October 12, 2017

Poem - Waking up later

I wish I were a morning
Bright and chipper
First thing at 6 a.m.
Hopping easily out of bed
One stretch, then ready
To meet the day

Instead, I force myself
Not to press snooze
By opening the curtains a crack
Joyous if sky is blue
or even bluish
Stonily determined when it’s dark and gray.

At night in bed
I feel every crumb of dirt
The cat’s paws left undaintily
On my sheets
From her luxurious cat naps

I twist this way and that
All the many to dos
that are and are not yet
on my list taunt me.
“You’ll forget us,”
they threaten, drawing me back
to full alertness

I combat them sleepily
“You’ll still be there tomorrow,”
I mumble and pull the quilt
Over my ears
Breathe in and out,
I tell myself
Feel the air in your nostrils
Cool in, warm out
Breathe in and out.

12 October 2017

August 22, 2017

Stress: A story of survival

“It’s time to go, Mom,” says my 20-year-old daughter, jiggling my car keys in her hand as I riffle through my medicine drawer, searching for a Panadol* capsule or something against my rising nausea. My head pounding, I find nothing. Finally I discover a bottle of natural “Extreme Balance” – relieves nerves - it says. I quickly swallow one, and grabbing my purse, follow her out the door.

“Let’s stop at the pharmacy,” I suggest. “I need Panadol.”
“It’s just nerves, Mom,” she says, putting a hand on my knee.
“Drive slower, I’m about to throw up,” I tell her.

A few minutes later, we arrive at the dentist’s office. I feel my heart beating and a very specific spot over my right eye pulsing in pain. My throat is constricting, filling up with slime. I take in a few deep breaths.

Gap is hardly noticable...
Half an hour later, my infected molar has been extracted, my headache gone and my stomach is relaxed again. I can hardly believe how the pre-dentist stress affected my body. I knew I was nervous, but since I’m so self-aware, and usually express freely how I feel, I never expected my nerves to hijack my body in such an extreme manner.

“Is this how some students feel, before an exam?” I ask my daughter, as she serves me scrambled eggs and a soft avocado, a while later.

I now realize that I may not have fully understood what some people call ‘panic attacks.’ You really can’t control them; they control you. Empathy, and of course, facing what has to be faced, helps deal with them. If I had cancelled my dentist’s appointment, I would have just added self-pity to my feelings, and guilt.

Now, after I’ve ‘survived’ the dentist, there’s just a little bit of residual pain, easily manageable with the Panadol we did end up buying, and a ton of relief.

And endless empathy for all those who also suffer from stress and anxiety.

I feel your pain; I do.

*Panadol: Coated Paracetamol tablets.

May 15, 2017

If I were Waze

If Waze was a typical parent, then it would probably respond this way to a wrong turn:

Why didn’t you turn?
Am I talking to the walls?
I told you it was best to turn here, but now look – you’ll run into traffic!
What did I say? See! You didn’t turn and now you’re going to be stuck in traffic for 20 minutes.
I’m making such an effort for you, and you aren’t even listening to me.
It doesn’t matter how many times I tell you, you never learn…

It goes on and on…

But what does our dear Waze do? It sees that we made a ‘wrong’ turn and… recalculates a new route!
It helps us get to our destination even if we’ve made a mistake along the way. It will stay on our side, understand that we are the drivers and that we can also decide to go to another place altogether. Its feelings aren’t hurt; it doesn’t take anything personally.  It gives us data about each route and lets us decide how to get there.

I wish I could give up the criticism and righteousness and simply give my advice, and allow them to direct their own lives.

I wish I were Waze.

* (or Google Maps/Tom Tom/GPS system)

March 21, 2017

10 really easy ways to happiness

  1. Sit in your windowseat in the afternoon sun on a warm winter 's day (Okay, it's actually spring, if you really want to be fussy).
  2. Eat healthy food that tastes amazing (for example, lunch was a salad of cucumbers, baby tomatoes, avocado, a boiled egg with homemade tehini blended with parsley! Don't forget to sprinkle this with fresh cilantro - unless you hate cilantro, in which case, give that a miss!)
  3. Know your neighbors by name and face and wave as they pass by.
  4. Notice the sun and the sky that has miraculously turned blue and cloudless!
  5. Spend an hour watching 'Call the Midwife' and let yourself cry at the end.
  6. Know you have a pleasurable evening activity coming up - one that is fun to do and something you chose to do! (I'm going to Hebrew Groove choir practice!).
  7. Plant some seeds in your garden and don't worry about the dirt under your nails!
  8. Have a quick walk to the supermarket with one of your new friends who lives right down the street. (I'm so grateful!)
  9. Allow yourself a lazy day in the middle of the week once in a while, just because you can, and do it without feeling guilty. 
  10. Start off with a cynical, tongue-in-cheek, type of list in mind, but then while writing it, realize that these things you've done today have made you pretty happy, and be grateful that by doing such a small exercise, you can change your mood! 
  11. oops, I have 11!!! (shh, don't tell! Sometimes you just gotta bend the rules a little!). Don't tell anyone, but I bought a new watercolor that I fell in love with at first sight by my artist sister, Margot Gran!
    Watercolor by Margot Gran

March 20, 2017

Camp NaNo here I come!

I was in a pit, a well, a deep dark space.
But then, I learned something while teaching my students about pursuing their careers. While doing the exercises I had assigned them, I realized that my writing projects were all on the back burner. And I made a plan to make some changes!

So, although it's been over 2 years since the last time I did any editing for my book - The Fourth Baby/Unraveled - (name still in progress), today, yes TODAY, I sat down and did a sprint - finally got 450 new words added to the book! Woohoo.
It seems like nothing, and those of you who don't know me will be raising one eyebrow and pursing their lips.

However, oh ye doubters, let me tell you this:
I have joined up for Camp NaNo - during the month of April, I will be editing my book (finally, right?). I have made a specific goal of 30 hours of editing. That's an hour a day, for anyone who can't count. That's a lot for me, considering my Netflix binging behaviour, my healthy Paleo cooking addiction, and not to mention my day job. (Sorry kiddies and hubby - you will have to fend for yourselves).

What do I need?
* support
* encouragement
* curiosity
* trust
* time & space

If anyone wants to be my editing buddy, (what the heck is that anyway, and how would it work?), that would be awesome.

In short, I am going to do this ! Get my writing back on track, finish my first (yes, you read that correctly, there are more in the pipeline after this one) novel, work to get it published, and rule the world. (Okay, maybe not that part.)

But it has always been a dream of mine to write, and not just a dream. I do write. But it stays in the dark, where no one ever reads it. So, I'm slowly opening up the curtains, and exposing myself and my writing to the elements!

Wish me good luck!

February 6, 2017

Feeling in a dip? Dig yourself a canoe

Inner Relationship Focusing - part 2 

‘I have nothing to talk about. My life is balanced, pretty much. No major dramas. Work is good. Family - all good. No problems,’ I think, but keep my eyes closed.

And yet, here I am sitting on a soft couch at Michal’s house, 4 of my classmates watching our short demonstration. Suddenly I find myself talking about my relationship with my hubby. (Sorry, hubby!)

“Stay with that…” whispers Michal.
I take a long breath.
“Feel in your body what’s coming up for you now…” she suggests to me.
I feel a tightening in my chest and throat. Wait a minute, screams another part of me, don’t you dare cry now! And anyway, why do you want to cry? Everything’s fine, right?

I keep breathing, and expressing how I am feeling. From time to time, Michal quietly reflects some of my feelings. I feel heard. I keep going.

Stop being so whiny! Shut up and suck it up. My life is good. Near perfect.

Don't back off from the horrible feelings*

But Michal encourages me to stay with the part that feels whiny.
“It’s hard for me to go there. I shouldn’t,” I say. And yet, those voices, the ‘don’t whine,’ are not my only voices. Part of me does want perfection. That part wants improvement, growth, change, development. ALL THE TIME.

I follow the windy road of my thoughts and feelings, the things I want and need. What I feel I’m not getting enough of. What I wish I could have. I hardly know what I feel, maybe some sadness and disconnection.

Suddenly an image comes to me. My old dugout canoe. I climb off of the yacht (strangely enough - this was really my childhood home), where I have no “me space,” and into the canoe. Only one person at a time can fit into it. My sister or me. It’s too small for my parents. It’s not very steady. If I sneeze, it tips over. I paddle over towards the shore, away from my family. I am strong, capable and independent. A small wave bounces me around. The canoe tips over and I giggle, as I flip it over and climb back in. The warm tropical water is refreshing.

After sharing this image out loud, my metaphor for the strong, rough side of me that is also sometimes unstable, but independent as well, I feel refreshed – issues feel resolved.

No one is to blame after all, except perhaps me, for forgetting that I carry my dugout inside of me, and whenever I want, I can hop in and go for a little paddle.

* * *

* For more reading about Inner Relationship Focusing, and some of the techniques Michal used in this demo, go here:  https://focusingresources.com

January 26, 2017

Me and my Inner Relationship Focusing

The complex mountains of my mind

“…a remarkable skill that relieves suffering and awakens possibility.” Ann Weiser Cornell

Way back in the day, when I was a kid, my dad often said to me, “Get your head out of your belly button,” by which he meant that I should focus on more worldly things than those affecting only me. But I was rarely interested in the news back then, maybe because of the other sentence he used to say, “Never believe what you read in the newspaper.”

Focusing Training Course

Well, now I'm 53, and more focused than ever on my belly button and deeper, into my soul, especially thanks to the latest psychology training course I’m taking, one called “Inner Relationship Focusing,” according to the Ann Weiser Cornell method @AWCornell ( Twitter) https://focusingresources.com/.

Feeling about the Feeling

Today I learned more about something called “Feeling about the Feeling.” You know how people tend to say things like: “I hate it when you’re right?” So, the idea is to separate the two emotions from each other, and to radically accept each of them.
In this case: A part of me hates this feeling (of when you are right).
Another part of me feels that you are right (at least some of the time).

Then it’s possible to go even deeper into each of these separate parts:
What is that part of me that hates this feeling (of you being right) telling me?

  •       What does it want? (For example, maybe it wants to be right, to win, it wants to feel smart and strong.)
  •       What doesn’t it want? (It doesn’t want to feel weak, or stupid, or wrong.)

That’s just an example, of course. I love it when you’re right. I can accept feedback, that I’m less than perfect. That I’m mortal. That you are as clever as I am. Can’t I?

Still learning, after all these years

In short, it’s interesting for me, being in this process. I’ve worked long as a therapist, a counselor, and made it my business to analyze the feelings and thoughts of both my clients and myself (and even sometimes those of my family and friends, at times, much to their dismay). I thought I ‘got it.’ Although surprisingly, I've still had an issue or two of my own to deal with. :)

Now I’m learning this method, of letting the person who is focusing (eipther me or another) go deeper and deeper into their (my) feelings by way of untangling feelings, looking at them one by one, going deep into them, seeing them, via metaphors and bodily feelings, and then radically accepting them.

You know best - not me

We are learning this in a group, which is a learning experience as well, especially as I see people, not just from the field of psychology, who, simply by this method of focusing, are able to go through very therapeutic, healing processes. It really shows me how empowering others works – how capable people are – how we have the answers within ourselves, if we are only open to listen.

As a DDD, #DeeplyDisappointedDemocrat, I now have an obligation to watch the news, shocking as it may be, but at the same time, I spend a lot of time focusing deep deep within. (Radically accepting my deep disappointment!)

I just want to give a quick shout out to my amazing teacher in this process: Michal Madar-Porat, M.S.W. Focusing Trainer. 
She is so good, kind, giving, and containing. Just spending Monday mornings in her sunny presence would have be enough! Thank you, Michal!