely numb to feelings but rather to process them in a timely, mindful, and healthy manner thereby traveling light with your emotions instead of dragging a ton of unnecessary baggage along with you. 

Go read last night’s post here and get ready for a challenging chat tonight. See you at 830pm ET!

Tossing the Emotional Baggage from Your Train


Many of us stand frozen in our paths because we are afraid of disappointing someone or being called out as a hypocrite when what we do does not back up what we say. Here’s the thing – how people react to you is not your gig. It’s theirs. They choose how to judge you and nothing you do or say will change how their judgement of you. You cannot repack or carry their emotional baggage. The only baggage you are responsible for is yours.

I read a great post today about a minimalistic approach to life. Of course, it focused on the minimalistic approach to material things but what if we took this approach and applied to to our emotional life as well and set free all the baggage from the past and refused to carry it for one second longer?

One of my earliest favourite movies is The Mission with Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro. Irons plays a Jesuit Priest in the Amazon. DeNiro is a plantation owner who has some society debts to pay. He appeals to Irons and follows him into the wilderness, carrying a large load of items on his back as they trek through the jungle. Despite falling multiple times as they struggle up a particularly steep hill, DeNiro refuses to cut the load off. Finally, after a fall when DeNiro is almost at the top, Irons cuts the load from DeNiro’s back. DeNiro looks at Irons in disbelief, almost angry that he has taken his penance from him. Then, DeNiro sits down and cries in the jungle, mourning the loss of the load and, it seemed, his gratefulness for having been relieved of by a priest. (Disclaimer – it has been quite some time since I have seen the movie and this is how I remember the basic scene/storyline of this aspect of the movie. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong)

What if we were able to do that for someone? For ourselves? Lighten the load a little by refusing to carry emotional baggage with us? Imagine if we could truly start each day anew with no baggage whatsoever on our hearts or our minds? A sort of blank slate, if you will.

But wouldn’t you have to be emotionally frigid to do that?

No. What you need to be is mindful of how you allow things to ebb and flow into and out of your life, ensuring a balance of positive and negative – not allowing either to outdo the other. (For I believe that if we do not know sorrow and pain we cannot be truly grateful for the wonderful and amazing).

So how does one achieve this minimalistic state of a baggage free emotional life?

Well, for starters, you could complete the ritual of Kolinahr – I kid, I kid. Being Vulcan is not logical, Captain.

Here are a few steps I have discovered to living a (mostly) baggage free emotional life:

1) Deal with things as they happen – Don’t hold things in. Process events as they occur. Talk about them, write about them, get it out of your system. The longer things sit, the more they fester and you don’t want that creepy Uncle from The Adams Family perched on your back, do you? No. Of course you don’t. So before your problems sprout arms, legs, start wearing a holocaust cloak and go bald, deal with them before you turn into the Hunchback of Notre Dame because Uncle Fester is camped out on your back.

2) Do not let experiences jade you – Just because one situation with one person turned out a particular way one time, do not let that be the standard by which you judge similar situations with different people in the future. People are all different and sometimes, they might surprise you with their reactions. We all know what “assume” breaks down into, right? And we are not asses. Well, not all of us.

3) Listen to what the other party is saying – Don’t sit there hearing them as if they were the teacher on Charlie Brown while you formulate what you want to say to defend yourself. Actually listen to their concerns. When they are done, take a few minutes to respond, beginning your response with a rephrasing of what they said so they know you heard them. Validation goes a long way and repeating what they said helps you better understand what they’re feeling as well because you’re saying it in your voice.

4) Do not have conversations about important situations when you are angry – Trust me on this one. Wait until you have calmed down and then talk. Discussing things when you are both angry never ends well. It is wiser to wait until you have both calmed down and are capable of having a rational discussion. Otherwise, you just end up having a talk that looks like this (I don’t really like the parenting in this video as they delay dealing with the child’s outburst but it is a perfect example of what an angry conversation will accomplish – nothing):

5) Be brave enough to admit when you are wrong. We are not always on the side of right in a discussion, behaviour, or life. We screw up because we are human. (To be human is to err, correct?) It takes a lot of chutzpah to admit you are wrong. Don’t admit you’re wrong if you know you’re not – that’s not cool either. But when you are wrong, admit it, and ask at the same time how you can fix the damage that has been done. Accountability goes a LONG way.

6) When you feel wronged, say something. Staying silent harms everyone, especially you. This is reminiscent of the first step, yes. But I also want to encourage you to phrase things like this, “When X happened, it made me feel like Y. How can we work to improve how we do this so no one has to feel like Y again?” This way, you are not being accusatory and offering to form a partnership to improve how things are managed in the future. (There are certain situations in which it is best, of course, to say something to someone other than the person who wronged you such as cases of abuse, etc, but still – say something to someone who can help you work through it or escape the situation. Do not continue to suffer in silence.)

7) Remember that how people react to you is absolutely not your gig – it is theirs. This is the best piece of advice a therapist ever gave me. Living by it is difficult at first but once you start to do so, you realize that as long as you do your very best to resolve a situation or to share how you feel, how people choose to react to that is their gig. You absolutely positively do not own how anyone chooses to react to you. That’s all them. End of story.

Do I guarantee these steps will lead to a minimalistic emotional lifestyle free of all that baggage you have been lugging around? No.

But it’s a damn good start.

What changes will you make in your life this week to move toward a more minimalistic emotional lifestyle? What do you think would be the most difficult thing for you to let go of emotionally? Share below!

 

 

#PPDChat Topic 01.06.14: Word of the Year


One of my favourite movies this past year was Rush, directed by Ron Howard. The movie tells the tale of two Formula One drivers: Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Both driven men, passionate adversaries. The 1976 season was the height of their fight against each other.

Howard plays up not only their competitive spirit but also reflects the way these men managed to become good friends despite their fierce battles against each other on the racing circuit.

In 1976, Lauda was involved in a serious crash at Nurbergring. He suffered severe burns over a good deal of his body. His lungs were also damaged as a result of being trapped inside his car as the flames consumed it.

Six weeks later, however, Lauda was back on the track. He finished well in his first race back despite starting with blurry vision and unable to fully push himself the way he had prior to his accident.

Seeing Rush was one of the highlights of 2013, as I was able to see a preview in NYC prior to widespread release. As an avid F1 fan, getting to see Rush in an IMAX theatre and have the engine sound reverberating all around me as the cars zoomed by on the screen – sheer heaven.

I still follow the FB page for Rush. Today, they posted a still from the movie with a question:

“What will drive you in 2014?”

Several bloggers I know are choosing words to represent what will drive them in 2014. I’ve been brainstorming the past week about what my word should be for the upcoming year. I picked one a couple of days ago and it is sitting well with me so I think I will keep it.2014 word

My word for 2014 is:

 

After my divorce in 2011, I checked out of life. I stayed somewhat connected but as a reflex, I checked out. I ended up in therapy and did a lot of introspective reflection. Then I met J. I started to come out of my shell because finally, here was someone who accepted me as I stood, mess and all. No front, no bullshit, just me. Then Sandy hit and I retreated into my shell. I started the introspection thing again and stopped writing. I wasn’t ready to share my journey because heck, I wasn’t even sure where it was going.

I recently called our doctor after a particularly tough bout with darkness. I am back on medication for the time being. It is making a difference. So is my Happy Light. To be honest, so is J. It’s healthy for me to fall apart here, but it’s just as healthy for me not to – we allow each other to have emotions and do not judge for whatever they may be because well, emotion is emotion.

My goal for 2014 is to engage. To engage with others, with life, with writing, with myself. Instead of retreating back into my hole, I am going to reach out. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone according to Neale Donald Walsch. 2014 is the year I leap from my comfort zone and dive headfirst into living life.

I am challenging the ladies of the #PPDChat Community to do the same along with me – not necessarily dive out of your comfort zone but choose a word for the upcoming year. In fact, that’s what we’ll be talking about on Monday night. I’ll be discussing it in the closed FB group as well.

Get to brainstorming and I look forward to seeing all your words for 2014!!!